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Posts Tagged ‘books’

Last weekend, my mum took me to the prestigious Barbados Charity Ball (unfortunately in Toronto and not Barbados, but amazing none the less). Wow, did it ever make me miss the place. Seriously. By the end of the night my acquired Bajan accent came shining through. I believe the rum and cokes (don’t forget the lime!) helped with that. Overall, the night was awesome, and was a taste of systematic randomness at it’s best.

It was an underwater theme where people were totally decked out in the fanciest of gowns, and spiffiest of suits, swarming the massive silent auction, fish cake appetizers and rum punch cocktails. I looove silent auctions (I’ve been known to sneakily guard my bid, and/or convince someone else to guard it for me – I can also thank rum for that one) and ended up winning a sweet piece of art (and then got another piece for free…go me go!).

My mum let me bid on a piece that I recognized as ‘that phone booth in the middle of nowhere near Bathsheba.’ I ended up meeting the artist, who just happened to have some Lithuanian heritage like us, and he gave me another piece of his work pro bono. I was hoping for the awesome kite surfer shot in mid-flip …but instead got the monkey shot. It’s a white and grey monkey, standing on a turtle, eating a nut or something of the sort. It’s a fantastic shot, yet slightly creepy at the same time. But you know, what was I supposed to say?

‘Ya, sorry, despite your kindheartedness, I want that one.’

That would have been a major only-child-itis remark.

So back to the monkeys. Oh, the monkeys. It reminds me of those days at Kent House, when a family of monkeys would come out and harass the neighbour’s dogs behind the chain linked fence. If you have ever wondered where the term, ‘monkey face’ has come from, then this is it for sure. They would literally come up to the fence of annoying barking dogs, make faces, jump up and down, spin round and round and then run back into the sugar cane fields. Monkeys roam Barbados like squirrels and raccoons roam Ontario. Monkeys trump squirrels and raccoons, always. Awesome. Oh Barbados, how I miss thee.

Alrighty. Less reminiscing and back to the Ball…

There were live auction items that included an autographed Paul McCartney guitar, and some other things that I really didn’t notice after I saw the guitar. Definitely super cool, and no where near a fraction of something I could afford. I have this obsession with wanting to touch nice things. Luckily, I was able to suppress those urges…for a short while anyways.

Some yummy drinks and flying fish later, we sat and listened to the long list of speeches from many, including the Prime Minister of Barbados (who just happened to talk about the little wee town my mom grew up in, and the other little wee town my Uncle, Aunt and cousins live in). I mean, what are the odds that his first trip to Canada was to Welland and Port Colborne Ontario. Seriously bizarre.

I texted some of my friends the happenings as they happened. For future reference, drinking and texting is just like drinking and dialing…. impossible to understand and just wrong. Yep. Technology made me do it. I swear. Well, technology, rum and wine. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I vaguely remember being on the dance floor with my mom at some point dancing to a song entitled, Sexallent. Ahhh, gotta love it. Where else could you possibly be where a room full of beautifully dressed schmoozers wine it up on the dance floor?

So there I am, strolling around with a huge picture of a monkey and a phone booth and we stop and say hello to Austin Clarke, a renowned Bajan author. Heard of him? Seriously. This dude is cool. He’s taught at Yale, Duke and many more, produced for CBC, and won Giller and Commonwealth awards, among many others I’m sure. His bio is a novel in itself. Anyhoo, he invited mama and I back for a drink, and of course, I was intrigued. So we took a taxi to his place and while we were sitting there I felt a little intimidated but shook it off once we arrived to his amazing house downtown.

I must say, his house and book collection blew my mind. We went outside and shot the shit, while my mom went back inside as apparently the humidity that night was not enough for her. He pulled out a shiny gold cigarette case, and although I knew I shouldn’t, I couldn’t resist. I bummed a smoke and we talked about Toronto, Barbados, Dollarama, dogs, society and the like. Once we were back inside, he let me choose a nice bottle of red and offered me some yummy Bajan sweet cake. Mmmmm. Again, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the enormousness of his book collection. So jealous. Seriously.

Ever since I can remember I have always dreamt of my own room filled floor to ceiling with bookshelves (and a must have: the attached wooden ladder), a big ass arm chair, a cool little reading lamp and a sweet side table to place my glass of vino on. This place had it all, minus the attached wooden ladder. There was in fact a ladder, but it wasn’t wooden, or attached, and I’m pretty sure I was foolish enough to point that out. Leave it to me to make inappropriate remarks. Right.

So back to the house… The first 2 floors were floor to ceiling book shelves, arm chairs, photos, and memorabilia. This guy has original Rudyard Kipling books from the 1880’s. The pages were thick and jagged at the end. I opened the book, ran my hand over the page, and wondered how many people had touched it before me. The only thing I could blurt out was, ‘Uh..Wow.’

Brilliant. So I marveled over the collection, and couldn’t help my urges to pull out random books. He showed me his daughter’s old art studio downstairs and her paintings, and told me to check out upstairs. I took the glass of red, yummy sweet cake and myself upstairs to check out various books from the shelves. Some of them had christmas cards from 70’s, old concert stubs, plane tickets, notes, and letters from publishing companies stuffed in random pages. I glared at all of the photos surrounding the millions of books. The history in this house was so overwhelming that the only photo I can remember, probably among hundreds, is that of Nelson Mandela. I read about four chapters of one of Clarke’s own books, ‘Growing Up Stupid Under The Union Jack’ which is totally hilarious and captivating, especially if you have frequented Barbados. As I sat there, I recognized the Bajan tune on the record player, repeating over, and over and over, and sang it to myself while I continued to read.

Suddenly I realized, ‘Hey, I’m still alone up here’ and heard many voices coming from the main floor. Apparently this was where the party was at, y’all. I recognized people from earlier that evening, but was so overwhelmed, drinky and tired that I could no longer trust myself in a social situation. I headed down and strolled into the crowded room in a red wine induced shuffle. I told my mom it was past her bedtime, and we bounced out of there. I don’t remember saying goodbye, but I hope it was somewhat intelligent sounding on my part, if anything. I mean, this guy is the last person I want to slip one of my random phrases of absurdity to.

Ahh, what a night. I’ve ‘accidentally’ left out some classic moments of embarrassment (on my part of course), because, well, there’s no way to get around it with out making me seem like a complete dork. So, in the name of self preservation, those special moments are my little secret (and anyone else that managed to witness them). Shhhh.

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