Monday, January 30, 2006

Yesterday morning. As sometimes happens on a Sunday, I'm at the office, slowly reading page proofs--the magazine goes to bed in three days. The phone rings. It's Georgia.

"You're volunteering to build costumes for Minshall."

Front-page headline that morning: "Minshall coming with 'The Sacred Heart' for Carnival".

She wasn't asking a question, but I give an answer. "Yes." Then: "Where are you?"

"Down at Callaloo Company."

Dammit, why am I at the office & not in Chaguaramas?

Everyone had been hearing rumours for weeks. He's bringing a band, no, he's not bringing a band. We heard the rumours last year too. But this year, surely, with his big retrospective opening in Rotterdam in June, he'd be too distracted to think about Carnival? The question kept coming up. Someone must know for sure. Then the Saturday Guardian: a reporter finally asks him point-blank. "As far as I know, that information is true."

Minshall in 2006.

Two years ago, I made a promise to myself. 2004 was the first time in, what, thirty years, that there was no Minshall. I suddenly realised I didn't want to go to my grave having lived in the Age of Minshall & never having played with his band. I've never--this is an awful thing for a 30-year-old Trinidadian to confess--I've never played mas. I've never put on a costume & joined a band. I've always thought of myself as a watcher, a looker-on, an observer. I could have played in Song of the Earth or Tapestry, & I didn't. I looked on, & that's important too, someone has to be looking. But I made this promise to myself: if Minshall ever brings out another band, I have to be in it.

Last year--o God--last year I played J'Ouvert for the first time. Last year, I thought, was the year that everything changed.

Maybe every year is the year that everything changes.


Attillah said...

You NEVER played mas with Minshall???
(loud gasping, head holding and ribcage beating)

Nicholas Laughlin said...

O God, the fatigue start. Some things you shouldn't admit in public.

Anonymous said...

There are always plenty of others observing. It's good that this year you'll be playing. Wish I could be the observer.

Anonymous said...

after review, i think i agree. haha.