Overheard: youthful ambition, race relations and religion at a south London bus stop

A middle aged woman strikes up conversation with Jackson Barker, aged 11 or so, who is staying with his grandmother during the half term holiday.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Jackson Barker.’

‘Where are you from Jackson?’


‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

‘I want to be a pilot in the airforce.’

‘Good for you Jackson. That’s really good for you. I’m going to pray for you when I get home Jackson.’

‘Thank you very much.’

‘You know that you’re white and I’m black? You know that don’t you?’


‘You might not be used to that, that we’re different.’

‘No, there are lots of coloured kids in school, we don’t see any difference.’

‘Don’t say coloured, Jackson, say black.’

Jackson’s Nan: ‘That’s what I say to him.’

(Jackson sways back and forth with the weight of the supermarket carrier bags he is carrying.)

‘I’m going to pray for you tonight Jackson. I’m going to write that down so I don’t forget. How do you spell your name?’

‘J–a-c–k-s-o-n – B-a-r-k-e-r .’

(Writing) ‘Jaaack-suun – Baar-kuh; pray – that – he – will -be – in – the – airforce. There. And what about Nan, would Nan like me to pray for anything for her?’

Nan (wryly): ‘Win the lottery?’

(Writing again) ‘Nan – to – win – the – lottery. I’ll pray for you both tonight.’

Jackson: ‘Thanks.’

Nan (smiling): ‘Here’s our bus.’

‘It’s been lovely talking to you Jackson, you’ve been a very nice person to talk to. You both take care now.’