What’s Behind The Square Window?



Most British children who were allowed to watch television from the 1960s onward will remember Play School. We had a selection of toys presented to us who could apparently speak through their human companions; Little Ted and Big Ted – who I’m sure were gay or maybe that’s just me. There was Jemima – a throw back hippy rag doll and her evil counterpart Hamble. I fucking hated Hamble. If Hamble were a person she’d have been that dodgy looking woman down the end of the street with 50 cats and a house that smells of ammonia, stale cabbage and burnt tapioca pudding. Finally we had Humpty, a rotund character. I’m not sure we’d be allowed Humpty as a toy today because the program makers could get accused of being fatist. It’s because of Play School that I developed an irrational fear of feet. Some middle aged woman presenter did a sketch on feet. Her feet were minging, I mean disgusting gnarly bunioned beasts. At least that’s how they looked to my 5 year old eyes. I’ve never really recovered and I’m wondering whom I could sue?

Everyday on Play School we were invited to look behind a window of the house and a story would emerge from the image that came slowly into focus.

Play School and its window stories are similar to living here in Jolly Harbour. Behind each of our condo doors lies a novella in itself. Dickens would have had a field day and if I had any sort of self discipline I should sit down and type a weekly saga of events. Scrooge was positively Mr Fezziwig compared to some of the miserable shites who live around here in the winter.*

Antigua is a rich vibrant explosion of colour and people. Jolly Harbour? Not so much at times. The comradery experienced during our hurricane season seems to have died a death. Our resident tourists have returned; old scores, petty resentments, bitching niggles and gripes resurface for their annual airing. It can be a dangerous place to live for the idle handed. It can be very easy to fall down that rabbit hole and never escape. I can now understand why some ex-pats throw themselves towards charitable deeds; it staves off the temptation to live on an existence of gossip and backstabbing. I’m not saying that Antiguans aren’t prone to a good old gossip. 10 minutes under the tamarind tree at our local beach will give you an intimate insight into those who are no better than they ought to be, but the ex-pats seem to take it to a whole new level. Some of the resentments people hold against each other can last 20 years or more, or so it seems and all because someone’s patio is one third of a tile bigger than they think it should be. A prime example is Brun-fucking-Hilda. Short version of who she is: A lady who unofficially looks after a few villas in our street for some elderly Swiss homeowners. She has zero social skills and she screams at contractors, tourists and other homeowners as if she owns the whole damn village. One of her particular pet hatreds, of which she has many, is people parking on the driveways of the empty villas. For 7 months of the year there are approximately 4 fully occupied houses in our cul-de-sac and the rest of the time we have renters drifting in and out. So naturally builders and contractors park in any available space. It’s not the crime of the fucking century. It’s not like the parked cars are permanent fixtures – unlike one homeowner who took it upon himself to build a doorway through to his neighbour’s balcony just because he felt like having an extension to his property – parking a car temporarily is not the same as commandeering someone’s balcony as their own. There again, if that’d been our house, and someone wanted to have through access to our balcony and bedroom I’m pretty certain that we’re both in agreement on this, John and I would just have taken to having sex on the balcony or making sure we did our anal ablutions in full view.  They’d brick up any doorway pretty damn quick, unless they’re a very special type of pervert of course. Anyway, Brun-fucking-Hilda decided she’d had enough of the riffraff on the unused drive so she annexed it off with another of our neighbour’s plants and tied together scratty pieces of string in order to establish border rights. NO ONE WAS FUCKING THERE! NO ONE HAD BEEN THERE FOR MONTHS! When confronted by us regarding her evil plan she waffled that she couldn’t understand English and scuttled off back to her home in the hills. We haven’t seen her since. The actual homeowners are lovely and on return were horrified to learn their home had been looked after by someone that clearly embraces psychopathic tendencies. Peace reigns supreme in our little corner of paradise. I can’t say the same for the rest of Jolly Harbour. The residents association is battling the same old battles but the long-term residents just plod on with life knowing that in 4 months time or less, everyone will pootle off home again.

Thankfully The Yuletide Spirit does indeed live amongst us yet. We had a group of Barbudan evacuees living down the street following the devastation on their island. When we asked one of the beautiful little girls how things looked after they’d been over for a weekend to assess the damage, she just in a matter-of-fact way pulled her tiny finger across her throat in a resigned gesture; all gone, nothing left of their beautiful family home. Later that day we saw Hayley and her friends again. Their energy and zest for life is infectious. They bounced down the street to fuss Holly and Fred. The girls found us hunting out our Christmas decorations and dived into the boxes and promptly decorated our house from top to bottom. We had no tree at this point and we told the girls we’d be back in a few hours with a tree. Much excitement greeted the tree. Once again they set about adorning our plastic symbol of winter evergreen beautifully. We were taught a Calypso Christmas Song and our tiny home was ringing with laughter, noise and joy. John was forced to learn to play ‘How Will Santa Get Here’ on his guitar. The fact he couldn’t play  it perfectly within 5 minutes caused hysterics amongst the girls. Eventually we were all jumping around the house singing.

