They all wore grey jogging trousers and plain grey sweaters.
Working with the Bad Lads, my task was to encourage writing from which we could begin to explore pasts, presents and futures. And, what with a snort of professional artists aiding and abetting us, surely, we could not fail:
Shane: So, BadLad, how are you?
BadLad: Good, good, yeah.
Shane: Good. And you’re having a go at the lyric-writing?
BadLad.: Yeah, yeah.
Shane: Good. I see you’ve got some notes there –
Shane: Does that mean that you’re ok to be getting on?
BadLad: Yeah, I know wha’ I’m doin’.
Shane: What are you writing about?
BadLad: Family an’ dat.
Shane: Ah, right! (thinking: ‘Family! Brilliant! Nice bit of reflection on core values and home and so on – marvellous!’) I’ll leave you with that then.
Twenty minutes later, BadLad is sitting back with a ‘job done’ look on his face and a lot of handwritten notes in front of him. He agrees to my reading his lyrics, so I do. There are many abbreviations, there is writing in text-message-speak, there is street-slang terminology. I need help to understand this:
Shane: Ok, good. So er-, what does ‘endz’ mean?
BadLad: (baffled by such ignorance) It’s like endz innit - like your digs an’ your bro’s an’ dat.
Shane: Like… where you’re from?
BadLad: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Shane: Right, ok. And, er, ‘NSM’ – what’s that?
BadLad: North Side Mafia.
Shane: (thinking: ‘North Side Mafia? Eh? What’s that got to do with… ‘family’?... Oh godly god no’) So, NSM are- your family?
Shane: (thinking: ‘Of course they are, my dear – which probably means that I just encouraged you to get on with writing about shootings and robbing and all kinds of misdemeanour – how very on-the-ball of me’)
I ask BadLad more questions and he becomes amused at my open ignorance of all matters ‘Real shit – how it is out dare’. I ask about what he gets from his family, the North Side Mafia.
BadLad: It’s jus’ like security innit – we look after each other an’… we jus’ dare, y’ know’ – keep’ an eye on da bro’s and dat. We' tight.
At this point, he looks at me with a bemused expression, as if to say ‘Well what do you think ‘family’ is for - fool’. His expression has a fair point.