And so, I am in Europe on the second leg of my tour. An amazing thing happened to me today: I was told I could not pay with cash. The store only accepted electronic payments. I stood there like a fool while the girl at the checkout explained patiently, in words of one syllable as if speaking to an imbecile, which in this case I suppose she was, how to insert my card, type in the
PIN code and pay for the considerable trolley-load of goods I had purchased. PIN code? The ignominy of it all was almost too much to bear. A man of seventy-plus years being unable to remember his PIN, what a scandal! Of course, and I suppose I deserve the treatment I get, being a linguist, and being quite fluent in various languages, I am seldom spotted as a foreigner, a non-native, an ignorant immigrant, at least when I am not the only white face in the marketplace. So there I was – a helpless fool who could not pay for his purchases. The money I attempted to shower upon the young lady was to no avail. I was a loser, the ultimate loser, a relic of bygone days!
Where had I been for the past couple of decades or more, while the world moved on? The answer, of course, was simple: Saint Lucia. Don’t get me wrong, please. I eventually remembered my PIN code; I just never have had any use for it as I always call my favourite personal banker at BOSL and she hands over a wad of notes with a smile. And whenever I used my debit card, well, I simply signed my name.
But not out there in the big wide world. Things were different, oh so different!
Take politics, for example: The other day, when I was still in England, a leading politician – the leader of one of the parties, I think – was challenged by a journalist on TV about what he thought about a person who worked his heart out for The Party. The leader had no idea who the person referred to was, but instead of simply saying, “I have no idea who you are talking about,” which would have been terribly embarrassing, he decided to waffle. “Jim’s doing a great job!” he countered. The journalist pounced at once, “Come on! Admit it! You have no idea who James So-and-So is!”
Golly, it was embarrassing; the more the Leader lied, the worse it became. Sadly, in Saint Lucia, nobody would have noticed, or even cared. Let’s face it, if our political leaders from both parties waste valuable House-time hurling abusive accusations about each other, why should a journalist, or a regular citizen for that matter, care whether they are speaking the truth or not? It’s sad! But I am enjoying the cutthroat investigative journalism; it’s like rats after rubbish!
Actually, I was accused of lying just before I left Saint Lucia. One of our Leaders called me the day I was leaving to tell me that he could accept my criticism of the government – I think I criticize everyone and everything – even Rick – when I think things are not right – but he could not stand by silently when I published downright lies! (Which of course translated into how much he disliked my criticism of government!)
I had written about an incident which I witnessed myself: A black, I thought, though it may simply have been a dark coloured vehicle with police outriders jumped the queue of cars on the way to Pigeon Island on the way to Jazz. I considered this an abuse of power and the MP registration plates. Eh, eh! Had I committed high treason? Was I really suggesting that one of our MP’s would ever abuse his or her power by jumping the queue to Jazz?
My caller quizzed me about the number on the plate. I replied I did not know.My passengers had simply asked about the different number plates. As frequent guests they had never seen them before. When quizzed by my caller about the MP number, I said I thought it was a single digit. My caller, with a triumphant “Aha!” told me I was lying because all MP plates had double digits. When I reminded him that his own number plate only had one digit, he had the grace to admit defeat and said “Touché”.
It’s a long and boring story. I saw what I saw; I could have been mistaken, but I am absolutely sure I was not. I do not lie. And for this ‘elevated personage’ to accuse me of lying when he was not even there, well, enough said. But if anyone else in that long queue of cars for Sunday Jazz noticed an MP-plated car with police outriders dashing by, let me know; or better still, let the STAR know.
By the way, if anyone, after all that has been said by politicians on both sides about the opposite bench, can really declare that our politicians do not abuse their privileges, then they need their heads seeing to.
Lying, cheating, abusing power is what it is all about. By their own words are they condemned!