Archive for Current Affairs


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Literature, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2018 by





IN 2018

Watch the book trailer here…


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, Literature, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2017 by

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Read the new Breaking Ground: Celebrating Writers of Colour booklet

SPEAKING VOLUMES has begun the next chapter of the Breaking Ground project with the launch of a new booklet celebrating writers of colour. We hope that the booklet will be a valuable resource both at home and overseas, demonstrating the wide and varied literature of the UK whilst raising the profile and giving a platform to 200 contemporary British BAME authors.

Read the brochure in full by clicking on the link below


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2016 by

300x300-512x512+55+47_11234323Norman Samuda Smith is a talented Author and former playwright. He is the first black British born novelist to be published in the UK, what an accolade to have under your belt. He has achieved so much and is so understated, but has done a plethora of work in which opened the doors through his writing of what it was like growing up as a black person in the UK.


In 2013, Norman self-published three of his books, Britannia’s Children, Freedom Street, and in celebration of its 30th Anniversary, his ground-breaking novel Bad Friday; which was first published in 1982 and republished in 1985. In a rare appearance, we at Sounds Beautiful Radio hosted a two part thoughtful and personal interview with him by our very own presenter ‘Westfield John’. It was a pleasure having Norman come into the studio for this interview. So sit back and listen to the full account of his surprising stories.

Listen to part 1 of the interview here…

Listen to part 2 of the interview here…







Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2015 by

Bad Friday (Front Cover)

Bad Friday by Norman Samuda Smith

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

What the readers are saying about it…

‘When Norman Samuda Smith wrote Bad Friday, he became our first Black British born Novelist – he became a pioneer who spoke for a generation whose voice had yet to be heard in the long narrative form. Norman Samuda Smith and Bad Friday were born and made in Britain, where he put pen to paper.’

James Pogson (Writer) February 2013


‘I read Bad Friday before I met Norman and felt it was good then: a novel about school leavers set in inner-city Small Heath Birmingham (UK) among the Afro-Caribbean community in the 1970s. It uses the dialogue of the community skilfully to tell an affecting story. What’s amazing (to me) about it is the author’s youth when he wrote it – He was only 17, and in his early twenties when it was first published, but he shows a mastery of narrative…’

Alan Beard (Author); January, 2001


‘Around 16 years ago, when I was starting to write my first novel, I was eager to find past examples, or ‘blueprints’, which would provide inspiration for what I was about to do. Although I found many noteworthy stories from across the African Diaspora, I was looking for something set in Britain. And then I was gifted Bad Friday – a novel I have to this day. It was instrumental in letting me know that what I envisioned was achievable, and that a rich, Black British AND working class literary culture had been realised by others before me. It was liberating to read, and I’m heartened to know this book will be made available for others. It’s a long unsung milestone, and I hope that, with this reprint, that will change.’

Courttia Newland (Author/Screenwriter/Playwright) October 2013


‘Excellent book!!! The final paragraph on the back cover gives definition to the struggles we faced in our youth. There are very few credible books that speak to an almost forgotten group – Black British people growing up in the 1970s. Great context and real characters who make this a page turning read.’

Winifred V. Williams (A satisfied reader – Washington D.C) November 2015


‘Norman wrote Bad Friday when he was only 17. The book has a great depth to it from innocence to the harsh realities of life. The characters are all well-defined, a mixture of emotions; joy, sorrow, dreams, love and the escape through music via ‘Sound Systems’ – Norman has a real talent.’

John Miller (A satisfied reader – Birmingham, UK) December 2015


Read what they said about Bad Friday back in the day here…


 ISBN: 9781784071110  –  Total Pages: 237  Published: 29 October 2013





Watch the Bad Friday book trailer here…



Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, History, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Television, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2015 by

The aftermath of the German bombing blitz of Birmingham 1940


Former Son of Small Heath now Hollywood actor David Harewood travels back to his native Birmingham, UK to look at his city’s Blitz story. During the second world war, Birmingham’s factories were crucial to war production, and although the city was heavily bombed, much of the destruction was kept secret. David uncovers this story and talks to victims of the Blitz. He also goes up in a small plane to recreate the German bombing raids – from the sky he is able to see that the house where he grew up in on Oldknow Road in Small Heath, was sandwiched between two major targets. Watch the episode here…

Check out the article published November 2012 here on PANTHER NEWSLETTERTRIBUTE TO THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF SMALL HEATH here…


