An excerpt from this fabulous book, in case you haven’t read it…
Way back when, I used to spend a lot of time in Barbados – about thirty times to be reasonably exact – enjoying the friendship of some carefully nurtured friends who happened to own the two best hotels on the island. Add to that a wonderful few years in the wonderful company of Harry Secombe and his wife, and a couple of jolly evenings with Jeremy Clarkson, you can begin to understand why I loved these times so much. But enough of this shameless name dropping, let’s get on to some place dropping…
I put aside every morning for months constructing and writing what I thought was to be a classic piece of comedy fiction. The fact that it never got anywhere (apart from selling a few copies in Barbados) just goes to prove how ignorant, short sighted and dull the average publisher is.
It is possible this great literary work is not 100% perfect, but I honestly think it’s about 90%.
Out of the fabulous choice of excerpts on offer, I chose this one. Bob is suspecting that treachery is afoot on the island, and decides to drop in on his friendly hotel owner:
Thank goodness, the automatic gates at the end of Webster’s long drive were wide open. Bob stared at the single storey, well proportioned spread, in its Caribbean colours and style, with its accent on the more time consuming aspects of the woodworker’s art, and thought how wonderful it was compared to his own dreary dump in Pratt’s Bottom – not least because this was bathed in afternoon sunshine, and his was normally bathed in rain.
Past the bougainvillea and hibiscus, up the wooden steps, and into a porch that looked like it should be on the front cover of Caribbean Life. The louvres of the double doors were set open to encourage the breeze, and Bob could see in, to generous, homely sofas, big wooden tables and cabinets, colourful pictures by the better local artists, and great displays of multi-coloured flowers. Beyond, patio doors had been thrown open to reveal a veranda, peppered with wicker furniture, a pretty dining table with a series of candle glasses, and a floral tablecloth that almost shouted “Sit down and you’ll never want to leave.”
Beyond all that, the swimming pool, chunky green trees, and the impossibly vivid blue of the Caribbean.
“Oh shit.” thought Bob, as genuine jealousy replaced admiration.
He yanked an antique bell pull.
“I know it’s Sunday, but can I come in for a minute?”
Webster observed the ingrate who had disturbed the one day in the week when he didn’t have to do a few minutes work.
The day when he got up later than usual, pm, and spent the time lying around in the pool, eating salads, drinking Slammers, and staring at Katie in a swimsuit.
The day when the very best friend was far from welcome because, well because, there wasn’t another Sunday for nearly seven days.
“No problem! Come in!” he managed, standing aside so the curious figure with a slouch hat could enter, a bit like Humphrey Bogart did in Casablanca.
“Are you in disguise?”
“No. Why? I have to talk to you both. It’s most important. Is Katie here?”
He noticed her on a lounger by the pool.
“Oh yes . . .” He seemed to lose his track for a second, but soon galvanised himself back into the plot.
Webster remembered his manners. “You don’t want a drink, do you?”
Bob grinned and did a thumbs up as he plonked himself down next to Katie. “Just a large one!”
Webster repaired to the kitchen, vowing not to encourage the Dunlops with any more friendliness in future.
Katie was making small talk.
“First time away this year?”
Bob groaned and adjusted his rather hot chinos against the sun.
“We went to Venice in the Spring. Lovely.”
“But you know, Katie, had trouble with Cleo over there. She wanted to spend most of her time on a Gondolier.”
“Don’t you mean Gondola?”
“I know what I mean.”
Katie tried a new tack. “What will happen to that crumbling edifice?”
“No. Venice. Will it sink or what?”
Webster appeared with a giant economy size, grown up, fully paid up, business-like rum punch, which Bob took gratefully.
The conversation needed to be pepped up a little. Katie wasn’t making sense.
“What’s your problem Bob? Towels again?”
“No,” said Bob, “More the total destruction of life in Barbados”.
He sat back as Webster digested this hint at an issue that could beat towel problems into a cocked hat.
Bob continued. “I had to talk to someone. I believe that the people we had dinner with on Friday are actually plotting something with curry.”
He paused to gauge the impact of his findings. “I can see you’re curious.”
Katie and Webster separately thought that it was probably Bob who was curious, but they let him continue.
I read it again recently, after about ten years, and you know what? It’s good! Well, not bad anyway. Anybody thinking of visiting Barbados should treat it as essential reading.
You can get A Rum Do on Amazon – click on this: http://goo.gl/h2mip5
Or if you’re too mean to spend a mere £9 I’ll send you an electronic copy if you promise to give me some work.
Go on. You know you want to…