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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Musings and Mumblings

Writers often express their own opinions about the situations they perceive in the world around them and the events that unfold in their lives each day. Sometimes it is done with humour, other times they take a more serious approach to expressing their thoughts or frustrations.



Aguste Rodin: The Thinker (Google Images)


The following are samples of writing from the early months of 2011:



WATER WORKS MEAN ROUGH ROADS

Every time I hear anyone mention road or water works I think back in time to when my Uncle Rayal used to tell us stories and the one about the roads was this. “Boy I can remember when I was coming round the corner of Fort Street, there was such a big hole in the road that when my car went into it I had to get out to see if anything was coming before I drove the car out again.”

Isn’t it marvellous – as soon as the rains are due, some kind of road works begin as well.

Going back 3 months ago the Water Company parked all their equipment on a vacant plot of land near my property – they brought in a lot of rubble like building material, cement blocks and big chunks of rock which were all crushed down to marl or sand to use as fill for the trenches they were about to dig.

Well, right after they started, the first rain came and my garden was full of white water from all the fill they had on the property. Another half-inch of water and my downstairs would have been flooded out (That was Cayman Water.)

Since the above, Water Authority have been ripping up and closing roads, decorating with red cones, blue plastic pipes along the road, not to mention men in their special orange and green coats and hard top hats directing or stopping traffic altogether. Entrances in and out of properties are decorated with black asphalt three or four inches high. When we drive over them we have to clench our teeth to keep from shattering them. Bits of tarmac follow us, sticking to our under carriage and this is annoying as it’s hard to get off. Every hole they dig into to carry out some kind of work, when they patch it they fill two or three inches too high, making another bump in the road. Why can’t they level it out properly I don’t know. So our nice roads and highways, which the last government put into place, are now being ruined by the work being carried out. I really can’t understand why they wait for the rainy season before they decide to do these so called improvements. Can you? Yes, believe you me, Road works mean Very Rough Roads.

By: Joan Wilson



AFTER APRIL ‘11

After April, what will happen?

Will my soon-to-be-sovereign’s marriage still be as satisfying to the media as a super-sized sweet mocha latte with extra froth and the warming curve of spice; or will the nuptials be swallowed as quickly as a lukewarm shot of espresso, chased by a limp order of recession salad with a main course of heavy taxes and the anticlimax of Olympic fudge for afters. Will I care, after April?

After April will the Cayman sound of the cockerel’s dawn solo be replaced by the London chorus of alarmed cars? Instead of a single siren wailing past me through a sigh of single-lane traffic trickling towards this islands’ centre, will I be another clot in a depressed city’s arterial system, moving as slowly as clogged blood?

After April will I resign the soft salt kisses of spray of my sunset evenings on the boardwalk? Will I forget the hitching waves, like the sulky teenage girls of historical romances deciding whether or not to shlump their weight onto the ironshore, letting the lace edges of their dresses eddy and fall into silent, unprotesting pools. Will I miss the sun-soaked breeze’s soft push, like a teasing friend, when the moody rain of gray postpones the tepid sun of the tentative British summer?

After April, will I look forward to my world ending in 20 months, or if the Mayan calendar is not synchronized with my own, welcome it sooner?

By: Juliet Garricks




Miracle in the Grass.

Walking out this early morn on
the sparkling dew wet grass,
a brilliant shade of yellow, stands
tall beside my feet.
A lone and perfect crocus,
blossom raised to greet the
rising sun.
From whence it came, I do not
know, but surely, magic to my eyes.
Now potted, loved, in its new
home. Clay (pot) by the potter
made.

By: Brenda Quin

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Movie Memories

Reminiscing about experiences in the past can be both enjoyable pastimes and serve as informative examples of oral history and culture. In August, 2011, the Writer's Circle members looked back at early memories shared here in the Cayman Islands. Here are a couple of those special recollections:




1960’s "Movie nights at Galleon Beach Hotel"
Grand Cayman

One, if the earliest hotel in Cayman was built by Mr. Benson Greenall from UK.
The Galleon Beach was a very popular “hangout” for locals and in season, home to many
wealthy visitors from overseas.

Guests were required to wear formal evening dress in the dining room at night,
long gowns for the ladies, dinner jackets and ties for the men.

Friday nights were movie nights, open to the public. The large beachside screened patio was cleared of tables, chairs were set out for the “patrons.” A free show, no charge! 8 p.m. was movie time! Guests wondered in early - some bearing glasses of wine, etc, a very informal get-together. The gentleman who presented the weekly film show, was Mr. Thomas Seymour. He owned an open-air cinema in Sheddon Road, in George Town. Always on time, Thomas arrived with the projector and reels of film. The crowd sat,
waiting, wondering, what film we would see.

We waited, and finally the movie started, all went well, the first reel ended, but there were
times when Thomas was obviously having a nap, and would be shouts - “Thomas wake up,
change the reel.” On other occasions the reels were not in sequence, so again, more shouts.
This was entertainment during those laidback, peaceful, and charming days of Grand Cayman.

Changes are inevitable, and since the Galleon Beach Hotel has been replaced by massive condominium Buildings on Seven mile Beach, a lot of the charm of old Cayman is no longer evident but I often remember those times, grateful that I was part of it all.

By: Brenda Quin



FUN AT THE MOVIES – A CAYMAN EXPERIENCE.

By: C.G. Wilson

I have always loved going “to the pictures” as we used to call it in England when I was a boy. Unfortunately, that was a very long time ago. My enjoyment of the cinema, or the “movies” as the USA terminology has it, has not waned over the years. I have a superb and very expensive Home Theatre Surround System boasting eight speakers (four full size stand mounts) with two amplifiers that can crash out 140 watts in all seven channels. I can have guns exploding bullets all around my room. Horses pulling chariots with horrifying noise crashing through my sitting room. Music bouncing off all the walls. I am there living it all. The ‘it’, however, cannot compete with the actual cinema experience. Here is something even more exciting, for me, to park my car outside the cinema or movie theatre building (USA terminology again!), line up, get my ticket, smell the hot dogs and pop corn at the concession stands, listen to the chatter of the other patrons, walk into the theatre proper, find a good seat and wait for the fun to begin.

