Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Neighbourhood Watch

For many people in Antigua chismes are primarily what make one day different from the next − the daily dose of stimulating, local community word-of-mouth reportage.

This means there are essentially two good reasons for becoming a diarist out there. Firstly, you can go about setting the record bent for posterity − rather like Procopius did with his salacious Secret History − or you can attempt to maintain an even and accurate account of all your daily encounters and activities.

V's niece Jeannette has obviously anticipated that the next time we turn up in Antigua various different verbal narratives of her year-long tenure of our house are likely to be presented to us. So last night she thought it good to forewarn us that she has been keeping a counter-balancing chronicle which can be consulted as required in order to provide factual context to any calumnias that might have been fomenting over the period of our absence.

She also reports that more barbed wire and other fortifications have been erected between the houses of V's siblings than on the walls overlooking their respective boundaries with the road and adjoining terrenos. The latest set of inter-clan barricades went up after a large cream cake was pillaged (we're not talking Red Rackham's treasure here) from Felipe's house, which is usually unoccupied during the week and therefore occasionally subject to raiding parties consisting of the junior members of the neighbouring households.

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