Small Axe – S01E04 – Alex Wheatle – Transcript

Alex Wheatle follows the true story of award-winning writer, Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole), from a young boy through his early adult years. When he is thrown in prison during the Brixton Uprising of 1981, he confronts his past and sees a path to healing.
Small Axe - S01E04 - Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle follows the true story of award-winning writer, Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole), from a young boy through his early adult years. Having spent his childhood in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, he finally finds not only a sense of community for the first time in Brixton, but his identity and ability to grow his passion for music and DJing. When he is thrown in prison during the Brixton Uprising of 1981, he confronts his past and sees a path to healing.

MUFFLED CHATTER

KEY CLICKS IN LOCK

KEYS RATTLE

Follow.

To the right. Stop there.

DOOR ENTRY BUZZES

To the right.

And right.

Stop there.

KEYS RATTLE IN LOCK

In.

Stinks in here…

Come in, my youth.

Come in, man.

Cha.

Me name’s Simeon.

It was Alex, don’t it?

You want a tea, or something fi drink?

The bottom bunk is mine, yeah?

For the proximity to the shitter.

Boy, me ‘dep on hunger strike and me belly bad.

I’m sorry about the smell, still, but dem things soon pass, man.

I’ll give you a little space, yeah?

Anything you want, just…just help yourself.

Ah! Do you want to end up in hell?

Is that what you want? Cos that’s precisely

what’s going to happen if you carry on playing up!

Now, I know you’ve been fighting!

You get up them stairs and wash them dirty little hands before dinner!

And you go straight to bed!

I don’t want to hear a word from you tonight, you understand? Yes, Auntie.

OFFICIAL: Alec Alphonso Wheatle,

born on 3rd January 1963.

Alphonso, an illegitimate child,

was received into care under section one of the Children’s Act 1948

on 17th April 1964

as the private foster mother, with whom he was placed

by his putative father, was unable to continue caring for him.

His mother, Mrs G, a married woman, deserted him at birth.

He was placed in a council nursery initially

and transferred in February 1966

to the children’s home where he is now living.

On admission, he was suffering from severe eczema,

but this has improved and he is making good progress.

Alphonso’s mother has had no contact with him since birth.

DIARRHOEA SPLATTERS

SIMEON SIGHS

SPLATTERING CONTINUES

Ah! Jah…

Nice! Jah!

BOY: Wheatle’s wet his bed again. Auntie!

Shut up! You dirty little bastard!

Ow!

As if I don’t do enough for you.

I am sick to death of your disgusting behaviour.

HE MUMBLES What have I done to deserve you?

You are a horrible, nasty little boy!

ALEX COUGHS

DIARRHOEA SPLATTERS

SIMEON SIGHS

SPLATTERING CONTINUES

SIMEON GROANS

Jah!

How many fucking times, dread?! You can’t use the shitter in the

yard instead of stinking up this place?!

Me not proud, you know, youth.

Me say sorry once and I say it again. Dirty fucking Rasta!

You’re lucky I don’t fuck you up.

Fuck me up? You’d better fuck me up good, you know.

Anyhow you left me standing, you finish your life.

Joker, dread.

As if you could do me.

Listen!

ALEX GROANS

Calm yourself, youth!

Calm yourself!

What me say? Huh?

Listen, listen. Calm yourself.

All right, all right, all right.

All right, my youth. All right, man.

All right, all right.

Listen, man. I want to hear.

What is your story?

My story?! What?

I ain’t got no fricking story!

All right. All right.

All right. All right. All right.

All right. Listen.

ALEX WHINES

Have all night, you know. HE SCREAMS

All night me have,

and my ears is fully open.

Huh? So just start at the beginning.

ALEX WHIMPERS

MUSIC: Satta Massagana by The Abyssinians

What do you call it?

Reggae music.

What, the song?

Nah, not the song.

Why, you like it?

I love it.

Turn that coon wog crap off!

We ain’t in Africa now!

What you gonna do, fool?

Don’t worry about him.

Listen to the lyrics, man. Cool down your temper.

HE IMITATES AN APE I’m not scared of that dickface.

Shut your mouth before I fill it for you!

Wheats, back down!

Fight! Fight! Wheats, have him.

Fucking have him! Go on.

He’s stuck, man.

Oi, get off him! Teachers, teachers, teachers!

Get off me!

Get off me!

Oi! Oi!

Fuck’s sake!

Fucking kill you!

Fuck off and take that shit music with you!

Get him out of here!

Don’t make it worse for yourself. Shut up!

Come here, you. Come here!

Stay there, monkey!

WISTFUL MUSIC

RADIO PRESENTER: Our castaway this week is a writer of short stories,

of children’s books and of screenplays – Roald Dahl.

