Strangers in Another Country


Stockholm, in the late ’60s 

LEAVING THE CINEMA not long ago on this Friday evening of summer, I find myself strolling about the streets and byways of central Stockholm, with fragmented scenes of an old movie, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner? -– evolving in kaleidoscopic fashion in my head. I enjoyed the film though the storyline is simple, made in Hollywood. A middle-class setting: a black doctor meets a white woman, they fall in love, and the woman invites the man to meet her parents. Well, the rest of the story is straightforward and for you to discover. 

A fair number of people are out on the streets. There are no plans for me on how to pass the encroaching night, dreading the thought of going home alone to my small lodging off Sankt Eriksplan. Tonight finds me without the company of a woman. None of them with whom I am amorously attached is available. I am indeed entirely alone. Of course, there are my friends, and they are quite a lot. All strangers like me to this capital—a tiny group on this Nordic landscape. But my friends are all out, at least I expect them to be, in search of female companions, playing poker or whatever. 

The late evening is fair: a few stars appear here and there, and from east to west, a batch of slowly moving clouds. It is not far off from autumn. The feeling in the air is chilly. There is now a faint sound of music coming from a tenement building as I stroll along on Drottningsgatan. It makes me want to dance. But to go dancing now is out of the question. 

For a start, on Fridays and weekends, I seldom go dancing: too crowded and too competitive. Wednesdays suit me better when the competition is less severe. Also, I am not adequately dressed for the occasion, not wearing my one-and-only brown corduroy suit. 

The discos, the dance halls I attend are relatively decent and fair-minded, with the requirement of a suit and tie. There the ladies are polite and seldom refuse an invitation to dance, although the occasional attempt to invite any out on a date or to my lodging is never an easy task. Though with some luck, things can turn out smoothly. 

Luck has not always been on my side when it comes to gaining admission to one or two of the posh discos. Sometimes I was denied entrance that outnumbered by a mile the times I succeeded. There my money, my brown suit and my polite manner have often failed to make an impression. Most of my fellow West Indians and African friends have been exposed there to a similar treatment. We share the belief that racial discrimination was involved. Although, at times, I can have my doubts about blaming the colour of my skin. I have seen one or more famous black American musicians gaining entrance into such exclusive disco clubs. And a few times, I witnessed a Swedish woman escorted by a black man. 

I remember once discussing the situation with some Swedes at work. Their opinions were unanimously in favour of believing that it wasn’t a question of racial discrimination. Such a belief used to drive me up the wall. Then, as a form of defence, I began shying away from any such discussion. First with the English, and now with the Swedes. 

Of course, I did, at times, receive understanding and support from Swedes and the English. However, I see that much denial of racial discrimination and even blatant acts of racism exist in either country. 

So, I allow the desire to dance to die. My wandering continues along Kungsgatan amid a fair number of pedestrians, mostly Swedes. Some of them notice me, while others ignore me. I’m used to being ignored by strangers, but in time I’ve gotten used to it since living in England. I suppose it’s to be expected in big cities though a rarity in small towns. 

Among strangers, I can become self-conscious, unsure of myself, and become oblivious to my surroundings, mimicking perhaps the manner of some. A girlfriend who works in a psychiatric ward said it might be a mild form of social phobia. I have it down to shyness. Nothing to fuss over, I thought, for there are times when I’m full of myself and far from social anxiety. 

Presently, a black stranger is heading in my direction. Around my age, I would say. Twenty-two. He is lighter in complexion, is well built in the chest and arms, while his thighs and legs are small in proportion. I am skinny, but he and I stand tall alike. He strolls with a bouncy gait and shoulders that swing. He does not appear pressed for time. Judging from his looks, I would say he is American. In my mind, I am debating whether to greet him with a ‘hi-brother-how-yo’-doing’ without stopping for a chat. Though I am by nature hospitable, I am presently not in the mood for socialising with any male stranger or listening to the usual complaints of foreigners passing the time in this city. I just cannot be bothered. 

Recently, the struggle for freedom and equal rights for Afro-Americans has euphorically come over me. Before that, the cause appeared so distant— typically American. Voting rights, segregation, etc. Until, by chance, after having watched a couple of television documentaries, read a few articles that appeared in my evening newspaper, and listened to one or two Africans and West Indians, my interest in the Afro-American struggle began. The calls for solidarity from some black militants with the Third World’s oppressed peoples seem to appeal to the idealist within me. The black cultural slogan ‘Black is Beautiful’ had already become fashionable amongst some members of the black diaspora in Stockholm. 

And so, I feel I must make an effort to commit myself to the solidarity cause, although there is some measure of ambivalence that comes and goes. 

