As we stand on the threshold of another year, we can truly say, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” This year was one fraught with risks and challenges and, of course, rewards. There was much pain amidst the enormous economic displacement. Times were hard, and “Men’s hearts failed them for fear.” [Luke 21:26] But mercifully, there was comedy. We can say that it was perhaps the lighter side of some of the grave situations in which we found ourselves that helped us cope. Seems, ‘laughter is indeed the best medicine.’ After all, as the maxim goes, “We had to laugh in order not to cry.” Sadly, however, the jokes were on us, the disillusioned and frustrated people of this fair State.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order, let us take a look back at some of the moments of levity in 2020. There can be no denying that the the face-off between our pensioners and our dear Prime Minister Gaston Browne was indeed quite funny. There he was, like Clint Eastwood, strutting like a man accustomed to having his way. But the pensioners were in no mood to listen to his usual poppycock; they were not going to abide his bullying. And they told him so to his face. It was hilarious seeing him, his usual garrulous self, at a loss for words, casting about for an escape route, much like a deer caught in the headlights. Eventually, he was able to beat a hasty retreat with . . . er . . his feathers ruffled. (Chuckle)
It was also quite funny the way that Dominica threw cold water on a silly joyride aboard LIAT to Roseau on our Independence Day. The Dominicans insisted that they were not going to grant any ‘special dispensations’ so that Antiguan officials could grandstand. It was a comedy of errors, much like the trip to Barbados a few weeks later, with all of one passenger aboard the aircraft. And not forgetting to mention the snafu between Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, over landing rights and fees. It reeked of rank amateurism on our part – the failure to iron out all the procedural matters in advance. We mean, who the hell puts a whole aircraft in the sky without first ascertaining that the blessed aircraft can land somewhere? Good grief!
Meanwhile, in terms of risible moments, it was also quite funny the way that some in high places levelled damning accusations at each other in strange letters and responses. What a thing! Even the public firing of Minister Dean Jonas, in front of his staff, was a moment of great comic relief. Shakespeare’s legendary comedic jesters like Lance, from THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, and Bottom, from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, would have had great difficulty matching the antics of some of those in high places. As you can imagine, it is anyone’s guess how much genuflecting some ministers have had to do to keep their portfolios or be reappointed to others.
Not surprisingly, our government was the butt of jokes in some of the CARICOM capitals. For example, in St. Kitts Nevis, the government of Prime Minister Timothy Harris amused themselves and their supporters at our expense, citing their ability to hand out a stimulus ($120M in March, plus the waiver of water payments for six months, etc) to the people of their country while we, the Wizards of High Finance, the smartest government in the region, could not ante up one solitary cent. They are still chuckling in Basseterre.
It was also rather funny the way that the minister responsible for the delivery of water, he who’d boastfully said that any government that could not deliver water to its people should be voted out of office, could not deliver clean and reliable water to many of the households in this fair State. That is, until the rains fell this past summer. His words could have been prophetic! They still just might be.
Even in the august halls of parliament, there were more than enough farcical moments to tickle the funny bone. There was talk about ‘brown paper bags in parking lots’ and members being on ‘thin ice’ and threats of ‘disciplinary action’ and yelling and denigrating and assorted contretemps. (Lol). It is not a stretch to suggest that that which was supposed to be our nation’s greatest deliberative body was at times reduced to a circus. (Chuckle)
Look, folks, we could go on and on with other examples of the clownish highlights of this year 2020. How about the childish dress-up in hideous red suits by those in high places, two weeks ago? People all over the world are still doubled over with laughter at the spectacle. Or what about when Minister Weston bragged of having $500M for a hard economic period such as this? Turns out the government has nothing, and the good minister has perhaps been reprimanded for talking out of turn. He does that sometimes. Or how about laptops for all high school students? And eBooks for primary school students? And so many tracking bracelets to solve the problem of the wayward people who refuse to stay put under quarantine? And all the assorted other phooey? Sigh! The mind wobbles, and it is no longer funny!
You see, the hijinks of this administration, while under ordinary circumstances could be good for some merriment and mirth, are so damaging to us, the citizens, in these perilous times, that the joke is no longer sweet. Bring the curtain down on this unfunny show, and let the Grade B actors and actresses exeunt stage left. We’re tired of the clown suits and the antics and semantics.