JASMINE’S JUICE- Hip-hop master Nas performs his masterpiece Illmatic at Lovebox.

As music festivals go, Lovebox isn’t really about hard-core music and fans- it’s a party, where music is just one of the main players, alongside try-hard arty visuals, semi-naked stunts and top class food merriment.



The festival is deep in the heart of east London and a long walk from the station. At the entrance of Victoria Park huge queues, with a very well behaved crowd are fast moving, and flanked by blatant dudes selling most kinds of drugs like market traders. Balloon sellers yelling ‘‘laughing gas- three for a fiver!’’ (That you can pay for via cred card- a real WTF? moment!). The grounds inside are testament to their hustling abilities as balloon canisters looking like giant silver bullet pellets are left discarded everywhere.

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Everywhere you look there are great visuals like multi-coloured tutus high up sitting in tree trunks, fluorescent cushions and sofas to lounge on, and harem-like set ups across the main grounds as well as the VIP. Look one way you’ll see semi naked, fetish wearing men, fighting in boxing rings. On another side are, deck chairs, spray-painted cars, magicians doing card tricks and sequin painted ladies doing impressive stunts with huge hoola hoops.

gneral vip

The food stalls are impressive. From gourmet hotdogs, Nando’s, cupcakes, burgers, paella, salad shacks, bagels and BBQ- alcohol and fresh juices, a totally thought out 360 degree culinary experience! Special shout out to the jerk chicken stall which had queues 50 deep, all weekend long, awaiting their generous plates of curry goat and rice and peas- there was even a Rasta plate option for vegetarians. Also, not sure how they managed to organize schedules for everyone’s bladders, but it’s the only festival where I’ve been with no lengthy queuing for toilets.

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Lovebox fashion is young and fast forward moving. The girls are cute in their predictable festival fashion garms of wellies, fake flower garlands, shorts so short they may well have just worn g strings and lots of quirky takes on Rock&roll chic and hip-hop street fabulosity. The fresh to death looks are accompanied by lots of sunburnt skin. Slightly unfairly, the weather on Saturday had been widely predicted to be stormy and wet, so many were rocking sensible footwear, which made for amusing viewing in the relentless dry heat. Whilst there may have been numerous sunburnt sunstroke victims, their Twitter feeds the next day would tell you they had a brilliant party and that’s all that really matters.

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To give you a sense of how young the Lovebox demographic is, at some point in the past few years, its become de rigour for men at London based music festivals, to be totally topless showing off their baby smooth torso skin, (either men have stopped growing hair on their chests or they’re all waxing and shaving!), the waistband of their designer underpants must be showing under their baggy knee length shorts as they flex and posture their way around the festival chatting up anyone that catches their eye.

Not comfortable catching their eye of or ogling men young enough to be my sons, I ran for refuge into the VIP. Like most festivals, the VIP isn’t really the best area in the place to be at. There are always more maze-like internal VVIP and VVVIP areas inside this area, akin to the Russian dolls where as you get closer to the epicentre you actually stand shoulder to shoulder with the main performing acts and their management teams.
It was this area that I was lucky enough to chill out in alongside my music industry peers (and Where M.I.A’s manager later stormed out of at end of her acts set muttering something about never coming to Lovebox again after there was a mishap with her technical staging, which looked to me like it was M.I.A’s fault but was later blamed on the crew- •shrug-shoulders* what do I know!)

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Most festivals have a type of music or genre they stick to. You tend to know what you’re getting with Glastonbury –mostly rock and indie, Wireless caters to the urban crowd, but Lovebox is a true reflection of the current all-inclusive, multi-genre-loving youth. It’s the new generation music festivals cooler London younger sibling. With a really mixed up line-up of music acts of all ages, genres and success levels that’s very brave in booking a huge cross section of music acts.


Much of the hip-hop community were ecstatic when it was announced that Nas was set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his seminal 1994 album ‘Illmatic’ by reissuing the record as ‘Illmatic XX’, but when we heard he would also perform the classic material at Lovebox, it was a no brainer, I’d have to venture out of my west London comfort zone and make the pilgrimage to Lovebox for Nasir Jones – known to the 25 million people who have bought his albums worldwide to date as simply Nas. I’ve seen him numerous times, the time at Kentish Towns Forum, when fans were standing on seats screaming alongside his every lyric from the rafters to the stalls, the time at Brixton where a fan actually popped off a real gunshot on his classic ‘’made to look’’ lol.


Disc One:
‘The Genesis’
‘NY State Of Mind’
‘Life’s A Bitch’
‘The World Is Yours’
‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)’
‘One Love’
‘One Time 4 Your Mind’
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/various-artists/75290#9hbIhyHd1U3zuCcQ.99

Disc Two:
‘I’m a Villain’ (previously unreleased)
The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR October 28, 1993 (previously unreleased freestyle)
‘Halftime’ (Butcher Remix)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (Remix) (promo single)
‘One Love’ (LG Main Mix)
‘Life’s A Bitch’ (Arsenal Mix) (promo single)
‘One Love’ (One L Main Mix)
‘The World Is Yours’ (Tip Mix)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (The Stink Mix) (UK single)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (The Laidback Remix) (UK single)

A film about the making of the album was also released this year, called Time Is Illmatic, but watching Nas perform and talk through his work was as good as a movie being played out live in front of our eyes. I wont lie, so many older acts have performed such poor renditions in recent years and been ridiculed back to their homelands – shout out Jodeci!- that I did have misgivings, but I needn’t have worried, the show was incredible!


Illmatic- (meaning “beyond ill” or “the ultimate”), when it was released in 1994 was given a 5 mic rating by The Source- hip-hops then print press bible. It was their highest rating and very controversial at the time.
During my time at MTV I don’t think we ever had a best albums list that Illmatic didn’t feature on. It was one of the quintessential hip hop recordings of the 1990s and I recall during my numerous interviews with many hip-hop stars of the time, many from Common to Jay Z cited Illmatic as an early inspiration for them.

This album uses samples galore in the best example of hip hoppers honoring banging beats. Nas wrote it in a small room, in his small apartment in Queensbridge and it went on to achieve pantheon status for its poetic and cinematic depiction of inner-city blight. On the album, Nas used intricate lyrical patterns to describe his unsafe surroundings, an environment that proved risky for the young rapper, although it provided a great canvas for his narrative skills. With producers DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock and Q-Tip, Nas created a singularly evocative album. You didn’t have to be from New York to see the dilapidated buildings, cracked sidewalks and rusty basketball rims. Back then and even now it could be a parallel borough of inner city England. Queensbridge. Queens Park. One and the same. This Lovebox set was clearly a proud moment for him and fans like us who recall, reflect and acknowledged their loyalty from the start of his career.

During Nas Lovebox set a stage design depicting the urban landscape of Queensbridge, with graffiti-lined streets, a subway entrance. Nas rocked a three-piece suit and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center when he did the same gig earlier this year. For Lovebox a simple ‘’world is yours’’ t-shirt, long shorts and trainers.


DJ Green Lantern was on the decks as Nas hit the stage, and from his first bars on the first track I was able to exhale as I took in that his vocals sounded as strong and crisp as they were decades ago. The lyrics sound just as relevant today and it was incredulous to think that he wrote them as a teenager. Spoken word genius about racial segregation, educational inequality, public housing, and the prison system, he was just 20 when the album was released.

Back then I remember growing up in Harlesden and Southall and he seemed to speak of similar stories that happened around me but that the mainstream media seemed oblivious to. Being a street soldier, selling drugs to make ends meet, having to deal with the dangers that come along with that lifestyle. No wonder he was compared to the God-Rakim.


Nas has written some of the most quotable lyrics in the history of rap….

“Life’s a bitch and then you die/ That’s why we get high/ ‘Cause you never know when you’re gonna go”…..’’you can hate me now/ but I won’t stop now’’…’’all I need is one mic’’…

…and the Lovebox crowd in the first few rows flowed with him word for word, although a lot of the kids much further back clearly hadn’t even heard of Nas let alone his songs. They were carried by the hype of us hard-core aging B Girls and Boys though and joined in choruses with their drunken joy. However, the irony is not lost on the fact that our communities haven’t become safer over two decades and that the UK’s youth can relate now more than ever to many of his lyrics.

In a 1994 interview Nas spoke about Illmatic, saying that “this feels like a big project that’s gonna affect the world’’ but who would’ve thought he’d be performing it to a passionate crowd at Lovebox twenty years later. Hip-hop critics and journos are often dismissed when they speak on content and thoughts about music but so many of us said this was a classic album back then and it’s proved the test of time.

Could Nas have imagined that Hollywood legend Robert de Niro would be singing its praises at the Tribeca film festival earlier this year? Or those British kids who weren’t even born in 1994 and that equate great hip-hop with Drake and Jay Z would acknowledge his masterpiece in 2014?

