A Time to Play Mask

Corona Two… more than just a beer thought

If you have never had the opportunity to read the short story “The secret life of Walter Mitty,” make a grab for it during this period of solitary confinement and enjoy.

Okay, it’s not that bad – maybe house arrest would sit better with the greater population. The point is that I want you to enjoy a brilliantly written story and to understand where I am coming from in producing this piece.

So, my approach is anything but novel, the way I hear so many people around the globe describe the Corona virus, COVID 19.

As I started to ready myself for a journey into St. John’s, I found I was being slowly transformed into Mitty.

Clothes were very carefully picked out and the shoes selected were the most comfortable I had.

Chances are, I might have to run, at pace and over a long distance.

After more than a quick look in a full-length mirror I said, a little louder than I meant to, “This is the damn thing self, except …”

It was not hard to find my daughter’s rat-tail comb.

I held it in my right hand and brought it closer to my face, à la that iconic 007 pose.

There was no sultry and sexy vixen but that was fine. She would probably only become a liability at a very critical time.

I was already out of the front door, when I took a furtive glance up the road where a black, diplomatic-type vehicle with yellow plates, had just turned the corner and was crawling in my direction. I stooped, pretending to tie the laces, which did not exist on the style of shoe I was wearing.

The grey shirt of the driver could not be mistake – Antigua and Barbuda’s finest – big heads, bad haircuts and more belly than a goldfish suffering with dropsy.

They were laughing when they looked in my direction through the twenty percent tinted windows.

They must have found each other very amusing but what if they were laughing at me?

“Imbeciles!” I said under my breath.

“They had better believe that where there is laugh, there is bound to be cry.”

Having opened the driver’s side door of my SUV, I then proceeded to pull the short latex gloves up to my long sleeves. I enjoyed the slapping sound and sensation, as I carelessly released them, right and then left against my wrists. Once I was sitting behind the wheel with my seat belt pulled across me, I drove in the same direction in which the policemen had travelled.

I suffered an almost fatal lapse in concentration and as I turned the corner, the two policemen were there, standing outside of their vehicle. One held out his hand, indicating for me to stop.

“Where is your mask, sir,” the darker of the two yelled at me.

I was tempted to inform him that I was not the reason why he had to leave his home without his wife having presented him with a decent breakfast. I managed to hold my tongue.

I reached into the glove compartment where I had placed a couple of dust masks and placed the straps of one to the back of my head before fitting the mask snugly to my face.

“We letting you off with just a warming this time.  You can consider that we just did you a $5,000 favour.  The chief magistrate not playing around these days so count your blessings. If she is in a really bad mood you might be fined and confined too.”

They looked at each other and laughed before walking into the small village shop, probably to buy a breakfast drink, one, which I suspected, would not necessarily contain any “daily recommended vitamins”.

I went along my way, having gotten over my Peter Tosh Cold Blood moment.

“Every time I see Babylon, my blood runs cold, cold, cold

And every time I see those wicked men my belly moves, moves, moves.”

Now I was pure gangster. I had the “system” beat.

By the time I passed other officers executing a stop and search I was quick to let them see the mask. I was hiding a wicked sneer underneath it but the beat inside my head blasted victory, which sadly, only I could hear.

“They see me rollin’,
They hatin’,
Patrolling they tryin’ to catch me ridin’ dirty,
Tryin’ to catch me ridin’ dirty.”

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, wearing a mask would have signaled to the Task Force that I was ready to commit suicide. Now the authorities want to punish me for not wearing one.

Corona badder than cocobey (leprosy)!

Clay pots – a dying tradition

A strong case for local cooking utensils

Lynda “Lyns” Roberts, of Elvie’s Pottery in Sea View Farm, has sent out a passionate plea to the youth of Antigua and Barbuda, in the hope that they will see the usefulness of maintaining the clay cooking pot culture in the country.

“My family story and the value of our clay cooking pots to health and nutrition will blow the nation away. I want to share my family’s story, which will cause us to look and reflect on how far we have moved away from our local customs and practices which upheld many families,” she said. Lyns said she is a grassroots community woman who is seeking to ensure that intergenerational transfers of knowledge to the country’s young people on clay pot making in Antigua and Barbuda is maintained and carried on.

“My 69-year-old mother and I represent the only remaining family in Antigua with this knowledge. I have been appealing to local authorities to give support for this local custom and tradition to be maintained but so far, these efforts have been in vain,” she revealed.

Lyns added that the cooking containers made from local clay are in great demand by the Rastafarian community but said it was the devastating Coronavirus, COVID19 that has opened her eyes to the need for better and more widespread utilization of clay pots for cooking.

She said this medium allows food to maintain its nutritional content to help build strong immune systems is a proactive way to help in the fight to contain the spread of COVID19.

Lyns is hoping to play a pivotal role in the production of a documentary that will highlight the local processes, the benefits and the values to the nation through the retention and utilization of this traditional knowledge and the practices associated with it.

“The knowledge and information is authentic, handed down by our family members.  Many schools bring the children to observe the process and well-directed support will enable us to share our knowledge and expertise with the entire nation. For instance, the clay is alkaline in nature enabling it to interact with the acids in the food while cooking, enabling ph balance. The food cooked in clay pots becomes rich in various minerals such as iron, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.

