By John Western
Publication by way of Western, John
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Extra resources for A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home
John parishes,2 variously exciting fascination or providing employment for social anthropologists, historians, novelists, race relations experts, and culture-oriented tourists alike. 3 Not necessarily, no. But the main current of island history and societal development was nevertheless the more familiar postslavery one of white privilege progressively yielding political power under pressure, while striving to maintain a vastly extraproportionate economic and social clout. Despite long-term tensions and a number of crises, Barbados was able in this context to sustain self-government, unlike the other British Caribbean territories (such as Jamaica) where the whites were proportionately fewer, and which regressed to direct Colonial Office rule from London.
By midafternoon I walked out of the door, needless to lock it, leaving it to the new owners. There was still a place in England where my mother lived, yes. But no longer was there my home. In moments like this few, surely, can sidestep contemplating the course of a life? The loss of home, especially when compounded by the prior loss of a father, compels a certain candor. The unexamined, assured perspective that I had comfortably held of my place in things lost some of its persuasiveness. As the train clattered back toward London, jumbled thoughts elbowed each other.
And at the end he said—and he seemed straight with me, he was a nice honest man—he said, "I'd give you the job, but they'll not have you work with them. You're the first black man we've had here, they won't like it, it'll be tough on you. It's not me, it's them. . " I believed him, he was a fair man, so I didn't take up the job. 5 Back to the Labour Exchange, the third day. There was a job on BR [British Railways]. Went down to the Kentish Town offices for the interview. Did well in the electrical test.
A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home by John Western