Wed | Jun 29, 2022

Mark Wignall | Grange at the denial address

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2022 | 12:05 AM
Grange
Grange

Motorists drive around roadblocks in Spanish Town last Wednesday. Residents mounted barricades to limit the threat of drive-by gun attacks.
Motorists drive around roadblocks in Spanish Town last Wednesday. Residents mounted barricades to limit the threat of drive-by gun attacks.
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Last week, as armed gunmen with strong notional attachments to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) fought among themselves over ‘gang conflicts’ in Spanish Town, a hapless Babsy Grange, in her role as MP for Central St Catherine, was interviewed on...

Last week, as armed gunmen with strong notional attachments to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) fought among themselves over ‘gang conflicts’ in Spanish Town, a hapless Babsy Grange, in her role as MP for Central St Catherine, was interviewed on radio.

The lady knew little about the One Order Gang. Along the way, it turned out that she did not know that the sun rose in the east, sets in the west, and that hurricanes usually spin up during hurricane season. Because she knew so little, she had no idea that Oliver ‘Bubba’ Smith, a gunman and gang leader from Tawas Pen, the focal point of the JLP street forces in Central St Catherine, was the founder of the One Order Gang in the early 2000s.

PRIME MINISTER BLOWING HOT

And of course, when he met his well-deserved end at the hands of unknown gunmen in 2004, the lady would not have known of him. The lady probably was sure that little green men lived on Mars and that the Moon was made of cheese just as much as the car Bubba drove when he was killed was a nothing-burger to our poor Babsy.

In many ways, Ms Grange has my sympathies. She cannot gauge the mood of the times as she refuses to vacate the premises of the past, still firmly rooted on Denial Street in tribal politics.

“It’s all about PR,” said a prominent person when we spoke last Thursday. “She doesn’t know that her style of politics is dead, but she is still flogging it in the hope that it will rise up and gallop.

“Even in the Festival song fiasco, her management of it is indicative of the many failures in this country.”

My journalist friend was howling mad. “Wi have to do something,” he said of the violent criminality in this country. “Di JLP f*** di drill. Dem need a hauling over the coals.”

He suggested that the PM should thumb his nose at constitutional norms and borrow some of the needed fixes from El Salvador.

“Madness!” I said. And then the next day, as if the PM had been reading his mind, there is Mr Holness equating the ‘war’ in Spanish Town to a national emergency.

I asked him a key question: “Do we have and enjoy too many rights?”

“Yes, we do. Too many rights are afforded the criminals. They snub their noses at us. It’s time to beat them at their own game. Let’s all tackle dirty. The Tivoli incursion was sign enough that if the State is decisive, criminals cower. Forget human rights! Law-abiding citizens will not have anything to fear.”

How can that be done without a national, island wide state of emergency, which would do immense damage to the economy? How?

GOOD FATHER WITHOUT FRILLS

I often read of worthy people relating to others about the innumerable words of wisdom and sparkling gems of knowledge given to them by their fathers.

My father, who died in 1996 at the age of 96, was not that sort of a father. But I remember him taking me outside the Moneague house on nights in 1957 to gaze upwards at Sputnik, the Russian satellite, which moved slowly like a bright pinpoint of light as a marvel to millions of earthlings. I was seven years old.

In an earthquake in the late 1950s, Daddy also showed me small cracks in the earth in the back of the yard and explained them. When Gary Sobers broke Len Hutton’s batting record by scoring 365 not out in 1958, I was in the wooden, northern stands at Sabina Park. I was beside my father. I was eight years old.

Daddy taught me how to use an electric drill, how to pass a knife to anyone by the handle-first rule. He took me to the fancy Premier Theatre to watch El Cid and along the way at a very young age knew what was a Phillips screwdriver and learned how to properly position a pipe wrench and repair a toaster and an electric iron. At a place downtown called Whims, Daddy bought me milkshakes and delicious sliced cake.

As daddy played recorded music on his fancy monogram on Saturdays, he swore that Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra were not good singers. He convinced me for a short time that if one was not in the class of Caruso or Mario Lanza, one was not a singer.

On the other hand, when I was in my early teens, he became miserable and grumpy as I cannibalised his electronic equipment and ‘borrowed’ his speakers.

He had a simple rule for how my siblings and I should operate outside of the house. Hold your heads high and never ask anyone for anything. Daddy spun no fantastical tales about Santa Claus, but each Christmas, there would be the excitement around him erecting and decorating the Christmas tree. Mr Perfection himself. Daddy taught me how to engage with the special woman in my life. All I had to do was watch him interact with my mother and through a child’s eyes. Playfully slap her on the rear-end and whisper words unknown in one ear.

A disaster was averted when I fell into a newly dug pit half-full of rain water from a recent deluge. I had bolted around a corner and slipped into the pit, which luckily, had a ladder in it.

By the time one of my sisters shouted out that I had fallen into the pit, Daddy was there as I had grabbed the ladder and was on the way up. I was seven years old.

He never knew how much I marvelled at him as he drew on sheets of paper electrical circuits, pored over them, and sat in his workshop rewinding the coils in huge motors.

For many years he worked on a tugboat as ship’s electrician, and sometimes for months, he was at sea. The happiest moments came when the ship arrived in port and Daddy came home with suitcases of goodies. And then he disappeared into the bedroom to have an overly long conversation with my mother.

Boy, could my father talk.

- Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.