I once read a book by the American intellectual Norman Podhoretz, entitled Ex-Friends (actually I’ve read it many times), wherein the author sought to explain why he remained friends with certain equally opinionated famous individuals with whom he had publicly disagreed on countless important issues.
In a nutshell, Podhoretz suggested their disagreements had never involved fundamental beliefs, only differences of opinion on matters hardly earth shattering.
Of his love-hate relationship with the particularly cantankerous Pulitzer-prized author of The Naked and the Dead and Some Honorable Men, Podhoretz wrote: “I felt a certain proprietary interest in [Norman] Mailer—he was my tiger!”
I feel similarly about Claudius Francis, with whom, despite our sometimes overheated public exchanges, I have retained a relationship that dates back to 1987. He has always been there when needed, no summons required—while anticipated others failed to materialize!
I fear disappointment awaits those who would enjoy nothing better than a ringside seat at a dream Rick-Claudius blood-fest, so strong is my determination that what passes for politics in the land that gave us birth cannot possibly be worth the abandonment of a relationship such as we’ve had over the years, notwithstanding countless glitches.
Which is not to say one was never tempted to engage the fourth most powerful shark in this kwibish pond (actually, I have his word he never has coveted or claimed any such title, that based on hearsay only it was bestowed on him by someone without authority to do so anyway, but what the heck).
I mention all of this having received last Friday a call informing me that Claudius had assessed my recent article entitled Are Some More Deserving Than Others of Natural Justice? as “the worst.” Bearing mind the number written during a career spanning over four decades, I smiled at the not atypical Claudius hyperbole. I couldn’t help wondering which had earned his “best” award!
Addressing my caller, I asked: “Did he say why it was my worst?” He wasn’t sure. Evidently he’d switched off his radio to call me—just in case I wasn’t tuned to Straight Up. (Wonder why no one has ever called to relay something nice said about me on that show!)
I turned on my radio, perchance to learn why the particular article had warranted such distinction. Meanwhile, I re-read it. But I could find nothing so egregious as to set it apart from a thousand others earlier published. I checked for typos, sentence construction, grammar, found nothing especially shocking there. So I imagined I may have written contrary to truth, advertently or otherwise. I checked my facts, dates and so on. Nothing there to warrant the relayed review. But just as I was about to switch to another channel I heard something that offered a soupçon.
In response to a caller’s clearly rhetorical question why “the dead Grynberg issue” was back in the news—the not-so-subtle suggestion being that Grynberg had been resurrected as a distraction from the Town & Village Councils Review (obviously the caller had not heard the prime minister on the subject of “thieving and distractions” at the last House meeting!). Somehow my name came up and Claudius, in effect, said: “Rick and I are pals but these days he writes to help the UWP—and I’ve told him so!”
Only then did I understand what my caller had misunderstood. Now I knew why my “Natural Justice” piece had been deemed my “worst writing.” I tried calling but already it was close to 12.30 p.m. and the end of that day’s Straight Up. I would’ve liked to tell Claudius his review of the piece was only half fair—that I do write to benefit the UWP, but not only UWPees. I also write, hopefully, to benefit the Labour Party, the government (as difficult as that might be) and the faithful anticipants of better days, all sons and daughters of Saint Lucia. I knew there was no need to remind him of the value of informed decisions!
But even if it were true that I write exclusively to benefit the UWP (obviously a mission impossible!) how different would I be from any other writer or show host who tells the validated truth or the truth so far as he can tell? If I should spell out the differences in the handling of the famous NCA Affair, the still untried years-old Donovan Lorde case and the more recent Councils Review would only the UWP benefit? Were the related most recent SLP public statements delivered with only SLP supporters in mind?
Scores of Saint Lucians irrevocably believe Straight Up, indeed HTS, is just another tentacle of the GIS-NTN-RSL octopus. At least as many would swear Newsspin’s host is on the UWP’s payroll. The ill-informed herd tends to believe whatever their shepherds tell them. Sometimes they depend on animal instinct!
The STAR has never made any bones about its motivations, regardless of how inconvenient to some. Even when we openly announced our part in the 1997 campaign to remove John Compton’s UWP from office—and the reasons—we never once strayed from
bringing the truth to light, as embarrassing as obviously it was to certain people who did their best to shut us down.
I am pleased to say Claudius was on the side of the STAR in that lonely fight—enough reason why I refuse to hold it against him when, for whatever reasons, he considers an article of mine to be of benefit only to the UWP and “the worst” I’ve ever written. Like everyone else he is entitled his own flights of fancy.
As for those who need a connection between Grynberg and the Councils Review, I need only remind them that a rose by any other name is still a rose. As, for that matter, is corruption by any pseudonym!