Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Best Years of My Life

Growing up in Jamaica was an experience I will never forget, never regret and I would never trade for anything. I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather have been born. Life is about being happy, content and enjoying each experience as it comes, growing up in Jamaica for the most part was a wonderful experience. Looking back I now realize that the good times were very good and the bad times … well was not that bad.

I am not sure what was the one contributing factor that made my life so special, content and eventful. Maybe it was the fact that I was the youngest of 3, spoiled and pampered or maybe the mad crazy friends I have or all the above.

Stage Two Life” for me was between ages 6 to 12 characterized by not having a care in the world, life was about playing, watching lots of cartoons, going to school and play some more.  At that time television was not the 24 hour event it is today and as such one had to find other ways to entertain one’s self.  We had one channel, one station, JBC TV signed on at around 4:30 if we were lucky. Because many a times we sat in front of the TV at the appointed time and watch the test pattern until 6 or 7PM, no cartoon. I cannot begin to describe what that does to a child experiencing stage two life who is hooked on his 1 hour per day cartoons. TV signed off at 12 midnight with the playing of the national anthem, so we had lots of time outside to play, to use our imagination and be creative.

The first television we had was a Westinghouse black and white TV purchased in the 1960’s and lasted way into the late 70’s. In those days if it was broke you get it fix, you take it down to the TV repair man. We did not live in a disposable society like current times, most items especially electronic equipment lasted many years.

Ours "floor polisher" got so old it use to give us a shock from time to time and I had fun tormenting the poor dog with it. He hated the noise but he loved our mops and brooms and because of him we had to replace them on a regular basis...(polisher picture from:

My love for cartoons went hand in hand with my love for comics and I spent most of my lunch money buying the latter. My favorite cartoons of that time was The Ruff & Reddy Show, Hair Bear Bunch, Hong Kong Phooey, Dynomutt, Scooby Doo, anything Hanna Barbra, G-Force, Thunder cats, Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn just to name a few. With regards to comics I had a very large collection and swapped, loaned and borrowed comics from others. I wish I still had my collection of Commando Comics, my DC and Marvel super hero comics, Archie, Sad Sack, Andy Capp, Rawhide, Kid Colt, Jonah Hex, Richie Rich you name it, I had it and read it. I stopped collecting comics when they changed the format, comics now continued and being in Jamaica meant that there was no guarantee you would get the next one in the series. 

I spent a lot of time during this stage making my own toys rather than playing with the toys bought for me. In fact I would dismantle the store bought toys just to see how they were made and off course I could never put them back together.  Making kites was a favorite of mine, all types of kites with names like Big Bajie, John Crow and Boxy Kites if it can fly I would make it. My uncle use to make Bagie Kites that were bigger than me and on windy days it was so powerful we had to tie it to a post to keep it from flying away and taking me with it. Back then we made the biggest kites out of bamboo, cord, paper, homemade glue (flour and water) and old bed sheets strips used to make a tail. The smaller kites were made out of very thin coconut bamboo, thread and pretty paper (crepe paper). Sometimes when the sky was filled with kites we would attach a razor blade to the tail of the kite and play kite war. Each person trying to use the tail of his kite to cut the opponents line.  Flaps were fitted onto the kites to make them sing in the wind. Kite flying would always cause a debate as we argue whose kite look better and sing louder. Sometimes we would let a kite out so far that it was almost impossible to see, you knew it was still there because you could feel the tension on the line.  

I spent a lot of time going after kites that got away or got stuck in trees, climbing fences to retrieve ones kite from someone else’s yard was normal and often life threaten when that yard was guarded by a big bad dog.  You learnt very quickly to develop retrieval tactics and evasive maneuvers, once the lookout shouted “Dog a Come!!” 

The Fine Art of Negotiation
Kids learn at a very early age the fine art of negotiations. It is something we do before we start playing our games. An agreement on the rules is very important and must be laid out up front before playing commences. Yes there are times when we must stop the game to adjust the rules and seek every ones buy in to the adjusted rules. There are also times when a player decides to cheat and make up his own rules or go around the rules. Such actions normally results in instant termination of the games and separation of the group into warring factions. Cries of cheat can result into physical confrontation. For example a group of boys get together to play football, if the ball is owned by one person then that person expects to play for the entire time. We can swap out various other players but not the ball owner. However sometimes the ball owner is total rubbish at football, we want his ball but we do not want him for the duration of the match. He is then substituted and being upset about it he grabs his ball and head home. Sometimes he is allowed to leave but without his ball, in any case this action normally causes a fight or two or an argument of some kind.

There is no limit to the amount of games we can make up and play limited only by the hours in the day. Boys never really remain upset with each other for too long, I have witness the worst fights on a football field between two boys in the neighbourhood and by the end of the day all is forgiven and forgotten, at times they are forced to shake hands and move on to the next challenge and adventure.

I remember a group of us boys getting the Dutch pot from the Kitchen, with some rice as bait trying to catch birds with a stick and some string. Once we caught two Grassquit and the boys decided that after waiting for so long they were going to cook and eat the birds, trust me there is nothing on a Grassquit to eat, all I tasted was Grace Tomato Ketchup.

I think stage two life, is when we are most creative, it’s amazing what we could do with everyday resources, we made cars, bus and trailers using milk carton with bottle stoppers for wheels. All we needed was a string and round and round we go, being boys a truck war would start which ends in the complete destruction of our creation. 

Wooden scooters (we use to call them skates) were a favorite of mine these were more like wooden bicycles without pedals and pushed along like present day scooters, made out of wood with ball bearings for wheels.

We did not need any wood work classes to make these things, limited only by our imagination and hand-me-down instructions from older relatives. Give us hammer, if no hammer use a stone, nails and wood and off we go. Our construction effort would last a couple days, finished with a coat of paint and various decorations. It did not take long before we started to race each other with the appropriate sound effects.

Our toys did not have to be complicated for us to enjoy them, a piece of garden hose about 2 feet long made into a circle, held together by a stick and pushed along with a stretched out wire coat hanger with a hook at the end was perfect for navigating between various obstacles, as we play let’s see who is more skillful to pass through the obstacles without touching anything or lose control.  A car tire filled with water (our petrol) and pushed along with 2 long sticks (like pushing a wheel borrow) the faster you go and the more corners you take, the more water/petrol you lose and the quicker you have to stop at the gas station (outside pipe) manned by an attendant who takes leaves for money whose denomination was made up as we go along, why one leaf was valued as $100 and another as $500 was anybody’s guess.

As stage two progress the toys get deadlier, I remember my friend Frankie and I embark on a lizard hunting adventure with homemade bow and arrow made from small coconut bamboo, thread and a pin used as an arrow head or just making a target to see who can hit it. Playing war with the lizards as the enemy using a homemade flame thrower made from Baygon insect spray and a box of matches to light the sprayed content of the can. My father lost it one day when he had to put out the fence post that was on fire.

