A friend I’ve never met, save via several apps, has been attempting desperately to persuade me to quit trying to stave off the price that must inevitably be paid for the evil that men do. The particular evildoers he has in mind are our elected parliamentarians, past and present, all of whom, by my friend’s doubtless inspired reckoning, belong to one lodge or another, the most popular being the nefarious Freemasons.
I sometimes get the feeling he actually prays for heavy-duty rain and other natural disasters he refers to as “wake-up calls.” Not that he is all doom and gloom. God has a wonderful plan for our island, he has often assured me. Unimaginable prosperity awaits us. But first must come “the cleansing.”
“And how many killer hurricanes, earthquakes and troughs will it take before the milk and honey start to flow?” I ask. Wickedly, I add: “Three years of consecutive Tomases and it’ll be back to formless voids and impenetrable darkness.”
He demonstrates his usual scant interest in my response. “Just keep in mind Morne Sion,” he says, as if I’d not said a word, “and the 19 souls that perished in the sea. Keep in mind the road that suddenly caved in near Desruisseaux, the two brothers in their car who consequently lost their lives—but not their 11-year-old passenger who was saved by . . .”
“By an Indian angel in a white dress!”
“He has great plans for you,” he says. “He needs your voice, your talent. He wants you to humble yourself and invite him into your life. Remember Saul . . .”
“Saul?” I say. “Oh, you mean the blind tax collector who couldn’t step outside his house without hearing things audible only to dogs? We have a few of those here too!”
“He, too, was a nonbeliever,” said my friend. “Like you. But God chose him, anyway. Just as he has chosen you. I keep telling you something big is about to happen. Think about this: you’ve written thousands of articles, called Newsspin a million times, but nothing good has come of that. Man alone will never defeat the entrenched evil in this country. We need help to deal with the Freemasons. You have to confront them with their . . .”
“Spirit-world armies and bolom battalions?” We’d been there before, countless times.
“What good has come of all your articles?” he asks again. “Look around. Evil abounds!”
“As much good has come from my articles as came of the Crucifixion, the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah and your endless prayers,” I fire back, a little pissed off at the notion of a lifetime’s work all for nothing. “Been to Rodney Bay on a Saturday evening? Christ died for those kids with no underwear. But there’s more sinning going on than had ever occurred to the devil. A lot of it takes place in the churches. Ask Pastor Ben about that. Even the Pope is now talking career change.”
He ended his sermon on the usual note: “I’m e-mailing you another psalm. Promise me you’ll read it this time. Put down The Rainbow’s Edge for a few minutes, and read what Job said.”
“Okay,” I promised. He knew as well as I did that I had no intention of keeping my promise. At any rate, the part about Job-Job-Job!
My friend came to mind this week as I listened to the latest House address by the Castries East MP, obviously designed for the arcane purposes of NTN. In 2005, during a live radio give-and-take centered on the day’s heart-attacking news (a marijuana bust involving a vehicle with an MP’s cousin at the wheel) Philip J. Pierre had matter-of-factly acknowledged the presence of “criminals on both sides”—an inadvertent confession, perhaps, that parliament’s honorable gentlemen were neither honorable nor gentlemen.
Nearly a year later, attended by widely advertised candle-lit marches, numerous novenas and fervent pray-for-Helen sessions in Derek Walcott Square, “both sides” had graduated to “lesser evils” hell-bent on destroying the country and one another in the hunt for votes.
By all Pierre delivered on Wednesday via YouTube, in the aftermath of the last trough to rough up Saint Lucia without warning at least one of his colleagues on the opposition side had publicly accused Pierre’s ministry of less than charitable behavior toward residents of certain constituencies. (We are no longer sons and daughters of Saint Lucia, neither citizens with equal rights. Somehow, we had regressed into constituents to be cared for or denied due attention—dependent on our demonstrated house-slave loyalty to MPs with plantation-owner proclivities!)
Several times during his screed Pierre underscored the need for “accountability,” as if it mattered only when an opponent was his government’s target. But don’t understand me too quickly. I certainly was shocked by the well-articulated revelations that Pierre read into the House record.
I was also impressed by the MP’s efforts at bringing the truth to light, and at the same time disgusted that there were no interruptions—which, for me, meant one thing only: his meticulous accounting left no room for questions. There was not even a single request for a copy of what he presented as documented proof supportive of his assertions.
