Sat | Mar 17, 2018

I can do filing ... and sumting else

Published:Sunday | April 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

You might say that the media too often major in the minor, and you would probably be right. On the other hand, it is not always trivial to focus on the small things. Still, to turn attention to Mrs Holness' small shoes was probably a step too far.

But here comes The Gleaner with a letter titled 'Mrs Holness' walk of pain', which linked to a video of the traditional triumphal marches on Duke Street for the ceremonial opening of Parliament. Y'know, I wonder if, back in the day, such a letter would ever make it into the press?

The letter writer asks why Juliet Holness wore "ill-fitting shoes on such a grand occasion", but noted, on the positive side, that her obvious discomfort showed "patience, endurance, tenacity and willpower".

This whole episode has left me confused. And I know why. The complication arises from the fact that Juliet is Andrew's wife, meaning that ribald and riotous humour about her is, to my mind, off limits. However, she's now a parliamentarian in her own right, meaning that she's an appropriate target for low-brow humour. I suppose if we cannot smile at politicians, who can we smile at? And if we cannot smile at all, we shall surely die.

But the admixture of roles leads directly to the following philosophical paradox: Even while Juliet qua Andrew's wife was bravely coming down Duke Street despite trying circumstances, Juliet qua parliamentarian was wobbling, and di tall-heel boot seemed to be a problem.


The real action


Anyway, as usual, the real action was on the street, and our people's genius for colourful speech and disarming conceptualisation was captured in some peripheral interviews on TVJ. These side interviews are often where the humour is, or the telling anecdote, or the few sentences that shine a searchlight into the heart.

Asked if Mr Holness's $1.5-million plan will happen, TVJ's reporter got the following response from a middle-aged female supporter who had come out to see the state opening of Parliament:

"Mi know him a go deliver. Yuh know why? Mi mek up mi mind to mek a sacrifice fi sell my father land and help him. Sell my son goat ... ."

By this point, I was impressed. I was thinking: "Now that's a dedicated supporter!" But up till then, no criminal activity had been envisioned. If someone wants to sell their family's personal possessions to give the Government so that the Government can afford a promised tax cut, then it's an odd way of doing things, but so long as she got her father's and son's permission, it wouldn't be illegal. But then she continued:

"... Sell my grandpickney dem. Sell myself! Because him haffi come true wid it."

Whuttt? What did she just say? Now that IS a sacrifice for the $1.5-million politician promise. Thing is, our laws disallow certain kinds of transactions, like the outright sale of grandchildren and sex.

Anyway, I hope she doesn't expect others to follow her example. Speaking for myself, for example, I don't have any immediate plans to sell my children. Mind you, it may become necessary if Audley levies more taxes, but he won't break his promise not to do that.

Moreover, assuming I understood the woman correctly, I'm not prepared to sell myself. Now, that's out of just pure shame. I'm worried about the discount price I would fetch on the open market. It's like not putting your house up for sale till market conditions improve.

It's not like I'm against prostitution in principle, always and everywhere. For instance, I read one vicar's In Focus column about the $1.5 million last Sunday and realised that we may as well just go ahead and make it legal. But even without the legal hurdles, this isn't a good time for me to consider sale. Market conditions are suboptimal.

With all of that said, I was impressed by the dedication and willingness to sacrifice that the woman evinced. And I was alarmed at the commitment it takes to be part of that team. Whoa! Family land? De goat? Yuh granpickney? Yuh bothy? Are you sure we should go through with something that requires the sacrifice of rammy? Jesus wept.


Cutting to the chase


Next up was a bewigged woman in some dark shades who just cut to the chase without the prologue of land and goats:

"I am on the road before now ... selling my baddy. And I don't like it. And I vote in Andrew Holness and I glad seh Andrew Holness come in play. So I want him come pon de road come interview the girls dem on de road becaz majority of dem come from West Kingston, Rema, and Denham Town. Is fi him people dem. I am so qualified dat I can do filing. Yeah! And sumting else ... ."

By the way, if you need to guess what that "sumting else" is, you need to put down your parent's newspaper and leave big people business alone. Dis too mature fi yuh!

But there's no reason to be immodest. I may as well admit that I can do filing, too. In fact, one of the problems in this country is that people are filing younger and younger. Some of these young girls are filing from age 10 and 12. And just for the record, you snobs, good filing is a skill, and since there's now open enrolment at HEART, there's no reason it shouldn't be professionalised.

To return to where I began, the lesson I take from these conversations behind the barricades, apart from the humour, is how far afield the minds of those who were asked about the $18,000 wandered. It has become a repository of deep yearnings and dreams, this enchanting fantasy that money might just fall from the sky.

I highly doubt that the woman selling her baddy (who don't like it) pays PAYE. She's more likely to be a PATH beneficiary, from where complaints have been flowing that benefits have been cut, perhaps to fund the PAYE giveback.

I'm suggesting that it might be better for everybody if the first woman just gives the second woman her son's goat. That way, the son stays out of trouble, and who can sacrifice and who can benefit could complete the transaction without the intervention of Government. Maybe then we can all get back to filing.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to