Something you do well

Bradburys Jamaica

cropped-tynemouth-beach.jpgThis is something I found on my laptop from 2011. Nice easy read for a Sunday afternoon.

Choose something that you do well and find a way to make the fruits of your efforts available to those around you.

By providing real value to others, you expand the treasures in your own life.

Take something you do well and find a way to make it enjoyable. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more effective you’ll be.


Find something you do well and teach it to others. The more you can duplicate your efforts, the more value there is for everyone.

Look at something you do well and consider the real, lasting sense of fulfilment it can bring. Remember that life is about making a difference.

The things you do well provide you with the opportunity to give of yourself in real and meaningful ways.

That’s an opportunity you…

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Bohemian Rhapsody


Trailer Hijack

It was a hot Wednesday afternoon and Jay learnt that a trailer carrying 1152 cases of Heineken had been hijacked and taken to Bohemia, a community in the hills bordering Trelawney & Manchester. All Jay could keep thinking about was the song by Freddie Mercury of Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody…up until the phone call, he didn’t even know there was a place in Jamaica called Bohemia.

Bohemian Rhapsody indeed. As Jay spoke the first 4 lines of the song, he wondered if Freddie Mercury had spent any time in Jamaica recording music… “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality”.

P, Mitch and Jay immediately set out from the plant and learnt that Police had already been dispatched to the area. The tractor head and trailer had been found by the GPS system, recovered and three men plus a car held.

Several phone calls later they arrived at Bohemia, a sleepy village high up in the mountains that had come alive that day with excitement. Driving in, Jay saw Sales and Logistics colleagues from Manchester and Police from Cave Valley and Alexandria. There were about 100 people milling around, shouting “Boss Man, leave the beer with us”.


The trailer had been emptied of its contents and some of the product had been stored in the back of a broken down old rusted truck parked by the roadside; more was also stored in an old collapsing shop perched on a hill’s edge; and some product had already been taken to Cave Valley Police Station for safekeeping & evidence. Jay still doesn’t know what happened to the evidence.


They couldn’t start loading the product onto a sales truck as they had to wait for the Crime Scenes Police to arrive and take whatever forensic evidence was available. They took a couple of hours to get to Bohemia as they were working a crime scene in St Mary.

Bohemia has to be the coldest place in the island; people in the community wore hoodies and coats. All Jay could think of was where to get a cup of coffee. The cold made his teeth chatter so they sat in the car for a while, every now and then nodding off, condensation clouding the windows. Every now and then Jay would open a window and look outside. If anyone had told Jay that somewhere in Jamaica could be this cold at night, he would have told them to stop lying.

One man challenged them and kept saying they should just leave and give the people the beer. He had a firearm stuck in his waist. Mitch, P and Jay stood their ground, faced by the man and a crowd of about 50 people. The Cave Valley Police came back from the station after securing the van load of Heineken. They quietly told them about the man with the firearm and after the Police spoke to him, they informed Jay that he was a Policeman who lived nearby. Jay thought, this illiterate is a Police Officer?

Crime Scenes arrived and began their forensic gathering. Photographs, measurements, more photographs and more measurements – it seemed as if they would never finish. Jay worked alongside them to learn.

Once Scenes of Crime had gathered their evidence, the team started to load the product stored in the shop onto the sales truck.


It was so cold and the crowd was growing, young men standing menacingly around the truck in their hoodies. It reminded Jay of the thug fashion in the UK.  And how he thought the UK had failed its people. Jay was tired, annoyed, cold, and hungry. All he wanted now was a hot cup of coffee.

The truck was not being loaded fast enough so Jay went into the rickety shop and started throwing cases through a large open window, just to stay warm and speed up their departure. He soon worked up a sweat, glad for the warm up exercise [who needs a gym?]. Jay kept thinking he was the only person carrying and had to safeguard all their people, so he kept moving faster and faster. He just wanted to be out of there before the crowd got too excited or someone stirred them up to start looting the truck.


Once the shop had been emptied, they moved to the old broken down and rusted truck parked nearby with cases packed inside the back. One of the young men who had helped them load the truck from the shop asked if he could help again. Jay said yes, challenged once more by the Policeman who kept telling them to leave the beer. He was laughing at the young man helping them, saying he wasn’t going to get anything from them but hard work.

