THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Pissy alleys all over
“… The witness said she got off by the Main Guard and went into a nearby store. She then went to Swan Street before going through an alley close to Palmetto Street, which she knows as Pissy Alley.
“… He take a cell phone out of his pocket, called someone and told them to meet him at the back of Pissy Alley.”
I CAME ACROSS those two statements in the same story while reading the reports from the courts in a recent edition of the MIDWEEK NATION.
The reference to Pissy Alley caught me by surprise because I had really been attracted to read the contents by the headline Teen tells of threat and forced sex.
I believe I was one of the first writers, if not the first, to graphically describe the nasal assault conveyed by that word pissy and which I experienced during a stroll through Bridgetown some 30 years ago.
To the stranger, Bajan or visitor, the excerpts quoted above could give the impression that somewhere in the entire UNESCO World Heritage Site that is now Barbados’ capital city and its Garrison there exist some solitary alley that bears the name Pissy and possibly the result of its smelly condition back in the early days of settlement when, in the absence of public toilet facilities, both men and women resorted to a less travelled place to relieve themselves.
However, the problem with Pissy Alley is that although it is possible that the name has been in place from the 1600s, the condition remains the same after more than 400 years.
Even more shocking is the fact that this Pissy Alley close to Palmetto Street is not the only Pissy Alley in Bridgetown where, at this time of the year, we welcome and encourage thousands of cruise ship visitors to explore; and for which we are using its UNESCO designation as a marketing tool to attract thousands of others by air.
There are in fact Pissy Alleys everywhere.
Pissy Alleys along the main thoroughfare of Broad Street, Pissy Alleys along the length of the now more popular shopping area of Swan Street, Pissy Alleys along fast redeveloping Roebuck Street, Pissy Alleys on Tudor Street and lower Baxter’s Road, Pissy Alleys on Bay Street, Pissy Alleys around every corner.
There was a time when the parish of St James carried a similar stain but one which followed Bajans embarrassingly wherever they went. To this day, whether you are in Trinidad, Antigua or Guyana it is quite common for someone to ask with a derogatory laugh if you from St James.
I remember being subjected to a similar ribbing from a female immigration officer at Piarco Airport on day while she checking reading the information on my immigration card and she started laughing as if she would go into a fit.
Mac Fingall, who was being checked at the same time, became concerned and asked the young lady if something was wrong. He immediately distanced himself from me when, holding up the form for him to see, she replied with a greater peal, “He a Bajan and staying on Buller Street.”
Imagine how it would feel to be ribbed about if you live in Pissy Alley in Bridgetown.
Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.