My mind is now clear on the matter: I prepare to greet the supposed brother from the USA in a manner of goodwill, whatever the result. By that, I mean there is no guarantee that others will see my good intention as such, something I regularly experience in this Nordic capital, with strangers like me. 

I greet him as we come in close range, and he returns my greeting in a jovial-like fashion. He stops, probably induced by my cheerful smile. 

‘Where you from, brother . . . the States?’ He laughed, sounding American. 

An American! Yes, I was right, through intuition or sheer surmise! Or was it from a preconceived notion? 

I am thinking the Black American-and-West Indian Encounter! A black brother from the United States of America! Perhaps he is someone with a similar historical past, enduring a similar life here in this Nordic city, with maybe a similar fate. There are a few black Americans in town, but we are strangers to each other. My world and his were so different. The same goes for Africans, East or West, and Arabs. 

Copyright © 1977, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 by Lawrence G. Taylor. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organisations and dialogue in the stories are the products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Purely coincidental are any resemblances to persons living or dead. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

The Eternal Struggle – An Amorous Story


Chapter 5

A Swedish woman appeared from the hall to the heart of the Paradise disco and, on her way to the coat counter, she produced a number chip for Ricky, the Afro-American cloak attendant. Alain and I eyed her. She was slim, of medium height, jet-black-haired, and pretty. She put on a black duffle coat with a hood. 

      I approached her and smiled as I said, “Are you leaving already?” I spoke in English, a language with which I was most comfortable with away from the workplace. My words conveyed a humorous halo. Talking to a stranger like that was not untypical of me.

“Precisely,” the woman spoke in English. She frowned and stopped and looked me in the eye as if she was ready to stand her ground. I was caught a bit off guard, which made me uncomfortable. 

“My luck! I never got a chance to dance with you,” and rubbed my palms together, a habit even though nervousness was a factor.

The woman continued to stare. A slight smile skimmed across her plain lips. “Are you suggesting that I change my mind? If so, you’re wasting your time.” She made a face then put a black scarf around her neck.

“Oh, what a pity,” I whimpered, making a face in jester.

“I imagine you’re about to add you wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight.” She said as if making fun of my disingenuous behaviour.

“Actually, no. Not that platitude,” I smiled, recovered some serenity. “I wanted to dissuade you from leaving.” I thought: a smart ass!

“Then I’m sorry to disappoint the desire.” The woman spoke with self-assurance. She still seemed ready to leave. Her brown leather bag’s strap now on her left shoulder and a grey woollen bonnet in her right hand. 

I ventured, “Then I wouldn’t be able to experience the warmness of you.” 

The remark was spontaneous, thoughtless, and I expected it to backfire. But my mood became upbeat, and I didn’t feel the need for prudence. To hell with the consequence. My face might’ve shown the expectation of positivity.

“Really,” the woman said, wearing a fixed smile, still sounding confident. “Is that so! Can’t remember seeing you touching anyone while dancing.”

I suddenly felt trapped. The woman’s words had caught me off guard again. But the truth amused me. 

Of the three women, she had been the one who kept eyeing me from time to time. 

Trying to laugh off her remark, I said, “Oh, well. You’re right.” I peddled back a bit as if outperformed and the thought of standing in quicksand.

 The idea of touching was popular among hippies, left-wing groups, and Italian men, according to anecdotes from a few girlfriends I dated who spent summer vacations in Italy. But I wasn’t much for touching, not at least on the first date. 

I added, “Probably because I find many women who do not appreciate the idea of being fondled by strangers. Naturally, I’m against touching women against their will.”

The woman shook her head in amazement. Alain guffawed.

I changed the subject. “Are you a student?”

“Why, do I look so young?” She smirked, adding, “No, I earn a living as a journalist.”

“Oh, I see.” I beamed but felt a little disconcerted like a boxer caught by a surprise punch. I affected coolness. “That’s interesting. I do some writing without hope of financial benefit for the struggle.”

“Really!” she exclaimed; her face lighted up. I’m going to the underground. Tell me what you’re writing about if you want to.”

“Why not!” I heard myself say. Her manner made me happy, and I winked at Alain as I exited the door in step with the woman’s shadow.

It drizzled and the air was cool. While the woman put on the hood of her duffle coat and put away the orange-coloured bonnet in the coat side pocket, she remarked about the weather, which I missed out on. 

I thought about whether to return for my green duffle coat, but I quickly dismissed the idea. I didn’t wish to appear fragile in the face of a drizzle.

Which seemed to prompt her to say, “You should have taken a coat. The drizzle may get heavier. Autumn weather.”

“Ah, that’s okay. The walk to the tube station is short, I’ll survive,” I chuckled.

“Still, fetch it. I can wait.”

