It was early Monday morning in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, hours after a crowd had gathered there to watch the finals of the 100-metre race taking place at the London Olympics. Of course, it was all pot-cover banging, horn blowing fun when Usain Bolt won the race in fine fashion, with fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake snatching the second spot. But it was now several hours later. The crowd had disappeared. The big screen they had watched the race on was now switched off.
Outside a small shop near the transport centre stood a bearded man wearing a hat adorned with green and gold feathers. He seemed weary-eyed and weather-beaten, perhaps a residue of the previous day's festivities.
I walked up to him and offered a happy hello. In a groggy voice he replied, "Eh? Oh."
He told me his name was Terrence, and I complimented him on his fine taste in hats. This seemed to perk him up a bit.
"Yes, man, is mi Usain hat dis. Mi have a next one fi Blake and one more fi Shelly," he said.
I asked him if he had watched the race on the big screen nearby.
"How yuh mean?" he said.
"Di whole ah town have to come to likkle London come watch di Olympics. When we gadda out yah, is like we deh ah London ah teck in di race, too," Terrence smiled.
"But we better off, for we nuh have di cold what London have. We warm. Even though dem seh hurricane deh pass, we warm same way."
'Dem man deh nuh normal'
The talk of London caught the attention of two other fellows who not long before, had appeared on the corner. They came over to us. "London? Bolt? Yeah, man! Di bwoy wicked wid a passion!" said the shorter of the two. He was wearing a patch over his left eye and had very long fingernails. The other man, a portly middle-ager, grinned.
"Mi tell dem seh Bolt did ah go bruck all manner ah record and dem nuh believe me," he said.
Terrence said he was in the area the morning Bolt's car collided with a guard rail not far from where we were standing.
"When mi hear, mi frighten!" he said. "Mi start fret now seh it did ah go stop him from run fast, but dem man deh nuh normal. Bolt just nuh normal," he said.
A woman holding a broom joined the conversation. I'm not sure where she came from. She was wearing a long dress and sandals.
"What a ting pan Independence, yah," she said. Terrence slapped his forehead, his eyes wide.
"Ah independent today, nuh? Mi not even did memba bout independent. Mi just inna di Olympic so," he said. The two other men laughed at him.
I asked them if they, too, had come to Half-Way Tree to watch the race the day before. Their response was emphatic. "Den nuh must!" the one with the eye-patch exclaimed. "Yuh tink mi have dem big screen yah ah mi yard? No sah! Plus, mi haffi come which part di niceness deh. Olympic nuh come every day, yuh know. Mi haffi come enjoy mi self," he said.
Terrence leaned on a wall behind him. He appeared contemplative. "Ah true him ah talk still," he said. "Mi nuh know when last Jamaica nice so. Everyweh yuh look yuh see di colours dem. Di runner dem ah gwaan good ah London. And now mi ah remember seh ah independent. Bwoy, tings nice fi true. We just haffi gwaan enjoy it because di place just nice fi true."
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