Nas explained at the time…

‘’When my rap generation started, it was about bringing you inside my apartment. It wasn’t about being a rap star; it was about anything other than. I want you to know who I am: what the streets taste like, feel like, and smell like. What the cops talk like, walk like, and think like. What crackheads do — I wanted you to smell it, feel it. It was important to me that I told the story that way because I thought that it wouldn’t be told if I didn’t tell it. I thought this was a great point in time in the 1990s in [New York City] that needed to be documented and my life needed to be told. “While it’s sad that there’s so much frontin’ in the rap world today, this should only make us sit up and pay attention when a rapper comes along who’s not about milking the latest trend and running off with the loot’’


Nas has said he was trying to make a flawless album when he made llmatic- and he did. With his lyrics that depicted a lifestyle that drew in fans globally, in his raspy deep voice for one still young had us hooked at London’s clubs like Subterainia and Hanover Grand week in-week out. Whole thesis and university courses could be set-and have been- on Illmatic. Nas made the type of music that helped hip-hop become a respected and dissected art form where critics could discuss lyrical content, album artwork, iconic production values and helped birth a whole back pack wearing hip hop geek.

I won’t say I wasn’t surprised that young Lovebox fans were able to join in with Nas call and responses to his hit songs, I was. Its always hard to admit you’re an aging B-girl but there is pride looking back and knowing this man made some of the soundtrack to an important part of my life and was now influencing those that come after us.

Nas’ set was smooth and flowed, as he’s been performing this tour all across the USA this year. Earlier this year at the New York show he said ‘’ Twenty years ago, “I felt like my words had to be harsh, but I’m a little more refined now, don’t get it twisted. I’m still hood, though.”

At Victoria Park he recognised that not everyone in attendance was a Nas fan and many weren’t even born when the album was released. Here he said ‘’I’m Nas for those that done know me, I’m the one that said hip-hop was dead! ‘’Half of you weren’t even born when I made this album!” the 40-year-old rapper shouted to the crowd, but last year he was named the best rapper of all time in a poll voted for by NME.COM readers, so clearly young music fans do research for great music.

Nas’ prowled around the Lovebox stage with the confidence and regal stance of a lion king. He ran through his classics like a marathon runner. Firstly One love, then Streetdreams. When he introduced ‘’ I can’’ he urged the crowd ‘’you guys are the new world leaders!’’ When he performed his classic hit Got yourself a gun I couldn’t help laugh and recall THAT Brixton show a few years ago at the same moment a Brixton man had popped a real shot off into the crowd!

This set was good but lower energy than when I’ve seen him in the past- he knew the crowd wasn’t all die-hard, ride or die legacy fans. This album represents me, us our youth. Unlike people who pass and hope their legacies will remain someplace, Illmatic will be played when my generation are octogenarians. To be able to perform your album after 20 years and it still sound fresh is dope beyond belief.

To see a hip-hop legend perform a classic album front to back live is a true fans dream and I think Nas has set a new blueprint and all music acts should celebrate seminal milestones in this way. At Lovebox he reminded us that he’s still one of the best, a hip-hop icon that has always kept it 100% real and for this set alone for me, Lovebox really is a music festival in a league of its own!


melv jas

Its been a hectic, yet fun week, that epitomises a typical summer in London. I kick started it with the premier launch night of the London Indian Film Festival where actress Emma Thompson had produced the opening night gala film SOLD, about a 13 year old Nepalese girl sold into sex slavery in Kolkata before Gillian Anderson (X Files)- who plays an American photographer, helps rescue her.

gillian nun

Gillian was part of an interesting Q&A session with the audience straight after the movie, which really focused on just how many millions of children globally are trafficked annually.

gillian sold


Then there were a myriad of commitments from my regular Friday breakfast slot on London Live talking you through the days Daily Grind stories, to engagement parties for music industry colleagues.
Watch The Daily Grind again here:



All this was followed by brunches with my ladies in the private members club at The Electric in Portobello Road, and a triple birthday celebration for man about town, creative lifestyle consultant and Will I Am’s communications manager Tim Wade and his 3 year old twin boys with his gorgeous lady TV goddess Lisa Snowden which included drinks, nibbles, cake and loads of friends and family who also just happened to be over achievers like BBC Radio London’s Vanessa Feltz and her TV agent beau Ben and more.

tim wade

Next the LONDON360 reporters attended the Jack Petchy Speak Out Challenge where hundreds of young people are mentored and trained to speak to a public audience of hundreds. The BBC’s Brenda Emmanus, AJ from KISSFM and Baroness Sloss, judged the final competition. Supporters in the house included Apprentice winner and business entrepreneur Tim Campbell and more. Next they attended the National Diversity Awards pre-awards celebration dinner, before running along to capture some amazing V Inspired and Evening Standard Frontline campaign stories of young achievers who have overcome obstacles in their lives!

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Something that continues to frustrate many of us in the industry are the media’s laziness in only plucking out and promoting the same young talent over and over again as if only one exists out there. There are literally hundreds of diverse young talented people doing exceptionally well out there so please look further than the same old ones you catapulted to fame 4 years ago. One young man that’s making his moves both in front of the airwaves as behind is my old MTV presenter Melvin Odoom.
One half of the KISSFM radio breakfast duo- Melvin has just produced a new online web series titled YOMO – a pun of YOLO- which stands for You Only Marry Once. So many young people globally are only accessing TV content online and many online series get picked up by mainstream broadcasters for a TV transmission too.


Following a private screening of the pilot episode of YOMO at Channel 4 headquarters last week, industry professionals had the opportunity to ask questions and give comments. The general consensus was that YOMO was a breath of fresh air that succinctly captured the essence of Britain’s rich diverse communities and that this story would most certainly make easy and essential viewing.

Typical quotes on the night were similar to ”As creatives we had become frustrated at the lack of diversity on our screens, so rather than moan and wait for someone else to provide the opportunities, we wanted to do something about it. We created Ment2Excel Digital to provide a platform for shows like YOMO! Ghandi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world” – We are working hard to be a part of that change”.


Created by Melvin’s sister Yonah Odoom and her friend Moshana Khan from North West Actors, the comedy centres around two young women living and loving in London – trying to find a husband. Both are fast approaching thirty, and the reality of being left on the shelf – is becoming just that – a reality. Determined not to grow old as lonely spinsters with just themselves and a cat for company, they decide to go on an all out assault to find their future husbands.

For Yo & Mo marriage is for life, therefore they are determined to make sure it’s with the right guy, even if it means meeting all the wrong ones!


Lenny Henrys ‘Act for Change’ has recently highlighted the problems faced by ethnic minorities in the media. Not only is the conception of this show – proof of those issues, but its presence also offers a solution – independently produced shows.

Melvin said of the show “YOMO is funny and smart, and is the type of show that has been missing from the landscape. I love the fact that rather than waiting for opportunities, the girls went out there to make it happen. This is the future”

I sat down with Melvin to talk about YOMO and what inspired him to make it? ‘’The web series was written and created by my sister Yonah Odoom and her best friend/actor buddy Moshana Khan. Being single girls they were getting pressure from their families on finding a husband and settling down! It’s quite common especially for women their age (ahem!) – Anyway they thought they would document some of their experiences as single women looking for love. They are both very talented actors and writers, so when they came to me with the idea, it was a no brainer.A lot of the times actors of black and ethnic minority descent do not have as many opportunities to play multifaceted roles, and when they do the roles can be clichés and stereotypes, we wanted to do something which broke out of that box”.


Don’t worry though, Melvin isn’t thinking of chucking in his front of camera roles like BBC3′s DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF for behind it ‘’I still love presenting, and haven’t got any plans to stop! But I have always at some point wanted to get involved in producing shows. One of the other reasons for the birth of YOMO was because of a conversation that Yonah, Moshana and I had about the lack of diverse roles available for black and Asian actors. We came to the conclusion that the way forward was to create your own show. So we enlisted the help of Russell & Nana at Ment2Excel Digital and the YOMO journey began!’’

Alot of online TV series have been made this past few years about the Nigerian community- its interesting that their time now. But Melvin’s not trying to change any stereotypes.

‘’We weren’t really out to change any misconceptions; we just wanted to tell our story. We think there are funny stories out there, regardless of your culture!’’

The unusual angle this web series has is that is easily blends the second and third generation immigrant youth into the same story, and is truly reflective of London’s youthful all inclusive friendships regardless of cultural makeups today, specifically the interaction between Asian and African relationships. ‘’One of the things that Yonah and Moshana have found through their friendship is the amount of similarities between both families. Moshana calls my Mum “Mum” and vice versa! She’s at home in our house, eating jollof all the time (maybe too much!) – When different communities start to look closely at each other, you notice that there are usually more similarities than differences!!’’

Like many a new creative arts project Melvin has been resourceful in having this web series made, ‘‘in order to make it happen, we had to fund the pilot ourselves. We are now looking for investors as well as going down the crowd-funding root. The model for funding shows is definitely changing, and with names such as Spike Lee going down this root, it makes it even more credible! So watch this space!’’

You can watch YOMO | Web Series | Episode 1: The African, Asian Persuasion, here:

NOW I’m off to Soho for the MOBO ‘Lost In Love’ EP Listening Party, in honour of east London singer/song writer MIKE HOUGH!



Networks are important. Your network is your net worth.
It starts with a random introduction that usually leads to lifelong friendships and business partners.

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Many years ago, my friend, the west London singer Estelle introduced me to her friend Kojo, a comedian who had started hosting a weekly comedy night at corks wine bar opposite Selfridges in central London. Kojo’s nights pulled in literally hundreds of young, urban, excited comedy fans each Sunday, for an evening of new young comedians cutting their teeth on a hip hop inspired audience.


