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

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Las Lap for J'Ouvert

PROBABLY THE shortest statement ever made on Trinidadian national identity & attitudes came from the country’s best rock ’n’ roll band, Jointpop, who asked in song, simply: “Why Trini so?”

Indeed, lead singer-songwriter Gary Hector’s chorus could replace the entire Sociology section of the University of the West Indies Library: “Of all the things we can do,” sang Hector, “and of all the things (we can choose)/ We choose Crack, Pitbull & Gun/ Some very strange people.”

At our current worst moment since the pandemic began, with covid killing people in double figures every firetrucking day of life (and death), Trinidadians choose to get enraged about whether the vaccines are safe enough to take!

Refusing to take the vaccine because you’re worried about the health risk – and, ergo, actively courting the virus itself – is like arguing over whether police engaged in a shootout with bandits should return fire with fines instead of bullets: when all is said and done, you may indeed have a point about the efficacy of fines in discouraging criminal behaviour.

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Skinner Park Virologist

RECENTLY, FACEBOOK has been, for me, what Skinner Park was for Denyse Plummer in 1986, the year she transmogrified from relatively upmarket Chaconia Inn lounge singer to decidedly downmarket calypsonian at Calypso Fiesta, the calypso monarch competition semifinals. Singing to the notoriously hostile Skinner Park crowd, she was booed, jeered and pelted with toilet paper (mainly for being fair-skinned, because both her songs were good).

Since covid, I’ve been getting into all kinds of quarrels with one kind of person on Facebook: the type who argues the vaccines are more of a health risk than the virus (excluding those advocating for people with compromised immune systems or other conditions). I’ve fought them all, from the rabid conspiracy theorist convinced the vaccine will make him blu-tooth enabled, to the wannabe sophisticated frustrated lawyer, who takes finer and finer points in coarse arguments about hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin or some other red herring.

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Herding Cats to Immunity

IN OUR near 60 years of Independence, and in the 40 years since I first voted in 1981, the first general election that enfranchised 18-year-olds like me, I’ve never once been disappointed by any of our several governments.

Not once.

Because I’ve never expected anything at all from any one of them.

Like Mahatma Gandhi who, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, replied he thought it would be a very good idea, I’ve always maintained I would support the government of Trinidad & Tobago from the moment I saw any sign of it.

I have expected nothing from any sitting TT government.

And yet they’ve all failed to deliver.

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63 With a Bullet

WEDNESDAY WAS my birthday and all I’ve got to show for myself after six decades of this cosmic joke called life is the same receding hairline, expanding waistline, infrequent byline and recurring firetrucking punch line: 11 times before today, in “birthday” columns, I’ve repeated the same hairline/ waistline/ byline joke I first made when I was 30 with a Bullet.

After turning 30 “in the papers” in 1988, I decided to limit birthday columns to five-year intervals and “significant” birthdays but, when I turned 55 in 2013, I realised every firetrucking birthday had become hugely significant. At least to me. Because every birthday increases the chances I won’t be here for the next one. Until my elder brother last year, and now I myself, no Pires male had lived past the age of 62 in five generations I hope we’re all here to see my younger brother join the 63 Club in 2026.

But surely I’ve learned something from it all? Or at least can pretend to have? Here, then are 63 pieces of indisputable wisdom, one for each year I’ve survived. Following these commandments may not get you to Heaven but you’ll certainly have a Hell of a time. Many of the ones in-between change but the first and last have remained the same for 33 years now.

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