Tag Archives: Barbados

Processed Sugar – Tangled Roots memoir

photo by Anthony Farrimond

photo by Anthony Farrimond

Processed Sugar
– a memoir of growing up ‘mixed-race’ (an extract)

Mum and dad never really thought they’d settle in Pontefract. Ponte was supposed to be tough. Hard, gritty. Neighbour of Fev, Cas, Wakey, ex-mining town, northern, White working class. They had lived in York.

One day, heavily pregnant with my older brother Andrew, my mother ventured out to Betty’s tea shop for a teacake. An elderly lady made room at her crowded table. In conversation, she remarked: “One of the good things about York is that there aren’t many coloureds.”

Pontefract was quite a change to York. Both had sweet factories, a castle and a racecourse but the Pomfretian tea shops were of a much lesser premium. In 1976 there weren’t that many ‘coloureds’ in Pontefract either. Out shopping in the town centre with myself in the pram and Andrew seated on top, my mother met another friendly stranger who felt moved enough to observe: “People like you are really good to look after these children.”

Unlike Andrew who had the misfortune to be born in soft, cosy, chocolate Florentine-d, lace doilie-d, middle class York, I was born and bred in Ponte. I was proud of the fact. “Where you from?” People would ask. “Ponte”, I would reply in my broadest Pomfretian. “No, I mean where were you born?” Not giving them what they wanted, I’d answer: “At the hospital. You?”

Read the full memoir here.

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Tangled Roots is an Arts Council funded project which records and celebrates the experiences of multi-racial families in Yorkshire.

Contribute your own story or read others by Michelle Scally Clarke, Desiree Reynolds, Adam Lowe, Jane Steele, Emily Midorikawa & Seni Seneviratne by visiting the website tangledroots.org.uk

Bigger than Rihanna Pop…

I’ve been poeting in schools recently. A common corridor conversation has run like this:

Pupil: Cool hair sir!
Me: Thank you, I grew it myself
Pupil: Ooh, you think I could do mine like that sir?
Me: Well, you could do…
Pupil: How long does it take you to get it like that sir?
Me: It did take a few years…
Pupil: Can I touch your hair sir?
Me: No.
Pupil: Are you from Jamaica sir?
Me: No, but my dad’s from Barbados.
Pupil: ?
Me: Barbados? Where Rihanna’s from…
Pupil: Aw, wow, do you know Rihanna sir!?

I don’t know Rihanna.
I do know and have been blessed to link with several other Bajan artists who do not receive Rhi Rhi’s international acclaim however. One of the foremost griots, Adrian Green breaks down why “if you’s an artist that really really keep it real, you set yourself up to fail” in his epic poetic ‘Hard Ears’ which in nine minutes does more to enlighten on the state of contemporary Bajan culture and society than nine years, nine albums, nine lives of catchy polished “jam and wine” ever could:

Props due to Rihanna (and latterly Cover Drive) for putting Barbados on the map for the few culturally-deprived pupils in Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield I encountered – yet there is of course a whole cohobblopot of enriching nutrition Continue reading