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.