I saw the movement growing to incredible sizes and as the then Head of MTV Base production persuaded my bosses to let me make and air this live night for TV. they weren’t initially convinced about comedy on a music channel, but after I explained that hip hop culture includes much more than just music they let me give it a shot. it rated beautifully, created a huge buzz for the home grown UK talent and before long Kojo’s Comedy Fun House was a series that ran and ran.

kojo team

A couple of years later whilst I was out in New York celebrating my birthday with a private dinner party with both English friends who were in town as well as my American mates, I introduced Kojo to entertainment impresario Nick Cannon who at the time was acting, directing and making movies, hosting a morning breakfast radio slot, building his NCredible clothing and media production empire as well as hosting cornerstone American programming like Americas Got Talent and is of course hubby to the biggest female superstar of our time- Ms Mariah Carey.

A few more years down the line and Nick calls me and tells me he wants to include some UK talent in the sixth season of his MTV hit show Nick Cannon presents- Wild N Out, and who would I suggest to appear on his next series. Before I even had a chance to respond he said ‘’hey how about your friend Kojo who you told me about?’’ Great. No need for me to make any decisions. 3 phone calls later between myself, Kojo and Nicks PA and Kojo was on a plane to NYC.
Now he’s starring in one of the two Wild N Out teams in this series – an opportunity that’s huge for up and coming talent to get their faces and content exposed to an American audience. He’s even been described out there as ‘’ Great Britain’s comedic treasure Kojo’’.

kojo tv team

Kojo’s now back in the UK on his daily morning breakfast radio sow on CapitalXtra and been talking to me about his journey from his Hackney roots to what will no doubt soon be Hollywood.
‘’I met Nick Cannon in NY early 2009, when my old MTV Base boss (•smile•) flew over to NY ,where I was living at the time, to celebrate her birthday, and she introduced me to Mariah Carey who was in attendance with her then boyfriend Nick Cannon, who was someone I looked up to. Since that moment Nick and I stayed in touch and it’s only now something’s come up for us to work together’’.

Nick is clearly an inspiration for many young talented men globally and Kojo is no exception taking every bit of advice seriously ‘‘the filming process of Wild N Out was amazing. Seeing so many people from all over America loving the same thing as me, making people laugh. The set was amazing, crew were so professional and they really make the whole cast work together on the show to bring the best for the audience. Nick tells us it’s not about being the best out of a bad cast but the cast knowing when to take a joke and give a joke’’.

kojo set

Clearly the urban hip-hop genre is much bigger stateside than it is here in the UK. Hip-hop megastar Rick Ross heads up the opposite team to Nick Cannon. Kojo found the Americas certainly have a different mentality to that which he’s used to ‘’The differences between working with UK talent and US talent is, the Americans are very confident in what they do and very rarely 2nd guess themselves. Where as UK talent think it’s a good Idea but don’t deliver with conviction. I’ve always had the mentality of the Americans hence why I’ve achieved so much with so little’’.

Kojo is great at being his own champion and stays focused no matter where his career is. Like a chameleon he takes on new challenges. He wasn’t a TV or radio host but that stop him trying and now they are his main gigs. ‘’This is great exposure for me in America. When Nick spoke to me on the phone, I was at JFK airport by the time he hung up. The show is very popular and is shown all over America so will help the strong brand I have here over there. There will be more opportunities from this’’.


And he’s already milking every opportunity life throws his way with new projects. The admirable thing about him is that he’s not afraid to take risks and fail. Even if a genre isn’t his forte he’ll give it a go. That’s the attitude of a winner. ‘’I’ve been writing movie scripts and theatre productions for the last 6 months with my first short film Wasteman Diaries coming out on July 23rd and my theatre play Above Romance is out at Hackney Empire on the 2nd of August. I’m also back on the road around the UK doing what I love the most- stand up comedy – in October’’.

His dreams aren’t meagre ‘’Nick Cannon is one of the nicest men you could ever wish to meet and he has shown a lot of faith in me to deliver. I hope to emulate his success one day’’.


ALL PHARRELL SHOW PICS Copyright Paul Hampartsoumian 2014.

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MasterCard continue with their VIP exclusive access only music shows, which this week was hosted by the coolest man in the universe- mister Pharrell Williams!
I was lucky enough to watch the sound check before the show thanks to my connects- Mervyn Lyn (Strategic Partnership Solutions) and Shaun Springer (Mastercard) and so enjoyed a cocktail before the doors opened with the Mastercard crew.


Pharrell was joined by an all male band and all female set of dancers (one representing every flavour). He performed a long set of his best-known hits. The medley just went on and on and on proving just how much of a Midas touch this man has had for the past two decades.

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At one point he and his NERD/ Startrek production outfit were responsible for over 90% of hits in the UK and American charts and now he goes from the man behind the scenes to the main star frontman.

His Oprah appearance recently proved he’s a sensitive soul that just cant believe how his hit song ‘’Happy’’ has had humanity globally dancing and making their own versions of his video dancing down a street. Its now the most played track at any celebration from weddings, birthdays, christenings and any life flagship date and will no doubt be Pharrells version of Mariah Carey’s’’all I want for Christmas’’. It’s the song that will keep giving both us and him (financially) for decades to come.

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At his Brooklyn Bowl gig the fans were treated to a totally free evening of fancy nibbles like mini burgers, chicken skewers and pizza bites as well as all drinks on tap. Literally, as their slogan says… a ‘’priceless’’ night!

Halfway through his show he stopped just once to speak to the crowd, telling us how much he champions equality for females, and he acknowledges that often he has made ropey choices about songs he’s involved in, but should there be any doubt, he is for female empowerment and will continue to do all that he can to push it!.

Brooklyn bowl must get a special shout out. London’s newest bowling, partying and music venue is sexy and plush as hell with an incredible visual, laser tech line up of equipment as well as unbelievable sound acoustics for live performers.
Pharrel’s set list looked something like this, as I recall when I wasn’t dancing and screaming manically.

Marilyn Monroe
Give it to me
Pass the covousier
Lap dance
‎Drop like it’s hot
Blurred lines
Get lucky


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Skateboard P was looking as fly as ever with another hat, beaded jewellery accessorised, Adidas jeans look but I was most mortified that he was rocking Uggs! Yes, yes, I know Uggs were originally made for men in Australia but we’re not in Australia and this is the coolest man on earth!
My other half has been rocking them for years and now Pharrells co-signed it I cant force him to take them off at the door before we leave home anymore. Sheesh. The girls will continue to laugh at me.



NOEL CLARKE popped into the LONDON360 studios to meet the latest team of reporters and share his personal life stories thoughts and anecdotes with them. Noel is one of London360’s ambassadors alongside Alesha Dixon , Jon Snow and Eddie Nestor. The reporters grilled him both on and off camera and Noel left them with various standout thoughts such as;

“Cos of the moves people like me & Idris are making, some young black man may be James Bond in the future! We’re laying important foundations”
“The more it scares you, the better it is. Don’t ever pass up an opportunity that comes your way. You’ll always regret it”
“If you don’t like a film I’ve made its water off a ducks back. We don’t all like everything. If youre not listening u missed the message”
“I was once offered £1200 a week to join Family Affairs. I was a broke gym instructor but refused it cos I had self belief that it wasn’t me”
“Hard work and dedication will always beat talent in the long run. Get somewhere early, over prepare, don’t burn bridges”
“The single most important thing I’ve learnt in life is to adapt. Conversate in an office yet be real w/your friends- Adapt for the situation”
“My Brilliant moment would be having both my son’s. you can’t imagine how it changes your life. Cutting the cord. It changes your mentality”
“My Brilliant Moments are diverse. I mentor young people & I want to see them grow in the industry. I appreciate those that came before me”
“As a kid I worked very hard and learnt skills on the job, I never set out to make inspirational content, its just stories I have in me”
“I’m not trying to be a role model for others. Getting the BAFTA and OLIVER AWARD may inspire others and if so good”
“If my career stopped tmrw I dunno what I would do, acting, directing, screen writing is what I DO-i am always the change I wanna see!”
“I get tweets daily from people asking for advice-my advice to all is go and make it happen. Whilst you’re tweeting others are doing it”
“U drive yourself mad if u worry about who likes u. U have to jump through hoops in the UK whereas in the USA they just see my credentials”
“winning the Lawrence Olivier Award was nice and I respect the brand but I don’t kiss it nightly -i just get on with my work”
“It was important for me to put 4 women and women of colour in my movie 4321″

So much knowledge- preach Noel!



I finished the week as usual with my Friday breakfast slot on London’s best breakfast show –WAKE UP LONDON with my Daily Grind slot where we talked all things Jean Claude Junker-the drinking, smoking president-in-waiting of Europe,………… benefits and public services affecting the middle classes detrimentally (get rid of the Waitrose shop, home coffee machine, organic yoga and bikram classes now!), ………this weekends annual BET Awards out in L.A where 6 of our black London music stars are nominated!. ( style icon of UK music-Tinie Tempah, king of grime for over a decade Dizzee Rascal, the man who always keeps it realer than real- Ghetts, MOBO stars and last years most buzz worthy act- Krept & Konan, the most unique vocal style we’ve heard in years- Laura Mvula and Roc Nation princess Rita Ora!) and…………….why we could all be unemployed soon due to robotic news presenters on TV. Until they can ad lib like me there’s no competition LOL!


Benefits, BET Awards and Robot Presenters! @jasminedotiwala takes us through todays hot topics: http://bit.ly/1pV99ag #WakeUpLondon



As they say, life, death and taxes is the one thing that we can be sure will affect us all and when we leave this blessed planet it would be amazing to exit knowing you’ve made a substantial mark on humanity. I relish meeting those that have changed the status quo and the way we live.

