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Patrick in trouble

Published:Saturday | March 6, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

Caribbean people have a way with words. We use them, like Derek Walcott and Vidia Naipaul, to win Nobel prizes. We give them new meanings. We distort and twist them. We can throw them with greater pace and stinging accuracy than Vivian Richards running out the Australian batsmen in the 1975 World Cup. Most of all, we can invent them.

There is one expression that is not even in Richard Allsopp's
Dictionary of Caribbean Usage
. It is the phrase 'take a six for a nine'. I first heard it used in a calypso by a singer known as 'Hawk' (Andrew Haywood). Commenting on the problems faced by a man named Patrick who had a wife he couldn't handle, Hawk in a song titled
Patrick in Trouble
"Ah sorry for him/But he is to blame./He used to boast/About the dame./He used to say/That she was divine/But poor Patrick,/ Brother, well he take a six for a nine!

The calypso was an instant hit and Patrick stepped into calypso history, not just for its eloquence and catchy tune, but also because we can all identify with Patrick. Even now, when Trinidadians of my generation get together and inevitably summon up the ghosts of past calypsos with spirituous libations and musical invocations, Patrick joins Melda, Rose, Theresa, Benwood Dick, May May and Blakie's Maria in the seance.

Recently, I saw a column by my colleague, Keith Smith, recording and simultaneously eulogising Hawk and his contribution to calypso. Keith's column did more than merely evoke those long gone times when my love for calypso and language was nurtured in perhaps the best environment in the world for those who love words like 'picong', 'wahbeen women', 'pappyshow' and 'mammaguy'.

Relevant calypsos

It reminded me that some calypsos can continue to be many years after they were composed. While it might be mere coincidence that Hawk's song is about a man named Patrick who took a 'six for a nine', right now there are concerns that the same visual myopia and psychological misapprehensions might be seriously afflicting another Patrick - this time the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning.

While it does not seem that the prime minister is involved in any kind of heartbreaking romantic entanglement like the Patrick in the calypso, or is suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous femininity, his close relationship with a female seer or prophetess, first questioned by preacher, Benny Hinn, is now a major focus of concern. Hinn said in a broadcast in 2007 that he had accurately prophesied that Manning would be prime minister of Trinidad.

After he became PM, Manning visited Hinn who was holding a crusade in Trinidad. Hinn claimed Manning brought with him a very foolish woman who called herself a prophetess. He walks into the room with this woman and says to me, "I have a gift for you", "I have a gift for you." I said what gifts can he bring? So he looks and said, "This is the gift. This woman. She has a word for you." ... And then he said, "I want her to pray for you and give you the word." ... God speaks to her, in fact God speaks to me through her. She has been a great blessing to my government."

The Hinn-cident came up in the Trinidad Parliament. According to a report by Ria Taitt datelined Thursday, May 17, 2007, "Benny Hinn, the evangelist pastor who prophesied Patrick Manning's 'exaltation' as prime minister in 1999, lashed out at him on Monday on his
This is Your Day
broadcast describing the prime minister "as the most foolish man he had ever met"." Four days later, another journalist, Rhondor Dowlat, wrote in the same newspaper about her meeting with a woman whose identity was not revealed but who admitted to giving advice to the prime minister: "Asked again if she had given Manning any spiritual guidance, the woman replied, "I met with him on five occasions, I told him certain things but he was not obedient, that is why things are the way it is now in the country." At this point, she cut short the interview, and said to this reporter, "I understand that you have your work to do but if you write any report for the papers, the judgement of God shall fall upon you."

While I also risk the same judgement about which the journalists were warned, it is clear that the voice of the people, reputed by some to be identical to the voice of the deity, is more indicative of pain than any paeans to Patrick and his prophetess.

Shady building

FIFA's Jack Warner, a member of parliament, raised the issue of a splendid cathedral being built by Chinese labour on what were state lands in a remote hillside area of Trinidad called the 'Heights of Guanapo'. Even without the mandatory building permit, the building already has electricity and water. The road leading to it has been newly paved. A Reverend Juliana Pena was linked to the church and to Manning. Questions were asked about the ownership of the church. Mr Manning did not reply directly but a news release from the Government claimed that Manning was not the owner of the church. Many of my cynical colleagues were not impressed, "His wife, his children or even a trust he set up could be owners of the church, so why not clear up the issue?"

Mr Manning proceeded without let or Hinn-drance. He chose Private Members' Day in Parliament to speak at length about the persecution of people like himself - 'born again' Christians. He maintained that like other leaders (possibly meaning Ronald Reagan), he was entitled to a spiritual adviser. In the meantime, the matter is being thoroughly ventilated. Words are being coined like 'Hinn-vestigation'. People are now going backwards from Warner's Revelation to the Genesis of the problem. The leader of the Opposition said cleverly, "The prime minister's faith is not the issue. It is the people's faith in the prime minister." Meanwhile, the PM's prophetess has demonstrated her prescience. Knowing the hullabaloo that was due to happen, she is nowhere to be found. In fact, nobody can lay hands on her, not even Benny Hinn. She is like the psychic girlfriend of comedian Stephen Wright who left him before they met. This makes one wonder, how come she didn't warn Patrick what to expect?

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that if the prophetess had Benny's Hinn-sight, she would have taken Manning to higher Heights than Guanapo and not have 'landed' him in trouble.