Tuesday, July 31, 2007

'Break the chains' on Emancipation Day

Well, folks, I hope you all have a happy Emancipation Day tomorrow and that you have an opportunity to participate in the various activities around the island.

It's a time to reflect on how far we've come as a nation and how far we still have to go. I fear we still have a lot of emancipating to do.

Here's an interesting site I came across.

Be safe, and see you on Thursday, si dieu veux.

Pic o' de Crop Finalists Adrian Clarke & De Announcer + East Coast scene

Adrian 'AC' Clarke is a former Pic o' de Crop Monarch and has graced the Finals on numerous occasions. With probably the sweetest voice in the competition, Clarke is never a performer to underestimate. Hailing from the Allstars Calypso Tent, he will be performing Columbus and Morals and Decency.

Although he only entered the calypso arena a relatively short time ago, Ronnie 'De Announcer' Clarke has become a fixture in the Finals. His singing skills are at times debatable, but he is nevertheless a dynamic performer known for biting lyrics. This year his offerings are Wrong Decision and De Bell. He will represent Allstars Calypso Tent.

Photos: www.justbajan.com

contributor dreadlocs brought back some lovely photos of last Sunday's Party Monarch scene on the East Coast, where Li'l Rick was crowned the Party Monarch for the fourth time. Thanks, dreadlocs!

Pic o' de Crop Finals feature: Sheldon Hope & Smokey Burke

Sheldon Hope may be a newcomer to the Pic o' de Crop Finals stage, but he is no stranger to competition. A former winner of the Caribbean Song Contest, Hope's vocal skills have been sharpened on gospel music. He was judged independently, and on Friday will be performing Man's Love Song and The Call.

Smokey Burke is no stranger to the Finals, having placed seventh in the competition last year. Although his folksinging style of presentation is not always the most exciting, his lyrics always leave food for thought. Representing the Hit Parade Calypso Tent, this year he will be performing All Politicians Is Friends and Catastrophe.

Photos: www.justbajan.com

How much is too much?

Before I begin, let me say that I have the greatest admiration for Madd Entertainment. They have parlayed what most persons see as 'mock sport' into a business, and every year I look forward to their Crop Over music. While some calypso tents are languishing, Madd's Bacchanal Time Tent is bursting at the seams.

Over the years, Madd has introduced us to several characters who are symbolic of the wider society. There is PC Broomes, the big-bellied policeman who is always mocked by the criminals; the forced-ripe school girl Glamour Girl Sue; the witty homosexual Archibul Cox; the cheap Indian merchant Ali Singh, the list goes on.

This year, Madd introduced John Mahahmeed, who is the illegitimate son of Ali Singh . The character has a Guyanese accent, and his song Curry Wine is infectious. However, I was dismayed to see the character performing in what amounts to blackface and what looks like a clown suit.

Since when did blackface become funny? The sad irony is that the young man playing the role of John Mahahmeed is already black. Through Madd's songs we've poked fun at Indians, the police and homosexuals (and those groups I'm sure have been offended), but isn't the blackening of the character's face a new low? Isn't it a perpetuation of the same negative stereotypes which have offended us as Black people? How much is too much?

Be careful what you laugh at...one day you may be laughing at yourself and not realise.

Photo: www.boycevoice.com/blog/

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tony Blair's 'home' again

I knew it was only a matter of time before former British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be back in Bim. According to Caribbean360.com, Tony Blair is currently enjoying his fifth holiday in Barbados at Sir Cliff Richards' Sugar Hill villa in St. James.

Welcome back, Tony. Relax yuhself, drink some Banks, eat some pudding and souse and enjoy Crop Over. And you see how they tried to ruin your reputation, calling you President Bush's "poodle" and now Gordon Brown publicly endorsing Bush too? Don't mind them, Tony boy. Gordon probably up there smelling hell and you down here in paradise. Who got the last laugh?

Photo: www.caribbean360.com

Li'l Rick reigns on the East Coast + Pic o' de Crop feature

Well, we're on the 'last lap' before Kadooment Day on August 6, so I'll be bringing a lot more Crop Over content this week. Every day I'll feature two of the finalists of the Pic O' de Crop Calypso Competition, which takes place this Friday, as well as other related news and features. Let's get started.

Congratulations to new Party Monarch Li'l Rick, who defeated 19 other soca artistes to capture the title for a fourth time yesterday.

In second place was Mr. Dale with Soca Junkie, and Khiomal placed third with Bashment Bacchanal. In fourth place was Blood with She Push He, while Tarah was in fifth place with I Ain't Looking.

Li'l Rick had entered the competition with his song Can't Wait in heavy rotation on the radio stations, and since he's known for being a 'big night' performer, I knew he would pull out all the stops to take home the trophy. I suspect he'll take the Road March and Peoples' Monarch titles as well.

My boy Mr. Dale shouldn't feel too badly though, 'cause only two and a half points separated him from Li'l Rick. Poor Barry Chandler. To move from being the reigning Party Monarch to not even placing. Cuhdear....

Feature: Pic o' de Crop Finalists

One of the two women in the Finals, newcomer Margaret "Enobong" Holder has been a member of the Experience Calypso Tent since 2006. The psalmist (singing prophet) has been in the music industry of the past five years, and is currently working on a CD project.
The songs she will be performing on Friday night are Gotta Get Back and Time for a Change.

