2002 Articles


“A culture based on joy is bound to be shallow. Sadly, to sell itself, the Caribbean encourages the delights of mindlessness, of brilliant vacuity, as a place to flee not only winter but that seriousness that comes only out of culture with four seasons.” Derek Walcott – Nobel Lecture 1992


“The greatest spectators in the world” JAAA president Pat Anderson called the crowd at last week’s World Junior Athletics Championships. And who could disagree? It was not only the unmatched passion with which the Jamaicans fans roared on their compatriots that made them so special, but also the wonderful generosity of spirit with which they cheered every performer of excellence regardless of nationality. Competitors described the crowd as “awesome” and some foreign victors carried the black, green and gold as well as their native flags on their laps of honour. All of which proved once again that whatever our faults, at our best there are no more vibrantly delightful people than Jamaicans. As Sam Johnson might have put it, not only entertaining in ourselves but the cause of entertainment in others.


As a shopkeeper my job is to make readily available to customers whatever they want. Still, I never cease to be amazed at how many seemingly unnecessary things people not only desire but apparently can’t do without. But then I’m a man, and apart from pharmaceuticals probably 90% of the stuff in my stores is either bought by or for women. It’s incredible really how different male and female needs seem to be. Left to our own inclinations all most men really require is enough food, shelter from the rain, and occasional sex. Which is why bachelor homes usually resemble bear caves with furniture.


IT was ridiculous. For a month the world was obsessed with groups of uneducated young men kicking around an air-filled bladder. Some 40 million are estimated to have watched part of the spectacle, which amounts to over 60 billion manhours wasted. Spent productively, this would have added more than US$100 billion to the world economy. How many millions of starving children could have been fed!


“The Church In Crisis” – so ran many headlines about the recent Roman Catholic sex scandals in America. But it’s also the title of a book by Philip Hughes detailing the 20 General Councils of the Church between 325 AD and 1869. If you include Vatican II in 1962 this gives an average of one every 80 years. Meaning that “The Church in Crisis” is probably the second oldest regularly occurring headline in history, ranking only behind that eternal favourite “War Breaks Out”.


Jamaican music’s planet wide popularity is surely one of the late 20th century’s most intriguing cultural phenomena. For reggae may be the only music not of European or North American origin which can be heard in every country on earth, and is arguably the first example in modern times of a non-western nation exporting its culture around the globe.


Last month the Norwegian Book Club asked 100 well-known authors in 54 countries to choose the 100 greatest works of fiction. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes got 50% more votes than any other title, and Fyodor Dostoevsky had the most books cited - Crime And Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov.


Guilty mom did it for kids ”  - The Star, May 8 2002

“Cassandra Morrison, 31, … [was] yesterday charged with possession of dealing in and taking steps to export cocaine… Morrison told the court she had eight children for six different men, ages two months, two years, five years, eight years, 10 years, 11 years, 13 years and 15 years old… she would have received 3000 pounds on her arrival in London… she was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.”


Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.


The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge


What is Jamaica’s national sport? Many would say cricket. Some football. Others dominoes. But none of these are as fascinating to Jamaicans as ‘bunning’. No matter what the time or place, news that a man ‘a get bun’ will immediately render all other topics irrelevant and produce gales of laughter. For nothing is so amusing to Jamaicans as a man being cheated on by his woman - the central plot of virtually every ‘roots’ play.