So my aunt who never calls, called yesterday to find out if I was alright. So did a few friends. They all wanted to know if I had survived Scotland’s first hurricane. If the church I live in was still standing. If the cat was dry.
The truth is, I hadn’t known a ‘hurricane’ was coming. I had been giving a reading the evening before in Southport – a strange seaside town near Liverpool. I had printed out my material from before – material which involved (untypically for me) a new bit of fiction I’ve been working on with some graphic (if not, hopefully quite funny) sex. I walked in to the ballroom of the hotel where the event was taking place and was greeted by about 30 or so six-year olds and their parents staring back at me. Clearly I had pitched this wrong. No. It wasn’t my finest hour, and so the next morning, in the aftermath of it all, I thought I had faced the storm already.
The train back to Glasgow was a slow moving one. It stopped for long periods because of ‘flooding up ahead’. I was worried that I was going to miss all my meetings that day but soon the calls started coming in – ‘Oh, the University is going to be locked down. Everyone is being sent home. Stay inside, Kei! This one looks like it’s going to be bad!’ So, my meetings had been rescheduled.
The train then started to crawl. A woman on the intercom explained if the train went any faster it might pitch over with the heavy winds prediced. I looked outside, but there were no winds.
Three hours late and I finally got to Glasgow, just in time for the apocalyptic event. The place indeed was a ghost town. There was, in all honesty, a brisk wind howling – but the sky was strangely blue, and everything was dry. Though a good 3 miles away from the city centre, I decided to walk it home in the hurricane.
And then it was time for me to become arrogant.
I thought – but dese people don’t know hurricane! Dem never see Irene when a whole side of Jacks Hill did fall pon a house on Forsythe Drive and fling three SUVs into de gate! Dem never live through Gilbert where my whole family had to brace ‘gainst a window to prevent it from blowing in! Dem never yet see a entire population of satellite dishes just bruck off and pitch cross de sky, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood like frisbee! I thought, walking home in the pleasant breeze, ‘This can’t be hurricane! This muss-bi hurricane cousin!’
‘Hurricane’ is an interesting word by the way. One of the few truly indigenous Caribbean words. Tobacco, Maize and Canoe are others. All from the Arawaks – the first people, wiped out. ‘Huracan’ was the Arawak God of the Sky and the Winds. So not only are ‘hurricanes’ formed in the Caribbean, the very name always places them there, so it wasn’t long before I began to think of this supposed hurricane in Scotland as a kind of Caribbean immigrant – a yardie!
And that made me remember the first time I came to the UK and sat on a bus with an old Jamaican woman who decided to lecture me and tell me what was what. She told me that I was a ‘yardie’ as I had only recently arrived. And in a sympathetic way for poor Britania, as old women like her will always be sympathetic, she went on to tell me that yardies were the worst people! And then she say, ‘Especial de woman dem! Oh Jeezas Chrise! Dem turble man! Dem just come ya fi mash up di poor Brits!’
And then I was back again to the first hurricane in Scotland – another Caribbean immigrant, a yardie, come fi mash up di poor Brits. Well, thank God he didn’t do that much damage after all.