Monday, January 7, 2013

Smile... you're in Jamaica!

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column | Monday 7 January 2013

I know it's the first full working week of the New Year, but I find myself chuckling not unlike CNN's Anderson Cooper on his New Year's Eve stint with Kathy Griffin. The OCG's Craig Beresford's decision to refer the entire Cabinet to the DPP has us imagining a scene similar to the jail ad for the traffic ticket amnesty. The Cabinet-in-a-cell conjures up some pretty comical images. We hardly believe it will come to that, but what a great story!
(L-R) BURRELL... always make a statement. FRANCIS... shredded his former charge
 The year has been anything but dull so far: Coach Stephen Francis shredded his former charge Michael Frater on TVJ, even as Frater was tweeting, "Yes I am defiant to the slave master, I have a mind of my own." What a fight there was on Twitter, folks taking sides and saying that Frater was ungrateful, others saying Francis was arrogant and dictatorial. Then a St George's man I know too well declared: "Let them fight it out - Wolmers vs Wolmers." (Do these guys ever forget the old school ties? Never! I wore a purple outfit to an event one day and thought I must have been looking pretty nice for all those charming men to be smiling at me - only to discover that they were KC guys gravitating to their school colour.)

People like Captain Horace Burrell always make a statement - what a durable gentleman! The Captain announced the firing of his overseas staff members last week, explaining his 30-day-notice contract: "No performance. No job." Say what you want to say about Horace Burrell - he took us to France and I will always give him kudos for that shining moment in Jamaica's sporting history.
(L-R) FRATER... I am defiant to the slave master. KNIGHT... who is in charge?
 Who would not smile, watching the swaggering ACP 'Cowboy' Knight arriving at his new Area Three posting, dapper in matching suit and trademark hat? Said he to the reporter: "Who is in charge? Criminals? Badmen? No!!" Now that is saying it loud and clear. I just cannot hide my admiration for the brave leaders and officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force - they have weathered some testing times.
I admit to traffic-ticket-phobia and when you heard SSP Radcliffe Lewis' warning on the news, you became very afraid. You'd better think again, he warned, "if you think you can hop-scotch or hula-hoop around this ticket". Though my name was not on the website, I was nervous when the traffic police stopped us on our way to St Mary on New Year's Day. I immediately asked, "Sir, were we speeding?" "Oh no ma'am," said the courteous police officer, "we just need to check your papers." What a relief!
I am also learning very reluctantly that my children are grown adults. Our pastor asked my son if he would assist at church on New Year's Eve. Before the lad could answer, I accepted for him. After the priest departed, he asked, "Mom, you expect me to give up my New Year's VIP party ticket to go to Mass?" I am learning to bite my tongue.
When it comes to entertainment, we have lots of opportunities for laughter. We were sorry to have missed Ity & Fancy Cat on Boxing Day - they have given us some fantastic stories to re-tell. One side-splitting episode was 'SSP Lewis' played by Iceman Anderson, 'catching' 'SSP Renato Adams' played by Ity Ellis, parked in a no-parking area. Check YouTube for this classic!
Scene from 'Glass Slippaz'

We caught Iceman playing two contrasting roles in 'Glass Slippaz', with Glen 'Titus' Campbell showing his staying power as a great comic. We go to press before we see our National Pantomime 'Schoolaz' this weekend - an update of the previous 'Schoolers' which promises Barbara Gloudon's refreshing wit on the current generation's obsession with BB, texting and other social media, so we'll give you the run-down next week. Of course, we have to plan to see the master of comedy Oliver Samuels in his new play 'Boy Blue' very soon.
We should promise ourselves to laugh more this year. Enjoy those hilarious reruns of Cosby, Fresh Prince and The Wayans Brothers and catch Colbert and Jon Stewart. I like whip-smart Bill Maher too, but it breaks my heart that he is an atheist.
You have to laugh at those outrageous 'birthers', who are at it again -trying to prevent the swearing in of President Barack Obama with several allegations that have been comprehensively debunked by the Snopes website - We also understand that right-wing commentator Glen Beck refuses to call the President's name on his Fox News talk show and has forbidden guests and callers to mention 'O-B-A-M-A'. Meanwhile President Obama is looking cooler than ever, probably secretly happy that this is his last term with those crazy detractors. It is puzzling to us colour-blind Jamaicans that these obviously racist challenges still endure elsewhere.
Those happy Trinis!

Perhaps I am making such a heavy point about humour because I am smarting a bit that in the latest Gallup Happiness survey, Trinidadians scored so much higher than we do. Guess I would be laughing too if Jamaicans were lapping up so many tons of my biscuits when their local National Bakery makes the absolute finest. Not to speak of those imported drinks that cannot hold a candle to Grace Blends!
Panama and Paraguay tied for first place as the world's happiest, with El Salvador, Venezuela and Trinidad & Tobago coming close behind. I remember attending a summer programme in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe with students from Panama and Venezuela and they were a lively bunch. At UWI, we had several Trinidadians in our class and they were usually upbeat, especially when Carnival was drawing near. Our African Literature Professor, the beautiful Maureen Warner-Lewis, was one of the most animated lecturers we ever had. One day, in describing a scene, she laughed so hard that the tears rolled down her face - she had us in stitches!
Ranking 40th of the 156 nations, Jamaicans can console ourselves that we are not in the 10 unhappiest countries in the world, led by - would you believe it - that paragon of virtue, Singapore! So with all this talk about the IMF, let us be mindful that money can't buy happiness. We should resolve therefore to clink our half-full glasses and smilingly salute the New Year! Cheers!

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