Beside a gaudy Christmas tree
I polish off a g and t;
The hotel’s fine. I watch the sea
Roll up to picture-postcard palms
And smear the sun-cream on my arms.
Behind me, air conditioned hums
Drown out the mirth of boozy chums:
‘A toast!’ The clink of coke and rums.
A raffish lizard’s rolling eye
Surveys an irritating fly —
Its tongue darts out! An airy blur,
And then we’re both back where we were
With neither of a mind to stir,
Surrounded by banana fronds
And golden koi in concrete ponds.
Two men in khaki cross the sand,
A walkie-talkie in each hand.
I turn to watch a local band
Play carols just outside the fence,
While guests toss coins in recompense.
‘Good King Wenceslas looked out...
‘As the snow lay round about...’
The music stops. The guards, no doubt,
Have shooed them on their merry way
From paradise, this Christmas Day.
In all fairness, I should make it clear that while these lines were composed on Mustique, they refer to a vacation taken years ago at an international resort on another Caribbean island. There are no fences or razor-wire on Mustique’s beaches. Nor do armed security guards lord it over the local population. We have our problems, as does any community, but huge amounts of co-operative effort and money continue to be spent on Mustique in what amounts to a unique social experiment between home-owners and the St. Vincent & the Grenadines government.
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