Growing up in a yard filled with fruit trees was an adventure in itself. If you could not climb a tree then you were at the mercy of the people who could. I am happy to say I was an expert climber. We had big blackie mango tree in the back yard, a Julie Mango tree in the front yard, an orange tree to one side of the yard and ackee on the other side. Next door, all around us, we had hairy mango, coconut, East Indian Mango, sweet sop, sour sop, cherry and coolie plum just to name a few and all for the taken. If you are hungry pick something and eat till you belly full.

Who needs breakfast or lunch when mango season is in full swing, when the branches of the tree bend so low, begging you to relieve it of its burden, ripe red and yellow mangos so juicy, so sweat they tickle the back of your throat, after having several of these bad boys you normally finish the feast with a very loud mango burp.  When I am feeling generous I would climb to the top of the tree and shake each branch raining mangos down on the people below. The blackie Mango tree grew over the roof of the house on one side and you can hear the mangos as they hit the roof and roll to the end where a number of us kids would be fighting to see who would catch it before it hit the ground.  On idle days I would sit in the top of the tree, feeling the cool West Indian breeze and eating a mango with the stem still attached to the branch, leaving only the seed dangling in the wind. I remember once a friend showed me how to climb up a coconut tree and pick coconuts but then refused to show me how to climb back down, “listen nuh” … shimmying down a coconut tree is not fun, it is a painful experience for a little boy who was only allowed to wear short pants.

Mango time:

Mi nuh drink coffee tea mango time
Care how nice it may be mango time
In the heat of the mango crop
When di fruit dem a ripe an drop
Wash your pot turn dem down mango time
De terpentine large an fine, mango time
Robin mango so sweet, mango time
Number eleven an hairy skin
Pack di bankra an ram dem in
For di bankra mus' full, mango time
Mek wi go a mango walk, mango time
For is only di talk mango time
Mek wi jump pon di big jackass
Ride im dung an no tap a pass
Mek di best a di crop, mango time
Stage two life primary school was a trip, what I remember most about it was recess, playing karate in the school yard, climbing trees and football (soccer) but if someone was to pass the ball through your legs (your salad as it was called) they then shout “salad!” … and everyone playing was allowed to kick you on the backside and they did it all at once. Kicks coming from all direction and you had to run but you cannot play again if you deprived one of your fellow players his kick. You had to submit your backside for punishment but only after you negotiate the intensity of the kick that was to come.

At the end of recess we had 2 bells, the first bell meant stop playing, head to the restrooms and get yourself ready for class. You had to tuck your shirt in your pants, wash your hands, face and look presentable, no more playing just wait for the second bell. The second bell meant line up in front of your classroom, boys in one line and girls in another and get ready for teachers inspection. The teacher would walk along the line to inspect your attire and if you were not properly done up then out of the line you go, prepare yourself and if you normally get that process wrong then prepare for the cane.  All those who pass the inspection was allowed in class, girls would enter first and stand by their desk, then boys, the teacher would enter the class and everyone would sing out a hearty good afternoon miss. The teacher then said her piece and then the command to sit was given, girls first then boys, only then would the afternoon lessons begin. 

At primary school it was customary for boys to dislike the girls, if the other boys found out you liked a girl they would tease you to no end. The teacher would punish you by putting you to sit between two girls and your friends would laugh at you. I had a mad crush on the girl I dislike the most, which meant I spent my time being her worst nightmare. I remember primary school trips to Hope gardens, Carib Cinema, Hermitage Dam and Castleton Gardens, what fun we use to have. At the end of stage two I remember getting my first long pants, it was a rite of passage and I was now in a different league.

Stage Three Life” started upon entering high school around 13 but the end of the stage depends on the individual and in Jamaica you do not have to end it, well if you are a boy. I find parents place less demands on boys than they do on girls.

Stage three is also characterized by not having a care in the world. You had two main responsibilities, (1) have fun and (2) pass your exams. High school for me started off slowly but turned out to be the time of my life. At stage three you were allowed to like girls and I also found out quickly that peer pressure was a threat to your existence. Kids like to dare each other to do the dumbest things and I realized that completing a successful dare was not that important. What was more important to your friends was that you attempted the dare and failed because that was much more fun.

I remember a friend of mine was dared to go into a yard in Constant Spring Gardens, climb a tree and pick a mango which he did. However what we did not know was that the yard was guarded by 3 very big, very mean dogs and as such he was stuck in the top of the tree with a frightened look of terror on his face. We could not contain ourselves with laughter, this was cartoon stuff, Tom and Jerry, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote master piece. In the end a woman living in the house had to come out and hold the dogs to allow him safe exit from the premises but without the blasted mango. We teased him without mercy for over a week. 

First form was uneventful, I do not remember much of it, in second form I met my best friend Mark and I cannot stress enough how important meeting Mark was to the rest of my life. It was also in second form that I met my second best friend Gary an unassuming kid from England sent to live in Jamaica. Our friendships grew stronger during third form. Not much happened in Second form, it ended with only two major incidents that I can remember. One was an attempt by boys in another second form class to have their way (battery) with a female teacher. It was then that I understood the importance of having strong male teachers in an all boys school. I must say I cannot remember a single boy I use to hang out with in school that grew up in a home with both mother and father, some lived with their mothers, other lived with their grandparents or close relatives. So having strong male teachers as role models is very important.

The second major incident in second form was “The Pen Foot Incident” in my class, after which a certain person was known throughout is life at high school as Pen Foot.  Nick names was the order of the day in high school, almost everyone had one, to this day if someone asked me if I knew such and such person who use to go to high school with me, I would always ask, what was their nick name in school. Names like Ma-Bootoo, Professor Flip Noodle aka flip, Cyndi Rex because of the shoes he wore, sugar because he use to eat a half pound of the stuff in class, Higgla, Tonto and in my case weatherman because I use to say if my arm hurts it would rain, these were the names we go by in our world.

Then came Third form, first thing Gary came back to school with a 100% Jamaican accent and you could hear him way before you saw him “WowYoooow! a me man Gary  …. Mi deh yah”, Mark came back, more Mark than ever and we had a new addition to the class and my third best friend Simmo aka Tonto. Whose favorite pass time was Brigadier Jerry, Jah Love and laughing at the crazy situations he could create for Gary, it was he who named Gary ….”Higgla Muma”. I am not too clear about the situation surrounding that name even though I was in the class room at the time. Gary was talking about his mother for some reason and Simmo shouted out that Gary’s Muma (mother) was a Higgla (a person who sells stuff on the street) even though Gary’s mother I believed lived in England or had moved to the USA at the time but from that day on Gary was forever known as “Higgla Muma” aka Higgla.  And you could still heard him way before you saw him”WowYoooow! A me man … Higgla …. Mi deh yah”, Mark (Flashy Mark), Gary (Higgla), Simmo (Tonto) completed my inner circle, my core friends and life was never the same, well not for me at least. 

