Card for Humford

A card I made for my main nephew Humford who is four today. I’m hoping that he’ll see himself in the character on the card. To help his photography career along, I bought him a photo album and a 27 exposure black and white disposable film camera.

He’s having his party on Saturday which I’m not able to go to, so I whizzed round to his place today to give him his presents. I wrote instructions in the card telling him what to do – take loads of pictures, get them printed, and fill up the photo album.

He didn’t want to go to bed, so I hung out with him a little while longer and read him The Wizard of Oz.

Happy Humford Day!

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Writers’ Club #9

Tonight is the last Writer’s meet of the year. Next week is club Christmas Dinner.

I penned this very quick Christmas poem to read to the class, as per the brief John sent out in his weekly email.

It’s just a light and humourous reflection on Christmas Eve at Sarah’s. There was always such a lovely atmosphere on that day. I don’t really recreate that well in this poem, partly because it feels like my poet’s voice feels like a rapper’s, and I’m just not that great a poet anyway. But in each line there is something personal, the seedlings from which undying memories of such wonderful years grow, the little things about time spent with such delightful people, two of whom have died.

It’s not terribly detailed as I won’t have much time to read. I’ve also never written a Christmas poem before. I’d like to give my fellow writers something different to the heavy manuscript I’ve been bringing to the sessions.

Here goes:

‘Christmas Eve at the Pendleburys’

So where do I start, there’s a lot to remember

A Pendlebury Christmas transforms your December

Three days downtempo and only good vibes

Food, fires, films, fill up and feel fine

After a walk up the drive, the first sign you saw

Was the wreath made by Tony that he’d hung on the door

A huge bundle of twigs, and holly and green,

You’d spend a good minute wondering where he had been.

The buzz of the doorbell; who’ll come to answer?

Tony, Ed, Katy…Sally or Sarah?

Sarah of course, she’d be bounding along

I know the sound of those slippers like a really good song

There she is at the door, a smile you can’t miss

Here comes the hug, now here comes the kiss

Away with my bag, and off with my coat!

Quick peek in the cards to see what folks wrote

Who’s in the living room? It’s my man Ed

With a tree that needs hoisting to way over-head

‘Ok old boy, you’ll need a hand with that, right?

But grab me a ladder, ‘cos I don’t have the height.’

Into the kitchen, Sally’s carols are playing

Real classic and choral are the words they are saying

‘Hi Shak!’ says Katy, with a biscuit and brew

‘Hi Shak!’ says Tony, over a crossword and clue

The tree is gigantic, a spectacular sight

Huge bulbous baubles and delicate lights

The room’s got that smell of pine and warm spice

With smoke from the fire, the atmosphere’s nice

Ed’s done the pastry, I’ve done the mince

You gotta go easy when packing them in

Get a good weight, use egg for a glaze

Clotted cream, custard, mince pies for days

Katy’s on rice cakes, with hummus on top

Sarah’s on Kettle Chips and chocolates non stop

Tony gets down with chorizo and cheese

Sally serves up a few G and T’s

Check out the tree, with mad decoration

Homemade mince pies for max degustation

Snacks all around for your mastication…

…Christmas Eve done, Christmas Day’s the next station 🙂

Uncle Majid #2

I hadn’t been to my uncle’s house in well over fifteen years. It always felt like a unique place; a quiet little close in Maidenhead, with perfect gardens front and back.

My Aunt Josephine answered the door. The big happy welcome was so familiar. I tuned into her melodic Italian accent as I talked with her in the hallway. I followed her towards her kitchen, slightly unsure of where I would need to go to meet my uncle. While idly chatting away to my aunt, and partly distracted by the renewing memories of the house, I was surprised by the presence of a young teenage lady, standing in the kitchen, holding a cup of tea.

My aunt looked over her shoulder as she set the kettle to boil. ‘Do you know who this is?’ she asked, nodding her head back to the girl. As she asked, I shook my head, but with a curious and eager smile. ‘This is Sophie’s daughter, Louisa!’ she said. My aunt was already anticipating the fun of watching us meet for the first time. I hadn’t seen my cousin Sophie in twenty years, and now I was meeting an eighteen year old version of her. I melted a little. I put my hand on my heart, slightly choked at how time could pass like that. ‘I’m so pleased to meet you. I’m Shakeel.’ Louisa replied with a polite and cheerful smile. ‘Me too. I’m Louisa.’ she said.

