AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
A shorter version of this feature, which itself appears in the hard copy paper today, appeared in July 2015. This longer version has not appeared before. Anthony Harford died last. Walk good, Tony.
My name is Tony Harford and I’ve been walking in the Botanic Gardens since 1993.
I’m an undiluted “town boy.” Never lived further than five miles from Port of Spain. I’ve been in Cascade for 16 years. That is as “City” as they get. I can simply walk down Frederick Street from home.
According to my sister we now live in a flat house: the pillars, my parents, are gone and the four of us are left, two boys, two girls. In fact, four old people now. I am the eldest, fast approaching my allotment of three score and ten.
Family means a lot to me but I have never “passed probation” so was never married. I have a son, Jarred. He is 30.
I was born and raised and am a practising Catholic. I thoroughly enjoy the serenity of attending mass regularly, at least once weekly usually more. My own life experiences, bad and good, convince me that I am not in charge and that a higher being is.
I wanted a red car since I was a boy.
I would pay a lot of money to see Billy Joel and Michael Buble.
People frequently confuse me with (longtime media professional) Tony Dennison. This is baffling as he is better-looking and far more talented. Tony Dennison hosted Thursday night rock concert, while I hosted Saturday nights 10 pm-2 am, both on Radio 100, one of just two FM stations on air at the time, the other being 95.1. Both the rock concert and Shindig were immensely popular and made our bosses distinctly uncomfortable, as FM Radio was expected to be “proper “ even “staid” in those days. Before us Billy Reece had turned things upside down at Radio Trinidad. His sidekick who would go on to become a DJ legend, was Rennie Bishop.
I joined the NBS family at 100FM, in 1973.
I have been around for a very long time and have seen radio go through irrevocable change.
I’m a big Bond fan. Connery was the best Bond. I enjoy going to the movies.
Especially as I now get the TTARP rate!
I have never been able to curb my enthusiasm for pelau.
In 1988, my friend Bruce Aanensen and I saw a need to offer ground handling services and cheap accommodation to sporting clubs visiting Trinidad. We bought an 11-bedroom house in Woodbrook and offered teams US$10 per person per night and that was the start of All Sport.
We have since morphed into sport management and sport television services.
I have been richly blessed to have travelled the world through sport.
The two most beautiful places in the world are New Zealand and The Grenadines. Both are relaxed and unhurried and unspoilt.
I don’t miss home when I am on the road. But, after about a month, I am ready to get back home to the people I love.
I have the most profound respect for sport and media. I owe these professions my life and it is a good life.
I am very disappointed in the quality of the administration these days. I am simply not seeing enough ambitious and imaginative leadership.
I have a club that should be in the Premiership, but we are languishing in the Championship. I am a big Nottingham Forest fan.
And I drape an Italian flag across my door from game one to the final of every World Cup.
The Botanic Gardens is my sanctuary. I’d started swelling like a roaring chorus and decided to do something about it, so I put on my shoes and have not stopped.
Of course, as you can see, I have lost very little weight in that time, but I do feel so much better.
Over 22 years walking in the gardens I have met a miscellany of people. Without knowing one another’s names we have become a “Gardens family.” We have had several Independence and Republic Day breakfast picnics, everyone bringing something to eat or drink and doing what Trinis do best: enjoy humour and rumour! And solve every political and world problem!
I use the morning walk to reset and revitalise before the challenges of daily life.
I cannot imagine my life without walking. I do a circuit covering roughly four miles per day, six days a week. Always rest on Sundays.
I find a botanic gardens wherever I go. My other favourite botanic gardens is Sydney, Australia, with the Opera House, harbour and harbour bridge as a backdrop. Just stunning.
I’ve never felt unsafe walking in the Botanic Gardens. The current round-the-clock security company has the most portly set of officers you are likely to meet in the world. But they do offer a presence and that is a deterrent in itself. In the past 20 years incidents have been few.
Walkers also look out for each other. Part of that authentic Trini caring trait.
In the past 12 years, 15 major trees have been cut down for reasons I can’t understand and there has been no real replanting taking place. I hate when people cut down trees.
Nothing keeps me awake at night. In fact, I have trouble staying awake during the day. Seriously, I “let go and let God” and sleep soundly.
I have never in my life hit another human being in anger.
But I could give you a list of people I would like to. It’s a short list, but I would hit them real hard!
A Trini is blessed with a gigantic consignment of humour. And a more than normal quota of patience.
Trinidad and Tobago is home, is heart, is the only place in which I can claim ownership.
Despite manifold problems, all of which I am optimistic can be fixed.
Read a longer version of this feature on Friday at www.BCPires.com