Mid-morning Gordon Critchlow sits in a little room surrounded by paint tins; his only source of light is the open door. Despite the heat of the space he occupies, he continues painting the letters on the banner in front of him because his family needs the money he will make from this job.
Seventy-year-old Critchlow is a sign painter. This has been his occupation and passion for the last forty years. However, for the past eighteen years, he has occupied a small room adjoining the Rayon House of Fashion on Robb Street.
“I am well known for my work,” he said, “I like doing this.” He recalled that as a youth he watched a man named ‘Fenty’ prepare banners, and was full of admiration for his work. However, he believed that he could do better. Years later, his work has been featured on various buildings, the seawall and any number of banners.
Those were the good days. Now his way of life is being threatened by technology and as a consequence, life has become difficult for him. Though struggling to get well-paying jobs, he is determined to persevere because this is all he knows how to do.
“Things are different, nobody looks at us now,” he said sadly of his line of work. He added that nowadays customers prefer to have their work done on the computer rather than by hand. “Even the young people are not interested in learning about this work since it is too slow for them.”
“I’m a pensioner and it’s tight living for me,” he observed; “My life is more than tough.” He explained that he does not make much from his work and is struggling to make ends meet. Despite this, he is determined to make an “honest living.”
He said that his wife is the backbone of their family and he just does what he can to help out. When he is paid, it is such a headache to spend the money, he said, because the cost of living is so high. “Imagine $240 per day for pensioners, when a loaf of bread costs $260.” He believes that the government has to pay greater attention to the plight of the country’s senior citizens to ensure that they have a comfortable living.
Regardless of his situation, Critchlow is optimistic that he can make it by staying strong. He declared, “I will get through this with flying colours.”