‘Your uncle is in the next room, go and say hello,’ my aunt said. I left the kitchen, and poked my head around the door of the room she’d pointed out to. It was a familiar room, one that I’m sure I once played computer games in with Sophie’s brother, Cader. Now it was a small dining room, with a TV, a window looking out to the front garden, a sofa, a bookshelf and a dining table.

‘Hey, Uncle!’ I said. Uncle was having his lunch. I wasn’t able to shake his hand or give him a hug, so all my energy seemed to go into big excited heeey! instead. He sat back in his chair, pushed his plate slightly away from him, and said hello back to me. It was the same kind of raucous hello as always, with his chesty laugh, except at much lower volume, and with a cough that trailed on afterwards. I’d already seen the clear plastic tube and the machine it was connected to in the hallway. The tube ran from under the stairs, through the doorway of the room, over the carpet, up his back, over his shoulders, terminated by a clip over his septum. I felt a pang of sadness, but didn’t let it show.

I sat down on the sofa. On the TV, a spaghetti western. I was reminded of my own sick days when I was a kid. The image was so beautifully retro, saturated and analogue, and the nostalgia warmed me.

Uncle was eating a rich-looking meat and potato curry with chapatti, which I didn’t want to interrupt. There was a silence for a minute or so, and then he turned to me to ask a question.

‘How do you see me?’ he asked. He put the chapatti to the side of his plate. It was a serious, loaded question, but asked in a subtle way. It had me at once searching for a truthful answer, and a kind one.

‘You look just the same as always, Uncle.’ I said. His countenance did not change much. He dipped back into his lunch. He had the technique of scooping up curry down to a fine art. It takes me three chapattis to clean a plate, but guys like him can do it in one, and leave a plate so clean it’d squeak if you rubbed it.

My aunt brought in a helping of curry and bread for me, so I came to the table to sit with my uncle. For a while, it was awkward to speak. I wasn’t used to visiting him on my own, even visiting him at all. We watched the TV in the meantime, until a shootout took place which piqued my interest. I recognised the set. I had a story for Uncle.

‘You see this place? I said. He glanced up at the screen. ‘You’d think it was out in the Wild West, right? I’ve been there! It’s a set, in Spain. In a place called Almeria, in the south. They used to shoot a lot of these films over there. They’ve turned the set into a theme park, and you can go in the saloons, see a cabaret, watch a shootout, even someone getting dragged about by a horse!’

It had caught my uncle’s imagination. At first he wouldn’t believe it, having watched a few westerns, being the Clint Eastwood fan that he was. Not in the sense that he thought I was a liar, more in that sense of how a Mauritian might say ‘no way?’ so that you come with the extra detail of the story. So I gave him some more, which brought up his stories about true rodeo that he’d seen while holidaying in Dallas, where his niece/my cousin lives, again someone who I’ve not seen for ages, maybe twenty five years.

The atmosphere softened up a little. It was a good opportunity to give him the card that I’d spent the morning making for him. He looked at it, curiously, but I couldn’t make out what he made of me giving it to him. He put it at one side of the table, and waited until after I’d finished eating to open it. When he did, he went at it with concentration and precision, a dexterous little affair with a fork handle which opened up the envelope with a perfect slit.

‘Oh wow!’ His eyes lit up as he slid the card out. ‘Who made this? Did your nephew make this?’ Not the response I was expecting, but I had to laugh. There was no way this would be a dig at my amateur artwork. In a way, that was the best response. He was laughing as he pointed first at the watering can, then the pot-plant, the trowel and finally the bag of dirt. He perched it on the table, in a way that we could both see, and continued to look at it from an angle. I knew that I was no Monet, but I liked that my art must have had a genuine four year-old toddler feel for him to say that. It galvanised the little boy in me.

My aunt returned to clear up the plates and to check on my uncle. ‘Would you like a break now?’ she asked. They had a quick size-up of his oxygen intake for the day, and decided he could come free for a while. I felt my lungs swell, almost wanting to breathe for him as she slipped the tube over his head.

He excused himself to go and wash his hands. On his way back, I heard him becoming short of breath. He’d only walked three metres at most.

