June 2, 2008
Amazingly, it really doesn’t feel like a full week since my last blog entry but the calendar doesn’t lie I suppose. It has been a busy week and , despite the two public holidays, I have been working 7 days a week but the end is in sight so I am un-frying my mind to upload a quickie here. Not much point talking about the latest in homicide as the murder count keeps shooting upwards and we are now well over 200. There was a disturbing development over the past week involving 8 year old Hope Arismandez. She went missing and upon interrogating her mother’s boyfriend he confessed to killing her and led police to her body. The tragedy is sufficient to not require comment from me. One wonders what was going on in the mind of Sunil Ali that would have led to the event. I may lose my temper from time to time but I tend not to give in to my more unpleasant instincts which explains why members of parliament do not have bruises on the backs of their heads.
The aberrant mind is largely a mystery to the rest of us and sometimes there is at least some good to be gleaned from such incidents in that we are able to get valuable clues to help us protect society in the future. Sometimes, of course, there are no clues to be had and no lessons learned but there is always the hope for some insight however vague. In the case of Mr. Ali we will never know. He was charged and placed in a cell under a suicide watch but was found dead less than 24 hrs later. The details seem to vary from one source to the next with one newspaper saying he hanged himself with a clothesline that was ( conveniently) in the cell in addition to slashing his wrists with a razor blade. Our sources at ieTV suggest that , while he had some lacerations on his wrists indicating he tried to cut himself he actually hanged himself with bed sheets. The papers were, naturally, replete with headlines about him taking “the easy way out” but I think any sensible person must be led to ask some questions. Ignoring , for a moment, my complete lack of comprehension about how suicide could possibly be an easy way out of anything one wonders what sort of fools we have working in the prison system. If someone is on a suicide watch I assumed they were to be supervised constantly and not given access to anything they could use to do themselves in. Now if we are to assume that the custodians of our prisons are not complete imbeciles then we can only conclude that someone decided he should be either given the means of killing himself and conveniently allowed to do so or else his demise was somehow assisted. Neither possibility sits well with me. We have an inefficient justice system in this country but it is still there for a purpose. People are entitled to their day in court and, presumably, justice prevails. When incompetence or some sort of warped vigilantism supplants the law then we have a serious problem.
The prisons have announced that an investigation will take place but I would bet top dollar that nothing will be forthcoming. As is usual here the perverting of justice will be swept under the carpet and everything will go back to looking glass normal. This is not about defending an apparent killer…it is about due process and about lessons that could have been learnt to prevent such incidents in the future. Of course the same idiots who keep electing idiots of various parties are the ones now telling the TV cameras..” He saved us the trouble..I’m glad he did it”. I can only shake my head and hope that the next generation is a little more circumspect. Mind you it may be a misplaced hope since as far as I can gather many UWI and UTT graduates cannot even spell “circumspect”.
In other more pleasant developments Peggy’s interviews on my programme got a lot of very good feedback and quite a few calls asking when we are going to air them again. She has been busy using her time to explore the Trinidad she has missed for 10 years and, no doubt, collecting more fodder for her next literary foray. I am hoping to have her over on Wednesday night to meet some of my friends and there has been something of a demand for invitations. I will try not to break my rule to never entertain more than 6 people for dinner as I find anything more than that prevents good conversation. I may not be Sir Noel Coward but I will look for a cigarette holder and try my best.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that I also attended one of the strangest events of the year on Thursday night – Peter’s Pink Party. Peter Sheppard, having turned a certain age, decided to hold a party for himself a month after the actual event. The only rule was that everyone wear pink t-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the party on them which he thoughtfully provided via special delivery. It was the usual fun combination of people and Naz pulled all the culinary bits together well ( though much of the food was made by the excellent Wings Restaurant) including such thoughtful touches as pineapple chow and pink champagne. The diversity of their friends never ceases to amaze me and yet everyone gets along perfectly. I am sure if crabby old me had such a party I would be safe with my six person limit…in fact even that might be a stretch.
February 17, 2008
Just got back in after being with friends for an evening after work. It is now 1:55am and I have work in the morning so I shall dismiss any attempt to post an actual entry and summarize my day today in point form.
- Planned to go to the gym this morning but woke up late because of the sleeping pills.
- Called the office to check on things, had several coffees and then drove to work.
- Scrounged for stories and added a story about the Boissiere House to the lineup.
- Managed to get a hold of Nicholas Laughlin via Facebook and assigned the story.
- Thought of the house being torn down and got quite irate.
- Returned a DVD to the store, got two more and drive back to work ( total elapsed time: 15 minutes).
