Postcard from Bittersweet Isle

It has been three years since a decent holiday. The sun, sea and sand went straight to my head, long before the rum sank my skull.

Barbados is beautiful, bountiful.

I’m no devotee of reductive rhetoric yet I shall borrow what is known as the ’80/20 rule’ for a brief reflection: The getaway was 80% sun, sea and sand, with 20% left to the ‘dreamtime’ of thoughts, notes, storylines, outlines.

The former included some cultural trips and time on the water. “Boat drinks”. The latter was spent swilling around ideas for MSP’s sequel.

100% revitalising. 24-carat sunshine. 5 star food. Soulful people despite many weary, fixed smiles pointed at unaware tourists. Bittersweet Barbados.

One day we strolled to a monument. The stack of stones marked the 1605 arrival of the English to the island and the customary, Colonial ‘claim’ to its land, wealth and residents.

The English carved their claim into a tree – abruptly declaring that King James ruled. What has followed has been an unbroken rule from afar, until the present day. Adding insult to injury, the claimants put up a cross and got the locals to pay for that symbol by subscription.

Later on our trip, I heard about the Manchineel – often reported as the world’s most deadly tree. The tree is found all over the island. As well as being populous it is highly poisonous. Given the island’s prickly past, I briefly hoped that the English arrivistes had first laid hands upon such trees back in 1605. My wishful thinking was soon washed away with the soporific splash.

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