Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Rain a fall but Tuffy tough

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 5:00 AM

Have you seen the hills surrounding Kingston? They're scarred with fire. It's the most significant burn in years. In fact, between the ritual Riverton burnings and the smoke from the hills, I have to pass on the government-recommended two ounces.

Ordinarily, the annual fires originate from some guy deciding that the easy way to prepare land for red peas is set it ablaze. From there, it's mayhem. This time, though, it was different, and the resultant damage far more severe.

This year, the fire was spread by a duppy. True ting. I've spoken to a few unimpeachable sources and ah soh it goh.

It happened that a woman's sister had passed away, so the survivor decided to burn the mattress that the deceased used to sleep on. Exactly why she chose this course of action I don't know. But word is that the duppy was resident in the mattress and causing torment and trouble.

When the mattress was set afire, it caused the duppy to take flight, spreading flames all over: Mavis Bank, Flamstead and then around to Content Gap. The duppy-woman actually has a son who lives in Content, so it was seeking refuge with him up there. Mek sense. Thankfully, last weekend, rain start fall.

Obviously, there are lessons to be learned. First thing is you have to be careful about what powers you unthinkingly unleash, because these things have unintended consequences. In particular, duppies have to be handled with caution, because they can be destructive. You may be thinking it's gone when it nuh gawn!

 

PICA BOO-BOO

 

Speaking of unleashing strange forces, I'm staring in disbelief at this Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) fiasco. First, because PICA handled it with insensitivity; second, because the media have reported on it with stunning unintelligence; and third, because a crowd of privileged travellers have shown a reassuring readiness to riot.

Is it at all reasonable for people who can afford overseas travel (for that, presumably, is the primary purpose of a passport) to expect that taxpayers with no such capability should subsidise their trips to Miami? I don't think so.

Passports are something of a luxury, not a fundamental human right, as one television interviewee was saying. Yes, a hungry mob is an angry mob, but if you can afford the visas and a plane ticket to clink champagne glasses above the clouds, chances are you can afford the US$60 every 10 years for a passport.

Still, I'm not saying that I like the increase or even support it. Particularly now, price hikes ought to be supported by solid evidence of why they're warranted.

It would be helpful to know when last there was an increase, and what the actual cost of producing the passports is. I would need to have that information before developing strong views about whether the increase is warranted or just abusive. The media (even while covering the mayhem) need to help with this.

 

Everything is Not Chris

 

And speaking of abuse, I began thinking about Christopher Tufton's position because I was counting Senate votes on the CCJ issue. Tufton is the only opposition senator who realistically could vote for it. He has publicly acknowledged that the CCJ will ultimately become the final appellate court of Jamaica, but let's face it, he's in a tricky situation just now.

Uneasy is the head that wears the crown? True. But y'know who's even more uncomfortable? The guy who everyone thinks could sport the crown, but doesn't. That's a man in real danger.

I've said it before: When Andrew bolts upright at 2:37 a.m. with arms outstretched strangling a fire-spreading phantom and hollering at the window panes, it's not Audley's ghost in front him. It's Tufton.

Juliet: "Weh doh yuh?"

Andrew: "Nutten"

Juliet: "Then goh back ah yuh bed ... ."

Andrew: "Yuh sure?"

Juliet: "Sure I'm sure ... Bout him ah plant cassava and nyam lionfish! Him doan even have nuh seat. Yuh safe!"

Tufton suffers the great disability of being a talented politician without a home. So now he's thrown his hat into the ring for Ken Baugh's old riding.

Incidentally, you have to give Baugh respect. He's calling it a day while still lucid, unhospitalised, walking without crutches, and, as far as distant visual inspection reveals, unreliant on Depends. That's unusual. Think Mike Henry and the vow to wheelchair himself into Parliament.

Now remember that Tufton's difficulties had begun immediately following Audley's loss. Miraculously, his reapplication for deputy leader, which was submitted to Horace Chang, the Holness supporter whom he had previously beaten for deputy leader, didn't make it in on time.

Then a pre-signed resignation letter saw him booted from the Senate. He's recently reinstituted there, but with leadership angling against him, di dutty tough. He's clawing uphill to get back into the Lower House.

Word is that some party financiers are saying "No Chris, no money." That would always be a problem. But it's an even huger problem if your other money magnet, Daryl, isn't feeling the vibes. Maybe the jet can putter along with one engine disabled, but if both are shut down, pull out the life vests and prepare to jump.

So what's up in WC St Catherine, the only seat opening up? Pot ah cook but de food nuh nuff. And at least one of Tufton's opponents, Devon Wint, is formidable.

Wint, a long-time councillor, may not have the national profile, but he's no pushover. Plus, as a veteran of the constituency, he's been picking the delegates who decide Tufton's fate. Again, dutty tuff. Recall that the list was a major source of 'disgrumplement' in the Audley-Andrew face-off.

I worry that if Tufton fails in this bid to get a seat, he's in danger of suffering political zombification, stuck in the netherworld where some political careers go to languish. I hope not. Talented Tuffy is not nuh duppy, and if he's turned into one, try memba weh gwaan up ah Mavis Bank.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.