‘In your day, you were such gentlemen’: Louis Brow, 21, and Bob Smith, 80, on dating, slang and boxing
Bob Smith sits upright on the sofa as his grandson, Louis Brow, prepares to quiz him on youth slang. We are sitting in the living room of Louis’s family home in Ilkley, West Yorkshire; Bob has travelled over from Walton-le-Dale, Lancashire, in his Nissan Micra.
“Would you know what flexing is?” Louis begins. “If I was to flex on the Gram?”
“You’re bending, you’re a contortionist,” suggests Bob, gamely.
“Nowadays it’s someone showing off,” Louis explains. “I’d flex my designer clothes, for example, my flashy watch.”
“Oh right, that’s a new one to me. What about flexing your muscles?”
“You can still flex your muscles. I might say to my mate, that’s a big flex, you’re flexing, you’re looking good.”
“Oh dear me,” Bob sighs, as he sinks back on the couch. “Why not say the correct word?”
Bob might not know the terminology, but he has had a major flex on social media recently. Louis is the Yorkshire Challenge belt (69kg) boxing champion and credits his success to the outdoor boxing gym, nicknamed the Dojo, that Grandad Bob helped him build in the back yard of the family home. A TikTok video of Louis using a tyre as a punchbag while his grandfather eggs him on went viral this year. Today, Louis confidently reels off his social media wins to Bob. He just hit 1m likes on TikTok; their video garnered 2.4m views. “Well, people like watching things,” Bob says, sagely.
Talk turns to another modern phenomenon: dating apps. Bob explains what dating was like in his youth. “There would be these dos in the church with disco dancing. When you’re dancing the first night, the ladies said: ‘You’ll have to come and see my parents before I can see you again.’ The parents would have to give you the nod. It took a long time to woo those ladies. It’s much faster now.”
“That’s the whole point of dating apps,” Louis says. “You’re bored on a night out, you match with someone on Tinder, and it’s back to the uni accommodation. It’s as simple as that.” He shakes his head in dismay. “Back in your day, you were such gentlemen. It puts us to shame. Now people super like on Tinder, slide into DMs – there’s no class about it.”
Does Bob know about Tinder? “Vaguely,” he nods. “You look at these modern things because they come up on the television. It’s a changing world and it’s changing fast. Very fast.”
We head outside to the Dojo, where Bob goes a couple of rounds with a piece of boxing equipment that mimics a sparring partner. Bob was a boxer until he was 14, when his father put a stop to it, fearing for his safety. Louis is fearless: he wants to retain his current belt and win the 75kg title. “If I win that, I’ll be the first Yorkshire two-weight amateur boxing champion – no one’s ever done two belts at the same time.” He’s doing an apprenticeship in financial services, but wants to build his boxing brand, get a huge following and go professional. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be famous like Conor McGregor,” he says.
Bob roars with laughter at this. He still has his goals. He’s been renovating a barn since he retired from commercial vehicle bodybuilding almost 20 years ago. He hopes to move in one day. Louis recalls a visit there to help with welding. “We were chugging along in your little Nissan Micra, and there was this long stretch of perfect straight road ahead, and I said: ‘Go on, Grandad, put your foot down, show me what the Micra’s got.’ And you said: ‘Listen, in life you’ve just got to take your time and go slow because if you go too fast you miss the beauty of life.’ It’s stuck with me, has that.”
‘I don’t know how old you are, to be honest’: Anisa Afsar, 14, and Khurshid Bashir, 65, on skincare, life in Pakistan and creative writing
Anisa Afsar travels from Bradford every week to visit her Nanee, Khurshid Bashir, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. There are always kebabs and gossip, and Anisa, a keen reader, usually has a book on the go, something in the action and fantasy genres. But today, as we gather in Khurshid’s living room, Anisa realises she doesn’t know a lot about her grandmother’s story. “I know a bit of it – I know you didn’t go to school and stuff.” Anisa giggles, shyly. “I don’t know how old you are, to be honest.”
One challenge is the language barrier: “We can understand easy words,” Anisa says. “Nanee understands English – I understand a few words in Urdu, so it does take a while.”
