In Time of Need [Kindle edition & paperback]

Book review
Author: Shakirah Bourne
Shakirah Bourne
Every now and again you come across a new writer and wish to download as much of their work as you can – and offer them as great suggested reads to friends and family. The author here is the Barbadian/Caribbean writer Shakirah Bourne. Her marvellous collection of short stories is so vivid with its imagination and feeling that you’ll be in the stories with the characters, as soon as you begin reading.

The book blurb says:

In Time of Need

 

A collection of award-winning Barbadian stories that showcase the controversial and often hidden aspects of the supposed Caribbean paradise. The themes of love and relationships, domestic and emotional abuse, politics in the rum shop, sex tourism and human trafficking and more, are narrated in a satirical and humorous style, often through the voices of innocent and naïve characters.

 

‘Getting Marry’ sets the scene for the whole book. As you meet the reality of living day by day to Barbados, you are also transplanted to the beaches, the sand and the friendly people who welcome you to their island.

My only complaint was the necessity to stop reading after 15 stories; I would have enjoyed so many more, but with the teaser for ‘Getting Back at Jack Taylor,‘ Shakirah Bourne leaves me wanting to read more.

I wouldn’t usually re-read a book for some months or even years, but I believe I’ll start this collection again, quite soon.

This is one of those rare occasions I would have been pleased to offer six stars for an Amazon review.

I doubt I’ll be allowing this copy far from my bookshelf so you’ll have to buy your own. The book is available at these websites below or direct from the author
Amazon UK  Amazon USA
When you’ve finished reading your copy, I’ll be pleased to read your views about ‘In Time of Need.

Finally; electric cars reach Barbados

Six years ago, when talking to a main dealer, they made it clear that they would not allow a hybrid gas and electric powered battery vehicle to be brought into the country through their business and if someone imported such a vehicle, they would certainly not take on the role of servicing the model, even if it was one supplied by their brand, overseas.

Four years later, the Toyota dealer finally brought in a number of Prius models, but the base price in Barbados was around BDS $120,000, compared to US$21,000 in the states. For further comparison, the Toyota Corolla that sells at around US$17,000 in the US, costs around BDS $72,000 in Barbados, meaning that the mark-up was more than significant to someone wishing to purchase a hybrid vehicle.

Although the owner would save money on gas, they were overpaying, perhaps $30,000, over the lifetime ownership of that car: 3-7 years? Is it worth overpaying to save your gas/petrol bill, which is the equivalent of $500 a month over five years?

Although it could be argued that people must always pay to be early gadget freaks, the Prius was certainly overpriced by between BDS $25,000 and $30,000.

And then it all went quiet.

During 2013, electric cars finally reached Barbados, courtesy of a new business called Megapower, based in Wildey. Although the Nissan Leaf (the models they have brought in to date) appears expensive at just over 72,000 Barbados dollars (compared to a Ford Focus or a Toyota Corolla at around $72,000 new), especially as they are not new models, they do bring a welcome relief for those who no longer wish to pay for the price of gas which has doubled in the last three years.

It could be argued that using electricity to power a vehicle is still using a fossil fuel, but until everyone can afford to install solar panels and windmills to provide enough electricity for the home, business and charging your vehicle, it appears to be cheaper than the cost of gas.

The Barbados Light and Power Company that provides almost all of the electricity in the country has brought in a Nissan Leaf which they charge at 220V, although the majority of the country is based on 110V electrical supply. They suggest the Leaf requires between 15 and 17 kW per hour which is equal to somewhere between $8.23 and $9.32 to charge the car from flat for between four and five hours. That’s around the cost of about 3 L of gas and you’ll be able to travel for the equivalent of between 3 and 4 gallons of gas.

Megapower has installed an enormous solar panel recharging centre and they aim to add at least another 10 charging stations at strategic points around the country. From their website they point out some extremely salient facts;

Megapower provides a real alternative to powering vehicles in Barbados which is heavily reliant on imported oil; Barbados relies almost entirely (96%) on fuel oil and diesel to generate electricity and 90% of this is imported.

You’ll have to pay around $5000 to have a charging centre attached to your home or business for the electricity supply to charge your vehicle.

Megapower have a large range of Nissan Leafs available in this country and being brought in from abroad, but it is unclear how long the batteries are guaranteed for and more importantly, how long they will last, especially with the heat and humidity of Barbados, compared to the majority of European countries, so European data cannot necessarily be relied upon.

For a car that is expected to able up to travel at least 100 miles between charges, that should satisfy the needs of most standard customers that travel around the country for at least 2 to 3 days between charges. For some people it will mean charging their vehicle just once a week.

Megapower has thought further ahead by including a call out charge facility so that if your car does go flat when you’re out somewhere in the country they will able to charge your vehicle in about 20 minutes; enough to get you home or to one of their recharging centres.

Barbados really does need to cut down on its introduction of gas powered vehicles and the importation of gas, especially at ever-increasing prices. With the amount of sun that shines across Barbados, once the country is back on its feet again, we should expect to see many people changing their electricity supply to solar power and from a gas powered car to an electric model. We will need to see a variety of larger and smaller models available soon, but one area still needs addressing by the government. The government charges road tax by the weight of the vehicle. A battery-powered car is going to weigh more than the equivalent gas model (and in some cases it may not be because of the absence of a standard engine) which means people taking logical and environmentally friendly decisions will be penalised by the government who need to change the road tax band decisions to include a much lower amount applicable just for the initiative of introducing electric vehicles.

