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TGIF columns are in order by date from the most recent.

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​Freetown Collects UB40

EVEN BEFORE I heard their smoking cover of Neil Diamond’s Red Red Wine in 1978, a version even better than the Jamaican ones I knew (because of the chant in the middle eight), even before they began selling 70m records and staying on the British pop music charts for a record four years-plus, even before I found out the original Birmingham-based lineup had English, Welsh, Irish, Jamaican, Scottish and Yemeni parentage – they were diverse 40 years before it became a thing – even before I bought their first CD, I liked UB40, purely because of their name.

Those were different times, as Lou Reed observed, a world few young people today would recognise. What we then called First World countries understood clearly that, unless they helped solve the problems of the “Third World,” the former would be overrun by refugees fleeing tragedy in the latter. The world was so much of a fairer place that there existed a magazine called South (I applied for a job) which represented the interests of the global less developed countries.
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​Which Hunt?

MY WIFE never understood why I never missed The Apprentice in the mid-2000s until I explained that, once a week, I genuinely felt superior to a billionaire. He was so poor a businessman, so dreadful a judge of anything of quality, so helpless a boss.

This week, I’m back to where I started with Donald Trump: almost feeling sorry for him.

He probably wasn’t a billionaire back then, just the compulsive, self-aggrandising liar he still is, but, when he revealed his idiocy and deep moral flaws every week, I felt pretty good about myself. The shameless way he used his adult children as props for his vanity, eg, reflected my attempt to raise my then small children, not crush them under my own desperate need for validation.

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Searching for Sugar Man on the Road to Recovery

IF YOU have to choose between major surgery and joining the army, you should promptly join the army, even if your country is actively at war; at least your worries will be over with either your tour of duty or your death; with major surgery, they never stop.

Eight full months after the surgery that removed the tumour from my oesophagus, I’m still suffering its consequences daily. To be fair to my surgery, the most persistent after-effect has its roots in the eight chemotherapy blasts within which my oseophagectomy was sandwiched. My last CT-scan showed what my radiologist read as lung damage caused by the chemo.
Thankfully, although I have to do it every day, I can usually bring the coughing under control using yoga breathing techniques. Last week, though, my cough was so bad, I vomited four times. It’s not pleasant. My pulmonologist prescribed two antibiotics, steroids and a thousand-dollar-a-pop inhaler, all seemingly equally useless.
It’s dispiriting when you’re coughing and someone kindly asks if you want a drink of water, but you’re coughing too much to tell them you’re coughing because you took a tiny firetrucking sip of water.
Now I’ve been coughing since surgery, when my doctors think I began aspirating small amounts of food and/or liquid – but the cough has got much worse since my last bout of chemotherapy. Of course, it could be worse. I could have rid myself of the cough by dying. You can never be sure how close you were to croaking on an operating table because it’s just not good bedside manner for your surgeons to tell you, but I do know that my surgery, scheduled for five hours, ran to nine; and that four of the five blood vessels serving my stomach were lost forever in theatre.
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​Free Your Kind

Free your mind and your ass will follow – George Clinton

The Emancipation Day holiday falling (rising? uprising?) in effectively a three-day workweek – because so many people would have taken Monday off, it would be noticeable in the lack of traffic – is a script that could only have been written in Trinidad and Tobago, the first nation in the world to accord Emancipation Day a public holiday. But, a la George Clinton and Funkadelic, I wonder how much of freedom is really just freeness for the Trinidadian?
Why, in any Trini function nowadays, are there usually more people in Platinum VIP than General Admission? For the Trini, the only thing that declares inherent personal worth more than not paying to get in at all is not paying to get into VIP. The more the Trini doesn’t pay, the better he feels about himself.

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