Newcomer Rommel Hall joined the Experience Tent in 2004. He is also a co-founder of the performing arts company Jesus Army Productions. His songs for the Finals are Animal Farm and Apocolypso.

Photo of Li'l Rick: www.nationnews.com
Photos and info on finalists: www.experiencetent.com

Housekeeping matters

Hi folks, hope everyone had a good weekend. Just a note to let to you know that I've included in the sidebar the links to all the short stories I've posted so far.

Also, I've added a poll feature. This week's question is: "Should the Party Monarch competition have been halted?" Of course, that's in light of yesterday's tragic accident in St. Joseph. Vote on it.


Condolences are extended to the families of those who perished in yesterday's horrific crash in Joe's River, St. Joseph.
May God be with them at this time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekend Wrap

Obama and Clinton take off their kid gloves
Racism's still alive and kicking in Louisiana
Keith Mitchell's having a very bad week
Ban Ki-Moon's passing through next week
The USA has nothing to say to Cuba
Baby T&T forming in the Caribbean sea
Aquafina comes clean
Rihanna's umbrellas hit the market

Speaking of Rihanna, you know you've become a star when other artistes try to copy your style. Raunchy rapper Trina is the latest entertainer attempting to replicate Rihanna's asymmetrical cut.

I think that round goes to Rihanna....

****************** **********************
What's really going on with the National Cultural Foundation? First, the Foreday Morning Jam was changed from parading through Bridgetown to moving off from Spring Garden, then was switched back to Bridgetown, but beginning from a different point.

Then, the Pic o de Crop Finals and Cohobblopot were to be held at the National Stadium, then they were relocated to Kensington Oval, now they're headed back to the Stadium.

Is someone at the NCF speaking out of turn? Are the journalists running with scoops, without confirming facts? Whatever's the reason for this see-saw, it reflects badly on the organisers of the festival.

And is it a coincidence that both issues have at their center concerns over the possible damage revellers might inflict on Bridgetown stores or the Oval? I know some folks around here are pretty lawless, but still!

Anyhoo, the show must go on. Have a good weekend, enjoy the Crop Over activities and be safe out there. Until Monday, si dieu veux.

Photos: www.caribbean360.com; ybf.blogspot.com

When media collide

Last Friday, I checked out the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation's attempt to bring its 98.1 The One radio personalities to television. It's an interesting idea, but its execution could have been a lot tighter. Here're a few of the things I observed:

1) The moderator of the interview segment, who's usually articulate on radio, seemed uncomfortable. And the poor guy was forced to read from his script, which looks unprofessional on tv. Somebody get this guy a teleprompter!

2) After her performance, guest artiste Keanne (who rocks her Rihanna-esque bob rather well) went over to the couch. I assumed she would be interviewed about her music for the Crop Over season, but instead the interviewer switched to lawyer Wilfred Abrahams to discuss today's technology and the youth. The subject was topical, given the prevalence of nude photos of young girls being disseminated via the web and cellphones.

The information given by Abrahams was factual and legal in nature, though pitched at the right level for the mostly teen studio audience. However, I couldn't focus on the lawyer as I should because I was thinking, why are they making Keanne sit through all this?

The interviewer then brought Keanne in on the discussion. I was puzzled, because I wasn't sure if that was the plan or they were catching the poor girl off guard! I'm still not sure, but if she was surprised to be interviewed on the topic she covered it well.

3) Questions were then tossed to the audience. I might have missed something, because apart from one young lady it seemed as thought he 98.1 staff were asking all the questions! What's the point of having a studio audience?

As I said before, the show isn't a bad idea, but it needs some work to make it flow more smoothly. Remember Hurricane and crew, radio is about sound and television is about pictures. Don't just tell me, show me. One of the male deejays started to list the top songs and was simply calling names, but later he brought in photos and video. Good move.

On a related note, some of the interviewers on these 'hip' programs on CBC TV8 (okay, mostly Roaming) need to brush up on their skills. It doesn't matter if you're on the road on Carnival Monday with sweaty revellers or doing a sit down with the CEO of the NCF - asking inane, close-ended questions just isn't cutting it. Why do tv producers think they can stick a microphone in anybody's hand and turn them into a tv presenter?

Again, go get trained. That's why there're institutions like the Barbados Community College and CARIMAC in Jamaica. Help is available, peoples.

Two Days in July - Pt 3

Sir Richard Collingwood was a worried man. As he thumbed through the day’s paper in the back seat of his Bentley, a frown creased his usually jovial, ruddy face.

Small in stature and nondescript in looks, the Englishman possessed a keen intellect and quick wit that belied his appearance. As the Special Advisor to the Governor, he was one of the most influential men on the island.

Dolphus had first met Sir Richard 25 years previously in Panama, where the Englishman was one of the directors of the construction company contracted to build the Canal. From the beginning, Dolphus was amazed at how humanely the man treated all the workers, whether White, Black or Hispanic. When he failed to convince the other directors that black workers should be paid the same wage as white labourers, Sir Richard supplemented the wages of the Blacks out of his own pocket.

