Last Thursday I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest on what is the most-discussed episode of TALK with Rick Wayne. You could say I was the nameless other guest. I was the first to arrive at the surprisingly tranquil DBS studios at Vigie, Castries. Much to my surprise the host was not yet present and so I acquainted myself with the famous “Junior.” If you’ve ever watched an episode of TALK, and I do mean just one, you’d know why Junior is “famous”: in the name of the show’s host, he has killed many cats; eliminated many ear hums; taken care of many “hacks” that seek to dominate the one phone line, if only to perpetuate and perhaps mock the songs from their respective party platforms. Simply put, Junior is DBS’s very own technician-extraordinaire.
Shortly after my arrival everyone involved with the production of the nation’s most controversial TV call-in show was on set. Junior did his usual thing and if only for a minute I felt what it must be like to find yourself being strapped to the electric chair. You know, the one the Brits want us to get rid of. Doubtless keeping in mind the cost of electricity we have chosen the rope over the electric chair.
A little past 8:30pm, it was lights, camera, action! The host began his preamble which, in my head, was taking forever as I waited excitedly and somewhat nervously for a show that was to become far more than what I had imagined it to be.
After taking us down memory lane as far back as 1984, when our then prime minister, John Compton, described government spending as far exceeding revenue—which our now prime minister, Kenny Anthony, as if deja-vu, in his last budget address also noted— Rick, as I normally call him, asked our thoughts on the points he noted.
For me, it was not scary to learn our prime minister had declared “war” on certain citizens (such pronouncements remind me that our politicians are the country’s worst inciters of hate and division).
Rick then probed us on our thoughts on certain issues relevant to us as young people. The now targeted guest Lashawn, while giving his own thoughts on life in Bois Patat and his interactions with his unemployed teenage friends, said: “Some of them even tell me they want to kill the Prime Minister.”
I thought to myself, Wow, I guess I’m not the only one who has heard people express similar sentiments as a result of their own frustrations from living in what our tourist board describes as Simply Beautiful Saint Lucia: a heavenly place where murders go unsolved; politicians describe one another as crooks; where the justice system comprises people who just don’t seem to care enough to do anything useful about injustice.
Upon Lashawn’s statement, Junior immediately took us to break. Rick, before the break, as surprised as he was that Lashawn had made the statement on air, attempted to explain what Lashawn really meant to convey.
For most, life in Saint Lucia isn’t as perky as some “better days” recipients would like us to believe. Not to mention the “poor and indigent” to whom our politicians, almost instinctively, attach their chariots.
We were back on the air and the calls began. The very first caller, as if well rehearsed and ready to attack, said Lashawn would have to report to the police those friends of his who wanted “to kill the prime minister.” It had suddenly turned into night for hyperbole. Maybe the prime minister’s own declaration of war had the caller confused into thinking there was a plot to out the PM’s lights.
I nevertheless moved on. The show progressed and ended on a high note for me, to the extent that I requested from the host a chance to return as a guest on TALK.
The next morning I excitedly went about my workplace, the STAR of course, asking everyone whether they’d seen my “television debut”. Some disappointedly noted they fell asleep early. But those who watched told me how much they enjoyed seeing Lashawn and me representing the youth. I settled down to what I expected to be a regular day at the STAR.
By afternoon our “office CNN”, as we affectionately refer to her, had begun teasing me that the police commissioner was on his way, in search of Lashawn and me. My first thought was that I would be spending a few years on remand, without trial, at our luxury 5-star accommodation for inmates in this Simply Beautiful Wonderland. As I went to lunch the receptionist also let me know she’d been inundated with calls from media houses for comment from Rick Wayne. About what, I would soon find out.
I had to hear for myself why we had suddenly become overnight news sensations. I made certain to tune in to the afternoon’s news, only to be assaulted by SLP mouthpiece Winston Springer as he read out a press release. I could not stop laughing my head off throughout the episode.
The words were read like a cryptic code, a message to “the troops”, I thought. He emphasized the phrase “kill the prime minister” and used it repeatedly in his ridiculous condemnation of the doomsday message preached by Rick Wayne.
I need not mention that two days earlier Wayne had been lauded by the same Springer for his congratulatory remarks about the most recent SLP convention. Springer actually said Rick habitually reached for the stars. I need say no more!