When the men had finished loading the product they were ready to move. They talked a bit and decided to leave a few cases for those who had helped them. The Policeman grabbed one of the cases from the young man who had been the most helpful and sauntered off laughing, so they gave their ally a couple more and watched him until he was safely out of sight.

They drove out behind the truck and the empty trailer, on the way to the Manchester Depot. They had only been able to recover 375 cases of Heineken.


When they got there, there was still no coffee, it was now midnight, and they were all tired, thirsty and hungry. And still cold. And Jay was running out of cigarettes!

But they were all glad to be away from Bohemia safely. They started their journey back to Kingston…Phil Collins on the radio – ‘just another day in paradise’.

Over the next few days the investigation revealed that the hijack had been engineered by the driver himself along with a forklift operator, who had taken a day off just to assist with the hijack.

And when Jay looked back at the nine trailer hijacks the company has suffered since 1996, only two have been genuine. Seven have been engineered by the driver himself.

As the Good Book says there is nothing new under the sun.



It was a Wednesday evening. Jay had left work and stopped at Rib Cage on Constant Spring Road, picking up a half baby back ribs & fries and was heading home when the call came in. Gunmen had cut the fence by the Gulf perimeter and were moving the cases of empty glass bottles stored there. This was the second time this week, and the fourth for the month, and always as the sun was just going down.

Jay turned around and powered the car, a 2.4 litre brown Datsun Crown and headed back to work. Fifteen minutes later he pulled in from the road. He was glad the barrier was open, as the car hit the entrance bump and leapt into the air, landing on all four wheels under the barrier, instead of crashing through it. Jay drove around to his office and ran in for a couple of spare clips, and drove quietly to the Gulf with the lights off.

In those days, they used radios for communications. Jay called the Security Control Room and asked someone to bring him a radio. After a few minutes, he heard a whistle behind him, it was Big Man with the radio. Big Man gave him the radio and Jay started asking some questions. When he got no answer, Jay looked behind him, but Big Man had disappeared, back to the Control Room to watch on the cameras.


Jay walked quietly amongst the cases and containers, listening intently for any sounds. There were containers parked next to the west wall and he crept up carefully, all the while listening and looking. In the distance, Jay saw men on the other side of the fence, packing cases they had removed from the site. There was a lookout standing on the corner with an AK47 in his hand.

The Control Room called Jay and told him to come back. Jay smiled and told them to call the Police, but the Police were already on their way. Big Man said they were getting help from the army with a helicopter.

Jay waited, quietly, firearm in hand. He carried a Walther P99. The men were still the other side of the fence, moving about slowly, packing cases. Jay knew he could do nothing but wait patiently. He could not fire at the men as they were not a danger to him or anyone else. The firearm law in Jamaica was strict.


Jay moved nearer to the west wall and nearer to the gulf corner, taking shelter now by a wheel of a container, speaking softly to the Control Room, asking for the location of the gunmen. They were still beyond the fence. but Jay didn’t want one of them climbing the wall and seeing him.

And then in the distance the sound, blades cutting the night air, the helicopter was near. And then the sky and ground lit up. Night Sun was here.


The gunmen first stood frozen as the light glared onto them, and then shots firing from the ground as the entire Gulf Corner became day. It was as if the midday sun had appeared in seconds.

Jay watched as the intruders started running in all directions, leaving the cases of empties on the ground where they had stacked them. The blue lights of Police cars could be seen along the old train line by the mangrove, trying to cut off their escape, while Night Sun circled.

Shots, more shots, then only the light and the “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” of the helicopter blades.

Two Police cars came down the road to where Jay was standing and officers came out heavily armed. They all moved to the fence line and into the open land.


And then it was over, Night Sun moving over the bushland and mangrove, trying to find the men, the sound of the Police sirens and the lights of the blue flashing beacons along the old train line. No more shots.

Jay walked back to the Crown, ready to eat his spare ribs & fries. They were all over the floor. He was hungry.

When Jay got back to the Control Room the Superintendent from Hunts Bay was reviewing the camera data. Jay told her this had become a twice weekly event, and they talked about what they could do to stop these men. She said she would send a combined Police and Army team on site in the evenings. For two nights, the team hid amongst the cases of empties and containers. No sign of the gunmen.

