The day John Spence called me
It was with a sense of deep sadness that I received the news of the passing of Prof John Spence. Although he wrote for the Express, his loss was carried with equal prominence by all three daily newspapers, a recognition, to my mind, of the respect that he had rightly acquired through his dedication to national issues.
After I had given an address to a Port of Spain Rotary Luncheon on August 21, 2012, Prof Spence called me. I had spoken about the terrible inadequacy of our governance model and related this to the predictable failings in service with which we were contending and which I predicted would only get worse. I pointed to a total re-write of our failed Constitution.
Prof Spence called to express his gratitude for my attention to the issue of constitutional reform and expressed the view that this was a critical topic that was begging for far more attention.
Our conversation was varied and long. Prof Spence was extremely energetic in the advocacy of his points of view, but very interested in mine. The conversation was devoid of any political reference and at no time was a single politician from any period of our history ever mentioned.
The privilege of conducting this discourse with Prof Spence was not lost on me and I was very affected by the broadness of his intellectual capacity, his willingness to defend his point of view patiently and without acrimony and his genteel and gentlemanly nature.
I had not felt such a privilege since my last conversation with Lloyd Best who also never allowed acrimony or political interest to pollute his concerns about the future of our country.
I did not know John Spence well, but our telephone conversation enthused me. To this day I feel honoured to have had his call. To this day I also remain inspired that a man of his age remained dedicated to the task of trying to solve our nation's problems, with only the purest intention of creating a better life for our citizens.
I count his loss personally among many others of the recent past including Pat Bishop, Desmond Allum and of course Lloyd Best. I worry that their conscientious devotion to truth on behalf of our nation is not being emulated by those who are left behind.
I join with many others in offering condolences to his family, his colleagues and his friends.
May he rest in peace.
Port of Spain