Ilka Hilton-Clarke


Macaw by Accident

by Wm. E. Hitchins, 1960


Macaw Stories

One of Trinidad's worst guarded secrets is the identity of Macaw, writer of the daily column, "Notebook", in the territory's evening newspaper, the " Evening News".
Nevertheless, the publishers still like to keep up the pretence that nobody knows who Macaw is."Notebook" is, without exception, the most controversial column in any West Indian newspaper, and, more often than not, there is much more between the lines than on them. Yet, readers not familiar with the Trinidad background still laugh at the funny side of life as depicted in the column. But not everybody laughs - many grow angry and write rude letters to the editor, some have threatened to sue ( they never have ), others storm into the office brandishing a copy of the "Evening News" and complaining bitterly, while still others use the telephone or public squares.

Not always is the column political as generally believed; one day, perhaps, it may be just a story of a matron from the country on her first airplane trip ("Is up here de Russians send de dorg ?"), or the problem of trying to get pastels through Jamaican customs ("Oh, ho ! 'Tis doocoonoo!). The name Macaw was chosen because of its similarity to "maco", Trinidad slang for someone who minds somenbody else's business. The name of the column is much older than the byline, which was used sometime before the present writer took over. The regular columnist was ill; the first substitute was on leave and the other possible writer probably had Asian flu ; anyway, he was not to be found. Worried, the Features Editor gave the blank page to
one of his subeditors." See what you can do", was the only instruction given.

When the issue of the "Evening News" came out, "Notebook" had been reborn. The "new" Macaw was accepted with delight and enthusiasm. Today, "notebook" is the best-read feature in the newspaper, the "new" Macaw being responsible. This book is the first collection of Macaw pieces which anyone, Trinidadian or not, can enjoy
(though Trinidadians may realise it is not what is printed, but what is not, that says so much more).

N.B. Unfortunately, Macaw is no longer with us, she died July 1991. The stories here are printed with the kind permission of Macaw's brother; they are ©copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever without the express permission of the author's family.

Ilka Hilton Clarke