Our home calmed down to a dull roar and Hayley asked where are our presents? I told her that we don’t buy presents for each other anymore as we have everything we want and need in life. The girls were not happy about this at all and I was chupsed severely. They left our house deep in discussion. About half an hour later they returned with tiny gift-wrapped packages. They placed these parcels solemnly around the tree and called John in from outside where he was fixing something on Mahalo. He was instructed to open these shiny packages. In each gift was a small toy, a bangle, some crayons. Each girl had taken one of their last remaining precious possessions and wrapped them carefully for their neighbour because they were sad that he wasn’t going to be visited by Santa.

 That my friends, is Christmas.

 Have a good one, however you choose to celebrate.

 *If you haven’t read any Dickens you must do so, immediately. Put him on your bucket list and if you don’t at least try, fuck off you miserable fucker (all those literature/ language lectures and seminars were not wasted on me, oh no!)


……….Feeling a Bit Tallis.

dead fish


There are some weeks where the only solution to the shit with which you have been surrounded is to have a good wank. Seriously. Just find a space and masturbate the living sigh/scream/clench out of yourself.

I can’t sit here and type that my life is tortured, because it isn’t. I live a life of absolute wonder, joy and contentment and I will not make any more apologies for this.

Right now the big exhale has begun in this tiny corner of the planet. Hurricane season has passed for another year and those of us who escaped the fury can sit and be grateful for the peace. I cannot comment on those who are suffering still; this was not my experience of 2017. I would like to think that those I have met, who have had to rebuild their lives, have encountered, at least through John and I, compassion, empathy and stillness in which to regroup. Yeh yeh, that’s a bit proper hippy dippy but you know what? Fuck off. Space, silence and the warm stillness of stroking a dog can help some people. I’d like to think that our little space here on the rock in the middle of nowhere has in some way helped those we met, to begin the painful process of moving on. Moving on can be wrenching; I know it is. In moving on we often have to fasten down the screws of the coffin, a coffin which may contain hopes and dreams.  We carry our past with us, yes, and our history shapes our present but the process of moving forward can be painful and some traumas are too burdensome to bear all of the time.  ‘Nuff of the navel staring bollocks.

So where am I right now? It’s been a while since I could be bothered to update this journal. It’s a very self-indulgent act, having a personal writing blog. I have been so far up my own arse that putting words to how I feel would make a mountain vomit, but thankfully I’ve had a few glasses of wine and I feel relaxed enough to splurge out a few paragraphs. Of course listening to the late GREAT Lord George Michael of The Shuttlecock helps too.

So, to summarise. We had few wee storms pass; Mahalo survived, dogs are fine, John’s arse still hasn’t sagged and Antigua remains.

The resident tourists are dribbling back. They bring with them their sense of entitlement – of course. Example? Apparently it’s disgusting that batteries are being stolen out of golf carts; golf carts are the vehicle of choice around this little community and it seems their batteries are a currency here on island. My reaction? Take the fucking things out of your carts on a night then you dozy tossers! If you choose to tax reside in a country where the minimum wage is less than a loaf of bread, don’t be surprised if opportunists take what isn’t bolted down. Fuckwits! Yeh, ‘k stealing isn’t cool. Blah! Of course it isn’t but you know what? People with nothing to lose will take what they need to survive. Just because you’ve a house in a gated community, that doesn’t protect you. Take a long hard look at the reality vaccuum in which you’ve decided to be tax exempt and wonder why it’s so cheap.

So the old year rumbles on towards the new. What will change? I’d like to think we learn from history.

As Sir Terry Pratchett said, ““If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”

I think I’m still going wrong, but we’ll see. Every now and then I feel the need to hit that Big Red self destruct button. That’s probably a human thing. At least I have John; he keeps my self-restraint boxing gloves tied firmly in place.

Our Airbnb is drawing to an end too. John and I have begun a new venture – of which I will write later. I am so grateful to the incredible humans who have passed though our house this last year.

We have had in excess of 20 bookings since January and so many people have been much more than paying guests.

We lost, and I say lost because that’s how it felt when they left – Carmen and Tobias. Two incredibly vibrant world travellers. They breezed into our lives for a three night booking and stayed for three weeks whilst they bought a new boat. Fred fell in love, Holly fell in ambivalence – as is her way. We learned how to live without meat in our diet as Carmen is a die-hard veggie person* This old soul felt energised just having them around; it reminded me to look at each day with new eyes, not jaded ones.

Short and sweet I know but I’ve just been distracted by The Tallis Scholars on YouTube and I need another glass of cheap plonk.

I do so hope that normal service will resume soon**

*Ask Tobias about the night he was hovering around the sweet and sour chicken left overs.

**Don’t worry, I’ve a beady eye on the big old sack of shit.