“It doesn’t matter.” I smiled, taking out a handkerchief from my trousers back pocket, unfolding it and holding it over my head—a habit from my youth.

“What type of writing do you do?” the woman reiterated.

“Articles about black foreigners in Sweden. Cultural, social, political issues for a bi-monthly community newsletter run by some liberal friends in London. I earn some money from the newsletter. Not much, though. I have no schooling in journalism. After learning Swedish for six months, I took an aptitude test at the unemployment centre, and the administrative officer suggested I try journalism, but first would have to improve my Swedish. I know little Swedish to write properly. I’m writing a debut novel in English. I feel more comfortable writing non-fiction. Fiction is difficult. I’m optimistic, believe that much practice makes perfect. I’m not gifted in anything. I have to work hard at whatever I want to do. Photography took me years to do decent shots. I was put much effort into things and expected practical knowledge to develop on its own accord. But that’s a story for later,” I smiled.

“So, you’re aiming at becoming a writer!”

“Well, yes. An ambitious goal.”

The woman said, “It’s interesting. What’s the novel about?”

“Oh, well, lots of things! Problems people face. Not just about issues that affect foreigners.”

“Interesting,” she said.

I thought of the drizzle. It affected my composure. I thought about bringing the conversation to an end, saying goodbye, and returning to comfort. But on second thoughts, it might seem inappropriate. I began to think of a proper way to say goodbye and head back to Paradise. I suddenly felt bored from babbling about myself, so I asked a silly question, whether it was her first time at the disco.

“First time,” she said. “My two friends and I met for dinner, and the idea came up I’d try Paradise for a change. I’m not fond of attending discos. I prefer the cosy atmosphere of private parties, where the music doesn’t make conversation impossible.”

“Perhaps that explains why you left so early.” 

“The music is okay and the scene typical discotheque environment.”

“But it’s for dancing,” I said, to change my mood. “Conversation takes a backseat! Our non-verbal language is expected to run the show?” 

I laughed.

“At private parties, the music is moderate, which allows chatting while dancing.” She looked up at me and I averted my eyes straight ahead.

“That’s true,” I said, looking ahead, as if I wish not to press home the point.

“Speaking of dancing: I danced twice with some silly chap. And that was enough: Both him and the loud music!” She grimaced. “But I have to add that some men appeared amusing, with funny hats and outfits. I felt well entertained by their antics.” She paused. “But I wouldn’t be going there again. Not worth it, even if it was free. You can expect my two friends to be there again.” She laughed.

I said, “I can understand if some people wouldn’t enjoy the atmosphere there. I’m likely to return there for the music.”

       “That I cannot believe,” the woman smirked.

I didn’t quite understand but had a suspicion. “Not for the girls,” I heard myself say. “The purpose is to observe others. It’s good stimulation for an aspiring writer. Looking at the interaction of genders might be just fine to satisfy me. I wanted it to be so.” The saying, judge a man by his deeds, not by his words, crossed my mind.

The woman said, “I detected some difference in your manner from the other black men. Your whole demeanour seemed unlike theirs. That’s what I noticed at once. You danced with one of my friends. You danced, even walked, differently. While dancing, you weren’t indulging in over-embracing your dancing partner like the other black men enjoyed doing. Even your style of dress is different.” 

I instantly felt the blood flowing in my cheeks, blushing with pride. “Really! All that your eyes picked up.” I smiled and looked ahead. “I never imagined how others would see me. In one way, I’m flattered. But I’m no different from most of my black brothers that appeared amusing to you. Culturally, we’re the same, with some variations regarding our mindsets or point of views. People in general are the same; they have more in common than they’re willing to admit. I like to think of other people, regarding history and culture, and, to a lesser extent, race.” I paused. “I was thinking, how can we continue this conversation in a more favourable circumstance?” I looked at her, smiling before looking away.

My confidence was now in full swing. I hoped for her to invite me home. I often took chances, gambling on luck. My overconfidence most of the time fell flat on its face, while on other occasions, the rewards outweighed by far any caustic insult that assailed me—which I often laughed off.

 For instance, I was often good at approaching a woman who was out taking a casual walk or who appeared to be in a hurry. I would suggest an instant date over a cup of coffee or tea. I surprised my friends how my bold approach brought me success but referred to it as luck. My motto: Try you must, succeed you may.

 Sometimes I had it down to be my social skills: I imitated a posh British accent and a gentleman’s manner like a comedian before I retreated to my Guyanese accent and made it all seem like a joke. Also, I had a knack for spotting lonely birds.

The woman said, “Well, perhaps tomorrow. I’m free then.”

       “What about tonight?” I said.