We were four different individuals, with different personalities but we complimented each other and we got into a lot of trouble. Mark was the idea man, the instigator, 70% of the ideas Mark came up with was either wrong and should never be attempted but life would be very boring if we did not attempt at least some of them. It was dangerous for Mark to be idle because he would come up with some crazy ideas of things to do. Most of his ideas were way over the top and it was up to me to step in at times and declare which ones were not worth the risk and which one we would go ahead with. Gary would do almost anything, go anywhere, and Simmo would take it to the next level and make a bad situation worst. But you can bet your last dollar that no matter how crazy the situations we find ourselves, we would always end the day laughing our heads off. Our crazy actions would add something to our lives.  I cannot go into the details of each adventure that in itself is a book waiting to happen. 

Boring Teenage Summer Nights can be fun Sometimes:
I had one rule for summer and that is to never to get a summer job. I was offered a lot summer jobs when school was out but refused them all. It was a matter of principle because I regarded going to school and passing my exams as my only job and summer was a break from that job. I also knew that after I finished school I would be working for the rest of my life, so why should I start something that I knew I had to do in the long run to survive. Fortunately my big sisters did not share my views, they all had jobs, especially my bigger sister who was out of school and working permanently. So it was my job to go by her work place and take her car and her money. Like I said before I was spoiled rotten by my family being the youngest of three so financing my summer activities was not that hard.

There was this one time in third form that Mark took his brother’s girlfriend’s car without permission and came by to pick us up. The thing is none of us had a license to drive at the time or could even drive even though we declared how good we were at it. While driving Mark spotted a police car coming towards us, he panicked and bent down to hide from the oncoming police officers. The only thing that was visible was Mark’s hands on the wheel nothing more. Luckily the cops were not paying attention and they drove by. We then took the car over to our high school where we were all suppose to take turns driving it, heck it was a automatic so how hard could it be.

I was up first and I took off like a light but I am not sure what happen, I think the car was possessed by an evil spirit because before you know it was totally out of control and the four of us, two in the back and two in the front was try to bring it under control all at once. Arms and legs were everywhere pressing everything, the car left the road and climb the curb into the garden area, then out of the garden, with our heads bumping all over the place.  A teacher came out of the teacher’s lounge and saw the uncontrolled car speeding towards her and quickly went back into the lounge closing the door behind her. The car then came face to face with a man walking across the school yard with his groceries and for me time stood still, as we say in Jamaica "The two a wi eye mek one". I saw the look of death on this poor man's face, pure panic, he went right and the car went right with him, left and the car followed, in the end he chose the right direction and with Groceries in hand footed it as fast as he could.

The car was then heading for the chapel, at which point it made a 180 degree turn in a cloud of dust and came to a full stop with the lights, radio and wipers going on. All was silent until someone shouted “rass clat mi neva know say di car have radio  ... We could a listen to 2 chune man”. The car was damaged and Mark’s brother went ballistic, little did he know that for him this was just the beginning of his torment by us, as over the years we would use both his car and his GQ suits without his permission. Sometimes we would wait for him to fall asleep so we could push his car down the road and start it without waking him and little did he know at that time that we would end up crashing that car coming down Swain Spring mountain some years later.

Can still remember the first night we heard White Mice(Gemini Sound System)

Pepper in the Ketchup Bottle
One night, 6 of us decided to go to Burgerman on Trafalgar road, we were up to the usual mischief of putting pepper in the ketchup bottles. Great fun was had by all as we watched people pouring pepper on their burgers. Hey we were 16 at the time, on a week night in the middle of summer holidays how else could we entertain ourselves? The bill for the burgers came and Mark collected money from everyone then made his way to the cashier but walked right passed her and out of the restaurant. We all sat there dumbstruck as a look of panic washed over our faces, we did not know that Mark was going to do that and I am sure Mark himself had no idea he was going to do it also. That was classic Mark impulse action, spur of the moment stuff.

We had no idea what to do cause Mark took our last red cent and we did have any money to cover the bill. I immediately decided that this was no place to be when the stuff hit the fan, so I also made my exit. I found Mark halfway up the road sitting on a wall holding his tummy from continuous laughter. Then all the other boys made a mad run for it, with screams from the staff. Eventually we all made it out in one piece but not everyone found it funny and gave Mark an earful. An argument developed that Mark should return the money to each individual, to which Mark responded “You think burger free”, the argument continued all the way walking back to Sandhurst at around 11:30PM, the night ended over a couple beers and discussion of various topics as everyone ended up paying Mark for the burgers.

Prank Calls on a Long Hot Summer Night:
One night during a long hot drawn out summer, we were bored out of our minds. It was a week night and not a lot to do so Mark decided we should make some pranks phone calls. We must have annoyed about a dozen people that night as we grab the phone book, closed ours eyes and select the next victim. Finally we called one number and some young girls around our age answered, it seems they were also equally bored. We tried to prank them but they were not having it so we all chatted for a while, turned out they were students of Alpha so we made plans to meet them the next day and to this day we are all still good friends. However that night Higgla decided to up the ante and called the emergency number telling them that Sandhurst Guest house was on fire. We sat on the veranda drinking a couple beers with great remorse as the fire engine screamed by towards the Guest House. Gary then said that he should not have done it since his own house could at this very moment be on fire, every one agreed it was a rubbish thing to do. It was the low part of the night but what was done could not be undone and we never did that again. I know one guy at my high school who specialized in fake bomb threats to the school. If it was a sports day at Queens, St. Andrews, Holy Childhood or Immaculate and our school proceedings was getting in the way, eating up good daylight and girl time. After the evacuation only a fraction of the students would return to class as most made their great escape.   

Stage Three Life for us was school, girls, parties and more parties, every weekend.
Disco Sensation (Hughenden, Base), Soul Sensation, Soul Express, Legacy, Colossus, Ambassador, Topsey, Le Jeux , Epiphany, night beach at Hillshire, The Plazas at Christmas.

Over the years we shared the trials and tribulation of various failed relationships.

Looking for Sessions, cruising around Cherry Gardens, Orange Grove, Jacks Hill, Norbrook, Water works (Mr. Ranking duppy). Park the car and listen for the baselines as it reverberates off the side of the hills then drive in the general direction of the beat until come upon a party. In Jamaica the hills are literally alive with the Sound of Music.

