If you know me, I mean like personally know me, then you will know how I feel about George the Poet. I have been listening to Georges work (Can I call him George? I’m just gonna go with it) for a long time now …. I remember the first time I heard George the Poet I was just listening to the next thing that was coming on YouTube. Just hitting the button to the next tune and hearing “Estate of mind”. I was sitting on a train…a lot of my stories involve the line “I was sitting on a train” …. I was looking out the window and when “Estate of Mind” started I wasn’t really listening. Not really. I was just watching the fields rush by me. I then kind of thought…. RAH…his voice is smooth, and I guess for a moment I was actually listening…
“So what’s a hood?…Slum after slum, Back to back where mums stack for jack and son’s pack the strap to run bags of crack , and words fly around trying to describe our condition but at the end of the day I comes back to black”
Woah…Oi…. I sat up in my seat, no longer drowsy and bored. I looked at my phone and started the track over . I must have listened to George the poet for the next 45 mins. Then…when I got home…I listend some more. I was shocked that I had never head this stuff before. That someone who seemed to really understand what its like in the endz was speaking the truth. With no filter.
I went to bed that night listening to “Cat D”…and…the rest is history.
I now use George the poet in my training and with my young people.
A few weeks ago, as some of you may know, I went and saw George for the first time. You can read about it here…. but just know…it was a big deal for me.
I came away from the whole event buzzing. The words that were spoken that night had given me a spring in my step. Had made me feel like I could take on the world in defending the kids I work with. I had also taken my good friend Grace with me and she was texting me on the way home asking what George podcast she should listen to in the car on the way home. I find that a lot, you introduce George the poet to someone and they want to…need to hear more. Or maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, I thought nothing more of it. The only thing missing was that I would have loved to get a photo with George the Poet. I can’t really say why…I guess when you have put a lot of time and effort into listening to someone’s work and such its like the cherry on the cake. But I didn’t get one.
A few weeks later I received an email from the BBC. I opened the email and skimmed read it. Then read it again. Then I stood up and read it.
It started with Dear Kendra…
It went on to invite myself and Grace to the BBC radio studio in London on the 18th of October to watch a live recording of something called “The World of George the Poet” …and there would be special guest!
Me…they emailed me directly…MAD. I told everyone. I was so excited and blown away that I had been emailed. Leading up to the event…as usual, I had madness going on. My life can be full on and even though I wanted to go, it started to look like attending the event could be hard work. I wondered if it would be similar to the show, I had seen a few weeks before…so…I messaged Ben Brick on Twitter. I’m a bit like that…don’t ask, don’t get. And I asked him what the event would be like…
And he only went and bloody answered!
If you could have seen my face when Ben messaged me back, telling me I should come as the talk would be focusing on Rap and education and that it would be relevant to me. So, I said…If I come, he had to promise to have a photo with me for my blog….and he said Yes!
So, on a raining Friday evening I started my journey to London. I really struggle with certain parts of London. I don’t really speak about it…I think I will…But just know I get anxious in certain parts.
I was just about to get off the train in central London when I say a email from the producer saying “Don’t forget to bring your photo ID”…..if you know me you will now that for sure I had not brought my photo ID. Then I got another message from Grace saying that she couldn’t meet me where she said and would have to direct me to her via phone.
And it felt like hell.
I was in central London, can’t find my friend, rush hour, and no photo ID. I just stood there debating turning back around. An announcement said that the train back to East Kent would leave in 7 minutes…and there was this moment where I just stood, rooted, heart pounding, wondering how pissed off Grace will be if I text her and say…Soz…I have had to go home.
It took me a while to find Grace. It took us even longer t navigate the London Traffic and get to the event. Driving…slowly……in central London…did not sit well with me. Seeing places, I knew and had been around…. It was like a journey down memory lane. And not a lane I often like to visit.
And then we arrived.
My son made a mad dash to find my passport and send me a photo and that and my friendliest “Yep I forget my ID” face to security we were in!!!!
We were eventually led to the studio. There were about 300 people and it was very different to the last time I had seen George perform. I was intrigued as I had never seen anything like this before. Whilst we were waiting, I decided that this was my last chance to try and get a Photo with George. Even if there was 300 other people there. I looked around until I saw someone who looked very important. This lovely lady picture below. She was not the person I was looking for, but she said that if I stayed at the end, she would get me a photo…well…that’s all I needed to hear.
Then the lights dimmed, and it started.
A man walked on stage. I had no idea who he was but by the murmuring in the crowd it seemed he was somebody important. He started speaking about why this event was taking place and why the BBC were working with George. He said his name was Mo. Mo then started to talk about his experiences of George the Poet. That some on had side “Have you heard Georges podcast” he hadn’t so thought he would have a listen. He said that at first, he was just hearing it…Not listening…But then suddenly the words started to strike him, and he heard it. That he had to stop what he was doing and listen some more. And some ore. And that he was very late to work that day.
