Lloyd Best died pointing out to all on Sunday (but to no one’s avail) that there were two T&T econo-mies, one real, vibrant and underground—the “inshore” economy —and the other moribund, un-imaginative and official: the “offshore” economy, where people other than Trinidadians created things that could be sold to others beyond our shores, from which the official T&T economy derived a windfall tax, which its government unfailingly squandered more wastefully than Al Pacino in Scarface. (I may be paraphrasing Best a bit here.) And, like Best’s two economies, there are two T&T realities. One is the true-true reality most people operate in, that place where the sun is always hot (or else the main road always flooded), the school toilets are blocked, the current is gone, the traffic is jammed and the maxi-taxi has Vybz Kartel vibrating your brain-pan from two lanes away. The other Trinidad is wherever the firetruck Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath spends his time, a fiscal and moral twilight zone where a car that would cost anyone else almost a million bucks is not extravagant. In that unreal Trini reality, a Porsche is equated with a Sentra—a basic car, really, nothing to write home or columns about—and criticism of such wise spending (indeed, such thrift!) as buying a Porsche instead of giving back money to, say, the School Feeding Programme, is creating a storm in a teacup.
Now in the real Trinidad—that part which does not give itself state contracts or silk gowns—there is something called “picong,” which the rest of the world recognises as “satire,” but which the unreal Trinidad—the Government, the Parliament, the courts, Mr Bharath—treats as terrorism. In the unreal Trinidad, an unknown teenager calling herself “Granny Quillah” attempts mockery and barely escapes making a jail on an imaginary treason charge; but well-connected grownups who are not extradited to face very real corruption charges are viewed as upstanding citizens. In the real Trinidad, the pappyshow, making fun of the powerful has always been the comfort (and the rallying point) of the powerless. In unreal Trinidad, no scandal has ever been allowed to enter the front door of the Country Club. In real Trinidad, often the only thing that saves people going mad is laughter; in unreal Trinidad, they have no sense of humour at all-at all (and have all gone properly mad). Until this week, I was despairing of my gig as a satirical columnist. I’ve been wondering whether I, too, like my hero, Lloyd, might die belabouring the point (but only working myself up) that there are two Trini comedy realities, one where satire is appreciated and the other where satire is taken completely literally. And then it hit me: with two such different headspaces occupying the same physical space, it becomes possible to write one story that can be read in both places. Here, for your amusement/agreement, are three stories written for two different audiences you might read in a newspaper in Trinidad. I have actually lifted phrases and sentences out of “real” stories from online T&T media.
Vasanta says tank not weapon
Big Productions Minister Vasant “Ta Claus” Bharath defended his selection of a US Army M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank as his ministry’s official vehicle. Criticised by Leader of the Opposition, Dr Professor Maestro (But Still Can’t Manners Manning) Keith Rowley for “profligate profligacy of profligatic proportions,” Vasanta replied, “He is really blowing a storm in a China shop. The price of the tank was in the range of all them other tanks whey they selling nowadays. Too besides, I only use it to go into them rough PNM areas on official government business of handing out bags of cash to anybody in a orange T-shirt. If we didn’t buy this tank, we would have had to give back $25 million to the Treasury, a very bad precedent. We doesn’t save money in government, we does spend it.” Vasanta is 65.
Himself silk, sulk, re-silk himself
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who made legal history by bestowing upon himself the rank of Senior Counsel, last week rewrote the same history he wrote the week before that by firmly refusing to accept the award he gave himself. When he first gave himself silk, and accepted it that time, the AG said he had been extremely humbled by himself having so deservedly given himself an award he so did not deserve. Subsequently, though, the two Court of Appeal judges he had also given silk to sent theirs back, and the AG felt “I really had was to do something. If them fellas feel them less deserving than me, they real wrong-side. I was humbled to get silk and I am fiercely proud to give it back.” In a surprise move, however, the AG refused to accept his own rejection of the silk he gave himself. “I guess I will have to accept silk,” sighed the AG. “I really can’t argue with a lawyer as magnificent, superb, majestic, awesome, spectacular, glorious and impressive as myself. How could I refuse to refuse my refusal of silk when I am such a great lawyer who does personally, in person, for myself, own two Rastafari. Sorry, I mean thesauris.”
Indian trip necessary to meet Indians
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday indicated that she would account for the cost of her state visit to India and would explain why the T&T delegation had to be bigger than 3Canal jouvay band. “Them real Indian not easy to impress,” said Mrs P-B. “We showing them deya and coconut oil and cotton wick and they laughing at we, asking if we doesn’t have electricity in Trinidad. So we had to carry 5,000 locho, sorry, I mean local entrepreneurs and party cardholders, sorry, I mean wealth-creating visionaries.” Asked whether the trip generated any income, Mrs P-B smilingly smiled and said, smiling, “Oh yes! Billions! For India. But we have a plan to treble that travel deficit. Each of us, you see, invited two real Indians back to Trinidad!” Asked if the T&T Government would pay for the future visiting Indians, the PM replied, “Of course! You want them to think we cheap?” Mrs P-B is PM.
BC Pires is trying to separate chaff from chaff