Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is My Name Pon He Mout?

I am not a great one for chasing after 'celebrities', so I was a little surprised at my own reaction yesterday when I found myself having lunch with Colin Spencer. I have been spending the past few days touring around the island with a French visitor, whose origins are Martinique (father) and Madagascar (mother). She's trying for a post here but is now on holiday . We're going to the places I like, and have been helped by the rain, which means that time spent on the west coast has been very limited, because the roads near Holetown flood so fast. We were also helped on Monday morning when going that side when my visitor got a touch of a bad stomach. We decided to let her camp out at a friend's house and sleep it off, while I helped the friend do battle with LIME over a dickey modem. That turned out to be a stop at a great oasis as our troubles were rewarded by a late morning brunch of ackees, salt fish and avocado.

Yesterday, I decided to head north and east, after another little trip to see friends at LIME, this time for the nicest of reasons that need not bother you, but I can now synchronize my BlackBerry and my computer again. We headed off up the highway toward Farley Hill, but I decided that a look at Apes Hill would be a better bet. We climbed to unseen heights in Barbados.

My visitor was stunned at the expanse of the development project and that polo and golf seemed so prominent. I indicated that we were dealing with a very small playing population for the sports but the owner of the land was doing good business and satisfying his love of polo.

We then headed of toward Bathsheba--my favourite spot in Barbados. We took a stop at Chalky Mount and found Highland Pottery, run by a St. Lucian couple, who seemed so self-effacing it was hard to want to buy as we seemed to be disturbing important industry. We then headed for the Soup Bowl. That should have been smelt as a cue for food as it was nearing noon.

Once we got to the little parking area at Soup Bowl, I called a friend who used to live just nearby to see if she was home. She was, but now further away. She gave instructions that totally confused me, yet told me that her home was nearby, which seemed untrue given where I thought she wanted me to head. But, undeterred, we got my car spun around and headed to St. John's Church, which gives me the best view of my favourite place. I encouraged my visitor to take in the view and the tombs in the church yard. I checked in again with my friend. I was sure I knew where she was and we headed that way after the visit to the church was done. We were feeling a bit weak so a stop and relax were due.

After a few "Go straight and take the far left road" and "If you reach the factory you gone too far. Turn back and look for the road that leads up the hill" type directions, we got to THE PLACE. Nestled in the shadows of Andrews sugar factory and a cotton factory. We were well met and within seconds real soup was on offer --not yet arrived, but the cook was on his way with a pot. We took in the breeze and I took in a Banks. Sandals were kicked off and typical Caribbean liming was in full swing. We wrapped ourselves around bowls of soup as soon as they arrived--I spilled some of mine in my haste to the table,but the floor was clean. Our host, not a soup fan, soon looked at her empty bowl "That soup was slamming!" No disagreement, there, as we sucked on pig tail and chicken bones.

We rounded things off with some fruit cake and coconut bread. Enough, already!

Then we were told the news. "You are just warming the chairs for my real lunch guests." She was being her usual honest self, but it rang oddly. She smiled and said, "It's Colin Spencer...we're good friends." My jaw dropped. I am no fan of Calypso or Crop Over--more through ignorance and lack of familiarity. But, I had fallen in love with the song he had prepared for Crop Over, 'Inclusion in reverse' (see previous blog post). I was visibly excited.

Well, when Mr. S arrived, it was near 3pm and he was 'Jonesing' for his lunch. I had to give him my adulation and pressed his hand like I was a little boy meeting a long time hero. That somehow put my host back and she told us to stop that rubbish. I was not deterred and we chatted animatedly and my visitor was lost as we swung between Bajan and Jamaican slang. We discussed THE song a little and then Mr. S got into his soup, moments after threating to leave it was not in front of him in moments. The cook sat quietly in the corner and giggled; he knew that more soup was at his shop.

I must admit that I never really set Mr. S and his song back into the proper political context. He had been a rarity in the 2008 election, as a DLP candidate who lost a seat (St George North; to Gline Clarke, the incumbent and then Minister of Public Works; see election results). I never got into talking about the election, where Mr. S had 'gone for' the Minister, but clearly had not got him.

I did get a reinterpretation of THE song and was told that I had taken the lyrics too literally. I will go back and see what that may mean, especially as the opposition BLP get into a little ding dong about party leadership. Let's see if there will be a sense of inclusiveness there as the days pass.

I sensed that a Calypsonian who has put his words in song and on party platform was as dangerous as a blogger. I started to quake when he said that he was glad that he had the makings of two songs in his head after our crazy meeting over lunch. I do not know if I want my name 'pon his mout' and I'm not ready for any infamy; if he has it in for me, then woe betide me. As my friend made clear to Colin (he insisted on first names) about me, to make sure the knife went where it should: "He one of dem Jamaykans who does run off he mout' pon de raydo an in papers, an we gine get rid o he!" Nice friend.

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