“I wish I did go to school,” Khurshid tells Anisa. “When I moved here at 11, from Pakistan, I learned the language from being here.” She explains what life was like in Pakistan, a country Anisa has never visited. “Everything was outside. We bathed outside, we ate outside. Here, it’s like we’re locked in. In Pakistan, everyone was together, cooking and cleaning. It’s like another life. I’ve spent most of my life here – I got married at 15. So I see my life in Pakistan as my young time.”
Today, Anisa’s mum, Fozia, is on hand to help with translation. Khurshid tells Anisa she is 65, which amazes her granddaughter. “Your skin is probably better than mine,” Anisa says. “At 65, I would like to still look as nice as you.” Khurshid says she doesn’t wear makeup. She’s a clean freak, and says that keeps her young.
Anisa didn’t know how young her grandmother was when she got married. It’s got her thinking. “If I were to get married, I’d have to be about 30,” she says. Khurshid softly mouths the figure “25”, as if that might be a good compromise. For now, Anisa has other goals. She wants to pass all her exams. She likes English and performing arts, and through working with the creative writing charity First Story, she has been published in an anthology. She tells her grandma what she writes about: “It depends how I’m feeling. I like writing action, weapons and fighting. I add subplots, though, like romance, because it can’t just be one genre for me.”
What does her grandma think of all this? “Make sure you do well, and do something with your life,” she tells Anisa, with whom she shares a certain shyness. “Whatever you want to do, I’ll be proud.”
‘You’re very cool and kind, and a good cook’:Baye Julien, nine, and Enith Williams, 64, on Windrush, traditions and technology
When we gather to talk on FaceTime, Enith tells Baye – perched on her grandmother’s lap – what it was like to be part of the Windrush generation.
“My parents came over to make a home here,” Enith says. “I stayed with my grandma in Nevis, and unfortunately my grandma passed away and so I had to come here on my own on a plane when I was seven. It was November 1964, and it was snowing. Coming from sunshine to snow, I was like, ‘What?’ I had a sticker on my coat to say my name.”
Baye considers this for a moment, then says: “You must have been scared.”
Enith nods. “Before I went, it was really exciting because I was getting new clothes, and everybody was saying goodbye to me. But on the plane, I didn’t have anybody to speak to – that was a bit scary for nine hours.” Enith tells Baye about all the things she’d never experienced before, like the cold. “Steam started to come out of my mouth and I said: ‘I’m smoking, why am I smoking?’ When I saw an indoor fire, I thought the house was ablaze.”
Baye and Enith live close to each other in Stretford, Greater Manchester; Baye stays over at her grandma’s on weekends. They watch TV together, though it’s usually what Baye likes, Enith says. “I like Frozen, I’ve watched everything about twice,” Baye says. “I like The Princess And The Frog. It’s not my favourite film, but it’s my Disney film. It shows black people can be princesses, and the princess looks like me.”
Baye helps her grandma with her iPad. Today, she explains what a step counter is for. “When we were growing up, we didn’t have these things,” Enith says. “It’s good that you know, so you can explain everything to me.”
Has Baye ever considered what she’d be like when she’s 64? “I’d have thought I’ll be like my grandma. I’d be very respectful. I’d watch a lot of Emmerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders.”
Enith, who was a hairdresser for 40 years, washes her granddaughter’s hair at the weekend, and takes the opportunity to educate her on heritage and traditions. She recently explained the use of a hot comb, warmed on the stove, to straighten afro hair. Baye thinks this must have burned her grandma’s ears.
Baye likes her grandma’s head massages and the traditional johnny cakes she makes. “You’re very cool and kind, and a good cook,” Baye says. “You’re kind with your words and actions, and sometimes, when Mummy’s not here, I can stay up late.”
There is a plan to visit the West Indies so Enith can show Baye her heritage. Baye has all her swimming costumes ready.
Enith pulls her granddaughter close. “My parents left me with my grandma. I knew they loved me, but I didn’t feel love. We had that separation. Now, I’ve made sure that Baye knows and feels love. As soon as she hears my voice, I just want her to know it’s love there.”
‘I learned from Gramphy that some fish can change from female to male’:Kiki Tautz, 11, and Pip Philips, 64, on nature and working in the forces
Kiki Tautz and her grandfather, Pip Philips, natter away on the beach in Gosport, Hampshire, while their photograph is taken. They love to talk, Pip says. “We go places, have a sit down and a good discussion, don’t we? We talk about nature. You’re well into Mr Attenborough. He’s your hero.”
