Sun | Dec 3, 2023

The winter of our discontent

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2010 | 12:00 AM

'Bruce, Blackstone Street rematch Saturday'. I saw this curious headline in the Internet edition of a Trinidad paper and wondered what it was all about. It turned out that 'Bruce' is short for a horse named 'Bruceontheloose'. Although the horse is from Jamaica, it has nothing to do with Bruce Golding, the Jamaican prime minister, even though his detractors may use the phrase to describe his fiscal policies.

'Blackstone Street' is not an address. It is a horse that was soundly thrashed by 'Bruce' in a previous encounter. The article describes Bruceontheloose as a Jamaican grey racing machine and perhaps Mr Golding might have earned the same compliment were he not unfairly handicapped and unevenly matched against three major opponents - time, Air Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Worse, there is the matter of perspective - is he running in the Futurity Stakes or the Depression Derby? Even with God's grace and Kennedy's, does he stand a chance?

One could, of course, wish Mr Golding 'Godspeed', hoping this would suffice to give him the boost he needs to come out a winner, but one should not forget the strange incident at Caymanas. The nuns at a small inner-city Catholic community in Kingston were happy to learn that an anonymous donor had left money to them. Each nun had $50 in cash to give away as she saw fit. Each announced how she would spend the cash.

Sister Catherine Ann decided to give her share to the first poor person she saw. As she said this, she looked out the window and saw a man leaning against the telephone pole across the street. He looked poor indeed. She immediately left the convent and walked towards the man. He looked so downtrodden that the good nun felt he had been sent by Heaven to receive her offering.

She pressed the $50 into the man's hands and said, "Godspeed, my good man." As she left, the man called out to her, "What is your name?" Shyly, she replied, "Sister Catherine Ann." The following evening, the man returned to the convent and rang the bell. "I'd like to see Sister Catherine Ann," he said. The nun at the door answered, "I'm sorry, but I cannot disturb her right now. She's in the chapel. May I give her a message?" "Yes," said the man gleefully. "Give her this $500 and tell her Godspeed came in first at Caymanas."

I had a second thought as I watched the Winter Olympics noting that there was not more West Indian presence there. Why, I asked myself, leave these matters to chance and Providence when we have politicians who can represent us with distinction on this major world stage? True, CARICOM is a failure. The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) is a disaster. The Heads of Governments (HOGs) just met in Mexico to set up something that is like the Organisation of American States (OAS) but without the US and Canada. However, I believe I have hit on the one arena in which they could actually emerge on top of the world. Winter Olympics. Were it not too late, and had they not eliminated Canada from their association, I would have packed them off to Vancouver with flags flying high knowing they have the right stuff to excel. After all, the one thing at which they are all highly adept, as demonstrated in Mexico, is playing games.

politicians bob and weave

Let's start with an area where the West Indies, by way of Jamaica, became famous - bobsled racing. The movie
Cool Runnings
captured the hearts of millions. Since then, the Jamaican Bobsled team has failed to make it to the finals. The reason for this is simple - they have the wrong people on the team. They need politicians. Not even Trevor Berbick or Mike McCallum could bob and weave like some of our present political heavyweights. See how they avoid the media! Look at how adroitly they evade accountability! Take Patrick Manning's stance on a church now being built in Trinidad on state lands. The barrage of media blows are to him like water on a dasheen leaf. One does not need a referendum to determine his partner on the sled. This Caribbean heavyweight's administration is going downhill so fast that it would smash all the existing records - faster even than Bruceontheloose.

Then you have 'Cross Country'. Right now it is almost impossible to find a country that is not cross with its prime minister. Trinidad and Tobago is perhaps the most cross of all and are prepared to crucify Manning were a suitable alternative available - he has even been attacked by his own highly paid calypso singers who perform in a 'Tent' owned by the Government. There are no genuinely happy campers around.

Some of the present HOGs have been getting a lot of practice in 'Figure Skating' as they prepare to place their people in the hands of the IMF. Even though Lloyd Best simplified the process by saying that IMF stands for 'Is My Funds', and that you are really borrowing back your own money with stringent and severe conditionalities attached, the fact is that mismanagement either by the present or previous governments, and conveniently blamed on the present global financial crisis, has made the step off the edge inevitable. The figure skating is only a prelude to 'ski jumping' which is what is happening now. The skis or skies were the limit for those governments which spent money like water. They are now rapidly plummeting to earth without any hope of a soft landing or any way of avoiding the avalanche of debts they have created.

Speed skating is another event which will suit our team. Many of them are really good at skating on thin ice. Ice hockey, too, as the electorate wants them to get the puck out of Government. However, I believe that our best event will be the luge since many of our politicians are born lugers.

Tony Deyal was last seen in Vancouver looking at an event called the Skeleton and wishing that our HOGs were taking part particularly because of the number of skeletons they all have in their closets.