Germaine Greer and Bob Marley.

I’m on Upper Street in Islington meeting my friend Sara from Amsterdam. Sara is adopted to an Irish family and we met in Amsterdam. She works in the voluntary sector, is educated and is off to Amsterdam tomorrow and then to Ireland to be with her family over Christmas.  She has been living in London about two months now.

But while waiting I see my favourite star Cathy Tyson walking down Upper Street in a beautiful black fake fur coat. She is chatting happily on the telephone and definitely I catch her eye – she lingers a little I smile and she continues her conversation. It was very much a Chanel advert moment.  I’m not a starry person – I know a lot of people but Tyson buckles my bones. I thought she sent me a smile other people might say I was stalking. The thing about Cathy Tyson is that she broke America early on. I would guess that she was one of the first black British women actors  to break America. I believe her treatment by the media subsequently, was atrocious.

I know a lot of people that know her and was once asked in a newspaper “what would be your perfect day”. My reply  included lunch with Cathy Tyson. And it is only a matter of time before I introduce myself at something or other.   As she passes Sara calls on the cell. We are both waiting outside of different Starbucks. We laugh. We meet. We laugh again. We eat. We laugh and we part warmed with sushi and laughter. I meet the GF on Bond Street where we find me a black tie suit for a wedding in a few weeks time.  Every time I’ve bought a suite in London I have been served by an articulate stylish black professional.  Many of my colleagues in Manchester will tell me how much they hate London. I have often said in reply  “I like London cause there are more people who look like me”.  It’s a gentle comment but belies the fact that I am sick, sick to my back teeth of having shop detectives in Manchester alerted by my skin tone or having door staff alerted by my skin tone.  Manchester is  good at serving its own to the exclusion of others.  Which is why it is known for its white working class singers – no coincidence.

 There’s nothing wrong with the latter except for this – the same people who benefit from it (Manchester)  are the first ones to deny that it happens to the exclusion of others.  Take that to the bank and cash it in. I love Manchester for all its  seismic faults.   I say goodbye to the GF and go to Café De Paris to be interviewed. I’m being interviewed in The Café De Paris for a retrospective on Roots by BBC. Germaine Greer  who wrote The Female Eunuch was interviewed earlier. I like Germaine Greer.I’m told how Greer once had a relationship with Bob Marley.  Now there’s a mix the misogynist and the feminist.  Both are brilliant and both are flawed. Hurrah to flawed brilliance and imperfect diamonds. As they say in Belfast once a deal is done “that’s us”.I like her. The richness of her intelligence, the visceral nature of her emotional responses,  her flamboyancy and general academic nuttiness.   I do the interview (it’ll be out on BBC in March 07) and a car takes me home.

I moved to London for love. I moved to London because there were more people who looked like me, thought like me. But this is also why I moved to Manchester from the villages of Lancashire when I was seventeen years old. The Story continues. Peace.

7 thoughts on “Germaine Greer and Bob Marley.

  1. hi! my name is marco and i'm just curious about the story of germaine greer and bob marley… i'm not english peraphs I did't understand: germaine greer and bob marley had a relationship???
    true??? love relationship???
    thank you for your reply

  2. As far as I go is to say it happened, anything else would be guess work. By the way, I don't think it is a secret, as such. It's just that it happened as said, as I am led to understand , by Ms Greer.

  3. Hello Lemn,
    This is what you write – “Many of my colleagues in Manchester will tell me how much they hate London. I have often said in reply “I like London cause there are more people who look like me”.”
    It's interesting because I guess I'll never know how you feel, that feeling of being more comfortable among people who look like you. I have a lot of situations in my life when I feel uncomfortable in a group of people; I remember being at a very 'posh' party and it was way beyond not connecting, I actually felt physically ill; and I've been in situations with very philistine racist type people and felt absolutely alienated and despairing. I definitely wouldn't choose to live among those people. But on neither of those occasions was the colour of my skin (or their skin) a factor.
    But that's what you mean by “look like me”, right? I'm assuming you mean colour (not that they 'look like' you because they wear gorgeous brown suits and dapper shoes like your's!!).
    For you, what does colour 'signify'? For me I don't think it signifies anything very much; it's not a particularly good guide to whether I'm going to get on with someone, or whether those are people are my 'community'. I'm going to make a really banal but still absolutely true point; I meet 'black' people I feel connected to, and I meet 'white' people who I'm so far away from it's like they are a different species to me.
    And thinking about choosing to live somewhere where people “look like me”, I think I'd be appalled if I heard someone white person say – for example – that they were moving out of some neighbourhood somewhere and going somewhere else to live near people who look like them!
    But I guess it's to do with how people treat you. The store detectives etc. The taxi drivers. In Manchester there's a more negative vibe towards people who look like you; that's what you're saying. I can appreciate that, even though the cynic inside me wonders whether really the store detectives at Next on Oxford Street or wherever are really colour-blind! And I wonder whether you happen to be lucky in the sense that your neighbourhood is somewhere you feel comfortable in. I don't think you'd feel that in every neighbourhood in London surely.
    I won't go on. I'm not quite sure what my real point is.
    I guess it's disappointment that colour is still a significiant factor in how people feel about each other.
    Bless you.
    Miss you.
    Dave x

  4. Hey Dave, I am sorry I haven't replied to you sooner. I travelled to india on tour and I'm in Chennai at the moment staying at The Park Hotel which is very similar to “Aurora.
    But to comment on yor email – I am not sure that I am more comfortable around people who look like me but I am more comfortable that there are more people who look like me. There are more Ethiopians and Eritreans in London than in Manchester and I had to graduate towards where they are . It's all part of a life journey. I needed some artistic stimuli too, and I find that here in London. I was stagnating in Manchester. The real reason that I moved was to be with the GF. (always refered to as the GF in Blogs).
    Without going into anecdotal evidence of the racism factor in Manchester it is fair to say that it is here in London too. Like cancer it is barely visible until the final throws. Bob Marley once said “he who feels it knows it” and that's about all i can say on the matter.
    It was a strain pulling myself away from good spirited friends like you (i could name them on half of one hand) which is why I stepped out so quietly. The first nine months were very very difficult because I was out of my comfort zone. I couldn't call you up and meet at Fuel cafe to talk literature and nights out and all and everything. That was the hardest part for me my friend.
    Colour, culture, family, gender, class. All these things are relevant in our lives – moreso than many of us give them credit for. But be under no illusion that friendship is the process where these identifications melt beneath the surface to reveal the true spirit – thankfully! I value your freindhsip in such a way.
    That is not to say that any of those initial identifications are not relevant in either of our individual lives. They are. But in our friendship, no. Hands across the sea, brother.
    So what's the deal on your next book. Email me!
    Miss you bro

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