Wild Horses In The Foyer: Benjamin Zephaniah

Other than unformed notes I hadn’t  yet written the  introduction to Benjamin Zephaniah for his appearance at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London tonight.  But the wild horses were gathering  on the horizon.

I arrive home un-rested  and unwritten after a five thousand mile overnight flight from  South Africa.    I unpacked and balanced the  South African Masks upon their plinths around our home and then cycled  to The Southbank Centre.

 This is what I missed when away.   I park  in the riverside rooms where the artistin residence are based and within seconds a camera crew and interviewer arebungling themselves through the door. I’d scheduled an interview at 3.15pm   for anew initiative called LitUp  Singapore.

I can hear the thunder of their gallop. My notes for the intro are rustling.  The interview goesas well as interviews do.  And between five and six pm  I call in the horses  and they leave a trail of sentences.  I then print them. I print  the Benjamin Zephaniah introduction.   It is exactly what I wanted it to be.

At seven pm I meet Benjamin back stage  who is sat comfortably with Rachel Holmes inthe green room.  By seven thirty five Benjamin saunters on stage to rapturous applause. He smiles    “next time  I  introduce a  girlfriend to my mum Lemn...Will you write theintroduction?” he tells me. He’s happy. I’m proud and he delivers a blinding set of poems to an audience in awe . Great to watch a master at work.

I pop up to the artists hang out in the RFH where I meet Thom Priestley, the  son of the late JB Priestley whose book  “An English Journey”   had its relaunch  in The Purcell Rooms tonight. I imagine if JB Priestley  were alive he would’ve  met with Benjamin to say hi.    Benjamin would have  joked with  Priestley about his pipe smoking and Priestleywould have made some joke about  weed.  They would have compared notes about their respective events.   An English Journey indeed.

I am exhausted.  At  11pm  I get on my bike,  switch on the lights and cycle off and overwaterloo bridge,  round Aldwych,  up Holborn,  through Islington onwards, onwards to Dalston into Hackney and finally home.    

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