Terry Donaldson’s “Hell In Barbados” shows Glendairy was not only challenge Barbadians face – REVIEW OBSERVING 5th ANNIVERSARY OF PRISON RIOTS
“Hell In Barbados” is a book which is not available easily in Barbados, I had friends bring it in for me – neither Bees nor Dems would like the issues raised by Mr Donaldson in this tell-all to see light of day. Because it is so difficult to access, I will have many spoilers in looking at this book – if you feel you can wait more until you see a copy half a decade after the event, then go right ahead. Those who figure they can learn and still press on? Follow me…
Many questions are raised when one reads this amazing documentary “Hell In Barbados“! By no means is Donaldson a saint, the first five chapters follows his fall, rise and fall from narcotics such as methadone, LSD and other chemicals. It led to his first bout of jail in Greece, now why was no detail given here? As a preparatory comparative analysis – I have heard many folk hint that time spent in Greek or Turkish jails are linked closely to Dante Alighieri’s sojourn in Tartarus.
I even recall reading when the real-life protagonist of “Catch Me If You Can” spent a nightmare in a French jail when finally brought to justice – when the USA finally extradited him, he was naked and his beard and locks were almost to the ground, it was doubtful he saw 30 consecutive minutes of sunlight in his time spent behind bars. His only ‘solace,’ as it were, was to be in solitary confinement.
However, Donaldson spent 7 years in a European jail and one was given the impression it was tough, but okay. The first five chapters also appeared for my part as a “woe-is-me” kind of crying jag, I kept wanting to shout through the pages, “Look, it was awful – but you did it to YOU, so tell us about BARBADOS, already!” I had little sympathy for the man who came from a Greek jail, rebuilt himself into a popular astrologer and Tarot diviner only to drop all over again!
Went on youtube and examined for any videos of his, and he has a page with a somewhat romanticised retelling of his time spent here, and demonising a few of the MP’s and Officials. While understandable – the book had a better time of leaving you to decide who is what. What I have a problem with is that during his interview, it is very clear of Donaldson’s near-worship of Aleister Crowley as an excellent practitioner of Magick; those who keep here on a regular basis would have a clue that Crowley is almost a real-life Voldemort! Here’s the clip;-
The website of Donaldson since his second time in jail, glosses over his time spent in Europe and Asia as a furthering of his Magickal studies, and not a wasted life wallowing in Opium dens or Greek prison or Thai Inmate Hospitals. The time the ex-con spent in Barbados as “free” was limited, he stayed at Ocean Spray went to Oistins and looked to get high until he was ready to leave again, but he only realised after the fact he was a Judas Goat, meant to be caught as others with far more cocaine were getting away.
Again, he spent more time groaning about his detox and carrying the buckets of feces to get the “princely” sum of 15$ per week! What seemed of far more significance is how diplomacy as it collides with incarceration seems rather ineffectual in Donaldson’s view – if you go by his story, the British High Commission did NOTHING except send cigarettes for him, and even those were stolen from time to time – although he never pointed a finger as to who would remove his nicotine… If he’s accusing the warders, then say so – he more or less stated he’s not returning here?
With “Hell In Barbados,” Donaldson also implied similar misdeeds occurred with inmates’ allowances, which were to accumulate until their release, but some fees when time for those rehabilitated were to return to Society suddenly found themselves broke! Sometimes there was no reason given, on others, they spent it for toothpaste, soap, vegetables and cigarettes while ‘inside…’ Apparently this kind of so-called embezzling happened even more with the Art from convicts, and some gave up trying to be creative since their hard-earned fees never reached them? They would ask say $1,000 and be told be glad you got $250 and suddenly you hear how the teacher is operating differently…
Even the Police did not escape Donaldson’s wrath in his scalding book which left little unturned, while not specifying constables or other ranks, he nevertheless stated as fact there were quite a few who were pedophiles (usually underage girls) and if a Family did not want to be ‘settled‘ or bought out, then cars or houses would burn, or worse – family members would be run over by a car as an urging for muteness on the Court stands.
It seems the raping left unchecked by warders nominally in charge led to the eventual breakdown of Glendairy and Donaldson’s description of the escalating violence is very graphic and not for faint-hearted nor squeamish stomachs!
He also rose the matter of race and stated how whites here will buy their children from Glendairy or Dodds. He said that all the white convicts in Glendairy then Dodds were foreigners and never local Bajans.The issues which bothered him the most was the rampant raping of other males (Such horrors never seemed to have happened with him, nor did he have the urge to masturbate but Donaldson would always point to those using a hole in a foam mattress!), he did bring up a valid point…
Why were white collar criminals or lesser felons such as shoplifters be lumped in with Murderers, Rapists and men gone mad from abuse of Narcotics? Although he never outlined the proposal – it was clear that Donaldson felt Barbados not only should have better Sanitary conditions (Donaldson recited an outbreak of Chicken Pox which was left unattended after the Riot and men scratched their bodies until pieces of flesh would drop on the ground!), but the island desperately needs a Minimum Security jail for lesser crimes.
The lumping together of inmates as one class even happened after the riot when all were punished as though everyone played a part in the burning of the jail.
The UK author also appeared familiar with an irony many Barbadians are fully aware of from early on – our land is sold right out from under us and there is less for residents to call their own. Then we have to work for those who buy our land and be nice so they can pay us some kind of acceptable wage. He also lamented the quiet apartheid that black and white Bajans impose on themselves even in day to day activities.
To be fair, Donaldson also has issues with recovery programmes for ex-addicts in the UK, he thinks Barbados’ penal reform has a few grudging concessions in making people less dependent, and Britain itself still has a way to go in making even former alcoholics stay away from Pubs.
Another question which hit me was why did he only look at retracing his family towards the end of the book? Would they not be an impetus for him to come clean forever? A daughter nearly grown in England while an adult son over in New Zealand. Surely his family would have been on his mind more often? On my part, it seemed uncaring.
One thing for sure on this book? While there are many I could cheerfully do horrible things for many reasons? The idea of Dodds or Glendairy is quite chilling and enough to make me stay on this side of the fence!