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From Hummingbird to Dying Swan

In 1990, Judy Raymond, considering Minshall’s King of Carnival, Saga Boy (I think it was), wrote: I knew it was art because it made the hair on my body stand on end. A generation later, mas man Peter Minshall, declining to politely fade into the background, allowing the lesser lights their lime, set the 2016 Carnival ablaze with his king, “The Dying Swan: Ras Najinsky in Drag as Pavlova”.

Quite in St Philip, Barbados, watching footage shot on a cellphone video camera, every hair on my body stood to attention and shivered in salute. And I wished I could have been in the Savannah, to see it with my own eyes – and to hear the collective gasp; not since 1980’s Midnight Robber has a mas blown me to firetruck away like this.
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​ Trinis Fall Apart

Turning and turning in the widening gyre/

The falcon cannot hear the falconer/

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world –

WB Yeats, The Second Coming

EVEN BY Trinidad’s day-to-day norms (which would amount to certifiable insanity anywhere else in the world), even in this very “special” place, where men pee at midday into the road, women carry their newborn babies to all-night Carnival fetes and motorists don’t hesitate before driving the wrong way down 500 metres of a one-way traffic system, the country went crazier than usual this week.

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Find a Party

YOU CAN tell you’re a Trinidadian in many ways but the most reliable indicator is that you arrive everywhere a day late and a dollar short – and it’s been that way ever since the people who used to tell us what to do left our shores, and left us high and dry. (It’s also true of most of our West Indian neighbours: from Jamaica to Guyana, we’ve destroyed any semblance of civilization we had.)

Now things were never rosy for almost all of us. The earliest inhabitants of these territories fared the worse, being actually killed off swiftly either by European diseases or the Europeans who brought the diseases here. In Dominica and Guyana you may find pureblood Amerindians but most of the people pretending to be Caribs in Trinidad could more legitimately claim to drink them.

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