Jamaica Magazine

Book Review: “The Other Side of Tourism" Written by Myrna Loy

Written by Staff Writer

Review by Patricia Lashley

Momentum Arts

THE OTHER SIDE OF TOURISM ‘Jamaica Revisited’ by Myrna Loy

Good evening, Buenas Tardes, Bomate!

The Other Side of Tourism is indeed an incredible novel!

An Incredible Journey for the Author or was it? Did the Author really discover who she was? Did she find her true identity? Who is she? Is she Black British, Jamaican, Black-British Jamaican, African-Caribbean? Did the disparity in years between her visits to Jamaica do much to enhance her own cultural identity and self-awareness? The Author wants her readers to decide and alas I felt I had made my own decision having to review this incredible tiny novel as a Trinidadian, a Caribbean woman of the soil, living in Britain. The book is filled with personal experiences, self-discovery, and honesty. I had the honour of reading the first manuscript and then looking on as the author developed a novel with much determination and deep aspirations to tell her story and share her experiences with us and the rest of the world. To understand the Other Side of Tourism, is to understand the Author, a truly incredible, creative person, who’s share will power to find her identity inspired a book that is written with such wit, humour, gaiety and honesty, one cannot help but read it to the end and read it again and again, each time discovering something new, something more amusing, or discovering a bit more about the Author herself.

From a Tourism perspective, it is important to note that the more you travel throughout an island the more you discover, different classes of people, hospitality differs, sometimes one can lose the essence of a whole country by being too myopic in one’s vision about where you are at that point in time, coming with your own pre-conceptions, assumptions about how a country is and should be, especially in the Author’s case having her Jamaican heritage negated by her mother. For many people and for Jamaicans themselves, Jamaica remains a truly incredible place, rich in cultural heritage, with a culture that has been embraced globally. Jamaica has its own unique identity amongst its Caribbean neighbours, to discover that, is to truly find a place, a space and identity of one’s own.

You will find when you visit a beach as a single ‘foreign’ woman, there are characters that would come up to you and want to know if they could join you, or do something for you. The attitude is to be polite but stern and sometimes by asking questions about the country, they are willing to just sit and chat with you and tell you a lot about the place deterring them of any unclean intentions or impure thoughts like ‘magga mickey’ or as the Author will discover on her second visit. You will discover too, where beach hotels are located, surrounded by some of the most amazing tourist attractions, lies impoverished communities, houses or shacks with no running water or electricity, children unable to go to school, but only knowing how to survive to ‘make a dollar’ by smiling and selling to the tourists on the beach. This is their upbringing. To quote the author ‘It’s the culture nothing personal’. I would say no, it’s their upbringing a sub-culture merged into a much bigger culture, where people are highly educated, appreciative of their culture, happy to promote it, happy to share their stories, tell tales, and entertain. Had the Author been more adventurous she would have discovered that Jamaicans on the whole are truly amazing people. Though sometimes appearing serious, hasty, they are just as polite, subtle, generous and fun. (Free speech)

I felt that the Author had she been free from judgement would have found her trips to Jamaica more enriching and would hope that she would return and discover another side of Tourism, However, one has to sing her praises, and admire her brevity, her fear of criticism and creativity, to write Jamaican Patois in a way that even locals can read and enjoy. Though some words may not be spelt or have been interpreted differently, though at times code switching even during a sentence of a Jamaican local became evident, the Author cleverly displayed ownership of the language that she was discovering and wrote an incredible piece of literature. Her ability to use code switching at opportune times and even as her own thoughts permeated, showed her subconscious longing to learn more about the culture. As she wrote ‘Accepting that ‘gruffness’ was a part of the culture I conceded.’ Recognising her own inept way of responding as she states ‘my mother’s influences took hold and made judgement. I winced at the coarse dialect and unrefined tone.

The words ‘precision’, ‘professional’, ‘proper’ her wanting to examine every place or nook and cranny, as we would say brings out her British culture even more. As quoted ‘I was constantly in dissension with who I was and who I had become’.

‘I couldn’t stand it. Had they received no training on how to speak properly’ That wanting to criticize, and constant frustration by the slow pace, and lack of punctuality and a sense of time, is a culture that has left its legacy even throughout the Caribbean, which is usually described as ‘British snobbery’? We all do it!

Another attribute that is very British, is sticking to one thing, one place. For e.g. the Author’s experience at the Seagull Restaurant as she proclaims ‘because the food was so good, I ate at the Seagull in the morning for breakfast, in the afternoon, for lunch and in the evening for dinner. British guests once they discover a hotel, a restaurant that made a good impression the first time, they are not keen to go anywhere else. There is no part of our Caribbean culture that would do that. We simply love to explore and discover new places, people and things.

