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Daly: T&T’s denial of reality offset by an evening in Newtown

Essentially, we have been faking it for a long time, that is, gasping with pleasure at Trini life when in reality life is stressful and brutish.

Photo: A Carnival meggie. (Copyright Georgia Popplewell)
Photo: A Carnival meggie.
(Copyright Georgia Popplewell)

A senior citizen having fallen ill in the street across the street from a public hospital and having to wait 45 minutes for assistance is a savage indictment on our level of social development even more than it highlights the disgraceful healthcare system.

We faking it to say that we are a civilised country when that senior’s death and other numerous disgusting incidents produce torrents of words but no remedial action. If the deceased had cocaine pellets in his stomach he might have been better regarded.

Many more of us are beginning to realise—as economic fragility besets us—that we may not be able to continue to fake it by depleting the treasury, dispensing or taking freeness and feteing non stop, without regard to the fate of our fellow citizens.

I had intended therefore to write this week exclusively about the depth of those troubles and our denial of reality.

We are in denial of reality by failing to recognise that decades of doing the same thing and doing it badly and wastefully are going to hamper severely our ability to respond to the social, education, health, security, economic and transport challenges.

Photo: Fiery protest at Beetham Gardens. (Courtesy Anonymous Motorist)
Photo: Fiery protest at Beetham Gardens.
(Courtesy Anonymous Motorist)

A What’s app exchange with a godchild asking that we keep hope alive has caused me to curtail somewhat examining our gloomy prospects of overcoming the challenges we face because our socio economic and governance structure is dilapidated. Reference later to the Newtown evening may keep hope alive.

Let me acknowledge first that I agree with Professor Ken Julien’s recent assertion that challenges present opportunities, but in order to convert our current challenges into opportunities much more is required of us than narrow quarrels about who should bear the necessary sacrifices.

To fix things each and every one of us has to give up something and to realign our heads to an understanding that effort precedes reward.

Premium drinks will not continue to flow if we are standing in economic sand, we promote narrow agendas and maintain an attitude of fete now and pay later.

It is now thirty years since one Prime Minister told us, in the course of a Budget speech, that “fete over back to work.”  We never took him on because the riches of natural gas replaced the riches of oil, thanks incidentally to the foresight of Professor Julien and others.

Photo: Whaddap, cocoyea! A PNM supporter celebrates at Balisier House after the election results on September 7, 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Whaddap, cocoyea! A PNM supporter celebrates at Balisier House after the election results on September 7, 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It is our attitudes that will take us over the brink.  That is why I put social development and education management first on the list of what we have been doing the same way and doing badly without any critical assessment of the structure out of which questionable results flow.

These poor results lie at the root of many of the economic and national security challenges in particular.

Former Mayor of Port of Spain, Louis Lee Sing, described the relative locations of Newtown and Woodbrook two Saturdays ago on the occasion of the relocation of Woodbrook Playboys Steel Orchestra from one side of Tragarete Road to the other with a consequent name change to Newtown Playboys.

Newtown lies north of Tragarete Road, while Woodbrook lies to the south of it.

The former Mayor’s remarks set the tone for a relaxed evening of high quality pan music accompanied by other equally high quality performances in song.  It was a grand evening attended by one of the largest crowds I have seen at a panyard event outside of Carnival.

Happily the composition of the crowd spanned many different age groups.  Everyone seemed to be in exceptionally good humour. Immersed in the vibe of the evening, thought of the considerable troubles facing our country was temporarily set aside.

Photo: Playing steelpan. (Copyright Songsofthecosmos)
Photo: Playing steelpan.
(Copyright Songsofthecosmos)

Newtown has pan pedigree because Alexander Ragtime Band was from Newtown and it was in 1937/38, according to historians, a progenitor of the steelband. What was hopeful about the evening of the launch of Newtown Playboys’ new site beyond the entertainment skill and quality was the neighbourhood co-operation that made it possible.

The owner of Shiann’s Restaurant made available a piece of its land next to the restaurant on Tragarete Road to be used as the panyard.  The restaurant’s car park and another neighbour’s car park both adjacent to the panyard on the Woodford Street side were also made available for the evening to accommodate the guest bands and overflow of patrons.

These neighbourly accommodations are a sterling example of assisting a community to re-establish itself and grow and to enable it to provide facilities for the social development potential of a panyard.

In this case it may also be possible to establish a music school and to turn street entertainment provided in that vicinity in the past into a sustainable enterprise if other business neighbours take heed.

Congratulations Newtown.  I am proud to have grown up there.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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6 comments

  1. grasping at straws ..settling for straw..

  2. Let’s hope we can fix the ills of this system, one by one…

  3. Martin, you say that “decades of doing the same thing and doing it badly and wastefully are going to hamper severely our ability to respond to the social, education, health, security, economic and transport challenges.” What you don’t say explicitly but what this column says for you is that “decades of doing the same thing” consistently and passionately might just get that many more people to see that we can as a people “respond to the social, education, health, security, economic and transport challenges” in a different – and successful – way.
    Keep the flag up and the agro down.

  4. 45 minutes? My dad had to wait 48 hours…he had to sleep in the corridor

  5. He would have been in private medical care cause he could afford to