Wednesday, March 31, 2004


(Scene: The Holloway Road in north London. Most famous for Joe Orton, in which period it was full of Irish immigrants. It has changed enough that he would not only turn in his grave, but he must be spit roasting over the fires of hell. It is early evening on a grey day. G marches along, trying to beat the buses caught up in the usual jam. The sound of kids rapping in a Jamaican style approaches him from behind. Prepubescent voices as yet untouched by the trouble of testosterone, the sound is unintelligible and less musical than a running diesel engine.
G's safety space bubble is attacked by these alien missiles. But in a split second, he remembers what he has learnt. To ignore them is to let them grow up into wild animals. He whirls about to glance at them, without breaking step. One brown kid and one slightly smaller white kid, rapping in a muzzy synchrony, maybe eleven years old.
One of them bursts out laughing, non-maliciously as if he'd seen a clown bump into a wall. The attention was so unusual in this selfish city, that it was funny for them.
G drops back to fall into line with them, acknowledging the ice-breaker. The kids are still rapping their mantra.)

G: What IS that?

Brown kid: It's MC, man, you should listen to it. (raps again)

G: You mean like the famous MC Hammer?

Brown kid: Oh NOOOO! That is way old stuff. It's MC. It's harder and faster.

G: It sounds like Mumbo Jumbo to me..

Brown kid: Noooo, you got to listen to it, man. You got to get with it. (they rap again)

G: It might as well be Arabic to me...

Brown kid: You got to listen to it, man. You GOT to get with it...

G: I've had to get with it for 42 years. You've only had to get with it for 13.

Brown kid: Why don't you listen to it, man? You GOT to get with it!!!!(they start to move ahead, rapping)

G: Hey, I tell you what, I'll GET WITH it if I can get some money out of it!

Kids (stopped): That's what we're going to do, man, we're going to do this for money!

(A little nonplussed, they start rehearsing again. We all shrug, we split)

And thus I may have reinforced whatever their parents and teachers try to tell them: that they are not likely to grow up and earn a living by 'getting with it by rapping'. If nothing else, I have wrested from Simon Cowell the pleasure of doing the honour, and from making more money off public humiliation.

No comments: