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Economic solution short-lived

AL Gilkes

Economic solution short-lived

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As he often does, Richard Hoad two Fridaysago referred to our boyhood days in Harrison College when I used my entrepreneurial skills to earn a few cents in order to enjoy a bit of what boys like him,who lived on plantations or were the sons of doctors, lawyers, judges or politicians took for granted.
His favourite of my various getting-money activities was my charging a penny for a peep at the centrefold of a Playboy magazine hidden in my desk.
It was an unusual set of circumstances thatled to my access to Playboy at a time when no such magazines with uplifting photographs and literature were allowed to be sold at any of the bookstoresin Barbados.
It so happened that I found myself living on the compound of one of the four active lighthouses in Barbados, namely Harrison Point in St Lucy, aboutthe time that I was into my third form studies in college and Government had entered into an agreement to lease several acres of land at Harrison Plantation to the United States for the purposes of establishing a naval base in Barbados.
For those of you who came in late, what wasleft of that facility served as our prison before the construction of the new one at Dodds after Glendairy was burnt to the ground. It was reported that conditions were so harsh there that inmates criedwith constant regret at having destroyed what had been commonly referred to and even immortalizedin song as a hotel.
So it was that in my teenage years my closest neighbours, apart from two other families who livedon the lighthouse compound, were the marines, sailors, navy SEALS and other United States Navy personnel stationed there.
Many were new recruits also in their teenage years with whom I formed friendships that gave me access to a lot of benefits not available in Barbados, including magazines dedicated to showing off the beauty of the naked female body. My “Yankee” friends made sureI got my copies.
Schoolboys will always be schoolboys and with the only printed stimulation of our sex-starved minds being reading a few pages of books like the Perfumed Garden or Lady Chatterley’s Lover, one day I included a Playboy among the books in my schoolbag in order to show my colleagues that I was the man.
The rush for a peep instantly sent money bells ringing in my head and by the next day, when the likes of Hoad and Bunny Best came begging for peeps, they found my hand outstretched demanding a penny (a two-cent coin of the day).
The pennies rolled in, but all good things must come to an end, and mine came one morning whenthe form rooms went deathly silent and the voiceof a male teacher barked: “Mr Gilkes, please openthat desk now.”
A brisk walk with me in tow followed to the headmaster’s office where, after being presentedwith the damning evidence, John Hammond readthe death sentence for any boy by way of the command to bend over a chair with a rather low back, as he executed some precisely placed blows with a tamarind rod that lit afire my backside.
And so ended a project that in today’s worldcould help to lift our limp economy.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email [email protected]