I was born without eyes

Vincent Cassar

I was born with my eyes rolled back in my head in the coldest winter for fifty years to an Irish peasant and a Maltese vinter in Bow in November 1962. Thus making me a Tiger Scorpio cockney Maltmick dyspraxic. All early indications were of being born under a bad star. My artistic, intellectual and biorhythmic traits all determined by the hotch-potch of contradictory indications I had to contend with. Early photos have me looking backwards to the womb.

hit by the wonder bug at an early age

I was hit by the wonder bug at an early age. The Irish Maltese heritage shaped my worldview with a constant reminder that there was a bigger world out there. There was always more to this than that. One brother was a shoe designer the other an artist turned filmmaker and so we have an eye for the aesthetic without getting too poncy about it.

I lost myself completely, wholeheartedly 100 percently in the world of words. Both reading and writing. Storytelling was in the blood (Fili) Stories of other places where exciting things happened, a world of suddenlys that captivated and entranced me and held me spellbound to this day

I like the Stet womans description that her mother, “had a streak of bandit in her.” My mother didn’t, but my first habiba/chailín (pron Hayleen) might have. She was an eccentric anomie who innately thought differently about the world. I think my way of thinking has always been lateral so it was no surprise fellow Malteser Edward De Bono wrote a book on the subject.

When I wasn’t reading books I was listening to music. My adoration of the music is such that I’ve had every instrument. Made love to them, plucked and thrummed them banged and blown them, tinkled and sucked but alas have been unable to get a tune out of any of them. You could say it was all brass, wind and mire.

My ambition was to be a late night dj with a smokey voice and a sleazy attitude. I used to make tapes for parties endlessly reworking them so I could make the perfect tape, for any and all sorts of occasion. It was a joy and a celebration.

Me and my brothers took over the the world famous Le Beat Route one night a week in the early 80s. That first moment of playing a record in that place with those wonderful acoustics blew my mind. I have arrived. I thought I never want to be anywhere else again.

we are all artists creating things

For years I have said we are all artists creating things, our lives, our ways of thinking are sui generis we just don’t all get certificates for them. I was always trying to learn lessons from other people’s behaviour and attempt to learn wisdom from it. I told myself wonderful things happen all the time. Even simple things like a robin sitting in a tree is a wonderful thing if viewed right.

The magazine we wanted to produce was originally called Fantasy cos we thought everyone “else” was living in one. Ended up calling it the Brown Rice Gazette partly cos of my Hare Krishna associations. (I used to visit their cafe and loved their apple crumble.) “It’s all peace, love and brown rice, man,” said a brother and hence a calling card, a magazine and an art movement was born. I was The Brown Rice Man and we thought like how Dada became a word stretched beyond its original meaning the same could hopefully apply to that, like a nickname. We later came to say it was because of the jazz album by Don Cherry to up our street cred.

We formed a company, got an arts council grant and had plans about music, (Brown Rice Cassette)theatre production (Brown Rice Vignettes) and an exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery. In the magazine which had art and poetry and fiction. there was an editorial in it that was like a call to the arts, an open invitation to help others. “If you believe in yourself enough you can do anything you really want.”

Doing The Wonderbook now is a reminder to myself of how I have always sought to help others. Working in book boutiques for years the first thing you say is, “Can I help you?” I have written guides about World Fiction and national cycle routes. My djing is a way of helping people enjoy themselves. That is why pointing out to others the wonder of a great painting, book or film etc gives me joy. And can be life enhancing for all concerned.