Here in Grand Cayman it has been even more enjoyable, especially my earlier days. I am going back to the 1980’s. Grand Cayman, then, boasted a cinema in George Town on North Church Street run by Mr. Berkley Bush. It was where the Bush Centre is now opposite Rackham’s. Another was the Drive In Cinema at the east side of Bodden Town. I never had the opportunity (or nerve) to visit either of those establishments, something I have long regretted. My first movie experience was the cinema complex on Seven Mile Beach, West Bay Road, where The Marquee Plaza is. Sadly, all three venues have closed.

The very first film I saw was “The Mountain Men”. It starred Charlton Heston and Brian Keith and it was only notable as the film script was written by Charlton Heston’s son, Fraser Clark. He actually made a screen appearance in “The Ten Commandments” as Moses. Yes, it is true and you thought it was Charlton, didn’t you? You are right and so am I. Fraser was the baby Moses! There is nothing really memorable about the movie (plot – a pair of grizzled frontiersmen fight Indians, guzzle liquor, and steal squaws) except it was my first Cayman movie experience. The cinema complex was two movie theatres side by side sharing the same foyer, ticket concession counter with the ‘interesting’ large external sign “CINEMAS 1 & 2” in letters on the side of the building. You reached the entrance from the West Bay Roadas there was a very large vacant lot that extended down from the building to the road. You parked your car on the lot which was just a dust bowl. There was a concrete path only adjacent to the building. A sign, mounted on a 3 ft concrete plinth near the road, announced what was showing at both theatres. This was replaced by a similar sign. This was a shame, as it was very funny to read the strange names of films that were apparently being shown. It reached a head once when by chance, the letters of the actual film were changed to “Debbie Does Dallas”. I wonder how many disappointed movie goers were there.

Cinema 1 was older than Cinema 2. It was bigger and the seats were more comfortable. It even had a stage. The Cayman Drama Society once performed on it. The floors sloped down but not enough to impair your vision by some large body in front of you. No one had thought to move the seating slightly so as not to be directly behind the one in front. I used to hear the annoyance of the person behind me when I sat in the row in front.

Before the movie started country music would play. I thought this was very strange at first as I was expecting to hear reggae or calypso. I did not know, then, how popular country music is in Cayman, especially on the Brac.

A visit to the local cinema was a day out. An event, resulting in lots of chatter from the patrons. Waving and shouting greetings to people from all over the cinema, even getting out of seats to hold long conversations until the movie began. In my days in England, it was relatively quiet and the first notice the film was about to start was the gradual lowering of the lights. This could take up to a minute so the patrons eyes would get used to the darkness. Not here. It was an instant lights out.

When the movie started was often moments fraught with audience exasperation, whistles, cat calls and laughter. At least 25% of my visits, and I used to do two movies a week – we had no television in those days – the film started blurred, sound so low you could hardly hear, or no sound at all and on two occasions the wrong projector lens was used so the images elongated. Changeover onto another projector often resulted in the film we were watching finishing in mid frame with a bright light filling the screen and the noise of the end of the film reel flapping against the spool wheel. The audience reaction was deafening. Upon watching the movie “Fo a Few Dollars More”, Clint Eastwood disappeared into flames – the film had actually ignited when it somehow touched the projector lamp. During “Arabian Adventure” somehow there was a spool missing – the end one so I never did see how it finished. We did get our money back but the movie never did finish its run so where did that missing spool go? At the time of writing this they are gutting the cinema and perhaps they might locate it.

They were fun times and now they are gone. We have a new cinema complex at Camana Bay. Comparable to the best movie houses in Europe and the USA. Superb sound and very comfortable stadium seating with arm rests and holders to place your drinks. Hmm. Stadium seating. Drink holders. My wife (Joan) and I had our first visit there soon after it opened. We were used to placing our drinks onto the floor. Armed with the drinks we sat down and I noticed the receptacles. I placed my drink into the one on my armrest and tried to do the same with hers. Joan grabbed it from me and placed it onto the floor in front of her, except there was no floor. It was an empty space hovering over the row in front almost one foot below. The drink cup disappeared from view with a loud thud. We heard the top come off of the edges and the noise of ice exploding onto the floor. Finally the sound of liquid running like little waterfalls off the edge of the rows came to our ears. After the shock we both fell all over our seats with laughter and I have no idea what the movie was. We never returned to the cinema there until we had to – when our beloved Cinema 1 and 2 closed their doors.

They were fun times.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Cayfest Poetry Competition



The Cayman National Cultural Foundation each year puts on a series of cultural events to entertain and educate Caymanians and the general public at large. Events cross a broad range of artistic endeavours, from music, to photography, to story tellings, to drama, to song writing, to artwork, to writing, and more.

For several years Caymanians and residents alike were invited to enter a short story competition and a poetry competition. Members of the Writer's Circle have taken great interest in these competitions and have achieved some good results. Unfortunately, the CNCF no longer holds poetry or short story competitions as part of the Cayfest cultural celebrations. In 2006, and again in 2008, the first place prize in poetry went to a member of the group. In 2009 the third place prize again went to a member of the group. Here are the three prize winning poems:


RESURGENCE.

The roots
of my ancestors
in this ground
are strong.
They pulsate
with the rhythms
of time,
and the pounding
of surf
on the ironshore.

The air I breathe
is thick with
salt sea breezes
and sweat,
and horizons…
The blood in my veins
empties into the
Mangrove swamps,
and the fish feed.

Gentle eyes
gaze down on me:
my children will know,
I will teach them.
We will add our verse
to the song.

There was time
then
to dream.
To live each full day
and to know
one’s place
in creation.

Traffic
congests
my imagination.

Old photographs, and names;
their shadows grow thin,
but I fight to
remember.

I am not welcome here, now…
but the sea, the sun, and the sand
recognize me,
and you in me.
I feel it
in the waters
of the ocean.
And I dip
in their
enchanting
embrace.


By: H.M. Peter Westin
First-place for poetry, April 2006.




