by Errol John
For the teeming populace of Old Mack’s cacophonous yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, it’s a cheek by jowl existence lived out on a sweltering public stage. Snatches of calypso compete with hymn tunes, drums and street cries as neighbours drink, brawl, make love, look out for each other and crave a better life. But Ephraim is no dreamer and nothing, not even the seductive Rosa, is going to stop him escaping his dead-end job for a fresh start in England.
Esther – if yer have yer head screw on right – No matter where yer go – One night – some time – Yer reach up – yer touch that moon.
Set as returning troops from the Second World War fill the town with their raucous celebrations, Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, written in 1953, depicts a vibrant, cosmopolitan world that is as harsh as it is filled with colour and warmth.
Run allyer! Run boys! Run! Sometimes I wish I could do a little runnin’ myself.
original photos © Corbis