Day 1 Last time I left London, I went to the lake district. The journey was most peculiar... I sat beside two charismatic, boyishly charming, salt of the earth type, cheekily dirty old... Freemasons. They chatted about their roles, robes, scripture, showed photographs, even invited me to their grand hall. In comparison, this journey is levelled. I leave for Cove Park, an artist's retreat in Scotland. To get there, I bus to London's Kings Cross, Train to Glasgow, Train to Gourock, Ferry to Kilcreggan, Car to Cove. The Journey is seven hours long.
Journey I sleep on the bus, finish a book to Glasgow, only truly wake when I get to Gourock. 'It's not a bad day' the greying station attendant, name-badged 'Paul' remarks after I ask about the ferry. He answers: 'end of platform one', I get there and gasp. I guess I never fully engaged the idea of the ferry. I mean, we own catalogues of sensations and images we attach to expectations so the mind relaxes for other things, I must've done so for 'Ferry'. This is better. Imagine the capital letter 'J', I am standing at its bottom ledge. The rest of Gourock is on my right, Kilcreggan island is to my left and the sea between is vast and unrelenting with its blue.
I totally tourist out, snap and film the Ferry rolling on. It expertly docks and I spend the twelve-minute ride gushing at Kilcreggan's rush towards us. At the pier, clamourous kids decorated with banners and balloons cheer for a young passenger, today is her birthday. I meet Sara who drives me to Cove. Her handshake is a bear-hug. We speed through lanes, past mini castles and plush houses, chatting about how perfect a hideout this is for Hollywood's elite, about Sara's work as a Glaswegain artist, till we hit Cove Park.
Cove Park Situated on a site overlooking Loch Long, it was initially farm land, then an ammunition store in WW2, then a conservation park. I stay in a 'Cube, a converted freight container, balconies over ponds, excellent view, it's ridiculously, naturally beautiful, almost to vulgarity. Everything is green, steep, lush and rolling by as if ripped from Middle earth. To the islanders, this is everyday, but I grew up a dust boy in Nigeria, been in cities since raging against urbania.
It's said, to fully experience hip hop, “extract the urban element that created it and let the country side illustrate it”. I open iTunes and sound track my cooking with Common's classic album: Like Water For Chocolate. This Mc's fight to so master bars, they are render invisible in his flow, this struggle against constraint, is magnified here. I drift into K'naan's (Somali rapper) song, 'Smile'. The chorus is a mantra: “never see let them see you down, smile when you're bleeding”. Away from London's battles, the horizon bleeds in to night. Like a rapper throwing gang signs, one lighthouse blinks desperately. I fight sleep. It wins.Covepark