Sunday, 19 December 2010

Two Seasons Guest House, Treasure Beach

A real Jamaican place to relax and enjoy life slowly. New aerodrome nearby makes getting there faster and easier.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Veronica Carnegie Launches Second Book

Writers: Carnegie, Browne, Campbell
Writer Veronica Carnegie launched her second book, Leaving Home in Kingston on November 18. Children authors Hazel Campbell and Diane Browne. Mrs Carnegie launched The Tie That Came Back earlier this year in June.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Power Of The Dream - Kingston 2010

I love sporting anthems. They are composed to inspire and uplift, and many times they do that job well. On one of my Youtube playlists is the Delhi Commonwealth song, Live, Arise, Ascend, Win; Raising Flag from the 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as the FIFA 2002 instrumental by Vangelis. Two Chinese compositions from the Beijing games are also my among my favourites.

Last week, Richelle Bellamy Pelicie delivered the 1996 Olympic anthem, Power of the Dream at an event in Kingston. A few minutes before she had beautifully rendered another song, so when I saw her returning to the podium I turned on my handheld recorder knowing that it would be a lovely experience. She became the medium through which that anthem reminded me about my great experiences here in Kingston, Jamaica in 2010, a challenging year for many of us in many ways.

Bellamy Pelicie's anthem, however, also came after a performance that I found hard to watch and afterwards applauded the dancers with respect. The Tivoli Gardens Dancers were given a space of river stone gravel on which to dance, and they did it. I have had a dance chief, justifiably, look at me in disgust when the sections of an assembled stage were not smoothly taped over. On another occasion, a different principal dancer was upset as the 20 minutes waiting time between warm-up and performance put his dancers' muscles at risk.  Quite reasonable annoyances for professionals, but I now reserve a special place of respect for girls who deliver a sound performance while dancing barefoot on gravelly river stones.

After that, the music of Bellamy Pelicie opened a stream of good reflections about the people of Kingston and Jamaica in 2010.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Dream of a Bookseller

Dream of A Bookseller

Dennis Gaymes looks along the street where his bookshop is located. On any business day there are streams of people and schoolchildren making their way on foot or avoiding motorists and resident vagrants and drug addicts.
Dennis Gaymes thinks too many children are
and parents need to be empowered

Gaymes sees this as the perfect location for a street in his city to be dedicated to learning and education. Ironically, the official name of the street is Paul's Avenue and St Paul the apostle is the educator-in-chief of the gospel. Upstairs in Gaymes Book Centre, where there is a view of the surrounding community, Gaymes explains that the capital of his country, St Vincent and the Grenadines, needs a centre where educational activities can happen outdoors, an open market encouraging trade in ideas and knowledge.

He speaks with passion, driven by memories of a misunderstood childhood where he was slow to learn because educators did not understand that he learned differently, Gaymes later found out that he was dyslexic: he has problems reading. His two bookstores carry several titles promoting good parenting and helping parents to understand their children's needs. His stores also proudly carry the widest selection of books written by Vincentians and books about St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In Gaymes' dream, Paul's Avenue hosts regular events featuring speakers on current affairs, or published authors. There are regular fairs on Education Avenue and all activities would integrate the residents of Paul's Avenue and aid their return as fully functional members of society.
This could be the Education Avenue of
St Vincent and the Grenadines

Gaymes is sensitive to the effect of drugs or neglect on people. He is from a loving family, but when he was not yet four years old he ate the highly poisonous fruit of the Belladonna plant which grows on the island of Aruba where they lived. That incident contributed to his learning disability.

After having to live through physical punishment in primary school for slow learning and then have his younger brother leave him behind in secondary school, he was able to qualify as a telecommunications technician and worked for Cable and Wireless for 25 years.

"I cannot study in isolation, he says, "I have to see the whole."

