AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Colin Beadon and I guess I am the last of Trinidad’s colonials.
I met my wife, Dion, in Texas. My first wife, June, my sons Robert & Glen’s mum, was a Trinidadian.
I would say my life really started when I got to Trinidad.
I was an only child born in Burma in 1935. My father was a colonial policeman.
When World War II was about to start, my parents took me to England. They left me with friends in England because my father had to go back to his job. I didn’t see him again until I was 11.
But I never felt lonely in all that time. He was much too military for me. There were very many rules in the house.
My mother died when I was three.
Well, she didn’t actually die. She committed suicide.
I don’t remember her and it doesn’t hurt me to think now about what happened.
My father eventually married again. His wife, my stepmother, was Anglo-Burmese.
I was in boarding school from the age of six.
My father was under the last British governor-general of Burma, Sir Hubert Rance, who became governor-general of Trinidad.
When the British Home Office asked Rance who he wanted as police commissioner in Trinidad, he replied, “Beadon!”
So that’s how we were lucky to get our pick. My father was offered the job of police commissioner in Trinidad, a tiny little dot on the map, compared with the huge Magway district he was in charge of in Burma.
In 1948, we left England from Southampton on a banana boat.
I wasn’t quite 13 on the day we arrived in Port of Spain.
What fascinated me most was the vultures flying over the city. The corbeaux. Wherever I went, I always noticed birds first.
I went to CIC, a Catholic school, and I’d been brought up Church of England.
So there was a clash there, one-time. The priests at CIC, who were from Ireland, looked down on me for being English. Most were fine but one or two were real a--eholes.
It didn’t help that I was driven to school every morning by a chauffeur who opened the door of the police commissioner’s Jaguar for me!
I was much better off when I started riding my bike to CIC, which I very soon did.
Some of the Irish priests at St Mary’s would harp continually on what the English had done to the Irish over centuries. They would bring that in all the time and everybody in class would look at me! They called me “a limey” at first.
But once I understood what they were saying, and the way they interpreted life, I made lifelong friends at CIC.
Unfortunately, most of them are dead now. I don’t know why they didn’t live all that long, compared to me, ‘cause they were very fit.
Being under covid19 lockdown for months was very challenging.
But then we got kittens and they were a real comfort. My wife, Dion, is a real cat person.
My father was a very strict disciplinarian.
I was much easier with my own sons. They only got beaten by me if they were excessively naughty.
Being Trinidadian boys, they were both very rowdy.
My father helped me get into the oilfields at age 21 as a roughneck in Trinidad.
Since leaving the merchant navy, I’ve worked my whole life in the oil.
I started to write short stories at the age of 32 because of my aunt, who was was a successful author. You can still find a number of her books about India.
I was very close to her and the bug caught me in Trinidad and I decide, “Well, boy, I go start writing, too!” I just had the feeling I could do it.
The way I went about writing was, first, I was a reader. I reread all the books of the writers I liked, DH Lawrence, HE Bates, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, TH White and James Michener.
That’s a writing school right there. Read writers you’ve enjoyed because they have enlivened you. I always tried to write the way the writers I liked wrote: the absolute truth about things.
I have recordings of two of my stories that I sold to the BBC.
I also sold stories to London Magazine, a literary magazine in England and to Penthouse in the USA. Penthouse were very high payers, especially for the type of story that was!
I also had a number of stories in Woman & Home, Short Story International.
So I am a professional writer in the sense that I have been paid to write.
I’ve stayed physically strong because Trinidad got me into weightlifting.
I still lift weights now, but not too heavy, and only when I remember! That’s why we’ve got the weights bench in the living room, so I can see them and remember!
My best friends have always been Trinis, even amongst the women.
Trinis are the most meaningful and longest friends I’ve ever had. They are the most amusing, trusted, generous people, and the greatest fun to be with.
TT has meant just about everything to me.
It caused me to wander quite extensively in the oil world and sailed me over many seas.
Read a longer version of this feature at newsday.co.tt