In the Autumn of 2020 I took part in 'Silver Spoon' an exhibition of art works and texts curated by artist Barbara Dougan at Grove. Blog (groveprojects.org)
|Silver Spoon by Dean Reddick|
Now when the man at the corner store
Says sugar's gone up another two cents,
And bread one,
And there's a new tax on cigarettes--
We remember the job we never had,
Never could get,
And can't have now
Because we're colored.
From Langston Hughes' 'Harlem'.
I used to meet the sugar factory once a year, see it looming, chained, growling, know it had been waiting for me. I didn’t speak to it, but we exchanged thoughts. I would glance at it, spoon the yoghurt my mother had given me more quickly, more intensely, and we would leave it behind. We were off on holiday to my grandparents’ in Lowestoft, to the edge of our island, the edge of ages.
The punch, the embrace of its crumpled hugeness and defiant ugliness and its sniffling stench would always remind me of the dog-food factory near the Blackwell Tunnel, the one we'd pass (twelve times a year) on our way to our other grandparents. I loved them both, these brutal, immoveable animals, but they bothered me.
On one of those grandparent journeys, the people would got darker and darker and poorer and poorer. On the other, they’d get whiter and whiter and richer and richer. On each, we’d listen to John Lee Hooker and The Carpenters. We were happy, either way, emerging from our halfway house. Except... except the sugar factory reminded me that all is not what it seems. It reminded me that wild, flat, pretty, quiet Suffolk was person and system too, could be harsh and beaten and frightening too. And that poor people, dark people maybe, could live here too.
Nothing is pure. Nothing is just sweet. Nothing costs nothing. And no-one is ever free.