Bodden’s new book reveals his troubled early years

Roy Bodden writes about his path from poverty to politics in his latest book. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Roy Bodden is about to get personal.

“Until now, I have meticulously guarded my privacy,” said the former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands. “In this book, I delve into the most intimate details of my growing up in a an abusive household.”

Bodden is referring to his new book, ‘From Guard House to the Glass House: One man’s journey through the maze of Caymanian politics’. He will be hosting a launch for the new book at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sir Vassel Johnson Hall on the UCCI campus.

This is Bodden’s sixth book. In the past, he has mostly written about local history. This time, the history is his own.

“It’s biographical, philosophical and current events,” Bodden said of the book.

It traces his life from growing up in Cayman to attending college abroad and serving in government as an elected member of the Legislative Assembly. His time at UCCI, he said, is material for a book on its own.

The biggest revelation in the book will be details about his youth, growing up in a home next to Guard House with a supportive mother, but an alcoholic and abusive father.

“My father was like Dr. Jekyll when he was sober, and like Mr. Hyde when he’d been drinking,” Bodden said. “I did not want my father to be my role model. This is a struggle I think many young Caymanian men face.”

For most of his life, Bodden said, he kept the abuse and poverty he grew up in closely guarded. Now, he said, when he shares that part of his life with friends, they are amazed at his subsequent success.

“They say it’s a miracle,” he said, “and indeed it was”.

He’s hoping others will take inspiration from that. In a Facebook post on the book launch, Bodden wrote, “This book is dedicated to those hundreds of Caymanian young people whose destiny is to battle poverty, prejudice and ‘put down’.”

Bodden said he took his own inspiration from his mother and his paternal grandfather.

“My grandfather taught me the qualities of manhood: decorum, comportment, honour, respect, the value of an education and the importance of establishing a moral compass,” he said. “My life philosophy was instilled in me at an early age by my mother. [She] was one of the most influential factors in making me the person I am.”

As the eldest of five children, Bodden said, he was pressed into service early to help bring money into the home.

“The only hope my mother and my siblings had was in me,” he said.

He worked for Clifton Hunter at the store Hunter owned in Bodden Town. Hunter was also an important influence.

“He encouraged me to go to college,” he said. “Every time I saw him, he said, ‘Tucker’s son, I want you to go to college.’ He was like an army recruiter.”

Bodden said his book also provides an inside look at Caymanian politics during the 1990s and early 2000s, when he was a member of the Legislative Assembly and, later, minister of education.

“I give some salacious details,” he said. “I have provided the meat on the bone that people might not have been exposed to. I provide what went on behind the scenes.”

Some of the things covered include the formation of the United Democratic Party and its eventual dissolution.

The book also addresses current concerns in Cayman.

“I write to enlighten and edify,” Bodden said. “I write about many things that people find inconvenient in Cayman society. I write about racism, changes in attitudes. I speak about all the challenges I see. I lament the fact we don’t have a national philosophy, a national plan [addressing] where we are going, who we are.”

Bodden said he wants readers to ponder these questions, while taking hope from the story of a kid who rose from poverty to prominence in Cayman.

Author Roy Bodden will launch his book ‘From Guard House to the Glass House’ at UCCI’s Sir Vassel Johnson Hall at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 30.