It’s not al­ways what you say . . .

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

As jeal­ously pro­tec­tive as is my im­mune sys­tem of my men­tal health, I am not the least bit per­turbed that I some­times ex­pe­ri­ence im­mense dif­fi­culty re­call­ing de­tails of cer­tain re­cent oc­cur­rences.

Para­dox­i­cally, I can with in­cred­i­ble clar­ity men­tally re­visit my life as a boy in La­borie; the count­less es­capades I had con­sid­ered hi­lar­i­ous at the time, when in truth they were ob­vi­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions of a fast-de­vel­op­ing dev­il­ishly mis­chievous na­ture—most of them at the ex­pense of my ear­li­est body­build­ing bud­dies, among them Mike Moncherry, Peter Louisy and Cle­tus Joyeux.

‘What re­ally got my goat was his gall. It would’ve been more than enough sim­ply to whis­per in the left ear of his com­rade the

prime min­is­ter!’

I can with ease hap­pily re­call re­ceiv­ing my most cher­ished birth­day gift—the cutest lit­tle puppy imag­in­able that I im­me­di­ately named Frisky. I was eleven years old; the puppy was black and white, with a tail four inches long and eyes that talked; to me, at any rate.

The warder of my brain fails me mis­er­ably, how­ever, when it comes to one lo­cal in­di­vid­ual, fa­mous at home and abroad for all the wrong rea­sons. All that re­main in my mem­ory of our ini­tial en­coun­ters are vague, smoky snip­pets.

It seems our paths first crossed at the Voice; I was then the pa­per’s ed­i­tor. Whether he had by this time com­pleted his of­ten self-cited pre­cious mass­com course I can­not say with cer­tainty. I do know, how­ever, and this is im­me­di­ately ver­i­fi­able, that in my time at the news­pa­per he had never once con­trib­uted an item not al­ready common knowl­edge even among the least in­formed.

In­deed, I have since con­cluded that UWI’s mass-com cour­ses were never de­signed to pro­duce writ­ers of any worth— let alone writ­ers with so­cial con­sciences.

As is turned out, my ten­ure at the Voice was short-lived. The jour­nal­ism that re­mains my spe­cialty was not in har­mony with my pub­lisher’s am­bi­tions. He sum­moned me one morn­ing to his com­modi­ous quarters at Geest In­dus­tries to lay be­fore me two choices: quit crit­i­ciz­ing John Comp­ton’s poli­cies or suf­fer the con­se­quences.

A short time later I left the Voice in fa­vor of a job that Comp­ton had con­tro­ver­sially cre­ated just for me. But that, as they say, is for another in­quiry.

It came as a sur­prise, the man who re­placed me. I had ex­pected the UWI grad­u­ate to in­herit my va­cated chair. It went in­stead to the in­ven­tor of “This is Saint Lu­cia, where we are happy!”—a once popular slo­gan ev­i­dently long for­got­ten with its au­thor.

On re­flec­tion, per­haps my pub­lisher had al­ways wanted an ed­i­tor versed in the black art of fan­tasy mon­ger­ing—for which I never had much time. As for the mass-com ge­nius, his his­tory is well enough known not to merit rep­e­ti­tion here. I need only add that we con­tinue not to see eye to eye, es­pe­cially on mat­ters no­to­ri­ously re­lated to the He­len­ites Build­ing in New York and to his serendip­i­tous dis­cov­ery of oil be­neath the waves at Dauphin.

Imag­ine my amaze­ment this week when I heard him back-slap­ping me for prof­fer­ing the idea of a govern­mentspon­sored and press-cov­ered sim­u­la­tion aimed at con­vinc­ing dis­trust­ing Saint Lu­cians of our preparedness in the event of an Ebola-re­lated emer­gency.

It wasn’t so much the gen­tle­man’s in­ad­ver­tent ac­knowl­edge­ment of my abil­ity to think orig­i­nal thoughts that had grabbed my at­ten­tion. Or that my idea was wor­thy of his es­teemed en­dorse­ment. (Ac­tu­ally there was noth­ing earth-shat­ter­ing in what I had said in a call to Newsspin.)

What re­ally got my goat was his gall. It would’ve been more than enough sim­ply to whis­per the right words in the left ear of his com­rade the prime min­is­ter. After all, the caller to Newsspin had eas­ily per­suaded the prime min­is­ter to con­tro­ver­sially sign an agree­ment with an Amer­i­can oil­man of ill re­pute, based on his pro­moter’s claim that while frol­ick­ing in the sea at Dauphin he had dis­cov­ered the panacea that would wipe away our na­tion’s eco­nomic woes, cur­rent and fu­ture.

But hell no. He first had to re­mind Newsspin lis­ten­ers at home and else­where of his gen­er­ous, for­giv­ing and mag­nan­i­mous na­ture. In ef­fect, that he was pat­ting me on the back de­spite my nasty habit of blast­ing him and his trusted friend the prime min­is­ter.

He seemed obliv­i­ous of the fact that my call to Ti­mothy Poleon had been made with the same mind­set that over the years had mo­ti­vated me to write about bad gov­ern­ment poli­cies, re­gard­less of the oc­cu­pier of the prime min­is­ter’s chair—re­gard­less of the iden­ti­ties of other abusers of their of­fices.

There was some­thing else in the par­tic­u­lar snake-oil ven­dor’s tone. In my ear he seemed to be con­firm­ing the wide­spread sus­pi­cion that cit­i­zens who dare to de­mand good gov­ern­ment—the cit­i­zen’s first duty!—call upon them­selves con­se­quences con­ceiv­able only to men demon­stra­bly evil, whether or not lesser!

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