He went through a painful job separation and tried to start another way to make a living, including selling chickens. In 1996 his cousin, Trinidadian educator and writer Wesley Furlong, asked him to deliver some mathematics books to schools in Kingstown. He did, and the community called for orders. Knowing nothing about the book business, Gaymes rented a shop in 1996 started selling school books.

Peter's Avenue from Gaymes Book Centre 

Later, when Furlong started writing for a Vincentian market, Gaymes collected photos and publications about the nation for him, which led to a personal interest in carrying books written by Vincentians.

"Local books have a connection directly. It has value and it also has relevance, so I started collecting local material....A book to some people is like God, Writing is not something that people thought could be done; or that it came from heaven, like the Bible," Gaymes says of how books used to be seen by local people.

Courts of Justice and seat of Parliament
Across from Gaymes Book Centre is also a place where
the homeless while away the days.
The idea of Education Avenue has been germinating within Gaymes for several years. He watches hundreds of students and young people walk along Paul's Avenue and its peculiar features seem portentous. Along its length are the Courts of Justice, seat of Parliament, a prison, and the electricity company.  He sees the small open land beside the prison as a perfect space for readings and lectures. What a better way to captivate young people into an idea than to put it where they can reach it, where it is within eyesight and where their feet must trod?

The new public library in Kingstown
will be fully functional soon

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Hope Zoo - November 2010

Hope Zoo in November 2010

A crocodile enclosure at Hope Zoo
We have neither summer nor winter, neither autumn nor spring, said HD Carberry in his poem, Nature. At Hope Zoo, we have neither lion nor panda, neither elephant nor elk, but we have grinning crocodiles who "neatly spread their claws and welcome little fishes in with gently smiling jaws."

Juvenile iguana
Last week I was on hand to observe a brave zookeeper enter a crocodile enclosure and encourage the massive occupant to move away from the corner where he lurked. The reptile was waiting for an opportunity to heave himself over the barrier that separated him from another enclosure that housed the object of his attention, a female...and another large male.  It was the first time that I heard a crocodile issue a loud, annoyed sigh.

The Hope Zoo at one point was being promoted as a place featuring animals of the West Indies and Central America. It boasts several exhibits of locally endangered species. A visit to the zoo gives some reassurance that there are specialists devoted to the long-term survival of these creatures in the wild. It is pleasure to see juvenile and mature iguanas being brought back from the brink of extinction, the Jamaican Boa and the feared American Crocodile.

Until a few months ago, these unlovable creatures were the largest animals on display at Hope Zoo until they were joined by an ostrich pair. It is nice to have these outstanding birds in residence and hopefully they can bring more visitors into the zoo.

Near to the zoo entrance is the aviary of the loudest residents, the Jamaican black billed and yellow billed parrots. The furthest enclosures are the birds of prey in Jamaica including the Jamaican Owl, that looks like it has horns, and the small hawk that we call the Killy Killy.

There are big cats that are endemic to Central America, and perhaps one day the zoo will be the home of a jaguar, provided we can provide a suitable environment for it. Aside from appreciating a small collection of animals, the zoo is in a natural beauty spot and a stroll across its well-maintained grounds is time spent in the beauty of nature.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Review - Bad Girls In School

Children's Book Reviewer, Summer Edwards, took on reviewing Bad Girls In School at the link below.
Overall, Bad Girls in School was an okay read. It will certainly appeal to young Caribbean people who have a need to see Caribbean youth represented in literature in contemporary ways. It's key contribution I would say, is the way it challenges adultist perceptions of why young people behave the way they behave. Indeed, the figure of the Jamaican "bad gyal" is somehow demythologized, made understandable, human and therefore, sympathetic. I wouldn't call it a page-turner, but I'm glad that Harold swum against the current in writing a book about young Caribbean (Jamaican) people!
Taken from Summer Edwards Caribbean Children's Literature
Summer Edward is from Trinidad and Tobago and currently lives in Philadelphia. She founded Anasesem, an online magazine of Caribbean children's literature, in May, 2010. Her vision was to create a space to highlight the unique flavor of children's writing and illustration by Caribbean people and to thereby recognize and stimulate the children's publishing industry in the Caribbean. She earned a BAMagna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Psychology from Temple University and is currently a Master's student in the Reading, Writing, Literacy programme at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also in training to become certified as a Reading Specialist. Her poetry and art have appeared in publications such as BIM: Arts for the 21st Century, tongues of the ocean, St. Somewhere, The Columbia Review and Philadelphia Stories. She previously blogged about children's literature in general at Well-Loved Tales. 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Island Boy Sets His Eyes On The World