Kiki nods enthusiastically as her Gramphy gives her a comforting cuddle. “I learned that some fish can change from female to male. I didn’t realise animals can do amazing things like that.”
“I didn’t know that either,” Pip says, as they sit looking out to the Isle of Wight. “Animals work as a community, don’t they? It’s like ants – you’ve got thousands of them and they are working together.”
Kiki lives near the beach with her mum, Bryley, and dad, Ian. “I like exploring, playing with animals and going swimming,” she says. Her grandfather lives farther along the coast in Poole, Dorset.
Pip was in the Royal Marines for 26 years. His name is Alan, but everyone knows him by the nickname he earned when he entered the forces at 16. “I was 5ft 4in at the time,” he says, “so they called me ‘Pipsqueak’ and the name stuck.”
One of the hardest aspects of Pip’s career was being away from his daughter. “When your mum was young, I used to say at night: ‘See you, I’m going tomorrow.’ I didn’t know where I was going or how long for. It could be three days or six months.”
Pip’s only contact with family was through the Forces Free Air Letters system.“All we had was what we called the bluey, a piece of paper that you could write on two sides. We moved around a lot, so letters got back to the UK quicker than the ones coming to us. Eventually you’d get a big stack and you had to sort them out by date to understand what was going on.” It was difficult being away: “While you were working, you didn’t have time to think about family, but at night it was hard. You’d never get photos from your kids – just blueys.”
Kiki’s dad is in the RAF. “But now you can email and FaceTime. It’s quite different,” Pip says. Kiki speaks to her dad every night while he’s away. “It helps me relax because I can see him,” she says. “I know if I can see him online that nothing bad has happened.” She is a member of Little Troopers, a charity that supports children with parents in the forces. At school, friends keep her calm when she gets anxious. Then there is Gramphy. “Sometimes I don’t understand why Daddy has to go away, so I can talk to Gramphy about what he has to do there. Gramphy understands what it’s like.”
Pip gives his granddaughter a reassuring squeeze. “We look at where he is in the world on a map, and you can count down the days until he is back.”
‘I look up to you for your openness to change’: Elijah McKenzie-Jackson, 17, and Jean Young, 86, on the climate crisis, protests and veganism
Jean Young and Elijah McKenzie-Jackson have been living together since lockdown. “We call each other besties because we have conversations all the time, every morning, every evening,” Elijah says, as he budges up beside his grandmother on her bed. “It’s been nice living here, hasn’t it?”
“Oh, I love it,” says Jean, who moved from her home in Essex to live with Elijah and his mum in Walthamstow, east London, after she broke her hip. “It’s been nice having the company. I’ve got so many nice grandchildren to entertain me and talk to me. You never stop talking. I mean, I’m as bad.”
The walls of Jean’s bedroom are decorated with photos of her late husband, Ken, who died nine years ago. She tells Elijah, one of 10 grandchildren, about growing up in the 1940s. Her father was a lawyer overseas and the family frequently moved abroad for his work. Once, they got caught up in a second world war bombing. “It was 1942, we were all on a ship, including my mother and her two dogs, going to somewhere in the far east. We were only one night out from Bristol, and a bomb under the sea blew up in front of us. Luckily, we weren’t hurt. The Royal Navy came and rescued us and brought us back to shore. We were lowered down from this enormous boat in a smaller boat on a chain.”
“Like in Titanic?” Elijah says. “Oh my gosh, Grannie. It sounds like a movie.” Elijah is a climate justice activist, who found his calling two years ago. “I learned a tiny bit about climate change in school. I started watching documentaries, doing my own research, and I got very frustrated. I didn’t understand why no politicians were acting. When the school strikes movement came about, I realised my frustration and anger could be funnelled into something productive.”
“Good for you,” says Jean, even though she has her reservations about the school climate strikes. “I’m not against it. But I’m not sure you should miss too much school.”
We meet at the family home the weekend after Elijah returns from protesting at the G7 summit in Cornwall. He explains how it’s relatively safe for him to attend protests. “If I was a woman and a person of colour, I’d be much more targeted by the police. Walking the streets at night, I feel safe. I’ve never been stopped and searched. I have a privilege, so I’m going to use that privilege to speak up.”
