SATURDAY’S CHILD: More guns than roses
GUNS N’ ROSES, the American hard rock band, was formed in 1985 and has sold more than 100 million records since then. The band has toured widely and has perhaps travelled as many miles as its record sales so you would think by now that its members would be able to tell one city or state from another.
Some critics say that it might have been the state they were in when they arrived on stage to start a show in Australia that caused them to mistake Melbourne for Sydney.
According to Australia’s ABC News, “Thousands of people arrived hours before the gig was due to start and the crowd roared when the band finally hit the stage. But the cheers turned to boos after guitar technician McBob forgot where he was.” The 70 000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) endured the late start but could not take the McBob blunder, or given the venue, balls up. One of my friends quipped lamely that perhaps Brian Lara’s daughter Sydney, named after that city’s cricket ground, was in the audience and they called out to her but that quip retired as hurt as the MCG audience.
Last year, in not a reversal but maybe a “preversal” of fortune, Melbourne was mistaken for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, not by a rock group but an aeroplane pilot. CNN reported that a flight to Malaysia from Sydney was diverted to Melbourne after its pilot entered incorrect coordinates of the plane’s starting position.
While mistaking Sydney for Melbourne is bad enough, what about mistaking Sydney for Sydney? Joannes Rutten and his grandson Nick had planned to take their holiday in Sydney, Australia.
It is said that when the plane arrived they were dressed like Crocodile Dundee, told the flight attendant that the trip was “bonzer”, and were all set for the Opera House and shrimp on the Barbie (grill not doll). As they made their way toward customs and immigration, something seemed a bit amiss. It turns out they had landed in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Actually, there is another Canadian city which is pronounced the same but is spelt differently – Sidney, British Columbia. Then there is the man who sued British Airways for putting him down in Grenada, West Indies, instead of Granada, Spain.
If you think Guns N’ Roses made a mistake, here is what happened to Englishman Kevin Jones and his friend Jeanette, who headed out for their dream vacation in Trinidad. All thoughts of sun, sand and other delights vanished when they arrived at Birmingham Airport in the West Midlands. They found out that they were in the wrong Birmingham Airport and the reason the American Airlines flight was so cheap was that it originated from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport – the biggest in the US state of Alabama.
Had the couple left on their journey to Trinidad, there was still another hurdle and perhaps even more excitement. Would they have got to the right Trinidad? While Trinis from Trinidad and Tobago think that their country is unique, the name “Trinidad” is not. Wikipedia has a list starting with one in Antarctica, another in Belize, a regional capital in Bolivia, others in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico (two), one in Paraguay, and even more in the Philippines (three), five in the United States and one in Uruguay.
I know some of my mail even went to a Trinidad in Guatemala and I am still not sure whether it went to a person (like the Puerto Rican boxer, Felix Trinidad, rapper Trinidad James, Diego Capel Trinidad (footballer) or one of those Trickydadians, the fictional Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV, the Great Evil King in the Japanese role-playing video game, Okage, Shadow King.
Wikipedia reveals that Trinidad is short-tempered and has a childish personality, but has moments where he picks up on things that even the other group members miss. He has built his identity on being evil and desires to be feared by the world as the Great Evil King. He claims to be the reincarnation of, and therefore the heir to, the Great Evil King Gohma, who was defeated by the Great Hero Hopkins three hundred years previous to the story. Hopkins also sealed Stan away into a bottle, which is found by the father of Ari, the game’s hero. It’s all blood and mayhem, spells and incantations.
While the video version is a game that can become a great Carnival band, the scenario with its many battles and dangerous characters is a lot like modern day Trinidad, where there were 467 murders last year and 69 for the year so far. This does not include killings by the police. Except on Valentine’s Day, you will find many guns but very few roses rocking here.
Many people from Trinidad now wish for a return to the old Trinidad in which they grew up, a kinder, gentler, more humane and much more peaceful place. This would require a time machine and these are not yet available, not even from Amazon. So those fed up with the state of the country can travel to one of the many other Trinidads. However, given the experiences of people with Sydney, Sydney and Sidney, even if they’re travelling to Trinidad, Brazil, they better pack some warm clothes just in case.
• Tony Deyal was last seen saying if you reach a country where elite is a shirt, reform is a village, police and thief are generally indistinguishable, and maracas is a beach and not a rattle, you can literally bet your life you’re in Trinidad.