Bill goes to the Guyana High Commission awards in London Bill Cotton/Reform
Stabroek News
November 21, 2003

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It was just like the PegAsus!! Big warehouse room. Fake chandeliers. Over-lit. Rows of serried chairs and a platform with a National Flag (and Balloons! With a star on top!). Plus fake flames, sheer symbolism. All that was missing was the banner announcing the name of the event - you know 'The Education Board of New York welcomes you Guyanese Teachers. Thanks very much CPCE".

But this PegAsus was in Croydon South London, called the Fairfield Halls and this the second GHCUK awards. Bill was there to see his baby take her first steps. This was 2003 but it might have been 1963 for the age and outlook of the people present. This was an evening for the lost Guyana. No need for Donald Sinclair and his 'bad manners' campaign here; defibrillators and oxygen maybe. This generation had come to the motherland thirty plus years ago. They were here to praise the UK Guyanese not to bury them.

Well, you can take the men out of Guyana, can you take Guyana out of the men? Some Sharmaisms (no he was not there or if he was he was surrounded by taller people) of the night for you 'Baroness Amos the Leader of the House of Commons'

'Our YouthS are our future' ,' We see him on the TV and radio', 'His congo Drumming' 'She was chair of the EOC from 1998 until 1994' (Amos the Time Traveller playing at a cinema near you).' We have much problems', `I grew up in Ackney'. Bill could go on and on but ok, you get the picture! CN Sharma is alive and well and living inside every Guyanese!!

Roger Moore was alive and well too. There, beached, in Croydon, in all his great glory taking a video of the whole thing (why he even filmed the Indo Guyanese winners as well...) in true Guytelly fashion. Side angle wide shot locked off. Boring. This spirit infected others too. Robert Laljee came with his cameras to construct yet another riveting video of the night; once again cameras locked off in the wrong position with the wrong angle. Telly is vision or it is nothing. Action. Angles. Excitement. Mood. When will they ever learn? Never I fear. The bonehead tendency is alive and well inside every Guytelly person in and out of our country.

Now Bill likes the old 'Culture' like you get at 'de Culture Centre' in GT. Well he got lots of that in Croydon. Two artistes started their tunes to the wrong music. One, her father somebody important, stamped her feet in frustration. Another sang a lovely chutney melody with fold back (a constant hum) all the way through and the exotic dancers had to struggle to keep hold of their headgear or should it be headgearS? I felt I was right back there in Homestretch/Mandela.

Except this Culture Centre had some East Indians in the audience. Lots. And on the platform too. Lots. The whole evening was like a racial chequerboard; one black award, one brown, one black, one brown with one or two tokens of different ethnic hues thrown in for effect. Giving Guyanese awards is treading on historical eggshells but Bill wonders whether this piece of blatant social engineering was not just a fraction too engineered? Bit like the whole evening really. Over organised and lacking in some spontaneity and joie de vivre. To say nothing about lacking in prize winners aged under 65 and those whom my English sons might recognise in the street or off the telly. Here or on Guytelly.

And that banner if they had one should have said "Sadly xxxx cannot be with us tonight. His/her award will be accepted by Marion Herbert of the High Commission'. Bill does wonder that if awardees cannot put themselves out to come and get their 'gongs' in person whether they maybe should not be given them in the first place? If you can't make Croydon on a wet autumn afternoon, then, in Bill's humble view, it's thanks but no thanks. See you in 2005. Maybe'

The 'Guyanese Mafia' (Bill's favourite groupuscule. They love the moniker. He does too. It got a name check from the stage) sent out their expeditionary force. Eventually. Baroness Amos, that Time Traveller, turned up nice and early (like in 2001) with Mum and Dad. But poor Trevor Phillips got his times mixed up. He was on GMT - Guyana Mean Time. One hour late and there to pick up his gong not to MC as advertised (he's grown beyond that now.). But, hey. It was good to have the sherpas. Next time, the whole Mafia please.

Finally, Bill cannot close without mentioning the star of the show (soi disant) the "Hard Working' High Commissioner to London (soon to go to Suriname? Watch this space). He was omnipresent and omnipotent. Here, there and everywhere. The sheer energy! The brio! The creativity in dreaming up these Guyanese Oscars! You gotta hand it to him. Well, he got to hand it to everybody else!

So, Bill (and Mrs Bill) had a good time. Fairly Good. The Oscars it was not. The PegAsus it certainly was not (No Latino bar, no politicians hanging around with hangers around. Henry Jeffrey was there though) but a strange Guyanese event of a certain vintage. Looking backwards not forwards. Now I wonder if the people who run the Fairfield Halls want some advice from de culture centre on lighting and sound techniques for the twenty first century.

Bill will introduce you, if you can see and hear each other.