- Newscast was completed by 5:00pm
- Giselle and Wong went home and I killed time before reading the news by reading news on the internet and trying to figure out what my editor in New York meant by “planner”.
- Put on jacket and makeup and went into studio to read the news at 6:20pm.
- Heard my cue, watched the monitor for the news opening and saw only black.
- Muttered ” i am not seeing anything” through the talkback.
- heard Director say “oh shit!” and sat there looking at my script.
- Much scrambling in my earpiece and then was told we have a computer problem.
- Told the Director to call the tech person and then sat there hearing lots of noises in my earpiece.
- Finally heard the Director ask me if we should start the news at 7pm should we get things fixed and could I please call the CEO and the IT guys ( which I assumed correctly meant I could get out of the chair).
- Tried to reach the CEO..no luck…got the IT guy though
- Went downstairs to see the Director under the console looking desparate at which point the IT guy seized control of the system by remote access and fixed whatever it was.
- Told the Director that I refused to answer another viewer calling on the phone to ask when our news was going to start and we were going to start as soon as I threw myself back in the chair.
- Threw myself back in the chair and started the newscast at 6:53pm.
- Finished the news and drove home to relax..arrived home at 7:58pm.
- Sit down. Grab a dinner of leftovers. Phone rings. It is Robin saying our friend Alvin II who is visiting from the US would be in town in 1/2 hour.
- Asked what that had to do with me.
- Was told we ( Peter, Naz, Robin, Alvin II and myself) were going to dinner at The Verandah for 9pm before the kitchen closes..
- Cursed on the phone and told Robin I hate this kind of mad rush and I would let him know.
- Despite myself I was in the Mondeo and heading to pick up Robin by 8:40pm.
- Picked up Robin and continued to The Verandah.
- Sat waiting a few minutes for everyone else to arrive.
- Drank 2 diet cokes.
- They arrive and we are seated. I already ate so I just order another diet coke and a bowl of soup.
- Grab a ciggy outside with Alvin II ( nice to see him again btw).
- Dinner is almost over and Peter starts to feel ill and heads to the bar to lie down.
- We continue to eat until we remember he is ill. Naz checks on him then me.
- I encourage him to go and lie down in his car outside. Dinner is hastily ended and Naz and Peter head home to convalesce.
- I ask A II if he would like to go out befor eI drop him back to P&N’s where he is overnighting before returning to his family in Fyzabad. He says yes. Amazingly, Robin says he will come along ( like he has a choice since I drove).
- Call Binky to find out that he and Alvin I are at Alvin I’s club..so we head there.
- The five of us stand there chatting for a couple of hours while I drink diet cokes. I discover that spraying Listerine pocket fresh in my mouth before sipping is almost like having a rum and coke.
- Alvin II, Robin and I look at each other and determine that at 1am it is time to leave.
- We get in the Mondeo and I drop Alvin II up to Ft. George followed by Robin back to Maraval.
- Leaving Robin’s place I run into a 4-way police checkpoint.
- The officer is very polite and as I show them my Insurance and DP he reminds me that my insurance is expiring next week. I tell him that I know and just had my car undergo the useless inspection so i can renew it.
- He says “enjoy your night sir” and off I go.
- Continue on to Cascade where I park the car and come upstairs still wired from diet coke.
- Open the laptop to write an entry despite my better judgment.
- Omar is online so we chat for a bit and I tell him that his company was missed this evening though I understand he is drained.
- Get bored of typing to him. Call on the phone. Tell him I may skip the blog entry tonight. He says “well, the world won’t end”.
- I agree and ring off.
- I proceed to type the last 902 words.
- It is now 2.19 am and I have work in the morning.
I just realized I like this sort of machine gun entry but I recognize it must be annoying to read. Suits the way my mind works though.
February 11, 2008
Well my mental pall has lifted quite a bit so this may result in a rather rambling and disjointed entry today..not that most of them aren’t…but this may be more so. There was no entry last night because I actually got enticed to go out and socialize by Binky/Jason/Vesh. He is probably the only person who can actually get me out of the house once I am settled in after work. As might have been predicted his “hang out for a hour” turned into frolic through Port of Spain into the wee hours. As it turns out Alvin was stuck at work so it was just me and Binks which was a lot of fun and I think I needed a bit of mindless fun.
Of course going out that late when I have to work on Sunday is never the wisest of ideas but sometimes it is good to throw caution to the wind for the sake of mental health. Nonetheless, I was not a pretty sight this morning as I tried to get myself ready to head to the office. I was also faced with having the company jeep parked at my building with a shredded tyre that decided to suffer catastrophic failure as I pulled into the gates of my compound last night. Thankfully, the ever handy Steve came and took care of it for me. I may be good at some things but changing tyres is not one of them. At work it was one of those Atacama dry news days which leaves anyone compiling the newscast on the verge of tears and reaching for the valium bottle. Thanks to some creative work on Melissa William’s part, though, it came off quite well in the end despite the fact a bit of delayed video meant that her voice was in 3 back to back stories in the first section.
