In just three minutes last night, the rapper Dave inspired more people than most politicians have done in the past year. Sitting at the piano in a cloud-printed suit at the Brit Awards, he gave a punchy snapshot of the UK in 2020, rapping about “how the news treats Kate versus how they’re treating Meghan” and how “Grenfell victims still need accommodation”.
During his performance he also paid tribute to Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, who were killed in the London Bridge terror attack in November (Dave had met Jack). He even fitted in a line about how we need more conservation and less deforestation, as an arresting black-and-white photo montage was projected onto his piano. His work was done. Mic drop.
Even my mum texted me about Dave — she had to watch it twice because “he talks fast” (OK, boomer) but she was in awe of this 21-year-old. She approved of his piano-playing — nice to have a proper instrument on the stage — and said Dave’s mum must be proud. Pictures of her cheering in the audience confirmed this. It’s been a busy year for mothers at awards ceremonies.
The Brit Awards have been in the wilderness, but Dave made them relevant again (with a little help from Tyler, The Creator, who threw shade at Theresa May for not letting him into the country in 2015).
The Brits aren’t perfect, of course — there was a woeful lack of women nominees. But everyone was talking about it at least. Best Group winner Foals used their acceptance speech to say “Hopefully next year we’ll see some more women in this category,” and Stormzy dedicated his Best Male award to the women in his team because “the best male is nothing without these females”.
This politically engaged spirit is what we need from music right now: 2019 was not a vintage year for musicians mixing with progressive politics. Kanye West reaffirmed his support for Donald Trump, Morrissey became a full-on far-Right supporter, and Roy Wood of Wizzard joined the Brexit Party, ruining I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.
This year didn’t start well, with Slowthai leering at Katherine Ryan at the NME Awards. But he paled into insignificance after Dave, who was gracious enough to include all of London in his thank-you speech after winning Best Album, even though he is a proud south Londoner.
Even my mum texted about Dave. She had to watch him twice because he talks fast, but she was in awe of him
When Dave came on I was despondently scrolling through my phone, wondering if wee Ronnie Wood was wearing yellow gloves in order to protect himself against coronavirus. I had just received yet another text from a Labour leadership candidate who I didn’t believe could lead a country, especially one where “weirdos and misfits” are being encouraged into positions of influence.
Dave, which is short for David Orobosa Omoregie, took all this on with spirit. He has form — his song Question Time criticises both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Black, which he performed last night, is about how everyone’s experience is different. He knows about this — when he was a teenager his older brother Chris was sent to prison over his involvement in the killing of Sofyen Belamouadden at Victoria station. His eldest brother Ben also went to prison for robbery.
His mother didn’t let Dave out after school, which gave him the time to learn the piano to grade seven. Politicians may be ruffled, and you may not agree with everything he said, but you should not dismiss his manifesto.
My coronavirus commuting conundrum
Nearly 150,000 people pass through King’s Cross every day. Without wishing to alarm anyone, that could equate to 150,000 cases of coronavirus.
At least this is what my friend argued last night. She insisted that we take a longer route and change at Euston because the threat of entering King’s Cross was too high.
“I’ve perfected the art of contactless travel,” she boasted. “I went all the way from Arsenal to Vauxhall yesterday without touching anything.”
Instead of laughing at my anecdote about a man I saw on the bus who laid down a towel before sitting, she was full of admiration and asked if it was a special germ-resistant towel. She may escape the super-spreaders but her sense of humour has taken a hit.
Once I scoffed at germaphobes like her. But coronavirus has changed me. Now I’m panicking about how fast germs from coughs can spread, and dashing into Pret after journeys to follow NHS 11-step handwashing guidelines. Nowhere is safe, but certain areas are riskier than others. I can’t see if mask wearers are smiling but I like to think we exchange knowing looks.
There's a new vicar in town
Every good TV show needs an engaging ecumenical figure.
We had hot priest Andrew Scott in Fleabag, then Dolly Wells as Sister Agatha in Dracula. Now This Country is back: The Vicar (Paul Chahidi) reasons with Kurtan and Kerry as they wrestle with their baser impulses, coveting a foot spa that’s not theirs.
What would Jesus do? Kurtan needs his own cookery show: there is mileage in him singing to sausages.
And Kerry, played by Daisy May Cooper, makes me laugh with just one look at the dump: her equivalent of John Lewis.