By Daniel Thwaites
Why is Horace Chang threatening to move up the date of the Labour Party conference and spoil the coming two months of fun and games? Horace! How could you do this to me? I thought we were friends.
If this is to be a campaign on plans, policies and programmes, presumably the candidates need time to set them out and explain them to the delegates. Foreshortening the campaign doesn't leave much room for that.
Does it matter that Dr Chang has been closely identified with one campaign? It may compromise him as a neutral broker. Others who have remained above the fray may have to be enlisted to hold the centre.
Anyway, Mr Shaw's islandwide consultations have concluded. Recall the definition of 'consult' found in The Devil's Dictionary: "To seek another's approval of a course already decided on." Which is not to say that Shaw is being devilish. On the contrary, he's sounding positively saintly.
In fact, transfigurations were occurring in front our very eyes this past week. Man-a-Yaad, the tough-talking bruiser who put the 'Man' in 'Manchester', has turned into the meek and peace-loving guy who put the 'Christ' in 'Christiana'. Where was Mr Seaga's self-styled Water Boy, the thunderous Man-a-Yaad, the habitual libeller of Peter Bunting, the fire stoker who famously didn't draw Portia's tongue? That man had gone, replaced by candidate 'Bring Back the Love' and Mr 'Love and Unity'. In fact, there was so much talk of love in St Audley's presentation that I began to wonder if he had something specific and un-Christian in mind.
As if to emphasise the makeover, Audley closed his public announcement quoting 'pryaz' that he attributed to St Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
In fact, this pryaz is not from St Francis, but it is tremendously beautiful, so why fuss with the detail? St Audley was so delicate that he wouldn't even mention the word 'challenge'. He will "allow [his] name to be entered into nomination for the post of leader".
St Audley spoke of consulting with God, but curiously, he didn't say if there was an answer. If there was one, it would be interesting to know if it was the Voice that called Samuel, or the one that tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
Incidentally, the original St Francis was a youth who spent his early years idly, much like Audley, who has admitted to being a PNP before him get sensible and "him eye dem open up". You have to love that.
One less-known story about St Francis, brother Audley, is that he had wanted martyrdom, and for that reason travelled to convert the Saracen hordes. He met with Saladin's nephew, but didn't have much success with the conversion effort.
As my favourite hagiographer, Fr Alban Butler, put it: "St Francis, after visiting the East in the vain quest of martyrdom, spent his life like his Divine Master - now in preaching to the multitudes, now amid desert solitudes in fasting and contemplation." I wonder if this is St Audley's fate should his bid to convert the delegates be unsuccessful?
By the way, it's hard to read about Francis and not conclude that he wasn't too 'righted' in his head. "He was early inspired by a high esteem and burning love of poverty and humiliation," says Fr Butler, but he is also reported to have had a hankering for talking with birds and other animals. Never mind that a love of poverty might not be a good fit for a finance minister or a prime minister, Audley may want to bear in mind that if he tried chatting with animals in Christiana, people might fling 'rockstone'. So I don't know how far he wants to travel down the St Francis bypass.
In response, Andrew Holness has been going through his own transformation. At a meeting in Westmoreland, Andrew made it clear that he didn't put the 'saint' in West Central Saint Andrew. Mr Holness very adeptly switched Queens and abandoned Elizabeth's English for Portia's Patwa. He was sounding good.
Holness was quite pointed that Audley has been sloppy with constituency matters, and sloppy with party responsibilities. There was also the implication from his remarks that Audley was sloppy with containing information disseminated in internal party forums and is among the notorious Labour-leakers.
A suggestion. What Andrew should have said was: "Audley, don't draw my tongue! Don't chubble this guy, because I don't fraid a no man, no gyal, nowhere!" And while he's saying that, he needs to make a sweeping motion with his hand like he's clearing St Audley away. Now that's an authentic 'don't romp wid mi 'cause yuh wi get cut!'
Anyway, the net result is that new Audley is sounding like old Andrew, and new Andrew is sounding like old Audley. Still, I imagine that with two months to go, unless the match is cut short by referee Chang, the Audley camp will soon be taking the kid gloves off, and the Andrew camp will forget the rules against abusing the elderly.
Speaking of ageing: I'm reminded of the old gentleman who shuffled into his lawyer's office and asked him to draft divorce papers. "But Mr Finkelstein," said the attorney, "you've been married for 60 years!" Mr Finkelstein answers: "I know! I know! ... Enough is enough!"
Well, I want to spend a few words to wish my wife a happy 20th anniversary. Some people say they don't believe in miracles, but here I have proof otherwise! I want to say "thank you" and "I'm sorry", but I'm not sure in which order it's most appropriate. Either way, you know what I mean. I hope you don't get to the stage of poor old Mr Finkelstein.
Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites Law Firm in Jamaica, and Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in New York. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.