My holidays were wonderful. Just as the climate of England has been said to be made up of winter, winter, winter and winter, instead of the normal spring, summer, autumn, and winter; in the same way the daily dose of climate can sometimes be made up of rain, rain, rain and more rain.
In spite of the rain, England is a wonderful place. It is a much more hospitable place to be than in the crude, impersonal precincts of New York. My prayer is that the rain will be kind enough to allow the Olympics to be completed without a hitch. During the Olympics, my focus will be on the performance of the Jamaica athletics team.
In the 1952 Olympics at Helsinski, the Jamaica 4×400 metres team of Wint, Rhoden, McKinley, and MacDonald won, established a world record, took the world by storm and firmly established Jamaica as a world force to be reckoned with, in the sprint segment of Athletics.
A few days ago, I was at the Bull-Ring in Birmingham and overheard a young man saying farewell to a group of people. As his group turned away, I said to him, “Oonu Jamaicans everywhere. Imagine how oonu clogging-up Hell ’an the big fight that is going on down there!”
To my surprise, he readily agreed with me and remarked, “I have fooled you too. I may sound like a Jamaican but I am from a little island with one hell-of-a-big volcano called Montserrat.”
After introductions and he told me the name of his mother, I introduced my wife to him and said, “Meet your mother’s friend.”
I recognised the name and told him that his mother did her teacher-training at Golden Grove at what is now the State College in Antigua.
Coincidences are strange, for after I told him that I used to be on the Jamaica Athletic Team in 1960 at the Federal Games in Kingston, he pulled out his cellphone and began making arrangements for us to meet Usain Bolt, who would be appearing in Birmingham within a few days. We were scheduled to leave that same night, so we had to decline. However we were able to reminisce on how Herb McKinley, my personal friend who died last year, must have felt when Usain Bolt shot across the Beijing sky, captured the 100 and 200 metre sprints and anchored the 4×100 metres Jamaica relay team to victory.
My prayers and thoughts are firmly behind the Jamaica team and the wishes of every member of Caricom ought, I believe, to be the same. Of course, we in Antigua & Barbuda should have our prayers and thoughts focused on our brother Antigua Grammar School old boy Daniel “Bakka” Bailey from English Harbour/Falmouth. He trains out of the same stable as Usain Bolt. What a marvel it would be if we won our first Olympic Medal in the Games in London this year.
I first met Leroy Williams of Antigua Jewellers in 1958 at the Federal Games in Port of Spain and I want to congratulate him on the continuing interest that he has had in Athletics and in promoting athletics and the Olympic concept in his adopted home of Antigua.
He is deserving of a national honour. I wonder if the excitement that has been generated in Jamaica in the Secondary Schools Athletics Competition, could not be generated here? Out of such events, lifelong ties and friendships are formed and they sometimes serve as the basis for all sorts of future liaisons.
I know that the attempts to create a political Federation have never borne positive fruit. All sorts of theories including “one from 10 leaves nought,” have been promulgated, but we should not be deterred. The restless movement of our people from island to island is a broad testament of the failure of the colonial excursion into the Caribbean. We are still without an economic answer and a stable economic base.
Jamaicans with their “hand-miggle, neck-back, cow-calf, bull-cow, fish-tea and bull-foot soup” may, in the course of normal events, challenge our fish-water and cow-heel soup. Don’t feel that these terms cannot replace what we feel to be normal. After all, “kiddy stew” ruled the roost until “goat-water” from Montserrat gave it a knock-out blow. Now “goat-water” has taken over. All ah we is one.
In 1958, at a body weight of 168 pounds, I was a member of the Antigua team to the Federal Games in Port of Spain. One night the boys took me to a place called Club 48 and when we sat down, a big subben who probably weighed over 1,000 pounds, offered to sit in my lap, and give me a lap dance. I agreed, got up and took off with top speed.
She declared “ Eh! Eh! De mister is wild, wild, wild. All ah we is one. Ah man never run from me yet! You just have to get accustomed, an’ you will like it eh mister. All ah we is one. You will get accustomed, all ah we is one!”
Henry Greaux laughed and declared, “P B, you running but you will soon accept the culture. Why she didn’t try me?”
Poor, thin, wispy me! I took off with speed and from the possibility of this 1,000-pounder crushing me to death.
But as Greaux said, “All you have to do is to accept the culture.” Even though there is no Federation, remember, “all ah we is one!” Fish tea, bull-cow, neck-back and hand-miggle may sound strange now, but remember, “all ah we is one.”
Don’t take off. Don’t run. The culture will eventually ketch up wid you. Don’t be a wild mister. You may grow to accept a cow-calf and a bull-cow.