25 is a fantastic age. Nearly as good as 51. Today Jafer reaches that age. Happy birthday. Although I won’t be seeing him today we will be sharing the joy of a Palace victory v Hull later. Or the despair of yet another bloody defeat to a team worse than us. 25 years ago Penny woke me in the early hours and I drove our rusty Ford Fiesta to North Middlesex Hospital where a few hours later Jafer was born. We were living in a flat in Bounds Green at the time but were due to move to Durban Road in Tottenham a few weeks later. Jafer was four weeks early, impatient to make his mark on the world. We spent the first 9 years of his life in that house.
Penny and I were both doing shift work in his early years in care homes for adults with learning disabilities and my mum played a big role in childminding him whether it be Monday or Sunday.
Aged one and a half Jafer made his first flight and arrived first in Istanbul and then in Cyprus, accompanied by his parents. This is us with Akile and Meliha sitting on the walls of Kantara Castle near our lovely village.
and my cousin Fatma.
Aged three and a half another fantastic event occurred in Jafer’s life. He gained a little brother, Kenan.
Jafer’s education started when he was born but his first formal education was at Lancasterian Primary School, off Bruce Grove.
That’s him at the back, next to one 0f the teaching staff on the right.
At the age of eight Jafer headed for the south coast town of Hastings, accompanied by his brother and parents. Despite moving from a two bedroomed terrace to a much bigger house he continued to share a bedroom with his little brother for a few more years before he decided he wanted his own room. The one at the top of the house in the attic space with a sea view.
Not seen on a cloudy day.
It’s now set up to become a studio space.
Aged 11 Jafer started attending Filsham Valley School where for the next five years he worked hard and acquired some GCSE’s and then went to Bexhill College to study for 3 A levels. He then went to Sausage Toast College (or Sussex Coast to the rest of us) to complete a foundation in Art. Jafer then went to study art at Goldsmith’s University in London, a few miles down from the Old Kent Road where I spent the first ten years of my life. Everything appears to come full circle. After a year in halls Jafer rented a room with his friend from Hastings who was studying at Camberwell School of Art. After graduating Jafer remained in Brockley where Linton Kwesi Johnson once worked in a factory ‘where all they do is pack crockery’ in his song ‘Inglan is a bitch’.
Jafer now works in a primary school near Borough market in the London Borough of Southwark as an artist in residence. Don’t ask! They never had one of those when I was at Primary School. But he’s been there three years now and the children love Mr Useless as some mispronounce his surname.
People say ‘you must be proud’ when talking not just about Jafer but about Kenan also. Pride is a concept I find hard to come to terms with. Jafer is the person he is because of himself to a large degree. I go in for broad brush parenting rather than the micro managing variety. He has values, principles and a passion for Crystal Palace. Supporting Palace gives him an appreciation of success. It has to because we don’t have much of it. When we reach the heights we really do feel on top of the world. When we sink to the depths we learn to pick ourselves up and start all over again. In that way supporting Palace equips you to deal with life, Brexit and Trump.
As well as football we share a love for music and have twice seen Pete Doherty together. So it’s only fitting that I sign off for the week with a video clip of Pete singing one of our favourite songs.