Heroes – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’

So what is there to think about today?



Such a strange thing being a teacher. A repository of knowledge. A role-model for life. A respectable pillar of society.

I feel like an impostor who will shortly be found out. I am subversive. Yet maybe I am no longer subversive at all. I’m just kidding myself. I’ve become quite tame and harmless.

I am a teacher. I can’t help it. Sorry.



Heaven, Hell, Paradise, Nirvana, Karma, Reincarnation – what wonderfully human ways of dealing with mortality.



I let myself down. I don’t do things. I’m too settled in my ways. You forget you’re on a road that links with other roads so that the end of your road is any place on the whole planet. Your road becomes a short stretch of familiar tarmac. It is just the start.

I decorate my house. I go to work. I hoover. I clean.

Where’s the fucking madness?



Muhamed Ali is a person I greatly admire. He was so full of life. He took them all on and did it all his way. The young Cassius Clay from the ghetto with the dancing feet and outrageous predictions delivered in poetic bursts of machine gunfire. The arrogance and self-assurance. The intelligence. The taunting ridiculing. The strutting defiance. He refused to play anybody’s games. He did it his way. He was so alive, so dynamite. He got up people’s noses. Cassius the mouth.

He walked a line. There were a lot of things you could have despised. All the things I’ve listed above. But it was the panache and the human warmth that pulled it off. He was a gangster of the ring without a machine gun.

Then when they were after sending him to fight in a war he did not agree with, he stood up to them and refused to go, so they stripped him of his titles, refused to allow him to box, and robbed him of some of his best years. But he did not bow to them and later came back to reclaim his titles and spite them.

He became a Black Muslim and changed his name. He stood for Black Pride and demanded respect.

Then we were witness to the strength and determination in some of his later fights – the depth of his character.

He was sensationally exciting to watch in the ring but what sealed it for me was the human being that shone through.



All heroes let you down.



Life is about experience. What else is there? You gotta get out there and experience everything! Change your mind! Go everywhere! Meet everyone! Find the best minds and rap the hell out of them! Do everything once and avoid the ruts! Avoid the humdrum! Avoid the rot and decay. So much more than fun! So much more than sex! So much more than children!

There’s a galaxy out there! It spins! There’s a mind in here! It thinks. It spins. I wanna know what makes them spin!