When I began thinking of ideas for my new book of ‘Caribbean folktales’ I knew that gathering the stories would unravel many more stories and memories. Part of my research entails speaking to people from the Caribbean islands. I know quite a few Caribbean folktales that I often tell when Storytelling but for my book, I’m finding different ones too. I need lots of time when speaking with my elders because there are always several more stories to be shared in addition to the one you’ve asked for!
As well as gathering folktales which I’m adapting, I’m also collecting reminiscences of 1950s/60s migration to the UK from the Caribbean islands. Some of these colourful memories have been handed down to children (who are now adults) and others are being told directly to me. It’s such a priviledge to hear 60 year old memories first hand. Here are a couple of reminiscences including one from my own Grandmother. In the face of hardship and racism, many people were very rational about their circumstances and felt that being employed in the UK was still better than returning to their Island with limited jobs.
I used to work nights at Mayday hospital in Croydon. During the day we would take turns to watch each other’s children. We all helped each other out. – Cleo, aged 86
My Dad didn’t pine for Jamaica. He worked on the buses. It was hard, but still progress. Everyone was in it together, living cheek by jowl. Rob, sharing is father’s memories
As these memories unfold, I’m connecting the themes that emerge to the Caribbean folktales that I’m writing. I’ll keep you posted with my progress. Due to be published by The History Press in September 2021.