The Death of a Father.

A heavy and a deep
aching sadness
overwhelms me...
tears well
and thoughts
come cascading
out,
drenching me in
emotion.

The weight of my feet
moving,
the eternal length
of each day,
and the violence of
my heart pounding
are almost too much;
a void
fills me
and begins to
crush me,
sucking the life spring
from within.
I stop
thinking...

But I sense his presence
nearby,
the gaze of his eyes
that survey my
longings.
He wants me
to know, and
I know,
that he is
safe,
and happy.

Kyrie Eleison.


By: H.M. Peter Westin
First-place for poetry, April 2008





Miss Carnival
(for MLP)

I come from a place
With too much space
On the edge of the Indian Ocean
Where many people are stuck like islands.
Your voice calls me like a melody,
“Morning neighbour…”

I live on a small island
In the western Caribbean
With too little space
Where people collide like icebergs.
Your voice captures everyone who hears it,
“And we’re not going home…”

You invited me to your eye-land
And your daughters took me in
Teasing me, burnt, freckled skin in volcano splendour,
To them alone, I became “Miss Carnival”.
Every word you say soothes like a lullaby,
“Till the morning light…”

We got up before the sun
Before the roosters in their red finery,
To wear glitter and sequins and sparkles and feathers;
To jump and dance; jump and wave; jump and laugh.
I heard your voice echoing around me in the crowd
And you held my hand to keep me safe.

My eyes were sore from looking,
Jump and eye,
My nose shook from the rhythm,
Jump and wave,
My lips burned from the pepper sauce,
Jump and taste,
My thighs ached from the jumping;
Jump and dance,
It felt so real, so loving,
Jump and live,
Your voice is your heart,
Jump and laugh,
And your heart is what makes all who know you
Your brother and sister,
Jump and life.

By: C. Pilgrim
Third-place for poetry, April 2009

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Humour

A sense of humour is an important aspect of a writer's personality and 'writer's voice'. Memories that expose incidents involving humorous anecdotes can be powerful motivators. Writers often share experiences from their own lives when writing, whether they be part of a larger fictional work, or stand alone as articles or internet posts. The Writer's Circle focussed on sharing humorous incidents as a writing assignment in November of 2010. Below are a couple of the presented works:


                            
The Funniest Thing I Remember Happening to Me.


I was very young I know – too young to know that what I was about to do was very wrong for a young girl to be doing. Especially coming from the family I was coming from.

I had this friend – a very dear friend and she lived with her sick mother and an old aunt. Also in the house were two of her first cousins – may I say worthless cousins. That’s why my mother never ever wanted or allowed me to go down through the bush to visit my friend.

Anyway, this particular day my friend got on to a packet of cigarettes and stole two out of the packet. She also stole a pack of matches from her cousin. We then went into an abandoned car which was parked quite near. This is going back to the 1940’s when the only mechanic was a Mr. Ralph Joyce on Bodden Road. He had cars piled up on the road for repairs so we found an old Ford and got into the back seat. This old Ford had a back window that was quite small – just big enough for someone to see through.

Well, we started our experiment of having a smoke. Put the cigarette in between our lips – meanwhile, we’re giggling our heads off, then we struck the match, put it to the cigarette and took our first puff when we saw a shadow come over us, two eyes peeping through that tiny window, and an old lady saying to us “Unna having a lil’ puff eh?" Well I tell you we got out of that car so quick and so frightened that she would tell my mother especially, that I never really ever though of taking up smoking since that experience.

By: Joan Wilson.



                                
One of the Funniest Things That Happened to Me.

By: C.G. Wilson

I was working for a small firm of Quantity Surveyors in London, England. There was the owner, Henry Derek Ide, the senior surveyor who I will call Tony (I have forgotten his name), myself and two juniors, John and Gerry. There were also two secretaries – again I have forgotten their names but they do not feature in the story.

Derek (he never used his first name) was a man in his fifties and I was just twenty. Tony was in his early thirties and John and Gerry were both seventeen.

I never liked Tony very much and I suppose I resented him being there as when I joined the firm it was just Derek and me. Derek was a portly man, smoked a pipe and had no sense of humour. I’m not surprised because his wife was a horrible woman. Whenever she came to the office she would put him down in front of us, order him to take “that silly thing (his pipe) out of his mouth” and berate him about how untidy his desk was. She never gave any of us more than a glance. We didn’t exist.

Tony tried to be nice to me but gave up and turned his attention of ‘trying to be nice’ to John and Gerry. They didn’t like him much either. He was so false and he would run to Derek with our misdemeanours, like having a game of office cricket when Derek was out.

We used to get luncheon vouchers, as part of our salary, which were so small in value you couldn’t get a proper meal from them. They were free but only up to a certain value and that value was never raised by the Government. So we used to save the vouchers up and have a good meal at the end of the working week. The other days we all brought sandwiches from home. Whilst the others, including Tony, enjoyed a variety of fillings every day, I had the same cheese filled ones. Cheddar. I never changed my diet. Cheddar cheese sandwiches and I enjoyed them. I would leave the packet on my desk neatly wrapped up, as 12 noon, on the dot, I would open them up with a cup of coffee at my side and devour them heartily.

On this particular day, I opened my sandwiches and started to eat. After only a few bites I realised something was wrong. I couldn’t bite through the cheese. I suspiciously opened the top layer of bread to reveal a thick piece of cardboard had been inserted with the words “HARD CHEESE?” written on it. Everyone laughed, especially Tony, as he was the culprit. He was finally a hero with John and Gerry. I vowed to get my revenge.

It came one afternoon a week later. Derek had gone out and was not expected back. Tony went upstairs to go to the bathroom. We all knew he would be some time as he took his newspaper with him. I unscrewed the shade and from his desktop lamp. It was one of those big funnel shaped ones with a large metal ring at the bottom and a small one at the top all covered with a coloured canvass. To get to the stairs you had to actually go outside the office through a big wood paneled door. I opened the door, leaving it slightly ajar, and carefully placed the lampshade with one edge in top of the door and the other edge just perched on the top of the architrave that surrounded the door frame. I then put the waste bin a few feet in front of the door with Tony’s furled umbrella sticking up out of it, for good measure. I was now back as the hero of John and Gerry.

