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

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Hank Aaron & My Dad

IN SEVEN YEARS, my late father will have been gone for as long as I knew him: 35 years.

But, 28 years into his ongoing death, I sometimes see him, now, as powerfully as I did, then.

We didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot while he lived. His politics were sometimes embarrassingly conservative – I’m particularly glad we never had occasion to discuss US Senator Joe McCarthy – but I learned intellectual pragmatism directly from him.

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Biden His Time

Men go crazy in congregations but they only get better one by one – Sting, from the song All This Time

WATCHING THE inauguration of the 46th American president on Wednesday, even Donald Trump must have said, if only to himself, “Whew! Thank God Joe Biden won the election, yes!”

How lovely Wednesday was, apart from on Fox News (which I think of as, “Firetruck Facts News”) and rightwing radio and propaganda sites, where the hate is still being vigorously fanned. Even before the old Fat Nixon rolled out of Washington with his Addams Political Family, the air seemed clearer; you could almost not remember that, just two weeks before, Trump’s Red Hats, like Hitler’s Brown Shirts, had broken out a day of American Kristallnacht.

But you can’t ever forget that.

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Predilection for Prediction

TO WRITE a startlingly original newspaper column, you’ve got to copy others unashamedly and, in 1999, I stole a great idea from the Miami Herald’s Robert Steinback who, every January, wrote a column making predictions for the coming year and assessing the accuracy of his predictions from the year before.

Robert’s soothsaying was serious, because he lived in what was the world’s leading liberal democracy until President Soprano turned it into a criminal enterprise and almost into a dictatorship. But I live here. Some of my predictions, then, are meant to make you laugh, while others would make anyone with any sense weep, the eternal Trinidadian conundrum being distinguishing the fantasy from the reality.

Since 2011, I have stunned readers with the accuracy of the previous year’s first prediction, as you will now see:

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Fat Abu Bakr

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay - without Trumps headFOR FOUR YEARS, I’ve been telling his brainless Trinidadian apologists that Fat Nixon, that morbidly obese, treasonous squatter in the Oval Office, was setting up to transform himself into Fat American Hitler but I was wrong; we found out on Wednesday that he was aiming, all along, to become Fat American Abu Bakr, the man who led Trinidad’s 1990 coup attempt.

On Wednesday, all over the world we watched scenes on our televisions that our experience told us to interpret as somewhere in Africa, illiterate thugs, loyal to their warlord, swarming across city streets, yet another coup in one more banana republic– but it was Washington, DC; and the rebel forces storming the US Capitol were made up of Duck Dynasty extras.

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An Ambulance for 2020

THERE CAN’T be a person on the planet who’s not glad 2020 is over; and, if there is, you wouldn’t want to meet him or her. Apart from Liverpool winning the Premiership (which this Chelsea fan cheered) and there being just barely enough decent American voters to dump Trump, 2020 brought us absolutely firetrucking nothing, not even Old Year’s Night parties (in most places).

The best we could hope to squeeze out of a truly horribilis annus – the inversion is almost onomatopoeic – is that we were lucky enough not to bury anyone ourselves, due to covid-19.

Spare a thought, on this most “get ah-wadge!” of mornings for the poor British, who will be figuratively stuck in 2020 for the next 20 years. Yesterday was the last day of the Brexit transition, making today the first day of 21st Century Britain’s Sordid Isolation; the only thing worth celebrating for Brits today is that things aren’t yet as dreadful as they’re likely to get.

Of course, Brexit may turn out to be a good thing in the long run, but, as rock star economist John Maynard Keynes wrote, in 1923, "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”

And, of course, the first to die will be the old firetrucks who voted, by a whopping four per cent (a statistical dead heat), to leave the biggest trading bloc in the world, the single market that made plural Britain so singularly rich. It’s as hard to imagine the UK thriving on the trade deals it makes with Grenada and Pakistan.

For four years Boris Johnson has repeated, verbally, the lies he wrote immediately after Vote Leave won the 2016 referendum: “British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and settle down… with access to the single market”.

He also swore blind that no UK prime minister could ever agree to the border in the Irish Sea he just agreed to; the “oven-ready Brexit deal” that won him an 80-seat Parliamentary majority was clearly really half-baked, like his own IQ, and not fully firetrucking cooked, like his country’s future.

The Vote Leave campaign was the slickest propaganda spiel since Hitler sold Lebensraum to the people who would become anti-Semites; but Brexiteers haven’t benefitted as much as WWII Germans from indulging their coarser impulses. Through low tricks and high production values, the Brits – honestly, mainly the English, specifically the English Defence League – were persuaded to throw away the equivalent of VIP Platinum European Union membership. When the British rejoin, they will have to give up the pound, accept the euro and join the Schengen passport-free area. The unrestricted immigration that so terrified Brexit voters will then be impossible to stop.

The only hope Britain has of getting out of the cellar position in the world league tables of horrible prospects for 2021 depends entirely on the ignorance and stupidity of Americans.

So Britain is in with a fairly good chance.

By this time next week, the very worst place to live in the world could be the sorely mis-nicknamed “Land of the Free”, where “liberal” is the new n-word.

It’s so unlikely to actually happen – one hopes – that it perhaps shouldn’t be raised at all.

But, if 2020 taught us anything, it was that the unthinkable would become, not just the acceptable, but the official version.

Next Wednesday, January 6, Republican stooges of Donald Trump will rise in the Senate to protest the electoral college count in favour of President Joe Biden, just as Democrats did, four years ago, to protest Fat Nixon’s.

Four years ago, then Vice-President Joe Biden, as Senate chair, told the Democrats to shut up and sit down because the election was over and they’d lost.

Do not be surprised if Mike Tuppence-for-his-Brain upholds the objections next Wednesday.

And don’t be surprised if the armed militias Trump has been encouraging to get “wild” in Washington do go wild at the drop of that hat.

It’s shocking to think that the US may harbour an Abu Bakr, ready to carry out, next week, an armed revolution without having read past lesson one in the primer.

But look at Nashville last week.

There are a lot of mad men in the USA, with mad guns.

And one of the maddest is egging on the other crackpots.

It’s not so much a case, then, of goodbye as firetruck off, 2020.

But don’t say good riddance to 2020 just yet.

Because we may have one more week of it.

And we may need an ambulance or two ourselves.

BC Pires has to explain that this column was headlined “An ambulance for 2020” because his editor at Newsday refused his first choice headline of “Firetruck 2020”

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