Tag Archives: Thailand

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

In Praise of Sunsets

Sunset Koh Chang, Thailand

Sunset Koh Chang, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re a romantic who grew up in a Euro-centric culture, you’ve probably heard the expression ‘into the sunset’ on more than one occasion.  To walk, run, ride or drive into the sunset denotes a closing, a happy ending, and hope for the future.  More than one film has closed on a sunset, and many more fairy stories.  But personally, I never really ‘got’ them.  Apart from that iconic moment in Grease 2 when he finally gets the girl and they ride off into the sunset of course…that was classic.  I changed somewhat, when at the end of a week spent slaving away at a national park’s snake exhibit in Phuket, Thailand back in the day, a kindly lady offered to take me to Sunset Point.  She thought it would be a travesty for me to leave Phuket without seeing it.  I was more tempted by the possibility of finally getting out of the park.

What I saw however, blew my mind.  There’s a reason why they call it Sunset Point.  It’s no doubt the place Jay-Z refers to in ‘Can I get a…’  A decade later I can still see in my mind’s eye the panoramic view of the horizon, the endless sky and the most colourful sunset I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Six Tips for Coping With Being Billy/ie-No-Mates (for now)

It ain’t easy being the new kid in town.  I’ve done it a few times now though, and have a few key things I always try to do when I’m at settling in level 2.  You know, arrived, unpacked, started work/uni, and starting to get integrated into the community…

1) Smile at absolutely everyone all the time.  But not like a crackhead.  Continue reading