Monday, 28 December 2009

Oh Island in the Sun, Willed to me by my father’s hand ...

Good old Harry Belafonte. I think that was one of the first records I ever owned.

I was quite looking forward to our visit to Barbados, having heard so much about it from my father who used to visit frequently both for the Test Matches, and for Sharon the Bajan cocktail waitress he was knocking off in the hotel where he regularly stayed. When he was terminally ill, I had to phone her to see how serious was the relationship from her side, in case she wanted to see him, or come to the funeral. She sounded like Bob Marley on the phone.

It wasn’t serious and even though just before we had him sectioned under the Mental Health Act my father was changing his Will in her favour, I’ll never know for sure whether Sharon’s then seven-year old daughter Chantelle is actually my half-caste half-sister. She must be 21 now, funny if I’ve seen her walking about and not known it.

We took a touted tour from the dockside, but it was a desultory experience and at least a couple of the people on the bus were deeply strange, including a very very elderly, very infirm German Jewish gent with the dirtiest crocheted yarmulke I’ve ever seen pinned to his greasy pate with rusting clips. He clamped David into a window seat and was stubbornly reluctant to move when we got to photo stops so after the first we squeezed ourself three to a seat to avoid moving him. He exhibited almost no signs of life until the allotted two hours of the tour was over when he began to punch and kick at the side of the bus to attract the driver’s attention that he wanted to get back to his ship, cleverly titled ‘Mein Schiff’. It’s a low-budget German cut-and-shut made from a converted car ferry with bolted-on balconies and which seems to be following us around from port to port sniffing our sternpipe like a lost Schnauzer.

Also in the back seats were a couple from Massachusetts who seemed educationally sub normal despite being about to celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary. He read aloud every sign we passed, however banal, including ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ which seemed to crop up half a dozen times. Perhaps she was illiterate. He also had completely evenly brown teeth which is something you don’t see often, certainly not in States where they put fluoride in the water.

What we saw of Barbados, at least as guided by our driver, was a series of houses built for low-income workers, a glimpse of the deserted Sandy Lane Hotel and Country Club where a pugnacious waitress tried to throw us out, a couple of distant views of coastline, and a ride through the scary downtown centre of Bridgetown where I would certainly not want to stroll after nightfall. Although we’d been offered the option of visiting the beach, we all came back to the ship for lunch and a bit of less traumatic sunbathing.

St. Lucia tomorrow. Must get up and just go to beach, bugger the tours of the island.

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