Ram Goat Liver

Leighton “Pluto” Shervington

Born in 1950 Jamaica, a talented bass player and songwriter, Pluto Shervington, had this really big hit song, Ram Goat Liver, in the mid 1970’s. It is one of my favourite Jamaican songs and I occasionally do it for some of the people I sing for in the local hospital. It gets anyone within earshot moving and, if they know it and some do, singing and smiling along.

The song’s “singability” (making its composition seem deceptively effortless) and Shervington’s gift for telling a superb, hilarious, naturally colloquial story, set it apart for me.

It took him a week to write, after getting the idea from a fellow Kingston songwriter, Ernie Smith, who had already had a couple of hit songs of his own. On his way to the old Federal Records studio Ernie had watched a minibus hit and kill a goat on the road.  A fellow observer said, casually “All we need now is a pound of rice…”

Verse one really pulls me in:

Sunday gone I jump on a minibus; I really late but it’s not my fault

An as we nearly reach by de terminus, I feel the bus come to a halt…

‘Ee lick a ram goat down by de roundabout, an’ just as if dat would not, suffice

A bredda run through de bus an’ start to shout

You shoulda dead mek we buy a poun’ of rice!

Then the chorus:

Ram goat liver good fi mek mannish water.

Billy goat teet’ mek de earring for your daughter.

Curry goat lunch put de bite in your bark;

It mek your daughter… it mek your daughter walk and talk.

Like many songs from the West Indies, there’s some double entente in the chorus. For example, mannish water is considered a male aphrodisiac.

Anyway, in the song a cook-up actually occurs, and the storyteller ends up suffering some discomforting embarrassment after consuming some of the pot’s contents:

Before too long you no ha fi ask – a runny belly like a Judgement Day…

You can find the YouTube version with lyrics here.

Another hilarious song from Pluto: Your Honour. In it he is in court for “fooling around” in the wrong bedroom. His defence:

Me two hands dey was occupied: me shirt in me lef’ an’ me pants in me right!

And why not check out his 1974 hit, Dat, about a poor Rasta who could only afford to buy pork at the butcher shop but has communication problems because he will not let the forbidden word pass his lips…


Making Travel Movies

Waianapanapo Beach’s Black Sand, Maui

Apple has wooed me for a number of years now: it started with an iPod, then a second iPod (small objects, clumsy hands and water don’t mix well). Then, after learning the hard way that an iPod will fit in the pocket of a dry bathing suit but will not stay dry when you dive down to 10 feet in an Ontario lake, I converted to an iPad mini, which does not share this particular drawback…

I was still using a reliable PC desktop I had built for me in 2007 for making home movies. I used Adobe Premiere Elements 4 and the computer had only 2 gigs of RAM. Not nearly enough power to run a greedy thing like movie software. I learned to save my work every 10 minutes or so. As a movie grew the program would crash regularly every 15 minutes or sooner.

When I filled up my 500 GB hard drive to the point where I had to remove photos to an external drive with a backup external drive, I considered getting a faster PC with more RAM and storege. Being 71, I wasn’t sure that climbing on the learning curve that a Mac would require was the best way to use my senior years. but, in January, I decided to go for a fast iMac and have found its intuitive and seductively easy shortcuts well worth enduring the relatively small challenges it requires me to “conquer.” Apple also has been very helpful when I phone.

I have a backlog of movie projects that have been in a queue, some from 2010, while wrestling with the outdated machine and the PC/Mac issue.

Hawaii 2010 (Maui and the Big Island) was the first movie I chose to make, finishing it on Sunday. I really enjoy the convenience of streaming it from the Mac to our TV.  Hawaii was Anita’s choice for our 40th Anniversary Year. Mine was a second visit to Cuba, in which we took public transport around the island, our itinerary being Habana, Trinidad, Bayamo, Santiago da Cuba, Baracoa, Habana.

Both trips were super enjoyable.

Since the Cuba 2010 movie was done on the PC in 2010, I’m now working on a one week trip to Jamaica that we did in April 2014. I have jumped to that because it is a shorter trip, its rich history and culture are lovingly depicted in fascinating ways, exquisitely-fashioned plaques and monuments, and its drop dead gorgeous scenery. Our personal Jamaica connection made it especially wonderful. One important technical reason: its video is HD quality and I wanted to see if iMovie handles it well. So far, so good…

We visited Jamaica between April 6 and 14, visiting Kingston, Port Royal, Morant Bay, Boston Bay (for the jerk at Goldteeth’s), San San Bay for its gorgeous beach, Port Antonio, Runaway Bay and several historical sites near Montego Bay, before returning south from Runaway Bay to Kingston. We traveled in a rental car with W, a Trinidadian fellow I have known since we taught together in Trinidad in the sixties and B, W’s wife, Jamaica-born, whom he met while both were studying at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.

B’s sister, E, from Kingston helped with the trip planning and her husband, J, picked us up at the airport, since W and I were to rent the car together the next day. J and E provided much hospitality that included a party at their house where we met family and friends for a fascinating evening.

Here is a short reflection on the self-directed Cuba trip.

Here is my one earlier post on the Jamaica Trip.

A few photos from Kingston and Port Royal:



Strawberry Hills Swimming Pool
Strawberry Hills Swimming Pool

On April 6 we flew to Jamaica and began a fascinating 8-day adventure by car. We traveled with old friends, W and B. W was born and raised in Trinidad. Almost 50 years ago W and I taught chem and math in the same secondary school in southeast Trinidad. We go back. Lots of stories and laughs then and since. Continue reading “Jamaica”