London | 2018


City  London
Age  50
Love life Single
Profession Police Sergeant at Metropolitan Police Service
Years in London All her life
Location — West London

T H E  L O N D O N  S T O R I E S




  • What makes you really happy?
    “On the short term, going shopping. I don’t have to buy anything ‒ just walking around the shops, trying stuff on. On the long term, my faith keeps me steady, more chilled out and forgiving. I feel protected and looked after, I know it is going to be ok. For example, my mom suffers from depression, so my family and I worry about her. It has been quite difficult dealing with someone who says the same things all the time and doesn’t act like helping herself. My faith helps me being softer to her. And at work there are a lot of people who will be swearing at you and saying you’re a bitch. My religion helps me, because I am not going to take it personally and make their lives even harder by being horrible to them as well. Most of them come back later anyhow to apologise. Being a woman is an advantage in this work, because blokes are more inclined to attack men. On the other hand, my gosh, the fights I’ve had with some women… But at the end of the day I’ve got to forgive whoever was trying to mess with me, and I can’t do those things without my faith.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “I can be very funny, I make people laugh! Another good thing is, I am resilient. With all the crap happening around me as a custody sergeant, I can just keep going and going and going until we find a solution. There is someone over there who is trying to cut their wrists, someone over there who is trying to punch one of my officers and a few officers at the backyard who want to come in to bring their prisoners in. We have to get on with it until we get to the end. These are people’s lives we’re dealing with.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “Sometimes I like struggles. It gives me a little bit of fire in my belly. It forces me to get out of my comfort zone and go on a quest, or something. Men are my biggest challenge. I always wonder, is it me, am I being too sensitive, or is their behaviour really unacceptable and shouldn’t I be so tolerant? For example, when they’re ranting, I can go to town on them. I take all their crap because I feel I can take it, but I feel like I take too much. That’s a thin line for me. Another struggle is that I can be quite blunt, I’m not really subtle or diplomatic. For example, ‘working’ in the volleyball world is all voluntary, so I’ve got to be tolerant of bullshit or people walk away and I have no team. Because if I open my mouth, it is going to ruffle feathers. Tempering myself is quite hard and a full-stop struggle for me.”
  • What is your biggest life lesson?
    “It’s all going to be all right. And: that life is one big, long lesson. You’re in a street there, you’re fine, you’ve passed this lesson and then you are on to the next street for a new lesson. That’s what life is all about. You are not going to learn it, you are not going to be perfect, there is always something going on. At 50, at 60, at 70 as well. You will never have it figured out. But it is exciting, knowing that there is something else to be discovered. I get through it and learn something important. They say every day is a school day, don’t they? Try not to worry, if you have done the best you can do and can’t change anything, just breathe easy and it will be fine.”

  • What is your biggest disappointment in life?
    “This is an easy one, actually. Not doing more with volleyball. I had an opportunity to play really well, I could have played professionally in other countries, and I didn’t take it. This guy approached me when I was seventeen, but it would have been a long journey to his club, and I didn’t drive so I couldn’t get to the sessions. This guy was actually the coach of the best club in the country and the national team coach. The sport was never that serious for me, I just had fun with the other girls. It only became serious as I got older, which doesn’t really help when you are too old to do what you could have done.”
  • What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
    “Going travelling. I’ve lived my entire life in London, so going travelling and meeting all those different people from all those different places was so interesting. My first big journey started seventeen years ago when I went to India, on a trip to Asia for 9.5 months. I remember that I woke up the next morning and thought, what have I done? But as soon as I stepped into town and started walking, I thought, look at this, I’m all right. I prefer travelling by myself, camping as well.”
  • What advice would you give other women?
    “You are good enough. You are never going to be perfect, but you are not the most horrible person in the world either, no matter what you have done. We all do crap and there is no one in this world who hasn’t done horrible things to other people. But despite everything, we are good enough. So stop beating yourself up.”
  • What is your ultimate goal?
    “To be married. I love the notion of that union, I think it’s lovely. People say it’s only a piece of paper, but it is not, marriage is the ultimate commitment. I don’t know if it will happen to me. I like to think so, but I am not going to worry about it or manipulate life to get married. Hopefully along my way of doing stuff I’ll get married. That is where my faith comes in as well. God has got a plan for everybody. If I would be 69 and unmarried, I would still be this happy. This is me and I am not going to go down if I’ll never be married, no. In March 2019 I’ll retire and I want to do something charitable, like help running a church.”
  • Is there something you regret?
    “That I still haven’t really started dating guys who have faith. I know I have to, because I’ve gone out with people without faith, and we always hit a ceiling. It was almost like a waste of time, really.”
  • What is your greatest sadness?
    “As I got older, I’m all right. But in my mid-thirties I was upset, because I was quite broody and single. I got over it. And I obviously didn’t really, really want it, because there are so many ways to have a kid. Bless her, a friend of mine is a single parent and she is great, but she has a different personality than me, she is a warrior, haha”
  • What are you insecure about?
    “My hair. It’s a black woman thing. I always have to get that done. The other day I got really brave and took my extensions out and had an afro to work. I had never done that before. It’s quite difficult to maintain an afro, you can never just get up and go.”
  • What does London mean to you?
    “There is so much to do, but I don’t take as much advantage of it as I could. I live in West London and feel like a tourist when I go to the city centre. But I do feel like a Londoner. A quite proud one actually. I love the fact that you can do what you like here, I love people dressing madly, I love it. What I like most about London, is that The Queen lives here, haha. My dad took me out to see Princess Diana’s wedding. I remember that I could look in a contraption with a mirror like a periscope above the people’s heads, so I could still see the horses, the car and the princess. What I don’t like about London is that you look someone in the eye and they don’t acknowledge you in any way. It’s ok people, you can say hi! Me and my friends are typical Londoners, I think. We are quite confident and will be up-front when we talk to other people. When a stranger looks at us and says something, we will not shy away, and join in on that conversation. I like the fact that when I walk around, I see so many different people and hear so many different languages. It feels like people get on more now, instead of being more separated and segregated. I also see that within the police, there are more women now. During the Notting Hill Carnival I worked as a runner for the senior officer and had meetings with all those different senior officers. I remember looking around the room and thinking: wow, this is amazing. I saw black people, Asian people and women as superintendents. Thirty years ago, I would never have experienced that diversity in the police and would never have seen women running it.”

Photos by Gordon Roland Peden


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