Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
It must be the climate. Well, that's the general consensus among residents throughout the towns and districts. The only parish where winter coat is a top seller and midday feels like midnight. Manchester. Cool, cool … sometimes teeth-chatteringly cold … Manchester. Deemed the happiest parish in Jamaica by a recent survey.
Registering 8.3 on a scale of zero to 10, The Gleaner 'Happiness Survey of Residents of Jamaica' has revealed that the residents of Manchester are the happiest of all parishes. The southern parish takes the lead ahead of St Ann and Trelawny, both tying with 8.0.
Last Friday, as a light rain sprinkled the parish, the residents visiting the main town in Mandeville casually went about their business. It was much cooler than usual; cold, in fact. And it was just noon.
"What!?" was the surprised response from several residents, most bursting into laughter. "Manchester is the happiest parish? Really? It must be the cool weather."
"Them say heat bring misery, so cold must bring contentment," 62-year-old Busta Pierce reasoned, as he stopped his colourful, custom-designed juice bicycle in the rain to chat with The Gleaner.
"From I born, I don't see doctor. Di body keep healthy and strong and nice and everything and keep fresh. Mi a one a di oldest man in di town here, a run up and down from mi a wear short pants and barefoot. Mandeville is a very nice place, man, a very nice place. We can still plant we little yam and coco and sell we little things and we all right," he stated.
Forty-nine-year-old Carlene Beckford declared enthusiastically, "I am happy in Manchester because it is cool, the right climate for me and we are a friendly set of people. We can find fruits when we are hungry, so it satisfies the need. And I am free! I walk on the street as I like, I go to church in the nights and I don't have to have company, so I am happy!"
Fellow resident Janelle Campbell, 28, shared, "The environment is what makes us happy. To know we are carefree and it is not a lot of stress, or busy like other parishes, like Kingston and Montego Bay, and that makes things relaxed."
Reclined in a comfy chair in his Grove Court, Mandeville, office, Dr Delroy McPherson was quite content, bursting into guttural laughter at intervals.
The 81-year-old definitely numbers among the happy residents of Manchester.
What makes him happiest of all is seeing the parish he was born and grew up in drastically changed from being very racist to now "become part of Jamaica. Race no longer plays a role in Mandeville, which makes us older residents who vividly remember those days very happy".
He added, "Mandeville has changed enormously since my days as a teenager. It is now a nice cosmopolitan town, a nice mixture of people."
Among the other factors that would always keep the physician and businessman rooted in his home town are the climate, the central location and the fact that it has everything he needs.
The youngsters, too, shared the same view about the blissfulness of the parish.
Peaceful and nice
Bellefield High School student Romario Murray, 13, said his family moved from Kingston to Manchester four years ago because the parish was very peaceful and nice.
"It is a pretty parish and Kingston is so hot, so people will come down to keep cool," the teen noted.
Classmate Deshaun Campbell, also 13, agreed, adding that the people were much friendlier and less violent.
Even the most discontent of Manchester residents revealed that there was no other parish they would rather call home. Clamouring for employment and better opportunities, natives like 47-year-old Karl White noted that "the climate and environment are the best in the world. I am happy to live in Manchester, I would live nowhere else, but I am not happy about being unemployed".
Inside one of the many bars in the parish, a few men sat having a drink while the apt strains of Hopeton Lewis' Take It Easy, No Need To Worry belted from the jukebox.
"With so many beautiful women in Manchester, any man who is unhappy is by choice," one of the men declared.
"But don't tell my wife I said that."
They all laughed in agreement, raising their beers in cheers.