So help me, after that little episode with the blue-eyed faux Saint Lucian and his Dominican “little boys with toys” (say that again, please!), I imagined the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce no longer wanted any part of such activities as could involve round holes and square-tipped glass, obelisk-shaped or phallic. But I was wrong. Quite accidentally I discovered at the weekend that what may be for some a royal pain in the rear can for others be orgasmic bliss.
Last Saturday afternoon someone with a sewer for a brain asked a mutual friend to let me know Choice-TV was that evening featuring one of my favorite stars of American TV and, for whatever reason, I imagined he referred to take-no-prisoners John Stewart.
I tuned in shortly after eight, just as Richard Peterkin was about to tackle a paragraph from my article in last Saturday’s STAR, entitled “Is this the Final Straw for Saint Lucia?” By the way, whatever happened to our emcees for all seaons? I’m thinking about Fish ‘n’ Boots, Cokes & Aricelia, Earl & Denys, aka The Dead Heads, and what’s his name who used to do those hilarious impersonations on TV? Surely they can’t all be on the CIA payroll—by which I refer to the Creative Industries Agency.As usual, on Saturday evening Richard played it safe. No one knows better than he that on this Rock of Sages you don’t land prestigious no-pay roles such as Chamber Clown if you devote the smallest part of your day to rocking boats painted red or yellow. You’re either a predictable government gasbag or you’re not. And if you’re not, then you’re out. Ask Jeff Stewart.
Richard imagined he was on safe turf when he told his glass-eyeing audience on Saturday evening that the author of what he was about to read out loud was obviously concerned about “his dwindling relevance.” You know, like Derek Walcott, who spends his time writing stuff too deep for even the nation’s best brains to fathom.
Richard’s line was not altogether original, I dare to say. For several years now Red Zoners have been pushing it on Facebook, especially when a new scandal has hit the fan—or when general elections are imminent.
In any event, big words for last Saturday’s brain train. Richard’s arrow missed by a mile its intended mark. Perhaps his audience needed more light to see who among them was relevant in our increasingly irrelevant society. Then again, reminiscent of another comedian at another taxpayer-sponsored pappyshow, perhaps his audience dismissed Richard’s lead-in as one more “irrelevant detail”—as unworthy of their concentration as the matter of how Gilbert Chagoury’s name arrived on this year’s list of Honorable Saint Lucian Heroes.
The emcee tried again: he sounded quite serious as he advised his audience in the semi-darkness that the author had deliberately chosen to rain on the Chamber’s parade by publishing on the Chamber’s big day his revealing piece about the IMPACS fiasco.
Confided the barely recognizable Richard behind his accountant’s poker face, the author’s main purpose for writing was to embarrass the nation’s hard-working prime minister who, from my vantage, seemed to fill three chairs a few feet from the poorly lit makeshift stage that was the launching pad for most of the night’s jokes. (Da Jade sat close to her boss, her red-tipped fingers caressing her BB!)
In an atmosphere less vicieze Richard’s crack about my assumed devious motives might’ve tickled someone’s sense of irony. After all, who among the assembled Chamber-glass prospectors did not already know our favorite HOG is sans pareil when it comes to embarrassing himself? Never mind his more legendary foot-in-mouth feats. Consider instead his recent New Year and Independence Day addresses.
We need not revisit the stink bomb he dropped on the nation the other Sunday, entitled “A Distressing Issue to Confront.” (A couple weeks earlier he had referred to it as “An Unhappy Episode,” and before that, well, who needs to remember?)
In the “distressing issue” speech he had managed to misrepresent himself at least twice, repeatedly got important dates wrong, and forgot who had been the first to talk here about hit lists and police death squads. No need to discuss, Russ, the little matter of who had introduced the ID card law and later marked it deserving of public protest such as had not been seen in Saint Lucia since the fire-and-brimstone heyday of the Great Satan—all in the good name of demockrazy, you understand.
Richard, who according to persistent rumor is the sole custodian of the government’s Irrelevant Matters File, might’ve done a lot better with his audience had he chosen to read to them the paragraph that opened my cited “Last Straw” article.
It certainly would’ve satisfied the “relevance” requirement—short and sweet as it is, not to say undeniable: “Hard to believe, the Chamber of Commerce was once a nightmarish horned and saber-toothed creature capable of bringing powerful politicians to their knees at the heart-stopping sound of a hiccup.”