We waited. It was quicker than we thought. The door opened and the lampshade dropped beautifully on top of the incoming person’s head. The person gave an exclamation of shock and walked straight into the bin with the umbrella striking right in the stomach. The person stumbled to the floor still shouting.

There was a stunned silence from all of us. No laughter and the awful feeling of sheer horror enveloped me. The person coming into the room and now lying angrily on the floor wasn’t Tony. It was Derek’s wife!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

My Favourite Place.

What inspires a person to write can be as diverse as the range of emotions encountered on a long and hectic day. Towards the end of February, the Writer's Circle members shared thoughts on some of their favourite places here in the Cayman Islands. 


My Favourite Place.

When I'm going to bed and when I'm waking, the first thought on my mind is my garden. Then, as soon as I've cleaned upstairs, you can all find me in the garden. With me I have my clippers, machete, and broom. With those tools I trim, plant and sweep up everything that's on the ground. I forgot to say my dumpster on wheels goes with me as well. This makes hauling off the cuttings and leaves a little easier for me. I have a very big garden and a lot of it is reserved for the crabs and any other wildlife that deserves a little protection from larger animals.

When I'm in my garden, I can smell the blooms of certain trees, I admire the buds just getting ready to burst into flowers, the palms, the bottle brush, the bougainvillea, pride of Barbados all give me such joy to see them all in bloom. My naseberry tree provides me with my first meal of fruit for the day as they fall right along where I'm cleaning up most mornings and umm - are they ever sweet. My coconuts, I have to get someone to chop them for me to get a nice drink of coconut water and then slice them open to eat the soft meat inside.

Yes, that's my favourite place - a blue sky, the helicopters flying overhead, the birds chirping to each other, especially now it's mating time. The little banana birds, jays, pigeons and ching chings all give me pleasure. It's tiring but I just love it. If I have a morning without gardening I'm thrown right off my schedule. I sweat like you wouldn't believe but I also drink a lot of water and clamato juice to replace my salt. I think I would go insane if I lived in a place without a garden. My gardening also involves cleaning my driveway twice daily. I just love the outdoor life and gardening is my favourite.

By: Joan Wilson






My Favourite Place.
By: C.G. Wilson

My favourite place is my living room at home when I am sitting in my favourite reclining chair, seat back and foot rest up, listening to my iPod through my surround hi-fi system.

I have 22,000 pieces of music of every genre - yes, even rap (but not much!). I like to put the iPod on shuffle and I discover many pieces of music I have never heard before. I have the advantage over the radio in that I can discard the song playing I don't like by just pushing a button on the remote and the next song plays. The other huge plus is the sound that comes from my iPod is considerably better than the radio. I have most of my music recorded at a much higher bit-rate than theirs, it is not at all the same level, so I hear the highs and lows as the artists intended, and I thrill at hearing every pluck of the musician's hands on the strings or hear the gulp of air the singer breathes in to reach those high notes.

I am lost in a new world. I am contented and in an almost dreamlike state. Heaven cannot be better than this.

There certainly is no better place on earth and I am so thankful my wife can also share these moments too and there are many of them. Even when I am alone, I can picture her listening and being moved almost to tears from a piece of music. I can hardly wait with the excitement for her to come back and I can play it to her. She, too, can hear a piece of music on her car radio and stops and writes the title down. With the same excitement as mine, she tells me what it is to see if I have it recorded. If not, I am on the internet to find the song and then I play it back to her. We really do have similar tastes, and I can honestly say there is not one piece of music she likes that I don't.

I am never really alone when I sit down in my living room at home, sitting in my favourite reclining chair, seat back and foot rest up, listening to my iPod through my surround sound hi-fi system. You see, it's my favourite place.





East End, Grand Cayman.

When I head out to East End, it is with a sense of anticipation and excitement that I depart the hustle and bustle of the capital, George Town. East End is to me, something of a retreat, a place of refreshment and reenergizing. My trips eastward always have a family component. Along with my wife and my children, usually on a Sunday afternoon, and sometime with friends, we head out on adventure in the wild eastern district of our small island. We always have one or two special spots to stop and visit along the way.

As we pass through Bodden Town, I usually slow down to gather a glimpse of what is left of my Caymanian ancestral homestead, the Old Webster house. It was the oldest house in the district. It has survived many hurricanes, but it took quite a hit during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, at which time it lost much of its roof. Just before passing by the old house, we first pass the old Presbyterian Church cemetery, now part of the Webster Memorial United Church. Many of my ancestors lie buried in that hallowed ground. I always point out these two spots to my children as we drive past, and tell them the little bits of family history associated with these two places. The children have heard these thoughts many times, but they listen every time, as if to absorb the words and images of the places at the same time, in order to let it seep into their own consciousness and to let it become a part of themselves.

The next spot that is an indispensible part of this tour of memories, is my departed father’s favourite picnic spot, just down from what was Portofino Restaurant. There use to be some majestic old coconut trees on the spot, right on the water’s edge. We sought this place out on many occasions to stop and eat, relax and spend a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The children have good memories of family times at that place, and their attempts to scale the heights of the coconut trees using nothing more than old ropes picked from the shore and used to assist in the ardours of climbing. Sadly, most of those trees are gone, as is the dock that was built in the years immediately preceding Hurricane Ivan. A watercolour painting by Joanne Sibley of the spot hangs life-like on our living room wall.

On a Sunday afternoon, an absolute must for those versed in fish frys and local Caribbean traditions, is the local bar alongside the Texaco station in East End. In years previously, when owned and operated by Herman, a fisherman originally from Jamaica, it was open on Saturday as well as Sunday. Now, unfortunately, the delightful meals are limited to only one day per week. Deep fried fish, with hot pepper sauce, onions, and festival, is the prescription for a great meal and social time while taking the cool East End breezes, and watching the boats come and go, from a comfortable perch alongside the shore at the back of the drinking establishment. Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, and Snapper are the featured delicacies of the day. Wash them down with fruit punch, or some might subscribe to a somewhat harder beverage from the bar. During the course of lunch, you will almost certainly see someone you know dropping in for a bite to eat. You will not be the only visitor from George Town travelling through the eastern district. You will also hear a healthy proportion of Spanish wafting to your ears on the winds.

