When I say that England has played a major role in Caribbean life, I’m telling you something you already know, but when I tell you I wrote a song about missing England, that has to be news to you because I never lived in England.
This unusual incident illustrates one of the conditions in songwriters where ideas for songs rise up and embrace you wherever you live. This one came about when I was living in Cayman, still a British colony today, with scores of resident Englishmen, a few of whom I came to know in my time there, and among the things I came to know was that many of them, even most, remember their homeland with great devotion. England is a big part of who they are. Also in play was this: while the English have this conservative reputation, they are actually some of the most flamboyant and eccentric people on earth; trust me: they are often an emotional and excessive bunch.
When, therefore, about 15 years ago I set about writing a full-length musical of the story of Cayman’s emergence, it was a given that one of the songs would be of an Englishman, in a reflective mood, deeply into the sauce late one evening, tearfully remembering his homeland and wishing to be there again. The musical was never staged (a complex matter I won’t bother you with here) and the song was never recorded, but there was a recent eruption to my mentioning in this column a composition about Guyana’s development, Why Um Tekkin Suh Long, also never recorded, and that episode reminded me of the song dealing with the Englishman’s lament…..