Nowadays no one uses a print copy of the olde worlde style encyclopaedia but everyone logs onto Wikipedia to find out the basics about anything at all. Wikipedia doesn’t just give us straight facts – its an information tool that anyone globally can and do contribute to and mould for the best most updated, factual accurate information.

The founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales this fortnight took time out to meet the LONDON360 team and talk about his support for TECH4GOOD. The Tech4Good Awards recognise organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others.

Usually when the media interview Jimmy they make a huge deal about the fact that he’s the only world famous Internet entrepreneur who isn’t a billionaire. To which his recent response to a journalist was ‘‘that fact is true, I’m not a billionaire. So? You aren’t either, so are not most people. It’s kind of a stupid thing to bang on about’’. So we didn’t. Here’s how our conversation went.

Can you tell me a bit about what motivated you to start Wikipedia?”

Jimmy: “So I had been looking at the growth of software, free software, programmers coming together from all over the world, collaborating, to build all the really great software that runs the Internet. Analytics, Apache, Pearl and HP, all of these fundamental software tools people are using to build the web, which are all open-source projects, all of whom are volunteers and it got me thinking about what else could be built in this way? We got this great opportunity of an Internet where people can communicate on, what else could be built? I hit upon the idea of an encyclopaedia that we could bring people together and give a free encyclopaedia to every person on the planet, in their own language and I was very excited about that idea. Here we are today”
Well today we’re the fifth most popular website with over 500 million users every month so we’ve become part of the infrastructure of the world people are relying on us for anything at a time. For free and with no advertising it’s had a huge impact, for me I’m particularly proud of the impact it is having on the developing world. We seeing a lot of growth in the developing world and that’s where the humanitarian mission of wiki is becoming more important and strong and that a net billion people are coming online and that’s why they’re going from very little information to having the world open to them and we’re pumped to be there helping them find out by their government and learn about their politicians. Whatever it is to me that very exciting.
Wikipedia is a freely licenced encyclopaedia written by thousands of volunteers in many languages, the original vision for Wikipedia is for all of us to imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge, and that’s what we’re doing at Wikipedia

In terms of the motivation of the people involved, what sort of things would you say about their motivation? What motivates them to do what they do?”

Jimmy: “Yeah, I think it’s 2 things. First, you know, imagine a world where every single person is given free access to the sum of human knowledge through what we are doing. That’s our vision, which is very exciting, this big thing and if you are going to spent a lot of time on a hobby, you might as well be doing something that’s historic and important and that’s meaningful to people. But that’s not enough, there a lot of things that can be historically important, but that’s not very fun, this is very fun. People enjoy the process of editing Wikipedia, than you get those people who you agree, disagree and argue with, but in a constructive way. It’s an intellectual hobby, people really like, and people get really passionate about. So I think it’s a combination of those two things. It’s fun with purpose, is what makes the community really work. “

And in terms of achieving that encyclopaedia for everybody where do you put yourself on the scale in terms of how far along the line…

A few years ago I formulated in a more precise way to say I want to have at least 250 000 entries in every language that has at least 1 million native speakers because people say that in every popular language there are only three speakers. We probably won’t be able to make a separate encyclopaedia for them but we can have a million speakers. We have some small languages like that, that have been very successful and that’s about 339 languages depending on how you count and we are a long way from that. In the languages of the developing world there is a long way to go in the smaller languages particularly in the smaller languages of Africa there is a lot of work to be done; but in the larger languages, in the European languages, in the Chinese, Japanese we have come a long way towards that goal.

I do think that there are some big leaps happening faster than people realise in terms of Internet access. You know you can find predications from a few years ago when your smart phones become big in Africa and you realize today actually five years ago, three years ago we were probable two years too conservative. In fact it is coming really fast, much faster than people realize. I think that is going to have some sharp impacts in the community. Look at the percentage of people that have access to the Internet in various countries. A lot of places in the developing world are experiencing what we all experienced in the late 90s of sky rocketing access to the internet, sky rocketing participation – it is coming to them now and that is a very exciting time obviously.

And using devices that we could never imagine at the time the differences in these things and on the phone and nonetheless computer is a completely different experience…

For us one of the challenges is excessive building. If people are coming on a device than if it is the smart phone it is easy and its quite a good experience to read Wikipedia on a smart phone but I don’t think you are ever going to really edit Wikipedia from a smart phone…

That won’t change I think there is room for a bit more video. I always love it when people contribute to high quality photos and illustrations and things like that, those are important but not as important as changing the overall nature of the product Encyclopaedia is texting and that’s fine. There are other things. There is not a lot of demand from the community for video – it is really hard to collaboratively edit a video if someone posts a video and I think ‘oh there is an error there they should have done this differently’. Well there is not much you can do about it after the fact whereas with text you can say ‘oh I can add that or I see a mistake you made there or I can see a way it could be better phrased and I see a dialog along that’. Text is very fluid so it’s easy to continually improve text so I think that’s the nature of it and most of the topics in encyclopaedia text is really ideal. Audio, no in terms of access ability making sure that screen reader software works on our Wikipedia – something that is always a nagging problem because it’s so easy to change something and breaks people’s screen readers and they complain and we have to fix it again but we really try to be as successful as we can.

Turning to tech 4 good I was trying to think of a couple examples that will sit alongside Wikipedia that are not for profit tech-driven globally do you have some examples that you sort of place yourself amongst.

I never think about that question we are so absorbed in doing what we do that we don’t really compare ourselves. I think if you think in a broader way I don’t know if any other organisation are like us but there is a broader movement and spirit around the internet of the users of the Internet so while Youtube is a commercial platform a great a mass of content on Youtube is not commercial it’s just people sharing knowledge and I was just reading about music editing software so creating music and apparently there’s hundreds and hundreds of videos on Youtube explaining details of how to do it. If you have a software saying I want to learn how to make music using software there is an enormous amount of free educational material that people have just posted because it is their hobby and they love it so that is the spirit of Wikipedia that I know something and I’d love to share it.

If you had a child that is in to Mindcraft you know full well that’s all they do is watch YouTube, Mindcraft is the same thing there’s the same spirit of sharing and developing

I play Mindcraft all the time as does my 17 year old daughter there’s massive amount of Mindcraft in there. I have heard of some cases they spend more time watching Mindcraft on You Tube than they do actually playing which is interesting.

Looking ahead, I know you have been advising the government, UK government for example, what kind of lessons do you think there are about the way that tech can be used for good, social good, even stuff that you have learnt through Wikipedia or just generally.

I think that one of the most important lessons of Wikipedia is that there’s an enormous amount of good will out there and so when we think about designing projects for good, we should be designing around that good will or rather the good people not designing around the very tiny minority of people who are trouble makers and that is a big mistake I see people making. They start thinking what could the bad people do, lets design the system around that to stop them from doing that and there’s consequences that stop the good people from spontaneously doing good, so that kind of approach and design of software, design of communities is really key and something I think we should see a lot more of.

Can government introduce that do you think, is there any role they can play in that?

They can stay out of the way as much as possible, one of the big mistakes can be made is for politicians to imagine that they know what to do in the world of tech and entrepreneurship in general, and in general they don’t and they cant and it is not the right thing. What they should do is what they should be good at which is make sure that the legal structure is solid, understandable and fair to allow for innovation within that framework, and they get out of the way.

In five years time what is going to be different about Wikipedia with all the technology, which we’re using?

The two big changes you’ll see will be one will be visible to you and the other wont. The visible change will be that the editing environment will become a lot more like a word processor much more friendly. Right now when you click on edit you get wiki mark-up language and it’s a bit of a learning curve on how to do it. We want to eliminate the barrier so that is a visible change. The invisible change is what I’ve talked about already which is invisible to me which is the growth of Wikipedia in the developing world. We probably won’t notice when Zulu Wikipedia goes from two hundred entries to two thousand entries but the people who do speak Zulu will notice and that’s a big change.

I know Wikipedia is very assessable to the disabled and the elderly and perhaps those with learning difficulties, was that something built in at the very beginning was that part of your mantra. And if so why?

Yeah it’s been core sometimes we’ve had a mixed track record on it. It’s something we are making sure Wikipedia works on screen readers, making sure the site is usable and we follow all the best practises of accessibility. And occasionally we break something and we try and fix it as quick as we can so there are issues on Wikipedia, which we can improve in terms of accessibility. But it is a core value and its part of our mission to say we want a free encyclopaedia in every major language for everyone on the planet. And that’s including for the blind and every other disability, which they may have. We want to make it available.

So in your view technologies good and technology is moving all the time. Do you have a vision of what the big next vision is going to be?

Yeah. In terms of tech 4 good for me one of the biggest things we’ve talked about briefly but its mobile in the developing world. There are phones coming out now the cheapest one I’ve seen so far for an android smartphone is $41. Which is reaching hundreds of thousands millions of people who could never have reached it before. They’re coming online for the first time there joining the global conversation. They’re using twitter or facebook or Wikipedia they’re reading the newspaper. That is a true revolution and I think that’s going to have an enormous impact. In places where people are finally able to get organised over the tyrants that rule over them. The kleptocrats that steal the money form them those sorts of things. They begin to gain the opportunity to gain some power and I think that’s incredible.