A trip to East End could not be complete for my family without the mandatory stop at Morritt’s Tortuga Club. It is a great spot to visit. The grounds are fastidiously kept. The beach view is almost surreal. The wharf bar provides a fairy tale setting backdrop to an afternoon of relaxed fun. We used to attend on Sunday afternoons, the family oriented activities provided by the resort for the enjoyment of tourists and locals alike. Sadly, this aspect of entertainment has been allowed to lapse. You can, however, occasionally witness a volleyball competition on the beach, or hear the distant calls to a smorgasbord buffet, or the alluring tunes that accompany a limbo competition. Activities do exist, but are now often kept within the confines of the resort. The beach is wide enough to allow my children to exercise themselves in a game of rugby or soccer (football). A snorkel trip under the bar dock to check out the school of tarpon, ands the skates, and barracudas is a mandatory part of our visit. Sometimes we pack a lunch, bring our chairs and umbrella, and camp out on the beach for a few hours. At other time, we partake in a bit of lunch or late afternoon snack on the back patio, prior to heading back home following along the Queen’s Highway and cutting across the interior of the island, past the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, and the Mastic Trail that backs on to the Frank Sound Fire Station.

Yes, East End is truly one of my favourite areas in the Cayman Islands. It holds a rich bounty for local, resident or tourist alike to feast upon. It is a world unto itself, and provides refreshing respite from the cares and worries and work pressures of George Town. It is a bit like stepping back in time to the 1970’s a time before the overdevelopment of the Cayman Islands.

By: H.M. Peter Westin  


A Morning in Camana Bay

Right Here
Right here is one of my favourite places
Surrounded by green shady palms and lush heliconias
The dribble of numerous fountains,
Calms me, soothes my wandering mind.

I come here alone and sit,
And though sometimes lonely in a crowd,
I am never in solitude here.

I feel a presence, surely God’s,
In the whispering leaves,
And want to stay forever
In Canella Court

Jamie and I
Sipping smoothies ‘til our tummies fill,
Swinging in hammocks on the sandy hill

Two wet girls try to
Drag you into the fountain

The wind is strong here
Like up on a mountain

Suddenly the water spouts high
You race through its arches
And touch the sky.

By: Fiona Pimentel


Love

Writing about 'Love' is one of the easiest things that a writer can do. At the same time, it can also be one of the most difficult - trying to find the right words, attempting to communicate the depth of the feelings, looking for a fresh way to express the love you feel for someone...

The Writer's Circle took a stab at this theme in February of this year (2012). Here are some of the attempts of members' musings:


Love
By: C.G. Wilson

Love is a four letter word.
Four letter words that
First come to mind are bad.

Bad is not associated with love.
Love's emotion has the
Highest vibration.

A vibration of love cures.
Cures to change
Perceptions.

Perceptions to open the world.
A world where one could
Only see hate.

Hate is a negative emotion.
An emotion that destroys
Your very soul.

Soul exists in a realm of higher vibration.
A vibration that is constantly
Connected to you.

You are unique.
So unique there is only one of
You in the whole Universe.

Universe is totality.
Totality of everything that exists
Even matter and energy.

Energy is a force.
A force that cannot be
Created or destroyed.

Destroying love is impossible.
Love is always there in
Your heart.

Your heart is the symbol of love
And the greatest of all
Is love.





Agape.

Love.
Overused, the word blurs
lines of separation and meaning
to reach a beige understanding
of the depth and level of life
that throbs well below the surface,
into the heart of the perpetrator.

Love becomes the cable that
stretches out between two barriers
that links them, the tightrope by which
to overcome the chasm carved by
a difference, or indifference, that rages
and ravages the temple grounds
of the soul and the placid state
of the mind.

Love is the redemptor stretching forth
forgiveness, to solicit smiles that heal old
wounds, a tourniquet to stem the draining flow,
the flower to bring forth the blossom of
a smile; life in transition
and in union.

By: H.M. Peter Westin





This I Believe

by Brenda Quinn


I believe in reaching out to all people, in all walks of life, regardless of race or creed. I walk with love, greeting others with a smile, taking time to show that I care. There are many ways of saying, welcome, I am happy to see you.

I willingly lend a hand wherever needed, I listen to strangers, many are lonely and need a listening ear, every one has a story, and sometimes, a need to share it with a sympathetic person.

I was born in Mandeville, Jamaica, to a home of grief and mourning due to the serious illness of my father and his subsequent death, when I was one month old - In sorrow that never left my mother throughout her life. In early childhood I was aware of the shadow that hung over us.

I did receive love from many family friends, and they expressed this love and caring throughout my growing years. The void created by my father’s death affected me strongly. At times I thought I felt his presence. I have many memories from two years onward; not only of family friends, but also of the black Jamaicans who worked in our home, and cared lovingly for me, and my sister. They worked hard, long hours. I knew that their lives were not easy; I knew many of these people, and those in the weekly market who supplied us with the foods we ate. I loved these people, talked with them, listened to their old folk tales with fascination. I never forget them. I believe, that somewhere in the ‘far beyond’, I chose to be here, on this Planet Earth on my particular path. To give love, show compassion, and believe that it is my own attitude, in sometimes difficult situations, that can make a difference to others, and by changing myself, not judging others, I understand that we are all connected.

Nature has always played a very special role in my life. I stand in awe at the wonders I see, believing that it is essential to ‘stand and stare’, to slow down, immerse myself in the beauty. (The latter becomes hard to find in this out of control, overly developed island.) I love the stars, like friends who come out on the darkest nights. Again, sadly, with so much artificial light – I seldom see my favourites, I cannot remember when last I saw the Southern Cross, Scorpio, the Pleiades, etc…Where is the Milky Way?

