Thursday 22nd March 2012 17:01.00N, 61:46.50W
A man with one leg
Today I met a man with one leg called Byron on the road from Falmouth Harbour to English Harbour. This was our second meeting, and since I had given him a few dollars the previous day, he naturally wanted more. I was pre-occupied with finding some drawing pins (or thumb tacks) to put up crew advertisements, so explained this to Byron who offered to help find some.
His efforts were limited to pointing out a couple of local shops and bars and suggesting I try asking there. As it happens, the second one kindly gave me a pair of drawing pins which allowed me to post my advertisement at a bar in English Harbour, and the lady proprietor also allowed me to advertise at her bar. So I gave Byron a few dollars more.
Earlier that day I had met Buddy, a middle aged American long redundant from the aerospace industry, now making his way as best he could in the yachting industry. That evening Buddy appeared in the bar where I had posted my last crew advertisement accompanied by Jane, a veteran of the superyacht hospitality industry, also currently between jobs but with the twin advantages of being younger and female. Anyway, these two both new Byron well. Apparently he used to be a talented musician and chef before losing his leg in a motorcycling accident. Since then, Byron whose demeanour is somewhat pathetic but still shows signs of intelligence, has given up his former skills and drifted into drug taking. It seems that a dose of crack cocaine can be had for as little as EC$ 4 (~£1) in these parts, and that is now Byron’s main occupation.
It would be easy to be judgemental, but his position is not an enviable one. Few work opportunities, no conventional income, and no improvement possible in his physical condition. He had been fitted with a prosthetic leg, but abandoned it. He has previously dismissed offers of help which were conditional on giving up drugs, so is continually on the lookout for new people to tap up. I guess I was just such a one; but who would want to be a one legged man?
It was a pleasant change drinking my after dinner coffee with Buddy and Jane while they consumed their meal and enlightened me on some of the local characters.