24 December: The Ministry of Health urges citizens to ‘keep the festivities at home this year’ and ‘celebrate responsibly within your household bubble’.
26 December: Party promoter Adrian Scoon accepts close to 100 paying patrons on to his pleasure boat, Ocean Pelican, for a ‘Seaside Brunch Party’—only it is not really a boat party because he claimed Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi essentially told him once the boat stays on shore, he can call it a restaurant.
Also on 26 December: Police stop what witnesses claim to be a fete on the Ocean Pelican.
29 December: Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh says, and we paraphrase, not me and that, let the police decide what is a safe zone. That is not the business of the Ministry of Health. Besides, Scoon never asked me for permission.
28 December: Deyalsingh writes to Scoon, on the Ministry of Health letterhead, advising that ‘any business, including a restaurant based on a boat, that wishes to operate as a safe zone may do so provided that the legal requirements of Regulation 8 of the Regulations are satisfied’.
Wait, what? It was, almost certainly, the most disjointed sequence of events since Tenet: Hollywood’s answer to the Rubik’s Cube.
Did Deyalsingh discover time travel and use it to brakes for Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon’s greedy son—instead of advising Brian Lara not to trust any call from Marlon Samuel at the 2007 World Cup, or begging Super Blue not to let Ravi B anywhere close to ‘Omalay’?
Surely Deyalsingh did not play Pontius Pilate with the press on Wednesday morning, insisting that he did not okay, nor was he asked to okay, Scoon’s boat party, while knowing full well that he had inserted himself in the matter a day earlier!
What business does he, as a representative of the Trinidad and Tobago Government, have in using Ministry of Health stationery to retroactively provide cover for a promoter trying to make fast money by violating the spirit of the Public Health Ordinance?
How could the same minister who said Samantha Ramischand represents ‘the worst of young people in Trinidad and Tobago’ and ‘a clear and present threat to my livelihood, the livelihoods of every single worker in T&T’ by posing alone on her private beach, then turn around, see a hard-back man piling people on a boat to make money on Boxing Day and essentially say, ‘play on, playa’?
When Mr Live Wire read that… I mean… It was sad. I pulled aside and literally a tear came to my eye. It did. True talk. I wouldn’t lie for that.
(Scene: An obscure character gently shakes Mr Live Wire. He opens his eyes to see he is in a dimly-lit room. It seems vaguely familiar.)
Mystery Man: Back down the rabbit hole so soon, Alice?
Live Wire: Huh? Alice, Alice? Who the fack is Alice?
Mystery Man: Yuh think is a back-in-times fete? Yuh not on the Ocean Pelican now yuh know. Ketch yourself.
Live Wire: Where am I? What am I doing here?
Mystery Man: You tell me. What’s the last thing you remember?
Live Wire: I remember reading that Deyalsingh was selectively quoting from the Public Health Ordinance and ignoring his own advice to make it seem like the son of a Cabinet colleague did nothing wrong by holding a party on a pleasure boat in the height of the pandemic.
And I remember feeling really, really sad at the impact his shenanigans could have on the trust that we need right now between the Government—and especially the Ministry of Health—and the population.
Mystery Man: All them feelings you get because a PNM man give ah next PNM man a bligh? Because a small-time pharmacist bend over and take one for the team? Because a little fat cat wants to make some extra dough on the backs of his patrons?
Live Wire: What?!
Mystery Man: Just like dem other reporters, always asking the wrong question. It’s not what you know, boy, it’s who you know!
Live Wire: Steups. You do realise Deyalsingh is the minister of health right? And we’re in a pandemic the likes of which we have never seen in this millennium?
Mystery Man: Just like a reporter again, always regurgitating the bleeding obvious. You have a point to make?!
Live Wire (stiffens in his chair): The minister of health is entrusted with the power to run the most important ministry in the country at present. Lives depend on his decision-making being above reproach and certainly beyond partisan interests.
Mystery Man: Jackass, Terrence is just a small-time pharmacist who got lucky by being plucked from obscurity by the Prime Minister and given a ministry to run. Is not God put him there; is flipping Keith! You was smoking with Nazma?!
Live Wire (leans forward): So you trying to be dotish? I know God didn’t make him minister. But what I mean is he is holding a very important office and…
Mystery Man (interjects): I trying to be dotish? Well, like you beat me to it long time!
(Infuriated, Live Wire tries to jump off his chair to confront the mysterious stranger. Only he realises he can’t get up for some reason. It’s as if his legs don’t work.)
Live Wire (alarmed): What’s happening? Why I can’t get up?
Mystery Man: Any voters in Trinidad and Tobago know how to stand up? Every action starts with your brain, only you haven’t been using yours if you think that the Minister of Hypocrisy and Keithos are the way out of this pandemic.
Live Wire: So who then? Tanty Kamla?
Mystery Man: You’re an arse or a marble? All now half the country have sun stroke and the other half recovering from ingesting bleach or something. No yuh coonoomoono. Your best way out of the pandemic is by understanding that Terrence is a pharmacist and Keithos is a geologist and Faris… Well, God alone knows what the hell Faris is, but he identifies as a lawyer.
The point is stop treating politicians like little ground gods and accept that the mooksie pharmacist nobody cared about last week isn’t the second coming of Jesus this week because a prime minister gave him a title. They are supposed to be serving you, not the other way around.
When you go to KFC, yuh does let the cashier tell you what to eat?!
(Live Wire scratches his chin and appears to give it some thought.)
Live Wire: Well, I hear what you’re saying. But what the hell do I know about what to do in a pandemic? I couldn’t even grow a red bean in a paper cup in primary school!
Mystery Man: Well listen to those who do know. Steups. I feel you does shave yuh head too clos,e yuh know! For starters, why is it in an hour-long press conference you hear the doctors for about five minutes each and Deyalsingh the rest of the time? What Deyalsingh could tell anybody that they can’t find for dehself on the WHO website?
Deyalsingh can’t even read the public health regulations properly. So tell him hush and let Dr Parasram and Dr Hinds and them do the talking.
Live Wire: Well, okay.
Mystery Man: And while you’re at it, tell Roshan to grow some balls, nah. It easier to get money Brent Sancho have for yuh than to fire a public servant. So why he sitting down like a mooks while Keithos and dem running dey mouth? Keithos is any scientist?!
No wonder Roshan does look like he getting a rectal exam, having to listen to politicians blab about following the science. Let the doctors start being more vocal about our direction through this thing. Is allyuh tax dollars paying them yuh know, and right now we need to get we money’s worth!
Live Wire: Okay. I understand what you mean. But what about Scoon and F*ris and them? So they could do we anything and get away with it? Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob sounds like a nice fellah, but is the same ministers have to vote on if he keeps his job within a year or so. So what can we do? A citizen’s arrest?
Mystery Man: Sometimes I feel like I making progress with yuh; the other times I want to jump through a window—because it would hurt less. It’s like blasted trying to thread a needle in a hurricane!
Live Wire: Steups.
Mystery Man: The public doesn’t need the police to punish a capitalist or a politician, mamapoule. Doh buy. Doh patronise. And doh vote for dem.
Live Wire: Hmmm…
Mystery Man: And I have two more words for you on the answer to this ‘Ocean Pelican’ nonsense.
(He pulls himself close to Mr Live Wire and whispers loudly in his ear…)
Mystery Man: Roger. Gaspard…
(Epilogue: Mr Live Wire wakes up with a start. He looks at his watch. And then he smiles. He has a plan.
Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Trinidad and Tobago definitely can’t be a real place if F*ris is Attorney General’…)