What was your brilliant moment that caused you to create Wikipedia?

The interesting question of what was my brilliant moment is one that I really struggled with because I don’t think there was a brilliant moment. I think maybe the brilliant moment which is lost in the sands of time now, was the realisation that I wasn’t going to have a brilliant moment and that I need to allow other people to have lots of brilliant moments. So the creation of Wikipedia and the growth of Wikipedia required a lot of innovations by a lot of people. Developing the community norms and rules and editorial standards umm…. various genius changes to the software, things like that made a big difference. Other than saying I had the idea to create a free encyclopaedia for everyone, maybe that was a brilliant moment, I don’t think that was that important. I think lots of people have great ideas and they never do anything with them so for me I would say I’m a carpenter and architect, I’m a builder I build things, keep things moving forward

What impact do you think Wikipedia has had so far?

I think Wikipedia has had an enormous impact on the world. I’m really proud of our community and the things that we have accomplished. We’ve got 550,000,000 readers every month now so that’s a substantial portion of the planet. Were continuing to grow, were really excited for the next five years as we see the next billion people come online in the developing world and join in the global conversation. We want Wikipedia to be there for them to help them in the same way it has helped all of the rest of us so its an exciting time.
The evolution of Wikipedia has been very minimal actually, its an interesting thing that the original vision, the original concept, the original software, the original look of the site is all very similar today, a few things have changed here and there and obviously its bigger.
But one of the reasons that Wikipedia has been so successful is that the simple core idea, a free encyclopaedia for everyone has always been the driving force and it has helped us make decisions through the years and as long as we have remained true to that mission we have prospered and so I that sense we were not completely different than we were 7 years, we are pretty much the same as we were 7 years ago just bigger and better.

What do you think is the most important lesson you have learnt since you have started that you want to share?

The single lesson that I have learnt from Wikipedia, the main thing is that there is an enormous number of wonderful people out there, in general if you think that that out of a 1000 people who turn up in the world, there’s probably 10 of them that are really annoying, and only 1 of them is actually destructive. But the 99 can deal with the 10 and the 1 you have to learn to cope with somehow. But in general we should design our systems we should design our societies we should design our software, the tools that we us are around the assumption that most people are good and we should allow the flexibility and ability to do what it is they want to do. Yes we have to deal with difficult people, that’s a piece of it but don’t design things about the difficult people first, don’t think of all of the horrible things people might do, lets lock everything down so they wont do that. Look at all of the great things people might do and lets design for that, and then yes, we have to cope with the trouble.

What is your ultimate goal for Wikipedia?

The goal for Wikipedia is to have a free encyclopaedia for every single person on the planet in their own language, to make that a little more specific, the goal is to have 250,000 articles in every language that has as least 1,000,000 native speakers, so that’s about 330 languages. We are a long way off form that now, there’s a lot of work to be done in the developing world but it is a growing, we are on the way.




I started my week as usual at London Live on the breakfast show #WAKEUPLONDON- The Daily Grind slot, which I do every Friday. Tune in to hear the quirkiest, exclusive stories from across the capital. Joining us in the studio are always a number of new exciting documentary filmmakers as well as key influencers and more.
Last week it was my fellow Parsi mover & shaker, former Eastenders actor/ filmmaker Ray Panthaki, who told us about his new hard-hitting film Life Sentence- that highlights the devastating effects on a family of a fatal stabbing.

It’s a film about knife violence and Ray wants it to be shown to all London’s schoolchildren in an effort to help tackle the culture of youth violence. The film was originally made as a tribute to Ben Kinsella, the brother of former Eastenders actress Brooke Kinsella, after he was stabbed to death in London. Ray used to date Brooke at the time, and told London Live about the devastation caused by the murder on the family of the 16-year-old who was stabbed to death in Islington in June 2008.

He said:

“You don’t expect anything like that to happen to someone you know, especially someone so close to you. The film reflects what I witnessed; it was a family, one of the most loving families I have ever met, falling apart one by one. “In the film I am trying to get across the effect on that family, that they each lost a part of them that day and they will never be the same again. That is the harsh reality. “Ben was like a brother to me at the time and this was a way of channelling my anger.”

His film Life Sentence, won the best short film award at the East End Film Festival last year and was long listed for the BAFTA awards earlier this year. Ray also co-produced the Noel Clarke epic, Kidulthood, and said: “It is easy to do a film saying put down your knives but I wanted to tell the story from a different point of view, from the view of someone’s sister or grandmother. “I have seen the reaction the film has on young people and I want it to have a wider audience. I want to get it into schools and in prisons. The film’s ending in particular sparks a lot of debate. At first they say ‘what is going on’ but then they understand.”

Last year 12 teenagers were murdered in London, seven of them victims of knife crime so this film is timely and relevant. Spread the word!.



Next I popped along to an early morning breakfast event for MOBO called MOBOvation, where MOBO CEO Kanya King was hosting a breakfast gathering for VIPs in media and entertainment, to launch her new brand for unsung acts, and MOBO art exhibition, at Roast restaurant in Borough market. Joining the fancy start to the day were politicians like Chukka Umunna, entertainment impresario Jonathon Shalit, heads of record labels, TV society’s, music acts like Labrinth, Akala, Jahmene Douglas and Jermain Jackman who spoke movingly about the MOBO legacy.



As they say, life, death and taxes is the one thing that we can be sure will affect us all and when we leave this blessed planet it would be amazing to exit knowing you’ve made a substantial mark on humanity. I relish in meeting those that have changed the status quo and the way we live. Nowadays no one uses a print copy of the olde worlde encyclopaedia but everyone logs onto Wikipedia to find out the basics about anything at all. Wiki doesn’t tell us what’s what- the residents of the world all contribute their knowledge to its content.
The founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales was in town to pick up an award for TECH4GOOD, and sat down and spoke to us about his vision and brilliant moments that inspired his brand. The full report and interview will be put up soon but here are a couple of snippets from our chat;

‘’I had been looking at the growth of software, free software, and programmers coming together from all over the world, collaborating, to build all the really great software that runs the Internet. Analytics, Apache, Pearl and HP, all of these fundamental software tools people are using to build the web, which are all open-source projects, all of whom are volunteers and it got me thinking about what else could be built in this way? We got this great opportunity of an Internet where people can communicate on, what else could be built? I hit upon the idea of an encyclopaedia that we could bring people together and give a free encyclopaedia to every person on the planet, in their own language and I was very excited about that idea. Here we are today”

‘’Imagine a world where every single person is given free access to the sum of human knowledge through what we are doing. That’s our vision, which is very exciting, this big thing and if you are going to spent a lot of time on a hobby, you might as well be doing something that’s historic and important and that’s meaningful to people. But that’s not enough, there a lot of things that can be historically important, but that’s not very fun, this is very fun. People enjoy the process of editing Wikipedia, than you get those people who you agree, disagree and argue with, but in a constructive way. It’s an intellectual hobby, people really like, and people get really passionate about. So I think it’s a combination of those two things. It’s fun with purpose, is what makes the community really work’’.



At the weekend, up at Millfield Arts Centre, actor and Eastenders legend Rudolph walker brought together a host of celebrity mates for his annual RWiSDA (Rudolph Walker Inter School Drama Awards) awards.

RWiSDA was first pioneered in the 1970’s with two schools from Brixton by Rudolph to help young people give them a sense of responsibility, to enable to use their spare time in a positive and productive way to offer an alternative to “hanging around” after school and to alleviate the boredom which may lead to anti-social behaviour.

The Rudolph Walker Foundation Objectives are:
1. To provide young people with a sense of purpose.
2. To recognise that different people have different talent and skills, which need to be nurtured individually and sympathetically to help them fulfil those talents and skills.
3. To understand that self-esteem is crucial to the development of responsibility and ambition in young people; and to develop self-esteem through teamwork and common objectives and goals.
4. To give participants achievable goals that will be of practical educational value to children, young people and adults in our community.
5. To address a significant gap in provisions.
The foundation holds an annual Drama Competition (RWISDA) between young people and between schools nationally and internationally in a way that helps young people to use their spare time in a positive and productive way, and to offer an alternative to “hanging around” after school, alleviating the boredom syndrome that can lead to anti-social behaviour.


‎Retired boxer Michael Watson MBE, Retired former police superintendent Leroy Logan, singer Jermain Jackman (who I was sat next to), practically every Eastenders cast member and more celebrated 6 north London schools that had made the final cut.

michael watson

TV and radio host and the nest man to lead any function with his free-styling entertainment- Kat Boyce ensured we enjoyed a very inspiring afternoon. Michael Watson awarded prizes, Jermain revealed that his solo album coming soon would be titled Genesis and I watched the stars of our future take their first showbiz steps!

kat jermain

preeya jp


Finally I was invited by my friend, actress Preeya Kalidas to go and see her in her latest live stage show of Khandan at the Royal Court Theatre. The rest of the cast included Sudha Bhuchar, Neil D’Souza, Rez Kempton and Zita Sattar.

Preeya last appeared at the Royal Court in Oxford Street. Her other theatre credits include Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat and Bombay Dreams in the West End. Her television credits include Eastenders and Britz. On film her credits include Four Lions and Bend It Like Beckham and this time, as ever, she played the character that shakes things up!

