I don’t know where I live. Honest. The main post office in Bridgetown assured me I lived in St. Michael and doled out my unique postcode – a phenomenon only introduced to this small rock within the past year. But the local post office spends several minutes a day scratching out St. Michael and substituting St. George from all our post before our post lady zooms by on her scooter to deliver it. Having consulted both parties and found that neither is willing to back down in their territorial claim, I fear an ad hoc arbitration commission will have to be convened soonest before the postmen and women come to blows. Personally I’m hoping St. Michael wins out for reasons that will be obvious later.
In some ways the St. Michael/St. George territorial claim is academic since there isn’t even a street sign to indicate you have reached Beacon Hill. Town and Country Planning said they will look into the matter but the gentleman I spoke with was pessimistic. When pressed, he explained,
“Madam, fuh ah new sign a body go have to make an inspection. Den de body go have to report de sign missing and den ah next body go have to get de sign make and put up.”
With so many layers of bureaucracy to penetrate I have little faith in getting a street sign before First and Second Born come of age. But this is a new era - the Yes We Can Age. Undefeated, I have actually made an (official-looking) one – ply wood painted white, with black letters, in what I hope passes for Times New Roman. But that was only half the problem. In a family of Hobbits, even aided by a ladder, none of us can attach the sign at a height that would be of use to anyone other than fellow Hobbits out on the St. Michael/St. George border for a stroll. There’s nothing for it but to persuade a passing Light and Power truck to nail it to the electric post at the start of our road. Failing that, the next tall person to visit may have to climb for their supper. So if you visit mi casa, are a good six-foot without shoes, and of sound body and mind…well, you have been warned.
Apart from naming a place, have you considered the other ways in which both my neighbourhood and yours can be mapped? Wandsworth in London is identified as a borough South of the Thames. It is also identified as “Nappy Valley” for having the largest number of residents aged 5 and under in the UK. When we lived in Battersea, a mere mile from Wandsworth, doctors told us we would never be natural parents. So we moved from our family-sized terrace house to a funky, white, glass cube in Wandsworth. Within a year not one, but two babies, were projectile vomiting their pureed, organic carrots all over that glass space. No one knows for sure but urban mythology suggests it’s all part of a top secret government experiment with the cappuccinos served at local cafes. The truth is still out there.
So what is the truth about the eleven parishes on this small rock? The opportunity for investigation came from a most unusual source. The Barbados Art Marathon, hosted by the rather posh Lancaster House Gallery, invited artists to be the art world equivalent of Jack Bauer and make a work of art, from idea to ideally wall, in 24 hours. Being crap at producing anything decorative I decided to do a map of Barbados with a twist. I handed out questionnaires to everyone who set foot in Lancaster House asking them to list the parishes they have made whoopee in the last five years. Once people got over the shock of the question they seemed eager enough to comply. One grown-up daughter was visibly shocked to see her mother happily ticking away while she had just the one parish on her list. Several people completed their forms only to retrieve them saying they had forgotten about “Bathsheba” and wanting to confirm that this sleepy village on the east coast was indeed in St. Joseph. Only one person refused to complete the survey and one man said I should be ashamed of myself.
The results showed that St. James is on top and a cluster of gold stars suitably identified this parish on my mis-guided map. St. Lucy is full of people sleeping alone so a few dried berries from the Casuarina tree were all that demarcated that parish. If you can’t make it to St. James then Christ Church (pink hearts) followed by St. Michael (multi-coloured foil confetti) is your best bet for a good time. Most people ignored St. Thomas and headed for St. Philip with its wide-open vistas and bracing winds. St. Andrew is not as dry as St. Lucy but still I don’t want to move there anytime soon. Perhaps St. George just has too many cows to rank in this survey. Now you understand why if Beacon Hill is where I am putting a new kitchen I really, really,really want it to be in St. Michael, BB19191.