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WILD COOT: The last days


Harry Russell

WILD COOT: The last days

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We are fast approaching December 23, 2012, when wise men somewhere in the East predicted that it would be the end of the world. The Wild Coot predicts April 30, 2013, the day of the general election.
I was in the fish market shopping for some flying fish to ease my diabetes and hypertension when a ragged, middle aged vagrant approached me. “Yuh see you, Wild Coot, it is because of you that these things happening in beautiful Barbados, gem of the Caribbean Sea!”
“What things?” I gently asked.
“The Auditor General’s findings and CLICO, t’iefing of the holy loudspeakers that had been blessed, indecent Crop Over revellers simulating sex on the streets, men with a lot of women and outside children, women retaliating with horns, murder as a resolution to disputes, Ridley, Ricky and Carl reaching for the improbable excellence in music, morals and noise, promulgation of sexual freedom by Peter.”
I stopped him short.
“Your dishevelled looks but glittering eye bespeak an acute awareness of what is happening in Barbados. I perceive that you must have fallen on hard times recently or lost your job. If you care to, I shall be obliged if you would share your story with me.  
“I observe that our Government is trying its level best to keep the country afloat in shark-infested waters. It may be a last-ditch effort after four and a half years, but it has stuck to its guiding principle of keeping jobs alive in this horrific downturn, never mind that the private sector that is responsible for our growth is haemorrhaging like the Mississippi River.
“It has kept the citizens aware of what is going on, although I would appreciate if information is disseminated first in Barbados instead of in the Big Apple.
“The minister along with the Governor is rightfully entreating the citizens to step up to the plate and help grow the economy. This is commendable but sad, since the tax-trodden citizens have appealed to Moses for manna since 2008 and after Value Added Tax they have nothing to make bricks.”
“But stop,” said the tattered vagrant with a cynical glint in his eyes. “I too am saddened by that recent appeal. Have they eventually given up or are they serious? I spoke to you because I was optimistic that you would help me to bury Caesar, not praise him. Or have I misconstrued your remarks?
“Don’t you see the daily charade at the Auditorium that makes no sense and only aggrandizes the legal profession, which by all accounts needs no aggrandizing? If Jesus fed a multitude of thousands with two fish, imagine how many could have been fed with half a million dollars!
“Don’t you see the wastage that has prevailed? Don’t you see, for want of a better word, the purloining that we must suffer?”
“Purloining goes with the territory, my dear friend. In Trinidad they call it boball. I agree that it prevails; only now the purloining does not help the common man. Once upon a time, just a few years ago, people purloined and the purloining trickled down to the lowest denominator and man lived, but now it is different; the only thing trickling down are words.”
“Speaking of words,” countered my friend (we were becoming close), “I would have to commend our betters for the proficiency of language, and rhetoric. You know, Senor Coot, that they say, ‘silence is deep as eternity, while speech is shallow as time’.”
Then my friend dropped a pearl of wisdom. He quoted Francis Bacon. “Careful Coot, ‘he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he hath need be of others memory’.”
I said, “That’s okay. Shakespeare spoke of the last stage, ‘sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’. People will ‘crack and growl and roar and howl, like noise in a swound.” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.)
• Harry Russell is a banker.

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