An extract from the title story in Singerman,(1991) my collection of short stories. Haiti I'm sorry
Once there was a black Starliner, a floating ship in the Caribbean Sea to which history gave power long before anybody in western seas would think that power could be black.
The Starliner sailed proudly, flying its black flag. But it had to make its way in a hostile white-foamed sea. Its course was a lonely one and its isolated existence helped to breed excesses among certain of its officers.
Successive captains lost their way in the uncharted waters of the Caribbean. From time to time the crew mutinied. Once or twice pirates plundered the Starliner, and as the years passed the ship grew shabbier and shabbier, and the crew got poorer and poorer. Nothing, not even the the proud memory of the ancient black moorings from which it had been so crudely cut off; not even the beauty of the ancestral art; not even the mixed-up memory worship of the gods of the forefathers could save them from the storms which the sea god put in their path year after year after year.
One day, after a long spell of foul weather,the crew mutinied again,and the baby-faced captain was forced to abandon ship.
As the ship seemed to be floundering , once again on the brink of disaster, other ships surrounded it and threw leaky rafts and bad rations to the crew.
"Steer this way," some of the onlookers shouted.
"No! That way," others directed.
Some only looked on, because they thought they had no right to interfere in the ancient Starliner's business. But some modern day pirates watched in the hope that,although it was only a very poor ship flying a black flag, perhaps, just perhaps, there might be booty.
Haiti, I'm sorry,
We've misunderstood you,
One day we'll turn our heads
And look inside you ......... (chorus from Haiti by David Rudder 1987)
From the Peepal Tree Press website
"Realistic and magical, sombre and deeply comic, heroic and full of ironies, these stories explore the complexities of Caribbean reality through a variety of voices and forms."