After the tumult and the noise

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Carnival 2022 is in the books, and it was remarkable on many levels. For one thing, never mind the fumbling and the bungling by those in high places, seems, the revellers were intent on having a good time. They turned out in goodly numbers to the various events, and the energy and enthusiasm in the way they watched the shows and took to the streets, speaks to the two years of pent-up emotion during the Covid-19 hiatus. We wanted to jam! We wanted to exhale.  And based on all reports, exhale we did! A good time was had by most of us.

Moreover, according to the law enforcement folks, there were no major untoward incidents to mar the festivities during this year’s Carnival, and again, we wish to salute Antiguans and Barbudans for displaying the decency and civility that ought to accompany our jumping and jamming. Of course, if truth be told, there is a sense that there are too many guns on the streets of our fair State, and the fact that there were no gun incidents is quite a relief. Something will also have to be done about the nonchalant way in which we come into St John’s with knives on our persons.  The one or two skirmishes that marred this year’s Carnival involved knives. We must do something about that. In any event, may we continue to display our good graces and good judgment in diffusing powder keg situations without resorting to fisticuffs and weaponry.

In that regard, we certainly wish to salute the Royal Antigua Police Force for doing an admirable job during this year’s Carnival. There was an appreciable police presence at all the events, and the increased vehicular patrols with lights flashing must have gone a long way towards discouraging those who are so inclined from engaging in criminal mischief. If you recall, in times past, many cars were broken into while their owners were away at the various shows. It was really quite ugly, the impunity with which they broke car windows and relieved the owners of their valuables. Mercifully, based on what we are hearing, there was very little of that this year. All well and good.

Unfortunately, there was a great deal of grumbling from the vendors who lost money on their investment, or barely broke even this Carnival. The brisk business that many vendors were accustomed to doing in Carnivals past, simply was not evident this year. Of course, we feel their pain. Carnival is one of those times of year when many vendors look to do a robust business with the extra cash flow. But this year was a dud. We believe that more will have to be done by the authorities to ease the pain and burden of doing business during Carnival. We believe that there will have to be a meeting of the minds on that score in preparation for Carnival 2023.

Not surprisingly, there was the usual chatter about who should a have won this competition and that competition. There was the usual disagreement with the judges, and the obligatory claims of bias and political influence. We suggest that Carnival would not have been Carnival without judging controversies and wild-eyed claims and counter claims. This is not to suggest that there is not more than a little smoke giving rise to these suggestions. In that spirit, we concur with the late great Calypso Joe that, “We are begging the judges to judge competition right / Judge what you see and hear on the stage that night / Because if there is any misbehavior / Is goin be wap, wap wap, wap.”

Meanwhile, it was with some bemusement that we noticed that the chatter that accompanied the dearth of costumed clothing a few years ago was not so much in evidence this year. This is not to say that folks have been covering up more of their private parts. Nay, there was a fair amount of nudity, but we suppose that folks who were previously outraged at the proliferation of uh . . . ‘small clothes,’ have come to accept the tease with boas, feathers, bikinis and a dab of paint as part of the frolicking and revelry of our Carnival. Mercifully, we have not yet arrived at the stage where folks are “playing mas in their born-in suits,” [BUM BUM, by Calypso Joe]as some are given to do in New Orleans in the United States and Rio in Brazil.

Of course, we must extend kudos to all the health folks who assiduously cleaned up our streets in the wee hours of the night in preparation for the new day. It was indeed a thing of beauty to see how sparklingly clean St John’s appeared every morning. We are proud of them.

Again, it is with a great sigh of relief that we tuck Carnival 2022 away in the history books. It was certainly not without its glitches and its setbacks, but overall, never mind the abundance of negative chatter and failing grades on social media, it was a decent return to fun and revelry, after two years of no Carnival. To be sure, those in high places on the planning committee must begin planning for Carnival 2023 almost immediately. Then again, those in high places, not excluding he of the highest place, for this Carnival, could very well not be in a very high place by next Carnival. After all, the elections “draw nigh, even at our doors.”

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