They call us “The Windrush Generation,” but I never came to England on any banana boat. I flew in from Kingston to London on a TWIA flight and was there in under 12-hours from door-to-door. I had no desire whatsoever to be cooped up onboard a ship at sea with all and sundry for weeks on end.
To this day, I’ll never understand why Tom sent for me. The wedding was planned to the tiniest detail long before I ever arrived in England. The fares had already been paid months in advance for me to travel by Royal Mail Lines, but since I had no wish to leave from Jamaica to England by sea, I paid the difference myself and flew with British West Indian Airways (BWIA). If I had boarded that ship, I might have had more time to reconsider my choices in life.
He never said it was love. It may have been the name Veronica Pettigrew—a Catholic—that clinched it. Most Jamaican Pettigrews are Roman Catholics, and my husband’s sister Veronica Pettigrew-East (mother of Ermin Goode, Teresa East-Headley and Howard East) died in the Kendal Train Crash on September 1st, 1957, together with her husband, two brothers-in-law, and the beautiful daughter of Mrs Clark. Only the presence of the good Lord saved Mrs Clark’s only son, Earl, who had bawled so hard and refused to board the train that they eventually left him indoors.
Well-to-do Jamaicans of the 1950s did not think England was an advanced enough country for them to settle in. Unlike other West Indian islanders, only poor or relatively poor Jamaicans who none-the-less could afford the fares, left for the United Kingdom. Educated Jamaicans did not consider England an option at all. Many of our young men had travelled there during the war, and they did not like what they had seen. The educated ones among us rather opted for the United States of America, or Canada, wherever possible.