It was the sensation of diving in the arctic sea when in fact I’d Just stepped outside to go last minute Christmas shopping. Is there any other kind of Christmas shopping than last minute? The pulse of Oxford St in central London is critical, any doctor would diagnose imminent heart attack. I become a red blood cell rushing amongst thousands in a main artery of England on the busiest high street of its largest city on the busiest shopping day of the year.
By 2pm the shopping’s done and I walk to The Duchess Theatre in Aldwych across from Bush House, home of The World Service. But the moment I sit
down I stand and give chase to a man and woman. It’s never a wise thing to do – not for a black man in London. “Hey” I shouted breathlessly as they approach the strand.
Both of them turned but I couldn’t speak. Wheezing I point back at the cafe. “we have no money” said the American man “leave us alone”. I squeezed out the words “Bag!!”. The American man looked at me “stand back Arlene” he said to his wife and took the stance of a thai kick boxer. His distended handed curled a finger at me “let’s do this” he said. “bag.. .” I yelped. “we shall not be giving you our bag” he said now bouncing like Bruce lee. “cafe….” I said. “Bag in cafe…yours.” But it was too late and with a high pitch scream he landed what is known as a kick.
When I came back to consciousness they had found their bag and realised their mistake. I sat drinking latte outside the cafe as the American couple walked away with a story to tell their family on Christmas day. It is an honour to embellish their narrative. The journalist turned up and we go see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at The Duchess by invite of its assistant director Anthony Ekundayo. I am given a lesson in great writing and great acting. I declined an offer to meet the cast as the play was so present. I never thought it was a bomb – not for a second.