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FOMO

May 17, 2016 — Leave a comment

My granddaughter just turned two. She lives in Trinidad. I live in Houston, Texas. And yet I shared some of her day. Singing happy birthday with her parents and other grandmother, watching the candles splutter with puffing help from her older sister, and I saw the first tentative wheels of the bike, not the bus, go round and round.

All because of the genius, gossamer threads of the world wide web!

And so, as I continue with this piece, I acknowledge the benefits of an interconnected world. Of shared events, albeit virtually. All something which was not possible when I grew up abroad, or when my children grew up, abroad.

My work life would be infinitely more convoluted without the ability to communicate with editors and publishers around the world through email. The wait is always long for rejection or, occasionally, acceptance. Much longer though in the Continue Reading…

Can political correctness be retrograde? It’s a tricky question. One I am grappling with as I write a historical novel. As with all thoughts, they lead to others, until a convoluted labyrinth of words and ideas become the warp and weft of the fabric of our convictions. Right or wrong.

The novel, Anna’s Fancy, is set in the Danish West Indies in the latter half of the 19th century. It was a time of unrest on many of the sugar plantations, even though slavery had been abolished on the island thirty years before the story starts. I am able to get around using the racial slur of the n-word by writer’s jiggery-pokery. But I do use the word ‘negro’, which is the correct terminology for the time. And yet, even though my African American friends assure me it is alright, I feel uncomfortable.

I have one particular friend Continue Reading…

“I have enough friends.”

Those four little words are some of the saddest ever uttered. But they are words often heard by those of us moving around the world, or moving to another town. Usually they are said by natives of the country who have lifelong friends along the same street, and family around the corner. Words not spoken intending to hurt, but as a fact. They do however dismay the recipient trying to fit into a new environment, whether in Dagenham or Delaware.

I don’t mean friends on Facebook, or connections on LinkedIn, or followers on Twitter. I mean honest-to-God people who know you, or want to get to know you, foibles and all. Someone who can rejoice, or despair, with you over coffee or wine at a moments notice. And that includes true friends connecting virtually. Either drink tastes almost as good on FactTime or Skype.
Continue Reading…

The Caribbean Columbus found was populated by the Taíno, a peaceable people, and the Carib, who were not. The lure of riches from sugar was great for many, and those from Europe with an adventurous or avaricious bent were keen to exploit the potential offered by fertile soil ready for the taking. Racketeers, privateers and buccaneers came too. The first waves of indentured labour came from Europe but most were not able to withstand the rigours of the climate and perished. And then came the slaves for which every nation involved, including those doing the initial selling or stealing in Africa, can hang their heads in shame.

Wearing the lens of the day, I would like to think there were a few relatively honorable men in the mix. Men who at least tried to treat those whose lives they owned with an element of care and dignity. That being Continue Reading…

Arthur Woodley was not a name I knew. But then I am not an opera buff. Had I been, I would have known Mr Woodley is a nationally acclaimed bass soloist most frequently associated with the Seattle Opera. His roles are many – one for which he is particularly renowned being Porgy in Porgy and Bess. He has also performed with Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Mexico, amongst other countries.

Why my interest? Because on Friday evening I heard Mr Woodley sing at Whim Plantation, now a Landmark Society museum, on St Croix. The setting was splendid. The windows of the rotunda-shaped room open to easterly breezes, the smell of recently fallen rain mingling with wax from candles sparkling high above us in a candelabra tarnished by sea air and time, the cricket chorale, all increased the audience’s anticipation.

His Continue Reading…

Boot Scootin’ Boogie

February 27, 2016 — Leave a comment

Home, for most of the year, is the cosmopolitan city of Houston, Texas. A multi-cultural centre with nationalities and languages mingling freely. The arts are covered, from museums to opera, from theatre to the quirky annual art car parade, and of course sports. Houston will be hosting the 2017 Super Bowl, that week-long extravaganza on which us Downtowners blame the construction going up, and on, our streets, though we can’t wait to be a part of all the hoopla.

But every year, at the end of February and lasting three glorious weeks, Houston returns to her roots. We go country. Western boots come out – Cowboy, Roper, Stockman, Western Work or Buckaroo with a Cuban or square heel, made from just about any kind of hide, from elk to elephant, alligator to ostrich depending on your sensitivities. Stetsons and cowboy hats appear, though I stay true to my Australian Continue Reading…

The Voting Process

February 24, 2016 — Leave a comment

In November 2002, at a reception in a small despotic West African country, I met an American purportedly in the country to advise the president on running true and fair presidential elections, to be held a couple of weeks hence. I was told the president had been strongly urged not to claim a win of over 87% of the vote. His suggestion was however ignored. The PDGE (Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial) won by a resounding 97.1%. The next presidential elections held in 2009 were won by the same party with a slightly smaller margin of 95.36%.

Now the cynical among us may consider those elections rigged. President Teodor Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his family have after all been in power since October 12, 1982, and Equatorial Guinea is not a country known for her openness, freedom of the press, or human rights.

Having lived in a number of Continue Reading…