Wednesday 21st July
The rain returned with a vengeance today, so we hopped on a bus and headed to Bridgetown. The buses here are fantastic. You pay the equivalent of 50p and you can go anywhere on the island. The state run buses are ok, but the privately owned ones are much more fun, with a heady combo of suicidal driving and blaring calypso music making each journey unforgettable (and scary).
We had a quick look round, and then decided to walk up to Brighton beach. Well, it was just up the road and far too tantalising to miss. The short walk on the map turned out to be a little further in reality, and the heavens opening made it heavy going towards the end. However, we found a welcoming refuge in a beach bar serving the best rum punches we have had to date, and after a couple of those the rain had passed and we pressed on towards our hometown’s namesake.
Now don’t get me wrong, Brighton beach itself has the usual Bajan white sand, palm trees at it’s fringe, and no doubt under clearer skies the sea is the same amazing clear turquoise colour that is the hallmark of the Caribbean. But if you direct your gaze to just behind the beach, you can’t fail to notice the hulking great power station and industrial mass of pipes, vats and metal that is the factory where Malibu rum is made. Trust me, the reality of it’s source is far less romantic than you’d imagined!
There are a couple of pipes which lead into the sea from the factory, and they must be super heated, because it’s well known that the sea around them is unusually warm even for the Caribbean. When we passed there was a man and his son sitting in the inlet apparently taking a bath. Very strange.
Not as strange the sight that met us a little further up the beach though. Now I’ve lived in Brighton in England for over 10 years, and it’s a town well known for having a large gay population, and some extravagant “sights” from time to time, but nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. A white man so over exposed to the sun through his considerable years, that his colour was not far off that of mahogany. His teak complexion was exaggerated by tufts of white hair at each side of his head, reminiscent of Krusty the clown, crossed with a black and white minstrel. He was wearing what can only be described as a sock on his penis, held on by string around his waist, and the look was completed by a floral bikini top and full make up. Mrs Muck said afterwards that she felt strangely hypnotised by the way the sock swayed from side to side as he walked. I just felt strangely nauseous. It seems Brighton is Brighton, wherever in the world it is. We recounted our story to the others when we got home, and Handy quickly got changed into his Speedos and called a cab as a matter of urgency. We haven’t seen him since.
We continued to walk further up the beach, and the whole experience became more and more surreal, partly because of the contrast between the idyllic paradise and heavy industry side by side, and partly due to the completely deserted beach giving us the impression that we were all alone in the world. It reminded me of the forbidden zone from Planet Of The Apes. After a mile or so we came to a strange area, which seemed to reinforce that feeling. What had once been an obviously opulent beach complex of accommodation at the water’s edge was now derelict and had the air of a ghost town. Masonry had fallen, windows were broken, and whatever splendour there once was is now long gone. Most memorably for me was the piece of graffiti sprayed onto a wall, which read:
“Mia Mottley does bite pussy. She don’t know how to lick”
So many questions, not least who is Mia Mottley? Maybe she had to leave because she didn’t fit into the Brighton “scene”. Maybe Mia Mottley was that chap we passed. I doubt if he knows how to lick. Not pussy anyway.