Thursday, November 04, 1999



Dear David & Annabel,


Hello people, how are you? How are you Annabel? Large, beautiful and a bit fragile I would imagine. Wonderful though. Soon it will be my turn to watch David and learn something about fatherhood. Quite honestly, I could use the advice.


We said goodbye to Paul and Adeline just about two weeks ago today. It was a fabulous visit. We went to the South Coast towards the end and stayed in an absurdly camp hotel, in the Paradise Suite to be exact, pinks and peaches, large decorative baskets fixed to the salmon walls vomiting fake flowers over no less than three television sets, one in each room; hideous gushy art and a fabulous view of the sunset as well as a fridge that did not work. Blue Marlin was not available. The children loved it of course, there was a funny shaped swimming pool with floating things. That’s enough to work magic, apparently.

            After a night which I spent on a very succulent anthropophagous couch while Victoria slept with all three children in the double bed, we left for the North Coast, stopping first of all at YS falls which we found without difficulty this time. That was lovely, especially the strong and healthy looking glossy brown cows which were grazing alongside the Guango trees. Afterwards we stopped in that restaurant where the children ate beef-burgers made from those cows. We chose chicken.

            The visit to YS was topped only by the subsequent adventure through the very heart of Jamaica. We took a sharp left just behind the YS Falls reception building. One road would have taken us to Cambridge and Ipswich, but we took the road, or rather track, to dreary Magotty, passed Oxford and right through Cockpit Country, an area enigmatically called, Me no see, You no Come. I don’t know what it means but the country was as wild as it comes: steep slopes and round-topped mountains with dark green, cancerous vegetation occasionally punctured by the most tenacious attempts at occupation. Beautiful little houses, single-room shacks  brightly painted in lilac blues or bright yellows framed in what is locally called ginger bread carving. Wonderful and a bit eerie. The people loitering in the street (far fewer than in Kingston) would look at us in surprise as if they had seen duppy dem. And then, realising we were of normal flesh and blood, would put on a friendly smile, often toothless, and shout out, “Eh, Whiteeeeh” and wave. And on we would go, Victoria and Adeline behind us in the Vitara, looking more sophisticated than they deserved to look and we in the front car listening to Abba Gold and a classical tune of which I do not know what it is. A frustration that is adding to my ulcer.

            Anyway we arrived on the North Coast late in the afternoon and drove to our villa in Discovery Bay. Everything was wonderful. When Paul took Victoria sailing they capsized, of course. Daniel, who was with them, became rather quiet after that, unlike Victoria who couldn’t get back onto the boat despite several attempts. When I went to fetch her with the canoe, she couldn’t climb into that either, so I towed her to shore. Much hilarity.

            They left on new year’s eve dissolving in a long queue of ready travellers and we went on to a party which went on deep into the night. Rosie and Daniel slept on the couch amidst loud revelling to the tune of Buju Banton. Now everything has quietened down. The January syndrome eating away at our innards. February has been decreed a no-alcohol month. Victoria is whizzing around doing PTA meetings, art classes, etc. Rosie, Daniel and Thomas are all back at school and wondering what hit them.

            I am running in all directions trying to keep too many balls up in the air at the same time. Not least among them is the approaching date for the wretched thesis. I shall be so glad to have that over and done with and be free to get on with other things. By the way, it looks as if Julie and Michael Cunnah will make the trip to Leiden. I am preparing a talk on Jamaican Architecture which will be fun. For the rest I am increasingly looking towards The States for my next move. What do you think? Any tips on how to approach things? Talking of strategy, could you send me Tony’s address, I still haven’t written them and I want to keep in touch, they were very nice to us in The Hague.


Anyway, what about you, how is England; how is the house-market and your attempts at finding a suitable dwelling for a threesome? When are you planning to come out with the new appendage? Our house is completely suitable for tiny babies and when they are only that small they are not so expensive to fly around. You will not be forgiven if you do not come. Anyway we miss you all terribly.


Loads of love,