He wanted to sit on the sofa, under a blanket, with a hot water bottle on his lap. The house had such a comfy temperature from where I was sitting, but it looked like a sharp draught was coming in from somewhere for him. My aunt tucked him in, plumping some cushions for him to get comfortable. She talked with us for a few minutes, as she gathered her bag and car keys. She was taking Louisa to the library where she was worked, and going to pick up medication for Uncle.

The medication run was a complicated one, she explained. For reference, she showed me the packed plastic basket full of prescription slips, pills and tablets. All for keeping Uncle’s colitis under control, the stent in his heart in check, something for the irreparable scar tissue that had formed on his lungs, and blister pack after blister pack for whatever else. One brand of tablets had had a cheap coating, which meant the bitter tablet would dissolve in Uncle’s mouth before he could get a sip of water to it. The pharmacy only stocked that one particular brand of that tablet, so they had to find a better brand at another pharmacy. All in all, to compensate for each pharmacy and its shortcomings, they were using four pharmacies to keep the medication stores full. Sometimes a stock-up could take forty-five minutes to be made up, only for the last one on the shopping list to be out-of-stock, meaning a return trip the next day. Coupled with the stories about how four different hospitals were tending to specific areas of his health, I became introspective, my uncle’s daily grind of drugs, tests and doctors giving me an insight into one way my own life could turn out.

Through the window, I watched my aunt pull out of the driveway. Uncle was looking at the card.

‘You remember how I used to look after the garden at the mosque? I nodded. I knew that well. ‘I used to plant all the flowers, look after them, water them, look after the soil. I used all my own money from my own pocket, all that work came from my own time.’

He looked to the window, as if to take a breath from outside.

‘I have been sick for so long. I have been sitting here like this for six months.  Not a single person from the mosque has bothered to check on me. Nobody comes to see me, no phone calls, nothing. I have been praying in that mosque for so many years. These people. They are not my friends. They have used me.’

His words penetrated at a frequency I could not help but align with. I loved that my uncle was a gardener and that he had brought nature to the mosque.  His own garden had always been a masterful work of art. He himself was now so dehydrated that his lips bore a faint white crust, and his dentures were slipping because his gums had shrunk. He had to regulate his water intake, as a change in the consistency of his blood could cause problems for the stent in his heart. The thought that the mosque garden was now as frail as he was, spurred on in me a sharp fizz of anger that I found hard to contain.

‘You know what else,’ he said. ‘These Muslims. They have no structure. All they know, is divisions.’

Usually, a statement that general would have me reaching for my book of argumentative retorts. Not this time. No sick old man has the time to be untruthful.

‘Why’s that?’ I asked.

Uncle readjusted the way he was sitting to face me more directly.

‘In the beginning, we used to pray in this one mosque in Maidenhead. Many people used to come, especially on Friday prayers. But then there was this rule: you had to wear the hat. You could only pray if you wore the hat they said was allowed. Not everyone wanted to wear these hats. They’re Pakistani hats, and not even all Pakistani people want to wear these hats. And on Friday, when people were coming to pray on their lunch break, they were coming in from their offices, so they didn’t bring hats to work with them. The mosque then put a box of hats out, but still people did not have time to look through a box for a hat. People started to get annoyed. Someone might only have five minutes to pray, but would have to waste one minute of that arguing with someone who wants him to wear a hat.’

The story was on a different level of absurdity.

‘So then, what happened, some youngsters, they went to Hajj. When they came back, they wanted to pray in the mosque, but they were wearing an Arab style of hat. They were told they could not pray in the mosque because they were not wearing the correct hat. These youngsters were angry. They said, we have just been to Makkah, where everyone wears this hat? Why can we not wear it here? But the mosque would not listen.’

I fell silent as I thought about the situation. I didn’t get it, but I did. This is precisely the sort of thing that helped me realise what a waste of time Islam is.

‘Did you see people being turned away from Friday prayer?’ I asked.

My uncle turned the thought over in his head. He had a way of thinking, so similar to mine that I could tell we were related. Eyes down, shallow pensive nods, and a slight angling of the head before refocusing on the other person.

‘No. No I didn’t. But I did see people fighting over a hat.’

I held my face in my hands, cringing that my uncle’s only choice of mosque had this kind of drama playing out.

He carried on.

‘So these youngsters, they didn’t want to pray there any more. They started their own mosque. And you know where? Two minutes away. Can you believe this? Because of a hat, we have to have two mosques.’

