After the burglary, dad decided we needed a guard dog. He set about looking for one and came across a Trinidadian policeman who had two trained boxer dogs he was no longer able to keep. So suddenly the house was full with large dogs, one red and one brindle. The postman was too scared to deliver our post and just threw them over the garden wall.
A replacement for Anita had to be found and dad brought home an Indian woman who was so beautiful as to seem a threat to mum. The next interview was for an even prettier Indian woman with silky hair down to her thighs. I don’t remember her spending much time cleaning. Her favourite room was the bathroom using talc all over the floor and standing in front of the mirror for ages. When it was time for dad to drive her home, she opened the front passenger door and helped herself to the seat next to dad. Anita would either sit in the back seat or volunteer to walk home with her umbrella.
The reception awaiting dad on his return home was not good and soon Anita was reinstated as cleaner, adviser and babysitter!
I found Anita great company, like an auntie. She taught me to dance to West Indian music, a sort of sedate version of twerking. Her craft skills were good and she showed me how to make plaited placemats out of dried banana leaves as well as pleated velvet cushions.
We’d go to the supermarket in San Fernando once a week for the groceries but they also had a fascinating array of American crockery, China with bamboo patterns. Wooden glasses with bamboo patterns. Mum couldn’t resist adding something to the trolley every week. I still use the steak knives with bamboo handles she bought.
After the supermarket we looked at the menu of the local Chinese restaurant. I’d never eaten Chinese before but mum worked in a Chinese restaurant in Southport, Lancashire in Northern England as a teenager. I don’t remember what was ordered but it was rather spicy to my innocent palate. I soon saw it as a regular treat.
I did my schoolwork early in the day, meaning much of my day was free for sun bathing in the beautiful garden. One afternoon whilst my sister had a nap, mum and I sat quietly sunbathing and sucking frozen peas, a habit we developed to cool down. Mum said to me, “Don’t move, but!.” 3 seconds later I was indoors escaping some harmless but large snake and a very large lizard on the opposite side.
I missed my school friends and loved the postman throwing those blue airmail letters over the garden wall. My friend from primary school Gillian Bazan wrote nice newsy letters about Jersey where she moved to after she was 11 years old. When we lived near Tamworth, Staffs we had Saturday sleepovers every week. We kept corresponding until after she married and became Mrs Le Motee. My other friend Maria Dutkiewicz went to my school, Polesworth High and kept me up to date on school gossip and school trips I was missing. In my absence there was a school dance and I was really put out that I was missing things with my friends.
One Sunday we decided to skip Mayaro Beach and head for Maracas Bay in the North of the island. It was a long way to go for a swim but worth seeing and reputed to be the best beach in Trinidad. To a 12 year old, the waves seemed incredibly high. Dad was well out at sea and calling me to join him when I was caught by a high wave which tipped me into a ball rolling under the water in the sand. I thought I was drowning but managed to right myself and rushed back to the safety of the beach. I didn’t go back in the water that day.