On the third night, the gunmen came back, Jay watching them on the cameras, seven men, all armed. Some cut the fence while one man used a handmade wooden ladder and starting scaling the wall.

Jay moved down to the gulf. The man with the ladder was now standing on top of the wall, straddling the razor wire, an AK47 in his hand. A Police Officer took aim, called out and while the man was raising the AK, the officer fired and the man fell inwards, hanging in place upside down, one leg tangled in the razor wire, the AK falling in the dirt and sand.

As he was struggling to free himself a soldier walked up to the hanging man, pulling him roughly off the razor wire, the soldier jumping in the air with his helmet in his hand, bringing it down on the gunman’s wounded shoulder. The man screamed. Blood flowed from his shoulder. The soldier shouted at the Police Officer, telling him he was too hasty, he should have waited until all the gunmen were inside so they could have dealt with them properly. Jay knew what that meant.

Shots were firing and Jay saw another man in the open land go down and then get up again and start running, staggering to get away. Shouts of “Don’t move” and the occasional shot broke the night’s stillness. And then it was quiet.

Three days later Jay was told that one gunmen who got away later died in a country hospital from his wounds, and the the razor wire man lived and gave up his colleagues.

After that there was a long peace at the Gulf.


Remembering the GAS RIOTS of April 1999


It started at about 9:30 am on the Monday morning, April 19, 1999. Just like that. Jay remembered it well as he had just walked away from the Main Gate and got to a site check point when everything outside the plant went crazy.

News from all over the island was that people were blocking roads, lighting old tyres, rubbish and derelict cars in response to the government imposing a tax on gas. People came out in their thousands, everywhere, all over the island. Total lock down.

Jay went back to the Main Gate and out onto the road. But not far. What a scene. Looking left towards Six Miles and right towards Three Miles, all he could see were hundreds of people moving garbage, old iron, tyres, tree stumps & derelict vehicles, placing them in the road and throwing gas on what could be lit. The smoke from burning tyres was acrid, and people had rags over their lower faces.

Vehicles started driving any side of the three lane carriageways they could, just to try and get away from the mayhem. Fires were burning all along the roadway, people gathered at each side off the main, throwing more debris into the road.


A car pulled up outside the Main Gate and a man started putting old tyres across the road, blocking the exit. Jay ran out into the road with M and took up the tyres before the man could light them on fire, and the man drove through the entrance gate and started swearing at them. Jay told him to go block the road elsewhere, so the man took up the tyres and placed them in his car and drove off, telling Jay and M what they could do to themselves!

They met and discussed options. Everyone decided that the business should close and everyone be sent home but the question was how. With the roads blocked all over the place, how could they ensure safe travel for everyone?

Gunshots were firing off everywhere. As far as Jay could see along Spanish Town Road there was chaos. Neither the Police nor security firms were able to move around. People driving on the road were in a panic, wanting to get away no matter how. They had called in the trucks that had already left the plant for the day. They all came in safely, the big rigs stopping at the nearest depot in the country.


A car was forced to stop just down from the Main Gate exit. There was a baying crowd around the car, scavengers, pushing and shoving and rocking it back & forth. Jay and M rushed out, pushed through the crowd and brought it back into the plant. The driver was a visitor (born in Jamaica but living in the UK ) with his wife and two young children, and they were panic struck. Jay took them into the plant and down to the canteen, and for the rest of the day fed them and looked after them. They had started out for a peaceful weekend on the North Coast, their first holiday in Jamaica as a family together.


Shortly afterwards a bread truck was stopped by the crowd at the same place, and within minutes was looted and set on fire. The driver got away safely, leaving the burning truck where it was, people running down the road with loaves of bread, laughing.

A call was made to a contractor who lived across the road. He used to be a community leader for one of the political parties. Jay told him they wanted an escort to take people out safely by convoy. Thirty minutes later, he turned up with about 40 men from his community. They were on bicycles, motorcycles and foot. There were two cars as well.

The first convoy drove out, about 65 cars in all, heading for Half Way Tree. Jay put the UK “visitor” and his family in the middle of the convoy. Constant phone calls told him everyone got out and home safely, the visitor in his hotel.