After he decided to quit his job on the plantation and move to Bridgetown to seek better wages, Dolphus had the good fortune of running into the Englishman. Sir Richard had returned to London after the completion of the Canal and had entered politics. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was so impressed with his contribution to the party that he posted Sir Richard to “that little gem of an island Barbados” to enjoy his pre-retirement years. Never one to rest on his laurels, the Knight warmed to the task and was known for writing lengthy reports to the Governor recommending several social problems which needed correction.

“You very quiet today, Mas’ Richard. Someting wrong?”

Sir Richard glanced up from the paper and smiled. “How many times do I have to tell you, Dolphus. Call me anything but Mas’ Richard. I employ you, I’m not the master of you.”

Dolphus chuckled. “I know dat full well. Years ago we din’t have nuh choice but tuh call de boss Massa. Now I choose tuh call you dat.”

Sir Richard laughed. “Fair enough, you made your point, my man.”

He became serious and leaned closer to the driver. “Have you been following what’s happening with Payne and his people?”

Dolphus snorted. “My son is one o’ dem people. He tink I is a traitor ‘cause I doan’ agree wid Payne. But I know how tings does work in Buhbados.”

“And how’s that?” Sir Richard folded the paper and placed it in his briefcase.

Dolphus slowed the Bentley to give way to an old man on a donkey-cart coming out of a side street along the Garrison Savannah. The man raised his whip in thanks and the donkey ambled across the road.

“From de time we get ‘mancipate, Black an’ White in dis country had tuh try and get ‘long, ‘cause de country small and we did all close up unda one anudda. But dey doan’ like we an’ we doan’ like dem. Sorry, chief.” Dolphus halted, hoping he hadn’t offended the Englishman. Sir Richard waved him on.

“Once we keep in we place an’ let dem do wuh dem want, everyting good. But as soon as we start talkin’ ‘bout uprisin’, dem gine get scared an’ somebody gine dead. Simple so.”

“So don’t you think the workers have a right to fight for better wages and living conditions? I’ve toured Bridgetown and I’ll tell you, what I’ve seen made my hair stand on end. I just recently convinced the Governor to grant me some funds to do something about it.”

“Doan’ get me wrong, Mas’ Richard. I want de good tings in life just like anybody else! I jus’ sayin’, dis ain’ de way. We can’ win. Look at de size o’ Engalan’ compare tuh we. De best ting tuh do is leh Mudder Engalan’ do wuh she want. De same way we get freedom, de same way we gine eventually be free tuh run we own country.”

Sir Richard sighed. “Well, all I know is that we’re in for some trying times. I don’t even think with Payne out of the picture the tidal wave is going to turn back. I’m afraid we’re going to make a martyr out of him.”

“Sorry, chief? I doan’ understan’.”

“Never mind, Dolphus, never mind. What I will say is this; warn your son to keep out of Bridgetown this evening. I hear there are meetings planned for Golden Square and the Lower Green.”

“Oh? I din’t even know. Dat boy probably gine be de firs’ in line.”

“I’m deadly serious Dolphus. Keep him at home. Promise me you will.”

“Alright, Mas’ Richard. I gine see wuh I coul’ do. We here now.”

Dophus pulled into the driveway of the redbrick building in Hastings, which served as the headquarters of the colonial government. Dolphus went around to Sir Richard’s door and held it open.

The government official collected his belongings and exited the Bentley. He turned and laid a hand on Dolphus’ shoulder.

“Remember what I said, Dolphus, keep your son away from those meetings until everything dies down.”

The chauffeur nodded his assent and watched as the gray-haired man heading inside the building. He then climbed into the Bentley and pointed it in the direction of Bridgetown.

Half an hour later, Dolphus perched uncomfortably on a bench under the evergreen tree in Trafalgar Square as he received a haircut from one of the outdoor barbers operating from the popular site. He shifted slightly to ease his aching posterior and the barber grumbled his disapproval.

Dolphus watched as about 200 yards away, the Chamberlain Bridge started to swing open to allow a well-laden boat into the Careenage. He reflected on another, much larger waterway in another part of the world, where he and thousands of other men had braved the hazardous environment of the Culebra Cut to construct the Canal.

He was so deep in thought that he did not realise the barber had completed his task and was holding up a piece of mirror for him to view his hair. Satisfied, he paid the barber one shilling and got up from the bench.

“So, yuh hear wuh happen?” the barber asked as he placed the money in his pocket and leaned over to brush off a few stray follicles from Dolphus' shirt collar.

Dolphus shook his head and the man continued. “I hear how dey plan tuh sen’ back Payne tuh Trinidad. Dat ain’ gine guh down too well ‘bout hey!”

Dolphus remembered the warning from Sir Richard and frowned. “You tink Babajans gine care dat much wuh happen to Payne?” he queried.

“Ef! You ain’ know dat he is one o’ de few people dat payin’ black people in dis country any min’ right now? De Governuh ain’ care nuttin’ ‘bout we, de Queen ain’ care, an’ fuh sure dese white people ‘bout hey doan’ care if we live or dead!”

“So wuh we suppose tuh do? Bun down Bridgetown to get dem attention? Wuh dat gine prove? Is we dat got tuh buil’ it back, yuh know!” Dolphus retorted.

By then the other barbers and customers under the tree had turned their attention to Dolphus and the barber.

“Man, doan’ min’ he! He does wuk fuh de white man, so he tink he is one o’ dem!” shouted a man whose jaws were lathered with shaving cream.

