Bexley man pens novel about extensive career reporting on the West Indian community

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 June 2014

Clayton Goodwin writes about his career in his new book.

Clayton Goodwin writes about his career in his new book.


Throughout his journalism career, a man heard the phrase “Sorry, but I thought you were black” every week of his working life when people saw his name and writing and made the wrong assumption.

Clayton Goodwin has now gone on to pen a book which holds that title, delving into his 50 year career during which he reported on the West Indian and Jamaican community and met some of the great names of the decades.

During this impressive career, Clayton befriended singer Millie Small, directed Miss Carribean & Commonwealth and reported on the Notting Hill riots, West Indian cricket and commented on the first televised interracial kiss.

Although he has contributed extensively to the UK press over the years, this was not his sole focus.

Clayton, of Barnehurst, Bexley, said: “I concentrated on writing for the West Indian Press.

“English people have got their own records and it’s mainly the Jamaicans and West Indians who have been forgotten.”

The book, Sorry But I Thought You Were Black- Fifty Years with the West Indian Press, was published by Acorn Independent Press on June 27.

Clayton explained that he had a great deal of memories that he had wanted to put down on paper.

“What usually happens is that you get these ideas, working for 50 years, and they’re stored away.

“Last year I got taken ill. While I was recuperating I thought, now is the chance to put the book together.

“It’s 50 years since certain things happened. It’s 50 years since Millie Small had a hit with My Boy Lollipop, I knew Millie. I was one of the first people to interview Millie.

“It’s 50 years since the death of Claudia Jones.

“It’s 50 years of not just me writing, but 50 years of landmark race relations in this country.”

As well as exploring his journalism, the book also describes how Clayton built himself a successful career and his happy marriage to Hopelyn, a Black Jamaican woman, despite his humble beginnings and difficult attitudes to race.

“We did have a few problems to start with.

“The cover of the book is actually based on our wedding, it shows our wedding and then around it is some of the people that I have interviewed.

“There’s a montage of photographs.”

Clayton and Hopelyn were introduced to each other on a “blind date” arranged by their mutual friend in 1962.

They married five years later and despite facing difficulties are still together to this day.

Clayton, who was born at Stony Corner, near Gravesend, is keen to encourage people to follow their dreams and hopes that the book will show people that it can be done.

“I had a great struggle to be a journalist and I wanted to encourage others who wanted to be a journalist to stick to it.

“The rewards are well worth the wait.”

Sorry But I Thought You Were Black- Fifty Years with the West Indian Press is £10.99 in paperback and also available in Ebook.

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