Have we no sense of decency?

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His name is Peter Kelsick, he of road cycling fame and water sports renown. He has represented Antigua and Barbuda at many cycling meets all over the world. He is also a master water-skier and sailor, and was the first Antiguan, along with Inigo Ross, to represent our fair state in yachting and wind surfing at the Olympics in 1984. He is now a successful businessman (owner of Sneaky Pete’s at Dickinson Bay), philanthropist and environmentalist.  Peter was the first to bring triathlon races to Antigua and Barbuda. He is also an avid animal lover, especially dogs and horses.

Few of us can forget how he wept on Observer radio whilst describing the terror that Demolition Man – Antigua’s first and only Triple Crown winner, as well as Prince of Wadadli and First Chapter, must have experienced in August of last year, before falling victim to a dreadful fire at their stables. His voice cracked with emotion, and the tears flowed as he made a call for justice. He has not abandoned his quest for this grave wrong to be somehow made right.

Many of us can also remember several months ago when, his spirit broken, and his voice quivering with grief, he took to the airwaves to beg Antiguans and Barbudans for any word as to the whereabouts of his missing Doberman, Susie. To this day, even as he goes about his daily tasks, he still keeps an eye out for his dearly beloved Susie, hoping against all odds that they will one day be reunited.

Peter recently reached out to the Antigua and Barbuda Ex-Servicemen Association and pledged to become a lifelong benefactor to the charitable body. He intimated that he felt constrained so to do, in honour of his greatest hero, his dad, Mr. Osmond Kelsick, who served honourably, and with distinction, in World War II as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, along with the late, great Rowan Henry QC., (both only 18 years old at the time), Pat Nanton, Leah Nanton, the Meade brothers, and the iconic Mr. Leo Gore, to name a few. Osmond Kelsick, rose rapidly as a fighter pilot, and quickly became the head of a squadron (#175), because of his administrative skills. After the war, he put his leadership expertise to work in the Colonial Office here.

 Noteworthily, Mr Osmond Kelsick was one of the pioneers in the hotel trade here in Antigua where he owned and managed the Blue Waters Hotel, and later, the Half Moon Bay Hotel. Under his leadership, the hotels and the beaches were always accessible to all Antiguans and Barbudans. He was obviously an outstanding gentleman, who placed his life on the line for the freedoms that we now enjoy. Sadly, he was never officially recognised for his yeoman’s service to this blessed land of ours. A glaring sin of omission, indeed!

Not surprisingly, Peter Kelsick, that man of many parts, is ‘a chip off the ole block’ and he too is in the vanguard for a betterment here in our fair State. For example, he has often bemoaned the shameless littering on our beaches, and the inertia of officials when it comes to proper access and parking at some of our beaches, as well as the enforcement of litter laws. At times, it appears as though his is a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Recently, he has taken up a new cause. Seems, this concerned citizen is irate at the way that the forestry folks allowed a fallen mahogany tree on Independence Avenue to sit on the sidewalk for almost six months, posing a clear and present danger to pedestrians, in addition to being an embarrassing eyesore, as well as a metaphor for the lack of caring and the snail’s pace at which things of import get done here in Antigua and Barbuda.

Curiously, this past Friday, not more than a few hours after Mr. Kelsick voiced his disgust at the unsightly abandoned fallen mahogany tree on Independence Avenue, this writer saw three persons from the Forestry Division sawing the trunk and removing much of it from the sidewalk. We certainly wish to salute the forestry folks for responding, albeit a tad late. Of course, we are trusting that another mahogany tree will be planted in the spot where the fallen tree once stood. There is a thinking in some circles as well that flambouyant trees could be interspersed with the mahogany trees on Independence Avenue. Ahhh! It would certainly be a breathtaking sight – flambouyant trees in blossom on our grandest thoroughfare a la the cherry trees in Washington DC along the Potomac, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Every self-respecting country in the world pays attention to aesthetics, and we should do no less. From the roundabout at Government House to the Country Pond, we should upgrade Independence Avenue into a picturesque boulevard graced by the beautifully-restored Governor General’s residence, the quaint and lovely Roman Catholic Church, the upgraded War Memorial, the post-modern APUA and Treasury Buildings, the cleaned and gentrified Country Pond, and the restored-to-its-original-handsomeness, Spanish Main Inn. Yes, Mr. Kelsick has suggested that something ought to be done to restore the Inn to its original grandeur. We concur with Kelsick. We also agree with Mr. Alister Thomas of Ali and Associates, and Mr. Joseph Martin of Photogenesis, who volunteered to clean and restore Country Pond, and were barred from doing same by officialdom. Sigh! And yes, we agree with Sir George Ryan that the backyard of the new Treasury Building is an unbecoming mess, and should be cleaned up posthaste. And while we’re at it, how difficult can it be to order some handsome benches for the sidewalk at Independence Avenue? How difficult can it be to repave the entire sidewalk and roadway? And what about removing the deadly ‘Old Man Beard’ parasites from the mahogany trees? Let us summon the will!

During the infamous McCarthy hearings in the United States, a fine gentleman by the name of Joseph Welch grew tired of Joseph McCarthy’s grandstanding and his pretense at doing something for the country when in reality, he was not. In a moment of exasperation, he asked of the pretentious McCarthy who was on a communist witch hunt, “Have you no shame; have you no sense of decency left?” We here at NEWSCO are asking the self-same question of ourselves, “Have we no civic pride, no shame, no sense of decency?” We would do well to listen to Peter Kelsick, Alister Thomas, Joe Martin and Sir George Ryan.

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