Now that I am coming out from under the depression a bit I am thinking a lot about various aspects of my life to see how I can improve them. I am content with my television and writing jobs so I can leave those alone for the while. I really should be taking better care of myself physically so I will try and start the gym and be a tad more conscious of my diet this week. We’ll see how long that lasts. My family, sigh, well let’s just say I can’t do anything about them. I love them all but it is best if I stay in a constant state of denial. My love life? Hmm..if I had any real semblance of one or even a poor semblance of one I might be able to work on it. Right now it is a bit like being put at ground zero on Sept 12, 2001 ,given a trowel and being told “put it back up”. My judgment in picking people is my ultimate failing as given a choice of 5 perfect choices and one completely ridiculous one I will always pick the ridiculous one. Do you know how whenever a hurricane is bearing down on an area and expected to arrive at any minute they always show some fools out surfing – when it comes to relationships I am one of those fools. Not sure how to address my colossal problems in that area but I guess I can try a few things. Other than that I have the best group of friends anyone could conceivably want. Best of all I don’t think anyone else has such an well rounded bunch in terms of ethnicity, gender, orientation and personality.
Had a nice relaxing evening watching the 50th annual Grammy Awards to see how my girl Amy Winehouse does. I think she is the most amazing talent to come along in a long time and inevitably that sort of creativity comes with personal turmoil. I hope she can pull through her difficulties but with that much talent she may end up imploding. I watch her and I see Janis Joplin redux. I truly hope she stays around for a long time though, if she is sounding like that and writing music like that at 24 who knows what wondrous moments lay ahead?
I have a day off tomorrow ( finally) and I plan to use it to finish off my Curacao chapter for Fodors so I can stop stressing Doug Stallings my editor and put in my invoice. Off to bed now..well as soon as Amy wins Album of the Year..which ..unless they are all deaf..she will. ( me and my bitches on the beach)
February 2, 2008
My journey to work today began with me feeling like crap, so nothing abnormal there, and then I headed out to work only to discover that the Queen’s Park Savannah , normally a giant roundabout, had been made two way in honour of Carnival. No police were in sight so the drive to work was interesting to say the least. On arrival at ieTV i could see the endless throngs of bewildered tourists wandering about for no apparent reason as there really isn’t that much to see on Tragarete Rd. From that point it was back to getting the news going and Giselle and Melissa Williams managed to pull together a great assortment of stories and I organized to cover Tribe distributing costumes to last minute would-be masqueraders. Which also allowed me to help out Astrid by getting her bank card up there to pay for her costume. I did this in response to poor Astrid calling me in desperation and using the F word more than I have ever heard in one conversation…so Astridy of her. As it turns out our news was a great mix of carnival material ( Junior Parade of the Bands, Soca Monarch, Calypso Monarch and Panorama) and other harder stories. Giselle read because we struck a deal so I will end up having to read the crap…sorry…creatively stretched news tomorrow. Other than that Peter and Naz say they are freezing their asses off in Atlanta, Alvie and Binky had a colourful evening last night and are out again running Sky this evening, Omar apparently, after being “exhausted” yesterday and going partying was even more “exhausted” today is out partying again. God save me from chronic party goers..not a good influence on me. Tomorrow is the last day when perhaps 10% of sanity prevails so I better enjoy scrounging for that 10%. I am feeling awfully proud right now seeing Peggy’s book listed on Harper Collin’s India and on Amazon as not available.
February 1, 2008
Generally speaking, my reflections on work are of a happy nature full of musings about bonhomie and getting news out on time. Today I had one of the worst days I have ever had at work and it is in no way related to the newsroom staff. Given I have been producing news since Moses was in nappies I am not in the habit of taking criticisms of my judgement lightly and I am especially not fond of being found essentially faultless but having to now face the prospect of working even longer hours in my indefinite 7 day a week work schedule. Were I living in an option free world i might be in an even worse mental state than I have been in since earlier this evening. I will not give the details of my experience here but, while I recognize that others may be under stress, there is no need to spread the stress to innocent bystanders. Enough said…I am a professional and will handle my problems in a professional manner.
