Tunde Ikoli is running from the police. Young and black and stopped and searched, he now dreams of guns and revenge. The Bill catch him on the corner of Cable Street. A copper’s helmet falls off. ‘Cut!” shouts Tunde, now even more angry. The light is going and he’s running out of time to finish his first film.
I was once a youth worker in the Cable Street area they used to call the Coloured Quarter. I painted this poster of Tunde’s Film. Here are Tunde Ikoli, Taploe Johnson, Allen Mitchell and Micky Conolly. Tunde, then 17, grew up on the Berner Estate. His Dad, a Nigerian stowaway, met his Mum, a Cornish runaway who he called ‘My Rosie With Short Sleeves’, in the café in the picture in 1954. Tunde spent much of his childhood in care.
I used to run the Kwango Dance Club for the kids in the old Seamen’s Mission Hall in Wellclose Square, round the corner from the picture. George Pinhorn, the estate agent whose placard you can see, rented us our home at 192 Cable Street. His daughter, Maggie, made films and worked with me in the Town Hall Basement, 240 Cable Street. The boys and Maggie made a 45 minute film drama, set in Cable Street. Tunde wrote the script and helped direct. It’s about their lives, joys and problems, football, girls, dancing, unemployment and police harassment. It culminates in a doomed attempt at a bank robbery. The theme tune Dinah’s Café was written and sung for us by Joan Armatrading. The boys took their film to the Edinburgh Festival where it was a hit. Tunde went on to study at the National Film School. He’s since written a dozen TV dramas, films and plays that have been performed at the Royal Court and elsewhere.
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