That’s what my ex-boss announced when I told him that I was leaving his organization. I said, “don’t fucking bet on it mate’.
The conversation was the culmination of our challenging three-year working relationship. I sashayed out of the door attempting my very best flounce and in my head I succeeded in being confident, assertive and absolute. In actual fact I probably just came across as stroppy, bad tempered and slightly childish. Whatever the actual effect, that was the end of my voluntary work with The Citizens Advice Bureau. Don’t misunderstand me, I thoroughly loved every single minute of my time there; from the eclectic mix of fellow volunteers to the paid staff members and of course my trainer and mentor Carol, a woman who is beyond words, a woman so sodding intelligent that if she’d been born at a different time and from a different background I have no doubt she would be one of the top human rights barristers in the known world. I loved the clients too, even the ones with a rather fluid arrangement with hygiene (which isn’t easy on a summer’s day in a five foot by five foot room with no ventilation or windows). I thrived on the challenge of fighting for those with no voice, for the individual lost in a bureaucratic melee of bullshit. What I couldn’t do was play the game, the political networking of smiling nicely at fat archaic MPs and Councilors who cared more about their image and feathering their retirement nest than actually getting down to doing the job for which they were voted. I appreciate not all elected representatives are the same but I met very few who were not.
The reason I would be bored after two days is apparently according to my ex-boss, sitting on a beach all day would become tiresome, tedious, banal and pointless. Abso-fucking-lutely! That was the whole point of coming out to Antigua in the first place, for a change of pace, a change of life, just a change. The chance to be bored seemed like a distant fantasy after years of children, work and the usual western European lifestyle of now now now.
The reality is very different. Far from being bored I have met people and enjoyed things I never thought I would in my little life. So how do I spend my days?
Yeh, some days I just sit on the beach, watching the frigate birds circling and enjoying the warm sun on my body. I sit watching the ethereal high clouds twist into swans and dolphins, and then they evaporate under the Caribbean sun’s steely glare. Often I find a spot far away from everyone and just be. It’s under rated you know. Enjoying your own company is very entertaining, well it is if you’ve got a brain like mine which never shuts up and the internal dialogue seems to have verbal diarrhea.
Then there are the days I cycle over to Cocobay and see my friend Vincia. We chat in between her serving the pampered clientele of the hotel. Lovely simple conversations about life which remind me just how similar we humans are under the skin, we both worry about our children, we both want stability, a roof, a full belly and a future with something to look forward to. Saying that, there are times I despair with the human species. For example, sitting at the bar two days ago a pasty white bloke aged I dunno, anything from forty to sixty years? It was hard to tell, he had a face like a smacked arse and that type of demeanor that exudes misery. I was face to face with Eeyore personified. The sun was shining between the blissful heavy showers, he had a rum punch in his hand and his opening conversation gambit was (to get the full effect please imagine the voice of Ozzie Osbourne)
“We stayed on Antigua two years ago, but not here, at Grand Pineapple, it was lovely it was sunny all the time, its done nothing but rain since we got here.”
This was accompanied with an eyeroll and a sneer towards Vincia! Like she’s got some control over the damn weather. I wanted to say, “For fuck’s sake you whining twat, get a life, you’re sitting in paradise being waited on hand and foot, what exactly do you want out of your pitiful existence, I mean ok, you were not dealt a fortunate hand in the looks or height department but shit, life could be much worse. What more do you want right now, for the sky to piss diamonds?” But of course I didn’t say a word, I am just an anonymous guest at the bar (I take my own water by the way) and I never want to get Vincia into trouble. So I shrugged and said, “Weather eh?”
Seriously though, this is the type of entitled spoiled behavior that gets right on my slightly saggy tits. The fact he had earned/won/inherited/found in a skip/stolen enough money to come on a holiday in the first place is a lot more than ninety nine percent of the world population can afford and still that’s not enough. Yes I know he ‘might be going through some stuff right now’ but for fuck’s sake I wanted to say, look around you man, give your head a wobble and just breath in where you are right now.
Over the years I’ve been coming to Antigua I’ve met a few like him, the type who won’t be happy as long as their arse points down at the ground. I wonder if travel brings the worst out of people at times? I know I’m petrified of flying but once those wheels are on terra firma I’m grinning from ear to ear, ready to hit the beach and waiting see what happens next.
I’ve met some really lovely people too and we keep in regular contact. That’s one of the blessings on this island, the people who live here and the people passing through. One day you meet a sports journalist who knows everything there is to know about cricket and another day you meet the owners of a jewelry business who feed you on the beach even though you only met them ten minutes ago.
An earlier visit in the year saw me helping out with an island charity called Dogs and Cats of Antigua, with the aim of promoting animal wellbeing, targeting those who commit animal cruelty, rehoming strays and establishing an effective neuter and spay clinic. Shifting rocks in thirty degree heat by hand isn’t the most relaxing way to spend a holiday but it felt good to be useful, even if useful meant screaming like a prepubescent boy when a cockroach the size of a cat ran over my foot and a nest of mice flowed over my hand like water over a riverbed. I am genuinely excited to see how it’s all progressing and plan a visit to the facility as soon as I can.
Of course there’s the mundane things such as washing, cleaning, house maintenance but you know what? When there’s the view of The Sleeping Indian out of the back of the house and the scent of flowers blowing through the open doors, they’re hardly chores.
Tonight’s entertainment is an invitation to a neighbour’s for curry night. It could go one of two ways. It’ll either be fantastic, I’ll drink just enough not to be obnoxious and meet some wonderful people or it’ll be ex-pat hell and someone will bring up the subject of the burkha, refugees and the UK Government’s Welfare Reform Policy, at which point I’ll fake a headache and come home. Trish back in the UK would shout the shit out of racist bigoted fucktards, and I’ve done it on a few occasions here, one of which was a barbecue, I think our host thought we might have something in common with the only other British couple there, but I think the only people who would have anything in common with those two bigots would have been Pol Pot, Idi Armin or Margaret Thatcher. Tonight, however is a very kind invitation, I shall err on the side of meekness. I’m optimistic though, really I am,
I know in the future I’ll have to find something more substantial than being a beach bum but for the moment that’s enough.
So no, I’m not bored after two days.