Art Archive and Anarchy

Just been to hospital for sleep studies. They were going to  keep me over night (the clue is in the title apparently)   but  fortunately it isn’t happening and I have been given some apparatus to use at  home that will monitor my sleep pattern and makes me look like a cross between  buzz lightyear and a ghostbuster.  At the   moment I sleep on average about five hours a night and I am up early writing.  Still the day does not have enough hours. But I love what I do and I do what I  love.  However,  to do   good work one must also do good rest. Take that to the bank.

2pm. A friend and  colleague Karen Gebay a producer for BBC who works in Manchester
and whom I have known now for about 19 years is putting together a fascinating
documentary to be toured around England.   It is footage of black folks who came to England   in the fifties. The dignity of the interviewees tells me something incredibly
sad. Where did that dignity go? And why?

Ofcourse it is still here. But if I look to my television   screens now it is difficult to see myself represented with such high minded   dignity. We are an “issue” here and we, in a binary way, are forced to relate   to the “issue”.  Thank god for artists –  the spirits. The ones who hold no truck with this! Agghhh.

Anyway I am doing the voice over for the documentary at the  BBC. There is a car purring away outside and on the way out of my apartment I  meet my neighbour who works for the world service. It’s good to see her. She is  a Scot and has a suitcase and is off to India
so its perfect timing. She jumps in the car and I give her a lift to that   wonderful building that is The World Service at Bush House in The Aldwych. She  works at the BBC.I tell her of the book Beasts of No Nation. And she is  immediately onto getting it.  It’s about
a child soldier and I think it is astounding and so does Salman Rushdie.

The car speeds  through  London to Weston House. I put down  the recording of the voice-over for this historical archive footage and I am on  my way home when who should I see in Islington but Margaret Busby – she of  Busby and Allison –  one of the greatest
pioneering Black women in British publishing.   She dives in the car and we’re off to hackney.   It’s the anniversary of Allison and Busby  and she has archive in files of her first press. It’s a spirited conversation –  she’s a spirited woman, who never seems to age. I am kind of honoured to have  spent that half hour with her.

On his behest I give the BBC driver the details of the book  Beasts Of No Nation as he is from Sierra Leone  and has experience of child soldiers which neither of us go into. I step out of  the car. I have one hour before I travel to South London.  The art is me, the archive is what Margaret showed  me and the anarchy is inside the child soldiers head – the one who  narrates the entire book.

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