Victor Layne was Kaiso King of SVG in de 1930’s. Dat’s according to Daryl, an old-time Kaisonian whose sobriquet was ‘Rose Place Lion’.
Back den while judging of Carnival Bands and Calypsonians took place at Government House grounds in de Botanic Gardens, top officials of de Colonial Administration graced de balcony wid dey kids and pets (dogs) to judge. Foh first prize de Kaiso King got $5.00 and ah pole painted red, white and blue. Bands from Layou and Stubbs played and danced all de way along de road to Kingstown.
Dat particular Carnival morning, Victor Layne was a bit late for judging. Accompanied by Wynne his lead guitarist, Victor Layne stunned de crowd: ‘Blow Wynne, Blow! Me Victor Layne say so, Mr Peebles (de Administrator) dog ah wag he tail and he Peffym dey ah door’. De die-ah-lick was too crude foh de English officials, so de local police officer was asked to interpret. When de Admin was told that Peffym meant “Vagina” de Admin jokingly said: “Officer arrest that man!”. Victor Layne took off like ah LIAT jet plane and didn’t stop running till he reached Layou.
Interestingly, in 1956, forty-five years after Victor Layne’s encounter. Alston ‘Becket’ Cyrus de “ABC of Kaiso” another resident of Layou, had become Kaiso King of SVG, and like Victor Layne, he too was defending his crown, dis time up at Geest Shed. Unfortunately, Becket had released his best song that year much too early, and when he sang it in competition, de disappointed crowd, greeted him wid ah serious heckling. Right dey and den Becket announced dat he was stepping down from competition. Unlike Victor Layne though, he didn’t have to run from town to Layou dat night.
But Becket is made of sterner stuff. Ah former panman, student of IHS (Timmy School) and former US GI in Hawaii, he put misadventure behind and rose to become SVG’s Numero Uno, Inter-nah-shun-all Soca Artiste, pushing de name of SVG all over de world.
Today 90 years after Victor Layne’s Botanic Gardens disaster, every Vin-sin-shun is elated wid de news dat our own Vincy Kaiso Maestro, Alston “Becket” Cyrus, de ABC of Calypso, is among 16 graduands who will join de University of de West Indies (UWI) prestigious list of fewer than 500 persons, who have been awarded Honorary Degrees since 1985. Becket of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for his work as a Soca Artiste/Composer will receive de Doctor of Letters (DLitt). He now has ah “D” added to his Alphabet (ABCD). Lie-Za say dey are two Dr Cyrus’ out ah Layou, medical Dr Cecil Cyrus (FRCS), and cultural Dr Alston Cyrus now de ABCD of Kaiso. Lie-Za is a Becket fan, her fair-foh hit is “Horne Foh Dem!” dat changed Cato’s Labour Go-venom-mint. She admires him for de one-dah-full charity work he is doing for his home town Layou.
Mr. PM, MEMBER MAN HAFFO EAT AH FOOD
Lie-Za asking what does de Pry-minister want next. Not because Curtis King say, “Man haffo eat ah food” gives de PM de right to tek way half ah Curtis’ Eddy-care-shun ministry. Lef him wid all de headaches in Primary and Secondary schools. While de PM takes Tertiary Eddy-care-shun, and will go straight to Wales way dey’s ah possible 50 scholarships to be given to SVG. Poor Curtis he nah good nuff to meet de Welch descendants of de former Campden Park Estate slave master owner.
And those houses in de Red Zone are perfect! One question though, after experiencing two Volcanic erupt-shun in de last 40 years, devastating de Red Zones, is it wise to chance another erupt-shun and go an rebuild up dey second time? Why not mek de Zone ah Heritage Park. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.