Tradition of friendliness
When Kings party it doesn’t have to be lavish.
The training of Gran Gran — the late Aleatha Cumberbatch from Cambridge, St. Joseph, and Bayley by marriage — seems to be right every time, even unto today. She was not alone. It was a way of life that made dollars out of cents.
“Always leave home well dressed, ’cause you never know what will happen or who you will meet,” she would repeatedly say.
If it were the backyard, well dressed meant cover your feet and your head. She feared a “lining cold” and a “nail juck” as if they were poison, and would certainly catch a fit by current Bajan lifestyles — but that’s another matter.
For 16 days I was Bajan in BIM and I am glad she stood beside me.
Don’t burn your bridges.
At the airport, as I looked for my luggage a Red Cap worker — a faithful C&W cricket supporter of the 70’s — said:
“Edey I got you. Is it the same suitcase, you couldn’t find last time? I see yuh still writing foolishness.”
I could not call his name but I can still hear him shouting instructions from the pavilion at Wildey, or else where: “Dem donkey drops can’t fool me, but ‘e goin drown in dat sling”.
On Spring Garden, Seaman recalled the Crop-Over fairs and played me a song; Charlie Griffith posed for a picture — the last time was 1993. And later, I ran in to a former Miss Bajan Beauty Pageant winner model, Hortense Eversely, hiding her charm under a large hat. Hortense, is now married and currently living in Texas.
Ever so welcome wait for a call.
“We are doing breadfruit cou cou on Saturday, would you like to join us?” asked the Maynards, who were in Barbados from Maryland.
It was a get together of families and friends from Boston and California, many of whom I had not seen for years. It was a good evening with the Maynards — at times the discussion was serious and organisational centred. However, it was the three stories about monkeys that stole the cake.
Each version was about trespassing monkeys. The clear lesson: Be polite and share. Otherwise they will return, uproot your crop and mess all over your car.
Friends are forever but can never replace family, especially if it is a clan.
I called Anthony (Tony) King on a business matter and got this spontaneous response:
“Edey, you in town? Glad to hear yuh! Give me the details I will get someone to work on it.
“Harford Charles (school class mate) is in town! We are getting together on Saturday night at my place in Hothersal Turning, around 8… Yuh don’t have to bring anything. I’ll get Michael or someone to pick you up.”
Later when I told a friend that I was going by the Kings, he said;
“Tony is famous for snake, crab and wild meat, so be prepared.”
It was black belly sheep night.
When I arrived Tony and his brother Trevor were gloved and carving the carcass of a fully grown, roasted black belly sheep. Nearby, other tables were filled with a “Hilton Hotel” type spread.
After the meal, I told Tony: “Well done!”
He replied: “Edey, it ‘ent that difficult. We provided the meat and everybody bring a dish — simple.
What he didn’t say was that he is a member of one of those families, I choose to call clans, the Kings, and who like the Smiths and the Masons don’t necessary agree on all things, but their collective effort and pragmatic spirit endures all.
“Edey, I know you remember Sam Headley, Tony’s brother in law, these are his children and grand children,” said Michael, former ambassador to Washington, and now a permanent secretary.
Gran Gran never approved activities that would compete with Sunday, a time when we often went to church at least three times. Neither she nor mother liked the idea of partying. But they would have approved of a get together than spanned three generations of families, school friends and work mates, in the district in which one grew up.
May the tradition of Friendly Hall continue to reign supreme, if only because it is like old time Barbados — community and family. In small societies there is no room for a culture of individualism.