Editorial: Lest we forget

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Mr. Alister Thomas – one of our finest intellects and a cultural, historical and political treasure – started the ball rolling with an account of his visit with one of our national icons – no less a person than Sir Reginald Samuel. At first, apparently, Alister was ambivalent about sharing the precious moment with all of Antigua and Barbuda, but his better judgment prevailed and he recounted a most fascinating story with the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE listenership.

Alister said Sir Reg was looking good and was quite engaged and animated, with only a slight slurring of his speech. Sir Reg greeted Alister with a bear hug upon Alister’s arrival at the Samuel home, and the good Sir immediately launched into a lively discussion of sports, boxing, art, history, culture and so on and so forth.

Sir Reg is the quintessential rennaissance man – taught Spanish, English Language and Art, among other subjects, at the Antigua Grammar School. He was also the sportsmaster at that school and hosted a classical music radio programme for many years. Many of Antigua’s great mas’ makers, costume designers and artists speak of the tutelage and mentorship that they received at the feet of Sir Reg.

Sir Reg is also a deep thinker (he is still quite sharp, mentally, notwithstanding the vagaries of a stroke) who wrote poetry and penned the words to King Short Shirt’s 1981 Independence classic, OUR PLEDGE. He is the designer of our national flag, which – according to Alister and many of the cognoscenti – is one of the top three flags in the world. Sir Reg is also the sculptor behind the beautiful sculpture at the entrance to the State Insurance Department, as well as the sublime King Cort likeness at the King Cort Memorial Park on Independence Avenue.

Clearly, Sir Reg is a man of many parts, and the parts all come together to make for a most fascinating whole. He revealed to Alister that he thought our best boxer was a gentleman named Caribbean Joe; that Hubert Anthonyson, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Lester Bird were the three best fast bowlers that he’d ever seen; that Danny Livingstone was the best footballer. Of course, there were some who begged to differ on that last. For example, there were those who mentioned Mervyn Richards as our best footballer ever. Indeed, Alister waxed rhapsodic when speaking of Mervyn’s prowess on the football field. He mentioned Mervyn in the same breath with Lionel Messi, Pele et al. Spliffy Leaks heaped much praise on his former football coach, Mervyn, but felt that Alister was exaggerating. He later conceded that had Mervyn been exposed to the training and coaching opportunities afforded Messi, he could have been just as great as any of the world’s best. Others spoke glowingly of K.S Sheppard, Evi Richardson, English (mentioned quite enthusiastically by Fumanchu), Pedro Santiago and Winston ‘Pin’ Hewlett.

Interestingly, Ludwig M. Reynolds, aka LMR, a true patriot and a national icon in his own right, weighed in and mentioned the renaming of the King George V Park for Jerome Tittle, K.S. Sheppard, Hinson Phillip and Veron Edwards. Most folks agreed. After all, when LMR talks, everybody listens – and agrees! – because he knows that of which he speaketh.

And so it went; a day of good radio where Antiguans and Barbudans were fondly recalling one of our greatest sons, Sir Reginald Samuel, and waxing nostalgic and grateful for the delightful moments in sports delivered to us by some of our best.  We certainly thank Alister Thomas for that idyllic moment of remembrance! We certainly thank the great sportsmen of the past for their fantastic exploits and the great memories. We shall not soon forget!

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