Bageye at the Wheel, by Colin Grant

To his fellow West Indians who gather every week for the all-night poker game, he is always known as Bageye.

To his fellow West Indians who gather every week for the all-night poker game, he is always known as Bageye.

Bageye at the WheelThey all have their own nicknames: Summer Wear, Pioneer, Anxious and Tidy Boots.

There are not that many black men in Luton in 1972, but they all meet up at Mrs Knight’s place for the all-important card game. Bageye is finding it a struggle to make ends meet, but his wife, Blossom, has her heart set on a private education for her sons and will not settle for anything less.

This is a story of a feckless father seen through the eyes of his 10-year-old son. It is a wry and gentle comedy about dead-end jobs, late-night poker, illegal mini-cabs, and small-scale drug-dealing. And the now-vanished world of growing up a black boy in 1970s suburbia.

The voices seem so real in this book and could only have been written by a man who had been there, seen it, and grew up with it. The accents and patois jump off the page like reggae, reggae sauce.

Colin Grant now lives in Brighton and is a radio broadcaster, writer, historian and presenter. This is a rare privileged slice of his early life that I was delighted to have let him share with me. I loved this book. And I think you will, too.

He is also a mine of information about Bob Marley and the original Wailers. Who knew?