My uncle wasn’t the kind of Muslim who cared about holy hats, pious outfits or beard lengths. A place to pray should be a place to pray. I admired his purity, which came from a special place; he’s a man of the island. When he prays, he prays with the mountains, the sea, the trees. The beaches, the birds and all the island people. People of nature, who know the earth, who bring that to their solemn moments of engaging with the higher forces at work.

On top of that, he’s a master gardener. Gardeners see life so close up. It grows and it flows through their fingertips.

We became quiet for a moment, when I remembered what we’d been talking about earlier.

‘What’s happened to the garden at the mosque?’ I asked.

I imagined it as he explained how he imagined the garden’s life to be.

My heart was in pieces.

 

 

 

Writers’ Club #8

Tonight’s Writers’ Club was the best yet.

I had an hour to kill before the meet, so I nipped into the Horn pub. Lo and behold, a bottle of Mount Gay stood proudly on the back of the bar. The barman remembered me from a few months ago. ‘Stella?’ I remembered the last time I drank Stella here. ‘No..but, well remembered? I’ve only been in this pub three times this year.’ I ordered a double shot of the gold stuff, straight, no ice, in a short fat glass, and finished a quick edit of the piece I was going to read to the other writers.

Rosemary called me over. She’d already lent me a useful book for new writers, and today she gave me a document that outlines how to create characters. From height to hobbies, aversions and perversions, this template covered it all.

I hung out with John at our usual table while the class got settled.

‘I was talking to my friend, she works in a gymnasium,’ he said. I nodded and smiled for him to go on.

‘I said to her, do you know how they make netball nets? How, she said? I said, well they take a bunch of holes and wrap a load of string around them. Then she said, well, where do they get the holes from? From a hole-saler, I said.’

That joke went down a treat. One of John’s homebrew, and made up on the spot too. I told him off for being too funny. ‘Right. Enough of that. Time for a tea, I think,’ he said. He walked off, most content with his gag, but left behind his walking stick. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his legs fail to start working, like the Flintstones pedalling their feet to get the car moving, and he fell flat on his face. The doomph jolted everyone and I jumped out of my chair to help him up. He was alright, and back on his feet, just as chipper as when he was telling me about the netball net.

I took John’s walking stick over to him. He was leaning on a table, with his cup of tea, chatting to another writer.

‘Jeez John. Take it easy will you, old boy,’ I said, balancing his walking stick against the table. ‘Are you ok?’

‘Don’t mind me… I bounce!’ That netball gag kept giving and giving.

That shot of rum was sinking in nicely. I could feel its warmth on my ears like Bajan sunshine. I was also super, super relaxed, so much so that I couldn’t wait for the readings to get underway.

A problem that I discussed with Susan last week from Think Films , who is often receptive to hearing about my problems, is about my crappy attention and concentration. In the writer’s club, the chopping and changing of genres has often been too much for my brain to keep up with. I’ve found myself zoning out, just hearing the rhythm of the words, but missing almost all of the actual meaning and content. Often, I’ll listen to ten minutes of reading, and at the end, have no idea about what just happened. I give my clap, but I’ve nothing to say, yet the others chime in with detailed commentaries and critiques.

But today, totally the reverse. I felt determined to take in everything, from the rhymes to the romance. To help me process the words, I was tracing an imaginary line across my thigh with my finger, an underlining of sorts, that matched the rhythm and tempo of the reader. New line from the page, new line on my leg. I had a fuzzy focus from the rum, which made the clock I was using to keep my eyes from wandering appear ever so slightly Dali-esque. This exercise in concentration was giving me goosebumps.

Everytime someone read, I went to their imaginary place with them. It was almost the only comment I could say to each author: I loved it! I was there!

And with all the different genres of writing: Andrea’s balmy French drama, Mike’s epic adventure, Jan’s Christmas song, Keith’s turkey called Trevor, Rosemary’s gypsy lady, Helen’s Cyprus, Katrina’s office thief, Mike’s tramp… they all seemed to flow through me as if they were all pages from the same book. And, as my writing textbooks tell me, it’s important to read. I don’t read nearly as much as I should, so a meeting like this will definitely compensate.