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by

Britannia's ChildrenBritannia’s Children by Norman Samuda Smith

Our rating: 5 of 5 stars

Norman Samuda Smith’s BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN by Beresford Callum © 2015

‘If you haven’t purchased and read BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN by Norman Samuda Smith, here are my reasons why you should…’

An anthology of short stories which together not only represents a time capsule of black British youth experiences between the 1960s and possibly the late 1970s, Britannia’s Children by Norman Samuda Smith (2013), is also an organic record of the author’s Journeys. I read this book several times; first for leisure. Secondly, I read to establish a chronology other than that given by the year each story was written, for I felt so familiar with the setting and characters of each story I was forced to ask the questions Who and When? Lastly, I read to harvest the information between the lines. The hidden having dissected and critically analyzed Smith’s stories I found Britannia’s Children to be original, honest, inspirational and humbling.

As a book for leisure the mention of the familiar (for example Birmingham City Center, Grange Road Park and the Small Heath Community Center) evoked the feeling of nostalgia. At the most basic level it did for me and will do for the Birmingham populace; particularly if one traverses the Small Heath area, what the books of famous crime novelist Patricia Cornwell did for residents of the city of Richmond, Virginia (United States). Cornwell, having an intricate knowledge of Richmond used the City’s various locales as a backdrop to her stories. Just knowing that one shared the same knowledge as the writer not only spurred local interest, it boosted sales and often triggered heated discussion as to her accuracy. Every story triggered ten stories for me thus setting me on an emotional roller coaster.

Reading between the lines I found the first four stories 1981 through 1985 to be very revealing. Careful scrutiny of these stories; all of which have been presented in chronological order, gives a rough insight to Smith searching to find his dialect, his medium of expression and his true voice. As I read the stories I made note of the writer’s use of Caribbean colloquialism, British slang and of course standard English. As Smith grew more confident and comfortable Caribbean colloquialisms were less forced and he interjected some British working class slang. By Rasta Love it was a Standard English texture in varying degrees by colloquialisms and slang determined by situation. The book is truly an excellent example of hybridization.

Having written the above I must say I was not only pleasantly surprised by its contents, it was difficult keeping my comments objective. A contemporary of Smith’s from infant through to Secondary school up until 1973, Britannia’s Children appealed to me at multiple levels. Every story triggering ten stories thus causing my emotions to undulate as if riding on a roller coaster. There were very few stories in which I did not seem to be directly or indirectly involved but I can testify to the authenticity.

In the story “Who Can’t Hear Must Feel!” (Verse 1), the names Wendell and Leroy used in this tale are undoubtedly pseudonyms; I actually know who these two particular boys are. However, even if I did not, we all have knowledge of the family structure that they represent. I was one of those kids harmlessly begrudged for being able to play in the Park every day. The Grange Road Park was my backyard. Less known were the circumstances which made our freedom possible. Along with four other families, my family lived in a row house on Charles Road. With multiple sets of children in a rooming house and a backyard that was essentially a dump there was little room for play. Fortunately, the windows of the second floor kitchen used by my mother and the attic in which we lived both gave my parents panoramic views of the Grange Road Park. Being able to watch my every move I was given the false sense of freedom. This was true for several of my peers that played in the park daily, we were what are referred to in Caribbean culture as ‘one room pick ninny’. I find it humorous that while I begrudged Wendell and Leroy for their small private backyard, they begrudged me for my compulsory freedom. My parents would say, “Buoy!! The grass is not greener over the fence, just depends on how the sun shine pon it”. I guess they were right.

While I am familiar with the Streets named, I know nothing of Small Heath sound systems and dance hall life as portrayed in Rasta Love. I was plucked out of Birmingham before completing secondary school. My party experience in Birmingham is restricted to the summer of 1988. Similarly, my experience with the Small Health Community Center is limited to two evenings of indoor football. The stories in which they are mentioned however are very powerful triggers. I could see the houses on Muntz Street from our attic. Once being a truant from school I watched two houses on fire being put out by the firemen. Then related the events to my father, was my undoing. He realized I could not possibly have been at school and witnessed the fire. I will never forget that thrashing!! The characters Robo, Pedro and Beres who play active roles in the story are very real to me. These were the names of my peers with whom I (Smith included) ate lunch, walked to and from school, every day for a number of years. These names are those of the Alston Boys Secondary School crew, we huddled together as birds of a feather, played football, cricket, basketball and even sang on the school choir.

