So I’m remembering an African guy I knew who it turned out was an illegal immigrant (no problem by me). This was the late eighties, when I was young. The authorities were after him, immigration services. I didn’t know that until they came after him. But when banged on the door, I knew exactly what I was gonna do…

His name was Mason and he lived in the same apartment block as him in Tottenham in London. Like I say he was from Africa, maybe Ghana, can’t recall. So he was a cool guy. We hung out all the time. Listening to music and talking philosophy. Stuff like that. He had this white girlfriend, who was pretty stunning as I recall, quite middle class English. But it was mostly me and Mason that hung out.

It did turn out later that he used to beat his girl up. Now I’m totally opposed to that BIG TIME. Not on. Totally out of order. But turns out there was complications. She was cheating on him and running him a real dance. That does not excuse him whacking her one. He shoulda just walked out on her. If a relationship ain’t working, walk away. No need for violence. None at all.

So I told him all that. Like it ain’t on. But I could see why he done it. I just said, look man, you gotta analyse your emotions, don’t let ‘em control you, otherwise you’ll do stuff you’ll regret.

Mason listened to that. I laid down how you work with your emotions, not be ruled by them.

Actually, as it turned out, the next guy his girl chose was a coke dealer, white guy, a real scumbag as it happens. No way you could trust him. But that’s by the by.

Anyway, back to my man, Mason… last time I saw him, he was scooting out the back door of our apartments, in a big hurry. Gave he a fast hug, said he was heading down Hackney, and he was gone… Right at that moment there was a loud knock on the front door of the apartment block.. So I went and answered it. Couple of guys at the door, looked like cops, friendly, but you couldn’t be sure.

So they asked me if Mason was around. I said he’d shot off in a hurry for some reason. The immigratin cops looked at each other. Then said, which we way did he go? I said, he was heading off to Edmonton, next district up from Tottenham… In reality he was heading for Hackney, but that put ‘em off the scent. It was the least I could do for Mason. In the words of NWA, “Fuck da Police.”

For all his faults Mason was a good guy. Had to be done. He needed a fighting chance. And I was gonna give it to him.

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