Wed | Dec 7, 2016

'No more rum-drinking days' Roger's humor

Published:Sunday | August 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
The affable dancer, Roger Clarke, at a PNP rally in Yallahs, St Thomas, in 2011.
The dance that sparked the debate as Roger Clarke and a PNP supporter enjoyed themselves.
Roger Clarke (right) with a hug and a smile for the man he called 'Uncle Eddie', former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.-File
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Days before his sudden death, Roger Clarke, from his hospital bed in Florida, told The Gleaner that, "When you see me, you going think is Usain Bolt," as he added that, "my wife says I must stop drink after today, so no more liquor in my life. No more rum-drinking days."

Those were just two of the quips which came from the mouth of the man who developed a reputation as one who could be depended on for a laugh-provoking quote through his long political life. The Gleaner's reporters, who covered Clarke through the years, have gone into their memory banks for some of the most memorable quotes from the 'Big Man'.

Showing People's National Party supporters at an annual conference how his government had caused the expansion of the mobile telephone industry, Clarke pulled two cellular phones and pretended to use one to dial the other as he shouted "hello, hello".

Responding to a 2013 furore over a picture of him dancing suggestively with a woman: "The lady was dancing with me and then me see she turn around and start back it up on me, so me just dance. What me must do, push whey the woman, and then she call me fish. After me no live inna aquarium."

Responding to concerns about the shortage of chicken back in 2013: "All of a sudden these people get sorry for poor people, but them no sorry fi poor people, them sorry fi them dog because them buy more chicken backs fi dogs inna Jamaica than what poor people eat."

March 2013, providing statement to Parliament on Pedro Cays. "As far as children go, there is no large number of children on the Cays. It is occupied mostly by the fisherfolk and there are people who ply their wares over there in different forms, some of them unmentionable. Some sell fish, some buy fish ..."

May 2008, responding to then Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton's observation that banana production declined under his watch, Clarke said. "The minister spoke to the decline in banana production ... every time, even if there is an advisory that hurricane is around, every banana falls down. The weatherman says 'expect strong winds' and every banana is on the ground."

November 2008, capital punishment debate in Parliament, reporting on the consultations with his constituents. "Some said they should be shot firing squad way, brought into the middle of the town and let everybody come out and witness. Some say that too inhumane, they should be put in the electric chair. Some said drown them. ... some say take them to sea, tie some lead thing on their feet and let them down. Some say burn them at the stakes, some even suggested that they tek dem up inna helicopter and drop dem on solid ground. Some say throw them from the tallest building that you can find. Mr Speaker, at the end of all the consultations, they said death!"

September 2007, general election campaign. Clarke, the former minister of agriculture and lands, at a PNP meeting in Half-Way Tree during the election campaign: "As the minister in charge of titles, I have asked my people to put in place a document to give to the Jamaica Labour Party, which gives them entitlement to the area of Parliament in which they now sit ... . All that area in Gordon House bounded on the north by the northern wall, on the south by the aisle between the Opposition and majority party, on the east by the eastern wall and on the west to that section just away from the Speaker's chair ... I bequeath that to them so that they can leave it for them and their children and their children's children."

Clarke, in a November 2007 interview with The Gleaner following Kern Spencer's bawling in the House. "Politicians are people too. I cry anytime ... I cry a lot ... I am only human. I have cried before and will cry a million times over."

July 2007, at a PNP mass rally in Lucea, Hanover. "Santa Cruz is a very, very hot place and dem even promise that if dem win, dem going to air condition Santa Cruz, dem say dem order the air-conditioning units already to cool down Santa Cruz."

With the JLP having dubbed Bruce Golding as the 'driver', Clarke said: "I want to say to him, learner's licence can't drive Jamaica. Jamaica is an articulated vehicle and you have to have good licence to drive Jamaica, no learner's licence can drive Jamaica."

Interview with The Gleaner on whether he holds dual citizenship. "I have no other passport. I have never spent more than two weeks abroad at any one time. I am a dual citizen, though - I hold a North East St Elizabeth passport and a Central Westmoreland passport. Green card? I don't even have a visa. It expired."

Roger Clarke was returning to Jamaica last Thursday after successfully completing surgery and given clearance by his doctors to return home. He was awaiting his flight when he complained of chest pains and discomfort. Paramedics were called and they performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was then rushed by ambulance to the University of Miami Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Roger Clarke was 74 years old.