AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Reynolds “Rey Man” Williams and old-timer friends call me Fox because I could put a bite on you!
I'm a Newtown boy through and through. We moved to Woodford Street around 1978 and I lived there until my 20s, when my first child, my son Shayne, was born in 1990.
My parents moved out of Newtown in 2007.
I was born in London, the youngest of my parents’ three children.
In 1970 my parents migrated to my father’s homeland, Trinidad, before the Black Power uprisings. I’ve heard stories of my father hiding my (white Italian) mother in fear of her safety.
My father passed away in 2009 but my mum lives in Coral Gardens, Diamond Vale.
She says she's eaten cascadu and will die in Trinidad. In reality, she cannot deal with the cold.
Most of my mother’s family in Italy work in hospitality. Food has always been part of me.
Ours has never been the most close-knit of families. My eldest brother and I don't really have much to say to each other and I see my sister (only occasionally).
I love them though and would love to get together. Maybe for a meal out. Somewhere everyone can be themselves. My mum, my eldest brother and his partner, his daughters, me and my children and partners and my sister with her partner.
I married my current wife Catherine Cadiz (now Williams) on May 15, 2004. We met in the workplace.
Catherine was told she may have problems conceiving but on July 12, 2006, we were blessed with our daughter Robyn, my second child.
I live in Enfield, North London.
In April 2005 – a good spring and summer – my wife and I landed at Heathrow. We stayed with my brother in Greenwich briefly.
My wife got a job quick time. I eventually got one with a Mayfair digital printing company. After the 2008 financial crash, I had a decent (redundancy) payout and did something I always wanted to do: started a catering company, 61 Degrees West, 10 Degrees North (the co-ordinates of TT).
Growing up in Woodford Street was great. There were quite a few boys of similar ages and our house became Grand Central. We would cycle everywhere. To the St Ann’s springs. We went Tobago on bicycles and slept in the open air.
We even cycled to big people party!
I never liked school. One time my mum took me to a preschool to try to prepare me for primary school. I cried so much, they called her to come collect me.
I tried the same trick at Newtown Boys' School but it didn’t work. To this day I remember the proper beating with a belt a teacher gave me.
Newtown Boys' was renowned for corporal punishment. I’ve witnessed friends getting strokes anywhere on their bodies. I’m sure many of us suffer PTSD.
I always liked drawing. From a little lad of maybe four or five.
In standard three, I entered (an anti-litter) Keep Charlie Away poster competition at school. I must have been eight or nine. I won!
I still don’t know how that happened but, in 1980, I passed my Common Entrance exam for St Mary's College.
My first three years were outstanding. I moved up to Upper 1B and stayed in the “Uppers” until form three.
After that it just went downhill. Sometimes I used to show up at school for art classes only. I don’t know how I got away with it.
I came out with six O-Levels. Not bad for a boy who never liked school.
After St Mary’s, I worked as an apprentice with a (printing) company for a year before (entering) John D (John Donaldson Technical Institute). I loved graphic design.
But I still had an attendance problem. I finished the course but never the exams. So I have no certificate or “papers,” as they say.
My mum is a Catholic Italian. My dad always said there is no God and the sun was the giver of life.
His mother and his only full sister, both strong believers, both died young. I suppose that’s why he didn’t believe in God. Maybe the trauma religion brought to his life actually made him reject it.
I don't think any of his children are overly religious. My brother is a Rastafarian, my sister is like my father and I believe in a higher entity, a power or force that holds things together.
My father was a self-proclaimed atheist but I’m agnostic.
I wonder why atheists spend their time trying to refute something they believe doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist, why try to disprove it? Doesn’t that (prove that you think) there's a possibility of its existence?
If I can't sleep, I cook to relax. It really pleases me that people are enjoying something I've prepared.
I used to have a wild-meat lime (all responsibly sourced) at our home every year (pre-covid). But now no one wants to even hear about that any more.
Good food and drink with nice people. That’s relaxation.
I don't really read much but my all-time favourite is The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. A lot of it was so similar to stories my mum gave my wife and me about her early days in Trinidad.
When I worked in St Lucia, I would come home to play mas every year. My wife and I played once together, (the year before) we migrated to England.
The music has changed so much. I much prefer the old-time soca, maybe up to mid-2000. After that it’s just ragga, ragga, ragga as the tune goes.
For me, a good tune is one you can play any time, like The Caribbean Man or Black Man Feeling to Party by The Black Stalin. Or pretty much any David Rudder tune.
I am an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan. While the new stadium was being built at White Hart Lane, we used to get loads of match tickets to Wembley, our temporary home.
I’d go with my wife and daughter or just my daughter. If neither could make it, I’d phone a friend. No one refuses a a Premier League ticket.
The Fox biting story: Cyril Collier, a teacher and rugby coach at St Mary’s College, gave me the nickname Fox.
Actually, biting was a defence tactic I adopted in close contact with a foe. Whilst rough-playing at a summer camp, Cyril held me in a headlock. Instead of wriggling out of it, I chose to bite him on his ribs. Unorthodox, but it worked.
I consider myself a relatively easygoing person, but I am not naive. London has a dark side. Actually, everywhere has a dark side.
I worry when my wife goes out at night. I worry for my son and his partner. I worry about the future for my daughter.
Recently I’ve been going through tough times and a few of my friends have rallied to my support. So, to me, a Trini is a good friend. A “one love” kinda thing.
Trinidad and Tobago, to me, means something almost spiritual.
Not tangible, but more like a vibe. Trinidad and Tobago is good vibes.
Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at www.BCPires.com