Becoming Sane

Grenville Phillips

I wrote this article one year ago on 20 January 2020. It is now applicable to other issues in Barbados. That is why, regardless of your position on: the vaccine, reparations, a republic, same sex marriage, Nelson, COVID protocols, reimbursing tourists, and any other issue, it is important to allow a discussion.
Trying to shut down discussions is not helpful to us as a nation.

Regards, Grenville

The main reason given for demolishing the structurally sound 6-storey old NIS building, is that it is not compatible with the “sacred ground” of the proposed Clement Payne park.

The Government did not properly maintain the building, and several workers got ill. We are told to believe that the building is a reminder of people getting ill, which is not compatible with what Clement Payne advocated.

We are told to believe that the building is beyond maintenance, having been abandoned for so long. It may be beyond maintenance, but it is clearly not beyond repair, and it is certainly very far away from needing to be demolished. But such thoughts are considered heretical.

To oppose the demolition is to be accused of being against workers’ right to a healthy work environment. To question why a building, with the most expensive foundation system in Barbados (piled), and no apparent structural cracks, should be demolished, is to attract the wrath of political operatives.

The public relations on this matter reminds me of George Orwell’s masterpiece, ‘1984’. It was written in 1949, and shows what happens to a society when the Government does not tolerate independent thought. I will extract part of it for your interest.

‘It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.

‘He paused for a few moments, as though to allow what he had been saying to sink in.

‘Do you remember,’ he went on, ‘writing in your diary, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four”?”Yes,’ said Winston.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?”Four.”And if the party says that it is not four but five – then how many?


‘The word ended in a gasp of pain.

The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston’s body.

The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O’Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended.

He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.’How many fingers, Winston?

”Four! Four! What else can I say? Four!

‘The needle must have risen again, but he did not look at it. The heavy, stern face and the four fingers filled his vision. The fingers stood up before his eyes like pillars, enormous, blurry, and seeming to vibrate, but unmistakably four.

‘How many fingers, Winston?”Five! Five! Five!”No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers, please?

”Four! five! Four!

Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!

”You are a slow learner, Winston,’ said O’Brien gently.

‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.

”Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.

”Again,’ said O’Brien.’How many fingers, Winston?

”Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.

”Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?

”Really to see them.

”Again,’ said O’Brien.Perhaps the needle was eighty–ninety.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

”I don’t know. I don’t know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six–in all honesty I don’t know.

”Better,’ said O’Brien.

Fellow Barbadians, it is time to evaluate your progress. If you did not know your party’s position on the demolition of the old NIS building, would your response when questioned have been, “I do not know”?

If you know your party’s position, would you automatically agree with it? Do you enjoy when your party’s political operatives try to damage the reputations of those who do not similarly agree? If so, then you have been adequately trained to actively support a totalitarian state. Wise up.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at


  • @ William

    When did Harry’s close?


  • @ Hal
    Donkey years. Perhaps 40 or so.


  • Hants,

    Will buy one for when my mangoes come in this year. Lasy year most of them grew on the high side and ended up in the compost heap. The neighbourhood youngters used to pick them but they have not come for years. They refused to ask and as the tree was right outside my bedroom window it was imperative that they do so. So the mad woman scared them off. Did not expect it would stop them from asking. The mad woman like she real scary fuh true!

    Liked by 1 person

  • @William Skinner January 22, 2021 10:34 AM “I know of cases where people spent their entire working lives in England; returned home and was back in England after a year. They no longer understood the country they had left. Sounds like a joke but it happens more often than we think.”


    But less you think that it is because of the mythical “Bajan Condition” please be aware that there is something called “culture shock” and something called “reverse culture shock” ALL society’s are constantly changing and ALL of us are also constantly changing. The changes are NEVER, NEVER EVER even. Many people, perhaps most people have trouble adjusting to an “alien” culture. I am sure all of the migratory Bajans on this blog can tell you tales of their first year or two in their new then “alien” culture. Exactly the same thing happens when people return to their original culture, except that many people, perhaps most people are completely unaware that they will experience a feeling of dislocation, sometimes a profound feeling of dislocation. The migrants have change, the “old country” has changed and all too often they grate harshly against each other.

    In my other life I arranged cultural orientations for people going abroad, and cultural re-orientations for people returning to Barbados. For people going abroad I always included people who had gone abroad. And for those returning I arranged for people who had returned 2 or 3 years before to talk to and be available to the new returnees. This made a huge difference. In my nearly 2 decades doing this [thousands of people] I had only one person who returned from abroad prematurely because they could not stand the new “alien” culture. It is noteworthy that this one person had refused to follow advice about the adjustment process.