China Foreign Affairs University Sophomore, Huang Xiaochun (left) with Caribbean Journalist Programme Participant from Barbados Colin Wiltshire at the Great Wall at Badaling

Island Boy Sets His Eyes On The World

This Blogger visited visited China for two weeks and among the many wonderful encounters was making friends with China Foreign Affairs university sophomore, Huang Xiaochun, who is majoring in International Studies, including fluency in English and Spanish.

Xiaochun, tell us about your home?

“I am from the tropical resort island of Gulangyu in the South of China. I had to take a five-minute ferry to go to high school on the mainland. My father was a Customs official and my mother manages a 12-room guest house. We live in an apartment very near to the guest house. I can never sleep until late at home because the tourists walking past my bedroom window on their way to the beach make a lot of noise.”

Do you have any siblings?

“My family is a member of the She ethnic minority group, so under China’s family planning policy, my parents were allowed to have two children. My sister is 16, four years younger than me.”

How did you get interested in a career in the foreign service?

“From I was 14 years old I helped my mother at the guest house. I liked meeting people, learning another language and learning about cultures. I decided to attend a foreign language high school and prepare myself to represent my country in the field of diplomacy. I did not have to do a university entrance exam because I graduated from this special school. I want to help my country to be developed, especially for the peasants who devote their whole lives providing food for us. While we enjoy our success we should remember them. We are in the same nation and the same world: one humanity.”

What do you do as a hobby?

“I like volunteering and I am a member of the Greenpeace NGO and of the global youth organisation AIESEC (AIESEC is Association Internationale de Etudiantes en Sciences, Economiques et Commerciales) at my university. I was selected as a volunteer coordinator for this Caribbean Professional Journalist Programme. I do not get paid for this and I still attend my classes.”

Do you do sports?

“I do not play on a team but I do many activities with my friends such as swimming, table tennis, cycling, football, basketball, and especially billiards. Billiards is very popular where I am from and we follow the professionals on Taiwan television. Of course I follow the career of the famous Chinese basketball player, Yao Ming, who plays for the Houston Rockets in the USA. I also follow English Professional Snooker Player, Ronnie "Rocket" O'Sullivan.”

Do you follow fashion?

“Not really. I buy for comfort and quality but do not follow brand names.”

What is your favourite music?

“I like the Taiwanese R&B/Rap entertainer Jay Chou and the American groups Cold Play and Green Day.”

What about reggae music?

“I have never heard about reggae music. Maybe I have heard it but I do not know the name. I listen to music but do not dance.”

Do you go clubbing?

“No. I do not know any. Nightclubs are not allowed near to schools and universities in Beijing.”

What is your favourite food?

“I do not have a favourite food but like to try Chinese dishes from different provinces. When I travel home for the holidays on the train my friends and we will come off along the way for a few hours and try new food.”

Favourite Movie Stars

“Tom Cruise, especially in the movie Top Gun. I also recently saw the movie Inception.”

Are you religious?

“My mother is Buddhist and prays a lot. She selected a scripture passage for me when I was going away to university to encourage me and I keep the text on my computer desktop. I think about the future a lot and try to make a plan.”

What are your dreams of family life?

“I would like to get married and have two children, hopefully a girl and a boy like my parents. My girlfriend and I were in high school together and we have been dating now for three years. She is attending another university in Beijing.”

Which countries would you like to visit?

“Our neighbour India, and also South Africa and the USA.”