High School BBQ and Fête, Teen Jam at Tropics, Phase II, NCB Sports club,  Enforcer Disco, Frank and Ferno, Squeeze, Bruce's patties, Peace Maker disco, Easter break in ochie, Soul Swingers Disco, The Va (A van to move the sound system, it was not road worthy and so we did not call it a van but a Va, it was painted using house paint) , Indies Pub, Swain Spring, Jah Love Music, Georgie wine, Brigadier Jerry, 12 Tribe Council, Hillcrest, Stony Hill, Port Royal (Mile Post 12), Running Boat (impromptu cooking) , Orange Grove Carnival, UWI carnival, Champs, Ray Town Dance, Zinc Fence and Third World music, Night Beach, Beat the Gate(getting into a party when you are not on the guest list or did not pay).

Higgla out of principle would feel insulted if he was invited as he preferred to use his wits to get into a party. I remember one immaculate fete, he clearly had more than enough money to get in but chose instead to scale immaculate fence, later that night we saw him limping, he had climbed a tree to get over the fence but misjudged the height to the ground, he turned around to go back but the limb he was standing on gave way, his ankle swell up, big, big like a melon.

Fonda Rae - Over like a fat rat 1982 
Gwen Guthrie - It Should Have Been You 
McFadden & Whitehead Ain't No Stopping Us Now
The Brothers Johnson - Stomp! 
Sharon Brown - I Specialize in Love 
Jeanette Lady Day - Come Let Me Love You 
Howard Johnson - So Fine 

A dance floor is normally made of small square tiles and you can rent one of these tiles when you dance a slow tune with a girl. It is also called lock down, because heads are burred into each other, arms wrapped tight in an embrace that not even light or air can pass between you. Movement is minimal, just enough as you isolate one piece of the music to move to on a very dark dance floor and both of you never step out of the rented tile.

Peaches and Herb
Ray Goodman and Brown
René & Angela
Stephanie Mills
Luther Vandross
Freddie Jackson-You Are My Lady
Jeffrey Osborne
Jody Watley

There is very little difference between Rent-A-Tile and Rub-A-Dub-Style the concept is the same except Rub-A-Dub-Style is a bit more aggressive or aggressive smooth. With Rub-A-Dub-Style there was a lot more grinding, as hips massage into each other, one person legs might be spread apart to act as a stabilizer or a wall used for support. Apart from the grinding of the hips not a lot of other movement took place. Some men like to put the girl against the wall so she cannot back up and then grinding pressure is applied to the most melodic Rub-A-Dub-Sound that vibrates the very wall she is against. While other men like to be against the wall and have the women do all the work while he takes a puff of his cigarette or a sip from his beer. I think the style varies base on the relationship between the couples, men who like to show they are in charge would rest against the wall and have the young lady “come -a -me” do her stuff, crazy cool.

I have no clue what these kids are doing today, I do not get the concept of men standing on one side and women on the other side of the dance floor and the two never meet and men dance to impress other men. It is the most impersonal and anti-social dance style that defeats the entire purpose of why we use to go out. In my days the number one reason why we go to a party was to meet girls, it was a successful night if that objective was accomplished.

Black Uhuru
Gregory Isaacs
Lone Ranger
Dennis Brown
Freddy Mcgregor
Gregory Isaacs
Barrington Levy
Tenor Saw
Super Cat

Session Here, There and Everywhere
I recently found an old Executive Monthly Minder Planning book from 1988 and noticed that the month of June and July 1988 was a very busy for me:
  • 23 June 1988 NCB Party - Legacy Disco
  • 24 June 1988 the Club with Colossus Disco
  • 30 June 1988 Session at Hillcrest Ave Colossus Disco
  • 1 July 1988 Session with Colossus, Legacy and Ambassador ($30)
  • 2 July 1988 Ferry Inn with Colossus Disco ($25)
  • 2 July 1988 Beach Bash Party Legacy Disco ($25)
  • 9 July 1988 Armageddon Party ($60)
  • 15, 16, 17 July 1988 was also marked Session
  • 29 July 1988 a party in Norbrook with Legacy and Le Jeux Disco ($20)

Radio DJ personality Wayne Chin use to have these short blurbs on the radio:
  • "Wayne Chin Says – Man who ride and dilly dally, end up on hospital trolley".
  • “Wayne Chin Says – Man who goes to bed with itchy batty wakes up with smelly fingers”

After a night of drinking and dancing at the 1980s night club at the Courtleigh Manor's, we hailed a cab. Everyone got into the cab except a very drunk Gary, who claimed on top of the taxi and shouted to the driver … “Driva!! …drive man!.. mi alright up yah so!” … well the cab driver lost it…. “Boy get yu Rass offa mi kyar tap” … at which point we jumped out, grab him and pushed into the taxi …

SOONER OR LATER - Larry Graham
Change - Paradise 1981
Change - The Glow of Love
Howard Johnson - So Fine
Imagination - Just An Illusion
Shalamar -
The Whispers - And The Beat Goes On

And Then There Were Three...:
One of the sadness day for us was when Gary left us. It was not the fact that he left but how he left, couple days had passed and we did not see or heard from Gary. Several phones call made and no luck on his whereabouts.  So we decided to go to his house, we knocked on the gate and asked for Gary only for the person to tell us that Gary went back to England. We were sad, angry and relived all at the same time. He was fine no harm came to him but he left us without saying good bye and we felt hurt. We were very silent after leaving his house, something had changed in our world and we were not prepared for that change. We now understand why Gary left the way he did but his leaving reminded us that Stage Four Life was not far off.

Yeah I remember the 70s to 80s, the Political war years, they were bad but they did not stop us going about our business and having fun. It was not all doom and gloom as some would have us think, yes we had road blocks and police operations and political posturing. Yes the super market shelves was empty at times and many imported items was scarce but local production was high. So we had food to eat, over time we also got use to frequent power cuts which forced us to do other things, find other ways to entertain ourselves, be a family, play games. 

My first real hurricane was Gilbert, before that my sister and I would complain that the weather service was bogus. Each time a hurricane was coming and everyone prepared, it almost always managed to miss us in the end. Part of us wanted to experience a hurricane and older people would tell us to stop saying stupid things and be careful what you wish for. Yes we experienced loads of bad weather, near misses and close shaves but never a direct hurricane, one for the history books. I had no idea hurricane Gilbert was coming or even existed because I was having way too much fun. The day before Gilbert was predicted to arrive, I was at home nursing a hangover. I had no clue until about 12 noon on September 11th when I woke up. I heard the weather report on the radio but quickly dismissed it as bogus weather. The joke at the time was if the weatherman said it was going to rain prepare for sunshine and head to the beach.

