THE LOWDOWN: Taking down statues of our heroes
“Time like an ever-rolling stream,” wrote Isaac Watts, “bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.” For most of us, this is true, but not all. Watts himself has a statue in his honour. And is remembered every time we sing Joy To The World.
The poet Horace put it nicely: “Exegi monumentum aere perennius” (“I have erected a monument more long-lasting than bronze”). He was speaking of his poetry and, like Shakespeare and many others, lives on through it.
Recently we have heard the misgivings of those who toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue. The devils they knew were apparently better than the ones they brought in.
My good friend Trevor Marshall (Thanks for the big-up on Mornin’ Barbados, TM!) continues his relentless campaign to topple Lord Nelson’s statue, seemingly thinking that this will diminish Nelson’s remarkable achievement in saving Barbados from the French, a feat for which Barbadians honoured him in a unique way.
It is worth noting that Nelson “single-handedly” defeated the French. (He had lost the other hand eight years before at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.)
Today, however, we are concerned with the attempt to topple the statue of another great hero, Errol Barrow, by the very entity which he created. And let us now shift to the Barbados Workers’ Union headquarters last Tuesday night . . . .
I thought it was a friendly match. The Ministries of Health and Agriculture convened a panel discussion on the sale of raw milk, ostensibly to make sure this is monitored and kept to the highest standards.
The Government spokespersons were unusually cautious, pointing out that they didn’t want to stop anybody selling raw milk (there is no law against so doing); they just wanted to keep everything above board.
All of which I fully supported. We sell milk for babies and voluntarily get the goats tested every year. We don’t try to cut corners with sanitation or hygiene but any help we can get in checking the milk is more than welcome.
Then it was the turn of the farmers. Lord have mercy! Barry Bishop at one end, Annette Beckett at the other. Pace like fire! They obviously smelled a rat that I hadn’t. Fresh milk has been sold for donkey’s years in Barbados. Could the health officials (HOs) quote one single instance when someone got ill from drinking milk? The HOs couldn’t.
But we know that there is a virtual epidemic of chronic diseases to which salty, greasy fast foods and school snacks contribute. So why the focus on milk?
The strong suspicion was that the Pine Hill Dairy, after refusing to take farmers’ milk (even when offered free!), had alerted the authorities in an effort to block the few who were trying to sell their milk privately. Shades of Marley’s “Sheriff John Brown always hated me, for what I do not know; every time I plant a seed, he say kill it before it grow”.
We dairy farmers have performed under the most rigorous PHD testing for over 30 years in some instances. Why the sudden interest? The Health and Ag officials looked uncomfortable.
Richard Cozier, Banks Holdings’ big maguffy, came to the crease, trying to defend the indefensible. Why did Pine Hill change to a product that not even some dogs would drink and kill sales? Why should unlimited New Zealand milk powder come in here while Bajan farmers are on quota?
There was worse to come. “Pull Teet” Ward grabbed the ball. You remember when Holding went back to his long run in his latter days? Or when Brian Johnson commented, “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey”? Well, that was “Pull Teet” in full flow. He took no prisoners; and he held more than the gentleman’s willy.
But it was Carl Sylvester who finally put everything in perspective. The Pine Hill Dairy was personally conceived and brought to fruition by Prime Minister Errol Barrow who saw the unlimited potential for dairy farming.
They who have brought the local dairy industry to its knees have pulled down a wonderful monument to that great man. And we are much the poorer for so doing.
Meanwhile customers insist on buying their goat’s milk raw. Come get some this weekend at our low Easter price. We guarantee you will rise again!
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.