It’s a different world from Jean’s. “That didn’t happen in my day. I could have protested, but nobody did then,” she says. “In those days, parents were much stricter with their children. Nowadays, you can talk things through. That’s what I used to preach to my children. I taught my girls that they had every right to vote – it wasn’t just for men. I got them all voting when they were quite young.”
Elijah and Jean discuss flooding, the oil industry, veganism (theirs is a vegan household) and LGBT issues. Jean has two LGBT children: Elijah’s mum, Becky, and a son, Shimonn. Elijah asks about their coming out. “There was never any secrecy about things like that,” Jean says. “I had to learn what they were talking about. LGBT didn’t mean much to me then, but I got the gist.”
Elijah thinks that having two mothers (he lives with Becky and her partner, and sees his other mum, Helena, very often) has made him who he is. “Having two mums and being a bit different has taught me resilience, and that everyone matters, and everyone can speak up,” he says. He believes his grandmother has been resilient, in a different way. “I look up to you for your openness to change,” Elijah tells Jean. “You could have been homophobic, but you were open and fighting for justice within your family. Now you’re vegetarian, nearly vegan, you’re talking about climate change – that’s something I would never expect from old people.”
The British start-up plans to use the funds to expand after it announced the opening of a European HQ in Dublin last month.
TrueLayer has raised $130m in a funding round that saw participation from Stripe and gives the fintech start-up a post-money valuation of over $1bn.
The British company, which develops APIs to securely connect fintech platforms directly to banks, announced last month that it’s opening a European HQ in Dublin, hiring 25 people. TrueLayer has received authorisation from the Central Bank to operate in Ireland.
The round was led by Tiger Global Management, and comes after TrueLayer’s $70m Series D round in April of this year. The company has now raised about $272m in total.
Alex Cook, partner at Tiger Global Management, commented: “The shift to alternative payment methods is accelerating with the global growth of online commerce, and we believe TrueLayer will play a central role in making these payment methods more accessible.
“We’re excited to partner with Francesco, Luca and the TrueLayer team as they help customers increase conversion and continue to grow the network.”
Stripe, which last week announced its intention to grow its Dublin presence significantly, was already an investor in TrueLayer. The Irish-founded payments giant has invested numerous up-and-coming fintech ventures across the US and Europe, such as a renewed interest in Ramp in late August.
Speaking to the Irish Times, TrueLayer Ireland CEO and general manager for Europe Joe Morley said: “The fundraise allows us to commit even further to our markets in Europe…and allows us to start thinking about broader expansion.
“But our focus in the short to medium term is to make sure we win in Europe so we’re really doubling down on what we had already initiated with our last funding round.”
Morley formerly worked as an executive at Facebook and WhatsApp, and is joined by fellow Facebook alum Leigh-Anne Cotter as TrueLayer Ireland COO.
TrueLayer says that, during 2021, it has so far seen a 400pc increase in volume of payments and 800pc increase in total payment valuation through its APIs. It also claims to have “millions of customers” and more than 10,000 developers using its systems.
The company plans to use the fresh funding to expand into new markets and to increase the penetration of open banking services in regions in which it already operates.
The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report.
Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.
The report also sought to capture tech companies’ overall engagement with climate policy by analyzing activities including their top-level communications as well as lobbying on specific legislation. It found that climate-related engagement levels of three of the five companies – Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft – had declined compared to the previous year.
Tech companies, which have some of the deepest pockets in corporate America, have been racing to come out with increasingly ambitious climate pledges. Amazon has a target to be net zero by 2040 and to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and Facebook has a target of net zero emissions for its entire supply chain by 2030.
In 2020, Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to have removed all the carbon the company has ever emitted. Apple has committed to become carbon neutral across its whole supply chain by 2030.
And Google has pledged to power its operations with 100% carbon-free energy by 2030, without using renewable certificates to offset any fossil-generated power. “The science is clear, we have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change,” the Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in a video announcing the policy.
Yet this strong pro-climate rhetoric is not being matched by action at a policy level, according to the report. “These gigantic companies that completely dominate the stock market are not really deploying that political capital at all,” said the InfluenceMap executive director, Dylan Tanner.
Tech companies have not been entirely silent. Apple, for example, has expressed support for the Biden administration’s proposed clean energy standard, which aims for all US-generated electricity to be renewable by 2035.
But these efforts are significantly outweighed by those of big oil and gas companies, which have ramped up their climate lobbying over the same timeframe, according to the report. “Most of their political advocacy is devoted to climate change and it’s negative,” said Tanner.
