AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH – Bring back Bajan


My name is Donna Simpson and I bring back Bajan, the fun that Bajans have, in a food and drink demo.
I’m born and raised in St Phillip.
I’m what they would call “the error” these days: my sister, Jane, is eight years older, my brother, Chris, nine.
My elder two children go up every summer and every other Christmas because my ex-husband is English and very much still part of our lives. My last two are from my husband Jonathan Simpson. He promised to marry me since I was eight years old and he kept the promise.
My mum used to teach him to ride when he was a child. We used to fight from back then. Not a lot has changed. But that’s probably the spark in our relationship.
I have a very satisfying personal and professional life. I’m very lucky.
I wasn’t one of those people who liked school; I always wanted to be out on a horse. My mum had a riding school of 150 children and the horses were my life. When I was told the end of the world was coming, I went riding a little more. I was even nice to my husband for that week.
I left school at 15 and did a secretarial college education.
I started working life working for my stepfather at 16, as a cashier.
I often mention when I’m doing the demo that it was written as to what happens at my parents’ house for 30 years on a Monday night. They’d invite friends for a corn-and-oil or a rum cocktail and fish cakes and jerk chicken or pork and plantain. It started as the adult ride. As they got older, most of them started leaving the horses in the stables and just coming for the drink.
My parents are very much still with us. They’re my boss!
People think they can go to England and make money, but I prefer to live here and be broke than live up there and be miserable.
If you enjoy what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.
I go to Bath for relaxation.
I don’t watch many movies. I don’t sit still well.
Chef Gordon Ramsay is my favourite. Don’t think I could get away in my kitchen with his approach.
Someone said to me: “She just said something to annoy me and it’s going to ruin my day.” I said: “That would have to be your choice.” Deal with it and put it away.
They tell me I laugh too much, but I do love a joke. It’s better for you than anger. I’ve tried both.
I’ve been writing tours to increase traffic into Barbados and my own business. I needed something new. I thought of Rum Punch & Fish Cake. Give someone rum and fish cakes, that’s a sure win, almost cheating. This demo started on cruise ships.
Most tours are on a time limit. My guests won’t get up and leave. For everyone involved, 40 minutes goes by very quickly.
Apart from the basics, every time I speak, I don’t know for sure what I’m going to say. There’s so much about Bajan culture to choose from – ackee, sugar cakes – so much! I have a lot of fun doing the demos.
I come out and do them on my days off. I’ll do them hungover! And if I have to sip a rum punch before midday, that’s quality control! As a manager, you get stuck in the office. Doing the demo, you’re touching the people directly.
If it’s not raining, I’ll do the demo under the bearded fig tree from which Barbados got its name. There are so few left. My trees are only 18 years old. I remember them as potted plants.
I love the St Philip environment.
We pay for chickens with eggs. Bajans got to go back to their roots and remember the generosity in their hearts.
We had a party for a 100-year-old lady and the MC asked for everyone to join in a prayer for unity. I almost came to tears. We were handing out fish cakes and the average Bajan would hold off and wait for their fish cake, but they all came forward and united in their prayer.
A Bajan is proud. We all have opinions. Which is great; as long as we manage to do something with those opinions. And we love a laugh. Especially at someone’s expense.
In England, adults work for themselves and children have to take care of themselves. In Barbados, people aspire to have a house so their children, the next generation, can be that much better off. I love it that we still have that mentality.
Barbados is my home. Even when I lived in England, all I talked about to anyone was: “Go to Barbados!” 
I don’t know if that’s from coming up in tourism.


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