Be so busy loving your life, you have no time for hate, regret or fear

Small Island…

In Daily Musings on February 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

Last night I watched the first installment of the most amazing mini-series on PBS. The series is called “Small Island“, It’s about the migration of Jamaicans to England in the 1950’s when Jamaica was still a colony of England.  This is obviously the second showing of this series, I have no idea how I missed it the first time around 2 years ago!

This series really touched me in a personal way, because as a first generation, “British born Jamaican” it gave me an idea of why my parents moved to Britain and what they found when they got there.  It was not Buckingham Palace and tea for them!  Even though my mother, told me stories of what it was like, to actually see a vision of it on-screen, it gave me more clarity. These characters could have been my parents.  In one scene, the main character Hortense, asks if there is electricity in every room and when she is told yes, she gets really excited.  Hortense longs for a fulling life and a doorbell after being born and raised in a broken and impoverished home.  Hortense is a school teacher and has it in her head that when she gets to London she will be  teaching rich girls and having tea with the Queen (yes she really does!).  There is never ever doubt in Hortense’s mind that she will get to England, it’s just a matter of how.  Hortense, does what she has to, to get to London (that scene had me falling out laughing, she got a box in her mouth, for her efforts, Jamaican’s understand what I mean!).

Great scene!

There is a quote from Hortense “This island is too small if you have big dreams… without dreams you are nothing” .  This was the mindset of most people on the island, and the reason why they wanted to move away, thinking there was a better life in England. There was, but they worked long and hard and took a lot of abuse for it.  Nothing was handed to them… Nothing!

It was mind-boggling for me to watch the scene where Jamaicans were waving the Union Jack in Jamaica (as that was their flag at the time), all British colonies flew the Union Jack.  Jamaica gained their independence in 1962, the same year my mother left to join my father in London, England.

Before Jamaicans arrived in England, they really thought that because they were under British rule, and therefore “British subjects” they would be treated the same as the Brits once they arrived on those cold, damp, chilly shores.  This was not the case! What they did not realize was the British only wanted them there as cheap labour, to help rebuild after being bombed to dust by Germany.  The Brits really thought the Jamaicans (and other West Indians) were going to come over on a long hard voyage by ship, work themselves to death and then return to Jamaica… Boy were they mistaken! For us British born Jamaicans, this series will certainly touch us deep inside, because our parents lived it.

I don’t want to give too much away about the series as there is a second installment next Monday.  This post will continue.  Last night ended very interestingly, the drama is about to be ramped up. Stay tuned. 

If you haven’t seen it, it’s is a must see, and if you have, take the time to watch it again.  In the meantime visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/smallisland/index.html where you can find more information.  This series was adapted from the book of the same name by Andrea Levy.

Andrea Levy

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  1. I have read the book! As a 1st gen British Jamaian it really resonated with me too!

    I missed the series when it was shown here in the UK a couple of years ago….so I will see if I can watch it online!

    • Hi, I really hope you get a chance to catch it, like me it will mean a lot to you, also, it’s a well written series. Glad to know we’re family! I’m going to order the book too.

  2. Read the book< saw the series, loved it, as I am black brit, and could relate.

  3. I wish I could’ve seen it. Was thinking I could watch it from ur posts, but to no avail. The name Hortense is very familiar, so I’m wondering if I’ve seen this before. Will try getting the book. U know how I love to read. This is exactly what Caron Wheeler sang about on UK BLAK.

    • Hi darling, you may have seen it. Then again, you may recognize the name, because Hortense is a very Jamaican name. And you’re right, that is what Caron was singing about! Thanks so much for visiting. Love ya!

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