Later that day I had an early dinner/lunch and went outside to sit on my verandah with the Sunday paper, aka scandal news. I looked around the neighborhood and everyone was acting strange for a lazy Sunday afternoon, normally you could hear a pin drop.  I looked up and out and saw a straight line of airplanes taking off from Norman Manley Airport. I said to myself “ mmmm very strange, they never normally do that”. Then later the phone rang, it was my relatives in New York and they were losing their minds, worried sick about the impending doom. It seems we were about to meet our maker, I tried to calm them down but they were not having any of it and was told to stock up and prepare for what seemed certain death. It was then that I decided to head down to the supermarket in Barbican but by the time I got there the shelves was mostly empty and everyone running around like the zombie apocalypse was upon us.


On the morning of September 12th I got up to go to work, turned the television on and realized that this was it. I realised that Hurricane Gilbert was in a Jamaica state of mind, that Jamaica’s name was written all over this one and so it was time to batten down the mental hatch. It was then that I realized that the saying “calm before the storm” is so real because I hear none of the usual morning noises from nature. 

I think it was about 9:00 am when we were in the thick of it, my first real onslaught from mother nature. I remember the sound of the wind, it was extremely loud, rain was hard and fast as it came down by the bucket load. The wind was powerful and dangerous as the front door strained to resist it, it shake and rattled and I seriously though it would not hold out for much longer as I moved a piece of furniture to brace against it.

The trees almost stayed constantly at a 45 degree angle as their roots gripped mother earth most was unsuccessful and made loud noises as they were broke and/or uprooted. As I looked out the window it was clear that anything that was not battened down was on the move. Flying missiles was everywhere, zinc, wood, pieces of metal all moving in the wind like a leaf from a tree. I saw a dog went flying pass my gate heading down the road, the poor animals legs were not on the ground, I saw several  satellite dishes took off like a flying saucer heading back to their home planet and I saw things move that I seriously thought was firmly connected to Terra Ferma and could never move.  By this time the power was gone and my grandma was busy cooking all the meat that would spoil.

I am not sure what time the eye of the hurricane got to my house but when it did it was very calm, the first half of the match was over and Gilbert was scoring goals at will. It was a 15 minutes half time break and everyone went outside to survey the damage. First to our own property and then to the surrounding area. Destruction was everywhere, trees and light post uprooted, electrical cables dangling, some people had lost their roof and had to move in with their neighbours. Everybody was helping everybody, it was Jamaicans at their very best and it made me proud to see everyone asking everyone else if they were OK.

Then the winds started picking up again and everyone raced home to prepare for the second half of the match and Gilbert was the first out on the field of play, large and in charge. About one hour into the 100+ mile an hour winds and heavy rain, I heard a huge crash on my roof. I thought this was it, my shingled roof was gone and it was time to move over to the other side of the house but it was the roof next door that came crashing down and ended up partly on my roof and in our yard taking the apple tree with it.

The morning after was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and hardly any cloud in the blue skies. We had no Electricity for about the next 3 weeks, most people had no water for about 2 weeks. So first we harvest water whenever it rained and even when water returned the pressure was very low and water very dirty so we had to boil it before use. We did not have a lot of food, we had to cook everything that would spoil, but later stocked up on can food. During the hurricane the animals living in Barbican looted the supermarkets with one report that the supermarket manager was beaten up by the very people he served everyday. Strangely enough he had stayed in the supermarket during the hurricane because he wanted to open quickly so that people would not go hungry and this is how some repaid him. He was saved by JDF soldiers who had to fire a couple rounds scattering the cockroaches chasing them back into the ghetto from whence they came.

Jamaica looked like a war zone, total destruction, houses destroyed, streets blocked, fallen trees and light post, dangling wires, trees without leaves and it was hot. Everything that was anything was in the streets, dead animals all over the place but for me the worst thing throughout all of this was a piece of zinc that got caught on the top of a light post because for two and a half weeks I had to listen to this squeaking sound every time the wind blew. Morning noon and night, squeak, squeak, squeak, I thought I was losing my damn mind, going mental from it and was so happy when the JPS men came to remove it and repair the poles. Nine months later and Jamaica was filled with Gilbert babies.

After Gilbert our diet consisted mainly of Corn Beef aka Bully Beef aka Bully Baff it was the order of the day. We had so much of the stuff we were beginning to smell of it. Our choices was basically limited to tin food, Corn Beef, Mackerel or Sardines and when things returned to normal I made it my duty not to touch the stuff for over a year. I can still remember my first taste of ice cold water after Gilbert a friend had gotten light back early and we all used her house as the base of all daily operations. I drank it slowly, savoring the taste because drinking water from a pipe in the middle of the day means you are drinking hot to warm water…  

I must say though I had loads of fun the following days, weeks and the month after Gilbert. For one thing, I did not return to work for about a month, every day was hanging out with friends, playing dominoes, drinking hot beer, Running Boat (impromptu/communal cooking) and playing tennis over Blue cross off hope road. Just having fun and rolling with whatever life throws at you. Would I have rather been somewhere else? In another country? Hell no!” and miss all this!!.
Back in the days (80s) nothing beat Hellshire beach on a Sunday morning. A perfect way to end a weekend, relaxing, playing dominoes, eating fish and festival, drinking beer and seeing all your friends.

Nothing beats leaving a party at 3:30AM and heading straight to Hellshire beach with good friends, making a bonfire and watching the sunrise then having breakfast from the stalls, first catch of the day before heading home to sleep.

Nothing beats lunchtime at work when one person says "lets go to Hellshire beach for lunch", rolling up your pants walking in the water and having a three hour lunch before heading back to work.

Nothing beats Ivors Guest house for lunch or dinner, looking out on the city of Kingston and the Caribbean sea or Devon house on a Friday afternoon enjoying a Devon Duppy, good conversion, good food and listening to good music with good friends and work mates.

Indies Pub on a Saturday night was a must back in the 80’s, pac man, defender, beer and pizza, friends and music. We transcend social barriers as one night we would be hanging out at the best uptown session/club and the next we are enjoying ourselves at a downtown dancehall, soaking up the vibes and holding our corners, what more can a Jamaican adolescent ask for.

This is just a very small fraction of my life experiences growing up in Jamaica, on certain days I can remember each experience like it was yesterday and crack myself up with laughter. I know I would never trade that experience, that wonderful life for anything. Eventually we were dragged kicking and screaming into Stage Four Life but it was my years between ages 6 to 27 growing up in Jamaica and my friends Mark, Gary and Simmo that made me the type of person I am today and I will be forever grateful.

Miss Lou" - Hon. Louise Bennet Coverley - on folk songs 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I do not know where this is going, so bear with me. ….

This is a collection of disturbing things that I have experienced over many years, things that sometimes come up in certain political, social and economic conversation with friends.  

