A friend of mine is trying to encourage her 17-year-nephew to pull up his trousers. I’m sure you know what’s in fashion these days. The boys’ trousers shall be baggy and loose at the waist. Shall— it’s mandatory, as in a legal document. This enables said trousers to collapse in a heap at wearer’s feet, in order that it shall reveal boxer shorts designer label.

She has told her brother that no self-respecting guy will permit his sister to fall in love with him if he goes about with his trousers in a pile at his feet as if he’s sitting on the toilet. So far she’s failed. Her brother thinks girls are boring, anyway.

Girls are boring? …You wait. Small time!


My advice to her is: Talk to him, but don’t overdo it. It will all pass. Eventually he’ll change. Most people do.

Go dig out your old album from way back when, I told her. Look at your pictures from them dayswhen you wore half-metre platform shoes. When a handkerchief was all you needed to make a skirt. When your sunglasses reached down to your upper lip and all the way to the next person’s jaws. When you hang out at Keteke and Cave. When you danced to the throbbing baselines of Gino Socio, the tentative beginnings of rap with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and sang Anita Baker’s “I’ll survive” in your sand-paper voice as you had your first bath at six in the evening. It has all passed.


You see, I have this picture of Condoleeza Rice and myself on the wall of my office. It dates back to 1992. The reaction I get when visitors see it is, “What! Is that you?”

I have on massive round spectacles that touch the lower reaches of my cheeks. A large tie of many bright hues hangs round my neck like a toddler’s napkin, and my head is full of hair. I was the coolest cat — or so I thought — at the Republican Convention in Houston, where I met Condi.

She has on a black skirt suit. Her double-breasted jacket is slightly oversized. There’s a large brooch a notch out of kilt above one breast. Her hair is blow-dried and combed down over the left half of her forehead, almost covering her right eye as if to deliberately hide a tribal scar inherited from ancestors from these parts. Her smile is coy, revealing her id gap-tooth.


These days, as Secretary of State, her threads are, no doubt, more fitting and up-market. Her coif is well-oiled and tidier, whilst her pidgeon-step carriage is more self-assured.

Nowadays, I too reach for the smaller frames when I visit the opticians. I wear the clean shaven-head look ( hey, I have a choice; I’m not bald – not yet) and when I pick a tie — which isn’t often — I don’t insist that it incorporates the entire range of colours in a rainbow. And I think I’m oh-so-cool now.

But this too shall pass. In 15 years, I’ll get the same reaction.

“What! Is that you?”

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