CIC international politics class


IN THE same way that “all I need to know about life, I learned in kindergarten,” I want to believe that all you need to know about modern international politics, you learned in your Trinidadian secondary school.

Do you remember, eg, the really good-looking boy or girl who actually asked to sit right under the teacher’s rostrum when you were hiding in the back corner of the classroom? The student everyone liked partly because they were so charming but mainly because they were so handsome/pretty?

Yes, when they opened their mouth, you wanted to put your finger on their lips and say, “Shhhh! Don’t spoil it!” Largely empty heads, but pockets stuffed with enough cash to buy small Cokes for all at Miss Doris’s parlour, they breezed through school like they breezed through life, getting everything they wanted right away.

Well, that kid became Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

And what about the greedy, pudgy boy, useless at sports and academics, but he captained the debate team that won the national competition? He never tucked his curry-stained school shirts into his always-crumpled pants, boasted about his ten dollars a week to your ten cents a day, and got you to buy him an alloo pie at the canteen. When you broke biche, you crawled behind the hedge and snuck out the side gate; when he did, he strode out the big gate waving goodbye – and every teacher assumed he had permission. If he couldn’t win an argument at recess, he made cruel, hilarious jokes on your head and everyone forgot the argument because they were laughing so hard. At you. Who actually had the better argument.

Come in, Boris Johnson, Chief Villain of the Vote Leave and Create Disunion Party.

What about that good-natured student who came first in tests? She always had her school pin on her collar, school ring on her finger, and got along with even the nerdiest students. She wiped down the blackboard and picked up empty bottles without being asked. In the class-prefect election, she was the only one who didn’t vote for her and effectively elected the class vice-prefect with her own solitary vote.

Jacinda Arden, PM of NZ.

What about the skinny boy who washed the one second-hand uniform shirt he owned every day, hanging it to dry dripping wet so it would appear ironed? He was very weird but at O-Level, he got four twos (Bs) and three ones (As) and everyone thought he would win a scholarship at A-Level but he disappeared that long vacation. Four years later, he reappeared with two gold front teeth, a pronounced limp and a badly pronounced Yankee accent. Ten years after that, you found out he had not been “at call-edge” in New York for four years, but at Golden Grove Prison.

Vladimir Putin.

And, of course you know what became of the fat rich man’s son who used the nastiest racist language openly and teased people for being poor and forced you to smell his finger after he had jammed a girl half his size into a corner and felt her up while she wept and used his size and bulk (though not an ounce of muscle) to bully poor boys in the schoolyard to hand over their lunch money
and took away any sandwich he wanted from anyone smaller than him
and was the last person seen in the school church the day all the collection money was stolen
and beat up the couple of younger boys who laughed when they saw his micropenis in the gym changing room one day and then got his rich father to pay off their parents, a fat oaf who couldn’t pass a donkey cart in a Mazda RX2, but ended up in an Ivy League university because his father endowed a new library.

Get your political lessons right in a Trinidad secondary school of half a century ago and you can understand why world leaders act the way they do today.

And see there is every likelihood that the school criminal will snatch Ukraine, the fat ugly bully will burn down the whole school so no one will find out he cheated on exams and the school clown will turn the worst tragedies into good jokes that make him and his pardners cackle.

And wonder if you shouldn’t move to New Zealand.

BC Pires is deliberately avoiding thinking about which characters at school turned into every prime minister TT ever had. Read the full version of this column on Saturday at


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