BAGEYE AT THE WHEEL: Autobiography which could heal a three decade rift

BAGEYE at the Wheel is a wonderfully amusing and insightful account of a young Jamaican boy growing up in Luton. Author Colin Grant is hoping his autobiography – written in Caribbean patois – will heal an almost life-long rift with his father, Clinton George ‘Bageye’ Grant, Luton Today  reports.

The book details Bageye’s authoritarian manner with his wife Blossom and their five ‘pickneys,’ as well as his fondness for gambling and subsequent ducking and diving to recoup money lost at all-night poker sessions.

Colin, 50, now a BBC producer, said his father and his friends – nicknamed Summer Wear, Pioneer, Anxious and Tidy Boots – were like Runyonesque characters who would gather at Mrs Knight’s in Hazelbury Crescent for the weekly card sessions that left little change for paying bills and buying food.

The father-of-two – who has written three books, including an acclaimed biography of Bob Marley and the original Wailers – said: “This is the one I always wanted to write.

“But the publishers insisted my Dad sign off the manuscript because we had been estranged for more than 30 years.

“Writing it made me more inclined to seek him out. Our last real connection was when I was an 11-year-old boy – and having an 11-year-old son myself made me think about him with much more compassion.

“I was quite nervous when I went to meet him with a proof of the book.

“But he told everyone ‘My son has written a book about me’ and seemed quite flattered by the idea.

“He’s a twinkly-eyed chap of 83 now with a string of girlfriends.

“The first thing that struck me was his strange and attractive gait. He was like someone collecting the loser’s medal at the cup final. Dignified in defeat, but shoulders back and chin up.”

Colin, who went to St Columba’s College and lives in Brighton with his wife and family, hopes his mother will seek a rapprochement with his father.

He said: “She has the capacity – at heart she’s a very forgiving woman.

“I think in her mind she’s still defending us and probably regards reaching out to him as some sort of betrayal.”

And even though his father was a strict discplinarian, Colin claims it didn’t cloud his love of Luton.

“I had a supremely happy childhood in Farley Hill,” he recalled.

“It was idyllic, almost Utopian. We used to play tennis and football at Stockwood Park where I was also an impromptu golf caddie.

“I thought Whipperley Way was like the Champs Elysees – it was lined with trees and had a supreme elegance to it, a grandeur.

“And looking down on the lights of Luton from Longcroft Hill – to my eye it could have been Las Vegas, a fantastic metropolis.”

Bageye at the Wheel by Colin Grant is published by Jonathan Cape and costs £16.99.

For the original report go to http://www.lutontoday.co.uk/community/autobiography-which-could-heal-a-three-decade-rift-for-farley-hill-family-1-3738968

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