Could you adjust yourself to isolation on an island?

ROALD DAHL: Very easily, yes.

I look for it more and more in my life today.

I hate to say it, but I would love it.

How much does music mean to you?

It means a great deal, but not in a…not in a professional way.

In the old days, before I was married,

I never used to start writing in the morning

before putting on some very great music,

like a Beethoven quartet, er, and sit and listen to it

in…in the hopes that some of this greatness

would rub off on me and that I would, er, write…

As a matter of fact, it helps quite a lot because it is impossible…

MUSIC: Everyday Wondering by Johnny Clarke

INDISTINCT CHATTER

Shut the gate.

These are your keys. Don’t lose them.

These are the rules. Learn them.

Any questions?

Good.

DOOR OPENS

Fuck my frigging days!

Man seen boy fall from outer space looking less like him

claffy to raatid.

Wha…? What? A blowoh!

No tomfoolery.

Are you cuckoo or are you the beast?

Dennis, behave yourself. HE SUCKS TEETH

The man is only ramping with you.

Don’t listen to his chats.

I’m Dawn.

My room’s just over there.

It’s…Alex, innit?

You’re seriously busting PVC?

Frig my days, he is!

He’s wearing PVC!

From where on this Earth did you land? Shirley Oaks. In Surrey.

Surrey?

And they dress you there with garms made by the farm animals?

HE LAUGHS

You got any corn?

You got…any…corn?

I’ve got some Pot Noodle they sent me off with.

Oh, God! Oh, Lord!

BOTH LAUGH

Who the…? Who the fuck is this boy?

Eh? Money, man.

Money.

Corn is money.

You got money?

Why? Leave him money alone.

I just want to take the poor sap shopping, innit?

Otherwise next man will jump on him and mash up his claat.

Don’t worry about the corn, Mr PVC.

And just meet me outside in two.

And just lose the jacket.

You understand? You see that?

He’s hearing, but he’s not listening, you know. Just get out!

Now, crook ya ear, Mr PVC.

Whatever man say,

never trod into Dunn & Co.

That’s where them dirty greybacks shop.

I ain’t ramping, you understand? This is serious.

You see that? That’s Farah.

Like what I is modelling.

Anything Farah is on target.

Jah! You’re not ready yet.

And we have a priority more pressing than slacks.

Come, come. Let’s trod.

Soon come, brethren. Soon come.

Hm? HE CHUCKLES

A blowout Afro him want. A blowout.

Him speak? Of course him speak.

Just give him a blowout now.

Man have to ask if he want a blowout.

All right. Alex, tell him you want a blowout.

I want one.

A blowout, yes. Absolutely. I want one.

HE LAUGHS So, what you say?

Don’t start pon me, dread.

So many youth get bust up in a cell.

Something gonna snap, man.

You hear what happened to Coffin Head? Mm-hm.

Beastman arrest him outside the Kentucky,

throw him in a cell, bruk up him

nose and boot up him ribcage. Fi what?

Man, a man want life for life.

That’s what the Brixton Panther man say, innit?

Things are gonna blow up.

You hear what blow up?

Filthy Rocker’s valve amplifier in the dance.

People was vexed.

Galdem on the street cussing up the boxboys,

but they can’t get no cab to take them to the next dance.

You follow any of the sound system?

I do love reggae music.

Waaah! See, all the African man love reggae.

What is in our blood.

I’m not African. Come again?

I’m not African, I’m…

Uh, dread, you is African.

I’m not. I might be black, but I’m from Surrey.

Oh, God! Bwoy! Him cuss-cuss in here.

Babylon have you washed.

Babylon have your brain in the Fairy Liquid.

HE SUCKS TEETH Who’s Babylon?

Where’d you get this youth from? And what this youth chatting about?

“Who’s Babylon?” Babylon not a person.

It’s de politrickster and the system that oppresses all black people.

So where is it on the map?

HE LAUGHS

Man just arrive in Brixton today.

Or just Planet Earth, I don’t know. Bwoy, you have to find your roots.

Alexander the Great Jokerman.

Boy, you have to find out who the fuck you is!

HE SUCKS TEETH

KNOCKING ON WINDOW Yes, I.

All right? Hail Selassi-I. All right.

HE CHUCKLES

HE SUCKS TEETH

What’s wrong? Beast.

Get ready to bolt. What? Why?

What you doing, man?

You seriously are frigging cuckoo!

You can’t do that! Do what? Fuck with the beast round here.

They’ll mash you worse than any bad man.

No, they won’t. What?

They’re here to help you.

What?! Yes, they will.

They will too, Wheats.

Them truncheon butt de sufferer.

