If wishes were horses would Op­po­si­tion MPs fly first class?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Rick Wayne

Imiss John Comp­ton! I’ve been re­gret­ting the old coot’s depar­ture for some time, long be­fore his fi­nal curtain on September 7, 2007. By the time he per­mit­ted him­self to be per­suaded to un­der­take his last po­lit­i­cal ad­ven­ture Comp­ton was by no means the man I had come to know and to not-so-se­cretly ad­mire af­ter a quar­ter of a cen­tury of good and bad times. And now, dear im­pa­tient reader, the FB ge­niuses in par­tic­u­lar, please try to re­sist the temp­ta­tion to un­der­stand me too quickly. What I am about to write has lit­tle to do with our first prime min­is­ter’s count­less ac­com­plish­ments in of­fice. Let us not, at least on this oc­ca­sion, re­call the sins of the dearly de­parted, if only to spare our­selves em­bar­rass­ing en­coun­ters with the man in the mir­ror.

But lest I di­gress too far, let’s re­turn to my start­ing point. I miss John Comp­ton most of all for his wit­ti­cisms. I re­main con­vinced Comp­ton spoke his most mem­o­rable gems with­out much thought. Al­ways he de­liv­ered them with the straight­est face. The line about a prophet re­ceiv­ing no re­spect in his own land comes to mind; but then it also oc­curs to me that Comp­ton was not to this manor born—which may ex­plain why he was so dif­fer­ent from the rest of the po­lit­i­cal herd. But that’s for another show, as they say.

To re­turn to the quotable gems that seemed to fall out of his mouth so nat­u­rally: re­mem­ber his un­for­get­table “tout Labar c’est vòlè?” (Read­ers less than 30 years of age will need to rely on their par­ents’ mem­ory banks!) When not long be­fore he passed away one of my re­porters tried to pry out of Comp­ton the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his “all SLPs are thieves and rapists,” this was his re­sponse: “I have heard the state­ment you’re ask­ing about but you work for the man who knows all there is to know about it. Your pub­lisher. He in­vented it!”

Af­ter that what else was there to say? The re­porter, who was not yet born when Comp­ton spat out the fa­mous line dur­ing a Vieux Fort rally of his United Work­ers Party, re­turned to work ab­so­lutely con­fused. Oh, but I couldn’t help won­der­ing how long Comp­ton had been wait­ing for the ques­tion from a STAR re­porter and how much time it had taken to fine-tune his un­for­get­table re­sponse!

I was driv­ing home from town (the city?) last Saturday evening when a cer­tain leg­endary play­wright and poet, not Comp­ton, came to mind. In­deed, the thought had more to do with the long ago de­parted than with the more re­cently in­terred other who had fa­mously re­vealed dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar episode of TALK that he had “no po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies, only op­po­nents”—un­like Vaughan Lewis.

Maybe be­cause of the state of our streets with their yawn­ing ugly jaws just dy­ing to break axles and an­kles, my mind turned to medi­ocrity and trash. The garbage to which I here re­fer should not be con­fused with par­lia­men­tary speeches you may have caught with your own un­pro­tected ears. Nei­ther with road­side STEP residue; nor what passes for dis­course over the lo­cal airwaves, aided and abet­ted by vac­u­ous talk­ing heads and sundry Uniden­ti­fied Feisty Od­dballs, of­ten re­ferred to as UFOs.

As I say, trash was on my mind. Trash, as in “he who steals my purse steals trash’ . . . only my rep­u­ta­tion mat­ters. Now be truth­ful, dear reader, can you imag­ine a par­lia­men­tar­ian cry­ing other than crocodile tears over the theft of his good name? Can you imag­ine a pub­lic ser­vant sim­i­larly ac­cus­ing a com­mis­sion of in­quiry? (Talk-show hosts are a breed al­to­gether apart who alone know what is more trash, their rep­u­ta­tions or their wal­lets! We need not ven­ture there!)