I was a member of that 1972 football team written about in the story titled The Football Match. I could never for the life of me recall the ending score or what precipitated the match. What I always remembered was fighting an Irish guy Mickey Jaggers. Also normally if we had to be on the Ritz field after school, the crew would exit the field on the Yardley Green end and walk it home via Green Lane as we all lived, on that side of Small Heath. However, on this particular evening for more than just having had a hard game of football, I was hurting all over. I forgot about comradery, somehow exited on the Little Bromwich Road side , walked to the number 54 bus stop not too far from the Ritz, used my last two pence to catch the bus and ‘draw mi half dead ass’ home.

Lastly, depending on one’s experiences stories can be a powerful stimuli, Smith’s stories for me were like a shot of adrenaline given to the dying. Having completed Britannia’s Children I had a eureka moment; as a child of Small Heath this did not only plot the author’s Journeys, they were milestones of my own.


BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN by Norman Samuda Smith

© Naiobi James 2013

WOMAN is the story of Ivey and her life as she lived it for forty years. She left Jamaica as a young woman and went to England. Once there she studied to become a nurse, married, had children and was now a grandmother. On the eve of her sixtieth birthday, after a party to celebrate, she realized that forty years had gone by and she’d never returned to her family; realized that it was too long a time to spend away from those she’d left behind in Jamaica. She felt it was time to plan a vacation; it was time to go home…

LIZA is the story of a young girl who was raised by very stern parents. They insisted she have the education they didn’t and forbid her to date or have boyfriends as they would get in the way of her schoolwork. Liza wanted to be a lawyer but her mother would have none of that; she wanted her daughter to become a doctor, to give back to her fellow man so, under duress, that is what Liza decided to do. She aced her first year; studied hard and won grants to continue her education. She was her family’s shining star. Then she met Barry. How could so much positive turn into a very big and dark negative?

These are just two of the stories you’ll find in Britannia’s Children, a collection of short stories by Norman Samuda Smith.

Written in Jamaican patois, I felt drawn into the culture as I experienced the pain, joy, frustration and successes of the characters peppered throughout the book. There are lessons to be learned in this book; does Who Can’t Hear Must Feel make you think of a few?

Britannia’s Children is a look through the lenses of life; a colorful slice of the lives of the people you’ll meet as you turn the pages. It will show you that no matter who you are or where you come from, there are lessons and experiences that we all share in one form or another.

I enjoyed this book and I know you will too, especially if your roots are in Jamaica and you haven’t been home in a while.



© John Miller 2015

“Britannia’s Children is a very good read, sad and entertaining AND thought provoking…”

Britannia’s Chidren is about black people in Britain and their children’s struggle to find their identity and their place in a white society from the 1950’s. There are a lot of parallels with white children’s upbringings by their parents after the aftermath of the 2nd World War. It’s a very good read, sad and entertaining AND thought provoking.






Watch the Britannia’s Children book trailer here…


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2015 by




Bad Friday (Front Cover)Britannia's Children (Cover Design)




Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Television, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2015 by








You can also view PANTHER NEWSLETTER @


This issue of PANTHER NEWSLETTER is dedicated to my Dad

Frederick William Smith


Sunrise: January 9 1924

Sunset: November 20 2014




In this relaunch issue of PANTHER NEWSLETTER we have our SPECIAL GUEST, Birmingham’s Treasure Tonya Joy Bolton, check out her engaging interview. My lifelong bredrin Beresford Callum returns with another fascinating FEATURED STORY highlighting his encounters with the paranormal and his book review in the FEATURED ARTICLE. We also have THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET, and everybody’s favourite, THE CULTURE CORNER.





me 23


Greetings and welcome to the relaunch issue of Panther Newsletter.

My Dad’s health hadn’t been at its best in recent years. I give thanks I was able to fly out to California and spend quality time with him during his brief recovery in the summer of 2014, together with my brothers, sisters and extended family. Although we knew it was a matter of time, nothing prepares you for the inevitable news when it arrives.

He passed away November 20 2014 aged 90 years young. We gave him a good send off and celebrated his remarkable life.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years Dorothy J Smith (The Director), his children, and a multitude of grandchildren and great grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by us all.

Dad – Our General – I know your love-light will continue to shine and guide us – them and those you loved the most.

