THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
JODAN, my nephew, is 38 years old and this is my present to him, and those of you with the uncanny feeling you've read those words before are not victims of a strange and lingering deja vu: you have indeed – although you may not remember, it was so long ago.
In 1988, Jodan, the first grandchild in our family, was five when I first wrote about him “in the papers.” Between his fifth and 11th birthdays, in lieu of a birthday present, I wrote about him using the same opening sentence above, changing only his age. In Jodan is 11, I wrote, “Up to this sentence, I didn't even write this paragraph, just copied it out of last year's birthday present and added a year. I wrote exactly the same thing around this time last year, and the six years before that, when he was five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.”
I stopped writing about him when he was 11, old enough to be embarrassed in front of his form one schoolmates at CIC.
That toddler I first wrote about when he was five is now eight years older than I was when I began writing about him – or, as his mother complained every year, began cheating him out of a real birthday present. (Not even in one’s own family is the work of a West Indian writer appraised as being at least as valuable as a Ninja Turtle.)
What could I say that could be useful to a man, closer to age 40 today than I was when I first gave him unwanted advice in the papers instead of an Xbox in pretty wrapping paper?
The last time I wrote about you in the papers, Jodan, something called the Soviet Army was just beginning its withdrawal from Afghanistan after eight years of its soldiers dying in an endless war they couldn’t win. Today, that same army, with only a name change, has just begun what could easily become an eight-year invasion of Ukraine, an endless war it cannot possibly win.
The American president was an old, failed, Hollywood B-movie actor whom the rest of the world looked on as a kind of an American practical joke. Today, with an old, fat, lying, treasonous, immoral oaf of a failed reality-TV-show presenter having some kind of white-supremacy-magic hold over the Grand Old Party, the joke is on the rest of the world.
In 1988, Jodan, in R v Morgentaler, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down all anti-abortion laws in Canada, making abortion completely legal and the choice of the one person capable of properly making the horrendous decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy, viz, the prospective mother, Today, a gaggle of religious nuts occupying seats reserved for judgment, not belief, are about to repeal Roe v Wade; in the country you chose as your own, the old slavery states will soon attempt to make birth control criminal.
When you were a boy, Jodan, there were “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland, sectarian terrorism, Irish people murdering one another in the name of a weird, unclear idea of sovereignty. Today, the British Vote Leave Government led by the most irresponsible man ever to have skunked his way into high office is about to recreate the Troubles by repudiating its own agreement that tricked the British electorate into giving it an 80-seat majority in Parliament, all in the name of some weird, foggy idea of sovereignty.
In Trinidad, in 1988, the National Alliance for Reconstruction, TT’s shiniest political moment – or at least its least tarnished one – was about to collapse in on itself, squandering the goodwill of an electorate that had given it a 33-seat majority in our own Red House, and only because a prime minister from Tobago was engaged in a petty quarrel with the leader of the Indian party.
In 1988, the world knew South Africa, the great global symbol of white supremacy, would very soon dismantle the unjust and un-Christian apartheid. Today, in the USA, force-ripe white boys shoot old black people buying groceries dead and police officers put bullets in the back of men’s heads when they’re subdued, and, after they’ve put women back in their place, the religious zealots of the US Supreme Court seem likely to train their guns on black people and the LGBT.
You want a 38th birthday present?
Jodan, boy, you should have stayed 11, yes.
BC Pires, kind of like Paul Simon, is still cheap after all these years