I WAS BORN IN THE EASTSIDE OF LONDON within the sound of Bow bells so I am what used to be called a Cockney. Shortly after my birth my parents moved to Brixton in south London. Here I grew up and went to school, apart from a period spent in Padstow, Cornwall as a wartime evacuee. One day in 1950 while walking along Coldharbour Lane on my way home from school I saw something I had never seen before that greatly astonished me. I saw my very first Black man. Now if I walked down Coldharbour Lane I would be astonished if I saw a White man. Now 50 years later Brixton is more like an African township and has been nicknamed “Little Jamaica”.
Recently, I visited my old school in Sussex Road with two of my children. Today, 80-90% of the pupils are Black. Brixton Market, where I once worked for the barrow boys on a Saturday for ten shillings is now like an Eastern Bazaar. Indians, Chinese, Blacks, Turks, Greeks, the human assortment is as varied as the variety of strange food for sale. Brixton was once a peaceful and agreeable place in which to live. Now it is dirty and rundown and elderly folk are afraid to go out at night for fear of being mugged.