Please explain the meaning of your first name.

“My name, Xiaochun, is made up of two Chinese characters. The first means knowledge and the second means a clean mind. My name therefore is that although I must gain a lot of knowledge about a lot of things, I must also keep my mind pure and clean.”

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Good Girls Finish First

Good girls finish first. We will celebrate that today when the St Hugh's Past Students Association recognises Dr Janice Palmer Tomlinson as the Distinguished Past Student for 2010.

Janice has given service to the Association and the school in so many ways over the years and is also recognised as a leading citizen of Spanish Town where she practices dentistry. The Lions Club of Spanish Town has already acknowledged her contribution to that community.

Last year, the Association honoured three past students at the 110th anniversary banquet in honour of the school and it was so great to see all the ladies who turned out in their party best for that occasion. I will not be able to be at the AGM meeting tonight, but do hope that more ladies who want to be counted as doing something good in the community come out and pledge to work. Volunteering is never easy, but it makes you grow as a person in so many ways....if you survive. Congratulations Janice and thanks.

Photos from the glittering SHHS 110th banquet here

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Death of a Firefly (The Princess and the Frog)

"What happening?" the Toddler asked.
The animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog showed a firefly, whose light had gone out, gently cradled in a leaf and set afloat by his friends while sombre music played. In his year-and-a-half lifetime of watching cartoons he had never seen anything like this and could not understand. It was also the first time ever that he had ever asked me to explain something on TV.

"He died," I said, "And his friends are saying goodbye."

Explaining death caught me unprepared, but this is how it will be if I live in a way that will expose this child to difficult and complex topics and situations.

We kept watching the animation. During the crying, a new light shone down from the sky and then all of the firefly's friends were happy and really joyful. It was a kind and gentle treatment that I will cherish. Disney has helped us through deaths of beloved characters, think of Bambi's mother. Thank you Disney for that soft step in that difficult area. Handling death in storytelling is a very important task. It is not always going to be easy though. One of my nieces covered her ears when I retold the outcome of the hand-to-hand combat between Achilles and Hector in the story of Troy. Said she was not old enough to hear that story.

Playing With Little Wave

Photo taken by Kingstown Harbour, in St Vincent
Playing With Little Wave
On my list of not smart decisions, in which I will continue to revel, was wading at Fort Clarence Beach, Portmore after nearly a week of heavy rains. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant beach trips I have had with Toddler.

The overcast sky was not too dark to find and then to cherish a brown shell and a white shell each small enough to hold in one palm of a small hand. They were released so that the same hands could dig for a crab who we did not see struggle to emerge. It probably had alternative exits to its burrow; cleverly spaced to avoid detection.

Pelicans riding low currents keenly marked fish, occasionally collapsing their wings to cut the busy water and reach for prey. I do not think we saw a successful catch, but from there it was an easy move to the water's edge to interact with Little Wave. We played the game of keeping balance as Little Wave magically kept melting the sand from beneath our feet.

Little Wave was not cold, was not rough, just moving enough to circle ankles and roll the smallest stones and shells around. While we played, the remnants of a plastic bag slithered by in the watery sand just beyond the shore.

We left three ladies on the high sand sitting beside a score of similar bags that were full and tied. I imagined that they contained seaweed and sea grass that had been thrown up on the shore but that was not correct. The passing weather was not enough to churn the sea and cause it to release its gardens to the land. It was garbage plain and simple. The beach property beside this one did not have cleaners to gather refuse so it was was strewn with litter, mostly plastics.