A chorus of murmurs arose, and a few of the men cut their eyes at Dolphus. Sensing a growing hostility among the men, Dolphus donned his hat and coat and headed quickly to the Bentley.

I like I betta doan’ let dis boy come down hey tonite fuh trute! Dolphus mused as he headed back to Hastings to pick up Sir Richard for an 11 o’clock appointment.

*********** ************* ****************

That's it for now folks. I have the rest of it outlined and hope to finish it soon.

In keeping with the theme, here's some info on what's happening for Emancipation Day, Wednesday, August 1, 2007. The theme for this year's activities is Breaking the Chains.

3:00 p.m. Emancipation Celebration Parade/Walk
Begins at Heroes Square - Chamberlain Bridge - Bay Street - Esplanade
Included in the procession will be the Barbados Landship, Rosehill Tuk Band, Ife Moko Jumbies and the Iron Band. Bring a flower!

4:00 p.m. Bay Street Esplanade
Activities include remarks by government officials, reading of Emancipation Day message by Nyahuma Obika of the Caribbean Historical Society, laying of flowers for our ancestors, and performances by the Lion Soul Band and the Israel Lovell Dancers. Performer Damien 'Bobo' Bowen will also launch his song for Emancipation Day.

7:30 p.m. Frank Collymore Hall
Roots Experience Emancipation Show

Enjoy, reflect, remember.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two Days in July - Pt. 2

Mavis picked her way gingerly across the pasture in Grassfield and slipped through the wooden gate leading into the Belleville community. She waved at some of the other domestics who were making their way to work at the homes in the exclusive neighbourhood.

She turned into 6th Avenue and walked up the driveway of the Victorian-styled home on the right side of the street. Taking a deep breath and making the sign of the cross, she entered the back door of the Deanes’ house. Lord, help muh tuh hold muh tongue so I doan’ lose dis work today, she thought.

“Mornin’, Celeste, Darnley!” Mavis greeted the cook and gardener who were seated at the kitchen table.

“Mornin’, Mavis. Look like we in fuh some trouble ‘round hey,” Celeste frowned as she looked up from the Advocate.

“Wuh happen now? First de railway like it closin’ down again, den de cost of livin’ went up an’ de country ain’ gettin’ nuh money from de canes atall. It must be Lent or someting!”

“Not Lent, just life in Buhbados right now,” Darnley grumbled. “Dis Payne fella walkin’ ‘bout stirrin’ up a bariffle o’ trouble. Uh mean, I know black people meetin’ things hard, hard, but I feel dem rich people gine get vex one day an’ do way wid he. You ain’ remember how dey do Clenell Wickham? And den, quick so, a disturbance or someting gine brek out. It doan’ tek much fuh dat tuh happen. People blue vex a’ready.”

Mavis took the paper and scanned the article pointed out by Celeste. Her reading skills were rudimentary, but she still managed to decipher Clement Payne’s call for workers to unionise and fight for better wages. She frowned at the photograph of the handsome young man that accompanied the article.

“I uses tuh sew fuh he mother, yuh know. He arrive from Bank Hall,” Mavis mused as she returned the paper and grabbed her apron from behind the kitchen door.

“Fuh trut’? I was wonderin’…,” Celeste broke off as Sue Alleyne, Mrs. Deane’s personal maid, entered the room. She glowered at the trio.

“Excuse me, you all don’t get paid to sit around reading the paper. Ms. Brathwaite, Mistress would like her breakfast prepared now, please. One boiled egg, three strips of bacon and two slices of toast. No butter. ”

Celeste sucked her teeth loudly, pushed her chair away from the table and headed for the stove, muttering about “breadfruit swappers”. Darnley grabbed his hat and beat a hasty retreat towards the garden. Mavis calmly tied her apron and stared at the young woman.

“Is there a problem, Mrs. Carrington?” Sue pursed her lips and placed one hand on her hip.

“Not atall Ms. Alleyne. I happy in Jesus name.” Mavis smiled sweetly, eyeing Sue from head to toe. Force-ripe lil upstart. I ole enough tuh be yuh mother, she thought.

Today the maid had her pressed hair piled on top of her head in a bun. Her white, long-sleeved cotton blouse with a ruffled collar was tucked into a full-length black skirt. Her attire was completed with black stockings and black low-heeled shoes. Sue would have been attractive, if not for the permanent frown plastered across her midnight-black face.

“Well, you can start on the mistress’ bedroom first while she’s coming down to the breakfast room. Don’t dawdle here all day.” She scowled at Mavis and Celeste before leaving the kitchen.

Celeste burst into laughter as soon as Sue was out of earshot.

“Wuhloss! Dat’s de blackest white woman I ever see. Who she tink she is, Ms. Bowring?” The cook held her stomach and laughed.

Mavis couldn’t help laughing as well. “You gine get chase way one of dese days, yuh know!”

Celeste snorted. “Who, de Deanes chase me way? Doan’ doubt God! Nuhbody else but me ain’ gine cook fuh dese poor great poppits. Besides,” a wicked gleam appeared in her eyes, “yuh want me tuh tell everybody wuh Sue an’ Mr. Deane does be doin’ in de garden shed pon a night?”

“Looka muh crosses! Celeste, yuh too jipsy! I gine and do de people wuk before yuh get me lock up, bosie!” Mavis cackled and left the kitchen.

