GUYANA: Short Stories: Red Brick Gravel Rash – By Geoff Burrowes

By Geoff Burrowes

       Breakfast (which we didn’t have a name for) was the same as always – a bowl of plantain porridge topped by a swirl of fresh cow’s milk and washed down by a cup of cocoa, sweetened with brown sugar. Since we didn’t know any different we contentedly ate our porridge and drank our cocoa and pulled on our nearly white yachtins before going under the house  to play.

       At least I went under the house. Mary my younger sister trotted upstairs to play with her dolls! What a waste of perfectly good play time! I headed straight for my new bike. It was actually second hand, a gift from my parents for my 4th birthday. It was bright shining red. The frame was actually a little small for me but I could get up to speed on it really quickly and whip it around corners and thoroughly control it with minimum effort. I must admit that I sometimes showed off on my little red bike.       

I rode over to Willems flats and went as slowly as I could without putting my foot on the ground to keep balance. I was joined by Peter Willems and my cousin Penny Burrowes, who was a bit of a daredevil herself and who Peter was doing his best to impress! Tiring of the slow pace, Penny dared us to to ride to the Big Gardens and and play a game of bicycle catcher on the red brick roads, fully knowing that the loose gravel in the corners, if not negotiated properly could result in gravel rash which, would not make us popular with our parents, who would have to tend to the resulting damage.

       As I said Penny was a daredevil and neither of us wanted to back down from the gauntlet she had thrown to us! So up Brickdam we rode, left on Vlissingen Road,  through the large wrought iron gates and on to the red brick roads of the Botanical Gardens and left towards the back of the Turf Club Pavillion. The game took little time to organize with one chaser and everyone else as prey with a short lead and a touch from the chaser to “you’re it!” It wasn’t long before there were bloody knees and elbows. After my first slide and burn I perfected a kicking motion that got me through the corners at speed. We inadvertently rode too close to the Prime Minister’s home and the garden constables chased us away! But by that time we had each won a game and honor was satisfied.

       It’s funny but I remember that day as being warm and bright, but not oppressively hot!  Yet I bet that by the time we got back home we were dripping wet.

       Ice water from our old Philco fridge!

       It’s amazing that we don’t remember the discomfort of the heat and the stink of stepping barefoot in wet, smelly dog poo but we still remember the freedom of living in Georgetown and returning Mr Pillai’s greeting as he cycled by in one of his more bizarre sporting outfits – a bug-house maybe, and a tennis shirt with a cricket bat, balanced on his bicycle handle bar!

       We tend to forget the discomforts and inconveniences, and only remember the sweetness and good times of growing up in BG.  Wha’ fo’ do?

       It’s like we remember the forbidden fruit of the colourful, transparent foul-cock sweeties hanging from their rubber-band tethers without remembering the penalties promised for enjoying the sweet treats! Ah the fickleness of memories!

       I for one though am glad of the memories, fickle or not and will, for as long as they remain, rejoice in my remembrances of childhood in British Guiana.    Even the recollections of school!

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Peggy  On 01/31/2023 at 8:29 pm

    Geoff is always entertaining as he reminisces and muses. Keep the stories coming!
    Haven’t heard this word in about 50 years – yachtins. Didn’t even know that it is actually a word 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: