Green Bike Mystery Solved

Years ago, in 2001, my mother told me the story of arriving in Trinidad in 1956 with just a couple of suitcases and her green Raleigh bicycle. She’d told me lots of stories of her early years in Trinidad, but this green bicycle story stood out. “You brought what??” was my response. My writer’s instincts went into red alert. A green bike?  I saw her immediately sailing around the savannah on it, knew how smashing she would have looked, what a sight. I was amazed. White pople don’t ride bikes in Trinidad, and there’s a long and complicated reason why.

On a piece of notepaper, I wrote the title of the book, dated it and slipped it in the back leaves of a Filofax, where it cooked for years. I went to live in Trinidad for six months in 2006. It was then the book fused, turned from something that might have been a simple romance, into the thorny and politically critical book it is today. The blimp obessed me, so did  a story about  a little boy called Sean Luke who was murdered by other children in a cane field in the south. Every day murders and police brutality in the papers. The murder count was like the pollen count here.

I wrote the first draft of WWOGB in those six months in Trinidad. The rest was cut, polished and expanded in the UK. But even so, over three years, I came and went at least six times to Trinidad, all the while, picking up gems for the book.

My mother never knew what became of her green bicycle. She knew she gave it away, but never remembered to who. Well, dear reader, last week, I found out who. She sold it to a friend, Mary Doig, mother of the artist Peter Doig who now lives in Trinidad. Mystery solved!  And what a delightful twist in the green bike’s micro-plot.

Small world. But of course, it begs the question: what did Mary do with it?

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~ by moniqueroffey on January 17, 2010.

One Response to “Green Bike Mystery Solved”

  1. I can’t think what happened to it, I just know that reading my letters to my parents about our early days in Trinidad, the bike features quite a bit – I never rode it round the beautiful Savannah – not as gutsy as the previous owner! but happily rode it to the shops, to my little job at a beauty Salon , and mention visiting Yvette on it..also a fall riding into one of Port of Spain’s many potholes!
    I know we didn’t bring it to Canada, perhaps if I read MORE letters, I’ll find out who got it next! Mary

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