Watch this space because it is sure to change rapidly across the next five years. Even now, two US$100,000 Telsa models are on the way to the country as high-powered imports. The Tulsa probably packs more power than is required for the roads of Barbados, but it is up to individuals how they spend their money, how they drive and where they place their moral judgements in the future of the planet. For now, most people are worried more about the cost of purchasing and servicing their vehicle and then the cost of running it on our rapidly failing road system.

The lack of emissions from the EVs will be much preferred to sitting behind a diesel lorry or a ZR van. Perhaps emission controls will reach here one day, but maybe only after enough children have developed asthma in our mostly clean air society (have you landed in Miami and tasted the air?) and government realises the cost of running the QEH treatments for these illnesses;- unless you already happen to live near a cement producing plant.

The End of School Text Books in Barbados?

E-reader or tablet computer? – That is the question on the tips of the educators across Barbados today.


By the beginning of the school year in September 2014, all 22 secondary schools, which would normally issue around two dozen textbooks to each child, will issue an e-reader with all of the necessary textbooks on the unit. Presuming that each of the textbooks can be purchased less expensively than buying the printed variety, the ongoing saving should be significant, especially in a country that provides all of its education for free.

E-readers cost a lot less than they used to, so by purchasing this many at once, they should be able to acquire them at a good price.

There will be a worry that e-readers might get stolen from the students, but if every student is loaned an e-reader from their school, there isn’t any point in trying to steal a unit from one person to sell to another. There will, however, become a question of responsibility and if a student loses their e-reader, will they be expected to replace it, especially at times of recession? Schools may need to pay for insurance to cover the e-readers.

Some people will argue that a tablet computer would be much more useful for all of the children as they would be able to surf the Internet as part of their educational needs and the technology can be arranged in such a way that certain websites can be blocked so they don’t venture into the wrong areas while surfing. The current cost may be prohibitive.

The 100+ primary schools will be watching the situation very closely, because they will demand a similar situation for their students, as soon as possible.

The Ministry of Education should be applauded for this initiative, making Barbados’ schools rank high in its technological exploits, which helps students plan for a computer literate future.

Barbados International Master Football Festival 2012

The well organised festival opened on 25th May for the sixteenth annual event, attracting 28 teams from around the globe including England, Canada, the USA, Serbia and a number of Caribbean countries including Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, Grenada, Guyana and Barbados.

Serbian goalkeeper saves as Wanderers forward waits to strike.

Teams play in a group stage for three games across the first two days before moving on to two knock out cup style competitions. To reach the final at Dayrell’s Road on Monday afternoon, teams may have played seven 45 minute matches in 4 days.

The home team and organisers, Wanderers, managed to reach the quarter finals before pace, age, talent and fitness told against the Trinidad Defence Force team. Wanderers had only lost once, against another Trini team, Blue Waters, featuring their Minister of Sport, before sheer tiredness took away most chances of scoring. With games played from 9am to 7pm across three stadiums at Dayrell’s Road, Carlton and Dover, large crowds see players battling with the heat across the midday games.

With professional footballers moaning about playing 2 games in a week, these guys, all over 40 and many from 50-60 are playing the equivalent of 3 ½ matches in four days. One former Birmingham City and Queen of the South player, Ian Smith, closed in on his 60th birthday during his 5 matches.

Empire of Barbados won the Plate final beating The Trinidad Defence Force 1-0 with a last minute goal, while Upstars International from Trinidad won the Tournament final beating Paradise of Barbados 3-0 on penalties after a good final ending 0-0.

The festival is organised with the backing of local companies, led by Banks, the brewery with PowerAde the official sports drink. The Barbados Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development Corporation back this project to make it the largest master’s football competition in the world bringing in hundreds of players and supporters to the country each Whitsun/Bank holiday weekend.

Manchester United win in…Barbados


27th May, 2012 saw Manchester United win a dramatic final against Chelsea, at the Kensington Oval, the home of Cricket. Football has long become the sport of choice by Bajans since international cricket has faded in the West Indies.

The entry fee was less than ten English pounds (BDS$30) – free for children – with food and drink at sensible prices.

Chelsea led until Dwight Yorke chipped the goalkeeper from the penalty spot. Two Chelsea goals looked to have settled the match until Manchester United’s play to the last whistle earned them an Andy Cole special, the goal of the competition from Yorke and a classic strike from Quinton Fortune that broke the net.

United used a West Indian cricketer, Brian Lara in the first half of the final. He scored four goals in the previous rounds, so cricket may not be his only sporting prowess.

Now in its second year, the Barbados British Airways Football Legends Invitational Tournament has been won twice by Manchester United, who beat Chelsea 4-1 last year.

MUFC: Kevin Pilkington, Ronny Johnsen, Michael Clegg, Quinton Fortune, Bojan Djordjic, Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole.

Chelsea had a team of managers: Carlo Cudicini, Frank Sinclair, Danny Granville, Ken Monkou, Gustavo Poyet, Dennis Wise, Gianfranco Zola and current European Cup winners and Chelsea manager, Roberto Di Matteo.

The other teams that competed included:

  • Arsenal
  • Liverpool
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Newcastle United
  • Blackburn Rovers and
  • the PFA All-Stars.

Here’s looking forward to the third competition and seeing if anyone can take away the MUFC crown.