Tag Archives: Caribbean

The Power of Love

The emergent Caribbean character is laid-back, accepting, benevolent.

This can be charming or alarming.


On a Grenadian beach late afternoon in December Rufus and I strolled barefoot to book a massage for me at a resort.

Amongst the gardens and swimming pool was a verandah with a thatched roof, housing a breezy restaurant.

I made my way towards it, to ask for information.

As I approached, I could hear Jennifer Rush belting out ‘The Power of Love’ on the sound system.

Audible from some distance, close-up it was all-encompassing.

And there’s only one thing you can do, wrapped in a power ballad.

So I’m walking towards this verandah, singing:

‘The sound of your heart beeeea-tiiiing,

Made it clear sudden-lyyy,

The feeling that I can’t go oooooo-oooooon,

Is a- light years a-waaaaaaaaaaaay’…

And as I look up I can see a local woman in her resort uniform, checking on things for the evening meal at the restaurant.

And she’s also singing:

‘Coz I am your la-dayy, and you are my ma-aaaaan’…

And she sees me and smiles and carries on.

So I carry on too and we walk towards each other.

‘Whenever you reach for me,

I’m gonna do all that I ca-aaaaan’…

Until we’re face to face (Rufus in my arms, with an expression somewhere on the trauma spectrum).

And we’re just standing and singing right at each other, for what seems like a very long time, Sonny and Cher-styley; only we’re not married artistes- we’re out-of-tune strangers, in the dying sun.

‘We’re heading for some-thiiiing,

Somewhere I’ve never be-ee-ee-ee-n,

Sometimes I am f-rightened but I’m re-eady to learn

About the Po-wer of Loooove.’

Her: Can I help you, Honey?

Me: Yes. Please can you tell me the way to reception?



Bruno had a stiff neck on New Year’s Eve. He was hot as well, maybe related to the fact it was 30 degrees outside.

But as Jan 1st’s not ideal for a medical moment I took him to the doctor- a 60-year old man in shorts above a shopping mall, surrounded by religious bumper stickers.

Doc: What’s the matter, young man?

Bruno: I’ve got a sore neck. (gets his temp taken, as I give more background)

Doc (shaking his head, breathing in): Oh, no no no no no no. This is bad. This is verrrrrry, verrrrry bad.

Me (panic rising , shallow breathing, leaning forward): What do you mean ‘very bad’?

Doc (sitting back, folding arms, feet not quite on table): You brought him here. You have a mother’s intuition. What do you think the matter is?

Me (panic risen, getting agitated): I think he’s sprained his neck and I want to know how to treat it.

Doc (smiling, raising eyebrows, not getting agitated): Mmm-hmmmmm.

And you don’t think a fever is linked to a very stiff neck? They would have absolutely nothing to do with one another, you think?

Me (not smiling, feeling sick): What fever? I don’t know. What are you saying?

Doc (without panic or visible signs of nausea, preparing to annunciate every syllable):


Me (ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck): What do you mean? What do you mean, meningitis?

Doc (wearing a how-stupid-can-a-person-be? face, a bit fed up, sighing): Infection. Meningitis. In-fla-ma-tion of the spinal cord.

MeĀ  (Gigantic. Pupils. Trying. To. Be. Calm.): So what do we do?

Doc (wearing an oh-I-see-this-is-how-stupid-a-person-can-be face, incredulous, amused): You take some antibiotics. You go home. You wait.

Me (OMGOMGthisiscompletelynothappening): What do you mean? What do you mean we wait? I can’t do that. I need to do something else. I need to take him to a hospital.

Doc (sitting up, chortling): Oh, really? And you think that’s going to be a good idea?

Let me tell you something, Mummy. The hospitals here aren’t like the ones at home. Standards are different. You don’t know how long you will be there. You don’t know what you are going to leave with.

Do you see what I am saying to you?


He went on to try to explain that meningitis is on a scale of 1 to 10 and that Bruno was most likely at the lower end.

