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
“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
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
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
www.freeraheemwilliams.com. 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
Please. Help me. God bless;
Your boy, Raheem.
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