  • 555Dubstreet…Chuuuune!!❤


  • @Grenville Phillips “The Government[s] did not properly maintain the building, and several workers got ill. We are told to believe that the building is a reminder of people getting ill”

    I rarely agree with Grenville about anything, but I was sorry to see the old NIS building go. I don’t think that it was too old to be rehabilitated, including making it wheelchair accessible, because even though there were many steps at front, at back the ground floor was at ground level and would have needed minor adjustment to make it wheelchair accessible.

    My father built our family house himself in the early 60’s. It is still in good condition. Still lived in everyday by a family. I expect that it will “outlive” me. And when a family member needed to use a wheelchair, he without engineering training designed and built two ramps. My dad used to refer to himself as “an old stone cutter” that is a mason who left school at 11, then went to “learn trade” for a year or two.

    When the building was about to be demolished I heard talk that a staff member’s multiple sclerosis was somehow related to the building. The MS was probably triggered by the lack of Vitamin D. Don’t some of us Bajans love to wear long sleeves and long pants as though we are in the cold white north? Don’t we live in one of the sunniest places on earth and yet some of us are Vitamin D deficient? Why? We “don’t want to get too dark” foolishness. Even recently n another blog Hal the pseudo Englishman was complaining because one of our magistrates wears an open neck shirt.

    EVERYBODY in Barbados SHOULD wear open necked shirts ALL of the time.

    Barbados is NOT England.

    Barbados is not the USA.

    Barbados is NOT Canada.

    Barbados is NOT Russia.

    Barbados is NOT Europe.

    Why do we insist then in dressing, and demanding that others dress like Europeans?

    Me? I had 3 hours in the sun this morning.


  • Even recently n another blog Hal the pseudo Englishman was complaining because one of our magistrates wears an open neck shirt.,,,,,,(Quote)



  • @William

    Birds Best or Birds Nest.


  • Cuhdear Bajan,

    It was Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth George who he complained about with the open neck shirt and gold chain.


  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Simply Cuddear well stated re : “The migrants have change, the “old country” has changed and all too often they grate harshly against each other.”

    There is NO WHERE on this earth that anyone can leave behind for many a decade and more and then simply attempt to return and automatically fit in… that’s just nonsensical.

    Even within large nations it’s a foolhardy person who can leave a childhood homestead: you cant just go back to your old family neighborhood or locale let’s say in Minneapolis, or in Brooklyn or LA 40 years later in retirement …. unless u are making regular visits and ‘imbibing’ the changes OR unless you are a very adaptable person who simply intends to fit in order to enjoy the geographic Joy’s you will be doomed!

    In Minneapolis (Minnesota generally) the change of culture due to the influx of Somalis is profound … not knocking the brothers and sisters in the least but the point is clear how an old timer Minnesotan returnee would face some mindscape issues!

    Bajans from England or US face their own mindscape issues!

    To me this is such an illogical argument that I am amazed it is floated so often …

    You are on point that many adjust back on the rock of the old home to their sea and sun… those who can’t basically DO NOT WANT TO (arrogance, hubris or whatever)!

    I gone.


  • @Donna. January 22, 2021 6:48 PM “Cuhdear Bajan, It was Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth George who he complained about with the open neck shirt and gold chain.”

    Thanks Donna.


  • @ Cuhdear Bajan
    I don’t write of or think of any” condition”. I was simply saying that the changes are so profound that as you say it’s really a culture shock. I actually think your post is most enlightening. I have a returnee friend who has been like an ambassador to returnees from England , as you are. However, I think those who actually don’t stay are in the minority


  • Thanks DPD


  • @ David
    Birds Nest. Just spotted the typo. Thanks


  • Human being can adapt but they must themselves be adaptable.

    In my small gap, about a dozen homes, over the last 30+ years I have had neighbors from St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, Nigeria, India and Syria. And Bajans raised in other villages, three families who returned from the United Kingdom, and one who returned from the United States. Some have stayed for a year or two, some have stayed for decades. None have bothered me. I don’t think that I have bothered any of them. I’d have any of them as neighbors again. It is amazing what a smile, cheerful hello and good morning can do…and if you give me a breadfruit or some mangoes from that tree in your backyard, I am your friend for life. Lol!!!


  • Thanks William.

    I know that you are not the “Bajan Condition” guy.

