The phone rang in my hotel room in Montego Bay; it was Shirleen the laundry supervisor. “Mr Rosengard? We’re waving your underpants!”
“That’s wonderful news Shirleen.” I said. “It must be a Jamaican New Year’s custom I thought- ‘Wave the Underpants Day!’ She rang back; it turned out that they’d damaged my boxer shorts and weren’t going to charge me for my laundry.
On the way back from lunch at Scotchies Jerk emporium I took a wrong turning and ended up next to a ‘For Sale’ sign beside a white house on the top of a cliff surrounded by mango, lemon and banana trees.
I’ve always dreamt of falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below. The next day I drove over to the house. Michael the owner, dressed in a sarong, was lying in a hammock in the garden. “Hi man.” he said. At least I think he said that, but the waves were so loud I couldn’t hear him. I crouched down next to the hammock.” What’s the price you’re looking for man?” I shouted.
The price was exactly double what the local estate agent had told me on the phone half an hour earlier.
I was the only white man there and told them I was with the Queen
“Listen man – when the Legalisation of Marijuana Bill before Parliament, goes through – property prices are going to jump!” he said
“You don’t think the small fact that Jamaica has a higher murder rate than London, New York and all of Westen Europe combined – might slightly outweigh the attraction of being able to puff legally on a marijuana cigarette?”
“No man! We’re going to attract the whole world here, they’ll be coming through immigration with a big spliff in each hand!”
“Let me think about this.” I shouted. That evening I took a taxi up into the hills to stay with a Jamaican friend who was throwing a big party.
It was a great do – I was the only white person there out of 150 guests: I told everyone I was representing Her Majesty the Queen.
Next day, I moved into a fantastic bed and breakfast near the Blue Lagoon just outside Ocha Rios. Over dinner that night got into a very animated conversation with the outspoken landlady.
As I was checking out the next morning she said “So you think I’m a whore, do you?”
“What!!?” I said.
“You called me one at dinner last night”.
“I certainly did not.” I said.
“Yes you did, you called me a ‘strumpet’!”
“I’ve never called anyone a’ strumpet’ in my life, are you sure? But anyway doesn’t that mean ‘a bold but clearly charming woman’?”
“No. Not according to my Oxford English Dictionary.” she said- holding threateningly a very large edition of the OED in her hand – “‘Strumpet: a prostitute.. whore.’
“Well, if I did call you a strumpet – I’d have meant it as a compliment! I made a mistake, it must have been that second bottle of red wine you recommended.” Somehow, I don’t think she was convinced.
“How do you get to work every day?” I asked Reneka the waitress who had come out to wave me goodbye.
“By TT Turbo!” she said.
“TT Turbo?-what make of car is that?”
“Ten Toe Turbo. On my feet!” she said – with a smile the size of Jamaica.