The woman laugh. “Not tonight. I’m going home alone! Tomorrow, or nothing at all! Don’t push your luck!” She watched me; her face wore a determined look that betrayed the smile on her lips. But there was no doubt: she seemed sure of herself.

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

“Is that Shakespearian?”

“Not to my knowledge,” I laughed. “It might have been from the Bible or somewhere else.” I paused. “One minute! Let me think about tomorrow.” I considered tomorrow wasn’t suitable, and my body came to a halt.

She stopped too. “Look, I’m almost freezing.”

       “I’ll take your number and call tomorrow. I’m supposed to be going out. So, I’ll probably have to meet you earlier. What about around lunchtime?”

“Fine! That’s alright for me,” the woman said.

“By the way, we haven’t presented our names! I’m James.”

Hers was Maud. She entered her leather bag, took out a notebook and wrote her name, address, and telephone number. After delivering me a piece of paper, we bid each other goodbye. 

Maud walked off, with quick strides, while I jogged back, with one hand holding the handkerchief over my head.

After reaching the disco, I was of two minds: whether to remain there or head for home. 

It was close to midnight, and I thought of the ginger-haired woman. She appeared different from Maud. So, it became a test for me––to succumb to the temptation or to keep the promise I made to myself. A V. S. Naipaul quote appeared: The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.

There was also the thought of doing some writing in the morning. 

I went home.

I arrived home close to one o’clock. The journey usually took half an hour, but the night bus took a longer route. 

Both my roommates, Louis and Franz were up chatting in the apartment’s kitchen. They wanted to know how the disco visit went. I felt tired, had almost missed my home stop on the bus. 

I spoke of the lovely music and that I met two women but chose one and promised to ring her later today. 

My roommates joked about visiting the disco. I said they should, and that there were many women but also many men. 

I heard Franz had been to a local restaurant with a couple of workmates. Louis had remained indoors to receive one of his girlfriends, a blonde nurse whom Louis met at the Dark Horse, which was a typical dancehall that mostly Swedes frequented. Her sensual groaning would reverberate beyond Louis’s bedroom. And unfortunately, my room was next to Louis’s, and at such moments, I suffered in silence. But by the look of things, the nurse had already left, ensuring a peaceful slumber.

Excusing myself and brushing my teeth, I dozed off.

Copyright © 2016, 2019, 2021 Lawrence G. Taylor

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be re-produced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, and dialogue in the stories are the products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Purely coincidental are any resemblances to persons living or dead. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

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Excerpt from “Making Sense of Past Time” – semi-autobiographical Novel (revised edition) by Lawrence G. Taylor



In the realm of social life, in the West End, I came across a fellow Guyanese from my neighbourhood, Kingston in Georgetown, British Guiana. Fred belonged to Sam’s generation. We knew each other but only as acquaintances. I was excited to meet someone from my neighbourhood.

    Fred Hamilton’s arrival in England occurred some years before my arrival. We happened to meet one early afternoon on my way to the British Council. He had not changed since I last saw him. The white of his eyes was still yellowish, like my father’s. He was tall and slender, had brown skin and was slightly freckled, and his head had ginger hair. Fred always looked fit and wiry and still had a flat stomach. Later, I learned from him his discipline to maintain a healthy physique, go to the gym regularly and eat well.

    Fred also had a sense of humour. It was from him that I first heard the phrase: “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Perhaps nothing original, for a few things in life, was extraordinarily new. The term was a sample of Fred’s way of categorising people – regarding people as types. 

    Fred described himself as a realist about human nature. Sometimes he might be cynical and express himself on differences: good and evil, positive and negative, and so on. He read extensively, mostly Western history, and enjoyed reading about World War II and the power Germany once had. His father admired Hitler. Like his dad, Fred held the dictator in high regard, blinded by Hitler’s brilliance. He denied that Hitler was a first-class fascist. Fred thought of him as a Messiah. My knowledge of WWII was superficial, based mostly on my high school history books (written by Englishmen) and the opinions of my history teacher with a walrus moustache, Mr Bottom. I’d read history in a cramming manner, managing the exam by getting dates correctly, pinpointing significance events, and so on. All this knowledge had disappeared from me and was all but gone a few weeks later.

    Afterwards, I hung out with Fred in pubs or coffee bars in Leicester Square for the fun of it. Some afternoons or evenings, I would tag along when he went on shopping sprees in men’s clothing shops, like Cecil Gee, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, or Harold’s department store. Fred enjoyed shopping; he had the money, for things weren’t cheap there. For me, visiting shops, especially in Carnaby Street, was like a treat, admiring pretty birds, especially those with whom Fred chatted. I remember getting carried away.