Based around an Indian family- The Gill family- the audience are sat in the round in their intimate living room. The play highlights culture clashes, sibling rivalries and endless cups of chah (tea)…

Widowed matriarch Jeeto (Sudha Bhuchar) has a strong sense of her past and principles. She’s spent her life working hard and making sacrifices for her children. But eldest son Pal (Rez Kempton), isn’t following in her footsteps. He’s struggling with his role at the head of their expanding household. Crumbling under the weight of his father’s legacy, the family business is at risk and the last remaining link to their roots in the Punjab is in jeopardy.

Preeya- is seen like never before (check it out I don’t want to spoil it for you-its on until Saturday). Its a warm and funny play about tradition and ambition and the strong message that we all tend to have everything at our fingertips and sometimes imagining that we always want and need more can lead to our own downfall.

Now I’m off to see Pharrell at his Mastercard private gig- as they say….#priceless!


andy TOP PIC

Every year when tennis season comes around, the usual extra Wimbledon fluff starts appearing in my inbox.

E-mails from PR companies pushing their sports branded clients ‘’Wimbledon whites’’ shoes and sports wear and fashion accessories that are ‘’just perfect to impress the Wimbledon crowd’’. Invitations from tennis themed organisations that create tours of tennis locations like Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. Fancy party invites themed around your ‘’favourite all time Wimbledon champ’’ and so on.


Also, leading up to Wimbledon are a number of warm up tournaments to get the players back in their stride and prepare the fans for the big event. The fanciest of these are the warm up games at the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic week at the Hurlingham Club, which takes place at the height of the summer tennis season, the week before Wimbledon, which this year had its strongest line up to date with World No.1 Nadal and Wimbledon Champion Murray.

Murray was be joined by a world-class line-up of tennis legends including: Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Phillippousis, Pat Cash and crowd pleaser Mansour Bahrami, who also all played throughout the tournament,


Set in the beautiful surroundings at The Hurlingham Club (which is an exclusive sports and social club based in Fulham. (So exclusive the waiting list for off peak membership currently stands at 20 years and nepotism reigns here as children of current members are give preference when vacancies arise!). Lords, actresses, politicians and royalty make up its VVVIP list.

Its Edwardian clubhouse, set in 49 acres of Greenland is so elite it offers sports activities that only HNWI usually have access to like clay pigeon shooting, croquet, golf, cricket, skittles, squash, tennis, bowls and swimming. It’s like a country resort, slap bang in the middle of a bustling city. In 1873 the club published the rules of polo, which most of the world still follow today and the following year played their first polo match.


I was lucky enough to find myself attending the event for business last week when our champ- 27 year old Andy Murray- was playing Wimbledon’s 23rd seed – Spain’s Tommy Rodredo. The invitation requested that all guests respect their wishes for ‘’Smart dress code please. No jeans or trainers. We suggest you bring some form of warm clothing if overcast and chilly, or a hat and sunscreen if sunny’’.

Testament to the standard of a facility and its members is their wi-fi policy. At Hurlingham this was ‘’an open wireless system which does not need a password’’. None of the usual #firstworldproblems logging in and giving away all your IP address details here darlings. You can tweet until you’re dizzy.

The reigning Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray was excited about making his annual pilgrimage this year stating, “Playing at the Hurlingham Club last June was the perfect way for me to warm up for Wimbledon. It’s a great setting and I’m looking forward to playing again this year.”

Andy wasn’t the only excited one. My highflying record industry colleague and I squealed on entry to the main gates as we walked across the picturesque bridge and river setting to the main grounds. Set in the tranquil 42-acre grounds of one of the most renowned members’ clubs in the country, the event showcases some of the current stars of today as they warm up for Wimbledon and a few tennis legends are thrown in for good measure multi tasking as post match interviewers and day hosts too.

Pre match we were able to partake in the usual opulent ceremony of blini’s, caviar and champagne tasting before heading off to Centre Court, which seats an intimate crowd of 600. The women look very prim and elegant in their mostly unique outfits.

However many times I experience an upper class event I wont ever tire of smiling at the men who turn up in their uniform of pastel blue shirts, navy blazers and sandy trousers and the occasional gent attempts a cad vibe with a tipped straw boater hat.


We were sat right behind the umpire and next to the paparazzi photographers in the photo pit and my heart did feel for Andy’s opponent Tommy Robredo as they snapped away incessantly when Andy served or hit the ball but all was like tumbleweed when the ball was on Tommy’s side of the court. So as our heads panned left to right, the click –click- clicks went wild rhythmically to Andy’s shots.


Similar focus has come via the newest recruit to Andy’s team. He’s had tennis aficionado’s tongues wagging by signing up a new coach, French former professional tennis player Amelie Mauresmo, who is herself a former singles grand slam title winner – one at Wimbledon and silver in the 2004 Olympics.
We couldn’t help keeping one eye on the match and the other on Amelie as she studied Andy’s game and smiled as he certainly showed very impressive good grass form. (Impressed? A tennis dictionary jargon phrase I picked up overhearing other convo’s around me on the day darlings!) LOL.

Interestingly, being sat in the front row that close to the action meant we could see every grimace and piercing focus in both players eyes and the tremendous herculean effort every single shot takes. In the end, Andy won with straight-sets; 6-2 7-6 (7-1). (There would’ve been uproar if he hadn’t right?) Tommy just got served! (sorry I couldn’t resist).


With Andy I get the sense he’s very grounded and well rounded with his extra curricular activities that don’t have him turning into a tennis crazed madman the way John McEnroe used to come across. One of his ventures for example is a five-star hotel – the 15-bedroom Cromlix — set in 34-acres of lush Scottish countryside- just minutes from where he grew up in Dunblane, Scotland. Apparently Andy is involved on a regular basis in making sure it all runs smoothly.

After Andy and Tommy’s match there was also another match between Berdych vs Dimitrov (who many of the women were drooling over as well as commenting that he was Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend. An awkward moment was when commentator/former player Andrew Castle asked him post match if more people recognized him or Maria when they were out. Eventually he admitted Maria, but I felt his pain.


The afternoon finished with a fun mixed doubles match which included Mansour Bahrami / Andrew Castle which was the usual entertaining panto-style fun. Post match, tennis players mingled with guests off court, who were chillaxing with the obligatory strawberries and cream or high tea and scones.

A ten-minute press conference where Andy was holding court was heaving with reporters, as he told us his thoughts on Wimbledon and whether he’s under less pressure now he’s finally won;

“To be honest I don’t know, from my side it’s not, because I still want to try to win more if I can. So I’ll be putting pressure on myself to perform well, in terms of the media and public perspective it may be a little less this time, but not from myself. It took me a long time to win the first one. So it may be a bit naïve to think the second could come around so quickly, but I’ll try my best to give myself a chance’’.

On working alongside his new coach Amelie: “I’ve really enjoyed it so far, I’ve really enjoyed being on the court with her. I’ve enjoyed having her around. She understands the game well obviously; she’s also been in the position before coming back as defending champion at Wimbledon. She’s been very good so far and I’ve enjoyed it. From her side she’s just getting to know me, getting to know the guys that I work with, and how we operate. I’ve enjoyed the practices we’ve had, that’s also a very important part of the relationship with a coach is that you enjoy it and have fun on the court together, And that’s been the case in the last four days’’.
“All coaches are strong in certain aspects and you need help in all sorts of different things, but obviously the tactical side is important. Preparing for tournaments like this isn’t about tactics it’s about getting ready for the pressure of the tournament, how to conserve energy and deal with situations like I’ll have on Monday, something I’ve never experienced before. I’ve got someone there who’s been in that position, who has done it before, and that will help’’.


Andy’s has a stressful 2 weeks ahead of him as the British media mercilessly watch his, his coach, his girlfriend (bet she’s heard all the Love Means Nothing jokes) and families every move and facial expression. Their outfits and conversations will be under scrutiny like no other time, as now he has to defend his title and walk out onto that court this week with a new stance, as the first British male defending singles champion since Fred Perry.

” It’s important at the beginning, when you go out and walk onto the court, to try to enjoy that feeling, because it’s something I’ve never experienced before, it will be a proud moment to come back as defending champion’’.

The Hurlingham Club is one of the best kept secrets in tennis, with their Garden Party atmosphere and VIP hospitality juxtaposed with the stars of today, but this week at Wimbledon, global players, international fans, pundits and the future generations will all be in attendance and watching eagerly.

Its Andy’s time to carry on shining. You only live once, but lets hope that Andy gets to serve his Wimbledon fans with a win twice.



chukka best

The great and the good from the music industry, gathered on Tuesday morning, at ROAST restaurant in Borough Market, for a fancy champagne breakfast launch for two reasons; MOBOvation- a photography exhibition that celebrates 18 years of MOBO and showcases talent and performances from the annual MOBO Awards ceremonies the exhibition is on display at Roast until November 2014.


The images selected from the MOBO archives feature acts who have shaped the musical landscape spanning over two decades and various musical genres with iconic photographs and stories of such talent as diverse as a very young Craig David, a fresh Amy Winehouse, the original four piece band that were Destiny’s Child, legend Sade, materialistic hip hop pimp 50 Cent, the uber talented Emeli Sandé, a then new, much less sharp Tinie Tempah and musical whizz Labrinth taken during stage performances and acceptance speeches. The second reason was to launch their annual MOBO UnSung competition.

mitch jj

The invite stated a 9.30am start and by 9.35am sharp, punctual media heavy weights and key influencers like former BBC chief creative officer Pat Younge, entertainment impresario Jonathon Shalit OBE, The RTS’s retired chief executive Simon Albury, The Voice newspaper editor George Ruddock, Chuka Umunna MP, The Guardian’s Joseph Harker, Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse and more were sat knocking back strong coffee’s and full English breakfasts. I was sat between former RTS Chief Simon and former BBC Chief Pat both whom were great company.

