Mood for Mugging / philip nanton

Mood for Mugging

Bootsy ‘n me two blocks east of Nostrand
itching for a smack of white powder sand.
Checked a nigger like a big old grizzly bear
his rags screaming out he ain’t from here
the sack on his back seemed full of corn
didn’t know was a tramp’s old bugle horn.

When I was born
my father gave to me
an angel-horn
with wings of melody.
That angel placed her lips
upon my finger-tips
and I became, became
her secret name.

Gave Bracelet the nod, he took my drift
we’d corner the guy near seventh and fifth.
That night we were so cool and sharp
either he delivered or he’d play the harp.

Her name grew strong
spread like a passion tree.
She named the song,
I played the melody.
And in the morning hour
I woke to dream of her,
and all day long, day long
I lived her song

With his metal studs Bootsy smashed his face
I hit his ribs with my special mace
he fell on one knee like he was praying to JC
then that upperty nigger took a swing at me

In boat and barge
where songs and seas are friends
our dreams grew large
made love where dreaming ends.
And people placed her lips
upon our finger-tips
and friends became, became
our secret name.

Was then I realized was a waste of time
that old cat had neither nickel nor dime.
He probably lost some teeth from the blow
next time the old fellow better know
round here at night you gotta walk with dough.

Me and Bootsy don’t take no shit
we fixed Old Gramps so he’d remember it.
And there’s one thing that I know for sure
that old nigger ain’t playing bugle no more.

Now light is low
new angels come and go.
The passion tree
spreads dense as destiny.
And this old angel-horn
strives like the lifting dawn!
Love moves to claim, to claim
our secret name.


“Mood for Mugging” is taken from Island Voices from St. Christopher & the Barracudas. In the words of its author and producer, “essentially it’s a take on island life in a mythical island state in the Caribbean. It takes the form of dramatic monologues, dialogues offered by a range of island characters encouraged to promote their island. The ‘voices’ include a coconut water vendor, gardener, taxi driver, radio DJ, bar owner, lawyer, wives of wealthy Caribbean men etc.”

Voices: Simon Alleyne, Garvie Griffith and Philip Nanton
Trumpet: Andre Blackett
Music composed and arranged by Toby Armstrong
Arrangement: Adaptations of Philip Nanton’s “Mood for Mugging” and Shake Keane’s “Angel Horn”
(with thanks to Margaret Bynoe for permission to adapt “Angel Horn”).


Originally from St. Vincent, Philip Nanton now lives in Barbados where he is a lecturer and freelance writer. Publications include contributions to Caribbean Dispatches: Beyond the Tourist Dream (2006) and regular appearances in Poui. He also writes and produces BBC radio programmes on Caribbean artists.