Celebrations are just winding down in recognition of Dame Pearlette Louisy’s 20th anniversary of being appointed Governor General of Saint Lucia. The following has been republished in her honour.
I suppose that the suffix –ette, which denotes a small version of the original, might be interpreted to mean that our Governor General of 18 years, Dame Pearlette, is a tiny pearl or, as I like to think of her, a Gem of a Lady. In fact, a large proportion of Saint Lucia’s population has never known any other Governor General.
A word of caution here to the more dim-witted of my readers; I gave an address to some students a few months back. It went well, and afterwards the kids crowded around me wanting to continue discussing the topics I had presented. Their final word on my performance was that I was “Bad, Really Bad!” which turned out to be the most effusive praise possible in the modern-day vernacular. With this in mind I have no hesitation in asking Frank Sinatra to sing Pearlette’s praises.
“She gets too hungry for dinner at eight; She likes the theatre and never comes late; She never bothers with people she hates; That’s why the lady is a tramp.”
Well yes, maybe, Frank. But the reality is that Pearlette has to eat at the most inconvenient times depending on the place, venue and occasion. She also has to meet and greet many a person she might otherwise not want to chat to – it’s her job – anything for the sake of the Nation! It is true that she enjoys the theatre but on St Lucia, what’s to enjoy? Oh, and yes, punctuality is one of her many virtues.
“Doesn’t like crap games with barons or earls; Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls; Won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls; That’s why the lady is a tramp.”
Of course, part of her game is to listen to crap from those in high places and dress up to the nines and wear a hat whenever a ceremony requires it, no matter what the temperature or humidity. And as for ‘dishing the dirt’ well, gossiping is something she does not engage in.
“She likes the free fresh wind in her hair; Life without care; She’s broke and it’s ok; Hates California, it’s cold and it’s damp; That’s why the lady is a tramp.”
I doubt our Dame is broke, but she is certainly not doing the job for the money. When you think of the hours she puts in every day of the year – this is no 9-to-5-job – her hourly rate of pay hovers somewhere around the minimum wage. Well I suppose California can be cold and damp if you compare it to Saint Lucia, and I bet there are times when Pearlette just wishes she could escape the stultifying atmosphere that surrounds her official life – and I kind-a suspect she might want to throw it all off and go frolicking down the beach, the free, fresh wind in her hair dressed as God made her – ok, maybe not – but it’s a lovely thought, the freedom, I mean.
“She gets too hungry to wait for dinner at eight; She loves the theatre, but never comes late; She’d never bother with people she’d hate; That’s why the lady is a tramp. She’ll have no crap games with sharpies and frogs; And she won’t go to Harlem in Lincolns or Fords; And she won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the broads; That’s why the lady is a tramp . . .”
Frank sort of lost it at this point and clearly became pretty repetitious. But when you think about it, Pearlette’s life is pretty darned repetitious too. I mean how many of us could live through the same ceremonies, the same speeches, the same ceremonial marches, the same mindless receptions, and the same presentations of credentials by representatives of foreign delegations month in month out?
If I were governor general I would have fallen off my chair within a week of my taking office. Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy is a national treasure, a credit to the nation. Her role is fraught with restrictions, her actions bounded by inhibitions; her freedom seriously curtailed. And yet, I sincerely believe that without this lovable Lady at the helm, this ship of state would be a much less pleasant place to be. Her very presence must give our leaders cause to pause for thought before their more egregious excesses despite what my ‘buddy’ thinks about her apparent endorsement of ‘the Chief’s’ policies and the more flamboyantly ridiculous speeches she is expected to deliver on behalf of her patron’s government.
As the kids would put it: She’s bad, really bad! And that is about as good as it gets. That’s why the Lady is a Tramp!
The preceding was first published in the STAR newspaper on September 26, 2015.