Saturday, March 2, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Recalling swinging on a star


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Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar, and be better off than you are, or would you rather be a pig? – Spooky and Sue (
We who hanker for the good old days have always lived with a lingering doubt: were the music, the movies, the singers, the comedians, really that great? Could they really compare?
Well, thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can go back and check. The Bud And Lous we watched on the Mobile Cinema (also known as the Mauby Can); Jack Benny and Flip Wilson; King Curtis whom I met at the Pepperpot; Spooky And Sue whom I only discovered last week – are all there.
And let’s admit it up front: they can’t be compared to today’s offerings. They were a million times better. When I see how my children and grandchildren sit transfixed by what we took for granted, it shames me that today’s radio and TV moguls have robbed our young people blind.
Just to have the confidence that there won’t be any extreme violence or stinking profanities, you can’t do gooder than that.
Spooky And Sue, my current favourites, cropped up in a search for Swinging On A Star, the only song ever requested on the radio for me. Mummy did it for my 11th or 12th birthday and I got teased about growing up to be a pig. Little did she know I would end up as Pork Hoad.
It’s Independence time with Carol Roberts’ morning Barbadiana tugging at the heart, the weather lovely, the politicians lying in wait for elections, and most dentists practising good oral hygiene. By the way, Carol, if you don’t know how to make proper conkies with raisins, say so. Those tantric things you’re promoting should properly be called “conks”. Can’t work.
It’s the Bajan ole talk at this time that I love. Hear Beef The Blacksmith (who knows Dennis Johnson’s nickname when he was a Garrison boy) and Maurice The Unmarried (the envy of all of us who are) recount how Richard “Gorilla” Goddard used to charge at rugby with five players trying to hold him back. Or pull a trailer loaded with hay that four men could barely move empty. Or beat the stuffing out of supermarket shoplifters.
And tell of an ugly competition at the Garrison in which the favourite, Gull-Monkey, placed well down the field. “Wunna tief”, he ranted at the judges, “I uglier than all of them!”
And of a jockey named O’Neil who was banned from an “eat all you want” party because of his prodigious appetite. “It’s all to do with your metabolic rate”, O’Neil told me modestly.
And the ole talk was sweet elsewhere. Following Denis Kellman’s suggestion that the newly renamed schools be designated “formerly known as”, many feel we should take this to its logical conclusion and include other outstanding teachers and sponsors.
Look out therefore for the “Barbados Lumber Company Major Noott Gladstone Holder Frank Collymore J.A. Millington School formerly known as Combermere”.
Sir Charles came visiting with the wife (looking good too) Sunday before last. I hear he recently turned 80. Like most Bajan celebrities, he attracts those made-up stories. Check these alleged phone conversations:
“Hello, Mary-Anne, this is Bizzy. Cow dey?”
“Surely you mean ‘Sir Charles’?”
One minute later: “Hello, Lady Williams, this is Ralph of similar surname. Could I trouble you to inform Sir Charles that Bizzy phoned for Cow?”
Also got to blow some sax for former Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands. Sir Cliffy was putting on some wicked dance moves, a 1940s version of the Oppa Gangnam style. While his contemporary Mr Justice Bishop was swinging his wife with exemplary vigour.
Come Sunday, God willing, I will have reached another alleged milestone. Please don’t anyone remind me it’s my biblical allotment. The mother-in-law is already doing that, over and over and over. I intend to chill out with Spooky And Sue, swinging on my star.
Eating a conkie or two.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.


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