Listen: The Thinking Behind the Book 'Home Coming'
"So homecoming is such an incredible book? And it's already having an incredible impact. I really enjoyed hearing all the different things and actually I listened to the audio book. I know that a lot of our listeners. Love audiobooks listening forecast. Say The audiobook. Because they're really interesting experience to hear the voices as well Tennyson it will a- and about your the thinking behind the book when when I can concept came into your head and what it was like an his first stages of planning a few years ago I wrote a memoir about growing gluten with my Jamaican parents called bad guy at the wheel. By guys. My father's nickname his Jamaican can. He had baggy is an all of his friends equally. Funny Nicknames that define them and they adhere to whether they liked the name or not so there was one man called old shine. Who was bowled? Like me anxious was very anxious. Tidy boosters very fussy but his footwear clock had one arm longer than the other. My favorite was manacled somewhere. And when somewhere came to this country from Jamaica in one thousand nine hundred system light summer suits tropical suits the matter. The weather weather come halo storm and when I thought about writing this book ask my mom. Whatever became of somewhere and she said well he caught a cold and died within a few months and I was shocked by that straightway which she spoke to sit in very matter of fact way had an edge to it but also it was quite a funny and I remember that when asked let's grapple loosened in the sixties all? The people were really really funny. There were like in my mind. CAST members of guys and dolls the Damon Runyon and they were all of my figures. We had no television until nineteen seventy two but they were television and what. I finished that Book Burger at the wheel about six seven years ago now I was wanted to continue it and away. The beginning of homecoming was a continuation of that story story but equally there were books. I read as a young man about Caribbean people in this country especially a book by Sam Cell Phone. Call the Lonely Londoners which is a book about a man called Moses who is kind of meet and greeter. So Kirby America's Dan to Waterloo station or Paddington and greets this carbon pioneers come off the boat train and equally. They have Wonderful characters wonderful names as a character. Awesome Galahad is rather light my car somewhere and when I finished up I wanted to myself. Well what would what would become of those people from the nineteen fifties and sixties if they were still alive today and what were their stories. What was the story of their great pioneer migration to prison? And although there have been books about that I don't think anyone's really interrogated the individual stories. And what you get with this book which is kind of oral history is a kind of an accumulation of similar stories and by that accumulation. You realize there was a bigger truth because sometimes when you hear stories you think that's just a one off when you hear again again again and you realize the experiences and I wanted to to have that kind of course onus in this kind of chorus line because right the way through But also the kind of gives you some of the shape and the contours of their lives from six to the present day and the people that you you chase to feed the book is e. Say An instruction that you you kind of chose intention eaten interview more women than men. 'cause you know those stories are represented. And and also more Chinese these people than Jamaican tell us parents Jamaican and three quarters of the migrants came from the Caribbean were Jamaican. But I right now. The Jamaicans take up too much room in the culture. The make too much noise have to credit opinion on themselves and they're over represented in our culture in terms of books books films music and sometimes they're kind of eclipsed some of the other islanders so I was very keen to address that so if that into more from Guyana kits and I was interested to find out why people ended up in certain parts of the country. So if you're from Saint Kitts you end up open leads. If you're from Saint Vincent in Hiwickum if it from Trinidad you end up in North Hampton and I think we want to these areas because they they were pay people were or their friends and associates broke. Equally is very keen to complicate the story because many of us will see those photographs photographs of the wind rush generation. The wind rush people coming off that ship. Ninety forty eight and the kind of I chronic now these men in Fidora's and zoot suits behind. You ever see any women in this girls but on that ship is often said from the beginning of that story. That now was that the five hundred Jamaican men. That's not true. There are other islands on that ship and the two hundred women on the ship including a woman called Mona. Baptiste's this wonderful jazz singer so I wanted to tell this story but also I wanted to use them to complicate the stories because the women were actually much more generous with their antidotes. Does that much more prepared to interrogate the interior lives and live longer but also in all honesty but I went to interview them. They're prepared to feed me saying that being you played this game I think three hours and the men wouldn't think to feed me and I'll be the on the floor gasping for water a little bit of bread but women would feed me straight away and actually what was interesting to me. I thought began to re revisit. Some of the stories. We're kind of finishing but some of the stores were not familiar. But I heard this story again and again from these elderly people who are now in the eighty s and ninety s had remind. I was on the antiques roadshow. And that what I was hearing were these jewels or this precious antiques. That not been added it for many many years. They've been stored away in cupboards in people's minds and never had a pap form and as an dustin down and reveal them to the reading public because to me they are wonderful rich funny cide. Moving polemical sometimes Philosophical stories that. Give a real sense of the panoply of of of of carbon life in this country. Because I think sometimes sometimes we have very reduced idea about the carribean presence in all honesty. If you look in terms of the archive in film and Television News Pretty Negative and right from the word go. It was pretty negative. People talk about the hostile environment. That Theresa May introduced in two thousand twelve but in my research it was not a new venture. She was very from the very beginning. And I. It's what I was interviewing a lot of these people who are in their eighties nineties to some of the archive of this month. Lockup in the British library the BBC See San Marcos in the BBC people around Archives let the deejay Don Letts had done lots of news twenty years ago. He's archive you've but also I would to my hometown is Brighton. Went to Sussex University where the Mass Observation Archive is held old and in nineteen thirty nine mass version which is so socialist research tool wanting to discover how people live. That was the whole idea of massive station Tau to working people live. What do they do with their money? How they use this time they still go to church too? They gamble. How do they make love but not at thirty? Nine maps vision decided to do a survey about black people. What did people in this country? Think about so-called Negroes in nineteen thirty nine and it wasn't very flattering it was pretty obnoxious really And I wanted to give a sense of what this carbon people who come into because in their minds I say this is true was everybody I spoke. They were a British. I'd even my mom for the book my Mom's from Jamaica and when she was growing up making the nineteen forties she knew how to fold the union flag flag. She could site keats. Shelley Wordsworth automatic pope's by Roach. She knew them all didn't need any book to repeat this poems and she told me that when she went to the cinema the reality cinema and Kingston in one thousand nine hundred dollars at the beginning of the screening of a film people. Stand up to sing the British national anthem and at the end of the screening people. Stand up to sting the British national anthem and I interviewed amount from Guyana. Who told me that when he came to this country went to the cinema and at the end of the film he stood up and such and he was amazing Nubia standing? He was really perplexed by that. So the sense of why they felt Brigitta. So what idea of Britain coming to see if they'd had it had access to these archives from from muscles version. They might have been a bit perturbed but what was interesting also. Is that the British. Sometimes they produce these booklets which they sent out to the Caribbean to give people an idea about what to expect. So there's one booklet produced by the BBC called going to Britain question. Mark as a small pamphlet is western some idea about Codes behavior so if I was to say to nineteen forties forties as an English person and you How do you do? What did you think MSA"