Sunday 31st December, 2006

Simon Lee
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Everything in time

Never one to shirk the obligations of scribbling from the periphery and with an eye for synchronicity, I sit, or rather slump, on this glorious festival of boxes to write out the old year.

My first column for 2006 appeared on January 1, and my symmetric kabbalistic self is pleased to note my last is saved for December 31.

Hopefully, this means the sufferation of 2006 is fully wrapped for disposal, and an ease-up is coming in 2007.

Following the spoils of Christmas Day self, the mini Levites are hard at work battling with the Play Station as this morning’s turkey takes another turn in the oven.

The sorrel done drink out, and while I debate the wisdom of cracking the sole bottle of Black Label rum, a pirate Soca 07 CD me mother-in-law pack along with the roti skin and black cake, just about keeping me on track.

Restorative waters

Of course, if I were in Trinidad, all now I studying which fete I heading for tonight to inaugurate my Carnival season; or even more pleasantly in the present grey circumstances, which beach to go lie upon and relax into the blue skies above and the restorative waters a short sand schlepp ahead. Ni pwoblem, compere, everything in time as the old heads say.

And talking of old heads, I’ve just been reading Earl Lovelace’s Wine of Astonishment alongside Patrick Chamoiseau’s Solibo Maginifique—both celebrations of a disappearing or possibly disappeared Creole culture and lifestyle that the arbiters of progress, or regress, have been presiding over since Massa Day Done.

The new massas, political opportunists like Wine’s Ivan Morton, installed themselves in the abandoned mausolea of the departing colonists and continued with the good work of the plantation: exploiting all and sundry; offering the bitter sweet bribe of an education designed for self-denigration, soullessness and slavish imitation.

What goes around must surely return to roost, so the contemporary Trini land and mindscape of rampant violence, moral and cultural bankruptcy does the new massa great credit.

No need to wait on Vision 2020; T&T awash with oil dollars enough to make a sheikh blush, has reached the heights of First World progress and learnt its lessons well—who ain’t got must take and preferably in front.

Bling is d ting and some of us are more dazzled than others.

But I really didn’t intend any polemics on this last day of an old year; instead, I’ll restrict my reflections to a review of some of the higher spots of 2006.

First off, thanks and praises to all the Orishas, deities and my Jewish Creole ancestors that the family my late papa Maitre Levi bequeathed me all alive and kicking up a storm in the kingdom of this world, and that my big son Sam graduate from Cambridge and all now testing he toe in the muddy waters of Mundo Grande.

Thanks, too, that the madam is in her last year at uni and this means that in the now foreseeable future we can ship ourselves back to the Caribbean.

Another special thanks to Ochun or the gwo anj who ensured my non-payment of fees has so far passed unnoticed and my Creole studies continue—at least until I receive a large advance for as yet unwritten manuscripts or I dream the winning lottery numbers.

Tibetan restaurant

It’s all good, and what isn’t I’ll have to leave behind.

Outside the immediate family, other highlights this year have been:

* a series on Caribbean music and calypso I broadcast on London’s Resonance Radio, which I’ve been invited to resume in the new year;

* my first trip to Montreal for the extended musical feast that is the African Nights festival, where I not only bathed in the restorative rhythms and melodies of Africa and the Caribbean, but made new friends and finally got to eat in a Tibetan restaurant.

Back in the Big Fug, in the sanctuary of the now-freezing conservatory of Casa Levi in leafy Forest Hill, I’ve been sustained by the likes of:

* Afro-Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa and his predecessor, Ruben Gonzalez;

* the Malian magicians Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate (whose live concert with his Symmetric Orchestra goes down in my book as one of the most sublime performances I’m ever likely to hear);

* Congolese rumberos Papa Noel and Kekele and my old partner from Belize, the Garifuna musician Andy Palacio, whose coming album Watina promises to be a major World Music hit in 2007.

To all of these masters of inner and outer harmony, honour and respect; may your melodies reach, soothe inspire and unite all in the coming new year.

And to all you in T&T, walk brave and enjoy your Old Year’s night.

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