Winning by ‘duck worth, less worse’
It’s a sad day in this country (Trinidad) when the people are beset by two political options neither one better than the next. . . . We play a comparison game not to see which one is better but, as my friend Clarence says, which is less worse. – Phillip Edward Alexander.
ARCHIE “COCOA” GOODMAN was a boyhood hero and friend. Archie drove the Land Rover T71 which took us to school. Many mornings we would leave Vaucluse just after nine and Archie would get me to Harrison College in time to sneak into 9:15 prayers.
My reason for being unavoidably late was Priscilla Jones. She got a lift to school with us. Priscilla was the Shakira of that era, only with a lot more wiggle. I couldn’t risk dressing lest I might miss seeing her arrive and get in the Land Rover.
Not, mind you, that I had any aspirations in that direction. “Baby” Hoad by name and nature, I knew my limitations. Silent worshipper was my lot. Nor was I the only one. A fellow at school spent many an afternoon extolling to me her absolute perfection. I doubt he ever told her. His best shot was to borrow my pen with the initials “PJ” on it (actually for Pinchin Johnson paints) and fondle it lovingly.
Archie knew how to hustle and get results.
Once a motorcycle cop pulled us over and gave a lecture on how dangerous a driver he was. And one morning we skidded and spun completely around in the road. No accidents, however. Archie could drive. And it was a sad day when he lost his job, I believe, for going off-route to drop off something at his home.
In complete contrast was Barnett. Barnett was pleasantly staid and proper, the only driver allowed to drive Daddy’s car. The rule was that the sugar trucks should put in first gear at the top of Shop Hill. Barnett always did. Granville Lewis thought he could back down later and when the brakes failed, T125 ended its days not far from where my daughter now lives.
In another three weeks we have to decide on a new chauffeur for this country. Should we go for an Archie Goodman or a Barnett?
To be frank, I don’t know. I have come to respect the quiet dignity of Freundel Stuart. A Bajan lady on Sandy Lane Beach was asked by a noted foreign businessman: “What kind of man is your Prime Minister?”
“A bit scholarly”, she replied, “and slow to act in the opinion of many.”
But the tycoon wasn’t interested in that: “No, I mean, does he take brown envelopes?” And he rubbed his thumb and fingers together.
I don’t think Freundel Stuart takes brown envelopes. Which is saying a lot in the West Indian political context. Check out this lecture on the Trini experience by Afra Raymond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKOp-tqBawM.
Apparently in 1982 the then Trini prime minister revealed that of the massive petrodollars development expenditure in the 1970s, two out of every three dollars were wasted or stolen.
Of the TT$1.6 billion allocated to the more recent Piarco Airport development, TT$1 billion, according to the director of public prosecutions, has been traced to offshore bank accounts. Big people don’t get into politics or support political parties for chicken feed.
That said, it is obvious that the Stuart Government has not taken the necessary corrective action to restart this economy. Nor have his ministers impressed.
Owen Arthur, on the other hand, my Archie Goodman hero, took this country into dangerous unpopular waters, seeming to think that once the economy was booming, nothing else mattered. So much so that a good friend warned me: “Mr Hoad, if this wholesale selling out of our country and unlimited influx of foreigners doesn’t stop soon, licks goin’ have to share. And as a white man, you will have to hold some.”
As far as I know, the Bees have never apologized for the misdeeds which saw them bundled out of office nor promised not to take us back to divisive issues like Greenland landfill or the loss of our sovereignty.
So we’re down to the “duck (as in, forget about) worth, less worse” system of selection.
Staying home on the 21st seems about as good an option as any.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]