I want to say to the Author ‘You are a Tourist in Jamaica, you have an opportunity to become a friend of Jamaica and you should be a proud Black-British woman visiting the homeland of your parents.’ To describe herself as a Black British Jamaican puzzles me as it would any Jamaican but yet one can understand and empathise. ‘Ay tooriss, a twenty dollars fe dis yu know, let me know if yu waan’ some – me ‘ave fe see if me can mek some money off it. {Well you definitely not getting any money from me for that little dirty piece of green leaf and fancy calling me a tourist, how did he know I wasn’t born in Jamaica? How could he possibly know, when all you displayed, from your accent, to your body language, was very British. Again, as the Author discovered as she dismayed as she tried to speak Jamaican patois with the locals, ’The oscillation of accents was becoming tiresome and definitely not working to my advantage.’

At times I felt compassion for the Author and wished that her mother had shared some of the richness of her heritage with her. To quote ‘To test the consistency and taste, the lady dipped a spoon in the concoction and tipped some into the palm of her hand so she could taste it. I like the way she did that. My mother always did that when she tasted the soup she was making {I didn’t see people do that much anymore in England}. We still do in the Caribbean.

The people of Jamaica are what we describe in the Caribbean as ‘straight up’. You don’t have to second-guess their intentions or motives, you know right away what they want and why? In the Caribbean we find the British Tourists difficult and demanding but once you can get them to unwind they can be a lot of fun. Some of the women come to the islands with a particular mindset about what they want and they sure do go out of their way to get it, as explained by the Dread on the Author’s second visit. There would have been no discrimination against ‘Magga Mickey’, although in reverse Magga Mickey would not be reciprocated the very hospitality he extended in Jamaica, in England. So as our Author found the intruders at the beach irritating there are others, who would find it sensational.

I can recall one guest at a hotel I managed in Grenada, asking for reimbursement because the rain fell for 3 days and we said in our brochure it was the dry season. I soon quieted him with a rum punch and pointed out to him the share joy of being away from the pressures of work in England, reading a book on the verandah of your hotel, making love to your wife, all these can be purely rejuvenating if you allow yourself to relax and take in the beauty that you have been blessed with.

I would describe the Author as very British – her race or ethnicity bares little relevance to her cultural upbringing, which is British and is articulated within the pages of this book. Even though the Author attempted to rekindle her affiliation to Jamaica through another visit, she was unable to shake the true character and culture that is so inherent in her British Culture and upbringing. As quoted ‘It mattered to me. It mattered in the sense that I wanted to know where my place was in the Jamaican mindset.’

To quote “Being born in England of Jamaican parents, I should have had the best of both worlds, but I used to get confused about my identity because my mother would belittle the Jamaican side of it. She believed everything British had to be better, so she would chastise me when I tried to emulate her dialect as if she was ashamed of it; but there was something about the Jamaican language that enthused me.”

It is indeed sad that West Indians who left their islands to seek milk and honey in Great Britain, found it necessary to negate their own culture, but in doing so it still did not make them more acceptable. To teach your children about the culture, their heritage, their history, is to enrich them with an education for life. It enhances their self worth and identity as the Author will discover for herself. Reading this book made me appreciate my own cultural heritage. I can recall as a child my mother saying that her grandmother would twist her tongue to speak English, rather than teach her children Spanish. She felt that they would have far more opportunities if they embraced the English language and adapted the colonial ways. Little did she know what a share asset it is to be able to speak another language and what a privilege to travel to the lands of your grandparents and find commonality among those you visit and meet.

Similarly in her book the Author describes her journey to find her identity and commonality with Jamaica, the land of her parents.

 

The Second Time Around!

Why was Jamaica revisited by the Author? What did she not discover in her first visit that was calling her for a second time that will help put to rest what she thought to be her space and identity? Was it a creative journey, a spiritual journey or an opportunity to change earlier assumptions and perspectives?

The second trip brought out a lot more about the Author’s own personality and cannot be associated with any particular culture, the need to find her own space for example. I enjoyed the author’s descriptive and creative language, when she was in tune with her own beauty and the beauty she saw around her. I enjoyed her open and honest display of her own feelings even those that were subconscious.

To quote ‘he told me he would take me to a special place where no touriss were allowed to go but I must be there by 5:00 in the morning. It was my secret. I should have been scared to walk early hours of the morning with a complete stranger, but I wasn’t. That is why I couldn’t understand the category of a tourist. A tourist would never have felt comfortable walking with a stranger through wide empty fields in Jamaica. On the Contrary many do!

