Madness and Mayhem at home and abroad

1 February 2009

Well I’m back to life, back to reality. I have returned from de tropics to a house and fields carpeted in snow, the public still screaming for and not getting the bankers’ ‘heads on poles’, (and what about the head of Gordon Brown, the instigator of this mess, delivered on a silver platter?) a senior UK diplomat arrested for shouting anti-Semitic remarks at a TV screen in a gym, Obama’s first blip of mistaking Tony Bliar for a friend with high morals, and dear Robbie Redcoat Williams communing with aliens. Has the real world gone loony or is it just the complimentary Daily Mail I read on the flight home?   



I left Grenada in the grip of Independence Day frenzy. Flags and bunting hang from each window, balcony and terrace and everyone dresses in the national colours of red, yellow and green. They love their island so much. The Grenadian celebration of emancipation is a joy to be part of and a long way away from the UK to which I returned. Since recovering from hurricane Ivan, Grenada is in great spirits, lifted by a new Government, and an african american in the White House. Ironically while we were there our Moulin in SW France was hit by a hurricane and frantic phone calls went back and forth checking people, roofs, rivers and fallen trees. Next came a flurry of online photos of our granddaughters enjoying the snowfall in the UK.


We had the good fortune to stay at the house of our old, well mature, Grenadian friend, John Albanie, who introduced us to the island 10 years ago. John has many claims to fame, most of which we cannot mention. One which we can is his penchant for dressing up. He has an entire apartment in his waterfront property dedicated to storing bizarre outfits, uniforms, and stage props which are used in his annual Hash Bash stage productions of complete non pc mayhem. "Hash Bash" is the xmas party of Grenada Hash House Harriers ("Drinkers With a Running Problem"). It involves sketches, singing, poetry, choreography, theatrics - anything short of actual Talent. It is invariably sold out. I was made to open the show a few years ago - my reputation never really recovered. For some reason best known to themselves the powers that be have recently appointed him to be The British Honorary Consul in Grenada. At first we thought his selection was insane but on reflection since our return we can see some sense in it. The main point being that for all his many strange peccadillo’s (peccadillia?) John really loves Grenada and has the knack of making everyone from anywhere feel totally welcomed and at home there. (That will be $500 EC cash in an unmarked envelope left behind a brick in the back entrance of Government House on the Carenage, John).



We paid our customary visit to our plot of land to see if it was still there after 8 years and that we were not dreaming that we had bought this wonderful piece of the island. It is not very big, just over 1 acre, but it is right on the sea, with a secret beach to the side and 360 degree views of inlets, the ocean, mountains, palm trees and tropical greenery, of which there was so much we had to borrow a ‘cotlass’ from a friend to ‘cot’ a path through it. We were joined by Calvin Graves, the island arboriste, and his team, Mango and Desmond. ‘Calvin is a madman!’ laughed my friend Julia when I told her.


    I have known Julia since the Seventies when she starred in some naughty movies. She is now a successful, high class hotelier who owns and runs Petite Bacaye Villa Hotel, a beautiful coastal retreat; a completely incongruous piece of English/Caribbean chic in the rural setting of St David’s. She dreams up and creates houses on platforms with wind up steps on a pulley, outdoor zinc bathtubs, restaurants in trees, walkways in the air above palm swathed uber beach huts – and she thinks Calvin is daft! Well I suppose he is – daft about trees, plants, terrain, rainfall, water flow, wind direction, topography – just like me. I found a twin soul in Calvin. He spent hours exploring the land with me, naming the flora and fauna, herbs and trees and discussing how he would tend it in our absence.


    Towards the end of our stay we were joined by my great mates the Demetri sisters. They had booked in for a detox in a spa hotel. I did my best to undermine the good work and took them to Julia’s Tree House, to the new Italian wine bar and to the amazing BB’s CrabBack restaurant on St George’s harbour. ( BB is one of the many Grenadians who are now returning to the island after being brought up in the UK. They bring their skills and ingenuity to a land of natural, unexploited riches and are able to pass on everything they have learned from the mainland. There is so much budding creativity here, a unique fusion between on and off island, and it requires support so that it can grow.


    BB is full of catching enthusiasm about life, especially his food, which is the best I have tasted ANYWHERE in the Caribbean. On Saturday mornings he gives classes to local ladies who lunch and I am encouraging him to set up a Grenadian Cooking Academy. It was great fun introducing my girlfriends to the island that I have begun thinking of as my own, a place in which I belong if only for a short time each year. As John the Hon Con always reminds me, "I suppose there might be some good points about Waterloo station at 5.30 in the rush hour but…" I could go on and on about life in de tropics, my head is bursting with ideas and observations, but maybe I should put some time aside at the beginning of 2010 to write a book about it. Now, back to the VAT returns and the EU recording copyright term legislation.