On this I really ain’t ramping, man.

About to chip for my life.

About to run, man.

Well, I can’t run in these shoes.

I’ve got really bad blisters.

Floyd call it correct. You is a jokerman.

Come, come, let’s trod.

You like them shoes there?

Yeah. Try it on, man.

All right, you’ll look cool in those, mate. Yeah, man.

Mm. That’s it.

How do they feel? Yeah, good, but…

Comfortable? Yeah, but…

Yeah, all right, all right.

All right, blow, man.

What? What did you say? Fucking leg it, Wheatle!

But I haven’t tied my laces yet!

Oi! Where you going? Oi! Come here!

MUSIC: Zion by The Flames

Cup your hand. Cup your hand.

It make your mouth dry, but give you a nice, slow buzz.

I have smoked before, you know.

Mm? So give me three quid and the rest of the collie yours.

Yeah, man.

Come, come.

Let’s trod.

Wa-gwaan?

MUSIC CONTINUES

Can I give you 7p tomorrow when I get my giro?

Nah, youth.

How many time me have to tell you?

Return tomorrow. It’ll be gone by then.

Come on, Lincoln.

I spend all my money in here every week.

Please!

Dennis! Hey, Dennis. Hi, man.

What happen to you, man? Don’t use me name, dread.

Who’s selling the weed, then?

Why have you made the frigging announcement, man?

What wrong with you, eh?

HE SUCKS TEETH Come.

Come, let’s trod, man.

Careful of the car, Dennis.

Shut up, man. Come.

All right, me dog. You good?

Me cool. Yeah, man, yeah, man, yeah, man.

Can I have a draw, please?

Yo, where the fuck this youth come from?

Him cool, man. Him safe.

I have some corn. Yo, yo, yo. Listen.

You know how many man get jook up on this road for little more

than nothing? Eh?

HE SUCKS TEETH Yo, remove ya.

Me said remove ya!

Badger. You known me from time, man.

Give my spar a £2 draw and be happy for the business.

Hm?

Him safe, man.

HE SUCKS TEETH

Only cos true you is my brethren.

Respect, man.

Come.

WHISPERS: Here’s the money.

Respect.

All right, now the two of you fuck off.

HE SUCKS TEETH

You got to be more Brixton, Wheats.

You been here six month, and you not learn nothing?

Like blurting out my name for every undercover beast to take note.

HE SUCKS TEETH

What am I supposed to call you, then?

Maybe dread, or brethren, or spar, or…

I don’t fucking know.

And you want to let go of that frigging bumpkin walk, too.

You walk like that scarecrow on the TV.

Shut up.

Nah, you have to strut as a black man strut.

Any dread can spot you from a mile.

Now, we have to chat about the money side, but…

..I can learn you a few things.

I’ve just spent all my corn.

If me a teach you, me have to have compensation for my time.

You understand.

I’ve got 30p.

30p?

That is satisfactory for a few pointers.

Now walk.

Lift up your head, man, and slow it down, Wheats.

You is marching like you the Stormtrooper hunting the Jedi.

You got to be the Jedi doing the hunting of the Stormtrooper.

What are you blinking talking about?

You sound like them raas baldhead, man.

“What are you blinking talking about?” Well, fuck you, Dennis!

I ain’t had no-one teach me jack shit in my life.

A mum or dad, brother or sister, no-one my whole life.

I ain’t had nobody!

Was only ramping with you, brethren.

The truth?

I can’t know how deep your pain.

You’re the real thing, man. No hyping.

But I always kept eyes out for you, innit, Wheats?

Listen to me.

Christmas soon pon us,

and my mother puts on a serious spread.

You want to come sample the Jamaican jam on the day?

I don’t like Christmas. Wha?!

Nuff boiled chicken, rice and peas,

roast potatoes, stuffing, hot corn…

All right, all right. As long as you quiet your beak about it.

You’ll come? Yeah?

HE LAUGHS

I’m warning you – all my family are a bit…

..mad up.

It’ll be good for you.

Now, me reckon me owe you 10p off this lesson.

You was proving be a faster learner, too, Wheats.

But I…I’ll hold onto that,

because that’s going to be 20p for your next lesson, innit?

It’s like a little deposit, yeah?

Head high.

Chest out.

# Jah would never give power

# To a baldhead

# Run come crucify the dread… #

Hey!

Hurry up, man.

Happy Christmas, Mummy.

You just come?

Where you been? Food cook long time.

Hi, Sylvia.

This is my spar, Alex.

Fix him up a drink first, eh?

Is me for fix it? Thirsty boy.

Jah.

Come. Sit down.

Everybody, this is Alex.

Can you hold the baby?

