It must have been some time in the early Eighties; we had just moved into our first house on Cap and it was to be our first Christmas in our new home. The design of the house was called “Caribbean Cottage”; it was our first experience of Caribbean English Usage: A Caribbean Cottage was a dwelling where very little worked as it should, but this minor fault was compensated for by the quaintness of the place. Our workers, we were told, were not so skilled, but they were very enthusiastic. Novices as we were in the ways of the Caribbean, we found this charming. The fact that the fuse-box and all the electrical wiring were affixed to the wall of the water tank that formed one side of the kitchen area was a quaint novelty. The house was apparently not earthed either. Admittedly, the frequent jolts of electricity that almost put our elbows out of joint were not all that pleasant, but they weren’t exactly an inconvenience, and it gave us something to talk about when visitors swooned or emitted surprised squeaks as they touched the fridge door.
Our builder was definitely keen and eager to help. It was one of those wet Christmases and water tended to flow freely through the dining area. He built a wall to divert the water. Thereafter the water flooded the whole living area. Gosh, life was jolly!
Actually, that bit about the workers not being very skilled – it was taken from a government publication intended to encourage foreigners to have patience with their staff. Were we all really so naïve just thirty or so years ago?
It was Old Year’s Night, or New Year’s Eve – different names for the same thing, one looking back, one looking forward, must be a philosophical thing – and we had been invited to a neighbour’s house to see in the New Year. Still rooted in our Northern European traditions of punctuality and the belief that time was important, especially on an evening when time changed, we arrived at our neighbour’s house at the specified time to find that he had not arrived home as yet and was still carousing somewhere burying the Christmas Spirit and anticipating the arrival of the new. We were welcome anyway. The preparations for the party were in full swing and we did what we could to help.
Some two-and-a-half hours later, our host arrived full of good cheer and no worse for wear. Guests began to drop in as the hour of midnight drew closer. There was a lot of noise. Much drinking and quite a bit of what appeared to be dancing. A gentleman, who had been introduced as somebody very high up in the police force, seemed to have taken a fancy to my wife and danced with here a couple of times until my wife, tired of having his African Heritage rubbed up against her, decided enough was enough, and just after midnight we went home to sleep, which was just about the time the party really got going, and going, and going. The whole golf course was throbbing; I’m surprised the grass on the greens did not shake loose from its roots.
Just before dawn, we decided to leave the revelers to their Bacchanal and go down to the beach to see the first day of a new year creep over the horizon. It was an awesome sight.
On our way home we had to pass the small roundabout not far from the old Cap Estate Office and the old Golf Club Clubhouse. We approached it carefully as local residents were apt to pass either side of the roundabout depending on their intended exit.
Sure enough, just as we were about the enter the circulation, a car came screaming down the road on the wrong side and whizzed the wrong way round the roundabout, forcing us off the road.
Our son, sitting in the back of the open jeep, yelled something that ended with, “I’ll report you to the police!”
The window on the driver’s side of the offending vehicle wound down somewhat erratically, and from behind dark glasses a voice emerged, “I AM the Chief of Police!”