Windrush: Ode to the Journey, Cricket and Social Progress

Alex Pascall brings the Windrush Generation and cricket from the periphery to the centre. And looks forward to Black British advancement. He writes in the spirit of C L R James’ Beyond a Boundary. For James, cricket was political. A progressive view that sport – in the face of dire circumstance – is a positive force relevant today.

By Alex Pascall OBE, Arts and Community Correspondent

Modern Britain is certainly not what I met when I came to Britain in 1959. I arrived in Dover after 12 days of travel, carrying two conga drums and my grip (suitcase) filled with goodies, dressed up in my nylon shirt and bespoke suit, knitted socks and tie – that was October 1959. 

Man, in no time me and others spiced up the place with tropical delight, our presence chased the fog and warmed the icy climate.

 When it comes to sports, check it out.

We played the game of cricket, shifting fortunes and glorious uncertainties, English clapping West Indians shouting, cricket was we game, England versus The West Indies was warfare.

Slowly but surely we began to beat hell out of dem.  Roberts, then Michael Holden, Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, fast bowlers with paste, expert batting and fielding, fire in their wire. Viv, Sobers, Kanhi, Kallicharran, Nurse, Marshall, Captains Worrell and Lloyd, dem man striking fours, sixes and centuries.

Fast, medium and spin bowlers with speed and grace, like human rockets with rock stones, batsmen blading balls to the boundary, runs like dry peas. The Oval and Lords brought to life; from English clapping and feet stamping. There was side-line commentary and banter, revelling to the music of the calypso, steel band, conch shells and percussion.

We have all-together created things to be proud of, moments and events to be celebrated for the efforts made and achievements gained. 

So, forget about being referred to as ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘low hanging fruits’; those are statements representative of the deep-seated prejudices of today. 

“Dark strangers” no more, we defy them and rise, laugh and surprise them. “Wayward children of Mother England” now charting our aspirations beyond their heights. Aim for the zenith of all possibilities. Stay on route; take with you model examples from the thousands of historical visionaries. Clock the way we developed, resisting pitfalls and spiked alleyways that lead to nowhere.

Pass it on to the Alpha Generation.

“Be proud, ambitious, watchful and defiant.
Best of all, aspire to be someone great.
The number one to be desired and admired.
Leave traces of your footsteps for those in pursuit to follow.
Now, mek I tell you something for nothing,
Pull up your socks and trousers, wear a smile,
Lift up all you head, cut the slack and walk tall,
Cha man! Time for we walk, ‘nough’ time to reason.
Lace up you boots young man, nough ah dat lip flapping.
Walk tall! Straighten up your back, let dem see you walk.
Yes, show them how to measure time and walk,
Come gal, come dudu darling, leh we walk and talk.
Liven up yourself, buck up and enjoy the experience.
Hear what Granny sey? if crab nah walk, crab nah get fat,
Mek time, tek time; cause after one time is two time,
Shine! Step in line, to the Windrush Generation walk
Left, right, left, right, now walk and talk, rap and talk,
Ready, steady, rock woman rock, rock your body, now steady;
Do the walk and talk, Windrush Generation walk and talk.
‘Walk good’!”

©Alex Pascall, Good Vibes Records and Music Ltd Tel 0207 263 2334


Alex Pascall’s style is that of a modern day griot. Namely, an historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, and musician in the African and Caribbean oral tradition. Much needed “In a nation badly informed and historically confused all because of terrible politicians and an uneven and ill formed curriculum”.

The search for solutions must begin now he told the Bruce Castle Windrush Exhibition meeting in one of the most diverse areas of the Capital.

Pascall advocates diversity in recruitment and mentoring of faculty and students, research and writing, curriculum revisions, and teaching.

“My emphasis is on education, getting this material into the education system to inform and enlighten children and teaching staff, black and white”. This, he says, is an effective tool in closing the achievement gap and building understanding across lines of race, class and circumstance.

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