I called my friend on Sunday morning.
“Can’t talk to you today, sorry, I goin’ church,” he replied.
I was a bit surprised but I complimented him on starting the New Year right by going to church on the first Sunday of the year. I remarked that he was blessing the first Sunday.
“It ain’t so much that, Washy, but I fraid the judgment of God on this land, so I goin’ church to seek refuge from the time wrath to come. You remember the ole time Sankey song: O, Safe to the Rock?”
I remembered the Sankey piece. My friend and I used to be regular Church goers. I enquired why he was talking about the judgment of God. I was a bit puzzled.
“You didn’t go downtown and see the conduct of the young people on the street, in the parade?”
I reminded him that I do not go to town to witness those scenes anymore.
“Well, let me tell you something Washy, it was something else. How dem young woman was going on was something else again!”
I prodded him to explain.
“One a dem had on thongs, Washy. You know dem modern panty with a string in they bum, and the two half a dey bum expose? She had on them in the street Washy! Wukking up in, bennin dong and pushing back.”
“One a dem ben over forward and ley a man take she picture from behind. Me arm, Washy, you ever see such a ting?”
I reminded him that I did not go to town, so I couldn’t have seen what he was describing.
“One a dem was up on a height and she cock up one a she foot, and you should see all de man dem, wid they cameras going underneath and snapping. Washy, I tell you, as a man I was ashamed to see woman behaving so. A woman was standing next to me. She groan and say, ‘What a shame’.
I was skeptical and challenged his idea that this conduct would bring down the judgment of God on all of the land.
“Washy, one of the troupes look like it was a sex troupe, de woman dem ah rum and playing drunk and going on like dey want sex on the street. And de man dem like dey jumping on, what a ting!”
I expressed surprise but tried to be objective. I said it was supposed to be Carnival when people went on badly, when they abandoned themselves to the music and the liquor. I reasoned that there is a time for everything and quoted scripture to support it. I was playing devil’s advocate.
“Washy!” my friend replied. He talked so loud, listeners could hear him through my cell phone.
“Washy, the time for a young woman to open up she treasures is when she home in she private room, not when she on Cayon Street in front of everybody. Cayon Street is not the place and Carnival, when all kind of little children watching on, is not the time.”
I querried his use of the word treasures.
“Of course Washy, treasures, you see where God put it, in a place where nobody could see it. He hide it there for special occasions like when she making out with the man she love in private. I believe a woman is defying God when she out in public cocking up she self to the whole world.”
As he spoke I remembered the children, who must have been in town in their hundreds looking on and drinking up the sordid scenes.
I remembered that when I was a small boy, we used to play January masquerade. Groups of boys from all over Basseterre used to organize themselves and tour their neighbourhoods, knocking pans and mimicking the various Christmas troupes.
Some played masquerades, some actors, one lad about my age from the Village, a Depusois, whose father was a head baker at Ronald Laws, was the leader of the January masquerade from the Village. He used to play the cuatro and his group played Sagwa. They used to pick up a lot of pennies and half-pennies from the appreciative adults.
These youngsters had imbibed the images of the Christmas festival and spent the rest of their vacation replaying them. And these were good and wholesome images.
As my friend complained, I wondered whether the children of today imbibe the street conduct of today’s Carnival and replay them throughout the rest of the year. I wondered what kind of impact the conduct on the street at Carnival time has on the impressionable minds of our present generation of children.
I remarked to my friend that these must be the signs of the times.
“Yes Washy, but these are our times, our times are shaped by us, our conduct set the pace and determine what times we live in. If we allow our wutless don’t-care young women to set the trend, that’s the kind of times we will live in.”
I reminded my friend that wukking up has always been a part of our culture. When we were small boys the neighbourhood used to meet by the stone bleach on moonlight nights to have fun.
One of the games we used to play was A Brown Girl in de Ring:
There is a brown girl in the ring
Falala, brown girl in the ring
There’s a brown girl in the ring
Falala sweet like sugar an plum.
Now show me your partner
Falala show me your partner
Now show me your partner
Falala, sweet like sugar and plum.
Now show me you motion
Falala show me your motion
Now show me your motion
Falala sweet like sugar and plum.
The sweetest part of the game was when the girl in the ring faced her partner and both of them showed their motion in some wild pelvic gyrations.
“Washy, what we having now on the streets of Basseterre aint like that. That was innocent fun. This is vulgarity at its worst and you remember well that decent people in the neighbourhood never let their girls children engage in these suggestive games, and the girls never used to hoist up their clothes for the boys to see their treasures. Not in public.
As I reflected on my friends is concern, I remembered the first Carnival in 1949 (I could be wrong with the date) one of the troupes, (I think it was Ten Commandments) featured a group of females dressed in panties, covered with ribbons. They were the old time full fitting types, the modern bingo-bags. The girls looked voluptuous in their outfit as they wined behind the band.
Bishop Gubi, of the Moravian Church was not amused, neither were the other churches, Gubi’s condemnation in the Democrat Newspaper was uncompromising.
The Bishop should have been in Basseterre on Last Lap Day.