Sun | Nov 19, 2017

Anthony Gambrill :- Broken news

Published:Sunday | January 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I was fortunate enough recently to overhear a conversation between a senior member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government (name withheld by request) and an investigative journalist (name withheld by request) of a prominent Jamaican newspaper (name withheld by request).

"It's just over nine months since the new government was conceived."

"You mean since we (expletive) the PNP?

"And after nine months you have given birth."

"Right. We're back."

"The same old potholes are back as well."

"Well, they are the new

normal."

"I suppose so. But what is your overriding policy?"

"To borrow a phrase, we are going to make Jamaica great again."

"You mean you, too, are going to deport Mexicans?"

"No, just Trinidadians"

"Right. Let's get down to reality. Have you replaced JEEP?"

"We will shortly announce the BMW."

"And what does that stand for?"

"Born to Make Work. It speaks to the commitment of every JLP member of parliament and parish councillor to distribute scarce benefits to all the party faithful."

"Predictable. But what about business people who have contributed to the party?"

"If you are a used-car dealer we will buy a hundred cars from you for the police force."

"And with it, big foreign exchange savings, too."

"Ah yes, foreign exchange savings. As you mention it, Andrew has a radical new plan to convert garbage into electricity."

"Oh, no, not another one. I see you are staying with the IMF this time?"

"We are forced to. We call it 'Is Mama P's Fault'."

"Very funny. What are you doing about crime? The people want justice."

"To start with, Minister Henry will wipe 40,000 uncollected traffic tickets off the record, allowing the judiciary to get on with what it does best."

"Which is what?"

"Reserving judgments, delaying verdicts, accepting money."

"Accepting money?"

"Yes, for purchasing new air conditioning for the courthouses."

"Back to Minister Henry ... he's 80 now."

"As he says, he's an old man in a hurry. These days 80 is the new 60. Green the new orange."

"And for your party, it seems 30 is the new 10."

"Correct. We need experienced sons of the soil, not over-achievers with college degrees and big ambitions."

"What about health?"

"I feel fine."

"No, I mean the nation's health."

"Ah, yes, the Ministry of Health is having a 5k fun run to raise funds."

"For medical equipment, drugs, nurses, salaries?"

"No, no, to send hospital administrators abroad on fact-finding missions."

"Any plans for tourism?"

"As you know, Jamaica is always looking for new ways to appeal to the tourist market. Well, we will soon be introducing Adventure Tourism."

"Sounds exciting."

"It will be, with walking tours through Montego Bay. The slogan will be 'You could be the right person in the right place at the wrong time.' As advertised, 'you'll know when you go'."

"Won't Jamaica be a little ahead of its time?"

"Of course not. Take Syria and Libya, for example. They're tourist destinations."

"Talking of the Mideast, are you planning to take any refugees?"

"No. At least not until we have an over-employment problem."

"How is Christmas work going this year?"

"We were a little short of equipment for bushing so we brought back the 1950s weed whacker."

"What's that?"

"A machete."

"Aren't you going to drain the swamp?"

"No, we plan to fill the trough."

"Maybe this Christmas the Cabinet will be having a retreat to re-imagine Jamaica."

"Re-imagine Jamaica? No, they're all home suffering from post-traumatic stress. We still can't believe we won another election."

- Anthony Gambrill is a playwright. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.