Voices & Stories

"I'm 61, and back in the fight"

You're never too old to keep learning.

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On April 30, 1978, an estimated 100,000 people marched seven miles from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park and rocked out as a show of solidarity against the National Front and the rhetoric of public figures like Enoch Powell. Everything about the day gives us some insights into Britishness.

The cohorts performing came from all over: Mick Jones of The Clash who was born in Wandsworth, London, to a Welsh father and a Russian Jewish mother; Tom Robinson who realised he was gay at the age of 13 at his private Quaker school; and David Hinds of Steele Pulse who was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, to parents who migrated to the UK from Jamaica in the mid-1950s.

The songs played that day were the mouthpiece of a generation waking up to inequality. They tackled inequalities like the objectification of women, gay rights, and white supremacy among others. And the audience that day? Different together and singing along to the same songs.

As I look back at the good old days, I know they were scattered thinly amongst the “not so good old days” for many who were socially excluded, and I wonder what became of those people.

Back then, it was easy for me to walk away and follow the story “find the job, find the girl, meet the parents,” however, as my one of my current colleagues Marcel commented, “you were able to close that chapter, others who were not so lucky are still writing it.”

A few months ago, if you told me that I could go back in time and speak to that 17 year old me on the 119 bus at East Croydon, after leaving my last Punk/Reggae night out at the Croydon Greyhound, this is what I would have said: “It felt good tonight didn’t it? Well you don’t know it, but you are about to make decisions that leave that feeling behind and you will never feel like that again.”

Guess what… I would have been wrong and glad of it (only I could have a time travelling me that goes back and gets it wrong!).

Wrong because here I am again amongst colleagues that are different together and singing the same song.

Speaking of my new and diverse colleagues (I won’t do the DEI chart, just trust me) you may ask “what’s that like?” To which I would reply, “great, I’m back in amongst it and I’m learning”.

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