edge

​The Last of the Colonials

My name is Colin Leslie Beadon and I guess I am the last of Trinidad’s colonials.

I met my wife, Dion, in Texas. My first wife, June, my sons Robert & Glen’s mum, was a Trinidadian.

I would say my life really started when I got to Trinidad. I was an only child born in Burma in 1935. My father was a colonial policeman. When World War II was about to start, my parents took me to England. After a long voyage by ship, they left me with friends in England because my father had to go back to his job. I didn’t see him again until I was 11. But I never felt lonely in all that time. He was much too military for me. There were very many rules in the house.

My mother died when I was three. Well, she didn’t actually die. She committed suicide. I don’t remember her and it doesn’t hurt me to think now about what happened. I was very young. I was foster-homed but they were very good people. My father eventually married again. His wife, my stepmother, was Anglo-Burmese.

In WWII, my father, stepmother and their dog, Sweetie Pie, walked out of Burma into India. Like many other people, to get away from the Japs.

I was in boarding school from the age of six. I got my first canings then. You were warned that there were school rules and you either followed them or got caned. The rules included no fighting, and I was a big fighter, and no breaking school boundaries, and I was forever breaking school boundaries.

Because I couldn’t go to Burma, I spent quite a few holidays in this beautiful boarding school, the Great Ballard School, in the stately home of Lord Vestey, a grand place with all sorts of battlements and spiral staircases and so on. I was very lucky to be there. They kept on a skeleton crew of servants to take care of me because I was the only boy there. I didn’t mind being alone. There was a big river and lovely copses of trees belonging to the estate. I roamed the countryside all day long, entirely free. It was where my lifelong love of nature began so it was one of the loveliest chapters of my whole life.

I really enjoyed school time, too. We used to climb across the roofs to the other dormitories to have pillow fights with them! The kind of boarding school lifeyouread about in the Jennings and Billy Bunter books. I didn’t learn very much but I loved being there. I didn’t like schoolwork much. I much preferred the holidays and the sports. I started playing rugby at the age of six. I was very fast and a terribly hard tackler. I boxed, too. But these things didn’t really help me much.

I hated the school part of school and never did well in it. I never did the school certificate or anything like that but, honestly, I would have failed. I don’t remember passing any exams at all except in history and geography. I was okay in the subjects I was interested in.

My father was under the last British Governor-General of Burma, Sir Hubert Rance, who became governor-general of Trinidad. When the British Home Office asked Rance who he wanted as police commissioner in Trinidad, he replied, “Beadon!” So that’s how we were lucky to get our pick. My father was offered the job of police commissioner in Trinidad, a tiny little dot on the map, compared with the huge Magway district he was in charge of in Burma.

In 1948, we left England from Southampton on a banana boat. I wasn’t quite 13 on the day we arrived in Port of Spain. When we docked, the police band was playing and there was all sorts of pageantry because, of course, the new commissioner was arriving!

The one photograph I have of my family is outside of the Queen’s Park Hotel, where we first stayed. It was the first time I ever stayed in a hotel and it was grand!

Beadon is a very old English name. But you can still find a few of us.

What fascinated me most about arriving in Port of Spain was the vultures flying over the city. The corbeaux. Wherever I went, I always noticed birds first.

The Governor-General took us in to stay with him at Government House until the commissioner’s residence in St James was finished. We were given a wing. There was a huge party held under the trees at Government House to welcome my father. We arrived late in the evening and there were endless fireflies and those amazed me. I had never seen anything like that before. I wasn’t invited to the party because it was for big people, grownups.

I went to CIC, a Catholic school, and I’d been brought up Church of England. So there was a clash there, one-time. The priests at CIC, who were from Ireland, looked down on me for being English. Most were fine but one or two were real arseholes. It didn’t help that I was driven to school every morning by a chauffeur who opened the door of the police commissioner’s Jaguar for me! I was much better off when I started riding my bike to CIC, which I very soon did.

Some of the Irish priests at St Mary’s would harp continually on what the English had done to the Irish over centuries. They would bring that in all the time and everybody in class would look at me! They called me “a limey” at first. But, once I understood what they were saying, and the way they interpreted life, I made lifelong friends at CIC. Unfortunately, most of them are dead now. I don’t know why they didn’t live all that long, compared to me,‘cause they were very fit.

In the 1950s, quite a few police officers were colonial. A few senior police officers were allowed to enter the American base to go to Macqueripe Bay. You could say my love life began there. One morning, the deputy commissioner, a Trinidadian, who lived in a house right outside the barracks, said he wanted me to meet his niece. The strange thing was, I had seen her down at Macqueripe and had fallen in love with her! I walked across to the deputy commissioner’s house and she was really beautiful, long hair, beautiful figure, even at age 13. In a way, Betty Evelyn was the first girl I ever really met, because I’d been at all-boys boarding schools until then. She has been very close to me all my life since then. Strange thing. I was always in love with her and, in a way, she was very much attached to me.