I didn’t get a chance to read, but I didn’t care. I was too hyped by all the stories, and told everyone that the material tonight was just too good. I dragged Keith for a quick drink in the pub after, where band was now playing, with a good crowd too. I got so lost in conversation, good music, a small dose of Mount Gay, and little glances being exchanged with a girl on another table, that when I checked the time, I had to slam my rum like a shot, apologise to Keith who was only half a pint in, and ended up racing the bus home to the bus stop.

I felt like I’d gained a lost sense. My awareness felt tuned to a frequency range much wider than usual. Was it the rum? Whatever the reason, I realised that have remained far too sober for far too long. A bit of island spice in the system keeps life nice and bright.

 

A Card For Kate

This is the card I made for Kate, my dear friend, whose birthday is today.

I also sent her a video I shot of her first dance at her wedding. She sent me back a thank you email, along with the news that she was five months pregnant.

I wanted to know the sincere feelings of a woman going through pregnancy, so I asked her how it felt to be her, right at this moment.

The reply she sent back was one of the most truthful accounts of pregnancy I’ve ever heard.

‘I can’t lie, it’s a world of paradoxes. I’m happy it’s happening, I’m scared about how I’ll handle it. People notice you more, but notice ME less (most conversation is aimed to and about the bump not about my psyche – so your question is a well posed one, thank you.) A lot of the time, you’re told you should be excited – but actually 9 months is like elastic, fast and slow, and given that the construct is about waiting, it’s not as exciting as people want you to appear. And then you get a squirm (these have only been going on a couple of weeks) and I think my god, it’s alive, (yes in a Frankenstein/Flash gordon way) but also in a oh my, this thing is autonomous, it’s doing things, thinking things, it can hear me, when I eat, it responds – there’s already a dialogue happening, and that feels precious.

There are times, when I wish I was sat in the pub, pondering the world too. People ask you out less, sometimes that’s a pressure off as I’m too tired, sometimes it’s lonely, it makes you feel like you’ve disappeared, and in a way you have, a little.

And then there’s the physical stuff, I’m caring for a body, that for a while isn’t mine, it’s entirely geared itself to do something I have no control over. It’s amazing what it does without you asking a thing, but also that takes from you, you can’t breathe so easily, lie down so easily, can’t bend over so easily, but it’s not at my convenience, and it knows what to do better than I do, so I trust it as much as I can to get on with it.

I look at myself with eyes that know, I don’t need to worry about looking a certain way, that a huge chunk of headspace it’s given me back, I never realised quite how much I obsessed about my weight and my body and what I was thought of for it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about right now, this is what it should be doing. But I wonder what I’ll be left with once it’s done its job. and how I’ll feel about it then.

I have no idea if this makes sense, it’s been kind, the existential journey and I’m only 5 months in, there’s lots to do and lots to learn. I’m changed, but I’m still here.

And “it” is a he.’

I’m so grateful that Kate is my friend. Her little chap is going to have a wonderful mum.

 

 

 

Chapter 12

I woke up this morning, really comfortably fuzzy from last night. I got the best night’s rest in ages, helped along by that good rum. The seven miles I walked probably helped too.

It’s December 1st. I’m thinking of the month ahead, and what to do with it. I’ve got a month to see what I else I can tick off from the Plan. At the same time, it’s usually roundabout now that I start thinking of my goals for the coming year. The thought of now spending time between completing the Sarah Project, and working out what I want from next year, does put life into perspective. Nothing stands still. But I’m still here, eleven months down the line, still committed to fulfilling this project. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

I’m not going to get all misty eyed about what a journey it’s been. Well, that’s a lie. I am feeling that way, just a little bit. It’ll be one year since Sarah’s death in two weeks.

Let’s see what this last chapter holds.

 

Memories of Sarah #11

I was getting to know a new friend from acting class on Tuesday evening: she was born in Barbados. Earlier that day I was working on a shoot for Think Films; the actor was from Barbados, and had just returned from a holiday there. Last Friday, Emily posted a picture on Instagram, and I knew exactly where she was: Oistins in Barbados. Home of the famous Friday night Fish Fry.

With all those reminders, I wanted to take a walk to think about mine and Sarah’s holiday in Barbados back in 2006.  Today, I wanted to toast her, have a quiet drink on my own with her. But not just any drink. A big glass of Mount Gay rum, from Barbados. I’d checked in a couple of local pubs but didn’t find any, so I made a flash decision to go on a small rum quest in Central London.

