Yesterday, today and tomorrow turned from the sublime to the ridiculous last week at the grand opening of the old treasury building on High Street. And let us say, right off the bat, that we applaud the government for undertaking that restoration work. That building, constructed in 1932, is one of the lovely historic buildings in St. John’s. For example, it once housed the Ottos Comprehensive School when that school was but an infant in the early 1970’s. A big stampede wrestling extravaganza was also once held in its lovely courtyard, featuring the Hart brothers, and JR Foley, and so on and so forth. But, as has happened to so many of our beautiful historic buildings, it had fallen into a state of disrepair. Today, it has been handsomely restored, painted a pleasing brick red and yellow, and we salute the Ministry of Works for a job well done. It will house the Civil Registry.
Anyway, at the grand reopening of that building, we were treated to a sickly-sweet parfait from the the good Minister of Works, the Honourable Lennox Weston, who bragged words to the effect that his Ministry does not do ‘groundbreakings,’ but rather, ‘grand openings.’ Of course, he knows that the people of this country are fed-up with the many groundbreakings that never go anywhere, so he felt that it was incumbent upon him to defend his administration’s “sound and fury that often signified nothing.” Mind you, the garrulous Minister was not done there. Nay, in a moment of irrational exuberance, he proceeded to wax eloquent that his Ministry of Works would be doing a grand opening here in Antigua every week. Sigh!
Poor us! That we have to abide that rot. As former Congresswoman from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, once said of General David Petraeus’ Iraq war testimony to Congress, what the good Minister of Works is proclaiming with a straight face, “requires a wilful suspension of disbelief.” Maybe he believes it, but nobody else in possession of his or her faculties does. After all, the track record of this Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration does not support the grandiose claim.
Mind you, we could go back to the many ABLP fanciful claims that fooled the people into voting this administration into office, but we will not rehash them. A rehashing will only serve to fill our aching hearts with more voter’s remorse. If you’ll recall, so much was supposed to be done in so little days. Sigh! So rather than look back, we will point to more recent ‘nancy stories. For example, just two years ago (circa August 2018), this administration fired the contractor putting up the Antigua Department of Marine Services (ADOMS) building, and declared that the Ministry of Works would complete it by November of that year. It is still incomplete. Then there is the wonderful adjunct hospital facility, just west of YASCO, that was supposed to be completed in 14 days (this administration has a “14-days” and a “next week” fetish). It is still not finished, never mind the passage of multiples of “14 days.” And so it goes. As they would say on the soap opera for which this piece is titled, “Like inexorably falling sands in the hour glass, so are the ‘14 days’ of our lives.”
Interestingly, several days have come and gone since the first grand pronouncement from Cabinet on plans to spur the economy at the start of the Covid crisis. Those plans featured the completion of the Sunshine Hub car park. As you can imagine, that is, unless you wish to wilfully suspend disbelief, the car park is as deserted as our abandoned Bridgetown at Willoughby Bay, . . .; well, unless you figure the rats and other vermin that have re-populated the place, albeit with additional security. (There is now a handsome fence around the facility). And let us not forget the frenetic manner in which Minister Weston last week declared that he has wonderful news about a major project that he will be announcing in the coming days. Needless to say, we are not holding our breaths. After all, this administration is notorious for promising so much and delivering so little in such a painfully long number of days. Remember too, folks, one day with this administration is as thousands of days. Their “matter of days” pronouncements strain credulity.
Look folks, the suspension of disbelief has been defined as “An intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something surreal, such as a work of speculative fiction, in order to believe it for the sake of enjoyment. Aristotle first explored the idea of such a concept as it relates to the principles of theatre; the audience ignores the unreality of fiction in order to experience catharsis.” Perhaps, too often, we have been willing to disbelieve the evidence of our own eyes and believe that which is manifestly not doable. We have cut this administration much slack.
But we are tired. We are tired of the merry-go-round. Like whirling dervishes, this administration spins in circles – clockwise, then anti-clockwise. It is enough to give the citizenry vertigo. Left to right, backwards forwards! The Burning Flames would be so proud to see that 8 of the “fifteen smartest men and women in Antigua” are doing exactly as they commanded. Left to right, backwards forwards, albeit, because they can’t do any better. It is pathetic, the here today, gone today protocols and policies. The slap-dash, slap stick manner in which everything is being done, as would have The Three Stooges. From one day to the next, nobody knows for sure what the hell is going on. We stand on these shifting sands. . . and the clock is a-ticking. This administration’s Covid response is like a grade B soap opera.