Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mum, I'm Bored

It's officially the silly season. When the media and even bloggers find very little to write about and some are even tempted to just make up stories to get people interested. But, Barbados is trying to get a handle of some serious silliness.

First, it is heading toward the apex of the Crop Over events. The Calysonians and Socalists have been chanting and win'ing for a few weeks now. The judging has got to the stage where there are the semifinals of Pic-O-De-Crop due on July 25. But, wait. The 18 semifinalists were known before all the acts had finished performing last Friday. Oops. My bad, some must be saying. And it seems that Barbados is getting a real love for investigations: the National Cultural Foundation's CEO has been asked to 'fully investigate" (not partially) the matter (see report). But. we also have the other 'pieces' of Crop Over: Sweet Soca, and Party Monarch, and the pairings are known. You have talent like "Sir Ruel", "Statement", "Khiomal", "Blood", "TC", 'Hee Haw", and "Red Plastic Bag". Like the names? A bit of a mix between a Brazilian football team and a shopping list? Acts with names like "John King" and "Colin Spencer" don't stand a chance. But the best was what I heard about voting for one of the competitions. Voting would be by text message, for a competition sponsored by Digicel (one of the cellular phone companies); texts cost B$1 and multiple voting IS ALLOWED! Well, there were suspicions of vote tampering earlier on, but why bother when you allow people to vote more than once, if they are willing to pay?

For a few days, at least, it seems that immigration has moved well off the front pages, and barely a peep has been heard about those pesky 'illegals'. I'm still waiting for some hard evidence from the government about what the extent of the problem is, but as I really do not expect much from politicians, I'm not really holding my breath. I mean, a good few weeks have gone by now since the revised amnesty was announced and I figure that Senator McLean and Minister Walters have had enough time to tally up the data themselves, rather than wait for the UN-Civil Service to do it. Maybe they should ask all the illegals to text them and get the figures that way: multiple messages are NOT allowed. I had to laugh yesterday as I had breakfast, the curry lunch, then afternoon drinks, then dinner with a groups of Caribbean people around the island. As we talked, it dawned on me that we truly represented the flux of the islands and countries and what the Caribbean was really all about. Of the 20 or so people I crossed, only one was a Bajan whose parents were born in Barbados. The others were a mix, with the following sample: born in Curacao/Vincentian parents (fluent in Dutch); born in Trinidad/Greek parents (fluent in Dutch and Greek); born in Antigua/Antiguan parents; born in Jamaica/Vincentian parents (raised in England and Europe); born in Barbados/Guyanese parents (raised in England); born in England/Jamaican and Chinese parents (raised in Jamaica). Everyone of us had stories about how a different country had a 'special' line for us because of from where we came. Boy, there's solidarity for you. And we wonder why West Indies cricket is struggling?

It's truly party season. I have not gone to any of the Crop Over crop. But, friends went to the Wadadah "Back to School", and the pictures and stories on Facebook are very interesting.Then one of the dinner guests with me last night was wondering what to expect as her teenage daughters had gone to the "Blocko Street Party" (due to be held in the street between TimeOut and the Dover playing field, for a street party from 7pm to 1am; music by Iwer George and others). She left for home nervously at around 11pm and I hope did not spend the night chewing her nails.

Finally, a piece of bureaucratic silliness. I went to Bridgetown for a few business errands after I came back from Boston. I always park near Carlisle House, and drove the car park as usual. The 'operative' at the window told me "We don' have no receipts, so you park for free.' I looked at her quizzically. This was a public car park? Government run? There was another car park just several yards away. Why was it that they had no supply of receipts? Was the world due to end? Budget times are tough, but this was insane. I thanked her and found a spot. Something is very out of order when a government agency that relies of fees cannot get people to pay the fees. I did not suggest that an honour box be used so that people could put in money if they chose--it's a mere B$1 for an hour. The implication of that not being done already might have been that the operatives could not trust themselves to hand over the money? Anyway, I hope that some bright spark does not use this as a pretext to put parking meters in place. Jobs are scarce, so ticket passers and collectors should not fear for their positions. Cheese on bread!

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