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THE LOWDOWN: Dare to devolve

Richard Hoad, [email protected]

THE LOWDOWN: Dare to devolve

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FOLLOWING REPORTS that a Florida man had sex with a female alligator several times a day (apparently a non-objecting adult), a local editorial debated whether this will be the logical sequel to same sex marriage. Why not?

But why with an alligator? There are possible reasons: (1) he claimed it was for revenge; (2) compared to many American women (I’m not necessarily thinking Hilary Clinton here), gators aren’t that bad, although one should beware of oral sex and gator-AIDS; (3) the man’s name was Rupert Darwin. If, according to his famous ancestor, we “evolved” from primitive species, could Rupert have been trying to “devolve” back to our original ancestor? It would be a fascinating breakthrough.

Let’s leave that there. Many years ago Minister Keith Simmons proposed a youth programme; my good friend Jeff Garvey asked if I would manage it.

I was tempted but honest. If in 40 years of marriage I could only inspire my wife about four times to cook me cow belly tripe, just about my favourite food, could I inspire teenagers?

So I backed out. However I’ve oft wondered if a similar “devolution” would help our youth. My opening address would’ve summed it up:

Time machine

“Okay, listen up, sap-suckers. Think of this camp as a time machine. We’re taking you back to a Barbados 60-odd years ago. Not to brainwash you that things were better then. They weren’t. Since those days, we’ve ‘evolved’ with astronomical progress in living standards.

“But it seems that in the mad rush to develop we in many cases threw out the baby with the bathwater, failed to teach you that entitlement to higher living must be matched by a responsibility to help this island pay for it. Donations from wealthy nations or debt forgiveness only go so far.

“You will no doubt consider the living conditions here primitive. They were standard for many of your ancestors. You will live in a chattel house, make your bed out of dried khus khus, your mat out of a bag. Your drinking water will come from a monkey, you will cook on a three-brick fire-hearth. No electricity, fridge, radio, TV, gas stove, running water, telephone. You will bring water, collect firewood, tie out sheep.

“You will probably hate it. But in a few weeks something strange will happen. Your body will feel fit from the exercise. You will go to bed earlier and rise with the cocks.

“Suddenly you will see benefits. Your appliances never break down. Wi-fi is never off. You need never fear Facebook exposure. Cricket played with a clammycherry bat is great fun.

“The absence of noise will amaze you. The clang of a bucket handle will ring out like a gunshot. We are seldom aware nowadays how much stress noise pollution is causing. You will start to whistle. (Does anyone whistle any more?)

“We hope you will familiarise yourself with the guiding principles which shaped thinking back then. First, trust in God and the Bible. Comforting words which saw people through times of great hardship. We often strayed but knew right from wrong. (Amazingly, major radio programmes are now devoted to promoting buggery and dissing the Bible.)

Love of country

“Love of our country was paramount. In lieu of pension, my first job paid ten per cent of my salary into insurance. There could be no other choice for me but the Barbados Mutual, into which I’ve poured money for almost 50 years. Now I hear their successor company is talking about pulling out of sugar because they too seem to be going the homo route – only the bottom line matters.

“Sugar production is vital to Barbados agriculture way above its cash value. It supports the livestock and rum industries, controls erosion and rats, provides the perfect rotation for other crops, keeps the island in a condition that is pleasing to our visitors. Does Sagicor care about any of these aspects?

“We hope you will leave here with the knowledge that one needs very few material possessions to live comfortably in this wonderful isle. That you won’t saddle yourself with crippling mortgage and debts which will make you a virtual slave for the rest of your working life. The Roman poet Horace extolled the lifestyle of a man “desiderantem quod satis” – desiring just what is enough. He is well worth emulating. . . .

“Forward ever, yutes, backwards, sometimes . . . .”

Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]