I believe that material possessions are meaningless, and more is not better, so I try to go gently and slowly, in this way I benefit both mentally and physically. Perhaps, helping others to do the same.

I had a strange experience not long ago. An unknown man stopped by my car, the window being open. These are his words – “Take this just as I tell you. You love people, and you love to laugh, and you are going to live a very long time.” I was almost speechless, and only said, “You are right, I do love people, and I do love to laugh.” I have looked for him, but never seen him again. I feel he was an angel sent to me.

Finally, I believe in love, simplicity and honesty, I live with my beliefs, and the love I give, comes back to me in so many ways, from many people.

I believe, when I finally leave this body, there is no death, the soul and love are Eternal, and those people we have known and loved, who have gone before us are never far away, but continue to be with us always.



Love

It’s St Valentine’s Day again, the day we are expected to celebrate love and romance. Our culture, from Jane Austen novels to pop music, glorifies romance and defines love in terms of romance and infatuation.

Elizabethan poets idealised the concept of “unrequited love”, which would more properly be described now as “obsession”. If, however, the obsession were reciprocated, it would probably nowadays be seen as some sort of “co-dependency.”

The feelings of romance help to set the stage for love but they are not love. They are a useful chemical filter to help us to choose a mate. They are driven by testosterone and oestrogen and induce a surge of endorphins in our brains. However, they are not necessarily the basis of a long-lasting relationship. 

If feelings of romantic love are not enough, as the basis of a long-term relationship, what is? Many people would say that shared values should be the main criteria. However, while shared values are important, they are not the only requirement for a lasting relationship either. If you look around the church you go to, or another place where there are people who share the same values you hold, would you be prepared to spend your life with any one of them indiscriminately? The question is obviously rhetorical but clearly demonstrates how inadequate shared values are in isolation.

I remember being given the following advice when I was young, on how to choose a husband: “Use your head, not your heart.” There was an emphasis on the supposed importance of background. My own advice would be different: “Marry the person whose company you enjoy the most, (regardless of race, creed, class or age). After all, you will have to spend the rest of your lives together.”

In their book, “Don’t sweat the Small stuff in love,” Richard and Kristen Carlson agree, “If we had to choose a single characteristic that has made our relationship remain special, fun and vibrant over the years, it would probably be that the two of us are, first and foremost, really good pals.”

If it is that easy, then why are there so many problems with modern marriage? Estimates on the percentage of married couples getting divorced vary from agency to agency, but we do know that it is around the 50% mark in the US and lower in the UK. Of the marriages that do stay together, a high percentage are unhappy or less happy than they could be.

Dr Phil McGraw, the well-known American psychologist wrote in his book “Life Strategies,” “When it comes to managing our emotional lives, and training our children how to manage theirs, we’re out of control, but desperately pretending otherwise.”

This is largely because of two problems, a lack of communication and a lack of understanding. I will explore each of these separately.

Many of the problems of communication lie in fear of rejection. In “Speaking the Truth in Love” by Kenneth Haugk, he says that a passive person will typically withhold feedback. “If you withhold needed information, you create an atmosphere of uncertainty. The other person is left to assume what you’re thinking and feeling, and assumptions can lead to disastrous misunderstandings and collapsed relationships.”

Aggressive communication on the other hand is often nonverbal such as facial expressions, gestures or tone of voice. If words are used, they are often in the form of put-downs which are designed to humiliate another person in the presence of others, or sarcasm.  Sarcasm comes from Greek and means “flesh tearing.” According to Haugk, “sarcasm is always aggressive, and it hurts much more than the physical pain of a slap or a cut.

Another form of unhealthy communication is Passive-aggressive. One particularly nasty form of this is to give someone the *Silent Treatment. Haugk says “A person who uses the silent treatment is trying to punish the other, trying to inflict pain. This behaviour is often successful because to be shunned and ignored is to have your existence denied. Such withholding of relationship is painful indeed.”

David Richo also speaks of the silent treatment in “Daring to Trust:” “Sudden unilateral silence or an abrupt disappearance impairs our ability to trust. It is directly opposed to our addressing, processing and resolving our problems. The silent treatment is a favourite entitlement of the ego, a vindictive style in a relationship, a form of pouting.”
  
The second problem, that of understanding is that women instinctively understand women and men understand men, but they don’t understand each other. In fact you could go as far as saying that men and women are so incompatible that if you can manage to have a conversation with a member of the opposite sex, it’s a miracle. Perhaps that is what we need to truly understand and love one another, a miracle.

John Gray, the author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” stated in his famous book: “Men and women give the kind of love they need and not what the opposite sex needs. The most frequently expressed complaint women have about men is that men don’t listen. So many times a woman just wants to share her feelings and her husband, thinking he is helping, interrupts her by offering solutions to her problems that invalidate her feelings. The most frequently expressed complaint men have about women is that women are always trying to change them. A woman does not realise her caring attempts to help him may humiliate him. She mistakenly thinks she is just helping him to grow.”

Thousands of couples who have read Gray’s writings would agree with him that men and women can learn to understand each other. However there are many people who are so damaged by their childhood that this challenge seems too overwhelming.

In his book “Daring to Trust,” David Richo talks about “The 5 A’s by which love is shown, attention (giving our time to someone), acceptance (of who a person really is), appreciation (or affirmation), affection (verbal and physical) and allowing (free expression of emotions or opinions). (My additions in brackets).

He goes on to say that if these emotional needs are not met in childhood, they may remain present throughout our lives, but we realise our partner can’t necessarily fulfil them. He then asserts “We can find alternative healthy means to fulfil those needs.”

Richard and Kristen Carlson expand on this: “Romantic love, a loving partnership, marriage are all wonderful. The truth is, however, that there are countless ways to express and receive love. You can do so with pets, volunteering, nature, a good cause, even hobbies. Anything you enjoy, that nurtures your spirit in a loving way, that allows you to share your love with something or someone else, has the potential to fill your heart with love.”

