Friday, August 31, 2007

The big four-five

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO woke up on the morning of its 45th birthday and groaned like an octogenarian. It lay on the bed for a moment before opening its eyes to the blinding light coming in through the window. (The shade trees the British had planted had long ago been hacked down to clear the way for buildings, parking lots, smelters, churches, prime ministerial holiday homes and future monorail stations & child labour camps.) The country let out a little whelp, rolled over in the cramped, crowded, dirty, noisy little bed it had made for itself and tried to go back to sleep....

But even play-play countries in which grandiose official residences went up in record time but schools failed to open on the first day of term because of overflowing toilets, flea infestations & teacher absenteeism, must at least make a show of going about their business, even on their birthdays; and so Trinidad & Tobago sighed, steupsed, farted - and knelt at the side of its bed for morning prayers....

-- B.C. Pires, wishing the nation, ahm, a happy birthday in his column in today's Express.

The only thing funnier than that in the papers today--and I mean not funny-ha-ha or funny-strange but funny-heartbreaking--might be Juhel Browne's report of the media tour of the new prime ministerial palace:

The ground floor of the residence is where all visiting dignitaries would be accommodated in three self contained bedrooms.

Each bedroom has its own toilet and glass-door shower, chairs and a bed that did not appear to be more than 6ft in length.

The beds had mattresses with tags in Chinese words.

The bedrooms had large windows and curtains.

At least one of them had a clear view of the swimming pool.

There is a large room called a parlour which has chairs and sofas.

The ground floor also has a large dining area with a long wooden table and chairs and a meeting room.

There is a kitchen and preparation room for the food.

Some of the counter tops, however, are yet to be completed.

Are these haiku-like paragraphs straight-faced reporting, an odd attempt at irony, evidence of a journalist's utter despair? And what, I wonder, will Our Father have to say about it all?

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