In the Notting Hill of the early 70s we rediscover Moses Aloetta, last seen twenty years before in Selvon’s masterpiece, The Lonely Londoners. In the fifties, Moses was a reluctant “welfare officer” for new arrivals from the islands, grumbling as he helped people find their feet in the Mother Country. Now he’s installed as the tin-pot monarch of a tumble-down terraced house in Shepherd’s Bush.

Moses Ascending

There is something of the shipwrecked mariner about Moses, washed up on a cold and lonely shore, making do with what he can forage from the second hand stalls of Portobello. His self-sufficiency and his carnival-king status as “Master of the House” make him an echo of that paragon of Protestant thrift and virtuous accumulation, Robinson Crusoe. “There was my majesty,” writes Defoe’s sailor in his own ‘memoir’, “the prince and lord of the whole island; I had the lives of all my subjects at my absolute command.” Selvon makes the Crusoe connection explicit. Available in store and online.

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