THE LOWDOWN – Snail space
Every night we finish milking the goats around 11:30. Then the action starts. Armed with small LED torches, the Hoads go into stomping mode. Operation Killsnails is under way.
Of course, you experts are already sniggering. Just like how Amnesty says hanging doesn’t deter killers, you claim squashing snails doesn’t help because each has in three billion eggs which will hatch.
You know what? We don’t care. The satisfaction from killing vermin, like the satisfaction Bajans would get from executing murderers, is enough.
One problem: my wife, the incurable romantic. For should we come upon a mating pair, she goes: “Cuddear, let them finish. Give them some space. Then stomp them.”
Biology professor at McGill University, Ronald Chase, allegedly makes a living studying snail sex. Says he: “Garden snails court from 15 minutes to six hours by circling each other, touching with tentacles, and biting on the lip and genitals.”
Good for them! Also they are hermaphrodite or “ambisextrous”. With both male and female organs, they can take turns doing each other or maybe 69 variations on that general theme.
So, long after the others have gone in, had their pints of goat-milk Horlicks and headed for bed, guess who is staked out watching snail porn?
I say all that, as Eric Sealy often put it, to say this: I am in full agreement with my new editor Ricky Jordan on the “Silent Stuart” issue. If criminals have the right to remain silent, why not our PM? Give the man a “fighting chance”, says Ricky. I say, give him space.
Let Ridley Greene, Sanka Price, David Ellis, Ten-Ten Joseph and the rest rant about deafening silence. But Ricky gets even more explicit: “Why should Prime Minister Stuart put his mouth into the Shanique Myrie affair . . .?” Why indeed? Especially when others are trying to “get to the bottom”.
However, not saying is one thing, not doing is another. And just as we associate Grantley with better plantation conditions, Dipper with Independence and free education, Tom with daylight saving time and Owen with a robust economy, CSME and over-enthusiastic immigration, so too Froon must leave his mark on history, his legacy for schoolchildren to write about. Just to say, “PM Stuart ran the country” doesn’t cut it.
So here gratis are some titles for him to earn:
• Straight-date Stuart. Stop the stupidity where 5/3/2011 could mean the 5th of March or the 3rd of May. Institute a $500 fine for not writing day/month/year in that order.
• The weathercock wonder. Concerned citizens say Barbados’ radar could have given much earlier warning about Tomas and want it back on line before the bad-weather season. Get it working, Froon.
• The great all-rounder. Astute historians like Trevor Marshall and me note that civil unrest and government overthrow start with protesters gathering in squares. To pre-empt this, the PM should round all our national squares into circles.
• Froon the feeder. “World food supplies are dwindling while prices are surging.” How to survive the coming world food crisis is probably the most alarming item in the international media, what with catastrophic weather conditions and food grains being used to produce ethanol.
Yet, in little Barbados with many mouths to feed we have the amazing paradox of vast acreages of prime agricultural land being abandoned and left idle in the hope, many believe, that permission will eventually be granted for it to be cut up for housing estates for rich foreigners.
This is total madness. The accident of ownership should grant no one the right to abuse our scarce resources, endanger food security and deprive future farmers of opportunity.
Get drastic, Mr PM. Tax unused land heavily as Tom did. Revive Sir John Saint’s wartime laws requiring plantations to produce food. Expose exploiters. Do something.
Those few suggestions should get Mr Stuart’s legacy on the way.
Fond farewell to Dee Gee Gittens. We met at many levels throughout life. I took over his tenor sax when he asked me to replace him in the Soul Kings. A great original.
A blessed Easter to all.
Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.