Imagine the reaction, if the paper you’re holding had featured the following headline: “Local Priest Marries Son!” It’s a safe bet the god-squad would be livid, for all the wrong reasons, of course. Enough to consider seeking relief from the airwaves demon, known by fans and detractors alike, even English ex-pats, as Juk Bois.
Having read the obscenity, the god-squad would in their rush to avoid eternal damnation be falling over their holier-than-thou selves on their way to confession. Their wolf-in-disguise shepherd, faithful to his flock as famously he is, would be spewing pseudo-scriptural gobbledygook about “the last days” and Revelations—whether or not he had actually set eyes on the satanic text.
Poor Tim, psychically retooled since his most recent ordeal, would be cowering behind his shield for all seasons: ignorance: “Caller, don’t expect me to comment on something I’ve not seen for myself. Next thing someone will be saying I made it my own!”
Naturally, certain pesky regular callers we need not identify would irresistibly remind him of his penchant for speculating, at first sight of an opportunity, in favor of conveniently mute government officials long convinced he is the original yellow man.
All of the above traversed my mind as in awe I stared at a headline in Monday’s UK Telegraph: “Archbishop of Canterbury Marries Daughter.” Hmmm, I mused, just when I was ready to believe I’d seen it all, heard it all. This is, after all, the age of miracles and wonder, with same-gender marriages that produce offspring as easily as do traditional liaisons.
Shocked at not being the least bit shocked, I proceeded to peruse the details of the archbishop’s nuptials, generously provided by the saucy John Bingham, the Telegraph’s Religious Affairs Editor:
“After almost a quarter of a century as a clergyman, he has seen a few blushing brides in his time. But the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, is unlikely ever to forget seeing standing before him at the altar his daughter Katherine, who was married to her fiancé Mike Roberts on Friday.”
Additionally: “The Archbishop conducted the service at Canterbury Cathedral exactly a year after his own enthronement as leader of the Church of England on the same spot . . .”
Bingham’s headline reminded me of the countless times the alleged best brains on our two-Nobels Rock of Sages had vented their over-loaded spleens to such as the earlier cited god-squad leader about the STAR’s alleged propensity for misleading front pages:
“I bought the paper thinking one thing, only to find out the story had nothing to do with the headline” blah, blah, blah. As if the STAR’s editorial staff, or anyone else, for that matter, had any control over the peculiar workings of the Saint Lucian mind.
A long time ago, I had learned from experience how correct had been Truman Capote when he observed that writers have no way of guaranteeing how their readers will interpret their oeuvre. It is also a given that you get out of a book, or newspaper article, only what you bring to it. In the last analysis, how you interpret what you’ve read says more about you than about the writer.
It’s hardly news that the especially discerning among Rock of Sages klingons have often accused me of deliberately concocting double-meaning headlines “knowing full well how readers will interpret them.” (Whatever happened to free will, for crissakes?)
Of course the assumption inadvertently renders me a whole lot more intelligent than “the nation’s best brains”—that elite bunch that excludes such as Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis. The last mentioned was dubbed a “black Anglo Saxon” and, as every child of the Rock has been carefully taught, Walcott had always been “too aloof and too deep” to produce books worthy of their attention. Moreover, “he nevah do noffing for de contree!”
Or did they mean to say “for the con tree?”
Speaking of which reminds me of a mind-bruising encounter over the weekend with a fellow spinner of words (too many borrowed from Humpty Dumpty—for whom words meant only what he said they meant, “nothing more nothing less!”—only the poor chap doesn’t know it!).
I had written such “a brilliant article,” he enthused, why did I have to spoil it with “those references to Jadia JnPierre!”
I tried desperately to tell him (as the cited piece makes quite clear!) that a discombobulating Facebook post by the prime minister’s press secretary had inspired the “brilliant article.”
“Who cares what she says or writes?” he screeched, most suspiciously. “The woman is nothing; she’s irrelevant. What’s going on with the two of you anyway? You’re about to lose the respect of people who’ve always admired your straightforwardness!”
With uncharacteristic patience I tried without success to inform him that Jadia JnPierre-Emmanuel was, in effect, the prime minister’s echo in the key of C; that the greater part of the population had been led to believe she gives voice to the prime minister’s thoughts; that what she says ought never to be taken lightly, let alone dismissed. I wasted my breath.
“Who cares what the woman says?” he repeated, skinny arms flailing. “You alone pay attention to her. The woman’s a nobody and you keep making her sound so important, so intelligent.”
And with that he fired off several F-bombs, turned his back on me and walked off, as if from a smelly vagrant.
I did not immediately drive off. In total astonishment, I watched as he re-entered his home and disappeared.
All the while I was trying to persuade myself that he wasn’t himself, that something had earlier so disturbed the balance of his mind as to have rendered him, not only egregiously rude and unnecessarily disrespectful, but also downright dangerous.
I was, after all, cognizant of some of his proclivities. Also, that he was among the frontline advisors of a certain dreamer, alas with far more ambition than talent—as clearly Jadia JnPierre-Emmanuel had long ago discerned and shared with her Facebook friends.
Not so long ago, and much to the disgust of the attendant press corps, the dream weaver had interrupted a press conference convened for the purposes of his programed robot. Afterward, no one could recall what was the meeting’s core message; only that it had been torpedoed by ignorance—or was it inspissated arrogance?
I’ve decided finally to take the advice of a man who had prayed throughout his life for the ability to recognize the difference between what was and was not changeable, and the wisdom to let lying dogs sleep. In the end the man’s reward was sainthood!
PS: I’ve also sworn to avoid all contact with dumb dreamers who depend for guidance on dumber advisors!