During the past few weeks, I had intended to deal almost exclusively with Antiguan cultural idiosyncrasies that make it possible to identify us as Antiguans. Barbudans have their own ways of expressing themselves and it is impossible to mistake them for other islanders.
However, it is sometimes very possible to mistake educated Antiguans, Vincentians, and Jamaicans for each other, especially if the conversation is short. I must however make a departure from the norm and deal with three issues that have impinged upon my consciousness and have refused to go away.
I have been one of the profound advocates of regionalism. In fact, I recall the occasions on which I nearly lost my life during the hectic referendum in Jamaica that had been designed to decide whether Jamaica should stay in the West Indies Federation or not.
In retrospect, I often wonder whether Eric Williams did not utter a very profound realism, when he postulated that “ One from ten leaves naught!” Perhaps, he knew what most of us have yet to know.
Now, here is a situation where Jack Warner was being touted as one of the biggest, larger than life figures in World Football. The Trinidad Press lionised him. The Barbados Press lionised him. He was regarded as a Fifa giant in Jamaica and the Guyana Press couldn’t have enough to say about the irrepressible Jack Warner. Jack was big in Global Football.
Everyone knows about the Jack Warner story. Jack Warner has had to abdicate and an Antiguan, Gordon ‘Banks’ Derrick, was elected by an international process at a meeting in Europe to replace him.
But nobody in the press in the West Indies has chosen to congratulate and “big-up” this young Antiguan. It is as if they have all swallowed glue and have been unable to speak.
Perhaps the fault is in the Antigua media for not blowing Mr Derrick’s trumpet. I personally want to congratulate him and wish him luck and success as he performs this very important role in FIFA during his tenure of office. I hope that under his direction, soccer will develop and blossom to unimagined heights and that the name of Antigua & Barbuda will soar with his international fortunes.
Honoring Dr Lake
I was fortunate to attend the 82nd birthday party of Dr Cuthwin Lake. It was an exquisite occasion, for in addition to being his birthday it was the occasion to celebrate his 50th year as a surgeon specialist. The many accolades showered on him showed the actions of an educated, caring human being who had to contrive to meet unexpected challenges in surgery and overcome them.
The portrait emerged of a caring surgeon but a strict disciplinarian who whipped the Holberton Hospital into an innovative institution that led the way in implementing many techniques in surgery in the whole Caribbean. We listened in awe of the story of a man who seemed to be on permanent call — a story of a dedication to duty that threatened to destroy his family life and left very little room for leisure.
Nonetheless it was the story of a man whose dedication to God, duty and family gave him a special place in the hearts of Antiguans and Barbudans.
I did not speak on this unique occasion but personally reminded him of the time when he saved my life after I had ingested an extraordinary dose of rat poison that had been intended to be used at the Antigua Brewery. I can never recall the reasons why he told the doctor who had written out a prescription as long as my arm, “Doctor leave the prescription with me and let us discuss it. Meanwhile let them take Mr Walter straight to Dr Raj and I will hold a conference with the doctor on the telephone.”
I will never forget the journey. My wife stopping the car several times and saying “Selvyn, don‘t pass out on me. You dead? We will soon reach the doctor.”
Either the long prescription or the excessive amount of rat poison would have sent me home, but somebody up there was on my side. Dr Lake’s instant reflexes and instant decision kept me alive. My instant flight to New York eventually saved the day.
When we were told of a man who used his expertise to train operating theatre teams who have been an asset to the innovative skills of the Holberton Hospital and to other parts of the world to which they have migrated and held responsible and leading positions, those of us who knew of his expertise and diagnostic skills simply applauded.
The many anecdotes that were humorously related told of a wonderful human being who was calm and without airs. And who had a dedication to duty.
The wide cross-section of the community was evidence of the high esteem in which Dr Lake is held and his response with all of its classical references and innuendoes gave the true measure of this extraordinary West Indian.
Happy Birthday Dr Lake. Happy 50th anniversary as a surgeon specialist. May God continue to guide you and direct your paths as you continue your journey in this life on earth.
The Bible tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”
They say that “con-con-saw” better than Obeah, so agree with your enemies quickly.
I have completed 56 years as a journalist and I am grateful to be a recipient of a Queen’ Diamond Jubilee Award. Remember, Gorling say, “Don’t pray for feather. Pray for long life.”