    Fred gave the impression of thoroughly knowing his way around the West End. In one or more streets in the area, some black brothers chilled, he remarked, flaunting his experience and knowledge of London. Fred had contacted with famous people while working in various jobs: in Oxford Street and High Street, on Tottenham Court Road, and Kensington; a Travel Agency (Cook, I think it was). He knew many people who worked in bars and clubs in the West End, and owned exquisite nightclubs and famous pubs.

    Perhaps what I liked most about Fred was that he seemed content with himself. He had attended a prestigious secondary school for boys and came from a privileged family – money, folks: a family that owned much land and property. For some reason, Fred’s life had taken a wrong turn. A company in Guiana, where he worked, had accused him of embezzlement. His employer dropped the charges. Malicious gossip had it that his wealthy father dealt with the company through reimbursement and his son’s resignation. Then, sometime later, Fred and a friend set up a travel agency, and it didn’t take long for them to flee to an island in the Caribbean and flee with their customers’ money. A few people had booked and paid for holidays. Rumours were that they were hiding in Trinidad. I was in high school at the time.

    In England, for several years, Fred seemed to have cleaned up his act by going straight. That was my assumption, of course. I had no reason to be sceptical or judgmental, unlike Sam, who was aware of Fred’s audacious, criminal exploits in Guiana, and judged him according to his past deeds.

    One of Fred’s aphorism was “You have to use your head in the Englishman’s world.” His adages often had an advisory manner to them. He didn’t seem as impressed by educated people as I was. He once bragged about being kicked out of high school. “Smartness was one of the secrets to survival in any society. It existed in the educated and the illiterate.” Fred added he knew people who had not worked a day and lived comfortably. I did not fall for his rogue brand of moral philosophy, though some of it contained some truth. He had two brothers and three sisters. He was the youngest.

    I was impressed that Fred regularly attended social gatherings like exhibitions in private art galleries, fashion shows and parties. He showed me such invitations. I saw evidence of a few famous folks in framed black and white photographs on the walls in his flat in Primrose Hill, in Camden, NW London. I was lucky enough to accompany him three times. He wasn’t a frequent drinker, usually brandy or gin and tonic. It was as though he wanted to keep a clear head and not be at a disadvantage. He had once remarked, “Never to trust or put your faith in anybody!” Fred bore no similarity to the bad apples I befriended in Earl’s Court. I had chosen to regard him as belonging to a higher league, though perhaps conceding to Sam’s view of him as “a rouge in disguise,” a scoundrel of sorts. He was doing well because he was good at gambling; he once told me: cards and roulette. Some folks I knew from his social background thought highly of themselves. Not Fred.

    In this sense, Fred seemed different from Don and Leo. They were much for a showy display of knowledge and sported cultivated British accents. Don would express himself with multisyllabic words, speaking the way he wrote – which was a roundabout manner, which at times became incomprehensible, made so by legal terms and Latin words or phrases. I wasn’t always comfortable during their discussions, partly from an age difference, my low interest in current world affairs, and their allusion to things I had no idea about or was far too above my head. Usually, I would shy away from such topics, which the two men mostly discussed among themselves. Don was a solicitor at a law firm in Peckham, and Leo was an economist who worked for British Railways. Leo suffered from a stomach ulcer, usually after dinner. Don dated English and Caribbean women, while Leo dated continental women, mainly German and French. He spoke both languages.

    Fred and I visited an ordinary cafe, off the Piccadilly Circus, meeting a few of the regular West Indians Fred knew men without work, or supposedly with a low desire for it, but with a grand dream of living a life of luxury. They seemed to spend much time in the cafe chatting, boasting, chuckling, about events that might have taken place in their lives in the past, heroes they worshipped were either serving long sentences or had got deported. Some topics were race-horse gambling, integration issues and the “enemy” (Enoch Powell’s supporters). I found the cafe an exciting place, a sort of “West Indian haven” (Fred’s description) for Caribbean men whose lives had been “marginalised” in their home countries, and whose status remained the same in “the mother country.” Years later, I would consider myself a sort of marginal figure.


A scene I remember: The weather is variable, and at three in the afternoon, a small group of men who sit with cups of tea or bottles of beer in a dingy cafe in a basement, somewhere in Ladbroke Grove. The men are reminiscing or exploring “the black man’s burden” (bigotry, racism, xenophobia, or all three) in the mother country.

    Fred took me there; he says he likes to drop by occasionally to find out about life on the other side of the black existence spectrum.

    Fred: “Hello, guys! I brought a friend along. He came up not too long ago from GT (Georgetown).”

    Two of them say, in harmony, as if rehearsed, “New Boy!” Some smiled, others seem to stare in wonder, or their minds may have been on the discussion at hand.

    Fred: “Continue the talk, me listening, man!”