So, are your parents Jamaican?

I don’t think so, no.

What do you mean, you don’t think so? Where they from, then?

SHE SUCKS TEETH Anyway…

..give me the baby.

Very cold start. Tell me how the garage is going.

The garage is going good, family. I got a Cortina I just picked up last week.

All right, that’s good. I need you to come round, help me do some work on it.

Yeah. How’s your football going?

BABY CRIES

I heard about it. 4-0 you lot lose.

I was in goal as well. DENNIS: Hold that.

Secret family recipe, you know.

All right, Uncles? What’s going on, Uncle? You good?

Yeah, man.

Can’t wait to have some yam. Who want food, come now.

Hey!

CHATTER CONTINUES

Guys, come get your food.

Coming, Auntie. Coming, Mum.

My mother give me one piece of chicken, man.

HE SUCKS TEETH

How much piece of chicken did you get?

Got a nice piece there. You got one? Two piece. You got two piece?!

Yeah, man. What?!

Come out of my seat, man. Come out of seat, boy.

Move.

You want more gravy?

Is it spicy?

You nuh like spice? It’s all right,

me can get you some drink from the tray. No. No, thank you.

It looks delicious.

What happen to you? Take your time.

The food no have no legs.

Your mother not cook for you?

Sometimes.

Sometime?

Sometime me no know why me bother.

DISTANT CHATTER

WATER RUNS

Me ‘dep on hunger strike.

Ten days now, you know. Hm.

If they can serve halal and kosher, they must can serve ital.

Huh?

Me believe fighting for that is worth all sufferation.

But, bwoy, it wreak havoc with my belly, you know?

And for that, me sorry till me can’t sorry no more, my youth.

Why are you even here, dread?

I was arrested at the gates of Westminster Abbey

with a pickaxe, big so.

Me tell the judge

me intent upon destroying the tomb of Edward the Confessor

in retaliation for the desecration of all of the Egyptian king

by the European man.

Me gonna bruk it up!

He give me six months.

So, you’re serious about your stuff, then, innit?

Rasta is not…is not a religion.

Is my life.

What are you writing?

Why you ask me that?

No reason.

Me write some.

Just notes, man. I don’t really have the talent.

What me blessed with is for the love of reading.

Reading’s what shaped my life.

Is that your family?

Yeah. The woman in the white dress are me mother.

The minister’s sister.

Keep in touch?

Not for a long while now, no.

HE SUCKS TEETH Cha.

Enough about me now.

Me never suffer like you, you know.

You know how me end up in a prison, right?

So, come on, youth, man, what happened to you?

I took a wrong turn. No, man.

Listen up now.

Not one man, woman or a child

ever learnt anything in life

without making a mistake.

For me, it was always about the music.

That was it, dread.

# One good ting about the music

# When it hits you You feel no pain, yeah

# Me say one good ting about the music

# When it hits you, you feel no pain

# Come and say hit me with music

# Come and say hit me with music now

# Cos dis a Trenchtown rock Don’t watch that Trenchtown rock

# Big fish or sprat, Trenchtown rock

# You reap what you sow Trenchtown rock

# Only Jah-Jah know. #

Jah know the gong speak!

Yeah, my youth. Come here, man!

HE LAUGHS

Yes, my youth?

Have corn for this, but not this one.

Can you keep it for me, just for a couple of days?

Irie. You have until Friday. Safe.

Respect, Lincoln. Respect.

You is too fat. You can’t see how you need church?

Fat stinkin’ dog. You is a… You…

You is a scrawny little rat boy, you know that?

You not see how your trouser, them a burst out? Look how your head

big like breadfruit, dog. Big like breadfruit?

You know what? You look like some sewer rat, you know.

You know that?

Dog, you is the fattest man in Brixton. You know that?

And guess what? Me still take your girl, you know.

You know that? You can’t take my girl. I can’t? Ask her. You can only take my girl McDonald, dog.

And what? That’s… Listen, you is a sausage dog. Brethren, you see your nose?

You’re like Blackwall Tunnel or something like that, you know what me say? You is a dumpling.

I’ll squash you, brethren. I destroy you. You is a Jamaican panda.

A Jamaican panda? Shut the fuck up, man,

before me chop off your two lip, them, and make two imitation sausage out of them to raatid! Say it.

Me? Yes, fatman. You must be mad, you know. I’m not mad, you is just fat.

Frig my days!

Valentine Golding. Come find you, innit?

Welcome, sir.

What, you did all this? Mm-hm.

Check my new suitcase.

Philips 423?

Dread, how you lay your hands on this record?

Spent every penny of my G-cheques.

Me sometimes keep a look out for the bad men up on the line

to make a little extra corn.

