Pump­ing the or­gan

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Opinion - Richard Hoad is a farmer and so­cial com­men­ta­tor. Email porkhoad@gmail.com.

Frankly, I get wor­ried when we put eco­nomic re­cov­ery in the hands of in­tel­lec­tu­als. “Food-van” San­dra, yes; econ­o­mists, scary. In­tel­lec­tu­als just don’t deal with re­al­ity.

For ex­am­ple, in the early 1970s in­tel­lec­tu­als de­cided to force the met­ric sys­tem down our throats. Nearly 50 years later, they haven’t yet re­alised it hasn’t worked. We want both sys­tems. And for good rea­son: nine inches will im­press a girl; 228.6 mm won’t.

When I left Miss Phillips’ school at age nine, I could han­dle yards, feet and inches or dec­i­mals. My chil­dren only learnt met­ric. One daugh­ter, while buy­ing cur­tain ma­te­rial for two win­dows, nearly got enough for Buck­ing­ham Palace, Ilaro Court and the old Em­pire theatre. Most of to­day’s young home­own­ers are at the mercy of car­pen­ters who talk 2 x 4s and 3 x 8s.

Ev­ery Fri­day af­ter­noon, and on feast days, we Miss Phil pupils at­tached our­selves to a long rope and snaked from Strath­clyde to St Leonard’s Church. Most of us joined the choir in singing lustily but two of the stronger boys were de­tailed to pump the or­gan. I never did, but brother Bill got to do it and de­vel­oped a lik­ing for that pas­time which he con­tin­ued through life.

Since “Won­der Woman” Mia’s ac­ces­sion, ev­ery­one has been im­pressed with her en­ergy, drive and pur­pose. This is “take charge” at its best. Many, like Mavis Beck­les re­cently, ob­vi­ously sing in her choir and are noth­ing but praise. I can’t sing but would rather be an or­gan-pumper, boost­ing the woman when I agree, of­fer­ing al­ter­na­tives when I don’t.

Mia has opened the floor for sug­ges­tions, even promis­ing ref­er­enda on key is­sues. We all have our own per­spec­tives and should voice them. I was there­fore very dis­ap­pointed to see a Satur­day Sun Ed­i­to­rial (Septem­ber 1, 2018) rec­om­mend­ing that, since we have a Gov­ern­ment “backed by 29 of the 30-mem­ber House of Assem­bly”, she should go ahead and abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. This would be a to­tal be­trayal of all the demo­cratic par­tic­i­pa­tion she promised and, in my opin­ion, most fool­ish given the es­ca­la­tion of un­con­trol­lable mur­ders.

Here is an­other glar­ing con­tra­dic­tion in the “we are all in this to­gether” sce­nario. It was heart­warm­ing to read of taxi driv­ers and ZR men, farm­ers and fish­er­men (whose ve­hi­cles never use the road), chip­ping in will­ingly to pay the bru­tal new fuel tax. We are all ready to sac­ri­fice to bring the coun­try we love back up to par.

But re­al­ity hit on Septem­ber 5: a full-page ad invit­ing “ten­ders for the sup­ply of ca­ter­ing ser­vices for Par­lia­ment”: quo­ta­tions re­quired “for 100 per­sons for meet­ings of the House of Assem­bly; 70 per­sons for meet­ings of the Se­nate” – lunch, tea, snacks and din­ner. Mu­cho money, given past fig­ures.

Two-course lunch, three-course din­ner – soup, choices of main course, dessert. Snacks avail­able at all times. Tea – hot and cold drinks, sand­wiches, pas­tries and so on.

Tell me it ain’t so, Mia. There are 30 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans; 21 se­na­tors. I hear the Se­nate has three of­fi­cers – Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Mar­shal. The House may have a few more. So who are the 100 and the 70 be­ing feasted (I have had first-hand tes­ti­mony of the lav­ish­ness of the fare pro­vided)?

Is it true that all and sundry turn up for bit­tles? Po­lice­men, guards, friends, even ex-politi­cians? Is this “we are all in this to­gether” sac­ri­fic­ing? No one could fail to note the rapid vol­u­met­ric ex­pan­sion of MPS in the last Gov­ern­ment. I have a dog named af­ter one – small head, big neck, obese body. In the old days we had Mot­t­ley’s soup kitchen in the Park to feed the poor. But this don’t hit right. I can’t pump that or­gan.

But it gets worse. Says the Ten­ders no­tice: “al­co­holic bev­er­ages are pro­vided by the Man­age­ment Com­mis­sion of Par­lia­ment”! That may ex­plain some speeches, be­hav­iours and even laws, but are we to be­lieve our lead­ers some­times work “un­der the in­flu­ence”? We have heard of glasses wrapped in pa­per nap­kins to hide the colour of the “wa­ter” they have to con­sume – is this the new “Bow­manston Spe­cial”?

There is big talk about well­ness and chronic obe­sity. Let our lead­ers set the ex­am­ple: no more gor­man­dis­ing and feed­ing the 5000 at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense. We are all in this to­gether.

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