30.12.16 – White moon rising

•1 January, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Walking to the beach today I passed a security guard for Maxwell Apartments. Normally we just nod or say hello, but today he engaged me.

“My job is observation” he started “And I thing that you need to live here.”

“I do live here.” I replied sharply “I live up the hill.”

“Well well, how long have you been coming to this beach?”

“Four months now, I live up the hill and pass here every day.” So much for his observation I was thinking, if he does not even recognise that he sees me most days at the same time.

“Well” he responds “Your face looks much more relaxed from when you first started coming here.”

I smiled and continued through the grassy gap between the two buildings to get to the white sandy beach.

My face looks more relaxed, more like I have come to the resolution that I can not get anything done at a pace I would prefer and therefore what he sees on my face is submission.

There are more white people in non white areas.

I live a stones throw away from Silver Hill, a notorious government housing estate which has the reputation of Brixton in the 80’s and 90’s.

Recently I have seen a lot more tourists driving past my house, heading up the hill. What could be up there that is drawing these people off the tourist trail, away from the beaches and into our domain?

I also noticed that there are a lot more houses in my area occupied by Caucasians that clearly live here, rather than being on holiday. It is understandable that some people come here for a holiday, like it and start buying property in affordable areas of Barbados, and like in England with Blacks and Asians, they buy property in areas where they can have neighbours like themselves. However to come this far up the hill is unusual.

As I am writing this piece, a family of seven white people in sports clothing walked in single file past my house heading up the hill like the Von Trapp family. The sight brought people to their balconies, including me, all wondering where they are going and what brings them to Silver Hill?

Massey is a supermarket chain and Carters is a hardware store, both are staffed this year with extra holiday help, but unlike previous years, Carters is staffed with young white men of university age, pushing boxes around the store, while Massey has turned to middle aged white women with English accents, stacking shelves and moving goods around the store over the xmas period.

I am in no way, making a judgement, merely an observation that the integration of Black and White Barbados has now come as far as Silver Hill.


29.12.16 – Quiet times

•30 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It has been relatively quiet all around the xmas period. Everything went on an official and unofficial go slow from the end of the independence day celebrations and the start of xmas. (see previous articles)

Things were so quiet over xmas, that the tourism authority and supporting news agencies are complaining that for the four days over xmas, boxing day and the two bank holidays, there were no shops open to entertain the one day tourists getting off cruise ships. Apparently we must give up our time with family and friends, give up what ever religious beliefs we have, give up our holiday traditions, to entertain white people from cruise ships.

The tourists that are enjoying our beaches found themselves inundated with black faces for the three days after xmas. Some looked visibly unsure of what to do, whether to get into the water and be surrounded by loud black bodies, or find another part of the beach that does not lend itself to swimming, and hope that the locals dissipate when businesses go back to work.

The turtles have been showing themselves at Maxwell beach. More often than not recently, one has swum very close to me as I go for my morning swim. If my arms were twice as long, I would have been able to reach out and touch it.

Mind you, I am surprised that it is not been scared of by the brazen amount of sexual activity performed by tourists in the water at Maxwell beach. I know that they think that they are being subtle or inconspicuous, but there are certain universal rhythmic and repetitive actions that that simply can not be disguised.

I was given another example of the Barbados work ethic yesterday when my cousin was told that to replace and align four break pads would take two days. Not two hours as anyone in England, Europe, Australia, or America would expect, no two days. I remember driving with an ex-girlfriend from Belgium to France on a French bank holiday, accidentally putting petrol into a diesel engine, and breaking down in the motorway miles from a small French town in the middle of nowhere. A roadside lorry picked up us and the car, drove it to this ‘one garage town’ and left us with the owner of the garage, a mechanic that was either unimpressed with my limited French, our my fluent white partner. This mechanic, drained and stripped a diesel engine, rebuilt it, and sent us on our way considerably lighter in the wallet, in less than two hours. Yet here, an authorised Toyota dealership, takes two days with replacing simple break pads.

It is time for me to take a more aggressive stance with my business here in Barbados, as my time here grows short.

Let us see how they like me now.

13.11.16 – Response to: IMF bound

•14 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment


The country is in decline, and the sooner we take our heads out the sand and see the country the way others see it, the sooner we can fix the issues that are holding back the development of this great nation.

