By Dr. Richard A. Byron-Cox
Christmas morning 2019 came to Queens Drive on a softly whistling breeze through my bedroom curtains. I opened my eyes and was kissed by an embryonic sun gently commanding me to get up; see, hear, and feel Vincy Christmas. Sehon had promised he would come and get me so that we join Crowd Motivator, Luta’s posse at Calliaqua to watch their annual Christmas kickabout. I instinctively knew this wouldn’t happen. The sun continued to rise, promising a golden Christmas day. Having taken my shower, I was dressing when there was a banging. “Rich! Rich!” Shirtless, I ran down stairs. “Merry Christmas Boss! I making yo’ ah Vincy Christmas Breakfast!” He headed for the kitchen.
I sat on the balcony closest to the Kitchen and watched the glorious sunshine on the lush-green hills and valleys a yonder. “De ham and eggs smell real good Boss,” I said. “Wait fo’ it,” was the response. In a few moments the “celiment” bush and the added spice boiling in the chocolate hit me just as it used to in childhood. Otmar arrived and the table was laid. I drank most of the “Cocoa Tea” before touching the ham, eggs or anything else. Sehon is a grand-master at making “Cocoa tea.” Breakfast over, I surrendered on one couch and Sehon on the other as the after-meal python effect otherwise known as “niggeritis” came like a flush Mike Tyson right hand. We didn’t budge before 4 p.m.
I went to see what Vincy looks like on a Christmas evening. The life on the roads was light vehicular traffic as people stayed at home honoring a long-established tradition. We visited the Rosseau community garden lighting done by Minister Luke Browne and his team. It was a Christmas rainbow! Exceedingly beautiful; masterfully done, depicting Bethlehem while keeping the Vincy touch; (there was even roasted breadfruit a la Scorcher in his 12 days of Vincy Christmas). Above all, it was a community space. There was the joyous laughter of children playing; grandparents walking grandchildren; and young people playing games and taking souvenir photos in this garden. It represented the beauty of Christmas in every way. This kaleidoscope could win a lighting competition anywhere in the world!!
We stopped at John Dougan’s shop where they were having what I termed a lonely-hearts Karaoke. You should see the shop keeper’s utter confusion when my response to his requesting my order, was, “Can I have some tea please?” His expression said, “Really! On this big Christmas night!! Big man like you!!!” But I did get the tea. When I left an hour and half later, there was smiling bemusement on his face, which said, “Whoever hear ‘bout people drinking tea big Christmas night!”
I got back to Queens Drive and found myself in reflective mood. I recalled my boyhood and inevitably felt a tinge of nostalgia. But my day was perfect, thanks to Sehon playing the senior sibling role.
I opened Boxing day with a trek to Calliaqua and back punctuated by a dip at Indian Bay. I later joined Sehon and Otmar watching football on TV. In the evening we drove to Stubbs and I was astounded!! Under the theme “Big City Christmas,” Stubbs’ display of lights had the beauty of a heavenly galaxy on a very dark night. There was Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, a subway, traffic lights and the list goes on. I stood in silence, held in awe by this product of creative genius! In this amazed state I wondered aloud, “How is it possible they didn’t win? I can’t understand this.”
“That’s because you aint see Point?” Sehon spoke with absolute assurance.
I empathized with Stubbs not having won the community lighting competition. I couldn’t imagine anything better than this Stubbs Diwali. But Sehon was certain about Point even while confessing he hadn’t seen it.
27th was a business day, given to dealing with my personal matters, but full of anticipation for 28th: Steel Expression day!! The Marshalls and I arrived and were shown to the VIP section, the preserve of the cream of the socialites. Everything was posh. A display of splendor! And I was an intruder; there only to be near the stage to see closeup the Steelpan Boss in action.
He was supreme!!
Rodney Small didn’t merely perform, entertain, satisfy, educate and inspire. He freed, dazzled, and hypnotized!! From jazz in the Attic, to Soca on the beach; from violin and piano to the star instrument, the tenor pan; and from fireman Whopper to Marlon Roudette; the Steelpan Boss and his crew took patrons on a musical odyssey that would have made Mozart, Bach and Beethoven admiringly envious! This was a moment of joy, brilliance, talent, and perfect execution. In three words: excellence magnificently displayed!! 90 % of the patrons “let their hair down!” Mr. Small, Mrs. Jean Johnney Findlay and all their collaborators should take this show to London, Toronto, New York…. Show the world our unique, fantastic artistry!! Rodney is indeed a BOSS!!!
We packed into Sehon’s car only to hear a voice bellow “Richard, way yo’ going? Dr. Cox! Man, come out de car an’ lewe go hangout! Come eat some food. Come out de car!” Eating, talking and laughing were Dean Clouden (owner of Four Shells Restaurant); reigning Road March King, Luta and his wife, and others. I obeyed Dean’s and Luta’s commands even though it was after 1.am. and I had to get up early to walk and then be on radio with Cecil Ryan.
But “all ah dat is Vincy Christmas, and Ah love it bad!!”