After collecting her cleaning instruments, Mavis climbed the wide mahogany staircase to the first floor of the house. She knocked gently on the second door at the top of the stairs. Hearing no response, she entered. She was startled to see Mrs. Deane standing on the small balcony overlooking the garden. The lady of the house turned and frowned at Mavis.

“Beg pardon, ma’am. I thought you was already in de breakfast room. I gine come back.”

Margaret Deane waved the maid into the room. “Come in, Mavis. I was just getting a little morning air before going downstairs. How are you today?”

Mavis was taken aback. In the six years she worked with the family, she couldn’t recall her employer expressing the remotest interest in her welfare. Rumoured to be the great-granddaughter of one of the first free slaves from Rock Hall in St. Thomas, Margaret Deane was a tall, willowy, brown-skinned woman who affected the airs and graces of a gentrified Englishwoman.

A former secretary to a prominent Bridgetown barrister, she caught the eye of Howard Deane, a manager of a warehouse on the Pier Head. Although Howard’s complexion was a little darker than she would have liked, his pockets were a lot deeper than she could have hoped for. Within three months, the couple was married and firmly ensconced in Belleville.

“I fine, ma’am. H-how you?” Mavis replied, nervously touching the starched cap covering her slightly graying hair.

Rather than respond, Mrs. Deane turned back to the view over the balcony. After a few seconds she replied, “What do you see over there, Mavis?”

Mavis approached the doorway and peered hesitantly around her employer. All she could see was Darnley toiling in the morning sun, trimming the hedge running along the back of the property. From that height, she could see into the rear of a large, stately property backing on to the Deane’s lot.

“Ma’am, I not too sure wuh yuh mean. Uh, de garden an’ de house in de nex’ gap?”

Mrs. Deane slapped the rail of the balcony. “Exactly. Fifth Avenue, Mavis. It’s just right there, but could as well be a mile away.”

Realisation dawned on Mavis and she stiffened. Dis in’grunt s**te, she thought, she doan’ know how good she got it, an’ still pinin’ tuh be one o’ de big maguffies in de top avenues!

“They think they’re better than us, you know. Just because they’re the employers and we’re the working class. I’ll have them know my children go to Codrington Grammar School just like theirs!”

Mavis snorted inwardly. Work? Dis woman ain’ work a day since she marry Mr. Deane.

“That’s why I agree with what Clement Payne and Grantley Adams are saying. It’s time the workers in this country get the respect they deserve! No more working for a pittance and under poor conditions! I was telling Howard just this morning….”

Mavis tuned her employer out, nodding and smiling at intervals to appear interested. Who she tink she foolin’? She want de rich people get pull down so she could climb pon top dem, da’is all! the older woman thought.

“So ma’am, I could get a few more shillings when de week come, den?” Mavis asked when she detected a lull in the woman’s monologue.

Mrs. Deane frowned and her hand flew to the high collar of her silk dressing gown. “I would have to ask Mr. Deane about that. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know. Anyway, it’s time I got down to breakfast. Don’t forget to clean the lampshades this time. They’ll be no shortcuts as long as I’m the lady of this house!”

With that she whirled and sashayed out of the room, leaving Mavis to suck her teeth and shake her head.

Uh wonder if Sue wou’d mek a betta lady o’ de house? she contemplated for a second, before moving to strip the sheets off the four-poster bed.

Part 3 tomorrow!

Thanks, Barbados Free Press!

Contributor dreadlocs drew to my attention a few minutes ago that popular Barbadian blog Barbados Free Press has a great post about Cheese-on-Bread . She sent me a link to BFP and I was practically speechless.

To Barbados Free Press and Shona, I'm glad you enjoy the blog and thanks much. It's good to know I'm not ranting to myself in cyberspace.:)

Two Days in July

Seventy years ago on this date, the Barbadian working class took to the streets to protest the arrest and deportation of political activist Clement Payne. The events of July 26 and 27, 1937, changed the social landscape of Barbados forever, culminating in the improvement of the socio-economic lot of Barbadians and the formation of the labour movement. Today, the Right Excellent Clement Payne is a National Hero of Barbados.

To mark this significant milestone in Barbados' history, I'll post excerpts from a novella I wrote for NIFCA two years ago. Entitled Two Days in July, the story chronicles the events of the 1937 Riots through the eyes of the Carringtons, a Black Barbadian family. The events of those historic 48 hours leave a profound impression on the family.

Hope you enjoy and that it provides an opportunity for reflection. To non-Barbadian readers, you'll be getting a crash course in Bajan dialect. Hope you can manage okay.

Two Days in July

Photo: 'Free Man's House' by Rod Carter

July 26, 1937-- Morning

“Dolphus, Dolphus, I ready. Come!” Mavis Carrington shouted through the kitchen window to her husband.

No response, only the occasional grunt of the sow pig from its pen in the yard and the wind whistling through the mango tree beside the tiny chattel house.

“Dolphus Carrington, yuh doan’ want nuh tea dis mornin’? Yuh gine lose de lil pick if yuh doan’ hurry up!”

The hinges of the latrine’s door creaked loudly and Dolphus emerged, tucking his white, starch-collared shirt back into his pants and buttoning his fly.

Mavis sucked her teeth. “I was callin’ yuh evuh since. I t’ought yuh did fall in.”

