Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Christmas 2003
(Aired 24 December 2003)

    It's Christmas time again and as I told you last year it is supposed to be a time of good will to all men, and for many of us it is a time of good cheer and much relief, after all, most of us made it through one more year! The phantom gang did not get us, the terrorists did not get us, the criminals did not get us, our Bank did not get us, the minibus drivers managed to miss us on the road for a full 365 days, this alone is cause for great celebrating, most of our homes did not have to rely on the services of the Guyana fire department and Severn Trent or the police, speaking about the police, during the year I discovered first hand what the police force of Guyana crime scene investigations are like, I had a robbery this year where some batteries and a few odds and ends were stolen from my boat, the Guyana CSI came in to investigate, they walked all over the place with muddy boots obscuring any/all of the evidence the thieves may have left behind, then they tried to take finger prints! For heavens sake ladies and gentlemen if the police in Guyana ever want you to let them dust your home for finger prints, do not let them do it.

    That black fingerprinting dust they use damaged everything, all the seats, carpets and walls in my boat, had to be reupholstered, vacuumed, dry cleaned and scrubbed, I paid more money to repair the damage which the police did to that boat, than the total value of what the thieves stole. The police then promptly arrested my watchman, my watchman has been with me for over 10 years and a more loyal employee does not exist, but they arrested the poor man, I guess they had to arrest someone, predictably the finger printing operation yielded nothing, they never even identified the thieves much less recover my property, in fact they put so much of that black dust on the fingerprints, that they were left with a few black smudges but no prints.

     I have now done the advisable thing, since I realise that I am on my own in this country, and it is every man for himself, the back of my yard now has more security devices than NASA. Motions sensors, lights than come on when anything moves and alarms of every description which disturb you even if a mongoose or a rat moves back there.

    Finally someone got sense and imported chicken, despite assurances from Minister Nadir that the local market will have a full supply of chicken for Christmas we still ended up importing 1 million lbs of chicken from the US, so we can now have our Christmas dinner as planned.

   To cheer us up our President has announced, amid much fanfare, that he has given us a special Christmas gift this year, since we as a nation have sunk to such a low level of poverty that we will be accessing huge amounts of aid money as an enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country, making us one of the largest, begging, mendicant nations in history. But our President has told us that we should celebrate for getting this debt relief, ladies and gentlemen we are so poor today that the World Bank has put us in a special poverty bracket, the lowest of the low, and for this we must be thankful. I raise my cup of bush rum to our President for this momentous gift.

   You will recall in my last year's commentary I recounted for you the huge difficulty in getting the previous year's Christmas tree lights to work, well this year I decided to employ technology to surmount this problem, I bought one of those fibre optic trees, huge thing, 8 feet high with the equivalent of 7500 lights, and get this men, you don't have to buy one bulb or light, so no more lying on the ground sorting out the old bulbs with your volt meter, there's only one problem, I ordered it since 10 December and guess what? It is now the 22nd of December and no tree.

   Right now I would be very happy indeed to be sorting out the old bulbs, than listen to my wife tell me what a genius I was to have ordered this tree which has not arrived, she's even snidely suggested that on Christmas day we will be opening our presents under the coconut tree in the backyard. I have to listen to comments like "I hope it does not rain" and "do we have a tarpaulin?" and "Can we put some old lights on the coconut tree".

    I decided that it was a hard enough year without participating in the breaking up the house for Christmas exercise, and dreading the moving of all the furniture and the cob webbing, I decided on a master plan, I took my wife to NY for a short holiday from the 29th November to the 14 December, this torpedoed the breaking up exercise, but we ended up in the middle of the worst snow storm in New York in 10 years, two feet of snow fell in 30 hours, but it was wroth it.

     My wife's fashion show was abbreviated this year since we are only going out to one function on old year's night, so I only had to vet around 12 outfits. But even on this one excursion into Georgetown to welcome the New Year, I am considering asking the army or the phantom gang to escort me for protection.

    The buying of gifts this year has not been so good, this is the first time in recorded memory that the stores did not open after 4 PM from the 15th of December, the owners of the various stores I visited told me that quote "people nah coming in to buy nothing during the day, so why waste money opening the store during the night"

      So all the people expecting a Christmas gift this year from me, don't hold your breath everybody bruk, including me. Even huge companies like Banks DIH and DDL who usually send me a bottle of 10 year old or 15 year old rum respectively for Christmas are feeling the strain, they sent me bottles of their two year old blend instead this year. No hard feelings men, I understand the situation.

     It's been a hard year for all of us, and we must give thanks for surviving it, that alone is a minor miracle in itself. Only the lord in Heaven knows what awaits us next year, perhaps the Demerara River will turn red or we might get an infestation of locusts? But am I am getting drunk on old years night and I may stay that way for most of 2004.

    I would like to wish all you and yours all the very best for Christmas and the New Year,

   To my wife Jewel and our two children I give them my love and my thanks for making a difficult time bearable, I also extend greetings to my son Anthony and to the people at VCT who worked so hard in 2003 to make it in an environment of low/no advertising, I recognise that it was like getting blood out of a stone but you did it, and I offer you my heartfelt thanks. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and yours.