Can still run fast, innit?

And the beast never seem to bother me.

Check this.

Corn is money.

Ooh! Hey, that’s the skills man have to have.

Yes, man.

I knew it.

You ain’t changed. I have.

A little bit.

You’re mad, you know that, right?

Ah, shut up. LAUGHTER

The leg-back’s mine, you know, brethren.

Where’s mine, man?

I keep telling you. You’re not ready, man.

Today’s going to be the best night, I swear to God.

Mind yourself, dog.

Dat’s Festus Coxsone’s operator.

You telling me, brethren. Careful, man. Careful.

That’s how much leg-back are going to be in there,

brethren, with that bass, man.

Man, there’s going to be every type of girl here.

Girl from North London.

South London. West London.

South-east London. LAUGHTER

Bruh!

Me gone.

Yo, baby, yo.

Hold on. Whoa, whoa, whoa. 1.50 for coming in.

What you mean?

Give me 1.50 to come in, otherwise fuck off. Move from the door.

Man, fuck this.

All the criss girls are with the sound man.

To get dem leg-back is simple.

HE SUCKS TEETH

Yeah.

We need our own sound.

That’s it.

That’s right, man. But we have to make it proper.

That’s crucial.

Of course, dread.

To raatid.

We can call our sound Crucial Rocker Sound System.

Crucial Rocker.

Crucial Rocker, to raatid, yeah.

To raatid.

HE CHUCKLES

But we haven’t got any equipment. Ah, don’t worry.

Me know where.

ELECTRIC SAW WHIRS

Thank you, Dawn.

In tune to the great boss sound of Crucial Rocker,

flash up your lighter. Easy.

We want to have at least 100 watts a channel in the amp.

Then we can be nuff match for Tupper King and all them dreadheads.

We thieved enough ply for at least three boxes. But you ain’t got nothing to put in them.

What a blowoh! We never had nothing to start with.

Watch, this sound is going to be wicked and wild. Trust me.

# Wicked and wild

# That’s the sound of the underground

# See me there in a Brixton town

# Give the beastman a crucial pound… # Eh!

Crucial, crucial! # Wicked and wild

# That’s the sound of the underground

# Give the beastman a crucial pound… #

GRUNTING

Fuck my days!

Get in!

Get in. 12, 12.

DOG BARKS Frig, man!

There’s a dog. There’s a dog! Hurry up! Move, man, move!

Move, move!

Hurry up, man!

Fuck it!

I’m here to see Cutlass.

Is Cutlass there?

Mr Rankin, I mean.

And what if him is?

Him might want chat a likkle business.

Wholesale business.

Youth?

I’ve come to talk business.

Take off your clothes.

What?

Take off your clothes.

Take off your brief.

I ain’t carrying no wire, dread.

I ain’t no undercover beast.

Who control Moa Ambessa sound?

Beres.

Who are the mic men, then, fi Frontline International?

Welton Youth and Silver Fox.

Who run tings down the Villa Road?

Soferno B.

Who operate the sound?

Big Youth.

But some man call him Chabba.

All right.

Still me question your dialect. Your accent sound too English.

But all right, my youth.

How much collie you want?

Half ounce, dread.

But the brethrens I sell to smoke top-ranking bush.

LAUGHTER

You know the runnings!

What name dem call you, my youth?

My friends call me Wheats.

My sound is going to be called Crucial Rocker.

Irie a’ight, Crucial Rocker!

HE LAUGHS

Next time you want to make your order, no forward here.

Call this number.

Pull up your brief now.

Youth!

I like your jacket.

CUTLASS LAUGHS

Crucial Rocker!

Big Wheats, me no have no weed left, so me need 3oz, all right?

3oz, and just come link me back next week, I…I deal with you proper. I give you something nice, all right?

Nah, I don’t know about that one, Badger. What you mean, you no know about that?

You see the road, big man, you have to know everything about everybody.

Yeah, but, if I give you them 3oz, how do I know you’ll give them back to me?

Oh, you know me, I give it back. Boy, me look like criminal to you? Eh? You think that me ever rob

big Wheats? Yeah, yeah. What happen to ya, dog? Whatever, Badger. I need to go pee, all right?

Wait there, yeah? Go on, go piss, come back and we talk some real

business, yeah? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go on, man.

HE SIGHS

You got any gear? What ya talk about, big man?

Yo, yo, move from me, man. What the fuck you all doing, boy?

Come here. Yo, get the fuck off me!

SHOUTING

Come here! Fuck off!

Get in the back! Move the coon!

Get the fuck off me!

CRASHING

Get in the back! Get him in!

