Pops always liked to remember the old time sayings from home. And when he dropped them on these British-born youngsters, they always had to wonder. When he explained to them, they would get it. But he’s stopped all that now.
“When I say things to them, they look at me as if I’m stupid–old fashion. They don’t know it’s not everybody fashion fit. The fashion may be in, but if it don’t fit me–I not getting into it. It’s not the clothes you wear or how you look. It’s what’s in you that makes you that special outstanding individual. Most people think because you can dress … it’s not the clothes … that’s only a picture postcard. That don’t mean you have to look dirty or appear anyway below the standard.
You know, just to go down the road there, you dressing up like mutton-favour-lamb. Who you impressing? I’m clean – that’s all I know. I see some of these young girls round here sometimes, unnecessarily dressed. You see them going round The Frontline here dressed to kill like billboard advertising sign. I see girls pushing prams with baby and dress up in a six-inch mini skirt. See them bend over two seconds – whoops! I mean, man, if a woman have to go on like that for a man to notice her, it’s not right.
You don’t have to show your body where only your lover alone should see it. Just to gain popularity or for people to like you. It’s not everybody can dress-up like Beyoncé on TV selling records by the bucket-load. Some of these young girls you see round here now suffering from massive insecurities. They encourage rape; see if you don’t see what I mean. You not going to leave your house door open for thief to break into? You gonna make it easier for thief to get into your house by leaving your front door open? No! I tell you; the little I see of Carnival each year is the highlights on the telly. I never been there. I started twice and just something changed. I see some of these young girls from round here going up there–oh my, huh-huh! It’s just not on! That’s right down slackness. So what style or fashion can that be?
I’ve got two girls, and thank God, I can lift my hand and knock wood–hope it’s not too late. But I’m glad for the way they’ve turned out. They both work. It’s not like you see in the news these days where they saying half of those round here have no gainful employment. But I told my girls, ‘I wouldn’t mind if you don’t pick a man from round in this area.’ And they listen to me. The younger one living up in Nottingham. She has her little fellow over there. The one living with me, she’s now at work. Her man is from Hackney. And he’s not a Jamaican. He’s from … not Ghana … I forget which one … anyway … Gambia? … No … But he’s just like us. He behaves just like us. And he’s not an idler. He’s always working. I don’t mean as if to say that West Indians don’t like to work, that’s just what some people like to think, but it’s not true. It’s all about the company you keep. As I say, fashion suit some, but it don’t always suit others.
You see some of these boys on The Frontline here selling? One down there, they call him ‘Gary Glitter’. Oh my, every girl come — it’s Gary. I think he must have about a hundred kids, each one more worse off than the last. So, so, so stupid. Just that ‘Flash Harry’ way and having money counting-counting all the time. And the women, they just give their bodies. “Here, come! See it here. Tek it.” And it’s not theirs to give. They come off worse. And a man that would help them for their future, they don’t want to know him. For if you’re not flashing, they don’t want you.
So you can see, it’s love for convenience. It’s not way down love. Theirs is the love that comes and goes. But a love that grows like a beautiful flower, it needs the necessary moisture, warmth and air. Every time you see somebody you love, it seems deeper. You don’t love them for what they have. If they don’t have money today, or don’t have a flash car, fuck them off–leave them! No! Thick or thin, you two together, that’s what love is. People now a days don’t know nothing ’bout love any more, anyhow, and every minute they want to get married. Like that bloody big-breasted Jordan woman. What’s she calling herself these days again, Katie Price? Some even before the reception finish, they quarrel. You know?
I could write a whole book about all the things I’ve seen in my sixty-five years, but I don’t know the first damn thing there is to know about book writing. How to get it all in perspective, if you know what I mean? I could sit here, though, the whole day through and talk to you all night long about the carrying-on of people. And I learn from them, you know. I do. I learn from them. I try not to take it all too personally. But it hurt me.”
For Leon Alexander (aka Pops). Rest in peace.