MOBO CEO Kanya King MBE welcomed industry professionals and distinguished guests and thanked them for their loyal support of her brand for the past 18 years. She reminded us that MOBO had been created to champion young music focused youth and given a platform to urban music acts for the longest time. Founded in 1996, the MOBO Organisation was established by Kanya to recognise the outstanding achievements of artists who perform music in genres ranging from Gospel, Jazz, RnB, Soul, and Reggae to Hip Hop. Over the past 18 years MOBO has played an instrumental role in elevating black music and culture to mainstream popular status in the UK. MOBO has since become Europe’s leading urban music brand supporting urban music talent in various ways.

Kanya said, “We are proud to have been supporting music for nearly two decades and to be able to showcase some of the many dynamic acts that have graced the MOBO stage over the years. Every image has a story and we are hoping by sharing these incredible stories of passion and professionalism combined with relentless determination that we will inspire many other acts who are trying to forge a career in music.”
As well as reminding us about why MOBO exists, Kanya also called upon acclaimed MOBO artists including Labrinth, Akala, Jahmene Douglas (X Factor finalist and a beacon for gospel music) and Jermain Jackman (The Voice Winner) to talk about their own experiences and memories of the MOBO brand.


Akala reminded us about why the brand was important to all British urban talent both commercial and underground, and told me afterwards that he has a very new exiting 45-minute long running, no break, style concept album coming. Chuka was warm and welcoming to all that approached him and thanked me for my support over the past few years, he too is an incredible advocate for young diverse issues. Jonathan Shalit OBE gave a moving speech about the MOBO brand having supported and championed his own talent like Jamelia and N Dubz over the years when others hadn’t been interested and that he admired Kanya’s tenacity very much. He reminded us that last years MOBO host Sarah Jane Crawford had been given a platform to showcase her TV presenting skills and now had won the Xtra Factor show lead job.


Straight afterwards Kanya excitedly told me ‘’ my favourite part about this morning was the content and the passion of the various speeches. Akala (Name is a Buddhist term for immovable and he is) talked about having a sustainable career in music despite the challenges he had overcome whilst being an independent. Jermain talked about his incredible journey so far and his ambitions for the future. Jonathan talked about the context of MOBO and all the artists and hosts that MOBO had been a stepping-stone for. I truly meant it when I said at the end of my speech thank you for listening because everyone truly did.

My other favourite bit was that we now have a document of the monumental images of many of the talented acts that have been successful in the urban landscape!’’.

After the speeches we were encouraged to walk around the restaurant and look at the beautiful portraits by photographers over the years and it was indeed impressive to be reminded just how many new, young acts had been given a platform in the wider commercial world when no others had been interested. Nowadays of course urban music is the pop music of this generation, but every now and again, like when the BRIT Awards totally snub UK urban acts, you’re reminded why we still and always will need a platform of our own.

mw kk r

Before we left we were reminded that the breakfast was also to launch the newly expanded MOBO UnSung competition, which is an initiative, dedicated to identifying and celebrating the next generation of talent in music. The contest offers a once in a life-time opportunity to champion creative individuals who are showing great promise to make it happen – the purpose is to inspire them to push through challenges whilst holding on to their creativity. By providing studio time with producers, year-round mentorship, career guidance and vital contact introductions, they are being well prepared for a potential career in music.

The project also offers a skills and talent development opportunity to an area of the industry, which generally receives little, support and has had little infrastructure until this year. Now it seems that every government body and funder is setting up new opportunities to get youth into the music industry.

As I’ve always stated, its not getting their feet in the door that matters, but a long-term career progression route. It’s easy to open a door into the industry for a few weeks or months but the issue with diversity is keeping diverse people in the music game. In any case, learning from the MOBO project will be aired online to be of use to a wider community and the artists will be encouraged to pass their knowledge on and collaborate.

If you’re an unsigned act or manager then details on how to enter #MOBOUnsung can be found on www.mobo.com/unsung

MOBO is a part of a movement that’s been steadily growing for years. Our generation of key players in the music and media industry weren’t content to sit back, play second fiddle and beg to be invited to the industry consistently. Many of us decided to make a stand. We regularly pool our resources to make new stars, push forwards new brands, help media train new talent, advise and consult and stand strongly together.

When you can’t get into the establishment you create your own lane.

Hampton Court Palace Festival- Where Horticulture Meets Culture To Make For A Magical Musical Experience.


In recent years various arts genres have been merging, making for incredible one off experiences. Whether it’s free running at 10 Downing Street, hip hop at the Turner Rooms at Tate Britain or film and live music performances of their soundtracks at the Royal Albert Hall, I am a huge fan of a cultural mash-up.

No longer do we need to settle for music performances at the traditional venues, and summertime means a plethora of outdoor music at prestigious venues, like the Royal Parks, World Heritage Sites, Historic Royal Palaces, Manchester United FC, Corporation of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
However, these are very niche in their usual audience ‘posh concerts for the hamper set ‘ and those in the know, snap up tickets fast. So if you don’t know about these events you’ll miss out. So how it’s been going for 22 years and this is the first a die-hard music fan like me has heard of it I don’t know. I really need to up my game!

palace garden

Hampton Court Palace Festival is one of music’s best-kept secrets. In a nutshell, the grounds host a pre show picnic, which you can either buy in advance or bring your own. The actual music shows take place in the intimate courtyard of the Palace, which seats 3000 and is flanked by the majestic palace quarters and turrets. People who have previously performed at the Festival include: Cliff Richard, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Liza Minnelli, Frankie Valli, Van Morrison, Russell Watson, James Blunt, James Morrison, Bryan Adams, Caro Emerald, Katie Melua, Andrea Bocelli, Darcey Bussell, Jose Carreras, Joaquin Cortes, The Gipsy Kings, Katie Melua, Bryan Adams, Bryn Terfel, Brian Wilson, Katherine Jenkins, Rufus Wainwright, Tracy Chapman and Art Garfunkel to name a few.

This year the festival runs from 11th – 25th June, and amongst the line up for this season are ten-time Grammy award-winner George Benson (who will performing hits like Give Me The Night, Lady Love Me (One More Time) and Turn Your Love Around on 23rd June – come on! the perfect date surely?), diva Dionne Warwick, The original boy band- The Beach Boys, legend Van Morrison & the most successful UK jazz artist ever Jamie Cullum.


This past weekend I attended the classical gala and fireworks evening where The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performed a selection of well known pieces of music by masters of classical music like Strauss, Delibes, Debussy, Elgar, Tchaikovsky and more in Henry VIII’s open air courtyard.

We arrived at 5.30pm for our own meagre pre-packed supermarket special picnic and Proseco, which we bought, on site. Loads of what looked like VHNWI (Very High Net Worth Individuals) were merrymaking and supping champagne in the Palace Gardens before the concert started and time flew as we people watched. It’s a very bourgeois set up but the crowd came from all walks of life and it felt very inviting and inclusive.


Whilst heritage parks may have a certain type of visiting demographic, adding a music element in the grounds opens up a whole new audience and visitor to the beauty of some of the greatest locations in the country. The tickets range between £40-£70 and during the show we were thanked for our support as all proceeds go towards the upkeep of the venue, giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. When you consider that your average pop concert at the 02 and one off Prince tickets sell for hundreds nowadays, the festival package and experience for around seven hours finishing up with a fireworks display seems more than reasonable!

waterside gazebo

I noted that if you’re feeling really flush, you can book VIP Packages from £295 p/p, with dining inside the Palace prior to the concert and covered VIP seating, reserve a waterside gazebo table for a private group experience (£200), pre book a luxury picnic (£75), or simply bring your own picnic blanket and scatter yourselves across the immaculately preened lawns. The people-watching is first class! From the loved-up couples sharing a pre-packed picnic, to the families with young kids scarpering around, to the silver haired music fans sharing a bench, time flies when you’re ogling.


The concert began at 8.30pm and was conducted by Conductor Ben Palmer, who shared wonderful anecdotes and stories about many of the pieces on the night and with his jovial, warm, engaging manner, the breathtakingly beautiful music was mesmerising.

I had initially been concerned at my ability to stay focused and not get bored as I’m so used to have some sort of spectacle performing alongside music gigs, (my friend says this means I’m uncultured LOL). It didn’t take me long to realise that the orchestra were spectacle enough. Just watching them at such close quarters is hypnotising as they work seamlessly together. The solo players catch your attention at every new bar, the flute player who jigs and bobs as he performs, the female drummer commanding our attention or the whole band bringing us to a crescendo! Nothing is rigid and audience walk in and out of the concert in between sets, as they need.

As soon as the concert finished the audience excitedly rushed back out to the main garden grounds to take their preferred spots for the fireworks display which began 20 minutes later. The fireworks were more quality than quantity and after a quick 15 minutes worth of spectacular colourful aerial displays, which provided a visual fanfare to round off this superb evening, we sauntered back to our cars.


