Most of us are starting to feel the true meaning of Christmas. How many of the presents under the tree are for me? What did I get? Who did I forget?
It's no different in Apocrypha, that fairy-tale land beyond the clouds where politicians from the Promises Not Performance (PNP) and Just Lazy People (JLP) parties are always at daggers drawn in public but close friends in private. At Christmas time, they want gifts.
'Twas the night before Christmas when all through Cordon House
Not a creature was stirring, no one had a grouse.
Glocks were hung by the chimney with care; 8-60 murdered, nobody cared.
'Twas business as usual in Apocrypha's Parliament. Papers were shuffled; speeches were made; Baby Bunting promised more curfews and cordons; police killed some more civilians; nothing changed. Just outside Cordon House, members could hear the faint wail of two lone protesters with placards.
All I want for Christmas is my Senate seat;
(My Senate seat; my Senate seat)
All I want for Christmas is my Senate seat
So I can wish you, Merry Christmas.
It was Arthuritis and Tuffy, demoted by Andrue Pollmess after a bitter leadership contest in which Tuffy's toe failed to score because he stuffed it into his mouth. It was a good thing Tuffy's toe (and the rest of his foot) was unavailable, because Arthuritis, who, during the hostilities, had done nothing to expose his alliances, panicked afterwards and shot himself in the foot.
The MPs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Cabinet appointments danced in their heads;
And Mamma P in her muzzle, and Herald in his cap,
Had just settled down when Vashan's mic took a rap
All Prime Minister PoorShe wanted for Christmas was peace and quiet. Especially quiet. She wanted no more questions as long as she lived. Nothing from A to Z and back to 'a' ag(n).
When out on the road there arose such a clatter,
Herald sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
He wondered if others had joined the protest. He had nightmares of every Cabinet minister protesting with Arthuritis and Tuffy, saying, "We want nice comfy Senate seats, too. Is too much work being minister and MP."
The moon reflected off solar panels below
So Herald could see despite JPS power blow
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature buggy, and eight tiny reindeer.
At first, Herald thought it was Oma D'unn crossing the floor of Parliament. Readers remember Oma, who had a PhD in logic from the university but was like a moon, bright only in the dark. Herald prayed he'd never have to read a headline to PoorShe of Andrue including Oma in his shadow Cabinet. He squinted and peered until he made out a strange silhouette.
With a short, fat driver, so lively yet sleek
He knew in a moment it must be Zeeks.
More rapid than bullets his reindeer they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
"How him get out?" Herald muttered to himself. "What him want? Little did Herald know that all Zeeks wanted for Christmas was freedom. Herald went for his bird-shooting shotgun but, when he returned to the window and aimed at the buggy, a volley of rifle fire came from the reindeer who were armed with Winchesters. "Dis ya mus' be a dream," Herald said, closing the window in a hurry. But he couldn't wake up. He was trapped in the dream.
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to Cordon-House-top the reindeer flew,
With buggy full of messages, and Zeeks, too.
Herald ran into the living room still grasping the shotgun for dear life. He hustled to the foot of the chimney to intercept the imminent invasion.
And then, in a twinkling, he heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As he cocked his shotgun and was turning around,
Down the chimney Zeeks came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A sack of condoms he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
"Freeze!" Herald shouted, pointing the shotgun at Zeeks. "Keep youself quiet," Zeeks said in a high-pitched voice. "Me nah trouble yu. Me come from prison to give yu a Christmas message for all Jamaicans."
"His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the wig on his head was as white as the snow;
The butt of a spliff he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a round face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
"I see they're feeding you well in prison," Herald said. "You no mind dat," Zeeks replied. "Since oonu tek me wey from my people, yu see how many murders, rapes and kidnapping a gwaan? Me know sey Mamma P nah listen or read. She only want to talk 'bout constituency projeck. So you haffe tell har. If she don't straighten up and give Jamaica security and justice fa Christmas, she not lasting anodder year."
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And Herald laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave Herald to know he had nothing to dread.
Herald found the courage to speak. "What yu trying to say?" he asked. "Look at dese letters me get from all de naughty girls and boys sey dem want dis and dat fa Christmas. Dem nah get nutten from me. Read them, Herald, an' yu will know what to tell Mamma P."
"Christmas! Bah! Humbug!" said Herald. "Nobody ever give me nuttin for Christmas yet."
"Ah, Heraid," said the little man looking and sounding like Zeeks, "it's better to give than receive. How yu t'ink I rule Matches Lane for so long?"
He spoke not another word, but went straight to his work,
Neatly stacked all the cards; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
Herald opened the first card. It was a letter to Santa Claus from Oma D'unn. For Christmas, Oma wanted to have a big project started so he could run wid it. He also asked for goat cheese and iguana steak.
In his letter, Andrue asked for ballots from all voters pre-marked for the JLP candidate in every constituency to be left with him long before the next election. R.U. Shaw asked for a yard with no brown man in it.
Baby Bunting asked for the legalisation of prostitution so that anybody who wanted war could have one without guns. Cry-baby Marque asked for more trees to be killed to pass more laws that nobody could enforce. Ras Run I Weights wanted teachers seen but not heard.
Herald noticed that nobody asked for anything to improve the lot of ordinary Apocryphans. Nobody asked for better-equipped police; more schools; properly trained teachers; an education system that prepared students for life instead of for exams; good governance by independent oversight of the Cabinet; or growth. He looked around to try for an explanation from Zeeks but he'd gone.
He sprang to his buggy, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
'HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT'
Herald awoke in a cold sweat. He shook PoorShe until she woke up. "Mamma," Herald said, "here's de latest news. You haffe fire de Cabinet right away. Dem jus' a play grab bag. Change de Constitution so yu can seleck 13 bright people fe de Senate and mek dem all minista. A dat Missa Frank Phipps suggest long time. We no need more than 13 minista. Force de MP dem to represent the people who eleck dem and to review, approve or veto legislation.
"No mek Cry-baby pass law afta law whey no mek no sense and can't enforce. MP mus stop minister fram buy SUV when none a we can afford bus fare. A dat Apocrypha want fe Christmas."
Back home in Jamaica, my Christmas wish is for Damion Crawford's exposÚ of Booklist Boyne (December 15; 'Not weak-kneed but strong-minded on Section 15') be required reading in every Jamaican school. For many years now, Booklist has been doing his best to fool readers into believing he's a paragon of virtue (only responds to "civil" critique); an intellectual of the highest calibre; and a voracious reader of important books.
What's always been more likely is his "civility" rule allows him to ignore arguments he can't refute; his so-called "reading" (or reading list) usually includes high-brow tomes of dubious relevance to real life; and his claim to intellectualism lacks substantive qualification or practical experience.
I've been saying this, in my usual "insolent" tone, for years. Now that Rasta MP, Damion, has stripped Booklist's fašade clean and left him like the proverbial Emperor, maybe some of you will begin to see through the illusion he has created and perpetuated for a long time.
I've just been told that, in a cost-cutting exercise, The Gleaner intends to restrict In Focus columns to 1,000 words as of January 1. But quality can't be measured by word count. Instead of grasping the opportunity to reduce dross by cutting deadwood columnists, The Gleaner is restricting space to all, thereby making it impossible for meaningful in-depth analysis of anything.
Too few words will ensure misunderstanding, closely followed by lawsuits. (Word) count me out. My final Sunday column will be published next week. Guess who'll celebrate.
Peace and love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.