Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It’s all about timing

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Mark Fraser

TIMING in life is everything, a good friend of mine always says.

And I could not have picked a better time to take my two-week vacation than the days leading up to and following the Chaguanas West by-election, where a cat and dog fight was underway, with a lot more at stake than one seat in the House of Representatives.

One man, whose “fame” was due to smoke and mirrors and lots of self-praise more than anything substantial, was trying to buy the election with petty hand-outs, while the incumbent party was clawing back with desperate measures. And between the two main protagonists, all self-respect and civility was tossed out like so much garbage from a moving car on the highway.

I was just grateful that my two weeks happened to coincidentally fall when they did, between the vacations of two other Express editors who would have to read through the news reports on the last bitter days of a battle royale between former friends and colleagues, who suddenly had all the lowdown on their respective faults and foibles, scandalous revelations that just a few months before were their own dirty little secrets.

And these are the people who lead us, who vowed to do their best in service to the country.

Lord help us!

But perhaps the best part of not being around to see the news first-hand as it happened last week was the sight of another low life crawling out from under a rock to lead a march in observance of the anniversary of the attempted coup of 1990.

How in heaven’s name could acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, who never seems to remember what he said, give permission to Abu Bakr to lead his preposterous procession on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the bloody 1990 attempted coup?

Thank goodness that I didn’t have to edit the copy describing that farce, to remain impartial and unbiased and respect both sides of the story, because in most other civilised countries Abu Bakr would have still been rotting in jail or even be six feet under having been executed for treason, instead of disrupting traffic for no good reason on a Friday afternoon.

Between Bakr, Jack Warner and the Prime Minister, we have a trio who shame us more than inspire us. Yet still, they all have their faithful followers who will do their bidding, trailing them with their brains off, eyes closed and hands out for any scraps that may fall their way.

So instead of having to digest any further drivel from the aforementioned troika, I spent last week looking at the replay of Phil Mickleson’s memorable British Open triumph, followed by the West Indies getting more licks; doing a little exercise on Tuesday and Thursday; and drinking a lot of rum in between.

And the highlight of it all was last Wednesday when I was among the audience at Mas Camp Pub to see Sparrow and Stalin, two of the real heroes of T&T, in concert.

The one and only Mighty Sparrow, who celebrated his 78th birthday on July 9, is slow on his feet but his tongue is still fast. He bantered with the crowd in the mischievous way that has kept him a fan favourite for so many decades and his “Congo Man” remains a winner, his loyal supporters lapping up his geriatric offering, treasuring the countless memories he has inspired since the late 1950s.

We don’t know how many more times we will get to see him in action so we have to savour such occasions and bow to his greatness, an entertainer par excellence who has never lost the common touch.

And one of his successors is Black Stalin, still going strong and getting every member of the audience to rise to their feet for his signature selection, “Black Man Feeling To Party”.

But Stalin is so many other songs, including “We could make it if we try”, with the line about “our country facing its darkest hour…”.

I can’t recall what he was referring to when he penned those words—the death throes of the PNM in 1986; the coup in ’90; the feeding frenzy at Piarco Airport in the late 90s; or Patrick Manning’s hubris just a few years ago.

If one of those infamous passages in our nation’s history qualified as our “darkest hour”, what would Stalin say about today, July 2013, when a globally-derided figure is acclaimed as some sort of knight in shining armour, while the Prime Minister he helped put in power is only now aware of his many questionable dealings?

The consolation, though, is that we survived those previous darkest hours and we just have to pray that we can get over this latest period of absolute darkness.

But while the outcome of the by-election continues to hold the national spotlight, followed by all the analysis and postmortems, I am maintaining my good timing, this time in Tobago, where instead of having to await the counting of the votes for tomorrow’s paper, I’ll be sipping a Bloody Mary on Store Bay.

And Chaguanas West, Warner, Persad-Bissessar and Bakr will be the furthest things from my mind.

Until next week, when it’s back to keeping tabs on Trinidad and Tobago’s rat race.