Can you con­ceive of the pop­u­lar re­ac­tion? And yet the ex­pressed Shake­spearean sen­ti­ment is among the lead­ing con­trib­u­tors to The Bard’s im­mor­tal­ity, never mind it reeks of hy­per­bole. Fess up, fash­ion­istas, what wouldn’t you do for a bag by Chanel or Louis Vuit­ton? I’m here to tell you your dream items are eas­ily avail­able from the side­walks of Mi­coud Street for a quar­ter of what you’d have to pay for them from a Brook­lyn shark or some barely awake sales lady at a Rod­ney Bay Mall. Scratch that; lo­cal Syr­i­ans don’t do Chanel and whats-his-name. And speak­ing of stan­dards, let’s not even men­tion the cal­iber of rat we pay to rep­re­sent us all over the place.

Con­sider, if you will, a pub­lic ser­vant re­port­ing to the po­lice that some jumbie jumped his wife and stole her purse while she was mo­men­tar­ily dis­tracted by the up­lift­ing Christ­mas am­bi­ence of Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard. Now imag­ine the of­fi­cer telling the pub­lic ser­vant not to worry, go home, his wife’s purse was just trash any­way—that the only thing she has go­ing for her is her good name. How would the pub­lic ser­vant re­act to that? Would he con­sider the of­fi­cer’s ad­vice out-and-out mau­vais

langue, typ­i­cal po­lice sar­casm and maybe re­port him to some­body way up in the ser­vice who just hap­pens to owe him a fa­vor or two?

Okay, let’s for­get our imag­ined civil ser­vant. Let’s pre­tend in­stead it’s your purse or your mama’s that was snatched out­side the House by some guy with wings on his feet —and then to have some cop fresh out of train­ing school de­scrib­ing the re­ported stolen item as trash. Can’t you just hear the head­lines that would fol­low? Can’t you just hear the calls to Timmy on Newsspin?

And what if mag­is­trates should sud­denly take it into their heads to dis­miss the pend­ing scores of purse-snatch­ing cases be­fore the courts, on the Shake­spearean premise that what re­ally mat­ters are our rep­u­ta­tions, not purses?

I seem to re­call John Comp­ton hold­ing forth one evening sev­eral years ago in Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard about how cer­tain Labour Party types were hell-bent on tar­nish­ing his rep­u­ta­tion, sac­ri­fic­ing his good name on the al­tar of par­ti­san pol­i­tics. Did they not know his rep­u­ta­tion was Saint Lu­cia’s great­est as­set? he asked. Did the red dev­ils not un­der­stand that with­out his widely re­spected good name there would be no for­eign aid, no grants no noth­ing? Be­lieve it or not, I still have the record­ing of this un­for­get­table meet­ing that was as­so­ci­ated with a Canada-based com­pany called Spiri­cor and a check that turned out to be trash af­ter it bounced right out of a bank clerk’s freshly man­i­cured hand.

And now, some flak catcher is on the ra­dio car­ry­ing on about how Saint Lu­cia has been named one of the least cor­rupt re­gions of the world, thanks to our prime min­is­ter and his un­shak­able be­lief in trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity. Now if only our vi­sion­ary leader would dis­cover how to turn that rep­u­ta­tion of his into a mag­net for bet­ter days, I doubt very much he’d hear a sin­gle com­plaint from the folks about snatched purses, trashy or oth­er­wise. We’d all be too busy get­ting rich, right?

Which in­ex­pli­ca­bly re­minds me of the fa­mous English proverb about wishes, horses and beg­gars with tick­ets to ride. Ob­vi­ously, those mag­nif­i­cent English­men had never imag­ined a breed of peri­patetic beg­gars whose fa­vorite pas­time is fly­ing, not rid­ing, all ex­penses paid. But for more on this par­tic­u­lar tale, which I as­sure you is not a proverb, you’ll have to wait un­til next time, maybe!

The pre­ced­ing was first pub­lished in 2015.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter of St Lu­cia, Sir John Comp­ton.

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