BADGER SHOUTS OUT

SCUFFLING AND SHOUTING

TYRES SCREECH

THUDDING, BADGER SHOUTS OUT

MUSIC THROBS

That’s a nice jacket, nig-nog.

Fuck off, bacon.

SHOUTING

Something to say? Something to say?

SHOUTING CONTINUES

SIREN WAILS

DOOR OPENS

DOOR SHUTS

ENGINE STARTS

Fucking black bastard, he’s got a long walk home!

They never learn, do they? They never learn.

# Me walk pon Acre Lane inna freezing rain

# Watch out behind you, watch out

# Me sight two beastmen Swear they were insane

# Watch out behind me Watch out… #

Just chill now, brethren. Tell her hair look nice, that kind of thing, huh?

The needle’s stuck, dread. School finish, and I don’t want you have to teach me

so many things when I know so many raatid tings about you.

If I were to blab, you’d have to walk down the street

with a bag over your head and a serious muff covering them ears,

cos the laughter all around would drown out even Shaka’s speaker box.

DOORBELL RINGS

Come on. Let’s trod.

Look at this likkle raas youth!

Hi! Hi! Come on in!

You all right? Thank you for coming.

That’s all right!

QUIET CONVERSATION

LOVERS ROCK PLAYS IN BACKGROUND

And this is Alex’s sound.

Crucial Rocker.

And Val’s as well, innit?

Innit a ting?

Yeah, they thieved every bit of it.

Not the vinyl, man.

Not thieved any of the gold. But they make it all themselves.

Innit, Alex?

With, like, a big saw and that.

You got to hear him MC.

Mm!

Katrina know one of them girl who dead in the fire.

The thing in New Cross last week?

Yeah.

Everyone was chatting about it at the dance last night…

..maybe thinking one of them National Front boy would come

and fling a petrol bomb inna the dance or something.

How many dead now?

13.

HE SUCKS TEETH

13 youth dead…

..and nothing being said.

And 30 more injured or in hospital. Dem all kids, man.

And they made no arrests.

That’s why the people, dem are so vex.

HE SUCKS TEETH

There’s talk of some kind of march if the beast don’t do nothing.

A march if they’re lucky.

We’re in the middle of a frigging war.

And nobody sight who did it.

Nobody?

It was dark, and one minute everybody wining and dining.

And the next? The next, the yard

just catch alight from a petrol bomb. It’s a serious business!

Something ah snap!

That’s what dem Brixton Panther man say, innit?

Something ah snap.

REGGAE MUSIC Oh, me love this tune! Come on.

Yeah, man!

Boy, her leg demanding a stroke.

Now your chance, Wheats.

Well, do your thing, man, come on!

Don’t let me down, brethren, do your ting.

Come on, you’re embarrassing me, man. Do your thing, man.

DENNIS SUCKS TEETH

Brethren!

Come on, look at that leg-back, man! Do your ting!

MUSIC IN NEXT ROOM

Thank you so much for coming. It’s been so nice!

Have you had a good time?

Lovely. I’ll see you soon. Bye!

You let me down, brethren.

You let us all down.

We bring you to meet a fit girl and you don’t even say two words to her?

Whatever the matter with you?

She was never going to be interested in nobody like me.

Cha! That’s what I’m talking about. Talk like that

and you are never even catch them leg-backs who are troggs.

Shut your fricking beak, man, before I shut it for you!

You know nothing about me, dread!

Now get the fuck out!

We didn’t know ourselves could have happened, you know

Any time, anywhere

Fire don’t it happen to we and the nations, them are ready

But in spite a all that everybody was still shocked

When we get the cold facts about that brutal attack

When we find out about the fire over New Cross

About the innocent life Dem were lost

About the physically scarred The mentally marred

And dem relatives who take it so hard

And, you know, although plenty people were surprised

They no say dem kind of thing there could’ve happened to we

Inna this here Great Britain Inna London today

And a few get frightened and a few get subdued

Almost everybody had to sympathise

With the loved ones of the injured and the dead

For this here massacre that we come to realise

It could have been me It could have been you

Or one of few pickney dem

Who fell victims to the terror by night

But wait

You not remember how the whole of Black Britain did wrack with grief?

How the whole of Black Britain did turn a melancholy blue?

Not the passable blue of the murderer’s eyes

But like the smoke of gloom on that cold Sunday morning

But stop

You no remember how the whole of Black Britain turned a fiery red?

Not the callous red of the killer’s eyes

But red with rage like the flames of the fire

It’s a hell of a something fi true, you know

What a terrible price we have to pay, though, man

Just fi live a little life

Just fi struggle fi survive

Every day is just worries and struggle and strife

Imagine so much young people cut off inna dem prime

Before the twilight of dem time

Without no reason nor rhyme

Cast in the shadow of gloom over our life

Look how the police and the press try dem desperate best

Fi put a stop to a quest for the truth

You remember?

