Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day in Bridgetown. I began by delivering the books to Pages Bookstore warehouse on White Park Road. Then I met David Goddard who took me to meet the journalist at The Nation, with whom I left a copy of my book to be reviewed in the paper some time in the new year. David then spent time showing me his Capital. He showed me streets that could easily have been parts of Georgetown, Guyana, the only thing missing was the stagnant water. Then he showed me the other, more well known Bridgetown. Cave Shepherd, and the rest of Broad St, the churches and other splendid buildings, including the Houses of Parliament; the marina with its million dollars moorings.
We sat in Independence Square and watched the sun go down, watched lovers meet and old men huddle in groups. Heard them curse the beggars. ‘If you want money for milk, try finding a cow – it would be free.’ The beggars seemed undeterred as they moved to the next group, or person. We were approached by at least three, each with a different story, none receiving gifts from us. While not feeling threatened in any way, I felt a little uncomfortable. Felt I could have broken the mould and given something, but I took my lead from my guide and said, ‘no, not today.’ and wondered what Jesus would have done.
The square took on a fairytale appearance in the dark. The yellow and blue Independence lights strung across the city, around and across the river, gave a magical feel to the night. The dark shapes were no longer old men, beggars and people making their way home, but fairies and nymphs, gnomes and princes gliding through a wonderland of colour that twinkled in the backdrop of the night.
We walked the length of Brown’s Beach and marvelled at the fairy castle in the distance. Only close up did it become the Hilton. David was proud to show his homeland, proud to be a citizen of this island where the only place with more centenarians is Japan. Proud to be in a well governed and well organised country, where the infrastructure works and its safe to walk the beaches at night. And so he should be.