Joana Ramiro: “London opened me up”

Written and photographed by Carolina Mesquita

When I told my colleagues that I was going to interview Joana Ramiro, one of them texted me saying: “OMG I LOVE HER”.

I knew I was off to a good start.

Joana is a reporter, writer and researcher, as well as a political commentator, whose Twitter profile reads: “Eclectic expert: Corbyn, Brexit, love/sex/online dating”. During our chat in Brixton Market, near where she currently lives, we covered most of the topics.

The word that kept coming to mind when speaking to Joana was “contrarian” – I had to Google it though. And that we need more of her in the world, particularly back in Portugal. She is not one of “soft or mild manners” or to accept the status quo, as many of our compatriots are known for.

She moved to London “yearning for challenges” and while some might dislike the city’s fast pace and cutthroat attitude, she calls London her “lover – unstoppable, libidinal tour de force”, as opposed to Lisbon, her “mother, full of light and warmth”.

“I am sure I was far more closed-off to things than I thought I was then, and that London opened me up even further than I thought about. It’s a truly wonderful thing.”

This is now an 11-year old affair. “From undergrad to postgraduate studies, from job to job, the opportunities kept arising and the prospect of returning hasn’t been that tempting yet.” Joana is about to move into her own place, something that would be impossible at her age as a journalist back home.

She has written for different publications, from Grazia to Russia Today, but also for Portuguese newspapers, including “I”. She often mentions the fine line of accepting work from tabloids, due to their link with political parties, as it is “almost impossible for a journalist to be 100% impartial”.

Joana 2

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?,” I asked Joana. She replied: “Hopefully I’ll be subsisting on my writing alone, perhaps having some further recognition in my field in both London and Lisbon. But above all, having my little library – or an expansion of my blossoming one – with a good desk and chair where I can work and read from.”

“A comfortable chair and many books to read. If you add a cat, a glass of wine and a fireplace to that scenario I’ve reached Nirvana.”

She leaves us with a memorable moment that describes her life, her city, and her life in the city:

“The other night I went to the movies in the city’s best cinema, Peckhamplex, (£4,99 tickets all day, every day!), and decided to get back home by foot, a 40-minute walk or so. There was a young family sitting on a table outside a tiny Chinese restaurant, with a small boy munching on his noodles. There were fried chicken shops with teenagers laughing loudly at some joke or other. There were Afro-Caribbean places with old men patiently chatting with the owner as if time had stopped still.

“And then, as I walked the full length of Peckham Road, I saw places where things in my life had happened.

“A bus stop where I once cried desperately after an ex and I had a fight. The steps of an art gallery where I met someone special earlier this year. A little street I used to walk through every day when I lived in a different house with a bunch of lovely flatmates. A road I once heard a rather desperate cry in, leading to my then boyfriend and I calling the police with our hearts in our mouths.

“There is nothing better than feeling all those memories crop up. Proof that you made an alien place your home.”

You can find out more about Joana’s work by visiting her website

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