Richard de lyin’ heart chose instead to engage in catch-as-catch-can with my angry third paragraph about the Chamber’s pussycat tendencies. Poor judgment.
The presumed appreciators of hilarity, hoity-toities in suits and gowns—most of them, like the rest of the nation, on the brink of bankruptcy—had lost what little sense of humor remained in their bellies just about the time our chameleonic prime minister turned an “oppressive, anti-poor and anti-worker” poison into the permanent reliever of all pain.
The miracle at Cana doesn’t come close. Surely Richard had to have known the night’s coveters of Chamber glass would quite likely have spent most of last Friday evening and Saturday getting their HIB suitably retouched by star weaver Emile and by lesser magicians at roadside Hair-I-Buy parlors, to say nothing of constituency barbershops and ubiquitous nail palaces!
Reading the weekend newspapers had to be just about the last thing on their one-track minds last Saturday. Besides, don’t most of us peruse our Saturday papers on Sunday when we’ve more or less recovered from the previous night’s dizzying effects?
Then again Richard had himself revealed how little he knows about local customs when he publicly acknowledged he never heard about soopap—until the dame on the hill pulled him aside at a cocktail and whispered deliciously dirty details in his most receptive ear. Or did I get that wrong, too? (Inexplicably, my TV kept acting up throughout the Chamber’s Glass Awards ceremony.) Did Richard say I had written “crap-spewing wolves of William Peter Boulevard” when in fact I’d written “shit-spewing wolves” etc?
But to leave you with the impression that last Saturday’s Chamber Oskars was a total fiasco would be a mite unfair. The evening’s Chamber Clown was actually quite good when he was bad. The audience reaction to his advertisement of a particular brand of soopap-resistant condom threatened the venue’s roof. I swear I heard a familiar ho-ho-ho mixed with a high-pitched sibilance achievable only with split front teeth.
Our prized HOG took some hard knocks to the prime ministerial gonads, with no signs of discomfort. But then he must by now be impervious to sneak raids on the family jewels, even when laced with malice. It should also be noted that rotten eggs tossed in our HOG’s direction nearly always explode on our unprotected faces.
Make your joke about VAT—but at whose expense? Too many overseas mission-mansions? Guess who pays. IMPACS a sick joke that the U.S. State Department will not swallow? Guess who’ll suffer. America declares Venezuela hell on earth? Guess who’ll burn.
For me, Richard’s unspoken definition of “private sector” was his best contribution to Saturday evening’s saturnalia. It had nothing to do with the nation’s wealth generator; nothing to do with debt-GDP ratios; nothing to do with Value Added Tax and unemployment. Richard’s private sector was altogether unrelated to what nearly every recipient of Chamber glass euphemistically referred to on Saturday as “the enormous challenges we face!”
Nor did Richard’s private sector have anything to do with the innovative five NICE ladies who, from a tiny Vide Bouteille backroom, had weekly exported thousands of locally manufactured laptops, cell phones and tablets—according to a certain reddish-blond native son once especially esteemed by Claudius (Saint Lucia, did you hear that?), Da Jade and Ezekiel Joseph’s prize student Dr. Stretcher!
It remains to be seen how much longer Chamber men and their distaff side continue without murmur to take enormous challenges up their private sectors.
I should add that to my over-informed mind the night’s most deserving glass receiver was the lady senator who in 2006 had gifted a somewhat down in the mouth ex-prime minister with brand new wheels—for services earlier rendered his constituency—the Integrity Commission be damned!
The night’s second best poke had to be Richard Peterkin’s sotto voce comment as the senator sashayed back to her seat in a clinging shimmery silver sheath, the TV cameras focused on her undulating private sector.
In Richard’s doubtless respected professional opinion the honorable senator had nothing to fear from Kim Kardashian, coming or going. An admitted FB (which is where he first encountered soopap) addict with an appetite for red-carpet repartee, the night’s Chamber comedian could not resist coming on like Ryan Seacrest at the Emmys.
“And who are you wearing tonight?” he asked, with just the right amount of sea salt on his tongue. Alas already the senator had traveled too far to respond like a lady. A gentleman nearer the stage said it all: “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
This time there was no sibilant chuckle. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time my ears deceived me.