‘Everyting  Bless…’



© 2014 Jermaine Samuda Smith


Dad with my children, Daniel, Shereen and Jermaine; Birmingham, UK 1998.

To Grandpa the general…

Even though you were far away, visions of you are so memorable. All of your letters, cards and phone calls. You never forgot us at all.

Thanks to you Grandpa, I know my roots and where I’m from; and because of the teachings you passed onto my Dad; I hear it every day from him in my ear-drums.

I work hard every day Grandpa like you did, trying to make ends meet. Me and my Dad sweating hard. I’m staying out of trouble and standing firm on my feet.

Work was hard at the start, I didn’t want to carry on; but how can I give up when I remember your words saying, you’re proud of what I’ve done.

All I know is I’m proud that I’m your Grandson.

You are my guiding star, the General, my champion!!

We love you Grandpa.

Rest in Peace.

From your England tribe.


*All rights reserved.  No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Jermaine Samuda Smith.*



© 2014 Norman Samuda Smith


He showed me how to be a man. He’s helped me, advised me and guided me. Sometimes I haven’t agreed with him along the way. He’s strong and gentle too, and I strive to be like him every day…

I’m blessed to be his son, it was written from the start. He’s a supreme father, loving, kind and smart.

He’s not a chic dresser, but he’s trimmed and very neat; with his casually smart clothes, to the shoes he wears on his feet.

He doesn’t hang out at the pub, he doesn’t drive a flashy car; and when he takes a vacation, he doesn’t go too far.

He doesn’t dine on fine cuisine; to him: ‘Fast food nuh sweet,’ he always has rice on his plate, when it’s time for him to eat.

He has a humble house in California, which has all what he needs. He keeps his garden cut nice and short; he grows vegetables and fruits and he trims all the weeds.

He used to work long hours, to earn an average pay. Even when he was sick or tired, he turned up for work every day.

He worked as a mechanic, a builder, a variety of jobs. His pay just made ends meet; but the few good friends and family he has, makes his life complete.

He has never had much money, his life is not for show; but still he’s the richest man, I will ever know.

He’s not well-versed in poetry, the theatre or the arts; but he has wisdom, knowledge and overstanding of life, something that he constantly imparts.

He loves the simple things in life, for riches he doesn’t thirst, cos he knows what’s important, he puts his family first.

The wealth that God has given him, to treasure in his life; loving sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and a very special wife.

To many he’s just a simple man, but he’s the greatest man I know. A man of great dignity, honour, strength and pride; he’s my Dad, my mentor, my hero.

Bless up Dad!  –  Rest in Peace…


“Nuff Said…”


*All rights reserved.  No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda Smith.*





by Grace Patricia Pinnock


a sense of belonging

I was recently in touch with an old schoolmate of mine. We were pupils of Washwood Heath Comprehensive School, Birmingham, UK from 1973 to 1975. Grace Patricia Pinnock now resides in Spanish Town after migrating from England to Jamaica, her parents’ homeland in 1991 and found it to be a place which she can truly call home.

Her book, A Sense of Belonging, published by Arawak Publications, Kingston Jamaica (2012), is her personal account of being British born of Jamaican descent.

Grace tells of her ‘Jamaican’ childhood in England, her discontent with the subtle forms of racism in the British education system, the search for her identity, her wrestles with the decision to move from England to Jamaica, and of the challenges she faced to begin her new life in Jamaica with its traditions and culture that she was raised to honour and respect.

It also gives some insight into why one British born Jamaican identifies with the island of Jamaica and questions whether the British born person of Jamaican or other West Indian descent will ever be truly accepted as Black and British in the UK.

You can get your copy of

A Sense of Belonging here…

Check out Grace’s blog too @



Winter has stepped away, Spring is here. We all look forward to Summer Time when we pray for the sun to shine and everyone has continuous smiles on their faces. To get y’all into the summer time mood, here’s a tune my brother and my son threw down during a jam session in the recording studio; their version of SUMMER TIME: listen up and watch it here…



Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Health, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Television, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2015 by

“My work gives me profound insight into the challenges faced by marginalised groups. I’m really passionate about exploring hard-hitting subjects and engaging people through the arts and changing lives…”

She’s been described as multifaceted and multi-talented; a writer, performer, producer and Empowerment Specialist, born and bred in Birmingham, UK who’s been writing from an early age. Published in numerous anthologies and academic journals, she’s performed extensively throughout the Midlands and internationally. The founder of the not for profit organisation ICU Transformational Arts; you can add business woman and entrepreneur to her many accolades.