If only the MP had spoken similarly of Rochamel, Frenwell and Grynberg. If only he’d been as concerned and outspoken about these matters of public interest, as he seemed to be this week about the employment by a particular MP of contractor relatives in the time of Tomas. But then the other side had also been near reticent about Frenwell. They had chosen instead to spend the people’s money on a hardly enthusiastic commission of inquiry that was never meant to do much more than tickle a couple of buffalo hides. Despite that a finance minister was declared responsible for paying out of the Consolidated Fund some $US45 million dollars for debts incurred without parliamentary approval, no charges (not even civil!) were ever laid. Indeed, the DPP has yet to set eyes on the damning Ramsahoye Report!
As for the UWP’s new party leader (the cameras were on him at last week’s House session), it would appear he has problems not only with Creole but also with the English language.
Did Allen Chastanet actually say his party needed a House leader who was “submissive?” Did Chastanet actually use the S-word in his particular circumstances without a follow-up apology? (We all misuse words from time to time, for crissakes!)
Did it not occur to him to clear the air, especially when King’s throne was about to be taken over by their party queen? Why did it not occur to the new Leader of the Opposition, during her maiden address, to refer to her party leader’s obvious faux pas, albeit via some self-deprecating humor?
For instance: she might’ve acknowledged the indisputable fact that women—unlike their ever macho male counterparts—know instinctively when to be assertive and when to assume the prayer position. They are acknowledged experts at manipulating the male ego.
Or she might’ve chosen to be devastatingly vicious, as only a smiling woman can be: she might’ve reminded Pierre, having dutifully sworn unyielding loyalty to the prime minister who had fired him as tourism minister months after taking office in 1997—for alleged “indecisiveness”—in favor of a 21-year-old, relatively svelte greenhorn with no work experience—and then had good reason to rehire Pierre without even the smallest private apology, the image he suggested was hardly indicative of assertiveness. In fact, from that point on Pierre has been seen in the public eye as his prime minister’s doormat. Even now, whenever there’s wishful talk of Kenny’s retirement the name most mentioned as a replacement is not Pip but Ernest Hilaire!
As for Pierre’s suggestion that he and his party boss always discuss issues as equals, well, a ballsy Rigobert might’ve asked how deep were the discussions that had resulted in Grynberg and the usurpation of the governor general’s authority?
The new Leader of the Opposition might also have wondered aloud whether Pierre had been party to the cloak-and-dagger operation now known as Frenwell . . . But by now you’ve gotten my point, dear reader. Suffice it to say that at last week’s House sitting Gale Rigobert was her usual self, inadvertently drawing far more attention to her appearance than what came out of her head.
And so we come to the wannabe Richard the Lionheart. The Castries MP has taken more than his fair share of hard knocks, not to say friendly fire, but remains a hot ticket, if the media attention he received on arrival in Constitution Park meant anything. Following Gale Rigobert’s coronation he had decided to save his bombs for her debut as opposition leader and, for once, the media had taken him at his word. Did he deliver? Obviously the answer depends on what you mean by bombs.
For sure, there were no explosions. To borrow from Paul Simon, “there were incidents and accidents, hints and allegations.” Perhaps the press had misheard him. Maybe what he had promised was a bomb scare, not a bombshell. Which proved yet again the showman that resides in the Castries Central MP. The best he could do on the occasion was reveal “illegal things” had taken place after he was “kicked out of the Cabinet.” Alas, he was not yet quite prepared to identify the illegalities. For that demanded documentary proof not yet in his possession. Maybe next time?
Meanwhile it has occurred to more than a few that insinuations such as implied by the Castries Central MP could result in serious collateral damage. And not only for the former prime minister and minister of finance—the last target Richard Frederick would consider taking aim at, for now!
I almost forgot to mention the real purpose of last week’s House call: to debate the anti-gang bill, inspired by the brutal street murders that had begat Operation Restore Confidence and Operation Restore Peace before it, initiatives that had resulted in the suspension of much needed US funds to our police, and a related on-going investigation of our cops by cops from peace-and-love Jamaica.
Oh, and to seek parliamentary approval further to swell the public debt by some $55 million!