Art and Music      
Christopher Ward London


Young, Gifted and Blacked up.

DAVE LAZER:  I have such strong feelings of resentment for so many things I am actually becoming increasingly worried that I will never be able to love a band, book or person ever again; so much so that I made an appointment with my GP to address the situation. My doctor asked if I “could possibly be projecting feelings about myself on to other people, situations and objects; if the dislike for certain situations I seemed to fixate on were actually brought about by me feeling uneasy within myself?”

I pretended to think about my answer, tensed my brow and waited for what seemed like an acceptable amount of time to indicate quiet contemplation, before replying: “No, I wouldn’t say so, I think I’ve just come to realise that most stuff isn’t that good and that most people’s lives are completely pointless in the grand scheme of things”, before adding  (thinking I was probably starting to sound a bit like a sociopath), “I care deeply about my family and friends though, I just can’t seem to get excited about much”.

“I think we all feel like that sometimes to be honest”, she replied, before asking, “Have you ever thought of harming or killing yourself?”

“Not myself, no”, I replied with a grin. She laughed, before adding, “Sorry, I have to ask that. If you went home and killed yourself I’d be in all kinds of shit for not asking”.  As doctors go, my doctor is pretty cool.

Having decided that I was suffering from nothing more than a slight case of narcissism coupled with a generalised acceptance of the failings of Western civilization, I decided to tackle another major issue head on. I had, to my utter dismay, been invited to a party that I really had to attend. Through sheer coincidence I had found myself cancelling my last few engagements with the person hosting the party, and I knew that failure to show up for their birthday would just not be on.

I have no problem with parties, I do have a relatively big problem with fancy dress parties, but fancy dress parties where you are specifically told what to wear seem so utterly pointless and forced that I cannot begin to understand the thought process the host must have gone through before deciding to plough on with their fascistic, awful idea of a gathering. My friend Pat Cheddar recently turned 30 and had a ‘hat party’. I reluctantly borrowed a fez from my father (a fez he had reluctantly bought when forced to attend a similar occasion aboard a boat somewhere off the coast of North Africa) and wore it with such an air of resentment I looked like a foiled Egyptian bread thief awaiting his comeuppance (due to my ears sticking out through my hair and over the sides of the hat, I also looked quite a bit like the monkey from Aladdin).

As I stared at the invite screen of the Facebook ‘event’ page, Pat Cheddar’s hat party now seemed immensely favourable by comparison. I was to attend a ‘pirate party’.  I had to dress up as a pirate (what, like in the Johnny Depp films? Oh, great. You’re a fucking genius). 

I think I knew deep down that what I was about to do would piss some people off.  However well I argued my point, some people would not be able to grasp that my costume was in no way racist (and that by them thinking it was racist, they were In fact being a bit racist themselves), and I think that at this point, if I was painfully honest with myself, I should have just put an eye-patch on, swallowed my pride, gone to the party and pretended to enjoy myself. Instead, I decided to dress up as a Somalian - a Somalian pirate to be precise (see, it’s a clever, funny, amazing costume). Now here’s my point; had I been asked to dress up as a Somalian and gone dressed as a Somalian pirate then that could be considered racist (by assuming all Somalis are pirates), but I wasn’t going as ‘a Somalian’, I was going as a pirate who happened to be a Somali. Not racist.

As I waited for my friend Charlie to pick me up in his car, I looked at myself in the mirror. It really was an excellent costume. I had a pair of old suit trousers that I had ripped into shorts, a curly wig that I had rubbed some hot chocolate powder into (to indicate weeks away at sea) and was wearing an old West German army surplus shirt. I had also mixed up some of the hot chocolate powder with water and rubbed it all over my face. I knew that this wasn’t really considered socially acceptable, I felt slightly uneasy about the procedure, but without it I just looked like a homeless Leo Sayer. 

My sense of satisfaction was quickly dashed when Charlie casually called me to say he was running late and he’d just meet me up there. “Ok, no problem Charlie. See you there”. It was a fucking problem. I had to travel the entire length of the Uxbridge Road on a bus dressed as a Somalian pirate at 9pm on a Saturday night.

Let me make this clear, Acton is my favourite place on earth. It is beautiful, has a rich history and is culturally diverse. You really should visit. Look on a map of London, look at where Acton is; it’s in between Shepherd’s Bush, Ealing and Chiswick. Acton doesn’t get nearly enough press (apart from a mention in Alan Partridge, the exterior shot of Del boy’s flat and the odd reference on London Tonight). Coincidentally, Acton is now home to so many Somalians that the road that leads from the high street to South Acton estate is referred to as ‘Mogadishu’ by pretty much everyone who lives here. I was going to have to walk through Acton dressed like this.

For entirely selfish reasons I suddenly wished people hadn’t been quite so quick to condemn Enoch Powell. If things didn’t pan out in my favour tonight, I could certainly see me ending up in a ‘river of blood’. I imagine my costume would confuse the hell out of the mortuary staff. I started to imagine news reports about the murder of an unidentified Somali pirate on Acton High Street (although, like I said, Acton doesn’t get nearly enough press, so, every cloud…).

It was colder than I had anticipated; my over-sized parka completely covered my tatty pirate shorts. It looked like I wasn’t wearing any trousers. Normally this would bother me, but I’m not usually blacked up in an afro wig. I didn’t care that I looked like I’d either just escaped from a hospital or was about to jump out on someone and expose myself. I would take ‘mental flasher’ over ‘mental racist’ any day of the week.

I made it to the high street and with my hood pulled up over my head, sat down and waited for the 207 bus. I did a quick scan of the surrounding area. No one was paying me any attention. Good. The almost entirely useless bus countdown display said ‘seven minutes’. From experience I know this can mean anywhere between zero and a million minutes. If I’d had to sit there for a million minutes I’d have been in a right mood. Luckily the bus came in about seven minutes; fair play Boris.

I would like to say those seven minutes were uneventful, I would like to say that no blood was spilled on the streets of Acton. I would like to say I see a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. However, I feel I have to be honest with you. My name is not Dave Lazer; I do not live in Acton. I have never dressed up as a Somali Pirate.

My name is Raheem P. Williams. I am sitting on death row for a crime I did not commit.  I am set to be executed by lethal injection at 7pm ET on Wednesday for the 1989 killing of Terrance Gene Bollea, an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard in Savannah when he was shot dead rushing to help a homeless man who had been attacked. In the words of Bart Simpson: “I didn’t do it”.

I sit here in my cell, six feet by six 6 feet. Every day the same as the last, with only my imagination for company. I’m sorry if you feel deceived. I’m sorry if you feel like I have wasted your time. I just wanted to pretend for a minute that I was an English guy living in the free world with a friend called Charlie who drove a ’74 Mustang coupé. I created Dave Lazer to help me forget. I created a whole life for him. I even gave him a middle name. It was ‘P’ (the same as mine).

Please, I need your help. Please raise public awareness of my case, please visit the website Please forgive me for my deceit. I meant you no harm. I’m just a lonely guy desperate to escape from the coldest, harshest of realities.

Please. Help me. God bless;

Your boy, Raheem.






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