  • I remember my first job on leaving school, I was working for the Government and my neighbor was kind enough to offer me a ride to work in the mornings since she also worked in the same location. Each morning I would stand by my gate waiting for her since she lived just two gates down from my house.  I remember her early morning rituals between leaving her front door and driving away from her gate, each morning her helper would open the gates for her to back out of her driveway at which point she would immediately start to issue orders to the helper like a drill sergeant to a private at the top of her voice and I remember feeling so embarrassed for the helper because such things should really be said in private.
  • On a recent visit to café Blue at sovereign plaza one morning, trying to enjoy my morning cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (The best in the World) and reading the morning paper I was disturbed by an upper St. Andrew gentleman, talking at the top of his voice for all to hear about his Range Rover Sport in the car park, totaling up its cost and informing the people around his table and in the cafe that he has one more on the wharf to clear. Some of the other customers who were not a part of his group were visibly impressed… I was not one of them.   
  •  Before cell phones, Jamaicans discovered two way radios, one day while in the plaza, a friend constantly used his radio to call his wife “ Smith I to Smith II, come in Smith II, I am approaching Tropical Plaza, over” he did this continuously for all to hear.
    • A female friend of mine came down to Jamaica and was invited to a garden party up Jacks Hill where she met a young man, thinking she had struck gold only to be disappointed 10 minutes into the conversation, it seemed home boy got a new car that he could start remotely from the keys in his hand, he spent the first 10 minutes starting and stopping the automobile and explaining to her the various features of the car, such was the depth of his conversation, she said “instant turnoff”.
    • A person whom I have not seen since high school immediately started to tell me that he was going bird hunting with the Minister, I had to wonder how we got from “hello, how are you, long time no see” to his weekend plans and why.
    • While waiting to checkout of a hotel in Port Antonio, we had the misfortune of over hearing a “upper class” Jamaican couple's conversation with the hotel clerk. The bill that was given to them was incorrect but instead of having a polite and civil conversation to correct the issue they decided that the best way to deal with this situation was to talk down to the clerk, as if they were on a plantation and she was their slave. “Are you an Idiot?” the man shouted at the clerk, “Don’t you see this Bill is incorrect, did they not teach you simple Math in school?” the clerk apologized for her mistake and took the bill to correct it. The couple then turned around to an English gentleman also waiting in the office, with a look on their face as if to say…  look at how well we are carrying on the grand tradition in your absents. This English gentleman expressed to me how disgusted he was at their behavior towards the clerk, he felt really bad for her as she did not deserve to be embarrassed in that manner. 
    Everything comes down to how we elect to deal with certain situations. Too many Jamaicans take the aggressive approach as their first resort instead of their last. I think as a society we would accomplish so much more if we just take the time to think out a solution to some of our problems instead of flying off the handle. What is the point of higher education and class if we deal with problem/solutions the same as others who do not know any better?

    It seems for some the Perception of Success means everything and in almost all cases the sole measurement of success is the accumulation of material things regardless of cost, happiness is no longer being content with life regardless of financial standing or position within the class structure and as such Jamaicans could do well with a bit of Buddhism injected into daily life. For these people MTV cribs is not just a show, it is a way of life, as they parade their earthly possessions for all to see,  trying to influence the way people think about them. I thought it was considered bad manners and vulgar for one to brag and boast about ones wealth, a sure sign of being low class, “hurry come up”,” neva see, come see”. I am sure this high profiling by some Jamaicans is the reason why some small businesses fail, the desire to be seen as making it or in another class destroys any common sense approach to business development, they are consumed by their own self importance.

    Made In Jamaica
    A public relation company came to Jamaica back in the late 70’s and performed an experiment, they invited some ladies to look at two sets of brassieres, one set marked made in Jamaica and the other set marked made in the United States.  All the individuals taking part came to the same unanimous decision that the Bras marked made in the United States was of better quality, hands down, they went into details, showing superior stitching work, the professional quality of the bras that was made in the United States as oppose to those made in Jamaica, which they said was poor workmanship and lower quality, not good value for money and will not last long. At the end of the showing when all votes were cast, they were then told that the labels on the brassieres had been switched and that the ones marked made in the United States was in fact made in Jamaica and those labeled made in Jamaica were actually made in the United States, to their shock and awe. 