The SPECIAL GUEST in PANTHER NEWSLETTER  this issue is Birmingham’s Treasure…




I recently hooked up with Tonya to talk about her and her work. Check out her engaging interview with me here…


Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Television, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2015 by


© 2015 Beresford Callum

While my primary objective in writing this story is to relay an experience with the paranormal, I also wish to provide a slither of information regarding adversities encountered by rural students during early to late 1970s in order to attend a traditional High (Grammar) School education. Hence, sometimes the background to a story is more meaningful than the story itself. This is my exact sentiment regarding this story. Leton, Brenda, Everald, Clive, Audrey, Daphne, Laxton, Audrey F, Clifton, Leighton and Sideone I write this for us.

For readers to fully appreciate my experience that Thursday night, I find it necessary to first outline the circumstances (High School) which lead to me being in Hog Land Street after dark (between 9:30-10:00 PM every week day night) and secondly, the recent history behind this famed locale.

Hog Land Street

It was pre-1980 Jamaica, before the rural electrification programs of the late 1970s, before the restructuring of the island banana industry in the early 1980s, before the decline of the citrus orchards in the Cave River Valley and most relevant to this story, an era when rural transportation was very poor. The Verma-hollis Savanna on which my village – Aenon Town is located, was considered one of the most fruitful districts in North-Eastern Clarendon or South–Western St. Anne. Fruitful was a euphemism for very rural, highly cultivated and thickly bushed and pitch black after twilight. I lived in a sub-section, off Aenon Town’s main thorough fair, called Hogland. Adequately named by my distant relatives (freed slaves) who brought the tract many! many!! years ago, after selling a pig.

The banana trees on either side of the parochial motorable leading to Hogland were enormous. From the ground where they were rooted to the top of their heart leaves they towered almost 20 feet. As the leaves on both sides matured and curved downwards, in many places they formed a semi-canopy 12 – 15 feet above the 10 feet wide road. This semi-canopy covered the street for roughly 200 meters before it broke.

The canopy broke for approximately 150 meters between the Sutherland’s shack and Clarence Richards’ cottage. My mothers’ house was roughly mid-way between the Sutherland’s shack and the Richards’ cottage. Between my mothers’ house and the Sutherlands’ was what had become a legendary ‘duppy yard’. Beyond Mr. Richards was no man’s land – bush, open meadow and lands previously a part of the Penrhyn sugar plantation and cattle estate. Bez 1

20 meters from the Sutherland’s towards my mothers’ house was the Reverend Bridges’ house. At the corner of the Bridges lot there was a large mango tree and a footpath running perpendicular to Hoglands’ Street. It leads to the houses of the Earthnuts and the Flamingoes. Roughly 10 meters beyond the Reverend’s house 50 meters from my mothers’ house in a natural depression was the sub-divisions’ public standing pipe where all the families collected water.

No house in Hogland had indoor plumbing or its own water supply. Drums were either filled via guttering when it rained or through 5 gallon buckets filled at this community pipe and carried home. I can remember our house having two 80 gallon drums which I would fill up on Sunday mornings. Depending upon the amount of water remaining in them, I would have to carry anywhere between 16 and 32 buckets. Most members of the community skilled at balancing and carrying these buckets on their head but I could never do it. I swung my bucket from one hand to another every trip.

I was a long way from Small Heath now! A few months ago all I had to worry about were skinheads, Hells Angels, stealing apples and breaking into the ice cream van that was parked on Hugh Road. That was a walk in the park. This was the wild frontier, Hogland was famous for four things; gambling, vulgarity, family feuds and hauntings. My mothers’ house was built in the middle of the family grave yard. ‘Always wanting to be by my people’, she considered the site most appropriate.  I was 15 years old and relatively new to the community. My living situation was further compounded by the fact that there had been at least three horrible Ghost (duppy) assaults within the past four years. There was the destruction of the Richards family, a deadly phantom bull incident and the bombardment of the house next door to mom’s (‘the duppy yard’).

Exactly what precipitated the attack on the Richards’ is unclear. I was not a witness to the event but I heard the family’s lamenting just before daybreak that Sunday morning. Based upon the eye witness accounts of a handful of men gambling in the street that night it was as a Tornado. In a blitz attack, a duppy swept through the common-law couple’s two room cottage, creating havoc. Furniture demolished, windows and china broken. When the dust finally settled, two of the children had died and their father, a well-known coach driver, would never fully recover. Mud Root as he was popularly known, had been slapped by the duppy in the face so hard, his neck and his left cheek remained irrecoverably distorted for the next 10 years of his life.

