Author’s in the write place
Sydney Simmons has been teacher, broadcaster, executive in the manufacturing sector, business consultant – all satisfying undertakings, but none more so than his latest venture as author.
“Writing was something that was deep within me while I was at school and then I got into the hustle and bustle of living – marriage, children, work, travel and I did not have time to write,” Sydney told EASY magazine.
No longer at work – here he interjects “I don’t like that word retired” – he is writing.
His first book Add Black To The Rainbow, a collection of poems published three years ago, covers his journey from early days in Bank Hall to now.
His second book, Strangers In The Village, which has just been published, captures the life of the Barbadian village in the 1960s and he thinks it reflects village life across the world. While he stresses it is not autobiographical, in it he conveys something about the era in which he grew up.
The principal character, George Carnarvon Mountbatten Brewster, began life as a little boy in Roebuck Street, a fascinating street in the 1950s, as Sydney recalls.
It was dotted with schools – Combermere, the Modern High School, Roebuck Boy’s, Sydney’s alma mater Harrison College, Metropolitan High School – all of which the author concludes have given to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth “a lot of intellectual capacity”.
“I got excited about what was happening then, and I remembered what was happening in the villages that I knew – Pennyhole, Sweet Bottom, Bank Hall, Wavell Avenue, Waterhall Hall Land, the villages that I knew” said Sydney.
George Carnarvon Mountbatten Brewster left Barbados and his village to work with the United Nations, came back home to reside but found he was a stranger in the old village.
Another boy from Sweet Bottom in St George went to England and became a Queen’s Counsel but when he came back he had the village in his heart but in the village he too was a stranger.
The journey from teacher to author has taken Sydney along divergent paths. He started teaching at Erdiston Model School in 1962, then he went to the Modern High School.
“Those early days when you left school there were not many avenues open to you. Teaching, the civil service or the ministry – that was about it.”
He moved into radio, becoming one of the earliest scriptwriters for the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Those were the days when scripts were written for announcers and DJ’s, the information being provided from whatever source the scriptwriter could find – the back of records, books, general information. There was no Internet.
With others writing the script, yesterday’s DJs escaped the pitfalls of some of the modern DJs who, this former most competent announcer observed, “talk foolishness and play a lot of non-music”.
Yet he likes the “interesting developments” in radio, noting how the variety of stations has segmented the market.
Sydney became executive secretary of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) when it was on the cusp of industrial development in Barbados with industrial parks being built and trade missions going off to the United States and Britain to promote Barbadian goods in those markets.
The experience gained over the seven years he worked for the IDC (now Barbados Investment and Development Corporation) prepared him for the job he subsequently landed as a project officer with the Caribbean Development Bank – an “excellent opportunity for my own development”, he says.
He subsequently drew on the knowledge and experience in manufacturing and marketing to work for himself as consultant to regional governments.
Pivotal to all he has been able to achieve has been Sydney’s wife Monica, a former librarian at Barbados Community College. He refers to the “wonderful lady I met and married, my children, a wonderful family”.
And he is especially proud of the achievements of his children Eammon and Kevin, both Barbados Scholars and daughter Lysanne, an attorney at law.”
The former Methodist, who joined his wife in the Adventist faith, is already planning his next book, a religious publication.
The septuagenarian is also thankful that he has made it to the biblical “three score and ten” years.
Can you guess the title of his fourth book? It will be Living On Borrowed Time.