There is plenty of scope for love to be given in non-romantic ways. As Mother Teresa used to say: “The biggest disease, today, is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted. Hunger is not only for a piece of bread. The hunger of today is so much greater: for love – to be loved, to be cared for. We are too often afraid of the sacrifices we might have to make. But where there is true love, there is joy and peace.”

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica, apart from humanitarian and religious reasons, is that the residents themselves, are so loving. Devoid of scheming intelligence, ambition, fear, rivalry and manipulation, some of these simple folk exude pure, unadulterated love.

One incident in particular stands out in my memory. One day, I walked into a centre for women, many of whom have experienced abuse, and all of who have been abandoned. No sooner had I come through the gate, when a woman who I had never seen before threw her arms around me, squeezing me as hard as she could, and squealing with delight. My instant thought was that I had received more love in those few seconds, than I had in the rest of my life put together.

Once a person has learned to give and receive love in these non-romantic ways, their emotional scars will start to heal, and they will then be ready to take the first steps on the journey to real intimacy with their partner.

Dr Stephen Covey, talks about the “Emotional Bank Account” in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.” He says, “You can make deposits by proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship.” He talks about loving as a verb, that is to say listening, empathising, appreciating and affirming.” If these building blocks are put in place, there will be an atmosphere that is much more conducive to real love in the relationship. 

So what is real love and how do we recognise it? It has been said that the sign that real love is present is that there is an element of sacrifice. Jesus Christ, the ultimate authority on love, said “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.” This is what he did in a literal way, but it could also be taken metaphorically, as in “Greater love has no man than to lay down his self-interest for his friends.”  

I will end with a poem:

Love is….
Love is joy at another’s good news,
Love is walking in their shoes,
Love is closing the door on fear,
Love is wanting the best for someone dear,
Love is the closeness between a child and mother,
Love is the willingness to suffer for another,
Love is always being fair,
Love is trust, and Love is prayer.


*Never, ever, ever give anyone the Silent Treatment

By: Fiona Pimentel




Sunday, 11 March 2012

Memories


Writers often look back in time at characters and events from the past. It is the starting point from which great works of literature often spring. Memory is an indispensible tool for the writer. It breathes life into writing. The mind works in wonderful and mysterious ways sometimes. William Faulkner captured perhaps the essential feature of memory and writing when he said, "The past is never dead, it is not even past." What remains with us is alive and evolving, whether it is in our understanding of people and events, or in the deepening of our own self consciousness and awareness. As we write, we grow as writers and as people. Aldous Huxley expounded upon the importance of 'Memory' when he commented, "Every man's memory is his private literature."

Members of the Writer's Circle bring memories of their own back to life in creative and inspiring ways. Here are some samples:


Prickle Yellow Macca

by Brenda Quin

Driving along the winding country roads of Manchester, Jamaica comes a car - a very sleek Citroen. The roads, I recall, were bridged by small, narrow ‘spans’ over gullies and there was an unwritten law that cars always gave way to big trucks and buses at these spots.

Imagine the beautiful countryside: great trees of many varieties, and also lots of bushes – some known as Prickle Yellow Macca. Macca, in Jamaican talk, meant prickles - sharp, spiky ones that could hold you fast in their grip.

The Citroen is approaching one of these small bridges, and a large country bus approaches from the opposite direction. It soon becomes obvious that the driver of the car is not going to give way to the bus. The latter, is filled with women going to market, their produce piled high on top of the bus – plus some chickens, and a squealing pig. The car proceeds, the bus does likewise – they meet, nose-to-nose with much honking of horns, and yells from the bus driver and passengers. The bus driver descends; the car driver also. He stands haughtily, waiting, sporting a spiky crew cut. The two drivers argue for a while, then there is silence. A black lady leans through a window, surveys the scene and the white driver, looks him up and down, focuses on his crew cut, and finally says, in a loud voice, “Lawd, him favour Prickle Yellow Macca!”

The Jamaicans always seem able to sum up a situation very aptly, having a great sense of humour. Everyone, myself included, burst out with big ‘belly’ laughs. So what else could the driver of the Citroen do, but pull back and let the bus pass?  Still waving and cheering the victorious ladies in the bus, we all proceed on our way.


Dawn on the South Coast Beach

Dawn, and the sun blossoming
over the horizon.  Beach sand,
a warm softness to the feet.

Night scents, linger, mingle
with the smoke of charcoal
fires, and rise on the gentle
breeze.

Pale seaweed, wrinkled, drying,
shriveled, ripple washed
on the edge of the morning sea.

Children’s voices, laughter,
feet pattering on tiles,
running to the water,
arms open, hair flying,
bodies lit by rays of
sunshine.

A child shouts “Canoes
coming round the bluff.”
The fishermen paddling
with rapid strokes (of their
oars). The catch was good
today.

Women’s singing, clapping
hands, bodies swaying.
“Lord what a way we
Live good. Hallelujah -Thank
you Jesus. Now we go
cook!”

Frigate birds soaring
overhead, observing, wings
without motion, riding on
currents of air, waiting
impatiently for their share . 

By: Brenda Quin.


Sunset over the open water.


Childhood at Sweetwood
(Mandeville, Jamaica, 1932.)

Blue Jacaranda flowers on my
favourite tree, a small girl
makes mud pies on the
pitted limestone boulder.
Mud pies are fun to make,
but I wish my Dad was
here.
They tell me he has gone
away, but I do not understand
why God has taken him
from me.

By: Brenda Quin


Grandpa Mair

A favourite spot with my parents,
the endless miles peppered with stops and fights.
As a twelve year old, there seemed better places to be,
unwieldly weather; heads praying to the wind.
Cold that bit deep.

The corner store, a maze of lanes,
in that small fishing village;
colluding with a sense of survival and reliance. A close unkept place.

I remember the boat, loosely termed.
Barely my weight and a bit in length, rowlocks rattling, scarred paint hanging by
fingertips... and a sense of foreboding on weather-beaten planks.
Alone on the boat with Grandpa Mair.

A heavy day framed the barren coast.
Heading out, anxiety gripped as home leaped up and down.
But Grandpa was calm, pipe firmly fixed and hand at the helm;
steering a course through the dips.

