THE LOWDOWN: On giving a little piece
“ADONIJAH CALLED”, the wife chirped, “he wants you to phone him”. Lord ha’ mercy! A man now come in tired and got to deal with Ado. And I know just what he wants. He wants me to produce medical goat’s milk. And I’m not getting into anything so.
Besides this goat thing isn’t nice. Just as production is starting to pick up, dogs have killed four good milkers in the past few days.
They caught Skunk in our field just after dark. Ripped loose her face and udder. And they weren’t even running from us.
Skunkie was a goat people came to see. After milking she would come up to you. And wouldn’t leave without a hug and cuddle. She didn’t deserve to die so, screaming in agony.
Animal Control hopes to trap the dogs. But what we really need is a few marksmen from the Defence Force. I’m too old to tote a shotgun for miles on end tracking through the hills.
Ado didn’t want no medical goat’s milk. Some Cultural Something wanted me to talk to a writers’ workshop. But since I don’t speak in public, they were going to get him to interview me at the workshop. Me? What the hell I know about writing?
Anyhow, for what it’s worth here’s the interview with Ado which never took place:
Ado: “Lowdown, yuh got to move that pig. It downpressing I and I!”
Me: “A mock pig that Andrew Bynoe give me? Chah!”
Ado: “So how you come to be a columnist”.
Me: “Al Gilkes discover me. Like how Columbus discover the Amerindians. I used to write letters to the editor. He tell Harold Hoyte to try me”.
Ado: “When was that?”
Me: “April 1989. Next month will mark 25 unbroken years of ‘98 per cent fact-free, low cholesterol nonsense liberally interspersed with ill-concealed smut’, as it was once called. Never missed a column”.
Ado: “That’s a lot of topics. How do you keep it going?”
Me: “Recycle themes like mad. Think of really successful newspaper personalities. Dagwood has been going since 1930. He’s in 2 000 papers in 47 countries. In 35 languages. Dagwood eats big cutters, sleeps a lot, goofs off at work . . . and that’s more or less it. For 84 kiss-me-neck years!
“Andy Capp (a pun on ‘handicap’ pronounced Cockney style) started in 1957. He gets drunk, falls in the canal, battles with Flo. For that he has a full-size statue of himself in Hartlepool, England. With, of course, a drink in his hand.
“Rickey recyles CARICOM. I do the wife who won’t give you any; the sister-in-law likewise; the flatulent, interfering mother-in-law and so on. Themes all of us suffering males can identify with.
“Also I give a mention to the small people. Like ‘Reds’, the MTW truck driver who says I’m wrong about lay-offs. ‘Killer’, who brought me a sweet breadfruit to go with the half pig I bought from him last week. Ms Thomas (if that’s her name), who sells some super ham-cutters at her shop up Turner’s Hall and gave me a ham-bone to put in a soup. Marlon and Arb (‘the man with the oil’) who did a great job painting trailers for me at a reasonable charge. Ronald Alleyne, the boss mechanic who keeps my 1990 pick-up on the road. And Patrick who is forever inviting me to meet the “dibby-dibby” girls in Brewster’s Road, Kensington.
“Anybody can get into the Lowdown. Unfortunately, everybody gets warned not to say anything if I’m in the room.”
Ado: “Who helped guide you along the way?”
Me: “Pam Girton gave me the only advice I ever got: ‘give a little piece of yourself each week’. Obviously not a little piece of my personal life; there would be none left after 25 years. It’s more like how the ladies do it. They can keep on giving a little piece for evermore. Apart from that it’s been trial and error.”
Ado: “What advice would you give to a young would-be columnist?”
Me: “Develop your own style. Read a lot. Don’t try to say everything. Suffer: suffering promotes creativity. Above all, if you’re female, get some one-on-one, in-depth tuition from a successful, long-standing columnist. No holds barred.
“His wife is usually out delivering goat’s milk most afternoons.”
Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.