Jimmy drove a mini-cab in London. He had a dazzling smile and a “winning way” with the ladies. He could sing, he could dance and he was wicked on the steel drums. He was rumoured to have a wife back in Jamaica.
I met him through another friend and used to see him at the pub from time to time. One year, during Notting Hill Carnival, he turned up at my front door, along with about half of the parade, looking for cool drink, mon. (Our flat was on the parade route and revellers often stopped for cool drink.)
I lost touch with most of those friends when I left London, but I still think about them and wonder where they are…
Chalky White, for one. Ah, Chalky! The sharpest dresser south of the River. He favoured white suits, with dark blue shirts and broad ,white, silk ties (this was the 70s and he followed Chelsea)
topped with a very gangster-ish white fedora and finished with white boots. Coming along the street, he looked like a negative!
Then there was Lucas. Yes, they really did call him Lucozade.* He taught “lickle chil’ren” at one of the toughest schools in the East End. Coached a junior cricket team in his free time on Saturdays and got blind drunk on Sundays.
Francis had come from Nigeria before the Biafra War. He was studying at night school, determined to make something of his life. His wife worked part-time for a nursing agency once the children started school. I never saw Francis without a wide, water melon grin. One Christmas, the kids nailed his boots to the ceiling, “so Daddy will have to stay home and play with us!”
Back then, Jim Davidson still worked the pub-and-club circuit and was much more risque than TV ever allowed. Funnier, too. In fact, I think he did a gag about Chalky White.
But to get back to Jimmy…
I am not one of those gifted artistic types who can knock out a masterpiece-a-day. No, I struggle. Drawing goes not come easily, so loosening-up exercises are a Good Thing. Like drawing a face in only 7 lines. And blind contour, which is closing your eyes and visualising what you want to draw. Then drawing it!
So it was that I was doing this one day, a few weeks ago, and when I opened my eyes,the lines reminded me of Jimmy. I sketched in a few more lines, threw a little water colour on it and there he was, grinning back at me, just like old times.
* Lucozade is one of those energy drinks, but in Cockney rhyming slang it means a negroid person. Lucozade = spade. As in the black suit in a deck of cards.
And the answer to yesterday’s “mystery” picture: it’s the floor in the laundry doorway, where the kittens skid around the corner and into the laundry for their meals.The surface is scuffed, like an ice rink, which is why I gave you the zambloni clue!