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Wave a flag for Brian

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Tribute to Brian “Genie” Huggins

by O.A. Ken Boyea

With hardly a murmur, not even a funeral service so I could do a proper Eulogy, my friend Brian is gone – could you believe it?

I can because that was Brian “Genie” Huggins. He did the unexpected. Don’t be fooled, like those who did not know him well often were. Brian was the most lucid thinker I knew, unaffected as he was by malice or fear or ignorance, all of which help to cloud our vision and therefore our capacity to think clearly.

He was a gifted architect with a sound engineering mind and these allowed him to conceptualise in a very creative way small projects, large projects, carnival, and life in general – yet it might surprise some to know that he had never travelled outside of the Caribbean and the U.K. where he studied.

I could never forget the day I first raised my pet grouse with Brian – that Caribbean architects had failed urban and rural poor by failing to design attractive affordable housing. I got a lecture on evolution, that in our former state mankind had skin and resolve tough enough to withstand our natural environment. But according to him as we evolved into our present state where we needed shelter from rain and a place to cook and sleep and watch TV, our tolerance had not developed at the same pace where we could have shared walls and look after common areas without getting into fights. Because of this, we had to have our own four walls strong enough to withstand impact from stones (even bullets) and thick enough to block the decibels from our neighbours’ noise etc. and, according to Brian, “that does not come cheap.”

Brian had the respect of many fellow architects, both here and in the region, whether they cared to admit it or not. One architect who openly expressed his admiration was Moulton Mayers. Moulton thought that Brian should set himself up as a consultant to other architects in St. Vincent. Brian Huggins was strong on integrity in ways that went miles beyond the ordinary meaning of the word. He would for instance question the honesty of an architect to design a high priced home in an area without first advising the client of any potential nuisance or other impediment that will devalue the property. He often quoted his father’s no nonsense attitude as a public servant as the basis for his intolerance for matters of this kind.

It was Brian’s serious love for carnival that brought out his lighter and funnier moods. He had been involved in mass for many years, but recently he gave serious thought to bringing a band that would bring back class to carnival. His band was to be called WOLF, no doubt some wolves would have been dressed in sheep’s clothing. The central point of the band though would be that the wolves would have metal feet that would provide the rhythm to their chant of “wolf, wolf” as they took their choreographed steps along the route.

Before this Brian wanted to “wave a flag for Albert Einstein.” He actually designed the flag for Einstein and when I pointed out that not many people here know who Einstein was his response was, “In that case they should not be playing mass.”

I actually used his design to wave a flag for Sir Phillip Veira in the form of a statue and now want to do the same thing for my good friend Brian. Let’s wave a flag for one of our best.

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