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Cas Isaccs sitting pretty

Cas Isaccs sitting pretty


by Jonathan Ashby in London

He’s one of several hundred Vincentians, according to government figures, who pack their bags each year and head for the colder climates of Britain and Canada.

Money is an obvious attraction. A full-time labourer in Kingstown earns an average of EC$300 a week. In London he’ll go home with at least five times that sum in his pocket.{{more}}

But money ain’t everything.

“It’s the opportunities this city affords you, no matter where on the planet you come from,” says Cas who moved to London three years ago after falling in love with a London-born girl on the beaches of Bequia.

“You can go to college and train in any subject you like – and double quick too, ” says Cas who spent seven weeks at a college in Oxford learning and qualifying to become a painter and decorator soon after arriving in the British capital. Before moving to London he

worked as a cook and a barman by night and taught water sports during the day.

Today he is a scaffolder, working on the outskirts of London, earning up to EC$2,000 a week for being willing to rise to risky heights each day, putting into place the tubular steel constructions the builders need for support while they build the sky scrapers and office blocks that dot the London landscape.

“I love London. There is so much to do, so much to learn, and so many places to visit. You can never get tired of this city,” he explains.

Cas, 28, met Betty, 38, who is now his wife, at a nightclub in Bequia where he was working as a barman. During the day they spent so much time getting acquainted on the beach that Betty begged Cas to return with her to London, which he did on a six month tourist visa.

In London, they cemented their relationship by getting married and producing a son, Omari, who will be two in November.

And in London they are never too far away from the Vincentian community.

Betty’s mum Sylvani is from Paget Farm, Bequia and she emigrated to London 50 years ago after meeting and marrying her husband, Leon, a Vincentian policeman, who was posted to the station in Paget Farm.

“We have lots of Vincentian friends living in our neighbourhood,” says Cas whose home is in the north London borough of Harlesdon.

“And Vincentians here have a good reputation with the public and even the police, for being hardworking, mild-mannered, community minded people, unlike some from other parts of the Caribbean, especially Jamaicans.”

Cas’ passion for London was put to the test a few weeks ago when four young bombers wreaked havoc on London Underground system and a bus, killing at least 56 people and injuring 700 more.

“It was a shock. This city unites people from all over the world and no one escaped the horror and terror the bombing caused, especially because the whole city had been partying the night before, in the pubs and the clubs and the streets, after Britain won the bid to hold the 2012 Olympics,” Cas explains

“It didn’t matter where you came from. The next day everyone who’d escaped injury felt very grateful but equally numb with shock. And then, within 24 hours everyone was rallying together, getting back on the underground and the buses, definitely telling the terrorists they could not win.

“You have to live here to experience that solidarity which comes with being able to call yourself a Londoner, no matter where you might be originally from.”

Cas recently returned home to Barrouallie to attend his father’s funeral but he has no intentions of coming back permanently for a good number of years, yet.

“My son is going to get the best education he could have because he lives in London,” Cas explains.

“And you can get everything you need here, including mangos, papaya, bananas and lime – much of it shipped from the Caribbean. There are lots of parks and the beautiful countryside here as well but the two things I truly miss are the beaches and the sunshine, although we are having a heat wave of a summer here in London right now.”

“I will return to St Vincent one

day when I’m much older, and by

then I will have saved enough to

build a spacious home in my old

neighbourhood, where I will be able to sit back and enjoy my retirement in the sunshine…..”