Georgetown, Guyana – a lost city?

A letter published in the Stabroek News on November 3rd, 2013, headed:

Forty years on, most of the splendour of the Garden City has gone

                                                                                                                             31st October, 2013
Dear Editor,

I have just been on my first visit to Guyana in 40 years. From 1968 to 1969, I was a VSO working for Broadcasts to Schools in Georgetown, and I came back in January 1970 to marry Wordsworth McAndrew and teach at St Joseph’s High School.  Our daughter Shiri was born in 1972; I completed my Diploma in Education at UG the following summer, and only returned to England after our divorce in September 1973.

Since then, all through my exile, I have held fond memories of the beautiful Garden City that was Georgetown. I loved the elegant white wooden houses with their jalousies and delicate fretwork, in gardens overflowing with bougainvillea, hibiscus and oleander.  I loved the wide avenues lined with sweeping flamboyant trees and canals sparkling in the sun.  I loved the bridges over trenches to little wooden cottages on stilts, in yards brimming with palm trees and callaloo.  Continue reading

Wordsworth McAndrew – August 2008

– written for the memorial services held for him in New York and London

I first met Mac at the BBC, in London, where he was just finishing a TV course with some guys from Guyana Broadcasting Service.  I was doing an extra week’s training in radio there before I went out to Guyana, to do Voluntary Service Overseas at Broadcasts to Schools with Celeste Dolphin.

As it happened, my group shared a lounge with the Guyanese crew, so I was introduced to them all. I was immediately drawn to Mac, and as I had to find someone to interview for a radio project, I rashly asked him if I could interview him about Guyanese folklore and culture.  Of course, I could hardly have chosen a subject closer to his heart!  He told me all about Queh queh and Cumfa;  I found him fascinating, and as we saw a lot of each other for the rest of that week, I invited him down to stay with my family before he went back home.  When I arrived in Guyana, some weeks later, I didn’t have to be part of the usual VSO crowd, as I had an open door into his world. Continue reading