    Eddie: “Like … like me was sayin’, some t’ings was bet-ta bay-fore in dis cunt-tree.”

    Billy, who sits next to him, seems to agree; his head is bobbing away. “Dat’s for sure.”

    Danny: “English folks: dem was easier to know.” 

    Jimmy: “Der was work, and social life was friend-lee-like.”

    Keith: “Yes, ordinary folks was friendlee-er. A black man was a novel-tee den.

    Billy rejoices: “But we wasn’t plen-tee in dem days.”

    Danny: “Bee-fore t’ings start to get worse.”

    Eddie: “Ordinary Eng-a-lish man, gettin’ frighten, gettin’ jealous ’bout us datin’ white woo-men.”

    Jimmy: “Po-lit-tee-cal propa-ganda full-up dey heads with lies. Dem start to fear us.” 

    Keith: “Accus-ing us for takin’ deer jobs too. What silly shit!”

    Eddie: “Plain jeal-ous-ness, that’s all. Dem had nothin’ to be frighten’ ’bout.”

    Joey: “Dem had somethin’ all right. Fear, sometimes, come from a good cause.” 

    Billy: “W’at yo’ mean?”

    Joey: “Boatloads with pee-pull from back home and India! Dat’s what I mean to say.”

    Billy’s head bobs away: “Good point! Too many like we was com-ming’ here. Sure, mess up dee scene! Dem bring their rude ways too!”

    Danny: “Boatloads spoil tings for us. British people turn angry?”

    Joe: “Yo better believe it. We’re no longer welcome.”

    Keith: “It is confusin’. Dem kind of work we do, de English skin-up dear faces at! Dem a fretful pee-pill, if yo’ axe me.”

    Eddie: “That’s why I say it is plain jealous-ness, man! No logic! Just hu-man bad-feelin’.”

    Keith: “Still confusin’, man. Didn’t de Transport bosses went and fetched pee-pull from Barbados to run the buses and trains? We for-gettin’ dat.”

    Fred interjected, with a touch of Creole, as if he didn’t wish to set himself above the men: “All politics! The blaming game, scapegoat tactics. Dis once great cunt-tree never was Earthly paradise. Some of its cities built from ‘sweat of slavery’. Also, London got a pounding from Hitler flying machines. Some of the mess, black folks help to clean up. They forget our bit in the war effort!

    Eddie: “We sure did the clean-up. But dat was a long time ago. Pee-pull have short me-mo-ree, and much of dem wasn’t even born”.

    I mused a while about their complaints and nostalgia. The fruit trees planted in the past by a variety of black hands have turned sour. Should I then follow their message of gloom and throw my dreams of a better life to the wind? Was I treading the soil of a wasteland, judging from the accounts of a few disgruntled voices? I reflected what would it be like to follow Fred’s path, a supposed villain? It wasn’t a sure thing for me, a coward.

    In a corner chair, away from the clique of men, sat Dexter, who suffered from mental ill-health. Fred had later informed me. Each day Dexter received a free meal. Adding to the men’s discourse was Dexter’s monologue that had received no attention. The clique of men appeared neglectful of his utterances. I heard him say: “… the bullshit the colonial blacks suffered at the hands of Brits who look down on us with scorn and hate on their faces, and we look down at ourselves. Mixed children have an attitude towards us, elderly immigrants, they show hate and shame, instead of pride for us who fought in the war. White fathers upset about their daughters mingling with my son. What ’bout my three daughters and the pumping they get from white blokes! One-sided affair. The world’s what it is, a shit hole of a place!

    The bitterness dwells in the mind of a troubled soul, residing with me for a good while that day.


It was lunchtime and a revisit to the Grove. Fred took me to Sony’s Book Shop, where I ate black-eyed peas and rice and stew biff before following the crowd with a glass of carrot juice. “Damn good cook,” I exclaimed, picking my teeth. Afterwards, we headed for “the Court” (Earl’s Court), where a friend of Fred owned a business. The purchase of marijuana (or ganja) and smokes it in this fellah’s tiny tenement room in a basement; a bit messy and smelly – a sort of speakeasy for illegal selling of alcohol: Demerara Rum and other Caribbean brands. “Stormy Monday Blues” flowed from a pair of tiny loudspeakers, at a moderate tone and adding to the ambience of a here-and-now.

Copyright (c) 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Making Sense of Past Time – semi-autobiographical Novel by Lawrence G. Taylor. 

                                                  All rights reserved.

    This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. 

