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Holidays & Confused

TRINIDADIANS AND, to a far less psychologically-devastating extent, Tobagonians, will next week enter what has been, so far this year, uncharted territory: six back-to-back weeks without a single public holiday to soften the blow of having to go to work every day, like every sufferer in every country in the world.

It seems to go against the very marrow of Trinidadian-ness.

This is the Trini definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: six working weeks, each five days long. It cannot help but result in mass catatonic shock. Understandably. But how, in that context, will Trinis continue to convince themselves that God is a Trini?

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​We Jammin’ Still

55 YEARS of so-called Independence and I wouldn’t mind us not being able to do even the most basic stuff for ourselves that minor cities all over the world have mastered, like running a ferry service between two small islands, paving a road properly (with a firetrucking Pitch Lake!) or appointing a judge or Cabinet minister, if we could at least think for our firetucking selves.

If we thought for ourselves, we would, in time, find ways of overcoming, or at least facing, our challenges.

But we don’t think for ourselves: our mental activity peaks at making either excuses for or whipping-boys of ourselves. The Catholics – Devil bless ‘em – invented two complementary ‘sins against hope’: the sin of despair and the sin of presumption. The sinner in despair loses all hope of God’s forgiveness or his help in getting to heaven while the sinner in presumption trusts in his own power to save himself or presumes God will forgive him without any repentance or good works on his own part.

Newspaper columns and social media posts, in the run-up to today's Independence holiday came in two broad stripes: one cheering and one jeering section. The jeering section, the sinners against hope, with their litanies of woe about Trinidad & Tobago, are at least closer to the reality: that we have almost terminally firetrucked up our own place.

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Black Hole of Cut Corners

NOT SO LONG ago, you woke up some August mornings and you didn’t even have to look out your window, you could feel the rain that would soon be upon you in the air all around your bed. Mornings like that, if you could, you rearranged your schedule early and fast, to avoid going into Town at all, or to be sure you would be out of it before midday.

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Summertime Red, White & Blues

Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do/ But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues - Eddie Cochran

WE’RE smack-bang in the middle of what we used to call “the August holidays” when I was going to school but few people under age 50 would even have heard that expression. For decades now, in furtherance of our tacit national ambition to become the 51st US state ahead of Puerto Rico, we have called what used to be the “August holidays” the “summer vacation”, just because that is what Americans call it.

It is impossible to underestimate how desperately Trinis have wanted to be American since England told us to firetruck off on 31st August, 1962. If we have any love of country at all, it comes on the rebound. As a nation, we’re like a small, barely ambulant child, who would climb up into Adolf Hitler or Hannibal the Cannibal’s lap and call him, ‘Daddy’ if he gave us a smile and a ‘currants’ roll; and, when Mother England dumped us, we threw ourselves at Uncle Sam.

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​1990, Please Make a Liar of We

It is strange, the more we change, rearrange/ Everything just seems the same/ 1990/ Please make a liar of me - David Rudder, from the song, ‘1990’.

YOU KNEW Bob Dylan was the American cultural thermometer from the first time you heard, “Blowing in the Wind”; and, you knew David Rudder was the Trinidadian cultural prophet 27 years ago, yesterday, when the good imam took up arms for Allah, and Denis McComie, Trinidad’s lonesome DJ, played ‘1990’, that anthem for our modern Trini times, for five days straight; and those opening notes, that eerie, creepy, prayer-like wailing, seem commissioned after the fact, not disturbingly prescient of them.

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