Coming to the Express from that other place some eight years ago was for me the realisation of a long-standing dream. My parents claim that I began reading when I was two years old and by the time I was four I was reading encyclopaedias, magazines and newspapers.
That’s their story. My initial recollection of reading anything was at six when I read Gulliver’s Travels. I was hooked on words from then and began reading everything in the house. My father bought the Express and Guardian daily and I would read them from front page to back.
The Express, however, was the one I liked more because it was easier to handle and it always had a more youthful flair. Another recollection from that time was my father every month-end coming home with a package of books and magazines wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. He bought me books such as Hardy Boys, Famous Five in addition to various comics.
These would, however, be quickly devoured in a few days and the Express was back to being my mainstay until the next end-of-month arrival.
As I grew up and entered St Mary’s College there were many changes in my life, some positive, others horrid, but the Express remained a constant. I would always have my 50 cents to buy the paper and on the days I did not, I could always go over to the neighbour and read their copy.
In primary school I wanted to be a doctor, but an injury to one of our dogs and the sight of blood changed my mind. Then in CIC, I wanted to be an attorney until I realised that my mother could barely afford to send me to school daily and I foolishly threw in the towel. I have also always loved music and being a very good percussionist, decided a career in music was where I would head. That was a struggle going nowhere and one day, through the grace of God and the influence of a couple of friends, I decided to try my hand at entertainment journalism. Thus two passions -- writing and my love of culture -- merged and my career as an entertainment writer began.
As I said, working at the Express was a dream come true. As a youth, I had followed the writings in the Express of Keith Smith and Peter Ray Blood and wished I could one day meet them and write as well as they did. Then later on I read the articles of people like Vernon Khelawan, Deborah John, Omatie Lyder, Marlon Miller and thought, wow, I could never do that. Well, here I am.
The Express may not be the perfect place (there’s no such place, of course) and there are days when one doesn’t want to leave the bed and come to the office or even go on to an assignment. But you do it because there are people depending on you to tell their story to the world. There is also the appreciation shown by your editors. Yes, they will come down hard on you from time to time, but there are also those times when you are praised for a job well done.
I myself remember Keith Smith on several occasions calling out to me as I passed by his office and saying, “That story was a good one. I really enjoyed reading it. Good work.” Of course there were the days when he would shout, “Buh wha de hell yuh write dey boy?” My line editor, Deborah John, has taught me much in the past eight years. She is always straightforward and honest with me. If I mess up she would let me know and once she has gotten that across, that’s it. She moves on to us getting the next big scoop.
Omatie Lyder is always patient and willing to listen when I show up at her door ready to burn her ears with whatever talk I go in with. She too gives kudos when the job is done well and very kindly reprimands me when there is need for such. Like Keith did and Deborah does, Omatie inspires, challenges and encourages me to keep developing my writing skills and aim to move to higher levels. Better bosses I wouldn’t find easily. Nor would I find a cooler bunch to work with than my colleagues here at the Express.