Being under covid19 lockdown for months was very challenging. But then we got kittens and they were a real comfort. My wife, Dion, is a real cat person.
I loved Trinidad but my father said, Trinidad is not the best place for you. So, at age 17, I joined the British Merchant Service as a trainee and went to sea. But I went to sea on purpose: so I would be able to get back to Trinidad! I chose ships that took me to Trinidad. I outfoxed the old man!

My father was a very strict disciplinarian. I was much easier with my own sons. They only got beaten by me if they were excessively naughty. Being Trinidadian boys, they were both very rowdy.

My father helped me get into the oilfields at age 21 as a roughneck in Trinidad. Since leaving the merchant navy, I’ve worked my whole life in the oil.

I was very lucky at boarding school to have an English teacher, Miss Rogers, a woman I adored. When she saw we boys were getting fed up of teaching, she’d switch to reading aloud. She kept us gripped! I’ve always been sorry that I never wrote to her while she was still alive and thanked her so much for [the joy I found in reading].

I started to write short stories at the age of 32 because of my aunt, who was was a successful author. You can still find a number of her books about India. I was very close to her and the bug caught me in Trinidad and I decide, “Well, boy, I go start writing, too!” I just had the feeling I could do it.

The way I went about writing was, first, I was a reader. I reread all the books of the writers I liked, DH Lawrence, HE Bates, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, TH White and James Michener. That’s a writing school right there. Read writers you’ve enjoyed because they have enlivened you. I always tried to write the way the writers I liked wrote: the absolute truth about things.

I tried writing school but I found it was absolute trash. I didn’t like how they replied and how long it took. I was always comfortable by myself anyway. So I started writing from scratch!

I have recordings of two of my stories that I sold to the BBC. I also sold stories to London Magazine, a literary magazine in England and to Penthouse in the USA. Penthouse were very high payers, especially for the type of story that was! I also had a number of stories in Woman & Home, Short Story International. So I am a professional writer in the sense that I have been paid to write.

I’ve stayed physically strong because Trinidad got me into weightlifting. I still lift weights now, but not too heavy, and only when I remember! That’s why we’ve got the weights bench in the living room, so I can see them and remember!

My best friends have always been Trinis, even amongst the women.

Trinis are the most meaningful and longest friends I've ever had. They are the most amusing, trusted, generous people, and the greatest fun to be with.

Trinidad & Tobago has meant just about everything to me. It caused me to wander quite extensively in the oil world and sailed me over many seas.


​The Last of the Colonials

My name is Colin Leslie Beadon and I guess I am the last of Trinidad’s colonials.

I met my wife, Dion, in Texas. My first wife, June, my sons Robert & Glen’s mum, was a Trinidadian.

I would say my life really started when I got to Trinidad. I was an only child born in Burma in 1935. My father was a colonial policeman. When World War II was about to start, my parents took me to England. After a long voyage by ship, they left me with friends in England because my father had to go back to his job. I didn’t see him again until I was 11. But I never felt lonely in all that time. He was much too military for me. There were very many rules in the house.

My mother died when I was three. Well, she didn’t actually die. She committed suicide. I don’t remember her and it doesn’t hurt me to think now about what happened. I was very young. I was foster-homed but they were very good people. My father eventually married again. His wife, my stepmother, was Anglo-Burmese.

In WWII, my father, stepmother and their dog, Sweetie Pie, walked out of Burma into India. Like many other people, to get away from the Japs.

I was in boarding school from the age of six. I got my first canings then. You were warned that there were school rules and you either followed them or got caned. The rules included no fighting, and I was a big fighter, and no breaking school boundaries, and I was forever breaking school boundaries.

Because I couldn’t go to Burma, I spent quite a few holidays in this beautiful boarding school, the Great Ballard School, in the stately home of Lord Vestey, a grand place with all sorts of battlements and spiral staircases and so on. I was very lucky to be there. They kept on a skeleton crew of servants to take care of me because I was the only boy there. I didn’t mind being alone. There was a big river and lovely copses of trees belonging to the estate. I roamed the countryside all day long, entirely free. It was where my lifelong love of nature began so it was one of the loveliest chapters of my whole life.

I really enjoyed school time, too. We used to climb across the roofs to the other dormitories to have pillow fights with them! The kind of boarding school lifeyouread about in the Jennings and Billy Bunter books. I didn’t learn very much but I loved being there. I didn’t like schoolwork much. I much preferred the holidays and the sports. I started playing rugby at the age of six. I was very fast and a terribly hard tackler. I boxed, too. But these things didn’t really help me much.

I hated the school part of school and never did well in it. I never did the school certificate or anything like that but, honestly, I would have failed. I don’t remember passing any exams at all except in history and geography. I was okay in the subjects I was interested in.

