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Return to Forever

IN 1976, after repeating my O’Levels in Somerset, I did my A’Levels at a “sixth form crammer”. Bedford Tutorial College had multiple advantages over Taunton School: I could go to bed when I wanted; smoking wasn’t banned; you could have girls in your room; and London was 20 minutes away by fast train, almost eight times shorter than the trip from Taunton.

I often went to London for the weekend.

Until I turned 18, my guardian in England was my father’s friend, MacDonald Bailey, the now-late athlete. When Mac and his wife Doris returned to Trinidad, their elder son, Robert, a founder-member of and keyboard player for the Afro-Caribbean fusion band, Osibisa, became my legal guardian. His younger brother, Richard, was a drummer of rare talent.

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(Almost) Forever Young

MY MOTHER turned 86 on Wednesday.


Almost all my life, my mother has always seemed young to me. For a period of a decade or more, between the grey hair and receding hairline (and the cigarettes and rum) that aged me and her redoubtably unfading natural beauty, if we went into a restaurant in another country together, people assumed we were husband-and-wife, not mother-and-son.

Even with my own creeping decrepitude nowadays, they don’t make that mistake any more.

She’s a great-grandmother now, my mother.

My old lady has become an old lady.


My brain understands we all age; and I only have to look at the mirror if I doubt that it applies to us all.

But my heart wants to rebel.

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​Weight, Andrea,Weight (Songs in the Key of Death)

THIS TRINIDAD, these dis-United States; eventually, one of them will kill me, figuratively, the other, perhaps literally. Fat Abu Bakr on impeachment trial again in Washington and, in Port of Spain, another family’s daughter slaughtered.

And David Byrne & the Talking Heads swim into my head, for one hundred thousand times in my lifetime, the groundbreaking video accompanying the foot-stomping song. “Letting the days go by/ Let the water hold me down/ Letting the days go by/ Water flowing underground/.”

Trinis, for once in a lifetime without their Carnival, but never short of bacchanal, chattering empty-heads lip-syncing the words of the Talking Heads song they never heard, all in the name of Andrea: “And you may ask yourself/ WELL, HOW DID I GET HERE?”

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Conversation with an Anti-Vaxxer

BELOW IS THE unchanged text of a real life conversation I imagined with a relative I don’t have. I certify every word as 100 per cent true because I made it all up myself (although most of the answers are derived from real ones I've been given). I imagined the exchange taking place in a socially-distant line at a doubles stand.

BC: So are you worried enough about covid-19 to pay for your own vaccination?

Auntie Vax: Never! They going to have to pay ME to take their poison vaxxing! And, even then, I taking the money but not the injection! Firetruck them and they evil plans!

BC [after pause]: Sorry?

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