A beggar with a mobile phone, a symbol of fluidity and a roller-skating dog. Not.

The room where I was born in the local maternity hospital

I am a simple chap.

I was born in Campbeltown, then a fishing town with multiple whisky distilleries on the west coast of Scotland.

I was brought up there and in a council estate on top of a windy hill in Aberdeen.

And in Ilford which then claimed to be in the county of Essex but which, in all reality, was and is just an extension of London’s East End with some slightly better housing.

What I am saying is that I am not an up-market person and do not have any inbuilt affinity with people who have affectations to artiness.

And I like simple sentences.

So some things still seem a bit strange to me.

Added to which I think I may have lived too long.

This afternoon, a beggar on a Thameslink train in London asked the people in my carriage for money to buy credit for his mobile phone so he could arrange a bed for tonight… via his mobile phone. He got no money and wandered off to the next carriage muttering: “You’ll give money to foreigners but not to me…”

I was on my way to the private preview of an art exhibition by Joy Yamusangie at the Now Gallery, just opposite the O2 venue in what estate agents now call North Greenwich.

I am not one of life’s avid modern art gallery goers.

It’s usually the people who put me off.

But some masochistic gene hidden deep within me made me go to the preview after I read (or despite reading) the PR pitch:


The invitation to Joy Yamusangie’s preview

I am delighted to invite you to the private view of Joy Yamusangie’s new exhibition Feeling Good. The private view will feature a performance by Awale Jant Band and DJ set by Alex Rita & Errol (Touching Bass).

Yamusangie’s solo presentation takes the form of an imaginary jazz club inspired by the story of the jazz artist Billy Tipton. Yamusangie has drawn inspiration from Tipton’s story while using jazz as a symbol of gender euphoria and the relief of feeling good within themselves.

In Joy’s exhibition, jazz is used as the symbol of fluidity, joy and freedom and it speaks specifically to Yamusangie’s own experience with understanding and celebrating their trans identity and journey with learning music.

Artist Joy Yamusangie’s image of  a man with a trumpet

Yamusangie’s profoundly autobiographical practice amalgamates bold colours with vibrant self portraiture that functions as a distinct act of self appreciation.

Family, memory and community sit at the core of the artist’s practice and Yamusangie uses these elements to explore Congolese diaspora from a highly personal perspective.

The artist’s exploration of race, identity and representation stem from a place of intimacy as they investigate socio-political issues within the microcosm of their own community.


I went to the preview.

I left after 20 minutes. 

I should have left after 10. 

I never even got to the music bit. 

When I left, I went to North Greenwich tube station. There were some young men on roller-skates and a dog who was not on roller-skates. They were enjoying themselves. Including the dog.

That’s my sort of event.

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