Thursday, 2 December 2010

Good old days

On a roll today, one proper post, one 'this thought popped in to my head' one.  The thought?

You know when people look back to 'the good old days' - where there was no health and safety, no speed traps, you could give a child a clip around the ear, when men were men and women were women?

I live there. (Disclaimer: This is an exaggeration. Many attitudes are changing rapidly in Guyana. I would love to give VSO and similar organizations some credit for this, but probably pirated TV showing Oprah every day is what we should thank. But in essence, this is the situation.)

There is definitely another side to the rose-tinted silver-lined sepia-tinged memory.

  • No health and safety - Lots of people die and get horrifically injured at work. Lots of them. Frequently. Really badly.
  • No speed traps/traffic calming/speed bumps - Seriously, I will never complain about this again. Traffic here is deadly.  For a tiny country, the number of people being killed in road accidents is terrifying.
  • You can give a child a clip round the ear - I'll be (a little too) honest here. Corporal punishment works. Kids here are better behaved and more polite than you could hope to find in England. But, and this is a big but, they grow up learning that strength gives you the right to beat someone who doesn't agree with you. So men beat their wives, wives beat their men, parents beat their kids and sometimes their parents, and nothing gets discussed.
  • And men are men and women are women - so women are expected to cook, clean, take care of the babies, do everything to care for and treat their men, and men are expected to drink rum and come home late.  Gender equality has allowed many women to go to work now, but they still have to do all the housework, put up with infidelity and raise the children at the same time.
But some of the 'good old days' stuff is true.  People look after each other.  There is a real sense of community.  And children respect their elders.

Or at least they pretend to, for fear of licks...


  1. The women beat their men, and the men beat on their drums.