It is said that everyone who was alive at that time can remember where he or she was on the day of the Kennedy Assassination
. I can, even though I was only seven years old at the time. I can also remember learning of the news of September 11. And I can most definitely remember where I was on the day of the 7/7 attacks, because they were all four perpetrated less than eleven miles as the crow flies from where I am now sitting, and on that fateful morning I was on my way to the British Library
Because I almost always travel off-peak, I didn't leave home until after 9am, by which time three of the four bombs had already been detonated. By the time I reached London Bridge station, it was evident there was something wrong, but I heard initially there had been some sort of power outage. It wasn't long though before this was transformed into something far more sinister.
Shortly after the atrocities, one of the heavies published obituaries for all the victims. They don't usually do that for us little people, but with around half a million deaths in Britain every year, that is hardly surprising. All those named though seemed to have something special going on in their lives, or to be doing something meaningful. Even so, one name jumped out at me, that of Arthur Frederick. He had served as a police officer for over thirty years; for reasons I won't go into here, police officers are far from my favourite human beings, but Arthur Frederick had been a rather unusual police officer. He was also both a songwriter and a performer.
As a one-time (failed) songwriter myself
, this struck a chord - no pun intended - and apart from that he had lived a very unusual life.
Arthur Edlin Frederick was born on the island of Grenada, which is located off the coast of Venezuela. Moving to the nearby Caribbean island of Montserrat, he spent his working life as a police officer, but also performed as a singer and guitarist in both Montserrat and Grenada.
Although it may seem remote, Montserrat has a long musical tradition, and in especially the 1970s and 80s - what future historians may recall as the golden age of contemporary music - many big names recorded at its AIR studios including Dire Straits, Elton John and Paul McCartney.
Arthur Frederick was not a rock musician though, but a calypso artist, and although he never made the big time, his music is still performed in the Caribbean today. He is said to have become notorious for Signs Of Christmas
, which he wrote himself, and performed under the stage name Vision. He also performed as Napo, Soul and Otis (after Otis Redding).
In July 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted suddenly. Although dormant for centuries, this eruption changed life for everyone on the island. Mud flows reached the capital, Plymouth, resulting in an exodus. As Montserrat was and remains a British overseas territory, many relocated to the UK. After he retired, Station Sergeant Arthur Frederick moved to Seven Sisters in North London.
There was some suggestion that he would move to New York City instead where he would work again in law enforcement, but a friend discouraged him, pointing out that policing in New York was a different proposition from Montserrat. One might also think that after clocking up more than three decades, he would opt for something less strenuous. He ended up working as a museum guard, but his music career was far from finished, and he started working on a new album. Whatever may have become of his plans, they were cut short that fateful morning along with those of the other 51 innocent fatalities, and many more.
Although he never married, Arthur Frederick had a son, Astrid Wade, who still lives on Montserrat where he works as a firefighter.
Arthur Frederick died in the explosion at Russell Square Underground Station
seven years ago today, but both his music and his spirit live on.
Arthur Edlin Frederick, born October 4, 1944, Grenada; died London, England, July 7, 2005.