We only need to read more widely to discover how we are perceived internationally, and fuelled with that knowledge we, as a country, should not only claw back to our late 60s early 70s position, but drag ourselves into 21st century standards.

Bureaucracy, corruption, poor customer service and a general lack of pride in quality of what we do, are the main factors that we can actively influence and change as citizens.

We should not wait for politicians to do the right thing, we should demand that the represent us as we have instructed.

Inviting the IMF into Barbados when we are near rock bottom will not be good for us as a nation, but maybe it will shake us awake.

Maybe it will shake out some of the practices that are not only holding our country back, but are sending the nation into decline.

We need to compare ourselves to other countries, and implement better practices to meet international standards.

Only this will make our country more competitive, and thus more lucrative.

11.12.16 – University has made you stupid

•13 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“University has made you stupid! It has stripped away your Christian values and opened you up to the Devil” said a cousin as we discussed the state of Barbados and the essential changes required to bring it into the 21 century.

He continued, “Your parents were good Christians, I can not believe some of the things that come out of your mouth.”

And then as what he considered to be the final ‘nail-in-the-coffin proof of my intellectual and spiritual demise he said; “I bet that you believe in evolution”.

His views were not isolated here in Barbados, and I do not blame him for the way that he thinks.

He is a product of this environment and prodigy of church doctrine taught as a substitute for activist action and passive acceptance of your circumstances.

We continued our back and forth as we spared over politics and my view of how the people should effect change, compared to his view of God will provide.

“The problems with the country would all be resolved if we all sat down and prayed.” He said, presenting this statement as a ‘deus ex’ solution to all of the problems facing Barbados.

“So you are telling me that we do not need to do anything about the corrupt politicians, and poor service, we so not need to protest and make our voices heard in order to bring about change, all we need to do as a nation is get on our knees and pray for help” I responded.

“Yes”. He replied “It says in the bible that when that nation bows to pray, that God will restore the land”.

For me, this conversation is another example of how religion was used to pacify the masses during slavery and how this doctrine has been passed down through the years by slave masters, politicians, and preachers alike.

Do not look for peace in your lifetime, carry the burdens of misfortune, corruption and unfairness with a hymn in your heart, as you will be saved not through your own direct action, but through divine intervention.

This may have worked when we were shackled to irons and out gunned by a smaller opposing white force, but then there was emancipation. Then there was free will, then there was the vote, and then there was the responsibility of taking our destiny into our own hands.

09.12.16 – See you next Thursday

•12 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I put my money where my mouth was yesterday, cleaned myself up and went down to the Hilton to sit a bar and scout for information.

I am looking to build up a social life that is not based around family or a church.

I have looked for clubs and societies but have come up short. I have even created a branch of the Black Caucus called The Black Caucus Barbados and advertised on MeetUp.com and other social forums, but to no avail.

So last night I was propping up the Hilton bar, nursing a glass of rum, reading a book and listening out for the combination of a familiar accent, and thoughtful conversation.

The evening was pleasant enough, but I failed in my objective to find my social circle. I got talking to the barman who told me that most clubs and organisations had there own bars and tended not to meet in hotels. He also suggested that returning nationals and locals alike frequented St Lawrence’s Gap, but I am local, and know that not to a quite wine bar type environment to discuss the politics of the day with forward thinking individuals.

I left the bar at about 21.00 and decided to take a drive around Bridgetown to see whether I could spot the social interaction I seek.

I saw people heading to and from Xmas parties, but I could not find anywhere with the lights on and the right clientele inside. Even the boatyard seemed to not be as busy as the music and lights would indicate.

I drove back home knowing that I will have to continue this method in order to find my people. Thursdays appears to be a reasonable night, close enough to the weekend that people do not feel it is imposing on weekend duties or revelling with partner, and close friends.

See you next Thursday my illusive social life.

08.12.16 – Life without work

•10 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As I sit here on my farm in Barbados looking out over the semi suburban landscape, I have been asking myself about retirement.

I have been asking myself when I will get to enjoy the life that I am preparing for now and intend to live later.

When would I be in a position to enjoy and fully appreciate the fruits of my labour and those that have laboured to support me?

