From The Mayor of Ealing to Baaba Maal

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.

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