Two or three Sundays past, while home alone and happily bingeing on Christopher Hitchens, I was interrupted by my nearby iPhone’s ringtone. A side-glance at its display screen revealed the caller had chosen to be anonymous. Should I let him or her keep their secret? Fat chance. A long time ago I had learned always to answer my phone, regardless of time or how busily engaged. A journalist never can tell who will be the repository of his next big scoop.
“Hi there, unknown caller,” I said, with my phone on speaker. “What can I do for you on this bright Sunday afternoon?” A familiar male voice responded: “I want to extend to you an invitation to come on my show to discuss your favorite subject.” “And what might that be?” I asked. “Grynberg!” he said.
Suffice it to say I turned down his invitation, for several reasons including that I am not nearly as naïve as I have on occasion allowed myself to appear, usually when dealing with loud-mouthed and self-convinced Johnnie Knowalls. Two days later I received from an overseas-based friend a congratulatory Whatsapp note related to my having agreed to debate publicly Grynberg and Rochamel. He also identified my opposition as my earlier mentioned Sunday afternoon caller and Claudius Francis, well known talk-radio host, former senate president and a perennial pain (friendly) in the ass (my ass, that is!).
I’ve lost count of the number of times Claudius has seen the need to challenge me on-air and on Facebook to debate either Grynberg or Rochamel. At least as many times I had assured him and his anticipated audience of tribal provocateurs that the Ramsahoye Commission had long settled Rochamel to my satisfaction. As for Grynberg, there can hardly be a living being on this Rock of Sages that has not heard me say Grynberg is too important an issue to be staged as if it were a back alley cock fight for the entertainment of drunk and disorderly partisan punters.
Nevertheless, soon after my overseas friend’s tip-off I called Claudius to enquire whether something he said about a debate could’ve been misconstrued by a member of his audience. He sounded surprised. “Aren’t you coming?” he asked. “I was told you agreed to debate Rochamel and Grynberg.” I set him right, in the process gently reminding him that those best positioned to talk about both subjects, the last named in particular, were, as far as I could tell long-distance, alive and well enough to recall important events dating back to 2000. I presumed they were in possession of documents to validate the truth of whatever they might wish to share after all these years.
“Are you saying only Kenny is allowed to speak on Grynberg?” Claudius knew damn well I’d said nothing of the sort. But I played along. “No one can speak on the subject with more legitimacy,” I said. We agreed to disagree and moved on. Later I heard him say on the radio, in unbelievable but unchallenged response to a question from his host, that “Frenwell is the name of the owner of Hyatt.” At which point I took a call from an informed citizen who could barely contain his amusement. He wanted to know whether Claudius was “playing with his host or what?” My response: “Who knows with our friend?”
As for Grynberg, Claudius touched on the Pandora’s Box by upfront acknowledging there was among his political tribe not a single warrior who might say the silence that surrounded Grynberg from inception, and continues to cloud it nearly two decades later, was not disturbing. At which point, while working at my laptop, I shook my head and muttered: “Case closed.” For never mind the wild rantings and self-serving claims of the familiar red hindrances to progress, as a citizen and a journalist all I have ever wanted from the former prime minister Kenny Anthony on the subject of Grynberg—going back 19 years—are his answers to questions of national interest. Answers that, hopefully, might clear the obfuscating smoke around the costly agreement he signed with a most controversial American oil speculator. The silence is disturbing today, as indeed it was when Earl Huntley was the only other individual who knew a contract had been signed on behalf of uninformed Saint Lucians with the notorious Jack Grynberg.
Another moment of presumed unintended hilarity was when Claudius was asked to say how the whole “Jack Grynberg thing came about.” Rather than citing the several revealing published tim-tim by Huntley, Claudius permitted himself to be sidetracked by vaguely related events in Grenada, Venezuela and other nearby ostensibly oil-rich sites. I finally congratulated myself on my decision not to participate with my friend and his conspiring host in their lunchtime presentation, the highlight of which was a call from an all too familiar red hack. He informed Claudius & Company that they were insane if they believed Rick Wayne would’ve been so brave as to join them on the radio. Both host and guest sought to educate him; in vain,
Said Claudius, adamantly: “Oh, no, caller. Rick Wayne wasn’t scared to come on. Although we disagreed, he gave me his reasons why he wouldn’t be here.” I dare to say Claudius wasted his time. With apologies to Mark Twain, I say you can no more teach “The Blob” to think than a blind man can find in a dark room a black cat that isn’t there!