Tag Archives: immigration

Awesome or what? An arty week in Martinique

In the name of attempting to describe some of the bonuses to living in Martinique, I will simply describe the past week and let you decide if this place is awesome, or what.

 This morning, peckish but not starving, I considered my breakfast options. Once I’d decided, I jumped out of bed, wandered into my garden and with the help of an ‘tool’ carefully manoeuvred so that the guava I’d had my eye on all week, would fall towards me rather than into the bushes directly below the tree, or worse, onto the neighbours’ patio. Score! Manoeuvre completed, I then scrutinised the mango tree opposite, decided there was nothing ripe and instead went for the mango tree at the front of the house.

Yup.

 

Gotcha.

The mango hit the ground with a thud.

Breakfast was ready.

  Continue reading

Caribbean woman from London? Or Londoner from the Caribbean? How the identity/location shuffle made my head spin

The Early Years

I am a South London girl born and raised and proud of it. Forest Hill, Brockley, Crofton Park, Catford and Lewisham made me the woman I am today.   I had a relatively happy childhood there, and made lifelong friends in those schools and on those streets.  Growing up as young black girl there, it was fairly normal to be asked ‘where you’re from’ as my thick South London accent and use of Multicultural London English quickly gave me away as a local. I therefore grew up describing myself as ‘from Barbados and St Lucia’ and had loads of friends who were Chinese, Ghanaian, Turkish, Jamaican, Trinidadian, also Bajan or St Lucian, Dominican, Montserratians, Greek Cypriot, Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, from the Indian diaspora (you know, East African, South African, Trinidadian/Guyanese Indians rather than Indian Indians) when you asked, but sounded as English as I did, and were also born in the local hospital.

We were all Londoners, but we were from somewhere else too and the only time there was any tension was during the cricket (well there wasn’t any really, no one except our parents really followed cricket, although all the black kids learned to chant 375 and 501 at appropriate and inappropriate occasions).  And again, no one considered it disloyal to back whichever black team made it to the World Cup, be it the Reggae Boyz, Soca Warriors or more recently, the Black Stars. And Brazil cos they had Pele from back in the day.   It was expected.  Football was where the last vestiges of Pan-Africanism could be found when I was growing up.  This was before the 2002 World Cup, when black players en masse got picked for the English national squad; before that it was Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Sol Campbell only*.  We repped them, but not the team.  But I digress, I was from Barbados and St Lucia growing up, until A-Level Sociology.  There, a friend and I decided to embrace our full identities as Non-Practising Afro-Caribbeans and Black Marxist Feminists. I kid you not.  It was a bit of a mouthful, but we finally had a title which reflected our Caribbean roots, and London-based lives.  And then I moved to Thailand. Continue reading

Cold weather or Cold people? When Granny Moved to England II

English: Little Malvern snowman Near the begin...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the name of truly interspersing our tales of traversing the Atlantic in the opposite direction as British Caribbean black women in 1958 and 2012 respectively, I thought I’d share some of my adventures before revisiting her experiences.  But I think it’s about time for Granny P (aka my maternal grandmother) part 2.  If you missed part one, head to it here.

So how did she even end up in England is one of my favourite questions. When she emigrated from Barbados to start afresh on the other side of the Atlantic she was the first person in the family to emigrate by choice for a while as far as we know.  Both her mother and grandmother (my great- and great-great grandmothers respectively) had been born and died in the same parish that we believe the family had lived in since we arrived in bondage from Africa.

Granny’s mum (my great-granny, known simply as ‘Mama’) had a corner shop and her mum, Elvira Clarke, had been a cane cutter (back when job descriptions were self-explanatory).  Granny told me once that all she remembers of her own grandmother was a red headscarf she always wore, and the cutlass slung over her shoulder as she walked to and from the cane field daily.  One of those times I harrassed her for info which she didn’t mind sharing, taking her back to her memories of her own childhood. Continue reading

One Day In St Lucia

Toes in the sand and nose to nose with the horizon line, today I tried to contemplate how I ended up here.  When did I become Neo?  I saw The Matrix; I was not enthralled with the nebuchadnezzar.  I could have chosen the blue pill.  Heavy-heartedly maybe, but I would have done it.  That porridge three times a day would have driven me mad and I would have been no use to the revolution.  So which part of my journey through life determined that I would step off the treadmill, out of the rat race, move a gazillion miles away from my beloved London and set up home in the French Caribbean?  Clueless, I retraced my steps. Continue reading

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

aka the beach

‘Missing out’

and ‘getting left behind’ are supposed to be feelings inculcated in your loved ones by your departure to (hopefully sunnier) climes when you move abroad.  You’re off having the adventure of a lifetime and they’re stuck at home doing the same thing they were doing before you left, only with a new wound of your departure, and the salt of the tales of your adventures as you write home.  The traditional postcard note ‘wish you were here’ is supposed to denote that you’re having the time of your life and you wish they could be sharing it with you.  That’s what you tell yourself when you leave your loved ones behind anywho.

Alas that’s not really how it works.  And I just got my first major sting.

When you leave for an extended period of time and are consumed with all the adventures you’ll be having, you can forget that well, life will continue without you.  Continue reading