First dem say it could be arson

Then dem say it could be not

First dem say a firebomb

Then dem say it was not

Them implied coulda white

Them implied coulda black

Who response for the attack

Against those innocent young blacks

Instead of raising the alarm

Let the public know wha gwaan

Plenty paper print pure lie fi blind your public eye

And the police, them plot and scheme Confuse and conceal

Me hear seh even the poor parents of the dead dem tried fi use

But, you know, in spite of them wicked propaganda

We refuse fi surrender to them ugly innuendo

For up till now not one of them

Neither Stockwell, neither Wilson nor Bell

Not one of them can tell we why

Not one of them can tell we who

Who turn that night of joy

Into a morning of sorrow

Who turn the jollity

Into a ugly tragedy.

REGGAE MUSIC

CHATTER

ANGRY SHOUTING OUTSIDE

Yo, Brixton on fire!

CHEERING

ANGRY SHOUTING

Babylon!

FIRE ALARM BLARES

Go on, then! Go on, you fucking bastards!

INDISTINCT SHOUTING

POLICE WHISTLE BLOWS

Fucking black cunt!

Fuck off!

Fucking nig-nogs!

INDISTINCT SHOUTING

Stop Babylon!

Yes, come on!

All right, you wog!

POLICE WHISTLE BLOWS

Come on, let’s go, let’s go!

Come on, then! I’m coming, I’m coming!

POLICEMAN LAUGHS

Fucking leg it!

RHYTHMIC THUDDING

POLICE WHISTLE BLOWS

ANGRY SHOUTING

SIREN WAILS

You mother cunt, get off me!

Yardman Irie fresh from the war zone!

Man a man, what dat friggin’ smell?

Me a smell some raas foulness inna the air.

Yo, Yardman Irie need to discover deodorant. Me feel sick!

Him stink like cabbage water.

And y’all put politeties pon it. Man, you reek

like rancid baby nappies. Shut the fuck up, dread. You say what?

It was either that or to get mash up in a beast cell, to raatid.

You come here reeking like ghetto sewage.

Remove from this yard with speed.

Let man take some collie.

Please, man.

Next time me see you…

..me want my money.

Now remove.

HE SUCKS TEETH

Come here and stink up my yard.

What me tell you about that youth, you know?

HE SUCKS TEETH

What you think about this one?

Mm.

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no… #

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no… #

# Shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we riot inna Brixton… #

HE HUMS THE MELODY

# So we riot inna Brixton. #

In tune to the great boss sound of Crucial Rocker.

This one goes out to all the revolutionary foot soldier.

Flash up your lighter if you were there in the uprising.

CHEERING

To the murder of Blair Peach… Blair!

..the New Cross fire…

..and then, today, 11th April 1981,

..where Babylon took a raasclaat beating!

REGGAE MUSIC

If you were there, so bawl forward!

CHEERING

Forward! Forward! Forward!

CHANTING: Forward! Forward! Forward!

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we gwaan riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

ALL: # So we gwaan riot inna Brixton!

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we gwaan riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we gwaan riot inna Brixton

# Uprising, there’s an uprising

# There ain’t no work and we have no shilling

# We can’t take no more of this suffering

# So we gwaan riot inna Brixton! #

THUD

ANGRY SHOUTING

SHOUTING CONTINUES

Get… Oi! Get him up, get him up!

Get out of here!

Check that room!

Check that room over there. Take him down!

BANGING

Right, get up!

Fucking pigs!

Move, man!

Get off me! DAWN SHOUTS

Shut it!

Get the fuck off me! Get the fuck off me!

Shut it! Shut up!

I didn’t do nothing! This is abuse!

Me say to you,

you might feel sorry and blame yourself for dem tings there…

..but there’s plenty of tribulations

and ways for dealing with dem ting.

And the education me can give you, that is your key.

And why would you do that? HE SCOFFS

My thoughts long been trained pon the youth, man.

I have to play my part cos me know the future is yours.

HE SUCKS TEETH

Some future, dread.

For all the youth outside that window is the dole office

and the inside of a beast cell, and that’s it.

Free yourself from the negativity, Alex, man.

You been lied to about fi we people.

Huh? Enough of that, man.

Cha! Listen, I want tell you

about the system in here. Yes.

So listen me, and listen me careful.

There’s enough talk of ism and schism and racism.

Me no defend nobody against the charge of racism,

cos Rasta don’t discriminate.

But the main thing you have to worry about in dis here country

is the system of class

and classism.