Moving on to other subjects. I am now counting the hours for Carnival to end and get the hell out of my face. The traffic, steelpans parked in the roadways, flocks of JCBs ( just come backs) and hordes of tourists clogging my HiLo is driving me crazy. I almost want to say “welcome to Trinidad now hurry up, sleep around and go the hell back where you came from”! I have been feeling a bit down this evening because of the aforementioned and my general mood lately so I think a list would do me good. Let’s talk about my list of things I don’t need in my life of late..here is Vern’s list of things not needed on the voyage:
1. Condoms or anything even remotely related to sex.
2.More soca music
3. Another peep from the Mondeo
4. Anybody new in my life under the age of 30. I am still dealing with the slew I have.
5.More junk in my condo.
6.Drama of any sort not related to a film or theatrical production.
7.People who think that pondering what fete to attend is really an intellectual pursuit.
9. Jesus freaks explaining to me why I have to be saved.
That has me feeling much better already. Someone should write a book on “Blogging as Catharsis”.
Other than that in news of friends … Robin is off to Guyana and Brazil for Carnival ( the Amazon not Rio), Omar/Grommit is in Tribe fete, Astrid is in bed, Binky and Muz are home ( I assume), Steve is also in Tribe fete and Peter and Naz are in places unknown..though they are in Las Vegas for Carnival.
I hope tomorrow is a better day and i must say thanks to my cuz Peggy for making more sense than I have seen in a long time.
January 11, 2008
It has now become an inescapable reality which even the most jaded cannot deny – Carnival is around the corner. It manifests itself in many ways; the sounds of pan being played in the pan yards, Loud soca music blaring from every second car, Omar getting a twinkle in his eyes and Astrid having to attend a million fetes in skimpy clothing dispensing alcoholic beverages to the eager. Already the fetes are piling up with several happening on the same night.People are looking at their already depleted pocketbooks with dismay as they shell out hundreds of dollars for a chance to see and be seen at one ( or more likely dozens) of the more fashionable all-inclusives. People are eagerly awaiting their costumes so they can don 6 inches of lame they paid up to $4000 for months ago. Well, some does not include Omar who, up to this evening was musing about whether he should play with Tribe or Harts – never mind that both are already sold out. I gather I will be making some begging calls to at least one mas camp.
At work today I had two interviews, one with the Minister of Energy Conrad Enill who I have always quite liked. I think I first started liking him when I did my first interview with him in his previous portfolio in the Finance Ministry and we chatted about fiscal policy and the WTO for an hour after the interview was done. Most Ministers are either too self-important to want to chat with journalists off camera or know little about their Ministry and thus want to limit their discussions. Not Enill…he knows his stuff…even if I often disagree with government policy. My other interview was with Wrenwrick Brown ( and which hat did his parents pull that name out of?) of the National Carnival Bands Association. He is an interesting man. He is Secretary of the organization and also a Mas designer himself so it was not surprising his passion was evident. We ended up chatting for quite a while after the interview as well. Like many, including myself, he is concerned that the so-called skimpy mas as exemplified by Harts/Tribe/Island People are taking away the true point of Carnival and also making the festival a Westmoorings event rather than a true people event. The skimpy mas bands are run like businesses and their clientele truly believe less is more – the expected costumes are bikinis with beads for the women and skimpy trunks with a sash for the men. They give their fans what they want and run laughing to the bank after Carnival. The fact that a costume from this year’s band is indistinguishable from last year’s or the year before is immaterial. They have different names. This year’s bikini is called “Emerald Dreams” and last year’s was called “ Forest Ficus” ..I mean really…they are different. I tend to agree with him. If I am playing in a band..as I have…I want to be part of a theatrical spectacle that makes a statement. I want the crowds to be waiting for my band to appear and to talk about it for the next week. This is why I have only played with Minshall in past years and if I played now it would be with MacFarlane without a question. These are bands that show thought and whose costumes are true reflections of their theme. It is interesting to note that this year MacFarlane..ok..he is a friend…Brian’s band is partnered with the UN as it portrays Earth: Cries of Despair. Wings of Hope. You can see the band by clicking here.
That being said my friends are split into rival camps. Alvin, Binky, Sheppard, Naz and, I assume Johnny and Amado are MacFarlane sorts while Omar and Astrid seem to think they would die if they had to wear more than a foot of fabric anywhere on their bodies. I suppose as i said in a previous blog – diversity is good.
In good news…and yes there is plenty in this twin island republic…Omar is back in North and it seems I may see my elusive Astrid/Iggy this weekend and possibly even have a drink or 10 of frozen Stoli with her…note to self..buy Sevruga. Amusing news of the year – Grommit wants to fade back to normal colour so he can get dark again on Carnival. Where do I live again? Oh right.
