The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are much further apart than the twenty-two miles they are supposed to be. In fact, right now, the gap between them is infinite and continues to widen. As it stands, the distance between Trinidad and Tobago can be as far away as London – and London bridge is breaking down. Worse, London has been accused in some quarters of being the instigator and perpetrator of the destruction of the link between Trinidad and Tobago.
When I was a little boy in the village of Carapichaima there was a mentally challenged man who worked in one of the shops. The only name we all knew him by was "Alan Ladd". His response to any question was "Like London." If you asked him how things were going, how he was feeling or what was the weather like, his invariable response was, "Like London."
I don't think that Alan Ladd would have understood today's London. This entire summer London will be much busier than usual and more full of games, disputes, protests and threats than ever before. While London has attained Olympian stature, it has been an eventful time. In the days to come, what you will see unfolding as London prepares for the big day is a kind of Picadilly Circus and for those who manage to get caught up in the netherworld of the London Underground, everything will go down the tube and everyone will behave like cry-babies.
The point of all this is to show how easy it is to get lost in London and all that London stands for. Without impugning the integrity of persons whose uprightness might be compared with Cleopatra's needle, especially exemplars like Dr John Prince, Dr Eastlyn McKenzie, Dr Rita Pemberton, Carlos Dillon and former Attorney General in the George Chambers Government, Senior Counsel Russell Martineau, one can still wonder if they can be described in Selvonesque terms as "Lonely Londoners". One colleague said that they have chosen London before Scarborough but that might not be fair, palatable or Palatuvier. The fact is that although we have gone beyond colonialism, it seems that in Tobago, London still rules.
This is why I can be sympathetic to anyone of my generation who grew up hearing the BBC news at seven in the morning and lunch time. It was so full of static that my less than ecstatic family used to shout at me to change the station because it was noise. My neighbor Miss Robinson used to shout across the road, "Oh Lord! I can't take that noise." The programme used to start with a bell ringing like a funeral (we didn't know it was Big Ben) and then someone intoning, "This is London calling." Now, I can easily understand the reaction, "Who? London calling. But I thought that the BBC shut that down. Listen, since I small I could not take that noise. I don't want no London calling. Tell them to stop London calling."
It all seems to be a capital mixup. London is the capital of England. You can find crab and dumpling in Tobago and you can also find it in London. You can find London in Tobago but you can't find Tobago in London or even Store Bay or Buccoo Reef. Actually, Dr Williams and a huge entourage including Dr Rudrunath Capildeo found self government for Trinidad and Tobago in London but I doubt that London can find it in London or even Tobago. It has to be found in Trinidad and Tobago. Worse you cannot take away the "and" before you find it. The whole situation reminds me of something that happened on Holly Betaudier's "Scouting For Talent". It was during the Robinson/Murray bacchanal for self-government for Tobago. A gentleman came on the programme and Holly asked, "Where you from?" The man said politely, "I am from Tobago." At which point Holly said, "I hope you didn't come here with all this secession stupidness. Anyhow, what you singing tonight?" The man then replied very quietly, "Release me."