As jealously protective as is my immune system of my mental health, I am not the least bit perturbed that I sometimes experience immense difficulty recalling details of certain recent occurrences. Paradoxically, I can with incredible clarity mentally revisit my life as a boy in Laborie; the countless escapades I had considered hilarious at the time, when in truth they were obvious manifestations of a fast-developing devilishly mischievous nature—most of them at the expense of my earliest bodybuilding buddies, among them Mike Moncherry, Peter Louisy and Cletus Joyeux.
I can with ease happily recall receiving my most cherished birthday gift—the cutest little puppy imaginable that I immediately named Frisky. I was eleven years old; the puppy was black and white, with a tail four inches long and eyes that talked; to me, at any rate.
The warder of my brain fails me miserably, however, when it comes to one local individual, famous at home and abroad for all the wrong reasons. All that remain in my memory of our initial encounters are vague, smoky snippets.
It seems our paths first crossed at the Voice; I was then the paper’s editor. Whether he had by this time completed his often self-cited precious mass-com course I cannot say with certainty. I do know, however, and this is immediately verifiable, that in my time at the newspaper he had never once contributed an item not already common knowledge even among the least informed.
Indeed, I have since concluded that UWI’s mass-com courses were never designed to produce writers of any worth—let alone writers with social consciences.
As is turned out, my tenure at the Voice was short-lived. The journalism that remains my specialty was not in harmony with my publisher’s ambitions. He summoned me one morning to his commodious quarters at Geest Industries to lay before me two choices: quit criticizing John Compton’s policies or suffer the consequences.
A short time later I left the Voice in favor of a job that Compton had controversially created just for me. But that, as they say, is for another inquiry.
It came as a surprise, the man who replaced me. I had expected the UWI graduate to inherit my vacated chair. It went instead to the inventor of “This is Saint Lucia, where we are happy!”—a once popular slogan evidently long forgotten with its author.
On reflection, perhaps my publisher had always wanted an editor versed in the black art of fantasy mongering—for which I never had much time. As for the mass-com genius, his history is well enough known not to merit repetition here. I need only add that we continue not to see eye to eye, especially on matters notoriously related to the Helenites Building in New York and to his serendipitous discovery of oil beneath the waves at Dauphin.
Imagine my amazement this week when I heard him back-slapping me for proffering the idea of a government-sponsored and press-covered simulation aimed at convincing distrusting Saint Lucians of our preparedness in the event of an Ebola-related emergency.
It wasn’t so much the gentleman’s inadvertent acknowledgement of my ability to think original thoughts that had grabbed my attention. Or that my idea was worthy of his esteemed endorsement. (Actually there was nothing earth-shattering in what I had said in a call to Newsspin.)
What really got my goat was his gall. It would’ve been more than enough simply to whisper the right words in the left ear of his comrade the prime minister. After all, the caller to Newsspin had easily persuaded the prime minister to controversially sign an agreement with an American oilman of ill repute, based on his promoter’s claim that while frolicking in the sea at Dauphin he had discovered the panacea that would wipe away our nation’s economic woes, current and future.
But hell no. He first had to remind Newsspin listeners at home and elsewhere of his generous, forgiving and magnanimous nature. In effect, that he was patting me on the back despite my nasty habit of blasting him and his trusted friend the prime minister.
He seemed oblivious of the fact that my call to Timothy Poleon had been made with the same mindset that over the years had motivated me to write about bad government policies, regardless of the occupier of the prime minister’s chair,regardless of the identities of other abusers of their offices.
There was something else in the particular snake-oil vendor’s tone. In my ear he seemed to be confirming the widespread suspicion that citizens who dare to demand good government—the citizen’s first duty!—call upon themselves consequences conceivable only to men demonstrably evil, whether or not lesser!