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