By Floyd Collins
The context of this book is truthful and is based on my memory of my past life and the people and events who has help shaped me in to whom I am today. You may also find some of the contents shocking and disturbing including some offensive language and violence. Names of some individuals have been changed to protect their anonymity. Do not read this book if you are easily offended. However, if you choose to read it I do hope you will enjoy reading it.
Legacy, what is it? Well, it’s an inheritance, heritage, endowment, gift, patrimony, settlement, birthright. Every one of us has a legacy, some are proud of their legacy, others are not but what we all have in common is someone or something somewhere has made us the recipients of their legacy.
Truth, what is truth? it means veracity, truthfulness, sincerity, candor, honesty; Moreaccuracy, correctness, validity, factuality, authenticity. To understand our legacy, we also must understand and accept the truth, weather its comfortable or not, I am not talking about fake truth but the truth of who we are.
This is the story of my and our legacy and truth.
My name is Floyd, many in my travels in Australia, China and Europe are confused, the type of confusion you see when your eyes see something, but it doesn’t compute with your brain, like a confused photograph that challenges your mind, as to my Scottish-Jamaican and now Australia roots and ask how does a Jamaican, or black man or as in the case of China no matter my place of birth, an ‘African’ manage to have a Scottish or British accent?
So, I decided to give not just to the usual ‘I was born there’ answer but the story of my past and how I believe my past is also my legacy and truth.
I am one of ten children – 5 boys and 5 girls, one short of a soccer team.
My parents were middle class in their home country of JAMAICA and immigrated to the UK in the 1950s on a ship called the “Windrush” alongside hundreds of thousands from the Caribbean who answered the call to serve the mother country for cheap labor, I guess they were economic migrants who would be turned back and put out to sea again to a fate unknown in today’s climate.
At the end of their six weeks journey they stepped off the ship in the middle of winter shivering and wondering what that strange white layer covering everywhere was (snow).
They were welcome with open hands by mostly paid welcome parties.
Unlike 95% of Caribbean immigrants who headed to England my parents decided to move and start their new life and second part of their family in Scotland north of the border, yes, cold, damp and tired looking and yet beautiful Scotland....where I was born.
At the point of their relocation to the UK they had four children, three girls and one boy which they left behind with our grandparents no doubt thinking it was only for a short while and eventually return home to take care of them, in the meantime they proceeded to have another 6 children over the years in Glasgow.
Their intention was to stay for 2 -5 years to make some money and go back “home to Jamaica” as they called it, their minds and belongings was always at a state of going home at any time!
My dad worked very hard and was also a very strict man who would regularly severely beat us for no other reason but having a bad day at work, looking back I now understand why…..he had to support not only his wife and 6 kids in the UK but also his 4 kids and parents in Jamaica.
He worked long days for a total of 40 years first as a builder’s laborer rebuilding the 2nd world war bombed out slums of Glasgow namely the Gorbals and afterward for the local council as a garbage collector and road sweeper ,these were the days long before wheelie bins, where he would carry baskets of rubbish on his shoulders sometime weighing as much as a bag of cement and walking up to a 100 meters to dispose of it in to a back of a truck, all before mechanization of his job, it was very hard difficult work indeed at that time, sometimes we forget how lucky we are today to have that truck roll up and this big long mechanical arm stretching out to engage our wheelie bins, we owe these guys, most of whom are now dead from possible conditions related to their work a big THANK YOU!
I can recall my dad reading and writing skills was that of a 7-year-old and would often ask my mum who wasn’t the best reader and writer either to read important documents such as rates notices or electricity bills, looking back this must have been tough for them, these were the days when you were on your own without any real Government assistance to help you integrate.
Some time I would listen to him and my mum speak usually in bed late at night about the racism he had encountered on numerous of occasions, example: ‘’go home nigger’’, ‘’darky’’, and a personal favorite of mines was “nigger mind you will be all white in the morning” from young and old alike. He would never eat a banana in public as he would open himself be called monkey or ape man, some may say ‘he must be overeating, no one can be that insensitive to the feelings of others, well it happened to me. Even today you don’t often see to many blacks eating banana’s in public without the monkey reference being forced on them by the ignorant.
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