The London Paper – 9 June 2008
“Freedom is a road seldom travelled by the multitude” – Plato? Aristotle? Shakespeare? No, I first saw those brutally incisive words exactly twenty years ago on the inside cover of Public Enemy’s iconoclastic album ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back’. Admittedly, they’d almost certainly nicked them from someone else but I never forgot where I first spotted them and after listening to that LP I soon realized that a life lived as a slave to money, propaganda or narrow-minded tradition was no life at all. I also swore there and then that I would not wake up on my fortieth birthday thinking that my years so far on this planet had been … ‘average’. I imagine those homeys from New York never predicted the impact their lyrics would have on a skinny white boy from West London!
Since my ‘retirement’ I have been doing my best to adhere to Flavor Flav’s judicious advice to not ‘believe the hype’: the hype from my parents who’ve told me I’m a total muppet for giving up half a mill a year and the hype from my mates who claim my potentially vast wealth was the only reason I ever got laid (although, sadly, recent weeks have so far suggested they may have a point!) But most of all, it was the hype from my own indoctrinated mind that has been my most pernicious enemy. A little voice kept on telling me that I would miss terribly the comforting knowledge that I ended each working day at least a grand the richer. Frankly, it was the fear of breaking that reassuring routine that has stopped me quitting in the past but now it’s too late and after the revelations from my book ‘Cityboy’ later this month I know that there’s absolutely no going back …
And thank the sweet Lord for that because I AM LOVING NO LONGER BEING A WAGE SLAVE. The terrible tragedy of modern life is that generally when you’re young you’ve no wedge but lots of time whilst the opposite is true when you’re older. At the risk of inducing vast quantities of envious hate mail I’ve now got both time and wonga and I ain’t afraid to use ‘em!
But I’m not just going to party like it’s 1999 and return to being a dope-smoking hippy again. Oh no, my pen ain’t gonna rest in my hand until I’ve helped foment a revolution that makes this world a fairer, more just place that may even make it into the 22nd century. We are now genuinely in the 11th hour and the option of standing on the sidelines simply doesn’t exist. My friends have told me to a man that I’m an idealistic overly-ambitious dickhead but I don’t care. They said that when I drunkenly claimed I could carry Big Bertha on my back for 100 metres. OK, I ended up in hospital with a slipped disc for five days but at least I gave it a bash!