Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"My Trilby Is So Battered It Looks like Top Cat's": Pauline Black, Singer and Actress

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"My Trilby Is So Battered It Looks like Top Cat's": Pauline Black, Singer and Actress

Article excerpt

Pauline Black, 64, was born to an Anglo-Jewish mother and Nigerian father before being adopted by a middle-aged white couple. She worked as an NHS radiographer and was a founder of the ska band the Selecter. She has appeared with Spit the Dog and played Billie Holiday in the play "All or Nothing at All".

What's your earliest memory?

Immediately after being told that I had been adopted, I vomited profusely over my mother's freshly ironed white sheets and "Jackson Pollocked" the lot. Then she smacked me. I was four years old.

Who was your childhood hero?

Marsha Hunt, who burst on to the Sixties Swinging London scene with an immense, perfectly spherical Afro, in the musical Hair. Since I was the only black kid at my school, I caused quite a stir when I "freaked out" my own small mop of carefully cultivated black curls with a newly bought Afro comb.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Jamaican ska music. I know something about that.

What was the last book that you couldn't put down?

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is a well-written, provocative, incisive and illuminating expose of race, gender and class in this country. I wish I'd had this book to hand when I was growing up.

What politician, past or present, do you look up to?

Malcolm X. He was the last black politician who ever said anything remotely useful to black people. The phrase "by any means necessary" resonates loud and clear when discussing today's Black Lives Matter movement.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live? …

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