Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Silence sometimes speaks

Published:Tuesday | September 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Gordon Robinson

I see James Forbes has landed on his feet. On August 26, the Observer carried a 'report', headlined 'SRI appoints James Forbes as corporate security consultant', which turned out to be a warmed-over Sandals press release. It began:

"Sandals Resorts International (SRI) yesterday announced the appointment of Senior Superintendent James Forbes as corporate security consultant."

My immediate reaction was: Does this mean he's abandoned his appeal? Surely this job is inconsistent with being a policeman? So, unless the appeal is an academic exercise to expunge a criminal record, what's it all about? Impeccable sources tell me a fund orchestrated by some members of the police force was created prior to Owen Ellington's departure and all senior officers invited to contribute large sums to Forbes' appeal costs. Eyebrows were raised. But nobody's talking, so we're left to try to connect the dots.

Hello darkness, my old friend,

I've come to talk with you again.

Because a vision, softly creeping,

left its seeds while I was sleeping;

and the vision that was planted in my brain

still remains

within the sound of silence.

Regular readers recall former Commissioner Ellington specifically refused a request originating with the young prosecutor first assigned to give a statement for the prosecution. The young prosecutor was promptly pulled from the case; Sgt Llewellyn experienced a Saulesian volte-face in the witness box; Bicknell was acquitted on one charge; DPP withdrew another; but Forbes, trapped by a timeline technicality (he intervened AFTER charges had been laid against Bicknell), was convicted.

Subsequently, Ellington bolted. Forbes has now seemingly abandoned all ambitions of resuming his police career even before the appeal court pronounces. Is the silence starting to make sense?

In restless dreams I walked alone

down narrow streets of cobblestone.

'Neath the halo of a street lamp,

I turned my collar to the cold and damp.

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

that split the night

and touched the sound of silence.

It gets more intriguing:

'In his newly created role, Forbes will be tasked with providing in-depth reviews of the company's comprehensive loss prevention and security system ... .' SRI said.

So, the job was 'created' for Forbes by Sandals. What a lucky fellow to have his expertise/potential so remarkably recognised by an international monolith. He must've presented excellent references. From whom?

And in the naked light I saw

ten thousand people, maybe more.

People talking without speaking;

people hearing without listening;

people writing songs that voices never shared.

No one dared

disturb the sound of silence.

But somebody must've communicated with Sandals. How else would Sandals confirm his employment track record? The August 26 report asserted:

'A well-respected security professional with expert training both locally and internationally ... . We're proud to be associated with someone with such an exceptional track record ... who has provided over 34 years of sterling service to the police force ...' said SRI CEO Adam Stewart.

Court records, including a corruption conviction, might place a slightly different spin on those 34 years. Normally, that's not a prospective employee for whom international corporations create special jobs. Somebody higher up the totem pole must've convinced Sandals to ignore his criminal record. Who'd have that sort of influence?

'Fools,' said I, 'You do not know.

Silence like a cancer grows.

Hear my words that I might teach you.

Take my arms that I might reach you.'

But my words, like silent raindrops, fell

and echoed in the wells of silence.

What's the connection, if any, between the Police High Command and Sandals? Is a possible connection related to British refusal to share surveillance information with the former high command? Is Sandals in any dispute with the Brits? These questions come to mind as one alternative to believing that James Forbes, a convicted criminal, has magical powers over Sandals not even David Blaine could muster. Or he's so lucky he'd fall into New Kingston gullies and emerge smelling of eau de cologne.

And the people bowed and prayed

to the neon god they made

and the sign flashed out its warning

in the words that it was forming.

And the sign said: The words of the prophets

are written on the subway walls;

and tenement halls;

and whispered in the sound of silence.

The Sound of Silence was written by Paul Simon in 1964 after Kennedy's assassination (became Simon and Garfunkel's debut recording) and was a mixture of comment on the difficulty in gathering intelligence on the suspected conspiracy and ordinary teenage angst (nobody's talking to me).

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to