By Tony Deyal
When I was growing up, 'gay' did not mean the same thing that it does today. Even the Flintstones could have a "gay old time" and the community did not turn them into Rubble, whose child, Bam-Bam, which is the Trini term for posterior, did not elicit more than the initial "hee-hee".
Our good friends were the gays. Mr Gay, of Barbadian birth, was a police outrider who eventually made it to the level of inspector. He and his wife Beryl were Sparrow fanatics and they had every Sparrow LP that came out, playing it continuously until a new one was released.
Those were the days of 'Harry In The Piggery' and 'Carlton'. In addition to partying to the canned music, we were able to see and hear Sparrow 'live and in person' when his calypso tent, the Original Young Brigade, made it to the cinema in our village, or when some of the boys travelled to the city of San Fernando to joint concerts between Sparrow's Tent and Lord Melody's or Lord Kitchener's.
SPARROW WAS KING
In those days, Sparrow also doubled as a master of ceremonies and those who were able to hear him live regaled us with his jokes. "Sparrow say that this little girl was by a swimming pool and a little boy come up to she and say, 'Ah bet a duck you.' She eh take him on. So he say, 'You eh fraid a duck you?' And she look at him and say, 'What a go fraid for? You can't even pronounce it right.'"
From the moment he became Calypso King with Jean and Dinah, Sparrow was the most popular calypsonian in Trinidad. He was truly the 'Mighty' Sparrow. On every juke box, at every fete or dance, even when the itinerant 'merry-go-round' came to the village, Sparrow was in the air. You would hear the crackle on the loudspeaker and songs like Last Night It Was Mary Jane, where Sparrow boasted about his sexual prowess, ending with "Don't fret. Everybody go get!"
There was Mr Rake and Scrape with its "Any kind of woman, woman/ One foot or one hand/ They cannot escape from me/ Mister Rake and Scrape." There were his women: May May, Monica Doo Doo, Rose, Maria, Raquela, Tobago Gals; his menage-a-trois with "Harry, Elaine and Mama" and his real man, "Mr Benwood Dick."
However, the one that is still the most popular when some of the old gang gather or when Trinis get together is Drunk and Disorderly. I suppose it is because I grew up in an alcoholic culture where you were given a little drink at Christmas with the cheerful, "It good for the worms" or where every weekend from Friday night on to late Sunday was an alcoholiday.
I think those of us who aspired or pretended to be sportsmen had the worst of the deal. In looking back at my life, it was a rum situation indeed. After every game, someone would inevitably say, "You play good, boy, don't mind you lose. Come and take a drink." Or, "We have to celebrate the victory, come and take a drink."
Inevitably, we would give in, spend the entire evening in the rum shop, and then leave singing raucously, disturbing the little tranquility that the barking mongrels allowed with Drunk and Disorderly shouted at the top of our voices.
I remember a carnival Monday night. We had organised a 'Dutty Sailor' or 'Drunken Sailor Band' where the protocol was to drink, roll around on the road and gutter, and chant, "What the sailor like? Big fat woman."
Some of the boys played the role not just with gusto but with aplomb. Inevitably, they ended piled up on the sidewalk next to the village police station, none able to walk on his own to our community which lay across the enormous playground, a marathon journey for the inebriated and incapacitated. We held on to one another's shoulders and, singing Drunk and Disorderly, staggered and weaved our way home erratically, brothers in arms and alcohol.
I thought of these days of wine, roses and Sparrow when I heard that he was ill. I blamed Simpson, the funeral agency man, but he, too, has passed into history and intellectual property rights. Then, what Jung the philosopher would call 'synchronicity' struck and I saw a few articles about 'drunk and disorderly' creatures that made me and my 'dutty' sailors look like teetotalers.
Business Insider reported that the police in Stockholm, Sweden, received a report that a mob of the boozed-up moose had been terrorising a local homeowner after he refused to let them into his garden. At least, they were not saying anything close to "What the moosy like? Big fat moosy!" but they were noisy.
ABC news in Australia said that a pig was spotted ravaging a Western Australian campsite for beers. After stealing 18 beers, the pig was seen getting into a fight with a cow. Having known some belligerent drunks in my time, I am not surprised. In fact, one cow might not be enough for a drunken pig. The moo the merrier.
Then a Colorado man riding a horse to his brother's wedding 600 miles away in Utah was arrested for drunken driving. It seems that he was drunk and the horse was disorderly.
Tony Deyal was last seen saying, "Sparrow come back home!"