The phantom bull incident occurred a few years prior to that of the Richards family. A mother (Ms. Flamingo) and her 11 year old daughter (both residents of Hog Land) coming from shopping at the local fresh market were attacked in broad daylight by a phantom bull. In an attempt to escape the furious ‘Bull’, the child tore from her mothers’ grip, jumping into a nearby creek. It was during the regions rainy season. Seasonal streams, brooks and rivers were at their peak. Despite the mothers numerous attempts, her innocent child never resurfaced until two days later. Was it an enigma? There was no bovine on the meadow that day!

Bez 2

Despite the destruction and death, neither the phantom bull nor the Richards family incident (both stories which, I will put to pen in detail at a more opportune time) made the newspapers or the local news. As I mentioned before it was a pre-dawn blitz attack, carried out with military precision. The demon was there one minute and gone the other.

Possibly the most spectacular duppy attack in Central Jamaica (the parishes of Clarendon, St. Anne, Manchester and Trelawny) was about 18 months before – the early 1973 bombardment of the Gold Tooth’s’ house. Our family had just moved back to Jamaica from Birmingham (England). Our house was in the process of being built on land that had been in the family since the emancipation in Jamaica. The Tooth’s were our neighbors before my parents migrated to England in the late 1950’s. I didn’t witness the event, as we were staying with family friends in Kingston. Based upon eye witness accounts, it was a five day event. Almost a Biblical as the plagues of Egypt – the ghosts began with hot boulders, then followed with ants and flies. My Readers!!! Hogland Street made the national News. It was as a once in a lifetime event, thousands of curious spectators came from miles by the bus and truck loads to witness the unbelievable. I will save you readers the gory details for another time.

I should get back to my original story. You are probably wondering what circumstances had a 15 year old out so late in the boon docks on a school night? High School!!

High School

High school was almost a luxury; and as with all luxury items, it came at a high price.  Giving children an opportunity to acquire a high (grammar) school education came at a high price to the parents. Attesting to how fortunate one was to be selected for high school was the fact that spread out over 7 miles in my village only 12 (Leton, Brenda, Everald, Clive, Audrey I, Daphne, Laxton, Audrey F, Clifton, Leighton, Sideone and Myself ) of probably 180 kids of high school age attended.

A child going to high school siphoned a larger percentage of the family’s funds. Other siblings often felt cheated having to do more of the house chores and at the same time sacrificing their share of whatever the family finances was supposed to buy. High School students may have been fortunate but they paid an equally high price. The transportation system was very poor. Traditional high schools were few and normally distances away from homes. Transportation generally limited; one bus out early in the morning and one bus back home late at night, high school students only saw their home, parent and rest of the family by the light of day on weekends. Both child and the rest of the family paid dearly. Over the course of 3 – 5 years High School students became strangers in their own homes. Siblings gradually grow indifferent to each other, even enemies. As immediate families became estranged, those with whom they regularly rode the bus became surrogates. So it was between Sidone and me.

Sideone was an Ennis and my senior. She also lived on Hogland Street. Negroid and Indian mix (what is referred to in Jamaica as Coolie Royale), she possessed a rare beauty and an air of confidence which came from her not being oblivious to her assets. I was often dumbstruck when we walked the 200 plus meters of street common to us, at night.

This was especially true for students living in Dry Harbor Mountain villages, for only one bus (Metro) went through Frankfield, where the nearest High School was located.

Beginning in a higher mountain village (Troy) at a ridiculous hour every morning, Metro skirted the hills passing through Aenon Town where I got on at 6:00 AM. Passing Aenon Town the bus navigated the cockpits’ isolated hills and valleys to the lowland petit metropolis of Frankfield. Frankfield was the first point on the busses route where public transportation became readily available. Leaving Frankfield Metro would continue letting off passengers until it got to the fishing town of Rock River. Students were picked up at roughly 7:00 PM. This however was the drivers return journey, fatigued he would drive slower, there were more frequent stops and more time spent socializing. Metro never got to AT before nine o’clock in the evenings. Hence, students that travelled the Troy Metro were not only accustomed to arriving at school late, but also getting home late and walking the last 5–30 minutes home in total darkness.

