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
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.