Must I wait until I am older and greyer before I can sit on this farm once more? Wait until I only have ten years of life left and then not be able to fully appreciate my surroundings due to ill health and failing limbs?

It is strange that most of the houses built in Barbados by returning nationals have the main living area upstairs on the first floor, at the top of a steep and sharp turning staircase. This is not a problem for your average forty year old as they are building the property to take advantage of a view from an upstairs balcony, but the reality is that they will be in their seventies when they finally make the move, and their dream upstairs living area is too much for their failing knees and asbestos or smoke filled lungs.

They then end up living their retirement in the garage that they have now needed to convert into a granny flat, and the spend their days peering out from behind the rout iron bars originally designed to display the new vehicle that they shipped to Barbados in order to enjoy their retirement. This corrugated iron and breeze block accommodation is a far cry from the lifestyle they expected.

At what point do you take the plunge and say, I am prepared to sacrifice the last ten years of working life, in order to fully appreciate life without work.

We work in order to gain financial security in our older years without fully measuring whether we have that security now.

We fear the adjustments required to our known life in order to live a different life now.

I am not saying that work does not provide its own fulfilment, a sense of self-worth, a way of contributing to society, a way of living the lifestyle that we want, or a way of aspiring to the lifestyle we desire. But ask yourself this; What is the number?

What is the number of dollars, pounds that you must have in the bank to feel ready for retirement?

What is the number of years that you wish to enjoy your wealth, and how healthy would you be at that the beginning of that number?

As Barbados begins to shut down for Xmas, and people stop returning my business emails and calls until January, I am finding that I am spending an increased amount of time as I would if I where retired here, and I suck at it.

I have not built any social capital here in Barbados and therefore I live in perpetual solitude. So that becomes the next project over the next few weeks, find my social circle.

Some people define retirement by when their children are no longer dependent on them for financial support. Some have retirement thrust upon them by their employees once their age reaches an arbitrary number.

How will we manage our feeling as the way we have defined ourselves for the last 45 to 50 years of work is stripped away, and we are forced to redefine ourselves by who we are and not what we do?

However if we take there factors away, how would you define when you are ready to live your life, not defined by how you work?

In Barbados I am surrounded by people who have less, but live more.

When will I decide that I am ready to explore life without work?

07.12.16 – Religious tolerance

•7 December, 2016 • Leave a Comment

There is a guy that I meet at the beach from time to time. We do not talk, we just say “good morning”, and “good water”. However this morning I asked how he was and he said “God is good.”

I found myself reacting to him in a manner that I have found myself reacting to everyone I encounter in Barbados that uses religion to punctuate their sentences, and began to dismiss him. However this morning, I stopped myself.

This morning I realised that I do not think less of people for having a religion, nor do I object to people using their religion to bolster their lives. I think what I smart against is people who try to impose their religion upon me, people who do not accept my lack of religion with the same respect as I accept their religion. Notice how I am not talking about faith, but organised religion.

Religion is a key, active, and vibrant part in the lives of a lot of people in Barbados. It is one of the few places where naming your children Isaiah and Ishmael will provide them with a significant advantage when they grow older and start to climb to corporate banking ladder.

Peppering you sentences with religious quotes and phrases is considered a supplement and in some cases a substitute for understanding of a topic of conversation, or a way of accepting the status quo.

I quoted in a previous article that “The worst thing to happen to the black community is religion”. This means that it pacifies the community into being content with its lot, that the only thing black people can do is wait for divine intervention, rather than taking control of their own destiny and seizing life by the horns.

I see this religious control a lot in Barbados and I am frustrated by the apathy that religion breads here, and disappointed by the potential greatness lost through a Deus Ex concept.

I wonder whether this is a throw-back to slavery, where everyday control was taken out of the hands of the slaves, so all they could do was look to a higher power to emancipate them, while white slave owners use religion to pacify slaves. Ironically, it was taking matters into their own hands through a slave uprising that saved them, much like the solution to the problems in Barbados today.

However none of this should erode my own tolerance for others and their beliefs.

If someone uses a religious code in their sentence that would normally demonstrate their decency or place in society, I should respect that, even if I do not recognise it.