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WILD COOT: Our Prime Minister

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Our Prime Minister

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An old lady called me the other day. “Wild Coot, I am a returning national who has spent almost all of my life working hard in the Mother Country. I read your articles every Monday. I enjoy the articles all the time, but I think that sometimes you come down too hard on our poor Prime Minister. After all, you have to admit, he is a master survivor.

“The Government did not foresee the catastrophe that impaled us in 2008. If it had, that dead man would not have recklessly further ballooned out the public service. Mark you, it should have been scaled back right away, but no one expected that mortgage fiddling would have had such dire consequences worldwide, consequences that seriously affected our tourism.

“Our Prime Minister,” she continued, “was thrown in at the deep end. They told him, ‘sink or swim’. He did not even have a bathing suit. He had to survive fully dressed, and clad in his shoes. The same shoes he had to take off at the airport over and away. Before he could swim to the lower end of the pool and put down his feet, there was the attack from 11 sharks. ‘Baps!’ Then came general elections. You have to admit that he came out of his corner with golden gloves taking advantage of a disoriented opposition.

“The man labelled as silent was no longer parsimonious with words. All predictions were that he would be sent into the wilderness to seek sackcloth and ashes. However, like Muhammad Ali, when Henry Cooper’s left hook floored him, he rose to share licks like peas.

“He won on a split vote in 2013 and since then has retreated into the dressing room to catch his breath. He will only now make special appearances. The slim margin of victory means now that Barbados is in the hands of fate. Let us pray for continued life expectancy or better still, that someone does not have a rush of blood, a wild attack of sudden irrationality and create a crisis.

“Wild Coot, can’t you see that our Prime Minister has a plaster for every sore? Even great pollsters praise him and acclaim him primus inter pares. Never in the history of Barbados has a leader had to walk such a tight rope. I for one pray that he does not have the same fate as Karl Wallenda in 1978 in San Juan when the wind caused the rope to sway.”

This lady too paused to catch her breath. I believe that her husband snatched the phone from her. His voice was raucous and he was not mincing words. The Wild Coot had to hold the phone away from his ears.

“Wild Coot, dah is you? Doan mine dis old foolish, igrunt, nigger uman. We hardly got anyting in the house to eat cause uh de hard times. All we savings gone in Maxwell pond ’cause uh dah Clico and de dead prime minister. I does want to buse she an get on bad when I see dem hugging up an muching up pun de television.” He was not as well spoken as his wife.

There was a scuffle, apparently for the phone, and the lady came back on the line, this time not so well spoken. The English accent was gone. “Wild Coot, it is he dat sign the papers wen de insurance man came hay. I tell he dat de supervisor of insurance warn not to buy dem policies, but he say dat higher powers gave the blessing.”

The man obviously snatched the phone again away from the lady. “Wild Coot, you writing ’bout the Prime Minister? Tell he to open he mout an leh de people know wheh dey going or else give up de job if he can’t manage, an leh somebody who can speak teck ova.

Maybe dah man from Sin James dat say it is time we had Bajan Caribbean Court of Justice judges, udderwise Myrie wunnuh get off so light. Or de man from Sin Lucy. He does be pun the radio all de time an he got good ideas, know ’bout everyting.”

The lady was not done. She apparently had another line in the house and she cut in. “He only saying so because he from St Lucy. The whole government, except the Prime Minister, in’t worth what Paddy shot at.”

I saw where the conversation was going. I was sympathetic towards the lady as she showed exceptional perspicacity in elaborating and extolling the virtues of our Prime Minister. Unlike the captain of the Concordia, he was not jumping ship. There was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and he was determined to exploit it. 

 Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]