Hampton Court Festival really is a festival that offers everything – preshow outdoor picnic and drinks in a breath taking setting, a wonderful selection of stalls that sell wood fire pizza and snacks, a diverse line up of music acts, all set within a beautiful and historic setting and if you’re extra lucky – as we were- no rain!

On 20th June, pop sensations Rick Astley and Jason Donovan are performing a double-header singing all their big hits but readers, even though I like to think I’ve upped my cultural game I don’t think I could handle the cheese fest that is Rick and Jason. Not that it matters- the night sold out ages ago! I shouldn’t scoff. Rick Astley still holds the record of being the only male solo artist to have his first 8 singles reach the UK Top Ten and in 2008 he won Best Act Ever at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

If you still want to get involved this year it’s all sold out except for a few tickets available for Opera on a Midsummer’s Night on 21st June where the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will present a special midsummer concert conducted by Renato Balsadonna and featuring the beautiful voices of soprano Deborah Norman and rising star Noah Stewart.

The best music festivals aren’t necessarily the ones at the biggest concert halls, or at campsites over numerous unwashed days, in car parks or farms. Nor is it imperative to have the biggest musical names or huge lineup. Sometimes they can be a great classic music act, juxtaposed with an unusual location, a classy crowd and dining option. And where else in the world does fancy historic English gardens with an ancient historic setting and the chance to sing along to your favourite music virtuoso like we do? Hampton Court Palace Festival really is in a league of its own.

My experience was akin escaping to an enchanted garden back in yesteryear and being fed and watered for the best part of the day. An experience, which is like no other and involves dining, horticulture, history, music and fireworks. An adventurous music festival day out, but without any of the usual associated discomforts. If you’re going to do a music festival then this is the one to taste with all your senses.


Bonnie pic

She’s the American British playwright, novelist, critic and intellectual who’s acted on Parisian stages, had her plays performed on multi broadcast platforms, produced films, written novels, as well as regular features in The Guardian and Huffington Post, served on boards for universities, opera houses, film schools and more. But in 2009 she flew crashing into a whole new generations psyche when she made BNP’s Nick Griffin look even stupider than usual on BBC’s Question Time, after she stepped into the verbal ring with him and slapped him around until he was trembling. My bad. He was trembling even before Bonnie started on him.

She’s accomplished much at the age of 65 and clearly the constant campaigning for people to have a voice, diversity in arts and culture and equality for all hasn’t aged her. If anything she looks younger than ever. Black don’t crack isn’t just a saying thrown around. It’s a fact of life.

Last night at the most beautiful bookstore in London’s Mayfair- Hatchards- Bonnie read chapters from her new book, a memoir titled A Parallel Life. Understated in her actors uniform of basic black vest and trousers and her trademark headscarf, Bonnie welcomed an invited audience to hear her read especially chosen chapters from her memoir, in her very distinctive, calm, warm, measured, velvety Chicago drawl.

Bonnie reading

Stories of her father Ben, a factory worker who took part in the D Day landings and was fascinated by the world war two Jamaican soldiers who fought for Britain. ‘’ My father was a union man. He’d take us to museums and was adamant about education as a way to get yourself up and out. He strongly believed in equal education and culture for everybody. ‘’ And mother Willie Mae, a housewife who in later life suffered with dementia, which meant she spilt all their family secrets to Bonnie in more chatty, rambling moments.

Bonnie is cool about it though, not much phases her. Although she began writing plays at the age of 9, she originally set out on a legal career, but dropped out when her professor told her he didn’t think women should have a career in law. Growing up in Chicago means she’s a tough, straight talker and her life in the emotionally open theatrical world means she has no hang-ups. She shrugged ‘’I’m from the theatre so I learned you gotta let stuff go’’.

In her book, Bonnie is open and honest about her upbringing, her sexual encounters, her struggle with an identity that was constantly quashed and a self-belief that was forever being challenged. She unveils secrets, personal angst and a hugely heroic battle to change what she was ‘supposed to be’ to become what she wanted to be. Her best friends succumbed to AIDS; she watched colleagues die for their beliefs; she saw her city and her dreams torn apart by the Chicago police. Bonnie bares all in this first volume of her memoirs, and you cannot fail to be moved, touched and even angered by what you are about to read. Bonnie’s experiences have driven her firm resolve to fight for civil rights. She was the ‘poster girl’ for the Nigerian schoolgirls long before their plight hit the papers; she is political, controversial, determined but, above all, she’s a woman who believes in equality. This is her story. And just the beginning.

She explained that once the book publishers had convinced her to write this book, she was extremely grateful to have a voice as a black woman, that hadn’t come from a tragic life story. ‘’I didn’t want to write from the point of view of an emergency. Most of the work we get published (as black women), are like emergency rations. No deaths or tragedies make me journey who I am. I grew up in the era of fascinating movements unfolding and developing around me. The black panther movement, black power movement, arts and theatre were exploding in new ways, the gay movement…. all these are what I talk about from my point of view’’.

If you Google Bonnie, alongside ‘’husband’’, ‘Nick Griffin’’ and ‘’university’’ is ‘‘racist’’, which uninformed online readers accuse her of being when she defends the black community. Yes, if you take her quotes out of context she probably does sound racist. However, in context you can see and hear the humorous, cutting, sarcastic tone in her voice and it makes sense.

She’s defended the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype and women’s right to have an equal voice. She sits back and observes academy award winning actress Lupita Amondi’s career with interest. ‘’It’s interesting watching Lupitas career develop. She herself said “I had to play a slave girl to get somewhere”?. This is an accomplished and Harvard educated woman!’’

Bonnie touched on something I find my black girl friends lament about often. The idea that their children don’t identify themselves positively with their black skin, and prefer the blonde white doll to the ones that looks more like them.

‘’I had to touch on deep issues about myself in order to write this book that I may not have wanted to face. I had a really huge Shirley Temple obsession at aged 8. Its really hard for me to process that now. I used to draw her face as my face. But in the book it was something I felt I had to say as a lot of non-white girls go through the same thing. One day my dad brought home a black doll and put it in the middle of my blonde dollies. I lost it and freaked out at him and wanted her outta there. I used to put lye on my hair to relax it and used to question why? ‎I saw actress Cicely Tyson on a TV show once with short hair and she gave me the courage to cut all my hair short. So that was hard for me to go into and also other subjects about race. It was hard to be the black power person by day and dating white men at night. I had to deal with that. To face these contradictions in your life is tough. I was called out a couple of times. I talk about it in the book. Cos we black women aren’t afforded contradiction or publicity. You get nervous about lil kids looking up to you in case you say the wrong thing’’.

bonnie book

The new generation of young black women are of concern to Bonnie.’’ throughout history children are usually taller than their parents, but the generation of black girls born in the eighties are mostly all shorter than their mum’s. This has a lot to do with poverty and giving birth young. ‎I’m a champion of people’s voices-especially black women’’.

‎She’s not just a champion of women of colour. She noted in the audience Q&A session post reading, when asked by a teacher how she could encourage her class of young black boys to aspire to positive TV images like we used to with ‘’fresh prince of Bel Air’’, that this was a new world where anyone could make it, and that the young black boys should make their own content and it would break through, like so much else in the web based new world has.

In the same breath she noted that even women of every nationality and style have a tough time in the male dominated broadcast world. ‘‘The BBC are getting smaller and smaller and to get onto SKY TV you have to be a woman that wears short dresses with short sleeves’’

‎Bonnie came to the UK in 1986 as part of a production at the Edinburgh Festival and loved it so much she stayed, becoming a British citizen in 1997. She was appointed an OBE in the 2010 birthday honours and has said ‘’ I wouldn’t have accepted board appointments to the British Museum; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Serpentine Gallery; the presidency of the Bronte Society and a seat on the cultural board of the first world war commemoration if I didn’t believe not only that culture belongs to all, but also that there is a duty in a democratic society to make it accessible to all, too’’.

One audience member asked Bonnie her thoughts on the Birmingham Trojan horse issue. Bonnie stated ‘‘the only Trojan horse is the one that the Tory party is running where Gove is over stepping the mark. The key British value is fairness. ‎We’re in a situation that’s not fair. It should be live and let live. Britain allows you to pretty much get on with things. In the USA you have to get your credentials out there first’’.

Bonnie isn’t as militant as she once may have seemed. Talking about her incredible personal experience working with her editor and publishers on her book she admitted ‘’20years ago I would’ve said a white man couldn’t work on anything with me. But in this book I wrote what I wrote. My editor Martin told me what he wanted more and less of and we made it work. There things I was afraid to say but they were coaxed out of me. My parents told me to go see the world and don’t let anyone stop me. So that’s what I did. We need a plethora of voices out there. I hope all of you write about yourselves too’’.

Hearing Bonnie read, you can’t help but laugh at her personality full of wise observations and hilarious commentary. I became friendly with Bonnie two years ago, as we are both panelists on Ladies Talk- a panel show featuring women of colour lead by Actress and comedian Angie Le Mar- debating topical and cultural issues. In the short time I have known her I’ve been blessed by her wisdom on issues as wide as love, bereavement and more and she’s genuinely helped me understand life better with her musings in the green room backstage post production. This book breaks her right down warts and all. She’s our very own Maya Angelou and we should treasure her soul.

Bonnie was born on Chicago’s west side and says ‘’A Southsider’s motto is: “If I don’t know you, I don’t care what you say.” The expression “tell it like it is” comes from the Southside too’’. And that dear reader , nicely sums this lady up.