I am not particularly fond of early mornings. My most productive time of day is certainly the evening. In fact, I prefer nights. However, in a blur of half-sleep today, I climbed out of bed and into the bathroom. I was going to do a television interview, for the benefit of all the diligent Jamaicans who get up at crack of dawn every morning to watch “Smile Jamaica.”
Luckily the cab driver drove at a leisurely pace, which suited me fine. On our way down to RJR studios, I saw a man on his knees on the street corner by the Mutual Life Building. He had something like a prayer mat under his knees. His palms were pressed together. He was praying loudly, his large wide teeth illuminated by the early sun. His face was wide and open; he looked like a very old icon, set down on on a dusty sidewalk.
I was not at my brightest and best. I entered the RJR office at the unearthly hour of seven and stood vaguely in the middle of the reception area, wondering what to do next, until a nice woman called me over. Clearly, I needed to be organized.
Doing an interview on morning television is like advancing, level by level, as in a video game. Or rather, it’s like going to the clinic for a check-up, prodded gently along by various personnel as you go through the process. You are moved from one location to another, in stages, drawing ever closer to your final destination; in this case, it was the program host Dahlia Harris. The first stage was the waiting room, where I met other guests – including popular actor Glen “Titus” Campbell and his female protagonist, who are starring in an upcoming comedy called “Hurricane Honeymoon” – appropriately named for the start of the season. Mr. Campbell’s broad, rather naughty grin always makes me laugh. There were also proud teachers and students from two schools, who were on the show to talk about their eco-friendly projects. On the set, a composed young man in khaki demonstrated a worm compost project in the most professional manner (“And that’s not all…And now, you will see over here…”) while the program host kept a safe distance from the worms. An enthusiastic schoolgirl had created beautiful windows out of plastic bottles. And at Stage 1, a friendly woman brought me an ultra-sweet cup of coffee, which gave me a much-needed burst of energy. So far, so good.
Stage 2 was make-up. I wish I had someone to do my makeup every day, like Kim Kardashian does. The makeup lady told me she simply loves her job. She doesn’t even regard it as work, just plain fun. She brightened me up with some blusher (what my mother used to call “rouge”) and a good dollop of mascara – and hey presto, I finally looked alert and at least present in the land of the living.
On to Stage 3, a windowless padded cell opening into the studio itself. By this time I was accompanied by our Poet Laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris, who had received just a dab of powder on his nose at Stage 2. We were going to do an interview on The Drawing Room Project’s (DRP) Writers’ Retreat with Professor Morris, to take place from June 5 – 7 at the Liberty Hill Great House in Lime Hall, St. Ann.
We were released from the cell, and on it was to the fourth and final stage: The studio itself, bright lights and all. I was worried that we would have to sit on one of those high stools; I am completely uncoordinated physically, and would have slipped off within a minute or two. But thankfully we sat next to the charming Dahlia Harris, who interviewed us, side by side on a small sofa. I told myself not to knock over the large vase placed on a table between us with my elbow. I would rather have sat on the outside. Safer.
I felt a little nervous, especially as the preceding interview (sitting on the scary stools) with a nice young doctor was all about birth abnormalities. The cheerful doctor went into considerable detail. This put us in a slightly somber mood. But Ms. Harris was warm and humorous, and the few minutes we had to state our case passed quickly. Professor Morris was as cool as ever, while I, on the other hand, started talking too much. I then read my poem, rattling through it because I thought we must be going over time now. However, Millicent Graham (a poet I greatly admire, who is co-founder of DRP) told me I read it well.
Well, let’s put it this way: I am in awe of poets. It was an honor to sit next to Professor Morris. I can’t help feeling that if they pay me a compliment about my work, they are just being kind. I could never reach their lofty heights, but I will happily accept their approval, meanwhile.
After a little chit chat, we walked straight out of the office into the morning rush hour traffic. Professor Morris gave me a lift home, and we chatted about Oxford, our alma mater, while the Professor deftly avoided some crazy lane-switching drivers.
When I got home, I asked my husband how the interview was. He said “great,” but asked me why I was swathed in cloth. Looking at the photo below I can see what he meant. I was supposed to be looking sophisticated, with one of my beloved scarves (I do love scarves) thrown over my shoulder – but ended up wrapping it tightly around me, instead.It was nerves, I suppose.
But I have to admit: Sometimes it is worth one’s while getting up in the morning. The early bird catches the worm. But not one of the schoolboys’ compost worms…
P.S. If you would like to get a glimpse of the DRP workshop in St. Ann, why not join Jamaica Cultural Enterprises on Sunday, June 7 for a great day trip, stopping first at Seville Great House and then on to a special poetry reading at Liberty Hill with the Poet Laureate? The first 20 persons to sign up get complimentary passes to tour Seville Great House! Round trip transportation: $2,200. Contact email@example.com for further details.