Dolphus lathered his hands with a piece of blue soap and poured water over them from a bucket in the yard.

“Ah, girl, tekkin’ time ain’ laziness. Anyhow, Mas’ Richard gine work late today. I got tuh guh fuh he ‘round 9 o’clock.”

He sat in the doorway of the kitchen and started on the meal of fish cakes, bakes and cocoa tea. Brown Boy, a bony stray mongrel that had taken up residence under the Carringtons’ cellar, crawled from among the rocks packed under the house and planted himself at Dolphus’ feet. Mavis tossed the dog a piece of fish cake and placed the remainder of the delicacies in a covered bowl in the larder.

“Caw’blema! We like we got one more mout’ tuh feed,” Dolphus grumbled, cutting his eye at the dog. Brown Boy panted and eyed Dolphus’ plate eagerly. The man broke off a small piece of his bake and threw it to the animal.

Dolphus paused as he was about to pop another fish cake into his mouth. “Which part dem children is? I t’ought Winston was tuh go an’ see a man ‘bout a job in town at nine o’clock? He ain’ expect me tuh carry he in Mas’ Richard Bentley, nuh?”

Mavis rolled her eyes and blew into her enamel cup to cool the tea.

“So wait, a Carrington can’ get drive in a Bentley? We only good enough tuh chauffeur white people now?”

Dolphus sucked his teeth. “You sound just like dat hard ears son o’ yours. Next minute you gine start preachin’ ‘bout dis Clement Payne fella too. An’ where Yvette?”

“She still lyin’ down. She ain’ feeling too good. I beg Sandra tuh go in at Fogarty’s and tell de supervisor she not coming today.”

“Hmmph. She sick very often dese days. I hope she ain’ gone an’ get sheself in nuh trouble, ‘cause she would got tuh look for somewhere else tuh live!”

Mavis averted her eyes and took his empty plate. “Hush, man. Is only monthly problems, nuttin’ else.”

Just then, their 19-year-old son Winston shuffled into the kitchen.

“Mornin’,” he grunted, heading to the larder for his breakfast. He them sat on a small wooden bench in the yard and didn’t utter another word until half of his cup’s warm, chocolate contents, five fish cakes and two bakes were consumed.

“Dat’s some good bittle, Ma. Nuhbody can’ cook like you.” He burped noisily and Mavis playfully swatted him with a dishtowel.

“Hmmph. Dat’s why yuh won’ lef’ home, ain’ it? You doan’ know when I was you age I was married and lookin’ tuh head tuh Panama? You should be tinkin’ ‘bout settling down, boy, not runnin’ ‘bout all over town mindin’ poppits.”

Winston put his empty plate aside and turned to face his father. “I can’ understan’ why you doan’ see wuh I tryin’ to tell you, Papa. You work hard all ‘bout Bennetts Plantation and still struggle. Yuh had tuh end up gine tuh work on the canal so yuh cou’d get a lil piece o’ de rock. Youself know how hard um is fuh poor people in dis country, yet you doan’ understand wuh men like Payne and Garvey sayin’. And it ain’ only we, yuh know. Elma Francois in Trinidad an’ Bustamante in Jamaica speakin’ out ‘bout de hell de workin’ class gine through too.”

Dolphus shook his head fervently. ‘Dat’s de problem right dey! All dese people doin’ is talk. Buhbados need people tuh work hard an’ buil’ it up, not tuh bottle dew on nuh street corner talkin’.”

Winston sighed resignedly and rose from the bench. “Well, I guess you did workin’ ‘round certain people too long tuh understan’. De White man doan’ give yuh a crumb. Yuh got tuh snatch it out he mout’. Payne did talkin’ ‘bout agitatin’ widdout violence and dem still arrest he. Peace like it ain’ gine work in dis case. Looka, I gine down by de standpipe and catch some wata tuh bade.”

He pushed open a gate in the galvanise paling surrounding the yard, with Brown Boy trailing behind.

Dolphus shook his head. “Dat boy too own-way. Dem high falutin’ people gine be he downfall, mark muh words.” He got up, grabbed his black double-breasted jacket and trilby off a hook on the partition and pecked his wife on the cheek.

“I ain’ dey. Tell Yvette tuh feel better. I gine an’ collect dis man. As fuh Winston, tell he if he doan’ get through today, go an’ ask Clement Payne fuh a job.”

Mavis rolled her eyes and chuckled despite herself. She watched through the jalousies in the front house as her husband climbed into the gleaming white Bentley parked next to the chattel house. Like clockwork, a group of small boys who were playing in the dusty road gathered around the vehicle and ran behind it as it pulled off.

She waited until the taillights disappeared on to Bush Hall Yard Gap before going into the front bedroom. Yvette lay curled into a ball, her face turned towards the partition.

“Come chile, eat a lil someting an’ see if it woul’ stay down.” She gently touched her daughter’s shoulder and helped her to sit up.

Yvette rubbed the back of her hand across her red, tearful eyes and nibbled on a piece of fried bake.

“I glad yuh mek ginger tea, ‘cause I can’ even tek de smell o’ de chocolate,” she murmured, sipping some of the hot beverage.

“Well, you wou’d expect dat at dis stage. In a few months, you ain’ gine feel suh sick.”

“Dat’s if I keep it. I hear wuh Papa say. I can’ raise nuh child pon de streets.”

