Excerpt from Making Sense of Past Time by Lawrence G. Taylor
📚Scene from a novel📚
A scene I remember: The weather is variable, and at three in the afternoon, a small group of men sit with cups of tea or bottles of beer in a dingy cafe in a basement, somewhere in Ladbroke Grove. The men are reminiscing or exploring “the black man’s burden” (bigotry, racism, xenophobia, or all three) in the mother country.
Fred took me there; he says he likes to drop by occasionally to find out about life on the other side of the black existence spectrum.
Fred: “Hello, guys! I brought a friend along. He came up not too long ago from GT (Georgetown).”
Two of them say, in harmony, as if rehearsed, “New Boy!” Some smiled, others seem to stare in wonder, or their minds may have been on the discussion at hand.
Fred: “Continue the talk, me listening, man!”
Eddie: “Like … like me was sayin’, some t’ings was bet-ta bay-fore in dis cunt-tree.”
Billy, who sits next to him, seems to agree; his head is bobbing away. “Dat’s for sure.”
Danny: “English folks: dem was easier to know.”
Jimmy: “Der was work, and social life was friend-lee-like.”
Keith: “Yes, ordinary folks was friendlee-er. A black man was a novel-tee den.”
Billy rejoices: “But we wasn’t plen-tee in dem days.”
Danny: “Bee-fore t’ings start to get worse.”
Eddie: “Ordinary Eng-a-lish man, gettin’ frighten, gettin’ jealous ’bout us datin’ white woo-men.”
Jimmy: “Po-lit-tee-cal propa-ganda full-up dey heads with lies. Dem start to fear us.”
Keith: “Accus-ing us for takin’ deer jobs too. What silly shit!”
Eddie: “Plain jeal-ous-ness, that’s all. Dem had nothin’ to be frighten’ ’bout.”
Joey: “Dem had somethin’ all right. Fear, sometimes, come from a good cause.”
Billy: “W’at yo’ mean?”
Joey: “Boatloads with pee-pull from back home and India! Dat’s what I mean to say.”
Billy’s head bobs away: “Good point! Too many like we was com-ming’ here. Sure, mess up dee scene! Dem bring their rude ways too!”
Danny: “Boatloads spoil tings for us. British people turn angry?”
Joe: “Yo better believe it. We’re no longer welcome.”
Keith: “It is confusin’. Dem kind of work we do, de English skin-up dear faces at! Dem a fretful pee-pill, if yo’ axe me.”
Eddie: “That’s why I say it is plain jealous-ness, man! No logic! Just hu-man bad-feelin’.”
Keith: “Still confusin’, man. Didn’t de Transport bosses went and fetched pee-pull from Barbados to run the buses and trains? We for-gettin’ dat.”
Fred interjected, with a touch of Creole, as if he didn’t wish to set himself above the men: “All politics! The blaming game, scapegoat tactics. Dis once great cunt-tree never was Earthly paradise. Some of its cities built from ‘sweat of slavery’. Also, London got a pounding from Hitler flying machines. Some of the mess, black folks help to clean up. They forget our bit in the war effort!”
Eddie: “We sure did the clean-up. But dat was a long time ago. Pee-pull have short me-mo-ree, and much of dem wasn’t even born”.
I mused a while about their complaints and nostalgia. The fruit trees planted in the past by a variety of black hands have turned sour. Should I then follow their message of gloom and throw my dreams of a better life to the wind? Was I treading the soil of a wasteland, judging from the accounts of a few disgruntled voices? I reflected what would it be like to follow Fred’s path, a supposed villain? It wasn’t a sure thing for me, a coward.
In a corner chair, away from the clique of men, sat Dexter, who suffered from mental ill-health. Fred had later informed me. Each day Dexter received a free meal. Adding to the men’s discourse was Dexter’s monologue that had received no attention. The clique of men appeared neglectful of his utterances. I heard him say: “… the bullshit the colonial blacks suffered at the hands of Brits who look down on us with scorn and hate on their faces, and we look down at ourselves. Mixed children have an attitude towards us, elderly immigrants, they show hate and shame, instead of pride for us who fought in the war. White fathers upset about their daughters mingling with my son. What ’bout my three daughters and the pumping they get from white blokes! One-sided affair. The world’s what it is, a shit hole of a place!”
The bitterness dwells in the mind of a troubled soul, residing with me for a good while that day.
Nick Cave on Creativity, the Myth of Originality, and How to Find Your Voice
“Your imagination… is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence… a construction that awaits spiritual ignition.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
MAKING SENSE OF PAST TIME – my take on COMING OF AGE – a NOVEL
“It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover – What I admired most about the novel was the character Lily’s web entanglement of love for two irresistible males. Atlas and Ryle. Both men possess attractive qualities. Lily faces a difficult decision. Getting it right becomes a challenge, where there can be no guarantee. Passion and pride struggle for supremacy. But equilibrium is crucial. There is a beautiful metaphor in this story: You can stop swimming now, Lily. We finally reached the shore.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️