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organisations, and dialogue in the stories are the products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Purely coincidental are any resemblances to persons living or dead. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

The Eternal Struggle – An Amorous Story

4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking and different story

Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2017

Ann Y. Byrne: I received this book through @BookTasters in exchange for writing an open and honest review.
At first, I had some trouble staying with the book, due to what felt like stilted and occasionally overly-flowery language. I put it down a few times and felt no craving to pick it up again. However, I decided to persist – and after a few chapters, I did get used to the language. My guess is that either English is not the author’s first (or primary) language, and/or that Guyanese English is very different from American or British English; and thus many of his turns of phrase sounded odd and a bit unnatural to me.
I did enjoy the storyline, however, which is about James, a black Guyanese man living in Sweden in the 1970s. He has decided that at this point in his life he wants to find the “right” kind of woman, not just a one-night or short-term affair. He wants an intellectual and emotional connection as well as a physical one. We get filled in on his personal background, either through his reflective thoughts or through his talking with other people.
I liked the way he met Maud, a Swedish woman, at a disco, but does not actually dance with her or even talk with her much that night. He chases her out into the cold as she is leaving, and from there their interesting relationship begins. They both hold back a bit – she more than he at first (she seems to hold him at arm’s length for a while) – as they work out what sort of relationship they may or may not have. Both are quite independent. Although at first he seems to be much more keen on spending more time together than she is, he also questions whether her strong political and feminist views and activities will be too much for him to deal with. They also have racial/inter-racial pressures and prejudices to deal with.
The ”eternal struggle” to find someone to love, and to love you back for who both of you really are, and not a façade or presumed role, is the theme here and I have to say it really is well-done. I found myself wanting to read more about James and Maud, and to see how their story played out.

Making Sense of Past Time

Customer Review

Michael E. McGovern4.0 out of 5 stars Making Sense of Past Time by Lawrence G. TaylorReviewed in the United States on July 17, 2020While at first glance, “Making Sense of Past Time” might seem to be an addition to the genre of Postcolonial literature, Lawrence G. Taylor has actually written a thoughtful and poignant story of becoming. It is about a young man who relocates to England from his home in British Guiana. The main character and narrator, Harry Holmes, is determined to look for economic opportunity in the “mother country,” yet through his experiences, ends up becoming more than simply a part of the labor force.

England in the 1960’s is very different from the hot and narrow streets of Harry’s childhood in Georgetown. The novel effortlessly jumps back and forth between those formative years and the new life that he has forged for himself in England. In British Guiana there are a diversity of people from various backgrounds. There are the upper classes who are better off to be sure but the class distinctions seem less insurmountable than the London streets where Harry searches, often in vain, to find employment.

Every interaction in England, whether a job interview or a swinging London party, leads Harry to question how he is being perceived by others. He berates himself for his lack of confidence but also can’t help but be cognizant of the systemic racism that could be behind his stretch of misfortune. As a black man and a citizen of the Commonwealth, Harry has been educated via British textbooks and literature. But his familiarity with English history and culture can not prepare him to navigate every rejection or impediment that English society throws at him.

The tragic moments of the story are hashed out in the constantly running dialogue in Harry’s head. He vacillates between his disapproving father, his own low opinion of his abilities, and the opinions of the various people, both black and white, with whom he comes into contact.

There are moments when the story is relayed through conversations between Harry and another person; when it is left to the reader to interpret Harry’s experiences in this strange land. Unfortunately, it is this constantly running dialogue in the main character’s head that almost solely dictates the story. Can’t we empathize with Harry’s desperation to be accepted, his fears, his aspirations – without the narrator spelling them out for us? I wish that the book could contain more passages such as these and that the narrator could take a break from availing us with his insight all of the time.

I would recommend “Making Sense of Past Time.” The author of this brilliant character study takes the reader to the hardscrabble streets and cafes of London where you can drift among the cigarette smoke, chat up a bird or two, and hear the strains of West Indian music and the voices of those who, like Harry, make their way in a strange new world.Helpful

“Darker than Blue—This Mortal Coil”



 A brief rundown on the giant’s history told to others, like fishing for empathy or sympathy. Much of my growing-up time was one type, or another: reformed schools for boys, going time for petty theft as a vagrant at 18, stolen food, clothing, being in poor company or the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminal gangs used me for bag-snatching or mugging, housebreaks, physical assaults.

    One year in his teens, BB became a hobo, jumped on trains, travelled east, west, north, and south. I tried to escape away from lousy shit but got arrested several times. I did prison time. Then luck struck! I found work on the docks for eight months unloading cargo. After, I toiled in a coal mine for two years. My circumstances changed. I found decent lodging and bought myself some flashy suits to impress the ladies. 

    I was a sucker for managing my life and handling money. Many friends and women took advantage of my kindness in bars, brothels, and lousy love relationships. I never had a lady friend longer than three months and don’t ask me why. It wasn’t of my choosing. One thing was sure: kindness ran short of guaranteeing a woman’s affection. I was never proud of watching myself in the mirror: it reminded me of all the shit I’ve gone through and that I was unable to run away from being a nobody.