Mavis shushed her daughter. “Leave Papa tuh me. Nuhbody ain’ gine pon nuh street. Hard or soft, dis chile is a Carrington, an’ family is family.”

For the first time a small smile broke across Yvette’s dark face. “I bet nuh Carringtons gine ever be suh fair skinned, nuh?”

She became serious and slumped backwards on the bed. “I shoulda neva believe a boy like Thomas could like a girl like me. In Buhbados? Dis is 1937 but we still ain’ move too far off de plantation.”

Mavis embraced her daughter and comforted her as she sobbed. Father, help we through dis time, ‘cause only you know best, she thought.

Fifteen minutes later, she reluctantly left a dozing Yvette and departed for work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mid-week mix: links + Rihanna's Vixen shoot

Mid-week links

Farewell, Mr. Manning
The Barbados Fre Press ain't finding no shelter in Government's "oasis"
Ansa McAl's all about "performance"
Roll still going strong
Portia still running tings
All still not back to normal in Montserrat

And what's a mid-week mix without Rihanna, right? She recently did a photoshoot for an upcoming edition of Vixen magazine. As I said before, if her music game deserts her, she can always go into modelling...

Photos: ybf.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ain't globalisation grand

Chinese construction workers on the site of Grenada's National Stadium

It seems that you can't open a paper or turn on the news without some individual or agency complaining about unfair competition, level playing fields or globalisation. It's an unfortunate reality that a lot of companies in the region are only now waking up to.

Take the situation with Chinese labour. You would swear that Chinese labourers have turned up in Barbados overnight by the amount of complaints from local contractors and labourers. Our Asian brothers have been working here for probably over 10 years. They worked on the Wildey Gymnasium, the Ministry of Education, the London Bourne Towers, the Cheapside Market, I believe the Old Town Hall...the list goes on.

I may be wrong, but I think the reason for all the complaints these days is the fact that the Chinese are now moving into private enterprise, and the local big guns in construction aren't too happy about it. The Chinese are working on the Four Seasons Hotel, they built British American Insurance on Coleridge Street and I know they're working on a few private residences.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not in favour of any unfair practices that will place local or regional labourers at a disadvantage. I'm just saying that our guys need to check themselves and find out how they can turn this tide back in their favour.

Then there's the BS&T saga, the LIAT/Caribbean Star merger and now the local Egg and Poultry Producers vs. the producers of processed (powdered) eggs. These examples all have one theme: competition. In some cases, consumers will benefit, in others, not so much. Although I'm sure locals will love to remain loyal to the local merchants, contractors etc., at the end of the day their loyalty will fall to the person/company that leaves the smallest dent in their pockets. Can you blame them?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rihanna still a chart topper in the UK

Hi, peoples. Sorry for my absence last week but I had to attend a workshop on Thursday and Friday. I had hoped to blog on the weekend but no such luck.

Anyhoo, since I was away I see our Ms. Rihanna has shattered records in the UK with the longest running #1 single for the past decade. Umbrella is currently celebrating its 10th week at the top spot. Having equalled Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, Rihanna seems on course to catch up with some other historic #1 runs.

Jay-Z's midas touch rules again. Good going, Rihanna.

Photo: Rihanna arrives at a Welcome to LA Party for David and Victoria Beckham last weekend. Courtesy of www.dlisted.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rihanna's Paper photo shoot

My my, Ms. Fenty. Rihanna tries out a variety of looks for the August edition of Paper magazine, from 80's punk to femme fatale. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Photos: http://ybf.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sad passings

I was saddened to learn today of the passing of former Deputy Chief of the Barbados Government Information Service, John Manning and Caricom Secretariat official Yvonne Holder.

Mr. Manning was quite a jovial person, who seemed more comfortable working behind the scenes than in the spotlight. After his retirement more than five years ago, he took up writing and penned two novels.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Holder at a conference in Jamaica two years ago and her warm, helpful nature endeared her to many conference participants. Condolences to both their families and may they rest in peace.
Click here to read the press statement from the Caricom Secretariat on Ms. Holder's passing.

Photo of Yvonne Holder: www.caricom.org

Antigua gets first female GG

Antigua and Barbuda's first female Governor General was sworn in today. Louisse Lake-Tack was appointed by Queen Elizabeth following the retirement of Sir James Beethoven Carlisle. He served as Governor General for 13 years and was the first Antiguan to hold the post.

According to www.caribbean360.com, "Louise Agnetha Lake-Tack was born on July 26, 1944 at Long Lane Estate in the Parish of St Phillip's in Antigua.

She was educated at the Freetown Government School before attending the Antigua Girls High School in St John's.

After graduation she migrated to the United Kingdom to study nursing at the Charring Cross Hospital. Following her studies, she was employed at the National Heart Hospital and the Harley Street Clinic.

Later she studied law and served as a magistrate from 1995 at both Marylebone and Horseferry Magistrate Courts. She also sat at Pocock Street Crown Court and Middlesex Crown Court to hear appeals from the lower courts.

Lake-Tack is a member of the Antigua and Barbuda National Association (London) for the last 24 years. She sat on the church committee of that group which was instrumental in arranging the annual Antigua and Barbuda Independence Church Service in London."