At Euston, I chose to walk west, in the direction of Barbados. I weaved around Fitzrovia for a while, looking for a spot, but everywhere was full, with people spilling out onto the pavement like dolls falling off a shelf. I figured I’d keep walking, through Marylebone, Paddington, perhaps all the way to Notting Hill.

This evening was cold, and the wind had a bite. I retrieved my memories of the holiday, and they accompanied me while I sought out the warming rum.

Sarah and I were there in 2006. We flew with West Indian Airways, on a last minute deal. Our flight was empty, so we lay with our feet up in the central row seats. It was a quick flight, and the first time we’d flown out of Europe together. Eight hours later, we were waiting for our luggage at Grantley Adams airport. I yanked mine off the conveyor’s rubber mats almost straight away, but Sarah’s wasn’t so prompt. We carried on waiting. The same old reluctant bags kept coming around until they too had been claimed. The crowd around the baggage carousel thinned out until it was just us two standing there, looking a bit hopeless. Sarah was squidging her lips between her fingers, wondering what to do. We went to make a report for lost luggage, and were told that hers had stayed on the plane, which was now en route to Trinidad.

We were taken by coach to our hotel, the Coconut Court Hotel in Hastings, Christchurch, on the south coast of the island. We arrived late evening, and while I unpacked, the whistling frogs warmed up their voices for the night. By the time we got to bed, it sounded like the Amazon jungle was outside our window.

It took two days to get the bags back. In the meantime I had kept phoning the airport, whose responses never felt urgent enough. Not that the staff were rude, just super chilled compared to me. The bags were going to come, said the operators. In their own time. Relax. As Sarah had none of her belongings for the first two days, she had to borrow mine. Which made for a funny transformation in her character. She wore my jeans and an orange t-shirt that her mum bought me, and she started to act and move… like a boy. Even she noticed it; her hands in her pockets, a bit of a strut in her walk. She even started playing up to it, doing what I think were funny caricature impressions of me.

I came out of my headspace for a moment. I felt the madness of the West End retreating to a safe distance behind me. As I approached on Crawford Place in Marylebone, I saw The Larrick on the bend of the road. I’d never seen it before. It looked suitably isolated from everywhere else, and with only a small congregation of smokers outside the entrance doors. The style of the road’s bend, the way the street lighting was illuminating the brickwork of the building, the very scene of its location plus the glow from behind the windows made it very inviting indeed.

Inside, it was packed to the rafters, but negotiable. Amok with seated diners and bar-room winers. I sidled through the queues, through people’s conversations, dodging their precarious glasses and gesticulating arm, and up to the bar.With a huge selection of spirits covering most of the back wall, racked against mirrors on backlit glass shelves, I had to take a moment to ID each bottle.

But there it was. There he was. Like a friend you were meeting, who had seen you, but was waiting for you spot them. The lettering of the bottle’s label had changed to something more contemporary, but Mount Gay 1703 it was.

‘Large Mount Gay please. No ice, straight.’

‘A what?’ the barman said.

‘Mount Gay Rum?’ I pointed at the shelf it was sitting on.

‘This one?’ He put his finger on the cap, I nodded, and he began to pour.

He handled the bottle like it was the first time he’d seen it. To him, just another drink. To me, a glass filling with history. I took the drink outside, and sat alone at a table. I placed the rum deliberately in front of me. I twirled it around, looking at it like it were an exhibit.

The first thing that came to mind as I raised the glass was our visit to the Mount Gay Factory, and sip by sip, I saw it all coming back to me.

There we were. Singing along to Caribbean Christmas carols in the old car we rented. Feeling all the bumps in the overloaded route taxis. Crashing through waves at Crane Bay like socks in a washing machine. Daily runs to the deli for fresh picnic supplies. Bajan fish cakes, coucou, pudding and souse, flying fish, rice and peas, Chefette, roti. Downing shots in St. Lawrence Gap with Norwegian metallers and no mutual language to communicate with. The sad, widowed man at Fish Friday in Oistins. The wisdom of Iseph, the elusive healing potter of Bathsheba.

Cheers, Sarah. To Barbados.

As I knocked back the last few drops, with a sweet heat trickling its way into my system, I wondered what I would do with all these thoughts and memories, and then headed back to Euston.

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Rum cocktails. St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados, 2006