Another birthday and a flashback
Godfrey Wray and Francis Quamina Farrier
Godfrey Wray and Francis Quamina Farrier

By Francis Quamina Farrier
EARLIER this month, March 12, 2024, I celebrated my 86th birthday, and one of the things which pleased me immensely, was the extra special treatment which I received from my wife Pat, my daughters Arlene and Venita, and other close friends and relatives.

I received phone calls and emails from friends, relatives and colleagues. There was no birthday party as we know birthday parties to be. Just a special breakfast and an extra special late lunch. In more recent years, I have reduced my food intake to just two reasonable good sessions. As I age, I follow closely the advice of professional nutritionists. My present eating regiment has been reduced to quality and not quantity, as was the case in my younger years.

You may recall six years ago, I wrote a feature article which had the headline; “This Elderly Gentleman Welcomes Age 80” which was when I became an octogenarian. That was a
super personal achievement. As the producer of the Radio Programme series, The Eighty-Plus Club, on Radio Demerara, back in the 1970s and 1980s, I was then qualified to apply for membership of my own organisation. Be it known that as someone who never flinches from protocol, I did the required thing, and applied for membership of The Eighty-Plus Club.
No doubt, you do realise that, with all things in my favour, I was immediately and gladly accepted by the one-man committee of management.

So, here I am, recording for posterity, the history of The Eighty-Plus Club; one of the most popular local Radio Programmes in the history of radio in Guyana. The catalyst of The Eighty-Plus Club goes back to the broadcast of Salute To Senior Citizens on Radio Demerara. That popular radio programme was first hosted by the charming Pat Cameron, endearingly referred to as “Auntie Pat” by the majority of Radio listeners.

When Pat Cameron migrated, the programme was presented by the talented and competent Margaret Lawrence. It is sad to know that all the tapes on which those historic recordings were done, have allegedly, been erased. My understanding is that many other important and historic events which were recorded, such as my own personality profile in which many Guyanese personalities such as the author of “To Sir, With Love” as E.R. Braithwaite, Rohan Kanhai and Sir Clive Lloyd, have been carelessly erased as well.

Chance meeting with Godfrey Wray

I had previously known the veteran journalist Godfrey Wray for many years. We were only acquaints. However, we always took the time to engage in “a lil gyaff” whenever we met. Those
conversations were usually about the latest “Breaking News of the day.” Then one day, there was a chance meeting with Godfrey Wray at Linden on the Upper Demerara River. I was there with the BANKS DIH Limited team for its Annual Shareholders’ Branch Meeting at the Bauxite mining town.

Having put everything in place over an hour early, I decided to take a brief stroll along Arvida Road. That turned out to be a life-changing occurrence; I met Godfrey Wray. During our brief conversation, he invited me to write a weekly article for the Sunday Chronicle.

Godfrey Wray told me of his expectations. He desired and expected many of my articles to be about the cultural activities of which I was involved. Also, articles which related my experiences travelling to the far-flung areas of Guyana, as well as abroad. He expected articles about interesting personal activities, as well as those of others who I can garner. My articles, however, were not to be about scandals and activities of the kings and queens of the underworld.

Godfrey Wray commissioned me to write about the things which he knew I was deeply involved, such as Theatre. One of my articles on theatre was about the proliferation of gun violence in plays. In that article, I made it clear that I was against that sort of thing. That is not to say that I am totally against the implication of a firearm in a play; but how it is employed. For example, I made it clear that no way was I supportive of actors running all through the theatre amongst the audience chasing one another with firearms. Serious things can happen. So serious that I refrain from any mention of such in this article.

And so, here we are. That I am writing for the Sunday Chronicle, is because of the invitation of the late Godfrey Wray. I remember him from time to time, and marvel at how a leisurely stroll along a pavement, can become a joyful ongoing writing journey. Godfrey Wray has already made that journey which we all will make one day, from here to eternity. Nonetheless, as I continue to walk this earthly paradise – Guyana and elsewhere – I write on.



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