Mr Live Wire reviews a tragi-comedy as a motivational speaker fights for his freedom after being wrongful imprisoned for eight years by uncaring wardens of a once-respected newspaper.
Scene: Trinidad Guardian headquarters on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain.
Characters: Garth St Clair (played by Danny Glover), Kim Judy-Un (played by Judy Raymond), Number Two (played by Suzanne Sheppard), Spineless Minions (played by Press Complaints Authority), Unconcerned Onlookers (played by Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago), A-Team (played by attorney Keith Scotland).
Plot: Garth St Clair, a former soldier and calypsonian, serves six months in a Trinidad prison in 1991 for stealing musical equipment, which he sold to feed his drug habit. St Clair turns his life around after his release and launches an award-winning radio programme called Eye on Dependency that teaches about the dangers of drugs.
In 2004, St Clair is finally freed of the blot on his life as then President George Richards gives him an unconditional pardon for his offence. But the “Saint” does not get to live happily-ever-after with his wife, Natasha Nunez-St Clair.
Just a year after his release, a seemingly innocuous interview with Guardian reporter Essiba Small sees the radio host taken hostage by the newspaper.
St Clair said he served six months but Guardian gave him a six year sentence in its next publication. Small thing? The error cost St Clair employment opportunities as a motivational speaker as well as personal embarrassment; but, despite his complaints, the newspaper keeps the story available online and refuses to release him from it.
Eight years into his six year sentence for a six month crime, a frustrated St Clair stages a one-man protest outside the Guardian building and new leader Kim Judy-Un, possibly worried about the image of her State or economic sanctions from readers, orders his sentence to be purged from the paper’s records after a chat with Number Two.
There was no written apology. The Guardian only apologises to Ministers and persons of means. No one from the paper called St Clair either. Everyone was too busy lecturing the Trinidad Express on morality.
With nowhere else to turn, the Saint hires the A-Team. The ‘A’ stands for attorney, which is the only force powerful enough to get an editor-in-chief to take your calls.
Will Scotland finally extract St Clair from Kim Judy-Un’s clutches? Will the Guardian drop the pretense that it cares about anything outside the whims of its board of directors and who ex-reporters Sheila Rampersad, Anika Gumbs-Sandiford and Denyse Renne are talking to?
Will the Trinidad and Tobago media finally start treating everyday people with respect?
(Warning: This epic film is based on a true story. Some material might be disturbing for persons with a keen appreciation for justice and fair play. Any similarities between the Trinidad Guardian and North Korea, the least transparent State on the globe, are un-intended, un-canny and not necessarily un-true.)