That binds our hearts from coast to coast
Monday, 14 December 2009
So we fall out of a plane last night, nine hours of stultified air and nonsense movies, into a car driven by Mr Dalton Lashley. He is very keen that we see the new Friday Night Fish Fry in Oistins, even though it's Saturday, late at night and everything is closed. Something comes back to me through the jetlag fog - Bajans use the verb 'to carry' for anything that is moved. So he's describing how they have a brand new petrol garage because they carried the old one away from the beach, they carried new houses to the highway and they carried some chattel houses down to Oistins to make the Fish Fry - a village of small wooden huts where they make delicious flying fish cutters (sandwiches) and dolphin and shark and snapper. Freddie sticks his hand out of the window and says 'It's so smooth and soft.' and he's right. There's a velvety quality to a Barbados night that makes you care less who won X-Factor or what the world banks are paying themselves. We pack the bots into bed and fall into a rum punch.
I wake with a start. Check the time. 9.30 - everyone's still flat out. Grab my bikini and creep quietly into the bathroom. Change and find a towel. Creep to the door and pull the curtains. Pitch black. Oops. Must have read the clock on the oven wrong, it's in fact 03.30. Back to bed. Phone rings. My sister. 0930 in England, 0530 here. Bots stir. By 0600 we are all four in the sea classifying waves and I am teaching my children which waves to look for to body surf. We are the only people in the world. The sea is turquoise, the sand silver. There is a coconut floating just past the breakers. Edward and I very much hope that it is a coconut; he has been stuck into Patricia Cornwell for ten hours and there is some hair on it and a shadow in the sea. I take the bots for breakfast and hope nobody reports a body.
We have a mad day; friends turn up, and friends of friends. The bots are by turns exhausted and charming. We go to the Prime Minister's Residence for a Carol Service by candlelight. The music is fabulous, including some bloke from Broadway who lives here and leads us in some spine-tingling arrangements of familiar carols. I kiss and hug people I haven't seen in 30 years; the bots grow tired of being told how much they look like me, and fall asleep on a rug. All around us everyone holds candles and sings; we get up and dance to contagious music; steel bands, moving lyrics, totally engaged audience. Frogs sing and the night is headily scented. I don't know what time it is and I don't care. Tomorrow we'll find our watches and eat proper meals. I will carry my children to breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will carry them to sunscreen and water stations. I will carry them to swimming and sunbathing. And while the hotel band plays carols with a soca beat, I will carry myself back 30 years on a beach fringed with casurina, sea grape and palm trees almost horizontal to the white sand. It's good to be back.