A Trini in London
Date: September 3, 1999
Name: Desmond Gittens
Address: London, England
Aged 18 is remembered for one main reason, The unfair actions of a police officer.
I was arrested and charged with an offence that I knew nothing of. I had never had that sort of problem, and thought of getting away as fast and as far as I can. I lived close to the port area and there were always ships at the dock, I hid on board the Liner "Southern Cross". Heading for Southampton, England. It was never my intention to travel to England but the opportunity was immeasurable. I was fined twenty pounds for stowing away on arrival in the UK.
My next stop was Manchester residing with cousins, whom I had contacted. So it was I moved into Moss Side. My first jobs there were playing steel band music and coal mining. For a while things were fine, but as time went by, I became concerned that I was being so racially abused by the community that I had moved into, that I decided to move on.
It was just about then I drifted into the Army. My Mother had done military service and my early years were at times among military personnel.
I met occasional racism in the services, but became popular with most of the colleagues that I worked with.
That was until I ran into a nameless Staff Sergeant. This man, just returned from Kenya on the mau-mau campaign, made my life such a misery that I had to cut short my Army career.
I returned to playing music, this time at clubs in London. During this time l met the woman who became my wife, It was the start of a whole new life for me, She was the daughter of a Member of Parliament, and she introduced me to middle class life in the UK. On meeting her father, he threatened to have me imprisoned if I did not stop seeing her, terrified at a threat from such a powerful man, I planned with her to return to the Caribbean, We left some weeks later, and were married amid what was then mass media coverage.
Over the years I continued with the music and along with Phillmore "Boots" Davidson played at some of the Early Notting Hill Carnivals.
Professionally I was a Development Officer for Kensington & Chelsea.
Life was in no way idyllic but we loved each other and stayed together. Our family grew until Madeleine passed over 25 years from the day that we married.
Life again took a new turn. I became a home bound father of six children. Aged from twenty one to two years old. I had, over the years, built up a career in the community as an Educator and Planner, all this had to take a back seat in this new situation. I had to call on all my reserves those first few months of grief with my children.
Gradually, with some sacrifice, we regained our self-confidence, and now the last of the children is about to enter university.
Historical Archive / Trinicenter / Newspapers / Homepage