AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Kirk Perreira and I’ve been carrying the biodrama movie I want to make about Sir Frank Worrell in my head – and heart – for 20 years.
I’m definitely a “town” boy, growing up in Long Circular, Maraval. Then my grandparents Felix and Myra Ortiz’ home on Dundonald Street, Port of Spain.
(In adulthood) I migrated. I live now in Preysal, famous for West Indies cricketers. Inshan Ali, Ravi Rampaul and one West Indies captain, Dinesh Ramdin, played for Preysal.
Today, you can't take your eyes off your children. In my day, once you could walk, you had freedom.
The Savannah was my stomping ground. You had to be streetwise at an early age. Like when men stop and ask you if you need a lift.
I am a direct descendant of Harold Paty’s enormous family tree. I’m a cousin of Glenn, Charlie and Bryan Davis, for example.
My father comes from the Portuguese migrants who first arrived here 186 years ago.
Both my grandmothers, Myra Ortiz, nee Paty, and Marjorie Jardine, were black.
My father, Trevor, passed in 2014 but my mother, Vera, is alive and kicking in Toronto.
My first son, Kyle, also known as the rapper Sef Gaines, died in 2017, six days before his 40th birthday. He started off with Kisskidee Karavan as a teenager. He left some Youtube videos and a sweetheart granddaughter who loves reading books.
I absolutely love family. I have two grown daughters, Kiri-te and Kyra, with the first wife, the Patino girl, and a pair of teenagers, Kellan and Kyleigh. They are my life.
I don't think a third marriage is beyond me, if I can find me a wild child with a hippie heart. It would be a Afro-Creole wedding with lots of Miriam Makeba and French islands fusion music.
It is better to love than not to love and I am just bursting with the love stored up inside me. Who knows? Maybe I will get lucky.
In 1970, the first thing I really truly wanted in my life was to go to St Mary’s College. Passing the 11-plus for Fatima College or any other lesser secondary school struck terror in my being.
On the day of the exam, a monitor, after walking past me repeatedly for 20 minutes, suddenly stopped right over me. All my danger instincts (signalled) something was wrong. My eyes locked on his shoes.
And then he cleared his throat, the way parents tell you to stop what you were doing. I looked at my page and realised I was writing on the wrong side of the paper! I had to erase all the answers and start over.
But I owe my six years at CIC to that man.
The 70s were an amazing time to be a teenager. I still listen to any music from the 60s and 70s today. Caribbean music, African music, rock music, all good.
Lou Reed, John Lennon, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones…That Irish band… I follow Neil Young.
My name, Kirk, means “church” in Scotland.
Why my parents gave me such a gringo name when my surname is Portuguese, I will never know.
So after leaving school, I adopted a new name with a ring of danger to it, Cortez. Stolen from the Neil Young song, Cortez the Killer.
It worked spectacularly with the ladies. Everyone I met after school days knows me as Cortez and everybody from school would know me as “Ace."
In-between, regular people call me me Kirk.
In 2007, I went to the International School of Film and Television in La Habana, Cuba.
I had been producing documentaries since 1986. But that piece of paper to hang on the wall at home for the kids was the best thing I ever did in my life.
I was raised in the Catholic faith. For which I now have very little faith.
I’m not sure why there would be an afterlife when people already see so much hell in this life.
The two books that most affected me were Undine Giuseppi's Sir Frank Worrell (at age 13) and CLR James' Beyond A Boundary!
I am also the founder of the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Committee.
During the 90s I produced a documentary about the development of an Aids vaccine that got me an invitation to UNAids in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1999, and the 2000 World Aids Conference in Durban, South Africa. Nelson Mandela gave the closing address.
I also did short documentary films on Richard De Sousa, Lystra Lewis, Andy Ganteaume, McDonald Bailey, Michael "Joey" Carew, Bernard Dulal-Whiteway and a couple of shorts on Sir Frank Worrell.
The film I’ve had in my head for 20 years, Amid a Cluster of Flags, is the story of the relationship between the first black West Indies cricket captain, Sir Frank Worrell, and Queen Elizabeth II. Two people committed to two specific groups, the Commonwealth and the West Indies Federation.
The focus is how Frank Worrell, over the last 15 years of his life, captivated the cricketing world and his (most famous) admirer, Queen Elizabeth.
No more on that. You will have to see the movie…
I always said, “Man, I have to get this story to Mick Jagger!” I knew Jagger was a film producer and a cricket fan.
In the early 2000s, I was at the Oval media centre as a sports journalist for England v West Indies. Ralph Boissiere, the horse-racing guy, says: "Eh Kirk...you like rock ’n’ roll?"
I am like: "I grew up on rock ’n’ roll." (But what an odd question at a cricket match!)
Ralph: “Well, Mick Jagger is right there.”
I turn and stare. My heart is pumping and my head is in a tizzy…Mick F---ing Jagger…and Mick walks out onto the landing.
I call out, “Hey, Mick!”
And the Rolling Stones’ frontman turns and comes back to me…
I just vomit out the story of Amid a Cluster of Flags in four minutes.
He never turned his eyes away, listened to every word, didn’t even peep at the cricket. That is class.
Then Mick, in that thick Cockney accent: “You got a card?”
I took out someone else’s call card from my wallet and Mick took my pen and wrote his London address and telephone number on the back.
Not the end of the story…
In 2005, outside a bar in Freeport, buying a beer for the wife at home, I put the key into the car door and someone says something about handing over my wallet.
I turn to face this scar-faced Indian man pointing a gun in my face. He has to stutter hand over my wallet all over again. The hand with the gun is trembling, like his lips as he speaks.
I give him the wallet. I get home and tell the wife, “Look your beer. It cost me two grand!”
Only then do I remember: in that wallet was Mick Jagger’s freaking card!
I wanted to go back to the bar and search, not for the bandit, but for my empty wallet and Mick’s contact info!
People may remember me for a number of things. People may say uncomplimentary things about me.
It matters not. I lived my life. I made mistakes. I did some good. I made some decent documentary films, I wrote some okay stories. In life, I tried.
To me, a Trini is a work in progress. We have some way still to go.
I am born in Trinidad and Tobago. All my intimacies are here, family, friends, acquaintances. My knowledge of the ground is this ground. “Trinidad & Tobago” means all of this to me…
But when you on that train in London and you hear any West Indian accent…
So I see the West Indies as one place, an ideal we must hold on to and should treasure. I am Trini to the bone but I am an avowed federalist at heart.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com