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Firetruck 2016

ONE DAY left in this firetrucker and I can’t wait for it to be done and gone; mankind can’t even risk writing that he can’t wait for it to be “dead and gone”, should in case this bad-mind mofo of a year take it firetrucking literally and take one of his own in its dying seconds. God knows 2016 has taken away way too many from all of us who ever saved the day by dancing the night away.

David Bowie, who justified his life, and defined mine, with “A Space Oddity” – what am I, if not that? – and who wrote so many more songs that saved me, from “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” to the “Heroes” they’ll play at my own funeral, was the first to go, on January 10th of this year so dread that it doesn’t sound bad enough in Latin: annus horribilis, my ass; call it a pain in the annus.

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​Christmas Adam

MY YOUNGER brother and his dead-end friends – none of them feared widely for their rapier wit – were nevertheless the first people I heard use the expression, “Christmas Adam” to refer to today, the 23rd of December. More than 15 years ago, he’d invited me to his home, saying, “Come anytime from 6.30pm onwards, on Christmas Adam” and, when I baulked, offered the explanation, “Well, if the day before Christmas is Christmas Eve, and the Bible says that Adam came one day before Eve, the day before Christmas Eve have to be Christmas Adam!”

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A Prince Among Guitar Men

YOU’D THINK that, if God really knew what the firetruck He was doing, He’d have killed off a few others – the Jackass-elect comes swiftly to mind – ahead of the many great musicians He gave an unwanted booking for Pink Floyd’s great gig in the sky. This year’s dead musicians include the King of the Blues, the great BB King, the legendary Canadian poet-singer, Leonard Cohen, Sir George “the Fifth Beatle” Martin, Maurice White leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake (two-thirds of the great prog-rock band, Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Prince Be (the heavier part of the original crooner-flower power-rap duo PM Dawn), Leon Russell, Beastie Boy John Perry, Phife Dawg (from A Tribe Called Quest), Paul Kantner from Jefferson Airplane, Mott the Hoople drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin and Trinidad’s own Lord Smiley and George Victory.

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A Tale of Two Atrocities

Barbados, 2016

THE DRIVE-TIME call-in radio show, “On a Real” on Slam 101.1 took a record number of calls one morning in April. The page one newspaper story that day was about the 13-year-old schoolgirl who’d spit on and kicked a teacher...

Trinidad, 2016

Once, before, I’d seen something like it: footage shot on a cellphone of a barebacked man, supine, two pairs of hands holding his arms down – there must have been men holding his legs, too, for he made no struggle, just gasped as each of many knives penetrated his chest and stomach...

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​From Castro to Columbus, Ohio

The day before Bajan Independence Day and the world is falling apart, and me with it. The last time rain fell like this, Led Zeppelin covered, “When the Levee Breaks” – “if it keeps on raining, praying won’t do you no good” – and, the time before that, an old Jew named Noah built an ark. Rain coming down in sheets too thick to see through, like politicians’ lies, windshield wipers slapping time, I’m wringing my own hand with mine. Wash away my troubles on the road to shambolic Bridgetown. Read more
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