    People do need help readjusting. I am glad to hear that your friend is an ambassador for those who have chosen to return.

    Adaptability is very likely inborn. Perhaps we have all met “fretful” babies; and babies with sunny easy going dispositions.


  • @ Cuhdear Bajan
    Unfortunately, we don’t get a chance to highlight important topics such as this. Too many in the Diaspora have had very bad experiences with real estate issues and many expire without getting matters resolved.
    Simple things infuriate returnees.These include our disregard for time. Less than stellar service in many areas. When people stay live in a very hostile environment overseas such as daily fighting painful racism and then struggling to raise families, they are really burnt out and irritation could be a constant companion.
    I know an associate who built a house back home and was hoping to live in it on retirement after he sold his house here.
    He could never get a proper tenant in the house and he became frustrated as he got older and literally gave it to cousin. He now intends to spend the rest of his days here.
    When I was home, my experience with folks returning from England was completely different. We had a nightclub where you could find returnees enjoying themselves for years especially those from England. The club was a superb meeting place owned by a guy who used to live in London. It was great fun and I doubt that three of all those dozens who returned but hang out at that club ever left .
    Cricket, lots of dancing , and booze makes a lot of difference. Quite frankly those who came home for a holiday and went there one weekend were back home permanently within a year or six months. Lol.


  • @Hants January 22, 2021 1:05 PM “@ Donna, Truper Fruit Picker Head sold at Carters
    Get a bamboo pole and you can pick golden apples, mangoes and pears.”

    True. I finally bought one this year, as I was tired of borrowing a friend’s. I bought a telescoping pole too and it made my fruit picking so easy. The equipment seems pretty sturdy. I have been keeping it inside so that it remains nice and dry so it should last for years.


  • I still make my own gauva jelly, since I can never find any as good as my mothers. One day I didn’t have any pectin nor alum so I put some green golden apples in with the ripe guavas. I figured that the sticky stuff oozing out of green golden apples must be natural pectin, The jelly was composed of only guavas, green golden apples, water, sugar. No artificial anything, no preservatives, it jelled beautifully and was delicious. I sent some to the siblings in the great white north. Put a little on a slice or two of hot toast and you are ready to face whatever winter has to offer.

    There is one company in town trading under the name Green Monkey. They make candies, jams, jellies etc. I got some for Christmas but I haven’t tried it yet, as I still have half a jar of my guava/green golden apple left, and I do have to go easy on the sugar.


  • @Cuhdear
    The MS was probably triggered by the lack of Vitamin D. Don’t some of us Bajans love to wear long sleeves and long pants as though we are in the cold white north?
    Bajans are something else, here you are speculating on the cause of someone’s disability and rendering a diagnosis sight unseen..


  • We were told Barbados was a failed state. We were told Barbados was nothing. All fake news.

    The fact is that we will soon have completely defeated the disease a second time. Our government and medical personnel are working day and night to protect us. In the north, people are dying like flying because the governments there are totally incompetent. Not ours. If all governments in the world were as good as ours, there would be no more wars, no more diseases, no more hunger. Instead of wasting money on weapons, humanity would reach for the stars!

    The tourists will leave us by February at the latest. Then the island will finally be ours again. Barbados is paradise on earth. Beaches with golden sand, palm trees and an endless blue sky. How beautiful.

    Goddess Bim hear our plea! Protect us!


  • “Don’t we live in one of the sunniest places on earth and yet some of us are Vitamin D deficient? Why? We “don’t want to get too dark” foolishness.”

    that ignorant self-hate will wipe out most of them during Covid…the sun provides the vitamin D and upgrades the MELANIN that Black people were blessed with to fight off the virus…black hatred will kill a lot of them…black skin = protection…right up there with social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks…etc.

    but dummies and wannbe whites can’t stand their black selves…..good riddance to them i say…not a fella will miss those shit stains on the earth.


  • Wha bout socks, stockings, long sleeves and underwear?

    Yuh might be able to win the argument wid the Bajans but at the end of de day if yuh not dressed up in all black fuh yuh muddah funeral de Bajans gine kill yuh dead wid name talking.

    Oh jesus christ!


  • “Deader” than de NIS building.


  • Actually, many Bajan funerals now come with a “no mourning colours by special request”. People also wear the deceased’s favourite colour. Also purple, white, grey, navy blue are also common wear. Have not heard anybody talking about the colour a person wears for their mother’s funeral ever for a really long time.


  • @ Baje

    My shoulders are broad.


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