He was my Jamaican Brother! It was at this point I felt at one with my fellow Jamaicans. The Author had by now conceded that there are great advantages to having a dual heritage. However, I still believe there are many visits to Jamaica in the future that will bring even further awakenings in the Author and a deeper understanding of where her place is in Britain and Jamaica. I look forward with much anticipation for more wonderful pages of adventures from this Author. It is indeed a pleasure to know Myrna Loy!

Gwe Mercie! I thank You!

 

Unconverted Image
Unconverted Image
Myrna Loy

The Artist,

The Poet,
The Writer.
Studio 57 Saywell Road LU2 0QG

Email: [email protected] Tel: 01582 721 605

http://fineline.hypermart.net/artsowngallery/

 

 

Biography

MYRNA LOY, was born, raised and educated in London, England, of West-Indian parents.

Myrna has been pursuing poetry, ever since at the age of 15 years when she was confined to her room as a form of punishment and ordered to practice her typing. She accidentally discovered her natural talent to make her thoughts rhyme.

After years of consolidating her poetic endeavours, Myrna became an established poet and writer in London, gaining recognition through her poetry column in The Voice weekly newspaper in the 1980s and commissioned by Women & Words in NW London to perform her radical poetry.

Myrna has also performed her poetry in the UK and the United States, winning several poetry competitions resulting in her works being secured in the Archives for Black Poets in London, England. Myrna has also had her work published in Darcus Howe’s ex-Race Today Magazine. Myrna has received four African-Caribbean Educational Resource (ACER) literary awards (London), for prose and poetry and she has also had her poems published in an anthology by black British artists, in a book entitled “Black I am”.

Myrna won second place (out of 300 submissions) in a poetry competition sponsored by the Castillo Cultural Centre, which is located at Canal Street in Manhattan, and she also came second place in a poetry competition in Dorset where she was awarded her prize by author, Martin Booth.

Just as Myrna was making a name for herself, she left England in 1989, to escape from her schizophrenic husband. However, fortune was kind to her, and Myrna was granted an appointment with the United Nations for twelve years, the only legitimate position she could find in the States without a green card. Still pursuing her creative endeavours on a part-time basis while in New York, Myrna was once again recognised in her own right, appearing on the local Educational TV channels in Maplewood NJ, and exhibiting her paintings nationally. Myrna now feels that the storm has settled and cannot be influenced in ways she had allowed in the past.

She returned to the UK in October 2000, to pursue her creative endeavours and re-establish herself as a poet, writer and artist, once more in the country of her birth. Myrna performed her poetry with Jean Binta Breeze for Black History Month in 2002, and intends to self-publish “Anger’s Claw meets Poetry’s Promise (which is her life in poetry).

Myrna is not only a literary artist but a visual artist as well, specializing in oils and more recently venturing into mixed-media. Myrna has organized art exhibitions, has been an active member in art institutions, and has also held numerous one-woman and joint exhibitions in London, USA and Africa (where she lived for a year).

Myrna’s re-visit to Jamaica in 2003 was a minute aspect of her life journey. Over the last year or so, she has been examining the effect of her upbringing and how it impacted on her perception of herself and her attitude and/reactions towards others. It was out of this self-examination the “The Other Side of Tourism” was made manifest. Her self-published memoir humorously records incidences that affected the dual-cultured Author. Myrna is now working on her next book: “The Other Side of Migration” which records the impact of migration from a child’s point of view

UK’s life lessons, America’s life lessons, Jamaica’s life lessons and Africa’s life lessons have prepared her for where she is today, honing in on every aspect she has learned as a Project Manager, a diplomat, an HR administrator, logistics & procurement officer, secretary, filing clerk, a writer, a poet and a painter to create, produce, market and publish.

Myrna is in the process of setting up her own Centre for Regenerating Identity & Culture under her business ‘Art’s Own Gallery’ where she intends to offer identity-honing, mentoring and skill-building services to those of dual heritage and to help groom those whose second language is English into the mainstream so as to minimise social exclusion on grounds of language, identity and culture.

Under The Centre of Regeneration of Identity and Culture umbrella, Myrna’s ‘Cultural Garden’ will include a Writing Service; its function being to alleviate the trauma of writing for people who find it difficult to express themselves in writing by training them on self-_expression and articulation.