Little Wave accepted fistfulls of sand and kicks that caused it to splash. It was a safe playmate, but playing with Little Wave was not the most sensible thing to do. The sea held a slight tint of green that was not a reflection of the sky but lovely blooms of algae thriving in nutrient-rich river water and speedily-released effluent from the treatment plant. I hope a little Dettol in the bath water will kill them as I will treasure today's joy of playing with Little Wave.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Weather September 29-30 2010

A Kingston gully wall shortly after 7 a.m. on September 30, 2010. Onlooker said that during the heavy rains overnight the water breached the wall and flowed through the yard. Photo taken from Red Hills Road.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Fly Guy - The Caribbean Adventure Series

Fly Guy is an aviation adventure series targetted at a Young Adult audience. It is currently edited to run in a very short format with four episodes each episode being 500-words each. This was the requirement for the Youth Link the teenage publication of the Jamaica Gleaner.

The full length series will run over seven episodes, with each episode being 2,000 to 3,000 words. In addition, there is an accompanying audio drama series made for five-minute slots.

The links below go to the website for the series where the complete text, audio and illustrations are laid out.

In the audio series, entertainer Farenheit plays the role of Christopher Khouri. He was interviewed on Power 106 with another actor in the series, broadcaster, Dervan

I hope that you visit, visit again and enjoy each stay.


Online Episodes: text and audio drama


Wednesday, 22 September 2010




Written by: Gwyneth Harold

Move over prestigious service clubs, past students associations are now the place to show philanthropy and social responsibility.

It is only a few days into the new school year but men and women of sports are showing that they are not dropping ball, baton or catch as they rally support for the schools that nurtured them into the well-rounded individuals that they have become.

Executive leadership of these associations are securing pledges of cash and time to serve the students now enrolled in those hallowed halls and fields of learning.

Leading the charge are naturally those schools that have a long tradition of unbridled school spirit. Vice President of the St Hugh’s Past Students’ Association and Director of Compliance & Internal Control at the Financial Services Commission, Janet Johnson Haughton, has marshalled a team of past students to launch, with the blessing of new Principal, Deaconess Elaine Cunningham, the Big Sister Programme (BSP). Targetted at Grade 7 students, it aims to help them to identify personal goals and to learn how to balance serious study and wholesome play.

Johnson Haughton, who played on the Senior Squad at the Netball World Championships when she was just 16, says that the programme is intended to complement the mentoring programme of the Association and to encourage discussion and activities in the areas of: civics, etiquette, care of the environment and the home, family life, modelling, public speaking, relationships, tolerance and conflict resolution, careers, African history and volunteerism. To date, 30 past students have registered and there are plans to include overseas alumnae in sessions using the Internet.

Working alongside her is UWI Lecturer and language specialist in the Department of Educational Studies, Joan Spencer Ernandez and Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club champion Lady Driver and IT professional, Gina Tomlinson. The call is being made in diverse ways including the the St Hugh’s High School Alumnae Association Facebook website and also the Unofficial St Hugh’s Hugh School Facebook website, reaching more than 2,000 individuals.

On Saturday September 17, IT Professional and veteran track and field coach, John Messam, announced a similar programme at Calabar High School as a way to regularly expose his boys to positive male role models. Mr Messam said that the goal is for each class to be adopted by a past student. A tangible output of this programme is that the interior of each classroom will be maintained by the boys and their mentors, including having it freshly painted.

Mr Messam, a former national junior record holder in hurdles and current president of the Calabar Old Boys' Association suggested that the school's culture of balance and excellence could not be passed on by legislation but by the interaction of fathers with sons, brothers with brothers, old boys with present boys, and in former times, boarders with day boys. He insisted that all the boys needed to progress academically and needed spiritual nurturing and that interaction with old boys through the mentorship programme was a key first step. He felt that this was critically important for Jamaica as it was the preservation of a way of life.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Pan Caribbean Financial Services, Donovan Perkins, who was the guest speaker at the dinner endorsed the call for a balance of academics and sporting involvement of boys; Mr Perkins was a player on the legendary 1977 Calabar football team which brought the school it first Manning Cup Championship. In his address, Perkins said that it was important to ensure that boys got a chance to learn and he pledged $1 million of his personal funds to start a Scholarship Fund for deserving boys. He was supported by fellow classmates Kerby’s Hardware Executive, Mr Charles Phillips; Real Estate Consultant, Mr Emile Findley; Executive Director of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr Gladstone Hutchinson and Chief Parliamentary Council, Mr Albert Edwards.

