‘Tis “the season” to be jolly on our small rock. Visitor numbers peak as the winter birds settle into their villa nests on the West coast. Those who cannot afford to nest here from November through to April make the pilgrimage for a week or two as a brief escape from the punishing northern winter. We put on major cultural shows for them – international culture rather than the stuff that makes up our other major local culture event, Crop Over. This being little England we particularly thrive on a little of the English cultural and social scene. Winter birds want to be able to report back to the less fortunate of Abergavenny and Aldershot that they did not miss out on anything and they got a tan. You saw Much Ado About Nothing with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Festival Hall, London? We did it at Holders Festival in a Globe Theatre, London production. Wish you were there darling!
Holders Festival is always held at Wendy Kidd’s home, Holders House, a 17th century plantation, high on Holders Hill and overlooking the polo grounds and Sandy Lane’s Green Monkey golf course. It has the ambiance of Glyndebourne opera in Sussex, minus the compulsory black tie stuffiness. Even if you are not a culture vulture it is worth going to the Festival just to wonder around the exquisite grounds on a warm evening, preferably with a lover and some wine. (If you have just dumped the lover or heaven forbid, been dumped, it is entirely appropriate to drink directly from the bottle.)
In keeping with the international flavour of the Festival this year we were treated to the classical sounds of the Montreal Guitar Trio, from, I assume, Montreal. From Guinea we had the high-energy sounds and dance of excellent Naly Kouyate. There is always an afternoon devoted to children as well as the romantic, Poetry on the Gallery night, for the more literary minded. My personal favorites remain the comedy acts, this year featuring the ever popular Kit and the Widow and, on another evening, the excellent Chicago’s 2nd City Touring Company. Mixed in between are a variety of local performers – many having their first international exposure through the patronage of Holders. If you missed this year don’t sweat. There are at least two flights a day from London to Bimshire and next year will be as fabulous and glamorous as ever.
It is all held en plein air so you have to go prepared for the odd downpour. On the evening with the Chicago comedy company the heavens opened – dampening seats but not spirits. Indeed we simply passed the spirits to forget the rain. Liza and I had turned up empty handed so we put on our best impression of sad and hungry orphans. It worked. Sonia, a generous Italian madre, opened her heart and picnic basket, fed us yummy canapés, strawberries and poured us too much wine. And back at our seats, J and P, sitting in the row behind, insisted we have some chocolates. Liza is clearly my lucky charm.
At Holders that evening I also learnt that this blog is gaining popularity on our small rock. As I attempted a half-dignified walk back to my seat, each step of my heels churning up wet mud and flicking it onto my trousers, I overheard a woman hissing to her companion, “That’s the blog lady!” Yikes, I really must start wearing makeup and posh frocks. I am only two letters away from being “That’s the bag lady!” And I don’t think they will be referring to my Birkin.
You see Barbados in season is really one extended cocktail reception for the privileged but with subtle differences from the London scene and even from the Port-of-Spain crowd. In London today, as befits the world’s financial trading centre, hard cash gets you into the elite crowd. It is made up of celebrities (rated A to D) money (London property, American hedge fund or Russian oil) and those who prostitute their aristocratic past and title to the nouveau riche. Consequently, there are a whole slew of players on the fluid periphery of the elite, in constant flux, once their Warholian fifteen minutes of fame are over. So knowing who are the current “in” crowd, where they hang out, and who’s who takes some research lest you make an embarrassing mistake.
Perhaps the Brits could simplify their lives by heeding the example of post-colonial Trinidad where people are segregated, not by money, but by banner. At major events my people erect huge signs saying “PUBLIC”, “VIP”, “VVIP” or, confirming that straightforward fame isn’t what it used to be, “VVVIP”. You confirm to yourself and the rest of the world your status depending on which threshold you are invited to cross. Bim, by contrast has such a stable social strata that they dispense with signs or symbols of money. Everyone simply knows the elite. There is no big mystery. At Holders, for example, Simpson Motors, distributors of Mercedes Benz, had a champagne tent. The elite were all there waving to each other. Wannabees or plain Shaquan and Shontelle could be spotted at ten paces. Bajans are very proud of this set-in-concrete social set up.
Non-Trinidadians might consider this forensic detail about social strata a little obsessive, but of course it is all a matter of genetics. When scientists finally get round to the DNA sequencing of a Trini, the smart money says that they will discover that we have a special gene called the “MACO” gene. Just so you don’t get confused, MACO is not an acronym for Mars Atmospheric Constellation Observatory or Military Assault Command Operations. The most succinct definition I have found is from izatrini.com who states that a Maco is a person who minds other people's business for the purpose of gossip. e.g. "Wha yuh macoing so for?" A person exhibiting a tendency to maco is macocious. So as I do more of these social events of “the season”, I am fast becoming the No.1 Lady Maco of Small Rock. I am even thinking of changing the name of this blog to Macoing Wha Happening On De Small Rock. If you think you might have the maco gene yourself, and my observations are inadequate, then may I recommend you find inspiration from one of the world’s best “glossies” - called of course, MACO.