Myrna is currently studying psychology. She has received the Advanced GNVQ Award in Art & Art History (Vocational A Level). She also has a HND Diploma in Business Administration and Finance, from Hammersmith & West London College, where she specialized in Personnel Management.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (*Reviews)

Patricia Lashley, Momentum Arts, 2004

Simon Lambert, Luton News 2004

Herald & Post, Luton 2003

The Voice, London 2002

Herald & Post (Luton & Beds) 2002

Herald & Post (Luton & Beds) 2001

Alexis Gabriele, InStyle.com “On Display” (NJ, USA) 1999

Maplewood Matters, NJ, March 2000

Caribbean Times, New York, 1999

Myrna Loy – UNDP Artist in Residence, UNDP News, December 1995

Caribbean Times, New York, 1995

North West Press, London, December 1984

Willesden & Brent Chronicle, London, June 1984

The Voice, London, July 1984

Caribbean News, London, July 1984

Wembley Observer, London, May 1984

CATALOGUES

Linda von Stella “Our Multi-Ritual World”, EASM Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ, 1995

Byrma Braham. “Heartbeats of Jamaica, 2nd Benefit Auction,” Sponsored by Phelps

Stokes Fund, Christie’s East, Manhattan (Cinque Gallery, NY), 1993

Tricycle Theatre “ Art Auction” – Almeida Theatre, London, NW6, 1988

ACER “Life & Work of Marcus Garvey” (Tribute to Len Garrison), 1988

Brents Arts Council: “The Brent Show”, London 1987

Maria Gayle. “Three Black Women Artists in Brent,” London, 1986

PUBLIC-SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT

BBC 3 Counties Radio, August 2004

Three Counties Radio, September, 2002

Luton University , October 2001

Public Television, New Jersey USA, June 2000

BBC Radio: “Black I Am”, London, 1988

Award Winning Literature/ Poetry:

“Know the Past, Understand the Present and Determine the Future” ACER Black Writers Awards, 1987

“Baby Farda” National Creative Writing Competition, Bridport, Dorset (9/1986)

“What the Media did not say” ACER Award 1986

“Sorry the Post has been Filled” ACER AWARD 1986

“Tribute to my Mother” ACER Awards 1985

Published Articles:

“How Does Your Garden Grow” (Arts Marketing Magazine, 2004)

“Woes of Black Women in 21st Century”, The Voice, (Jan 14, 2002)

“Marrying Jamaicans for a British Visa” (The Voice Feb 2003)

“Christmas inna E’inglish style” New York, Carib News (Dec 28, 1993)

“Imaging Christ “ – The Jamaican Weekly Gleaner, NA (Dec 24,1993)

“Black Artists Seminar”, Race Today 1 September 1984

Poetry Recitals:

“The Other Side of Tourism” Hat Factory, (8/2004)

“Black History Month” Luton University (10/2001)

United Nations, Commemoration Day (9/1994)

“Women in Harrow” The Railway, Harrow (Jan & Feb1988)

“Cave of Harmony”, Islington (1988)

“Sensible Footwear” Women’s Section, Ruislip Northwood Labour Party, commemorating Womens Liberation Week (March 1988)

Published Poetry

“Poetry’s Promise” (online)

“Black Men don’t make us afraid” The Voice (Poetry Corner)

“I am not a daughter of Zion” The Voice (Poetry Corner)

“I am a Black Woman” The Voice (Poetry Corner)

“The Book” The Voice (Poetry Corner)

“Black Raven” Caribbean Times (Your Poetry) 1988

“Mother *******”” Black I Am (Anthology of Black British Poets 1987)

Forthcoming events

“Meet the Author” Luton Library August 2004

“On Self-Publishing” River Film & Book Festival, Bedford October 2004

“Black British or British Jamaican” – Harlesden Library NW10 October 2004

Book signing at the Jamaican Fun-day, London August 2005 / Independence 2005

 

Relevant Qualifications:

Project Manager, 0,1 Space & Identity (UK) June 2003 to present

CLAIT in Website Design – Barnfield College (UK) 2003

OCR in Counselling – Barnfield College (UK) 2003

Toastmaster Certificate (Public Speaking) (NY) 2000

Certificate in Art Therapy (NY) 1999

“Artrepreneur” Art & the Business Person w/Renee Phillips (NY) 1999

Art Incubators w/Renee Phillips, (NY) 1999

Decision Making Techniques, Time Management, Organizational Skills (1990-1999)

Promoting and Designing Effective Literature, Business Writing NYU (1992)

Communication Strategies NYU (Meritorious Completion) 1990

Marketing & Advertising NYU (Meritorious Completion) 1989

HND/BTEC in Business Management, Personnel, Administration & Finance (UK) 1986

Art & Art History – Paddington Institute (UK) 1983

‘O’ & ‘A’ Levels in English Language/Literature, Art, Math & Sociology (1984)

About the author

Staff Writer