    Tourist Harassment of Locals

    • Once after a long stretch of hard working I decided to treat myself to a very nice vacation, so we booked into the Cibony all-inclusive resort, after a couple days the tension began to melt away. One night after dinner we decided to have a nice relaxing drink in the lounge. While having a conversion I was interrupted by an American tourist who rudely tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around to see who it was and he said to me “there is no paper in the bathroom”. Now here I thought I had left all this behind in North America and I was safe at home enjoying my wonderful country. The Crazy thing is at the time all Cibony staff wore uniforms with a very big name tag so why then was I being confused for a member of staff, I knew exactly where this person was coming from and I was not afraid to let him know where to take it. A simple “excuse do you work here” would have changed the situation a bit but not even that was offered.
    • We hear a lot about Tourist Harassment by locals but we never hear anything about Local Harassment from the Tourist. On another occasion, here I am on my vacation in my own country with friends sitting at the bar having a drink and a nice relaxing conversation when along came a tourist asking for drugs, I politely said I do not have any drugs, he left only to send his female companion over to ask where they could score some drugs. I firmly said I do not have any drugs, I do not use drugs and I do not know where to get drugs from.  About 45 minutes later another tourist came up and asked the same exact question this time my response was very abrupt with words I care not to write.  This ruined my evening it was then that I vowed never again to vacation in tourist country (Negril, Montego Bay or Ocho Rios). It seems regardless of what you have accomplish or how good you live your life, to some people you will only be seen a certain way.
    • Long ago, I met some Black Americas after their visit to Jamaica, they complained that they never get the same treatment as white tourist, well after further discussion I realized what they were really saying, which is that Jamaicans do not make the same “initial” assumption about Black American tourist as they do about white American tourist. The determination as to whether they are tourist or not is only made after speech, they are assumed to be Jamaicans until they say something in an American accent, after which for the most part they are treated like an American tourist but the “initial assumption” can make or break an entire experience. Companies need to develop and implement a sterile, standardize way of dealing with everyone regardless of colour, gender etc. Only when this is done will we avoid making stupid ridiculous superficial assumptions.    
    • A friend of a friend who lives in North America decided to treat his white girlfriend to a vacation in Jamaica, he booked both flight and hotel then decided to surprise her with the grand vacation. They arrived in Jamaica and checked into their hotel, all was well until the next morning when the happy couple went out to enjoy what tourist country had to offer. On their return to the hotel his girlfriend walked pass the guard at the gate and she was greeted warmly, followed by her Jamaican boyfriend bringing up the rear with the days shopping. He was promptly stopped at the gate by the guard who refused him access, the guard called back his girlfriend to ask her if this man was in fact with her. The basic assumption by the guard is that this man is not vacationing at the resort and was a rent-a-dread of some sort, his assumption also was that the girlfriend was in fact a valid guess just because she was white.This caused the mother of all confrontation as he was not having any of it. Companies need to develop and implement a sterile, standardize way of dealing with everyone regardless of colour, gender etc. Only when this is done will we avoid making stupid ridiculous superficial assumptions.  
    • On my first visit to New York City my cousin took me to West 4th park, I was very excited, looking at the sights and having a wonderful time with friends and family I had not seen in a while, I was a tourist in another country and loving every minute of it.  I was walking across the park when a white girl ran from the grassy area toward me, thinking my good looks and magnetic personality was working its magic, I stopped to find out what she wanted. She stopped in front of me and asked me if I had any drugs to sell her, WTF! If I wanted to be bothered about drugs I would have visited tourist country in Jamaica but it did not matter where I was, it did not matter which country I was in or on which continent. I am a Blackman and by definition I must be either be a drug dealer or a drug user or intimate with the knowledge of where to score drugs. Well I am sorry both my cousin and I pointed out to her the error of her ways.
    Assumption is the Mother of all Fk-ups
    Customer No Service
    • At JFK I gave the man two dollars American to carry my bags to the check-in counter, he said thank you and put the money in his pocket. At Norman Manley airport I gave the man five dollars American to take my bags out to the curb, he took one look at the $5.00 and gave it back to me, saying that it cannot buy anything and if that was all I was going to give him. I gladly took back my money, put it in my pocket and told him thanks for helping me with my bags. The man at JFK understand the concept of one one cocoa fill basket much more than the man at Norman Manley who wants an already filled basket from each person.
    • I had a wedding to attend one Saturday morning and realized that I needed to buy a pair of socks, so at 9AM I drove down to the plaza near manor Park to see if I could get a pair. When I got to the store it was closed and because the wedding was at 12:00 noon, I decided to wait.  At around 10:45 a lady came to open the store but I decided to wait another 10 minutes to give her a chance to settle in before I enter.  I went in and look around but could not find any socks, by this time she was on the phone, I said “excuse me, do you have any socks” with the phone still pressed to her face she said “Ova deh so!” with a motion of her head, so I went “Ova Deh so” to see if I could find it but still no socks. After a while I said “excuse me, sorry to bother you, but I could not find any” and with an annoyed look on her face, she told the person on the phone to hold on, then said “So hold on, is want, you want me to go ova Deh So and show you?.. “.  With more detail instructions and searching I was able to find the socks but it was not “Ova Deh So” as she first instructed.  I really should have walked out of the store and go elsewhere but it was almost time for the event.  Most businesses would do a lot better if the right customer service practice was in place but most Jamaicans feel that their employers do not pay them enough to turn up, much less to care.
    • I was talking to a friend about customer service and good business practices at which point a certain food place came up. I stated that it takes the entire lunch time just to get to the counter to place your order.  In this particular place the manager behaves like the cashier or the cooks, happy go lucky, Jokes and fun to be had. The cashiers spend most of their time talking to each other and playing around with the back room staff than taking and placing orders. In most cases they almost always get your order wrong and at times you end up at work with someone else’s order. One would think that the manager would put in place a better system to deal with the lunch time crowd. My Friend then declares that sometimes it is the customers who are slow.  Here he outlines the following conversation between the customer in front of him and the cashier:
    Customer: "How much for di oxtail?”
    Cashier: “Large or small?”
    Customer: -"Large"
    Cashier:  $8
    Customer: "Dat come with rice and peas?”
    Cashier: -Yes
    Customer: “How much for the small one ?"
    Cashier: -$6
    Customer: "Ya have stew chicken?"
    Cashier: -mm hmm
    Customer: "What di small plate look like?”

    (Cashier walks to stack of plates to point to the small plate
    The thing that bothers me is there are only two plates stacked up

    Customer: "It come with plantains?”
    Cashier:-Which one, the oxtail or the stew chicken?
    Customer: "Di Oxtail"
    Cashier: -Yes
    Customer: "All rite den, Make mi getta small oxtail, and a carrot juice"
    Cashier: - what size carrot juice? Small, medium or large ?
    Customer: - "How much for di small one

    (Now not to drag this one but we go through a question and answer session with the cups about price and size. Yes, there are THREE stacks of cups again, in size order.  Now homeboy’s cell phone rings ....... he answers.)

    Customer: "Yeah man whattagwan ?
    Customer: "Me here at Mckenzies gettin some food."
    Customer: "Hold on, lemme ask her ....

    Customer: Miss , how much fa di Jerk chicken ?
    Cashier: - What size?
    (At this point I’m ready to box the dude in his head!)

    Miserys West Indian Restaurant
    • Given the choice between bad customer service in Jamaica and raciest customer service I would take bad customer service any day, I remember entering clothing store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and immediately picked up two tails, who followed me everywhere I went or entering the supermarket and being asked continuously where certain items were even though the staff wears a uniform, a situation that was to be repeated many time in the United States, again no "excuse do you work here" just the assumption that you must work here. 

    Blue Collar Beggars

    • Sometime ago I followed by sister to a Bank in Liguanea, she drove around the back and parked under a tree. I noticed three man having a conversation, one was very tall, fit and well dress, as soon as the car was parked I saw him telling the other men he was with to hold on, he will be back soon, he needs to do a little business, which obviously involved my sister and myself, he walked over to us and said “Hi lady, beg you something nuh?” (asking for a handout), my sister is about 5’, 4” so it took her a while to look up from his feet to his head, one of those long nasty look before walking off, at which point he said “boy a so dem people yah stay these days, nobody naw let off nothin” (no one is giving handout anymore). Here we have a big strong man capable of doing so much more with his life but instead prefer to hang out at the bank and beg money. A friend of mine said he would not be there if it was not successful and I wondered, who the hell would take their hard earn money and give it to this strong, completely worthless man. The streets of Jamaica are littered with worthless Jamaican male doing absolutely nothing, walking around looking for a handout they are an insult to the male species. Most women in Jamaica do not have that luxury, they are more likely to work for a living at every level of society because they are forced to be both fathers and mothers to the children of these worthless men.  
    • My sister hired a man to fix her windows which he did but then called her a couple days later with a long sad story that his mother was in hospital and he needed some money, he was recommended to her by a friend, the story was not true but since it must have worked in the pass he thought he would give it a try, no longer satisfied with just working for a living, he now tries to con people out of their money as well.

    Professional Beggars
    • I once saw the former Minister of Finance boasting in Parliament that with only a weekend trip to Washington he was able to borrow $50 Million US, so just imagine what he could do in a week … and with that Parliament went wild, banging of tables and shouts of great financier. Jamaicans don’t care anymore where the money is coming from to stock supermarkets shelves with over the top imports, French wines and Range Rover Sports, so long as it is stocked. Our finance Minister is both a juggler and a three card Monte trickster who practices Anansi economics. 

