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51-plus final exam – BC’s Bdos

B.C. Pires

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TODAY I’LL do the English essay of the 11-Plus exam paper I began four Mondays ago in sympathy with the children who sat the real thing on 8 May. I’ll do all five topics in one, or there would be no challenge to a man who has made his living writing compositions in the papers for the last 22 years.You have 30 minutes to write an essay on (for me, all five) of the following topics: 1. 2009 a year to remember. 2. The rewards of hard work and determination. 3. Striving to be the best that I can be. 4. Planning a surprise birthday party. 5. Complete the story beginning: He was always there whenever I needed him. He was always there whenever I needed him and he was still there long after I, and everyone else in Trinidad and Tobago didn’t need him; but he just wouldn’t go. He had a lot of ideas and no one could convince him they were bad: ideas like paving rainforests to build smelters, taking part of the only recreational ground in a community to make room for the bridge in his palace, and building a plastics factory upon ages-old agricultural land when the world was abandoning plastic bags.His very worst idea – which is like saying “Courtney Walsh’s very worst batting stroke” – was to host two conferences in one year: the Summit of the Americas and CHOGM, wasting billions that could have saved the West Indian nation in history’s worst recession.“The prime minister,” he said – referring, without irony, to himself in the third person, as was the prime minister’s wont – “will make 2009 a year to remember for all of Trinidad and Tobago!” He succeeded; but the people of Trinidad and Tobago made 2010 an even more unforgettable year for him; specifically May 24, when his political party, the People’s National Movement, was reduced from its 26-15 absolute majority to its tribal rump, barely winning in several of its strongholds, and giving rise to an instant Trini joke: what do the PNM and a ZR bus have in common? Both have 12 seats.“This,” said Keith Rowley, upon being made leader of the opposition, “is the reward of my hard work and determination!”“Hard work, my foot!” sneered his erstwhile cabinet colleague Colm Imbert. “You just sat and waited for the collapse. The party should make me political leader. I’ve been striving to be the best I can be all my life.” “You might as well strive to be tall,” quipped Keith, as others turned over Imbert’s car and set it on fire.The next item on the TV news was new Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar smiling as she reneged on one of her most earnest campaign promises. “I’m planning a surprise birthday party for the nation’s 48th independence anniversary in August and here’s the surprise: I’m going to hold it in the palace! I’m moving in, after all, but not for me, for the children!”She, it seemed, would always be there when I needed her, too.• BC Pires is striving to be the best he can be.