    Another problem was my ugly body, so vast and frightening or threatening to strangers. I wouldn’t say my chubby face is ugly. Bullying at school robbed me of self-confidence and self-esteem. I saw myself as not being of value. Read the Good Book helped to keep my negative thoughts and feelings at bay.


In the meantime, dark forces were emerging from Hades. Dominance, terror, and a new world order were expected. The text Justice and freedom may soon belong to the past, appeared on billboards across the country, on buses and trains. Charlie Marx’s smiling face was attached. On a NNC interview, Charlie maintained that “Democracy became archaic and frail, and was now on the brink of death with crutches as an ally.” Charlie concluded playfully, “A pest raged on the island of Atlantis. Vote for me and your freedom will be guaranteed.” He dodged answering whether his opponent was a pest that threatened democracy. The year was 2030. 

    Some history: Atlantis Island had disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean, was west of Gibraltar’s Straits. A thousand years later, it emerged between North and South America—sandwiched as a weak stepping-stone to either continent. San Pedrolies nearest. There were several islands in that part of the area known as El Dorado Straits.

    The inhabitants of Atlantis were of various skin colours. Pink was the predominant colour among its citizens, symbolised privilege, and power, to name but two.    


Copyright (c) 2020, 2021 Darker Than Blue—This Mortal Coil by Lawrence G. Taylor. 

                                                  All rights reserved.

    This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. 

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organisations, and dialogue in the stories are the products of the author’s imagination and fictitiously. Purely coincidental are any resemblances to persons living or dead. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Cover © Lawrence G. Taylor 

Photo © Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji

Readers’ Favorite Book Review

Review #1: Review by K.C. Finn

Reviewed By: 

K.C. Finn 

Review Rating: 

5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review! Get your free 5-star seal!

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Four Bittersweet Romances & A Four-Act Closet Drama is a collection of short stories and dramatic works penned by author Lawrence G. Taylor. As the title suggests, this work takes on a romantic theme and presents realistic romances with both the highs and lows of emotional sentiment. Centering especially on the cultural differences and intricacies of Caribbean characters, Afro-Americans and those living in and native to Sweden, an interesting set of personalities find themselves in situations ranging from holiday romances being continued to arguments between friends, clashes of culture, and friends-turned-lovers scenarios. The work is better suited to the mature reading audience owing to complex themes and strong romantic but non-explicit content. 

Author Lawrence G. Taylor presents a really interesting mix of stories that unify to tell a tale of all the different, difficult facets of romance and dating many of us may face in our lives. For me, the most poignant tales were certainly Binky’s Reverie, and the drama Tell Me Who My Enemy Is as I felt a deep emotional resonance with the pain, disappointment, and conflict in these tales. Balancing this against the romance genre makes for some very exciting reading that will leave you thinking long after closing the book. All of the stories offer something fresh and different for readers of varied tastes. Overall, I would certainly recommend Four Bittersweet Romances & A Four-Act Closet Drama to fans of quirky, realistic romance tales and those who want to be able to engage with an enjoyable quick-read and still take a poignant, satisfying message away from it.

Readers’ Favorite Book Review

Review #1: Review by Natalie Soine

Reviewed By: 

Natalie Soine 

Review Rating: 

4 Stars 

Reviewed By Natalie Soine for Readers’ Favorite

Darker Than Blue: This Mortal Coil by Lawrence G. Taylor is a dystopian story set in the year 2030 and tells the tale of Boy Blue (BB), who is in a mental asylum on Atlantis Island. BB was considered a “giant” due to his size, struggled with his looks, and lacked self-confidence. One of the caregivers, Sam, befriends BB and believes that BB has been unfairly imprisoned in the asylum. The two hatch a plan for BB to escape, which may have a devastating effect on the community if successful. Atlanteans believe that the social and economic injustices would continue, along with the pain and trauma caused by discrimination. “President DeeDee is expected to make Babylon great again, the fulfillment of a glorious dream.”

Darker Than Blue by Lawrence G. Taylor is well written and transports the reader through an imaginary world that certainly gives us food for thought. The story highlights how most of us have been victims of discrimination which impacts our lives and stays with us forever. Through many interesting characters, Darker Than Blue explores various forms of discrimination and how some benefit at the expense of others. The scenes and characters are vividly described and easy to understand, keeping the reader’s attention from start to finish. We dream of a future free of all forms of discrimination; however, we are the only ones who can make that dream a reality. As highlighted in Darker Than Blue, we have to work together if we want positive change in our beliefs and values.