Solid advice for da yoof

People of Middlesex, here’s how to raise your game, says a man named Swiss

On Westside Radio in Middlesex (89.6FM) the presenter Marc Nathaniel welcomed Swiss from So Solid Crew – the hardcore grime co-operative with members called Sniggledy Wing Wong, Johnny “One Leg” Greg and Kavanagh QC – to talk about some of the projects he’s got in the fire. Irons in the fire. Projects on the table. “Whatever. How’s it going, Swiss?”

“Bit of a traumatic drive here,” confessed Swiss, declining to go into detail.

“Right, OK. This book of yours, Spot the Difference: Raising Your Game to Reach Your Full Potential – is it a self-help book or an up-your-game book, Swiss?”

“It’s a self-help book and an up-your-game book, Marc. It’s basically aimed at misguided youth.”

“Right, right.”

“There’s a lot of issues that are out there.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“The knife crime, the issues.”

“Right, yeah.”

“Just lots of issues, basically.”

“Right,” said Marc, who wasn’t doing nearly enough talking here for his own liking.

Meanwhile over at Aintree (4 April, all day, 5 Live) it was the early warm-up races and the commentators chatted away, oblivious to being heard: “. . . well, he was there but if you ask me he wasn’t shod properly, and then he actually lost his shoe and David was very upset. He was fuming at the starter gate.”

At Westside someone asked why Swiss had never written a song called “If You Beat Your Lady You’re an Idiot”, because if he did it might make a positive impact. Swiss said he kind of has, with this book, which is all about raising your game. Look, Tupac Shakur is in it, interrupted Marc. He definitely raised his game. No one mentioned the death by drive-by shooting in Vegas.

Across the country the sun cracked the flags, a sweetener of solid gold. Time deepened and thickened. Everyone turned romantic. At the John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) a five-year-old called Song of Songs stepped on to the field. He wasn’t tipped to do well, and he didn’t do very well, and will probably never be heard of again, but they just couldn’t stop saying his name – it was quite simply a helpless incantation. “Song of Songs there at the back, stumbling on the bend. Song of Songs still in it, but only just. With three to jump Song of Songs is – oh!”

Over in Middlesex Marc was giving a shout out to the Windrush generation; “. . . because I mean in all conscience there is not enough respect for the old people who have come over here, rubbed it together and raised their game . . .”)

“A terrible mistake! A terrible mistake! Surely he can’t recover from this! Song of Songs has stumbled! He has stumbled! Song of Songs . . . Song of Songs there.”

(In many ways, mused Marc, really going with the flow now, his in-studio audience silent in awe, those Windrush old people are a bit like So Solid Crew. Apart from that they never played at raves. But, you know, the point still stands.)

“He’s down at the fourth fence! Song of Songs completely down now! Song of Songs is down! He is down, he is down now, Song of So–”

I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.

And then Swiss went off for a signing in Notting Hill.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 13 April 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Easter 2009