It was a sunny day. Some friends of mine were planning their wedding ceremony – to take place in a village out of London. They wanted me to play music in the service, so I went with them to see the Church and familiarise with the organ.
On our arrival back in London, my friends (who happen to be of Caucasian extraction) offered to give me a lift back home and I accepted their offer.
In those days, my neighbours who live in the flat above mine had a habit of claiming the steps leading up to the communal front door of our house as a gathering space. My neighbours were proud of their street credibility and the crowd of associates in front of our house wouldn’t have looked out of place in a shebeen or blues (as the unlicensed nightclubs of that era were called).
So, I stepped out of the car in front of the house. Obviously, the posse on the outdoor steps noticed that I was the “only black in the convoy”. They saved their comments for after my friends had driven away.
“Are you an accountant, or something?” was the first question I was greeted with, as I tried to enter the house. “No, I’m a musician, actually” was my response. This led to a conversation that lasted for quite a while, which was based on preconceived notions that many Londoners used to have about race, class, breeding and other things. Eventually, it seemed as if I managed to pass the “street credibility test” and was left to go about my business. Looking back on those times now, I wonder why any of the notions really mattered at all…..