    Dixon of Dock Green
    • “There is nothing worse than a bent copper”… it is my view that the government turn a blind eye to police corruption as a way to supplement the salaries of the police.  It is far too easy to be stopped and given the choice between “drink money or ticket money”, this highway extortion must stop. A friend of mine kept an event and at 2:30 the police came by and asked for the music to be turned off, which they did, the officer then turned to the organizers and requested $16, 0000.00 Jamaican if they wanted to continue with the merriment, they paid and was able to continue partying until about 6 am. While driving along with a friend one Christmas we were stopped by a police party, the officer came over and said “you have anything to give me” at which point my friend pop the trunk and told him to take a crate of beer, he then said that if we were stopped again we should tell the next officer that John already checked us.  I once stopped to ask a female Police Officer for directions, I was downtown and the last thing I wanted was to make the wrong turn and end up in a location I have no business being. I said “Good evening officer, can you tell me the best way to get to… ” and the response I got was disgusting, people skills zero, I get the impression that Jamaican police officers do not fully understand their role within our society. Each and every Jamaican is a foot-soldier in the nation building process but our Politicians, Police Officers and military forces are the gate keepers and leaders of our society. They play an even more important role in the process, they have been selected by us to not only keep the foundation of our society intact but to keep us focused on the task at hand and as such without these individuals our nation building initiative will fail.
    • Some Jamaican Police are equal opportunity extortionist they will stop anyone they feel they can make a buck from regardless of colour but not so in the United States of America where you are stopped simply because of your colour. The New Jersey turnpike is famous for stopping black people simply because they were driving while black. I remember once a group of us went to Pace University in Westchester County, NY for an event and was followed for most of the night after leaving the Event, eventually we were pulled over with lights flashing and told in no uncertain terms that we need to vacate the area,we told him after we drop our friend back to her dorm we could comply, he followed us there and then made sure we got on the highway back to NYC.

    Political Feasibility
    • My software group was commissioned to development an application for a particular government department, this software was design to add accountability and efficiency into the working of the department thus reducing corruption, fraud, overcharging and missing items. Before final roll-out and installation to the department’s computer system it was agreed that high level agents of the department must first preview the application, user buy-in is always a good thing, it enables us to fine tune the application before final release.  A conference room was prepared and a presentation made as to the ins and out of the application, then the high level agents was given hands on use of the system.  About an hour after using the application the head agent declared that this application cannot work (“boss dis caan work yu nuh”), which got all the software analysis and designers attention. We then proceeded to ask what was wrong with the application and how we could make it better, this was the type of user input we required but the agent only responded that this application cannot work at which point he and his fellow agents left the room and finally the building without giving us an answer.    The next morning we were paid a visit from a very high ranking government member, who declared that the project was cancelled because it was not “Politically Feasible” at this time and that the software would be shelved for future use… in any case the verbal sparring that took place after resulted in me being dismissed from the room.

    Crazy Diehard Supporters
    • I get the impression that people who support the PNP wants the JLP to fail and people who support the JLP wants the PNP to fail, giving that the party support is almost 50/50 I think we are heading nowhere very fast.  I can understand opposing bad thing regardless of party and supporting good things regardless of party, it is amazing to find people with bad things to say about some good things that have been implemented by both parties. We will not get anywhere if we are so entrenched and lacks objectivity, nothing can come of this but ignorance and stagnation.  (

    A Question of Leadership
    Leadership has been described as the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task, it is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen”.  

    Jamaica is lacking leadership, our politicians are not leading from the front they are as confused as the people who elected them. They are too worried about their political future, so much so that they refuse to take any stand on anything fearing that they might upset the people. They govern by pondering to peoples wants while ignoring the needs of the country. Just recently the Minister of Security decided that he will change Jamaica’s noise laws to allow people to keep more parties/dance for longer hours, he proclaimed that people need to enjoy themselves, as far as I am concern the last thing Jamaica need is more merriment but since we are coming up to an election year, common sense is no longer required.  It is this leadership vacuum that gives rise to the DJ’s, Dons and warlords as leaders in the poor sections of Jamaica. There is saying that “water finds its own level” and it seems that our politicians have found theirs, the only thing worse than a bent copper is a corrupt politician.

    Politicians over the years have failed to speak out against things that have a negative effect on our society simply because these things have become popular and may affect them at the polls. I am not a conservative person, well I am conservative about some things and I am very liberal about others but I do believe that Jamaica lacks a conservative movement, an organization or group not afraid to speak out against certain behavior that is harmful to our society and hurts the Nation Building Process. I have yet to hear a politician take the platform at any event such as a Party convention and deliver a speech on morality, outlining social responsibility and how to be good citizens of this country, asking men to take responsibility and be good fathers, outlining to men and women that the things they do in the dancehall is not acceptable but disgusting and not how young men and woman should behave in a civilized society.   I think the politicians are afraid to demand better from the people because the people may start demanding better from them. I also think the people are afraid to demand better from our politicians, it could well backfire as the politicians would start to demand better from the people.  

    We are not going to change anything until we get a government that cares more about the “upliftment” of the Jamaican society and nation building and less about re-election.  When a politician can stand up and say “this is what I am going to do, because I believe it is the right thing to do, for our country, our society and the future of our people, this is my vision of Jamaica and I am going to do everything in my powers to implement it within the next five years, regardless of the political consequences” then we will truly be on our way to Building a Nation State future generations of Jamaicans and the world will be proud of.

    The Myth of British Politeness
    I started going to school at the tail end of “Colonial Britishness” after independence, this was the period when our Ministry of Education was determine to beat the Britishness into us, that period lasted until the end of the 70s. We were told that we should be more like the British, to be as polite as the British and they were not afraid to use the cane or the leather belt to beat that into you. My school was created by British Missionaries who was also in charge of discipline, I remember passing one teacher on in the passageway but I was preoccupied and forgot to tell her good morning, it was detention for me. Saying your Please, Thank you, Excuse me, Miss and Sirs was compulsory because that was the British way.

    Just imagine my shock and horror when I first arrived in England, expecting all that Britishness that was beaten into me from the British and did not find it, no good mornings, no sirs, no miss, no excuse me, I found few polite people on the streets of London and things did not improve when I visited the English countryside, there I got the “I see you, but I do not want to see you” look, the Martian effect, wrong planet, you are not suppose to be here. British Politeness is a Myth, it does not exist well certainly not how it was told to us, I get warmer greetings on the Streets of New York than I do on the Streets of London.

    Unless… the problem is interracial politeness ….. I wonder…

    Here is an article from the Guardian that disagrees with my findings/experience
    Rude Britannia is a myth - we are among the world's most polite people A new survey shows that all people in sections of society value politeness in others and try to show it themselves