Shared experiences such as being bitten by the fangs of hunger, raiding citrus orchards, the disappointment of a bus not turning up in the evening countless times and the pains of having to walk home bonded us. I would do my past travelling companions (drivers, conductors, higglers and regular) great injustice if I didn’t say it was very much a family affair for us. Dry Harbor Mountain community members, operators’ of the Troy to Rock River Metro all had as much invested in our high school education as immediate family members. If for some reason a student was not at the bus stop on a school day, knowing Metro was the only bus out, the bus was parked, and the driver blew the air horn making a horrendous noise disturbing all who still slept at that hour. Simultaneously, regular travelers enquired regarding his welfare. Why no school today? Many times I overslept. Awakened by the horn I would throw my bag over my shoulder, holding my shirt, shoes and socks in my hand run get dressed on the bus, so as not to delay other passengers too badly. At night if students were hungry they were fed by higglers either going or coming from market. 

The Duppy

It was sometime during the 1975 – 1976 academic year. As usual the Troy to Rock River Metro dropped the Aenon Town kids off Late. Late was relative. It was probably a few minutes after ten o’clock. In rural 1970s Jamaica, all except die hard gamblers and those of dubious reputations would be in bed. It was a full moon. I can remember vividly, walking through the Street one could not help appreciating the tranquility, how the marled (crushed Limestone) street glowed or the silvery hues covering the vegetation as the different leaves reflected the light of the moon. Absolutely beautiful!!!

We were totally relaxed and I was somewhat happy with myself that night.  After two years of doubt, low self esteem and pride I had managed to strike up a semi-intimate conversation with Siddone’. Roughly 20 meters from the South’s was a large mango tree, here every mans’ heart throb turned right unto a foot- path that lead only to two houses – hers ( the Earthnuts’ and their neighbor the Flamingoes’. She would be home before I got to the community stand-pipe.

As I took a few steps beyond the mango tree I noticed a male looking figure bent over the faucet. He was of average height and built, dressed in light colored clothing. It seemed as if he was drinking water. I advanced counting the possibilities as to who it was. My curiosity was largely born from being happy to see someone else in a normally lonely section of my journey. At about 5 meters the person assumed an upright gait faced me directly. I had a good hold on the physique and facial features of an individual in the community but this face was indistinguishable. Figuring it was a stranger, I still considered it a pleasant surprise. His next move left my heart pounding and my every muscle paralyzed. In a single step, my figure of average height moved from the stand-pipe fixed on the embankment to my left over the width of Hogland Street into the fields on my right.

It only took a millisecond for the adrenaline to kick in but then it seemed forever. I ran the final 40 yards to my house in hysterics crying Haa!! Haaa!!! Haaaa!!!! And yelling for my mother – MOMMAH! MOMMAAH!! MOMMAAAH!!!

The aforementioned already had me running very fast. Senses heightened about half way into my 40 yard run, I heard Sideone scream and then something rustling through the bushes. She was roughly 30 yards to my right and directly in what I projected to be the ghost’s path. Chivalry was out the window. It was everyman for himself. Involuntarily my body gathered an extra burst of adrenaline, my feet went into overdrive and don’t think the road runner could have caught me.

Bez 3

The Aftermath

Bonded through adversity, intimacy out of the question, Siddone and I continued to accompany each other through Hogland Street for another two years. We never spoke of that night until the summer of 1994. How we laughed!!  She hadn’t seen a thing, she screamed because of my hysterics. The rattle through the bushes was her book being hurled so as not to hinder her quick retreat from whatever had scared me. The bag coming in my direction was a fluke. That was the last time we spoke. She was called for higher services a few months later. May she rest in peace.

I did not discover the identity of my ghost or the location of his grave until roughly 32 years later in 2008 after relaying my experience to the 92 year old matriarch of the Flamingo family (Mother Glover). Mockingly she laughed and said “I remember hearing you that night!! Also Ms. Earthnut (Sidones’ mother) and I talked about it the morning after!! It was nobody but that Mass Eleck. He had always been a wicked and barefaced old man. He is buried in the Lesley family plot over there”.

For the purposes of this story I placed two of my friends in the relative positions of what I considered to be Mass Elecks’ step on the night of our encounter. The first (white shirt) marks the position of the old stand pipe. The other (red, black and yellow shirt) marks the limit of his stride. That stride was approximately 21 feet in length give or take a foot.


*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Beresford Callum.*


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