When the children of Africa was dragged to the West, huh,

it’s cos of money…

..cos of the cheap labour benefitting the upper classes,

lining them pockets. Hm?

All know the system still, still the poor little pickney dem

inna the inner-city school, them cannot make much progress.

Otherwise who gon build dem house? Hm?

Who gon drive dem bus? Hm?

Some of them make it through, yes.

But only a few of them.

And that is why me keep going on about education, education.

You have to supplement what them teach you by teaching yourself.

Teaching how, then, man?

You have to unlearn what you have learn.

And you can start by reading,

reading the scholars of fi we people.

That will turn your life around.

You see? Look.

You saw all them book, yeah? Hm?

You see them?

From this day, every single one of them book now belongs to you.

And me can recommend…

..you start by reading…

..this here one here, so.

The Black Jacobins

by Cyril Lionel Robert James.

Jah know him will show you the way!

Education, Alex.

Education is the key!

Hear me now? Alex!

You see, if you don’t know your past…

..then you won’t know your future.

GENTLE SNORING

DOORS BANG IN DISTANCE

SIMEON: You see, if you don’t know your past…

..then you won’t know your future.

Just a moment.

PHONE RINGS

Excuse me one minute.

Welfare and Social Services?

Uh-huh.

OFFICIAL: 27th of the 8th, 1976. Report on Alphonse Wheatle.

Date of birth – 3rd of the 1st 1963,

Holly House, 121 Wickham Road. House mother, Miss Joyce Cook.

In Shirley since aged three-and-a-half years.

Initially had severe eczema and asthma and needed

intensive treatment.

Both conditions now better.

He’s not had an asthmatic attack for a year.

Chief problem now – daytime enuresis.

None at night.

Lonely boy, but gets involved in sports and general activities.

Because of his sullen indifference,

house mother says she finds it difficult not to pick on him.

Recently, he accused her of not caring,

but Martin Jones promptly stuck up for her.

Mr Hutton, social worker, came fortnightly for a year

but got no response at any time from Alphonse’s relatives.

Shirley High School. He gets good reports

and appears to take an interest in a wide range of subjects.

He spoke of liking German, French, English, maths, science and drama.

Alphonse, one Saturday night recently, came down and said

they did not help him at school.

The excellent German teacher interestedly asked repeatedly

about his mother and did not know about his parental situation.

Wheats!

Wheats, what happened to you? It’s me, dread. It’s Badger.

Yes, my spar.

Jesus Christ, you look good, to raatid.

Badger! It’s good to see you, dread.

How’s tricks?

HE SUCKS TEETH Bwoy!

Yeah, man. Tricks.

I beg you some money now?

Nah. Sorry, dread.

Come on. Give me a few pounds, my man.

I haven’t got anything.

It’s good to see you, though.

Yeah, man, it’s good to see you too, man.

Mm!

So, um, what you do, hm?

What’s the…? What’s the Wheats doing with himself?

Don’t know, dread.

Not much.

I think I might go and find my family.

Raatid!

Fi real?

Fuck!

Yeah.

Or maybe try and write a book.

Writing? Shut the fuck up, man.

Me…me…me…me have a typewriter for you, you know.

Brand-new. It still work and everything.

It still does work, man. Trust me, it still work.

And you can have it fi a special price.

Cos you is Yardman Irie. HE LAUGHS

Ten pound! Ten pound and it’s yours.

Hm?

Go on.

Come now, man. Let’s trod.

What happen to you, man? Dry your eye now.

It’s a big man hug. Long time me no see you.

Good to see you, man.

Yes, brethren! You want some?

Nah, you’re good. Brethren, drink the drink

and I’ll walk with you. I’m all right.

You sure? Yeah, man. All right.

Good to see you, though. See if you like this typewriter

me a gonna get for you. It’s a real thing. It is a proper one.

All right, all right. It’s just round the corner there.

It better be good, though! You see the girl there?

ALEX LAUGHS

# There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air

# If you listen carefully now you will hear

# This could be the first trumpet

# Might as well be the last

# Many more will have to suffer

# Many more will have to die

# Don’t ask me why

# Things are not the way they used to be

# I won’t tell no lie

# One and all got to face reality now

# Though I try to find the answer

# To all the questions they ask

# Though I know it’s impossible

# To go living through the past

# Don’t tell no lie

# There’s a natural mystic

# Blowing through the air

# Can’t keep them down

# If you listen carefully now you will hear

# Such a natural mystic

# Blowing through the air

# There’s a natural mystic

# Blowing through the air

# I won’t tell no lie

# If you listen carefully now

# You will hear

# There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air

# Such a natural mystic

# Blowing through the air. #

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