I was looking round the crowd and people were nodding. I couldn’t believe it that this man who I had never met, was explaining the exact same feeling that I had my first time of listening. I wanted to jump up and shout “Me to Mo…me to”. But…. I don’t know Mo, so I didn’t lol. Then he sat down in front of me and I lent over and said, “That was a bloody amazing speech”. I learnt later that He was Mohit Bakaya, Controller of Radio 4. But to me he will always be Mo, the man who may love George more than me…maybe.
George came out and spoke. Said that this was a show that would look at the link between Rap music and education. He spoke about his new podcast and where we could listen on BBC radio 4. And the it was time for the first guest…Who would it be?
It was only DJ Target! I was bouncing in my seat. I have literally just finished watching “The Rap game” and have followed DJ Target for …well…forever…and there he was just…sitting there with George the Poet! They spoke for ages about how the music progressed from Jungle and about his book “Grime Kids” which you can find out about here.
Then he was gone, said that he had to dash off straight away….
George then introduced his next two gusts. Now, I am sorry to say that I didn’t catch names, so if anyone that was at the events does know the names of the two doctors, please let me know.
Yep…Doctors. Doctors of Hip hop and Rap.
They spoke about stuff that I can’t even start to explain. The link between music and the brain. Resilience. Disorganized attachment. Why songs by Krept and Konan were so powerful. They went deep in talking about how some people (Like Krept and Konan) become stringer from trauma when others may become weaker. It felt like they were talking about a part of my own brain that I have never understood, the part where I am rock bottom , I find this mad strength to say…Nope…I aint going down and then come back stronger than before. The whole thing gave me goose bumps and I was captivated the whole time (Hence no notes of names)
Then there were 3 guests (once again, too caught up in the game to get names…so please holler). There was this lady from the PRU. Her name was Temmie maybe…she made me sit up and listen. Spoke about how PRUs are used, lack of funding, stigma attached. She had even brought young people from the PRU to see the show. Once aging I wanted to jump up and shout …thank god…someone who sees stuff like I do…but I didn’t…. Holly Branson also spoke and explain about the @Big change. The big change work together to ensure that all young people thrive in life, not just exams. Holly said that there are social, economic, and moral arguments for whole systems transformation in education. That change is necessary and possible to make things between for EVERY child. If you don’t know about Big Change then please look and read.
And then they were gone.
Last guest time. Soooo……who would it be.
One of my favorite songs is “Follow the leader”. I love…wellll….everything about that song. The opening line is “I love my mum…fact”. I play it most mornings on the way to work.
George says…welcome my last guest…
What is he saying? I turned to this woman sitting next to me…. had not interacted with her in any way all night and said
“It can’t be Maverick Sabre…I will cry.
But it was. He just walked out on stage like it was a casual thing and then they sang “Follow the leader”. In front of my actual face. I was in heaven.
Then it was done. Lights up. People leaving. Ok…time to go…but wait…what about my picture!
So I went to my lady (Not my lady at all, she owned me nothing) and said “Please can I get a picture” she told me to and Grace to stand to the side and she would see what she could do. We had blue wrist bands and all blue wrist band people were directed out the building. All silver wrist band people were led off another way. My lady come over and asked us to follow her…where was she taking is…hang on….this is the way out…where we waited when we were going on…NOOOOOO she is going to ask us to leave…NOOOO.
Then someone said “have you got silver wristbands” to me and Grace. And the lady said “No, I am just letting them through to the after party”
So, there was me and Grace, standing in this room. Not sure what to do because in a minute George and everyone else would be coming in.
I grabbed my phone and sent my son a whispered voice not that said
“We are in the after party…. the bloody after party”
It was wicked. We got t speak to Mo and tell him about out of the Shadows. I got my selfie with Ben and told him off for lying to me. He was so sweet. He then told me something. Something I can’t tell you readers…not yet…something that made me say…. very loudly “SHUT UP”.
Then George waked in. He was like ….2 foot from me. With his family. I had rehearsed what I was going to say. It was all planned out. Walk over…say hello…. say the show was great…ask for a photo …leave.
But all I can hear now is my heart Pounding in my ears. And I need a wee. And I feel sick. I might just leave. But Grace pushed me towards him, and I say
And he says
“Yes, your Kendra…have we not met properly …oh no… this is the first time we have actually met…I just wanted to say thank you”
Just stop what you are doing reader.
He knew MY name. If you can imagine my personality in any way…imagine my face when he said my name.
I can’t tell you the rest of the conversation. Not yet. Watch this space. But all I can say is I said this line
“Shut up George…swear down” about 5 times.
That’s not the end of that story. I just can’t tell you yet….
All I can say is…. you all better listen to George the podcast season 2 in two weeks’ time…