I was here 25 years ago at Bogle L’ouverture. They published Linton Kwesi Johnson’s first book. Mine too. And now I’m back in Ealing at the Town Hall with the Lord Mayor and a few hundred people, young people in care with their social workers and foster parents. I am here to speak about The Superheroes Project and to see them collect excellence in education awards.
After three hours of celebrations I leave. In the early evening I’m in Notting Hill, sat on the steps of Islandlife with Baaba Maal and Suzette (Baaba Maal’s manager) and George Momboye the choreographer of Africa Africa and Groucho the studio manager who recorded Benajmin Zephaniah’s first releases.
At 9pm we’r ein the studio, I am alone in the recording booth, alone except for the sound of Baaba Maal on guitar in my headphones. The others are in the studio waiting for the poem. My mouth opens. I hear my breath and the poem begins “Gold From The Stone”. As I walk back into the studio they are applauding. Afterwards we eat and laugh. I hope Gold stills stands when Baaba Maal hears it again tomorrow. The test is time. Through balmy midnight night of Notting Hill I walk to the subway. A man stops me “Lemn” he says “wassup” I reply. I have no idea who he is. “When’s uyour next show” he asks “I dunno” I reply. He looks at me with pity. Inside I smile.