A lack of engagement is especially disappointing given the new momentum around climate action under the Biden administration, said Bill Weihl, a former Facebook and Google sustainability executive and now executive director of Climate Voice, which mobilizes tech workers to lobby their companies on climate action. “The dominant business voice on these issues is advocating against the kind of policies that we need,” he said.
Joe Biden’s $3.5tn budget reconciliation bill, which includes large investments for climate action, is facing fierce opposition from some industry groups. The US Chamber of Commerce, the country’s most powerful business lobbying group, has said it will “do everything we can to prevent this tax raising, job killing reconciliation bill from becoming law”. All of the tech companies, with the exception of Apple, are members of the Chamber.
“Our best chance to lead the planet to safety in the race against climate change is through this reconciliation bill, yet InfluenceMap has shown that big tech is still MIA on climate in Congress,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and longtime advocate for climate legislation.
Microsoft and Apple declined to comment on the report and Alphabet did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Amazon said the company engages at local, state and international levels to “actively advocate for policies that promote clean energy, increase access to renewable electricity, and decarbonize the transportation system”.
A Facebook spokesperson said “we’re committed to fighting climate change and are taking substantive steps without waiting for any legislative action”, adding that the company supports the Paris climate agreement goals and helped found the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.
But these actions are not enough given the scale of the crisis, said Tanner. The UN warned in a report published on Friday that even if current climate emissions targets are met, the world is still on a “catastrophic pathway” for 2.7C of heating by the end of the century. “We’re running out of time,” Tanner said, “physically on climate but also on a public policy level.”
TechUK – the UK’s digital trade association representing computer giants and start-ups alike – has called on firms to check their green credentials and make sure they stand up to scrutiny.
The warning comes as UK businesses were told to brush up on their eco-claims or risk public humiliation and enforcement action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Businesses have until the New Year to make sure their environmental claims – such as those regarding energy consumption, packaging, recycling, and product lifecycle assessments – comply with the law and are not simply an exercise in greenwashing.
As part of its efforts to steer companies, the CMA has published a six-point Green Claims Code in a bid to make it clear that anyone spouting eco-friendly claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full life cycle of the product.”
The CMA is targeting sectors that some onlookers may regard as low hanging fruit including textiles and fashion, energy-hungry travel and transport, and fast-moving consumer goods.
However, any sector and the companies that operate within it – including tech – could fall within the CMA’s crosshairs.
In a statement, Andrea Coscelli, chief exec of the CMA, said: “We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”
However, there are worries the new rules may lead to confusion. In its evidence to the CMA, techUK said the six principles set out in the guidance were “not specific enough” and also called for more information to help tech firms. It also warned that different variables made in lifecycle assessments could lead to misleading results [PDF].
In a statement, Susanne Baker, associate director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK, told us: “The CMA’s guidance is important for any company making a green claim about their services, products and company. With more green claims being made by the tech sector than ever before, it’s absolutely vital that these aren’t deemed to be greenwashing.
“Firms have until the new year to address this and will need to think carefully about any green claim they make, be sure they can substantiate them, that they aren’t misleading, and are truthful and accurate,” she said.
The CMA announced that it was investigating the impact of green marketing on consumers last year when it found that 40 per cent of green claims made online could be misleading – suggesting that thousands of businesses could be breaking the law.
Amazon recently found itself fending off a whistle-blower’s claims alleging it dumped unsold goods to landfill, and later bragged that it had achieved lower carbon “intensity” in its business practices. The latter claim was shot down by an unimpressed scientist close to The Reg who remarked that the fact Amazon’s business was growing was not “helpful to Earth”, and the fact it polluted less per unit of activity didn’t change the bottom line “which is that they are polluting more this year than they did last year.”
Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced the electric car maker will stop accepting Bitcoin payments for its vehicles, due to the “increasing use” of fossil fuels, particularly coal, to support Bitcoin’s electricity-hungry mining and transaction processing.
An Intel sponsored report by non-profit Resilience First, highlighted in June the role of tech in reaching net-zero carbon emission goals. However, making chips has been a dirty business, with a 2002 study concluding that a single 2g semiconductor chip required a whopping 1.6kg of secondary fossil fuels and 72g of chemical inputs to be put into production. ®