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THE LOWDOWN: Kiss me, Hardy!


Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: Kiss me, Hardy!

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WE COLUMNISTS often lead double lives like Spiderman or Zorro. When women ask my wife how come she bagged “that loveable Lowdown”, she, who can’t believe she chose a boring goat-farmer over the now rich, yacht-toting hunks she could’ve had, just sighs “Yeah, right”.
 
In contrast David Comissiong is friendliness self when you meet him. He was at the recent Harrison College concert, no doubt thrilled to see Bajan races interacting as everyone from Dr Gabby to Sir Garfield paid tribute to Emile Straker, the white man who breathed new life into our black folk songs.
  
Yet in his writings, David comes over like the Old Testament, all fire and brimstone, smiting the smite out of we white Philistines. Not even a Turner Brown story to lighten the gloom. (In case you don’t know that one, a skinny Aussie finds himself in a lift with a huge black guy. Seeing his interest, the black guy says: “Seven feet tall, 350 pounds, 15 inches long, Turner Brown…” Whereupon the little white guy faints.
 
The black guy revives him and asks: “What happened, man? People ask the same questions every time so I thought I’d tell you up front. I’m seven feet tall, 350 pounds, it’s 15 inches long and my name is Turner Brown”.
 
“Turner Brown?” gasps the little Aussie, “ohmigosh, I thought you said ‘turn around.’”)
 
The fault, of course, lies with our editors.
 
What can you expect from a column called The Lowdown but tasteless, lowdown tripe? Similarly, David landed “Fighting Goliath” and that’s what he does. Had they handed him “Forgiving Goliath” or “Making friends with Goliath”, things might’ve been different.
 
Back to the republic thing. David feels “a profound sense of shame” particularly when he travels abroad and is “forced to reveal that the Head of State of this robust little predominantly black nation is a white Englishwoman who lives thousands of miles away from the Caribbean”. David apparently feels “national shame” and “racial shame”.
 
David’s experience puzzles me. I went to UWI with other West Indians, a few Africans, Central and South Americans. I’ve been to conferences with people from all over the world. Suriname, Martinique, Guadeloupe, USA, Canada. But not once did anyone ask, or show the slightest interest in, my Head of State.
 
Furthermore, should black Cubans feel “racial shame” over Fidel or Raul Castro? Jamaicans
over Bustamante or Seaga? Vincentians over Comrade Ralph?
 
I feel no shame in admitting that black heroes have dominated my life. The boys on the plantation who could ride mules, shoot guttaperks, ride scooters, build kites, cook sweet, set fly-sticks, climb trees; school contempories who excelled in studies, sports and athletics; bandmates Mike Sealy, Winston Small, Popeye Roach, Anto Springer, Hamel on organ, Wilkie the trumpeter, bassmen Bel Small, Short Grass Foster; teachers LW Wellington, RV Goodridge. Ditto university, ditto life.
 
Most admiration: at age ten or eleven, a maid took me upstairs, latched the bedroom door, and in 15 minutes of pure go-as-you-please showed me the wonderfullest wonder of the world. No one has yet explained why go for a republic rather than a monarchy with a local king or queen. As Comissiong himself revealed, there is precedent for this: had the 1675 revolt succeeded, Cuffy, a slave, would have become King (not President) of Barbados. Why not make that dream come true?
 
However, if, after a referendum, Bajans choose to go republic, may I suggest an ideal president,
a man already president of a republic, handsome, debonaire, a Bajan at heart, moreover, a president who will cost us nothing… Bajan peoples, salute Ian De Souza, president of Republic Bank. How easy the switch from President RB to President RoB.
 
Times are a-changing, David. Winston Harding, self- confessed rebel, came visiting Saturday before last. We talked long of old times. Then he hugged me. Then, remarking that he had never kissed a white man before, he kissed me.
 
Last Saturday, he came again and brought me a lovely puppy which we have named “Hardy” in his honour. The lion is lying down with the lamb, David. Make peace with Goliath.
 
By the way, in case you’re wondering how come I let a man kiss me, let me point out Mr Harding is a big fellow. I was just happy that he didn’t tell me “Turner Brown”.
 
Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]
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