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Give a Dog a Bad Name...

ONCE A DOG has learned to suck eggs, you have to shoot him, they say in Alabama, an aphorism I’ve always loved, because you can almost hear the banjos playing.

But, as canine-based pithy truths go, I’ve always preferred, “Give a dog a bad name and you might as well hang him”. Figuratively, it means that, if you besmirch someone’s reputation, they’re as good as dead, but I’m playing with the proverb’s literal meaning now.

We have a new rescue dog whose name hasn’t quite settled yet.

He came to us a jumpy little guy, not quite knee-high, who’d been hopping out of the cane fields, overturning a garbage bin, and disappearing back into the cane. He came close to me, tail between his legs, but then sprinted away if I put a hand out. Even after my wife let him into the yard, where the fence calmed him, he would not come to me. (I suspected the usual male human abuser in his background.)

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Return to Forever

IN 1976, after repeating my O’Levels in Somerset, I did my A’Levels at a “sixth form crammer”. Bedford Tutorial College had multiple advantages over Taunton School: I could go to bed when I wanted; smoking wasn’t banned; you could have girls in your room; and London was 20 minutes away by fast train, almost eight times shorter than the trip from Taunton.

I often went to London for the weekend.

Until I turned 18, my guardian in England was my father’s friend, MacDonald Bailey, the now-late athlete. When Mac and his wife Doris returned to Trinidad, their elder son, Robert, a founder-member of and keyboard player for the Afro-Caribbean fusion band, Osibisa, became my legal guardian. His younger brother, Richard, was a drummer of rare talent.

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(Almost) Forever Young

MY MOTHER turned 86 on Wednesday.


Almost all my life, my mother has always seemed young to me. For a period of a decade or more, between the grey hair and receding hairline (and the cigarettes and rum) that aged me and her redoubtably unfading natural beauty, if we went into a restaurant in another country together, people assumed we were husband-and-wife, not mother-and-son.

Even with my own creeping decrepitude nowadays, they don’t make that mistake any more.

She’s a great-grandmother now, my mother.

My old lady has become an old lady.


My brain understands we all age; and I only have to look at the mirror if I doubt that it applies to us all.

But my heart wants to rebel.

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