From the information shared the body needs alkaline substances to fight the virus so we have ben well ahead on this,” she said.

She added that locally made, natural, clay pots retain the nutritional value of food and food which usually carry a pleasant aroma and earthy flavor.  

“Because the Clay pots are porous and allow the heat and moisture to circulate evenly during the cooking process, this lets the food retain more nutritive value than food prepared in other kinds of utensils. Also, meat prepared in clay pots remains juicy and tender,” she said.

Residents warned against Praedial Larceny

The Barnes Hill Community Development Organization (BHCDO) is reminding citizens and residents of the country that Praedial Larceny is considered a serious criminal offence.

Upon conviction, an offender faces a fine of $2,000 and 12 months in prison on the first offence.

A conviction on a second offence sees an increase of the fine to $5,000 and 2 years imprisonment.

“We just thought that we needed to remind people, especially those of the Barnes Hill Community, that the law frowns upon such deviant behavior, which threatens to severely hamper the efforts of farmers and other stakeholders to develop agriculture in Antigua and Barbuda.

“That it is just a handful of corn, some sweet potatoes and a papaya will not allow for special consideration before the courts. We can agree that sometimes things may become quite challenging but there are better ways to overcome than to take what you did not toil to produce,” said the organization’s president Timothy Payne.

“Am honest conversation with the people responsible for the development of the space and the produce to be harvested is usually a good. ”

“Those operating to the contrary can rest assured that the BHCDO is prepared to take firm action against those who prefer to operate under the cover of darkness and especially in this curfew period.,” he added

Corona …more than just a beer thought.

by Timothy Payne

Like a bat out of hell

I really can’t say, that when I heard of a virus running rampant in Wuhan, China that I expected it to be wreaking havoc in Antigua and Barbuda less than two months later.

COVID19 is a beast that knows no limitations, does not respect geographical boundaries and certainly does not carry a single bone of discrimination in its deadly body.

COVID19 kills slowly but Wuhan, Venice, New York, London and Paris – they all had barely enough body bags to keep step with its dance of death as it waltzed around the globe.

Very early in the set, many would shake their head – though with very little consternation – at information that the virus originated from someone having perhaps eaten an infected bat in Wuhan.

This apparently allowed a rare transmission from creature to human.

Then it was advanced that Orientals and Caucasians were the sitting ducks while people of colour, with the melanin in their system, were just about invincible as far as contracting the virus was concerned – so wrong!

As the virus flew about like the proverbial “bat out of hell,” biological warfare arguments started to make the rounds just a touch ahead of the 5G Genocide theory twinned with that of vaccinations and microchip implants to the world.

For a while I was Patrick of the Sponge Bob Square Pants cartoons, – thinking so much that my head had really started to hurt.

Reality check #1 : I was crying and complaining over the heaviness of the cotta (Kata) but little did I know that the real burden of the weight was yet to come.

The Corona virus (COVID19) quickly made its way across the waters and got a solid foothold in Europe, North America and by extension tourism’s gem of the Caribbean, my beloved Antigua and Barbuda.

First, it appeared as though COVID 19 had delayed its travel plants to the land of 365 beaches.

Consequently, there was no early panic and the authorities seemed to have been taking forever to close the country’s borders.

The economy, of course took priority and for a couple of weeks and at that time, it appeared that black Antiguan lives did not really matter.

It is now left to be seen whether having waited just a wee bit longer, was a masterful stroke played out of desperation.  

It may however, still turn out to be one conjured up by Courtney Walsh, a most genuine rabbit, in only cricketing terms, as he endured a somewhat abusive relationship with a bat.

In the meantime, visitors, probably handing over their travel documents along with COVID 19, continued to file into their temporary paradise. During this critical time as well citizens and residents could not resist the urge to “enjoy life to the fullest, until such time.”

So they sang and they danced. They mixed and they mingled and probably matched too, at Pigeon Point beach.  Others ferried over to Montserrat to Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day events on the Emerald Isle.

Then it struck like a bolt of lightning from the clear blue.  That we really ought not to be taking this thing so lightly when the rest of the world, with the exception of the USA, with its hidden trump card, is screaming bloody murder.

So we now have social distancing, curfew, self -isolation and quarantine all pulled from the COVID19 associated vocabulary and thrust towards us.

True to Antiguan form, we resisted until the number of cases started to climb. Then, we each started to see ourselves on the undertaker’s table with no one being able to come take a look at the body while crying and giving the impression that they really cared.

Make no mistake, folks, the real motive for tears will be determined to be an effect of the absence of an after burial party.

This commentary, though light, is not designed to have us take COVID19 lightly.

I am more than a little bit skeptical with the even gradual easing of restrictions but those students of the Bible will remind that we have chosen the wiser one among us to lead.

Anyway the loosening of the grip is obviously a way to ease the country back into economic activity and sidestep some serious struggles over the next few months.

Still, the ounce of prevention continues to be much more desirable than the pound of cure.

To open up to not just economic activity but to a community spread of the COVID19 virus could have, pray God forbids this, devastating results.

108 square miles does not suggest that there are a lot of escape routes available.

There could be more than enough time, however, for dozens of Antiguans and Barbudans to find a high seat, draw their knees to the chest and have a go at kissing their ass goodbye.