Of few words, his eyes smiled beneath his worn cap as he read my thoughts.
After a lifetime he knew the limits of where we were,
and of me too, that twelve year old boy.

Even the wind and salt splashed spray, my eyes equinted ahead.
There was a sense of passage that waited;
Grandpa had me pull in the lines and lead us home.
Those days with him were few, but best of all.

By: J. Mark Bailey


My Dad and the Dam Busting Bomb

By: C.G. Wilson

My dad, George Henry Wilson, was a small, quiet and almost "invisible" man. My mother ruled the household with a "rod of iron". She made all the decisions. She was the disciplinarian. She spoke for all of us. 'Us' included my sister, Joyce, who was ten years older than me. Sis and I were never close as we had so little in common. When I was four she even kicked me down the stairs and I still today wear a crooked nose due to that incident.

However, there is one incident that stands out like a beacon, shining so bright that it overshadows all my other childhood memories. It showed a side of dad I never knew existed. Emotion. Yes, he laughed. He could joke. But there was never any soul to these, He was not a man to play or communicate with me. He never read me a story or engaged in any games that I saw other fathers do with their children. But he did something not many other children's dad's did. He made me "things". When I saw a friend with a gun when we played 'cowboys and indians', and I wanted something similar he made one. Handcrafted out of a piece of wood and metal and complete with a firing hammer. My friends were envious. When someone had a toy car he made one for me out of an old pram. A cricket bat came next. Even a train set complete with engine, carriages and track. There were so many more things and that's when I first saw the emotion. He was proud of the toys he had made. A real beaming smile would come across his face when he saw me play with them. Everything he made worked. Dad could make anything.

His workshop was a garage as we never had a car. Filled with all sorts of old bits and pieces. He never threw anything away and he would spend all his hours in there driving Mum mad. I knew he worked for an engineering firm as a capstan/operator making machine parts. He even demonstrated these machines at exhibitions in London. He was their top machinist and he trained others in the art.

I was born during the war years. The Second World War, towards the end in 1943. I envied other friends' dads who had served in the services because mine didn't do anything that exciting. Dad worked for an aircraft company called Vickers-Armstrong (Aviation) Ltd at Brooklands, nr. Weybridge, in Surrey, England throughout the whole of the war. When I questioned him about what he did there, he was always a little vague. "Aircraft parts," he would say. What he didn't tell me was that he worked alongside a very famous engineer and designer, Sir Barnes Wallis.

I found that out when a movie called "The Dam Busters" came out in 1955. It was a huge hit and starred Richard Todd as the dashing wing commander, Guy Gidson, and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis, the inventor of "the bouncing bomb" that was the subject of the film. Dad actually showed some interest in this as films were never before on his agenda.

"We'll go and see that, son," he said. I was amazed. Dad taking me to the cinema? This was a first. Before, I would either go on my own, or with my friends or more usually with Mum. At the age of 13, Dad was going to take me to see a movie. Wow!

"Dad knew Mr. Wallis, you know." Mum piped up when she learnt Dad was taking me. He even came to our house. Him and Dad would spend hours pouring over pictures -"

"Blueprints." Dad would correct her.

"Is this true, Dad?" I was incredulous. Dad knowing Barnes Wallis and he even had come to our house! What a story to tell my school friends. "Did you work on the bomb?"

"Go on, tell him." Mum urged Dad on.

"Yes. Sort of." He reluctantly replied. "I designed and made the coupling that triggered off the bomb causing it to bounce on water."

"Mr. Wallis invented the bomb and your father made it work." Even Mum sounded proud.

"Yes." Dad now got into his stride. "Barnes got the idea of the bomb by looking at a table tennis ball. The dams were alongside the German armament factories and heavily guarded by artillery and protective mosquito nets. It was virtually impossible to bomb the dams and flood the factories with water unless you could find a way to get past the nets. Hence Barnes' idea of a bouncing bomb. It worked fine when fired off the ground but not from an aircraft. When it was dropped it just bobbed on the water or sank. The coupling we used on the plane couldn't give it the same forward momentum as it had when fired from land. So I came up with a coupling that could achieve that momentum."

 How proud I was. "Will you be in the film?" I asked.

"Someone will be playing me. Yes." He replied.

I was so excited. I remember that afternoon so well. It was a Saturday and we had to queue up in the rain. I stood and my knees were even shaking I was looking forward to watching someone play my Dad.

At last we were inside the cinema. We got our tickets and we sat down. I looked to see if I could see any of my friends. I had told everyone my Dad was going to be portrayed by an actor in the film. I found six and they gave me the thumbs up sign. I pointed Dad out to them just in case they weren't sure the man by me was Dad!

The lights went down and we had to see the "B" movie first. I can even remember the name of it. "Alias John Preston". A very boring and long film. Well it just had to be boring and long when it was a "B" movie and you were waiting with baited breath for the main feature to start. I only remember the film because it starred an actor I came to know very well only a few years later, Christopher Lee, but that is another story.

Then there was an interval when ice creams and drinks were sold. Then the coming attractions and then Pathe News. How irritating all this was for a fourteen year old boy. Finally the big moment came. "The Dam Busters" came on complete with rousing march composed by Eric Coates.

Barned Wallis was the first to appear. The table tennis incident Dad had spoken about was actually shown. Then the problem of the coupling. But where was the actor playing Dad? There were some non speaking actors playing factory technicians but it was Barnes Wallis who was taking the credit for designing the coupling. He was the one who solved it.

"Is that you, over there?" I asked pointing to an actor who actually said something to Barnes Wallis.

Dad said nothing. He sat staring at the film.

"Is that you?" I again pointed to another person in a later scene. Silence. Only once more did I ask and I looked hard at Dad. His eyes did not waver from the screen.

When the filming was over we walked out in silence. Although I could not see his disappointment I could feel it. It was a long walk to home from the cinema. Nothing was said. It was only when we reached the gate to our house that I flung my arms around him.

"I'm proud of you, Dad," I said and tears welled up in my eyes.

"Then that's all that matters, son." Then with a smile, he added, "And it worked."