But I was already spiralling towards the ‘m’ word, to which he responded with an amble in the opposite direction (and a long explanation to the receptionist, who was similarly unmoved).

Suffice to say, tears, telephone calls and large-scale bustling to a private clinic followed- Bruno getting more hot, silent and stiff-necked throughout.

Tests confirmed (thank the bumper-sticker Lord) that he did not have bacterial meningitis and we were sent home.

So this could have been a story about a rubbish doctor concluding a wrong diagnosis (even if right in emergency terms).

But events on New Year’s day brought us together with the same doctor and it turns out Bruno probably did have the low level viral meningitis the doc was trying all along to describe.

He took the medications, rested and is now perfectly fine.

So actually this story is about a good doctor with a laid-back manner, in a high-octane situation.

And, yes, perhaps a bit about the power- the white heat- of parental love.



Filed under London Mumbo, Mumbo Life, Uncategorized

Urban Shed

If shed is a place where undisclosed activities take place- where private time is spent, time spent not playing with the kids, playing with nose-hairs instead- then car is urban shed.

A child got into mine last week and observed that it smelled- not just of poo, but of old poo.

Naturally, I blamed Rufus but the stench of shame out-stank it: I have since set about sprucing up the interior by means of hoovering and coconut waxings so that now the old poo odour wears the whiff of a Caribbean holiday.

World of Car is peculiarly intimate- a traveling capsule wardrobe of its owner. It distills all the charming character traits a casual visitor to the home would need a cup of tea to pinpoint: Aha! Directionless list-maker with a questionable taste in music.

Like the open-plan work station, it is designed to feed basic ugly needs within the proximity of an outstretched hand: communication, sustenance, excretion absorbancy, lip moisturisation.

Unlike the open-plan work station, finessing is redundant as passers-by are a.) strangers b.) passing by too fast to pass judgment. Intrusions will be shortlived:

‘I’m in my World of Car. You’re basically looking into my bedroom. I may be in a queue, plucking my eyebrows and scoffing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup while mouthing the words to what you deduce to be Barry Manilow’s hit ‘Mandy’, but as soon as the lights change I will be out of your life for good.’

Only here is rubbish allowed to co-habit undisturbed with snot tissues, a mauled A-Z and the spoils of dehydrated motorway service station hang-over stops, for interminable stretches of time; only here may penicillin party on the remnants of a Ginsters sausage roll.

Except in the inner sanctum of those for whom car-as-extension-of-self is exaltatory: people who arrange, suspend or otherwise undignify fluffy animals in the business of hauling their public-transport-averse bods from A to B; for whom a plastic tulip in a vase-effect plastic moulding is a day-brightening experience.

Or in Clean Cars, to which adheres (as to the virgin bride) the indelicate aura of ravagings ahead- the releasing of a toddler into a decontaminated rental vehicle aping the proposition of blank canvas/ paint bucket to Jackson Pollock: it will be transformed.

Meanwhile, usually NOT to be found in boot- the only proper secret space- is a corpse. But universally not a spare tyre, oil, water or health kit.

Because in an emergency- when the engine dies and the nearest phone is 3 horror-film miles away- what will really be required is a fishing net and nibless biro, those well-known objects of redemption…

Possibly sensing his work as exposer incomplete, poo child fiddled in the glove compartment on arrival and out fell a packet of marshmallows.

Our exchange of looks, wordless, was loaded thus:

‘You conceal sweets.’

‘Don’t tell.’

‘Bruno’s Mum is a sweetaholic.’

‘Don’t tell.’

‘I’m telling.’

‘Please don’t.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because what happens in urban shed stays in urban shed.’

All the same, double helpings of chocolate ice-cream with mallows on top for a certain little sir at tea-time.

And just a cup of green tea (one day at a time, one day at a time) for me.


Filed under Mini mumbo, Mumbo Life, Uncategorized