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Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

Errol John

Moon on a Rainbow Shawl by Errol John depicts the vibrant, cosmopolitan of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad – a world that is as harsh as it is filled with colour and warmth.

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Esther – if yer have yer head screw on right – No matter where yer go – One night – some time – Yer reach up – yer touch that moon.

For the teeming populace of Old Mack’s cacophonous yard in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, it’s a cheek by jowl existence lived out on a sweltering public stage. Snatches of calypso compete with hymn tunes, drums and street cries as neighbours drink, brawl, pass judgment, make love, look out for each other and crave a better life. But Ephraim is no dreamer and nothing, not even the seductive Rosa, is going to stop him escaping his dead-end job for a fresh start in England.

Set as returning troops from the Second World War fill the town with their raucous celebrations, Erroll John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl depicts a vibrant, cosmopolitan world that is as harsh as it is filled with colour and warmth.

‘A brawling, laughing, bitter sense of life courses through Moon on a Rainbow Shawl. Errol John fills the stage with people of flesh and blood; he communicates the harshness and tension in this steaming, crowded corner of Port-of-Spain. He writes with such warmth and understanding that the problems and characters of a mean backyard in Trinidad assume a validity for a multitude of teeming, troubled places on this planet.’ New York Times


Errol John (1924-88) came to England from his native Trinidad in 1950. His numerous acting roles in films included The Heart of the Matter (1953) and Simba (1955), and he took the title role in Othello for the Old Vic Company in 1963. On television he played leading roles in A Man from the Sun (BBC, 1956) and No Hiding…

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