EVERYTHING BUT – Ass-backwards
And there was a great famine in Samaria; and, behold, they [Benhadad, king of Syria, and his host] besieged it, until an ass’ head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver . . . . – 2 Kings 6:25
MATTHEW FARLEY is an outstanding academic educator. From all angles he is an excellent school principal: an inspirer of many; a strict disciplinarian, pro-corporal punishment as needed; and a man of good order.
But the consummate calypso critic he is not. He merely has a personal point of view – like any of his students interested in the witty or storytelling art form.
Indeed, with the spirit of pious purity, Mr Farley would have Popsicle’s Cornwell situate ideally in the House Of Soca calypso tent. He would rather not have it – like the majority of Barbadians he believes would support him – “reverberating across the airwaves and in the sanctity of . . . living rooms 24/7”.
Mr Farley claims that apart from the “philosophical concept that drives the song”, he has “no other fascination with Popsicle’s donkey”. I am putting it to the goodly teacher that he has a grave problem with Popsicle’s ass!
You know, I have heard other Cornwell complainers on radio and elsewhere; and “ass” – the donkey – is utterly hard for them to say. It is as if they are assophobic. They go: “the donkey”; “the animal”; “the pet”; “the, the, the . . .”; even “the A-word”.
For Christ’s sake, Jesus went to Jerusalem on an ass, and he was the least concerned about having to ride on the beast of burden. Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, and the bloody Philistines minded incalculably.
The ass parades all through The Bible. What is the problem with its appearance in calypso? Why can’t a man sing in peace that he is not selling his ass?
Why is Mr Farley himself sold on this imagery of vending one’s “anal virginity”? If by his own admission the song Cornwell has a “philosophical concept” that drives it, why should it be steered over the cliff into the abyss of seediness?
Mr Farley claims that since 1982 – until now that Popsicle has allegedly spoilt it – all songs of Pic-O-De-Crop monarchs can “still be played even on a Sunday without causing discomfort”, ignoring completely the multitude of other songs in the competition over the years – by Mr Farley’s standards – with questionable comforting lyrics, which are played on Sunday, Good Friday and the Sabbath.
Failing to fall within the dear principal’s “bounds of propriety and within the batting crease of morality and standards” would be Fuh Cup (Malik), Fuh Cree (John King), Fuh Crown (AC), all making it to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals and still being played on radio and television to this day.
And nary a Farley condemnation before that I know of. I have heard no disputation of his on Kitchener’s Sugar Bum Bum or My Pussin; or on Blakie’s Hold The Pussy; or on Sparrow’s Congo Man, Sell The Pussy, Saltfish or Benwood Dick, which are played all through the year morning till night on our national radio.
David Hall’s second song I Would Pick A Fair fails to capture the imagination of Mr Farley. Too bad! But by his own admission he has difficulty not thinking of the seedy notion of prostitution. Imagine, imagine . . . . How is that Popsicle’s fault?
The goodly principal is right: the impact of a calypso comes largely through what one hears and not what one reads. But one also hears in context.
If I have to choose between a dub fete, where I might get shot, and a school fair, I would not pick a dub fete; I definitely would pick a fair. The English language presents you with much elasticity – and fun.
And talk about negative image, Mr Farley would punctuate his last Sunday epistle with the admonishment that “this is one Popsicle that we should be hesitant to lick”. Well, is this ambiguity or what? Double entendre or what?