Videos for WWW

In May 2016,
on the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence in 1966,
The Guyana High Commission in London held an Exhibtion of Art and Literature
as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations

On the opening night, I was invited to read from Wordsworth’s White Wife,
and talk about my life in Guyana.


A more informal event took place at “Book-Buster” – a Hastings Bookshop –
where my readings were interspersed with welcomes
each time the audience expanded…

Here is a video showing part of the occasion.

Colour Photos for WWW

In the edition, to keep the purchase price down,
the illustrations in colour were omitted, though the B & W ones remain.

For those who would like to see the colour photos
from my original edition,  here they are…

  *   *   *   *   *

From page 8:
Mac’s photo of me with the donkeys, Samantha and Adam
in the field beyond our garden at Adam’s Farm, in Graffham, Sussex.

donkeys cropped

And one of the little donkey cards that accompanied his occasional gifts to me:

p 10 - Donkey card - colour

From page 13:
One of the elegant old wooden mansions that made Georgetown so beautiful:

p 12 - GT Mansion

From page 13:
Some of the gorious scarlet names of the bright blue wooden Grorgetown buses :

From page 14:
Mac with John Criswick, outside his cottage in Arcadia:

p 17 - Mac & CQ at Arcadia

From page 14:
Some of the staff at B/S:  my boss, Miss Dolphin;  Eustce & Laurie;  Sheila & Mrs Singh:

From page 22:
Mac on the Kissing Bridge in the Botanic Gardens

From page 31:
Climbing for coconuts…

p 37 - Climbing for coconuts

From page 33:
Selling Fish & Bread at a Railway Station

p 38 - Fish & Bread

From page 33:
One of the children showing me some maggots from the 6 o’clock Bee…

p 50 - Maggots

From page 61:
Mac standing with the family outside the cottage where we stayed in Berbice

p 70 - WC Berbice family on steps

From page 106:
John Criswick’s Portrait of Mac in his Blue Dashiki

Mac in Blue 001

From page 223:
Shiri launching off down the steps of our back cottage flat.

p 243 - Shiri launching off down steps

From page 233:
The painting by Angold Thompson that I loved so much – Sabine’s farewell gift.



Hearing Aid Induction…

I have just acquired my first pair of hearing aids!

I had been warned that they might take some getting used to, as all circumambient noise would come in for magnification quite as much as the sounds I actually wanted to hear.  And that I would need to learn how to reprogram my brain to take account of this. What they didn’t tell me was that it would be like stuffing my ears with crumpled cellophane, so that every high-pitched microscopic movement in the vicinity would be amplified beyond belief.

Why is this?

Well, for these magical aids to be programmed to my individual hearing profile – and they cleverly were, on a little screen with adjustable graph lines bringing the curve of my new aids to parallel as closely as possible the outline curve of my own hearing – it was the higher frequencies that needed amplifying – and amplified they soon were!

The minute my new aids were in, and turned on, my lovely practitioner asked me what he sounded like.  Did I think he was shouting?  Well, no, it didn’t sound as if he was shouting, but it was as if his voice was coming from a box, in several dimensions, with more than one frequency at a time.  ‘Ah, that’s because you’re now aware of the higher frequencies that you have been missing all this while’, he reassured me, and passed me my cagoule.

This was the first real revelation – taking over and putting on my cagoule.  An ordinary, common or garden cagoule, made of proprietary polyurethane-coated nylon.  But suddenly it had taken on a life of its own.  It made a noise.  It made a noise just by existing, just by parts of itself moving against other parts of itself – and wearing it meant that each minute motion of the head or limbs set fabric sliding on fabric with a rasping rustling like rubbing sheets of tinfoil against the wire cage of a high fidelity microphone.

I left his surgery and walked down the corridor.  Revelation number two: with every step I took, as the jeans of one inner thigh chafed against its partner, this hitherto silent caress registered in my brain as the raucous scraping it must have secretly been all this while.  Outside the hospital, traffic noise sounded pretty much as usual, really – after all, the lower frequencies hadn’t needed much remedial attention – but on reaching my car, feeling in my pocket for the key (rustle scrapy rustle), and inserting it in the lock (high-pitched squeech) each strident scratch reminded me that life would be different from now on.  And once driving along, below the familiar engine noise and the mechanical sounds I had grown used to, were strange new rattles and creaks just outside the window.  Were they outside, or inside?  Were they in the structure of the window itself?  Was the car falling apart?

Once back in the relative silence of my home, I discovered that simply ‘breathing in’ could now be registered on the Richter scale, as I told my daughter in a mixture of excitement and consternation. “Don’t do it, then,” was her helpful response.

And then I found that casually brushing my hand past my hair – not even touching the little curvy coffee-coloured monsters behind my ears themselves, but just the hair above them – yes, the merest trace of fingertip to follicle – was transmitted to the brain as acid susurration.

Acid, yes – that reminds me.  The acid test.  One of the main reasons for signing up for these things in the first place was to enable me to operate more easily in group situations – at dinner parties, in lectures, at my tango class…  How would everything seem in my tango class?

Well, I went to the first post-aids class two days later – and yes, perhaps I could hear the instructions more clearly, but as latecomers scrabbled with their coats and bags, stashing away their sandwiches, fishing for their shoes, each whisper dominated the soundscape of my head, and well-nigh drowned out the voice of the teacher.

No point in getting angry with them, I told myself; they don’t know the effect they’re having on my battered ear-drums.  I’ll just have to get used to it…


Wordsworth’s White Wife – Review 1

Review by Frank Birbal Singh,
Emeritus Professor of Post-Colonial Literature
at York University, Toronto, Canada.

“Rosie’s documentary zeal in meticulously cataloguing social, cultural, and political aspects of her experience in Guyana, with a sense of wide-eyed wonder, in spite of frustration and grief, is nothing less than exemplary in Wordsworth’s White Wife. ” Continue reading

Libya Inter Alia…

Events in 2017 led me to remember this poem, written in April 1986. 

While Wikipedia notes the event as occurring on Tuesday April 15,
I remember it as a Monday, and this is confirmed by a note in
‘On this Day’, BBC Home:

“Around 66 American jets, some of them flying from British bases
launched an attack at around 0100hrs on Monday.” 

The commons argued late last night;
They wrestled with their consciences
On something of immense concern
– While Reagan raided Libya…

And Thatcher gave the go-ahead;
“Oh, use your bases, take your planes
– We only keep them warm for you –
Why ask the people what they think?
Why ask the British Government?
– I am the British Government!
Besides, they’re sitting up all night
Discussing Sunday Trading…” Continue reading