Captain of the National Combined Martial Arts Team, Jason Mc Kay, who was one of the three past students honoured at the COBA dinner gave the ultimate pledge that he so loved Calabar that he is preparing his only son for his old school. He is doing his part as he coached Calabar to become the national schoolboy champions in Tae Kwon Do.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Living in Ether

Ajay opened his palm and the Ether pill fell straight into Mother White gully. He wanted to be somewhere familiar and reassuring until he got tired so walked straight to the cemetery, his second home.

He paused at the entrance and allowed his hearing to decide which section of the May Pen memorial park he would sit that evening. Music from the Amphitheater brought strains of "glory, hallelujah". Brass, keyboards, plucked stringed instruments and percussion meant that a jazz show was on the Rose Garden Bandstand. A one-stroke bounceabout compressor engine and children's laughter said that The Rotunda was booked for a kiddies party.

A group of joggers passed him and mixed with their acrid vapour was a terribly attractive scent.

Ajay's skin pimpled, and he breathed sharp and deep trying to catch every available whiff. The joggers, four middle aged persons, were now many paces away, but this fresh, sharp, eerily intoxicating scent lingered and came in strong, new waves. He stretched his neck, caught the direction and strode across rows of resting plots to get to the source of aromatic beauty.

The rose garden was laid out in the same year he started his apprenticeship. He knew every inch of it well, had nurtured the root balls of most of the strong healthy plants and also sat throughout many concerts hosted there; but until today, always under medication. Being two doses free of Ether had made this wonderful experience available to him.

It was not hard to skip the dosage as his behaviour record had been clean since he was ten years old; the nurses trusted him to take Ether unsupervised.

The Pot Heads told him that he would feel more alive without the pill; that he would be aware of his senses and experience his feelings more acutely. They were right. Now he ate for taste and not for hunger. He arranged his shirt in his trousers a little differently because he liked to see how his jeans fitted. He Deejayed to himself while while he worked, pleased with making a rhythm as he clipped hedges. He was also shocked when anger overwhelmed him. Last week he became upset and forced himself to sit in a quiet place for half an hour while he regained his calm.

Ajay did not want to become a Pot Head. Those were the ones who took the Ether and then forced it out of their bodies by drinking an elixir of powdered metal and selected roots in a heavy bottom pot. The concoction freed up the limbic part of the brain to express emotion as it wanted and gave the Pot Heads the senses that they craved, even as the metals destroyed their renal systems.

Pot Heads made mothers cry twice. They cried once when their sons were certified as having chronic limbic disorders, making them lifelong clients of the Boysave clinic. Now they were crying as their sons' struggle to live beyond the drugs made them renal patients.

Admitted at the Horizon Boysave clinic after a series of violent behaviour and emerging criminal activity, Ajay is an example of the country's admirable 99% success rate for Boysave clients who had no relapses into negative behaviour. They were reknown as docile workers who did not object to manual or repetitive labour. The crime rate was negligible and remand and correctional centres had been re-purposed as Ether clinics.

Ajay searched for the source of the scent among the roses and found it sitting on a beach towel wearing a sexyfloaty dress. He stood downwind from her, enveloped in music and scent. If this was what life without his pill offered, he might be a Pot Head soon, he thought. Living in Ether was no life.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Three the hard way

Well I have done it. Written an adventure series, reduced it for newspaper format, re-wrote it for audio drama, commissioned artwork, produced audio series then laid it all out as a website. I am very excited about this as I think that this is how we will all expect from the Internet in the long run. A place to read, listen watch and reflect.

It is ready to be launched as textured content to support broadcast radio events, I can name a few possibilities: national pride, youth, ethnic celebrations, aviation celebrations, heroism.

I am now reaching out to radio stations and websites that need this kind of content.