An hour later the “soldier” escorts returned, all smiles and noise, and a second convoy left the plant with about 50 cars, heading for Portmore and Spanish Town. Who didn’t drive a car was given a ride. Everyone got home safely.

Jay and M went through all the offices to ensure everyone had left. Jay stopped short at the door to the Conference Room – eight overseas auditors working away on their laptops, oblivious to what was happening outside. Their host had gone out with the first convoy and had forgotten all about his guests. Jay called D Man who brought the minibus around. The auditors were driven back to their hotel in New Kingston, D Man leaving the minibus at the Half Way Tree Police Station and walking home all the way to near Three Miles.

And then for those who were left. There were about 40 employees and they walked the plant shutting down everything. It was now early evening and Jay wanted to get everyone away and safely home. The security personnel and a few key utilities people stayed.

At about 6:00 pm they were ready to leave, and hit the road. This time they were on their own, they were the convoy, and Jay drove towards Six Miles, leading the way. When they got to the traffic lights at Seaview Gardens there were hundreds of people in the road. The Police were there and the 18 car convoy pulled up at the lights, awaiting instructions. The Police started clearing the road of the crowd, pushing the crowd back with batons and rifle stocks, and waved us on. It was a relief.

As Jay came parallel to Wray & Nephew a barrage of gunshots came from Waterhouse. Passengers ducked down in the cars. BB who lived in Waterhouse cried out, and didn’t bother coming out the Land Cruiser. At the Weymouth Drive intersection Jay pulled to the front of the convoy and blocked oncoming traffic until they had all passed through. They drove over & around road blocks; drove on sidewalks where they couldn’t continue on the road. Once they had everyone safely home or in their community, Jay headed home, dropping BB on Hope Road when he saw a rubbish collection truck and knew the driver. Demonstrators had punctured the truck’s tyres but the driver hadn’t stopped.

That night the GM decided they should all be at work the following day. Jay said there would still be chaos on the roads, and that if they were serious everyone needed to move early and be at the plant no later than 6:00 am, as the looters would more than likely be sleeping after their night’s activity. Any time later than that and the streets would be in turmoil again.

Sure enough the roads were quiet at 6:00 am on Tuesday morning – about 30 employees came to work. At the Main Gate a security officer who had been standing there the evening before showed us a scar on his shoulder and a warhead – someone had fired a bullet into the air and it had come down and grazed his shoulder.

By 9:00 am the chaos started again, gunshots firing randomly in the city. The GM called a meeting and asked what the plan of action should be. Jay almost laughed and said they all needed to go home, and called the contractor from Cockburn Pen.

Twenty minutes later they headed through the Main Gate. Jay drove an old Toyota Land Cruiser and took up the rear. The contractor and the GM were at the front. They skirted through debris, burning cars, tree trunks & utility poles, tyres and old refrigerators & freezers. Using both sides of the road and the sidewalks when needed. By the time they got to Three Miles Jay had four people hanging onto the Cruiser – one sat on the hood, one held onto the back, two were standing on the running boards, one each side of the van. With the weight on the running boards and the back bumper the Cruiser was almost looking up at the sky.  The ‘soldier’ sitting on the hood of the Cruiser was singing away and shouting at people on the roadside, “Free up the blocks, free up the blocks”.

Every road block they came to all the way up Hagley Park Road was pulled aside to allow them free passage, with shouts from the demonstrators “Let the people through, let them through”. The convoy swung from one side of the road to the other, all the way to Half Way Tree. Conditions weren’t as bad there and the escort left them.

The following day the plant remained closed. Jay went out scouting on the road, through Liguanea, Old Hope Road, Cross Roads and Red Hills Road, Washington Boulevard and along Spanish Town Road and back up Hagley Park Road. There were still many signs of the damage done over the previous two days. Bulldozers and trucks were on the roads trying to clean up what they could. Police and soldiers had re-taken the streets. Everywhere was calm.


It was back to business on Thursday. Three whole days of production lost, and the tax on gas rolled back to what it was before. Was this people power, or frustration, or political manipulation, or poor decision making by a Government strapped of cash?

Or an insight into socio-economic conditions faced then, and still being faced now, by Jamaica, land of wood and water? Jay sensed the jury is still out deliberating.