Troy Caine, Guest Columnist
Heartiest congratulations to Aabuthnott-Gallimore High School on the attainment of its 40th anniversary milestone, and its growth and achievements over the years.
But after perusing the contents of the 40th anniversary supplement in The Sunday Gleaner (December 8, 2013), I would like to ask this question: Who erroneously removed the hyphen from Mr Aabuthnott-Gallimore's name, and with whose permission? Was it the Ministry of Education, the folks in St Ann connected to the school, or was it the media?
I hope I am not going to hear the usual rubbish about how it is the 'modern' thing in vogue regarding technological advancement of the language, which has already been butchered by the genesis of text messages with the current practice, among other things, to use invisible punctuation marks.
Whatever the reason, or whoever the culprit who has created this aberration, it has been most inappropriate and misleading, as I am sure, by now, there is a distinct impression formed that Aabuthnott was one of Gallimore's Christian names.
Gideon Whitfield Aabuthnott-Gallimore, under whose instrumentality the school was built, was not just a former member of parliament for the area. He was a political icon who (like Dr Ivan Lloyd in the east) dominated the political fortunes of Western and South Western St Ann from 1944 until 1967, despite a general election loss in 1949, followed by a by-election loss in 1950.
Originally elected as Gideon Whitfield Gallimore and as one of the first 32 members of the House of Representatives in 1944, he had his surname changed by deed poll to Aabuthnott-Gallimore leading up to the 1949 general election, largely for political reasons.
Indeed, his use of the name 'Aabuthnott' was not accidental. In a strategic move to get his name listed alphabetically above all future opponents on the ballot paper, he adopted his mother's maiden name - Arbuthnot (from the little district of Arbuthnot, near Watt Town) - and altered the spelling so that Arbuthnot became 'Aabuthnott', and thus his name officially became G.W. Aabuthnott-Gallimore. On the campaign trail, it was then easy to go around the constituency and tell everyone to vote for the first name on the paper.
Although the ploy did not work for him in 1949, it was, however, a practical strategy at a time when the literacy rate of most rural parishes was not as high as it is today, and has remained one of the many imaginative manoeuvres of our smarter politicians over the years.
FAMILY OF POLITICIANS
The people of Alexandria and environs will tell you that the name Aabuthnott-Gallimore is also quite heavy in local-government representation, as his wife, Myrtle, was also an accomplished politician, whose record as the longest-serving woman in parish-council politics (representing the Alexandria division for 30 years), was only eclipsed by Denham Town's Lorna Leslie last year. In fact, G.W. Aabuthnott-Gallimore actually achieved the distinction of being the first political patriarch who sat in Gordon House and was succeeded by his son (Neville) and grandson (Andrew).
Nowhere in the political record books or anywhere else is Aabuthnott-Gallimore's name seen sans the hyphen, for without it, the name loses its resonance and the relevance of its original impact. So put back the hyphen and restore the man's name to its original form.
While every shortcut is not the safest passage to prosperity, it is the little things that we ignore or take for granted that are contributing heavily to the decline in our educational standards.
As the school's celebration coincides with his 20th year of passing, may Aabuthnott-Gallimore High continue in its quest to produce more positive results.
Troy Caine is a political historian. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.