Welcome to a very small and unique club, Ms Lake-Tack. I think there were only two other female Governors-General in the region: the late Dame Nita Barrow of Barbados and Dame Pearlette Louisy of St. Lucia.

Photo of Louisse Lake-Tack and story adapted from www.caribbean360.com

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rihanna at ThisDay Music Festival

Rihanna, John Legend, Shakira, UB40 and Kelly Rowland (who collapsed during her performance) were among the music stars who performed yesterday at the ThisDay Music Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.

I'm not sure if black and white was the dress code but both Rihanna and John Legend rocked the colours in their performances with varying levels of success...

I see deranged pixie chic is back in....

Photos: http://ybf.blogspot.com

Owen Arthur's pre-emptive strike

I guess silly season's officially on now. At a branch meeting in St. George yesterday, PM Owen Arthur appealed to voters not to reject his Barbados Labour Party "just for the sake of change".

Predicting that the Opposition Democratic Labour Party would be pushing the "time to change" ticket in their upcoming election campaign, Arthur stated that "this is not the time to gamble with the future of this country". He warned voters not to put "a bunch of adventurers, a bunch of wild boys" in control of the government.

Well. You've got to hand it to the PM. He ambushed the DLP just like George Dubya Bush-whacked Saddam. Just because you can't see the weapons of mass destruction doesn't mean they aren't there, right PM?

The coming months should be very interesting....

Photo of PM Arthur: http://barbadosfreepress.files.wordpress.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday fun: Fave TV Couples

Hi peoples. I thought I'd end the week on a romantic note to follow on from the short story which ended yesterday. Not to mention most of the recent countdowns have focused on action heroes and heroines. No more violence! It's all about love today.

Whether we like to admit it or not, there's a romantic in all of us and a hint of romance between characters on tv shows can spark the interest of viewers. Some characters start out bickering, only to end up in each others' arms seasons later; others begin with a mutual attraction and have us hanging on wondering when they'll hook up. And the chemistry, oh boy the chemistry!

Anyhoo, enough from me. Here's a countdown of my fave television couples.

10) Derek and Meredith - Grey's Anatomy
What started out as a one-night stand between strangers (the worse way to begin a relationship, by the way) moved into an awkward boss-employee relationship, then into a full-fledged romance. Throw in the wife Derek forgot to mention and you'll see why Grey's Anatomy is so popular as a drama.

9) House and Cuddy. House MD
Althought it's a tad premature to call these two a couple, if there's anything (or anyone) that House loves more than his Vicodin painkillers, it's Dr. Lisa Cuddy. The comedic bickering between the grumpy, sarcastic Dr. Gregory House and his frustrated hospital director is one of the high points of the show.

8) Mike and Susan. Desperate Housewives
Mike Delfino is one brave guy. Falling for the klutzy Susan Meyer could have been dangerous for his health, but he hung in there and they got their happy ending. Lord knows what these two will get up to next season...

7) Sawyer and Kate. Lost
Plane crash survivors Sawyer and Kate have a lot in common. They both have assumed names, had tough childhoods and dabbled in crime. And they hate each others' guts...or so they claim. There's obvious chemistry there, it's bound to explode at some point.

6) Sam and Diane. Cheers
The philandering Sam Malone and preppy socialite Diane Chambers were as different as they come, but opposites attracted in a big way with these two. Although Diane left the show and was replaced by Rebecca Howe in Sam's heart, the witty banter between the original Cheers couple is vintage television comedy.

5) David and Maddie. Moonlighting
Private eyes David Addison and Maddie Hayes were skillful at catching the bad guys, but not so much at realising when Cupid had shot them with his arrow. These two fought their growing attraction for a long time, maybe for a good reason because the show was never the same after they hooked up.

4) Cliff and Claire. The Cosby Show
The head of the most wholesome family on television, Cliff and Claire Huxtable were not only models of parenthood, but also served as role models of what a loving couple should be. Sniff sniff, I miss them.

3) Michael and Sydney. Alias
Fans of Alias watched the show for several reasons: to see what super-spy Sydney Bristow was going to wear next (especially on her head); how many bad guys she would karate chop and to watch the sparks fly between her and her CIA contact Michael Vaughan. It was only a matter of time before the chemistry between these two spilled off the screen into real life. Unfortunately, that real-life drama eventually ruined the show. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

2) Jack and Audrey. 24
Even an action hero like Jack Bauer needs a little romance, and he has that in spades with his leading lady Audrey Raines. Jack is a good man doing a bad job, but at least he knows that Audrey has his back. However, everyone close to Jack ends up kidnapped, tortured or killed, so the future doesn't look too bright for Ms. Raines...

1) Michael and Sara. Prison Break
These two can teach Chemistry 101 at any university. In fact, the couple has been branded Misa and has probably generated more fanfiction and youtube videos than any other tv couple. Michael Scofield and Dr. Sara Tancredi share the ultimate 'forbidden fruit' of a relationship; she's a prison doctor and he's an inmate. A very good-looking, educated, engineering genius of an inmate. How can she resist?

The romance to watch

Henry and Betty. Ugly Betty
Although they're not the typical 'pretty' couple, the semi-dorky accountant Henry Grubstick and the kind-hearted but fashion-challenged Betty Suarez share such a sweet attraction that you can't help watching. Hopefully these two kind souls will have their hearts' desire.

Have a good weekend!