Updated: Apr 22, 2022
In summer 2021, alongside the first run of Power of Stories in Ipswich, theatre company, High Tide, ran a series of creative writing workshops for local Black people. The programme, led by award-winning theatre writer, Juliet Gilkes Romero, and resilience coach, Rob Wright, resulted in an anthology, which launched during the Power of Stories exhibition in Bury St Edmunds in early 2022.
One of the participants, Nemonee Stone, has generously agree to allow us to publish her new piece of writing right here.
ID: A well-used red cricket balls sits in short green grass.
The Englishmen’s Lawn by Nemonee Stone
An imagined meeting of two gentlemen of different backgrounds, different generations, different races, with a conflict of ideas.
Enoch Powell MBE - Soldier, classical scholar, imperialist, linguist, MP.
David Olusoga OBE- Historian, professor, broadcaster, writer, presenter.
What have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own?
William Ernest Henley, 1849–1903.
Scene - A field in middle England, a clear summer's day. The two men enter the field from opposite sides. Powell - the bowler marches bolt upright, a stern, tense unsmiling man. Olusoga - the batsman strides leisurely across, laid back demeanour, smiling.
Professor O: Morning Mr Powell
Mr Powell: Morning sir
Professor O: (With one hand on hip, leaning on his cricket bat surveying the sky) Beautiful day for cricket!
Mr Powell begins to pitch the ball then stops
Mr Powell: This lawn is atrocious, parched, worn, not good, just won't do at all.
Professor O - (Adapts the batting stance, tapping the ground with his bat) It's fine, shall we?..
Mr Powell: You obviously do not know the game of cricket sir, therefore what it is to be British!
Professor O: 1 : A game played with a ball and bat by two sides of usually 11 players each on a large field centering upon two wickets each defended by a batsman. 2 : fair and honorable behavior. Yet it is played in and by 106 countries around the world - very well, in fact England are often beaten by their own game.
Mr Powell wipes his brow with his handkerchief then uses it to polish the ball
Mr Powell: Laws!
Professor O: Pardon?
Mr Powell: The laws of cricket!
Professor O: What?
Mr Powell proceeds to deliver a medium paced bowl
Mr Powell: Law 9: Preparation and maintenance of the playing area. This Law contains the rules governing how pitches should be prepared, mown, rolled, and maintained.
Professor O hits the ball , views its progress, then manages two runs
Professor O: Guess the river has dried up, water's receded
Mr Powell bowls a fast ball
Mr Powell: What?
Professor O takes the shot, runs
Professor O: First the flood, now the drought
Mr Powell: My country was in peril - he snaps - I was speaking on behalf of my constituents.
Professor O: Not all..
Mr Powell - delivers a spin ball
Mr Powell: British subjects, threatened, scared...
Professor O takes another shot ,waits
Professor O: You invited them
Mr Powell: Not I. The local authorities-
Professor O: People from the Caribbean, India, Africa, my parents...
Mr Powell delivers a bouncer
Mr Powell: Doctors, nurses, they were allowed to come here as temporary workers, for training..then return to their native countries. They were not meant to stay!
Professor O makes a deft stroke with a turn of his wrists then scores a couple of more runs
Professor O: Rivers are life givers, provide a lifeline
Mr Powell bowls again, making the ball swing
Mr Powell: I was misquoted, maligned, betrayed by my own party. Yet I had huge support from my constituents - trade unions, working class people
Professor O - the ball touches the side of his bat
Professor O: You manipulated information and public opinion while stirring up British Nationalism. People were attacked, as was my family, forced out of our home
Mr Powell again wipes his brow with his handkerchief then uses it to polish the ball
Mr Powell: I protest!
Professor O: (Looking at the ball) Laws!
Mr Powell: I am not responsible. I am a highly decorated soldier, scholar, linguist, professor at 25 years of age
Professor O: I must admit that is impressive - you're a hero, a learned man of letters, yet you are only remembered for one thing...
The sun has disappeared, dark clouds gather. Mr Powell bowls a bouncer. Professor O strikes the ball. Both men watch the ball disappear beyond the boundary.
Mr Powell: I learnt Urdu so I could speak with my constituents
Professor O: Inconsequential. The reason you learnt Urdu was because you had hoped to become Viceroy of India. But then came independence...
Mr Powell: My job was to serve my country, maintain peace, keep balance of power, retain the status quo
Professor O: And my job as historian is to ensure that the lessons of history are not forgotten and we are not sleepwalking towards disaster.
Mr Powell furiously bowls the ball - without bouncing it passes above Professor O's waist and dangerously close to his head
Professor O: Hey! Law 41!
Mr Powell (Yelling) What!!
Professor O: Law 41 - unfair play - that was an illegal bowl!
Mr Powell bowls again. Professor O hits the ball, pauses to watch it sail across the field and with the supportive voices of an invisible crowd propelling him forwards he runs once , twice , turns to run again but stumbles and falls, he sees Mr Powell almost smiling. He has the ball in his hands.
Professor O: (Head bowed) Damn!
A disembodied voice: No Ball! Bowler overstepping
Professor O: (Lifts his head) Ha! (Breathlessly) Sod the laws
Mr Powell: What?!
Professor O: I guess you should respect the "Spirit of the Cricket"
Rain stops play
Professor O pulls himself up using his bat, Mr Powell turns to face him. They both turn to gaze at the horizon. Clouds there were gradually turning white and shards of sunlight piercing through.
They glance at each other.
Mr Powell pulls out his handkerchief and polishes the ball.
Download the full zine here to read work from other local Black writers.