My father was under the last British Governor-General of Burma, Sir Hubert Rance, who became governor-general of Trinidad. When the British Home Office asked Rance who he wanted as police commissioner in Trinidad, he replied, “Beadon!” So that’s how we were lucky to get our pick. My father was offered the job of police commissioner in Trinidad, a tiny little dot on the map, compared with the huge Magway district he was in charge of in Burma.

In 1948, we left England from Southampton on a banana boat. I wasn’t quite 13 on the day we arrived in Port of Spain. When we docked, the police band was playing and there was all sorts of pageantry because, of course, the new commissioner was arriving!

The one photograph I have of my family is outside of the Queen’s Park Hotel, where we first stayed. It was the first time I ever stayed in a hotel and it was grand!

Beadon is a very old English name. But you can still find a few of us.

What fascinated me most about arriving in Port of Spain was the vultures flying over the city. The corbeaux. Wherever I went, I always noticed birds first.

The Governor-General took us in to stay with him at Government House until the commissioner’s residence in St James was finished. We were given a wing. There was a huge party held under the trees at Government House to welcome my father. We arrived late in the evening and there were endless fireflies and those amazed me. I had never seen anything like that before. I wasn’t invited to the party because it was for big people, grownups.

I went to CIC, a Catholic school, and I’d been brought up Church of England. So there was a clash there, one-time. The priests at CIC, who were from Ireland, looked down on me for being English. Most were fine but one or two were real arseholes. It didn’t help that I was driven to school every morning by a chauffeur who opened the door of the police commissioner’s Jaguar for me! I was much better off when I started riding my bike to CIC, which I very soon did.

Some of the Irish priests at St Mary’s would harp continually on what the English had done to the Irish over centuries. They would bring that in all the time and everybody in class would look at me! They called me “a limey” at first. But, once I understood what they were saying, and the way they interpreted life, I made lifelong friends at CIC. Unfortunately, most of them are dead now. I don’t know why they didn’t live all that long, compared to me,‘cause they were very fit.

In the 1950s, quite a few police officers were colonial. A few senior police officers were allowed to enter the American base to go to Macqueripe Bay. You could say my love life began there. One morning, the deputy commissioner, a Trinidadian, who lived in a house right outside the barracks, said he wanted me to meet his niece. The strange thing was, I had seen her down at Macqueripe and had fallen in love with her! I walked across to the deputy commissioner’s house and she was really beautiful, long hair, beautiful figure, even at age 13. In a way, Betty Evelyn was the first girl I ever really met, because I’d been at all-boys boarding schools until then. She has been very close to me all my life since then. Strange thing. I was always in love with her and, in a way, she was very much attached to me.

Being under covid19 lockdown for months was very challenging. But then we got kittens and they were a real comfort. My wife, Dion, is a real cat person.
I loved Trinidad but my father said, Trinidad is not the best place for you. So, at age 17, I joined the British Merchant Service as a trainee and went to sea. But I went to sea on purpose: so I would be able to get back to Trinidad! I chose ships that took me to Trinidad. I outfoxed the old man!

My father was a very strict disciplinarian. I was much easier with my own sons. They only got beaten by me if they were excessively naughty. Being Trinidadian boys, they were both very rowdy.

My father helped me get into the oilfields at age 21 as a roughneck in Trinidad. Since leaving the merchant navy, I’ve worked my whole life in the oil.

I was very lucky at boarding school to have an English teacher, Miss Rogers, a woman I adored. When she saw we boys were getting fed up of teaching, she’d switch to reading aloud. She kept us gripped! I’ve always been sorry that I never wrote to her while she was still alive and thanked her so much for [the joy I found in reading].

I started to write short stories at the age of 32 because of my aunt, who was was a successful author. You can still find a number of her books about India. I was very close to her and the bug caught me in Trinidad and I decide, “Well, boy, I go start writing, too!” I just had the feeling I could do it.

The way I went about writing was, first, I was a reader. I reread all the books of the writers I liked, DH Lawrence, HE Bates, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, TH White and James Michener. That’s a writing school right there. Read writers you’ve enjoyed because they have enlivened you. I always tried to write the way the writers I liked wrote: the absolute truth about things.

I tried writing school but I found it was absolute trash. I didn’t like how they replied and how long it took. I was always comfortable by myself anyway. So I started writing from scratch!

I have recordings of two of my stories that I sold to the BBC. I also sold stories to London Magazine, a literary magazine in England and to Penthouse in the USA. Penthouse were very high payers, especially for the type of story that was! I also had a number of stories in Woman & Home, Short Story International. So I am a professional writer in the sense that I have been paid to write.

I’ve stayed physically strong because Trinidad got me into weightlifting. I still lift weights now, but not too heavy, and only when I remember! That’s why we’ve got the weights bench in the living room, so I can see them and remember!

My best friends have always been Trinis, even amongst the women.

Trinis are the most meaningful and longest friends I've ever had. They are the most amusing, trusted, generous people, and the greatest fun to be with.

Trinidad & Tobago has meant just about everything to me. It caused me to wander quite extensively in the oil world and sailed me over many seas.