Saturday, November 25, 2006

Scoring with J

Our Jamaican friends S and J were over on holiday, staying with us in our Archway flat. It was August 2000. J, being a strict Rastafarian, was in need of some herbal relief. Being the anxious host, I did not want to disappoint. And so, leaving the two women at home, neither of them particularly enamoured by the prospects of our midnight mission, we set off in my old banger Peugeot 205. My first thought was to go to Camden, just down the hill the other side of Kentish Town. After a few minutes wandering about and asking Ethiopian taxi drivers near York Way, I quickly realised we were not in the right place. I kerb-crawled with decreasing hope around the neighbouring streets, before speeding off to what I was sure would be a much more certain destination: All Saints Road in Notting Hill. We parked the car and strolled down the street. Since my dope-fuelled days with J__ in the mid 1990’s, the once notorious street had been chi-chi’d up, with hardly an illicit vibe in emanation. We had almost reached the end of the street and our tether when we came upon a Caribbean cultural centre, with a frontage resplendent in all the flags of the West Indies. This surely would be the place, I thought.

A guy in dreads came out and greeted us, shaking hands loudly with J. ‘What-a-gwan dread?’ the guy said. J meanwhile had begun to study the flags with a slight frown. ‘Hey mon’, he began’, ‘W’appen to de Jameyakan flag? You gat all de flags of de kyaribeyan, but naat de Jameyakan one?’ It was the turn of the dreadlocked guy to frown. He then swung round and pointed with irritation to the top right hand side of the frontage. ‘What ya talking bout brethren. Dere is ur Jameyakan flag. D’ya want de flag to cover de hole of de building?’

With this inauspicious start, we got down to business. J was used to asking for what he called a ‘ten bag.’ For ten Jamaican dollars, you got what appeared to be (from J’s spatial miming earlier on in the car) to be the size of a Tesco bag full of ganja. Meanwhile, I had no idea how much ten Jamaican dollars was, but knew that twenty quid would be enough for perhaps an eight of an ounce. J asked a little diffidently for a ten bag, hoping that the dread would understand and be able to translate into local currency and requirements. The dreaded guy stared J levelly in the face and calmly asked for seventeen pounds in return. I fumbled and brought out a crumpled twenty. Our new friend then disappeared with the money and went back inside. A few minutes later, he brought out a tiny amount of substance, wrapped in cellophane, as well as three pound coins. J held it outstretched in his hands, his face the very portrait of incredulity. ‘Whaaat!’ ‘You mean this is what I get for seventeen pounds!’ After a few seconds of increasing disbelief, he popped it inside his jacket pocket, and we were off. As we drove home, he explained that this was nearly all their daily allowance for the holiday –and that S would not be best pleased. At that point, I think he concluded his case for the prosecution concerning the fundamental meanness of life in the UK.


Anonymous,  10:29 pm  

At that point, I think he concluded his case for the prosecution concerning the fundamental meanness of life in the UK.

You can say that again...

Anonymous,  6:15 am  

Hey Chxta, I told you to explore, but em..., this might be taking it a little too far, my friend. ;-)

dami 11:55 am  

what-a-gwan? what ever happened to whaa gwaan

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