Category Archives: London

Starting as I mean to go on: Telling my grandmother’s (50 year old) story

Suburbs of Bridgetown with Harbour in the back...

Suburbs of Bridgetown with Harbour in the background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My sister doesn’t get my blog.  She reckons there’s a big difference between ‘my new life in the sun’ as she calls it and our granny’s graduation to the cold 55 years ago.  I beg to differ.  In the spirit of the new year, I thought I’d better get onto explaining the similarities, so this post is all about my granny’s experiences of moving when black.

After having conducted an impromptu interview with my grandmother about her experiences of moving to England in the late 1950s I confess to being wracked with doubt about the wisdom of it. I thought interspersing my thoughts and feelings with hers would be a bit more interesting than just another here’s-me-doing-cool-stuff type travel blog (though you can see a bit of that here).  And I kinda wanted it to be an homage to those who’ve done much tougher stuff before me as I take comfort in knowing that if my granny could move continents 55 years earlier without a laptop, smartphone, emails and skype, then I can definitely emigrate with so many 21st century communication modcons to keep me in touch with my loved ones.

Now, however, I’m not so sure about that idea. I’ve badgered my grandmother for years about ‘telling her story’. She has never shown the slightest bit of interest in sharing it, but every time I see her (which is not that often because I’m usually located in London and she’s lived in Barbados since I was 5), I find a way to bring it up. Continue reading

Re-Considering Christmas

As I’m far from home and much-loved traditions, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Christmas 2012. Although I refused to accept the fallacy that Christmas couldn’t possibly be Christmas without snow (have you seen a map of the world recently?), it still took me a while to get into the spirit of it. A night of enthusiastic chanté nweling which included copious amounts of Christmas ham, followed by a Saturday morning wake-up to a pile of presents and cards all with my name on (thanx peeps!!) got me thinking…

The Pros

1) Family. I’m from a stereotypically Caribbean family as a Trini friend enlightened me once. I thought she meant in reference to raucously loud get togethers of very loving, proud black people convening for any occasion; Christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings, or funerals. But according to her, it was having more than 20 first cousins. ‘Have them?’ I can name and tell stories about growing up with them!! Continue reading

Travel = a need not a want

I can’t honestly explain what makes me want to travel.  Where my itchy feet come from I don’t know.  I like to think I am part of a great epic of black women moving by force, by choice, but moving nevertheless.  I sometimes think it is the Brit in me.  Raised as I was at the latter end of the times when it was still okay to idolise the great explorers of the nineteenth century.  To think of them as great rather than the imperialist baddies they were.

While the conscious black person in me always knew how morally repugnant it was, the Brit in me imagined myself with that beige hat on head, and cutlass in hand, big grin on my face as I carve out a new route through some hitherto ‘undiscovered’ place obscured by trees.  It’s such a familiar recurring image that I smile as I write it.

I’m smiling because I’ve been able to write what I’ve never been able to articulate.  The need to see new things, the craving to understand the world.  It’s the black person in me, paradoxically, who knows that if I really want to know, I have to ask the people.

Continue reading

Dating in Paradise

When you grow up in a temperate (read: COLD) climate, a first date which includes watching a multicoloured sunset under palm trees, dinner (albeit top brass takeaway pizza) on a secluded white sand beach and a midnight swim is the stuff of your most unabashedly romantic fantasies and the holiday romances of your wildest dreams.  They’re not actually real.  And it’s unrealistic expectations like these that are the reason for the divorce stats they say.  But when you are located in the tropics where palm trees abound, sunsets are breathtaking and you want to impress somebody, what else says ‘What you saaaaaaaaaaaying?’ or ‘Wha gwan rude girl’ with quite the same je ne sais quoi?  And when pennies are not dropping out of those scene-setting palm trees, this is a cheap and cheerful night out. Continue reading