By Phillip Edward Alexander
Chatting with some friends the other day we got to reminiscing about the days gone by, how nice things were and how lovely we all had it, remember? I remember thinking how I miss the days prior to May 2010 when everything was perfect in Trinidad, when the Beetham Gardens and the Laventille residents lived in harmony, when housewives would swap recipes over picket fences while husbands worked late to bring home the bacon, Remember? Whatever happened to those days? Days when all the kids were in school and burned the midnight oil studying for their exams and nobody had time for games, when gangs were what we called musical groups like Cool and Kc's? I miss the fact that crime was zero, there were no killings and all the people lived in peace.
Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago
I miss the time when we had no drug lords and no drug money laundering enterprises in the country, when we knew how to pay a fair price for a fair product and everyone knew the value of national pride (around two million Mr Hunt?). The image of that massive flag flying almost seemed to pay for itself, didn't it? Made you want to set off fireworks in celebration one time, yes? Ahh those pre-May 2010 days were good days.
I miss the peaceful nightly news, no stories of police trying to arrest the chief justice under orders from the prime minister and his sidekick attorney general, no house speakers forced to live on coconut, locked up in their own home, no trade union leaders arrested and charged for marching.
Remember how the then government respected everyone? When a Muslim TV host could call for a national shutdown and when the police intervened it was to invite him over to their place for tea and crumpets? I wonder if he remembers.
Remember how we treated farmers then? We knew farms needed water so what did we do? That's right, we refused to put drainage for the farming communities and many times during the year they got all the water they needed and more, remember?
Or land. Remember Caroni? How it had all that prime land tied up growing useless sugar? I remember how the then government intervened, shut it down, broke it up and shared lands for friend and family alike without so much as a row, you remember?
I miss the commissioner of police, how easily he was appointed in those more sensible times.
I miss how we loved to throw a good party and, as money was no object, we wined and dined the whole world.
I miss that.
I miss how helpful people could be, like that kindly old Canadian gentleman who volunteered his own time to rid the treasury of all that pesky money blocking it up.
Remember how he came up with a plan to put some in a hole in Tarouba? That was so ingenious, wasn't it? Seems that hole is so big the current government is looking to put a couple hundred million more into it.
I miss those days.
Funny days when the letters PM could mean prime minister, but it could mean project manager, and it could mean Patrick Manning too. How embarrassing for Patrick Manning, but he took it all in stride, didn't he? And how willing he was to clear up misunderstandings. I remember this one time when he was having a haircut and some media workers were making an unfortunate error, how quickly he showed up to guide and advise, and how willing he was to report their efforts to their superiors with his own personal recommendation. Those were good days.
Days when developers paid ministers their fair share of the development in property (as they should) for permissions and other assistance, when labour was free to protest but had no need because money and raises were all paid on time.
Do you remember?
Or when a minister of finance did not think herself so important that if she needed to take money out of the insurance company where she had it invested, it was no trouble going there and doing it herself.
How about the minister of health who decided that the state should pay for medications, and as they weren't enough pharmacies to distribute the largesse he built some himself? Selfless times.
I could reminisce all night.
That unsightly park in St Ann's, remember how the prime minister tried his darndest to have it converted to a car park but the ungrateful residents blocked him; ahh but it all worked out like a fantasy in the end, didn't it?
We got together on such short notice and everyone was up for a time. Remember when we all had so much fun protesting the smelter the prime minister offered to build four?
Who could forget those lovely days?
Makes you almost want to build a church on state land as a constant reminder of how good we had it.
I like remembering.
I think I am going to try and remember some more.