January 6, 2008
It was a good but different day at ieNews today. I called the newsroom before I got there and Melissa Wong told me things were dry so i started to worry about having to pad but when i called back an hour later we were almost overflowing with news. News and particularly weekend news is a strange beast that was. By the time I arrived there was a good selection of stories and things were looking good. I lined up the newscast trying my best to ensure that adjoining stories were by different reporters..not an easy matter when we only have two working today. So things were going well and I was keeping an eye on a pending story following up on a 15 year old boy who was beaten to death with a cricket bat with a male relative waiting for the footage to come in. When the cameraman came back and Melissa looked at it she called me over and we realized we had an interesting situation on our hands. Our cameraman was the only one with the family when a male relative called in to one of the family relatives cell phones and she put it on speaker. After listening I realised we had a confession on our hands and an additional threat to other members of the family. An interesting situation where the news station actually captures news but with several interesting legal questions that arose.
What to do? Melissa and I listened again as Giselle continued to churn out stories that she was destined to read at 6:30 as I had opted to read Sunday news. We eventually decided that we couldn’t carry the sound clips because the other party was not aware he was being recorded and we couldn’t verify that it was the actual person calling. There was a confession involved so I called my police contact ( after dubbing the tape and hiding the master just in case) and he had another officer call me to ask for a dub. By this time we had word the man had surrendered to police but our material could clearly be of great importance in a case. We carried the story as #2 in our lineup concentrating on a family living in fear while a killer was still on the loose. Once I get legal advice I may carry some of the footage tomorrow before it all becomes sub judice.
As news was about to go on and all our stories were in my cell rang and it was Sheppard calling to invite me to an impromptu small dinner up Ft George Hill. When Peter and Naz invite me for dinner I seldom say no. Naz is a great cook and their home is wonderful not because it is grand but because it isn’t and yet they have turned it into something wonderful. It was to be just Peter and Naz and me and Robin but eventually Shalimar and Felix became part of the event. I arrived after the news and Naz and I nibbled artichokes, cheese and crackers. Eventually the rest of the group arrived and it was a pleasant evening with much conversation and dishing the dirt. Omar aka Grommit called at around 11pm to say he and Brent were off to a lime ( Trini parlance for hanging out..but somehow more than that) at Sky so I wished them both well. With the strains of the Temperature fete at the stadium wafting up the hill and possibly also the sounds of the Out of the Blue fete at QRC I realised it was after midnight and I bid adieu to one and all and now am back home blogging to you.
Off to bed now…noticing that Flow is working again. I used to think “I live here but I am not of here” ..I give up on that one…I now say I live here and I wish I could strangle several companies.
December 31, 2007
Ok…no griping…no bitching…no poignant observations (well maybe one or two.)..Just a heartfelt Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. While I do not truly believe there is any logical reason for expecting that the world will be any different a second after midnight tonight I suppose it is as good a time as any for reflection on the ups, downs and accomplishments we have experienced.
For my part I can’t say it was an annnus horribilis as it was a good year for me at work and I certainly added some dear new friends to my small circle. Some friends have drifted away and I jettisoned a couple in the early part of the year to maintain my sanity. This is all part of life and is normal. As my therapist once told me it is fine to say “It has been nice knowing you and it will be even nicer not knowing you”….or as Madonna sang… The Power of Goodbye. I suppose i have learned a little more over the past 365 and I am now more certain than ever that we have a short time on this blue marble and we should try and make the best of it.
I was happy this year that climate change finally began to be taken seriously around the world and happy that Al Gore got to share in the Nobel. In 2008 we can all look forward to the fact that George Dubya will be counting down the days before he has to leave the halls of power in the US and the rest of the world will have a really good reason to celebrate 2009. The killing of Benazir Bhutto was a sad development to end the year on and I fear for her son who plans to run in her stead..politics is a nasty business and even deadly in some countries.
There are a few less earthshaking things about 2007 for me..here comes the list of things i learnt….
- Giselle is one of the funniest people I have ever met.
- Steve is a clown but he is a reliable and good clown to have around.
- Peter & Naz throw great house parties.
- Robin is incapable of fixing his internet connection without me around.
- Peter Police is getting better at decorating and keeping a clean house.
- Alvin will always be Alvin.
- Binky really thought that a mouse could survive in a sealed plastic bag.
- Omar is scary competitive
- I am awful..just godawful.. at keeping in touch with family.
- In a pinch, Alka Seltzer lemon lime can mix very well with gin thank you very much.
- Mondeos are expensive to fix.
My only resolutions this year are to make more of an effort with my close friends and to try and use less hair gel. So dear reader, wherever you may be, a happy 2008 and may all your dreams come true..or at least a goodly handful.