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My big buddy and coach

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IT WAS NOT UNTIL ah turned 16 dat my long in coming wishes foh ah Big Brother came thru. He was about ten years my senior, ah New Born-again Christian, very popular guy wid nuf stars in his crown: “ah retired nah-shun-all weight-lifter; ah Bodybuilder/ muscle-man; ah retired leading Pan-man; ah top notch Swimmer and High-Diver, again retired. Needless to say, he had everything one could have asked for in ah Big Brother.

De question is how come ah talented young man, still in his mid-twenties would ah retired so early, actually he was only “Re-tyred!” Ah long story dat! Suffice it to say dat in de 1950s ah team ah “Fishers of Men,” White American Missionaries came to SVG to evangelize de country. Ah lot ah de young people “got saved.” Among de new Converts were my Big Brother, Freddy Ballantyne and Gloria Warner, his teenage fiance. Immediately de Church read dem de Riot Act: “Young couples wid kids who were saved, must be married.” Freddie and Gloria ‘tied de knot’ and there began-eth de “Ballantyne Family of Nah-shun-all Sportsmen and Sports-Women: Athletics – Jacintha (Rossie) Soccer – Raymond, Table Tennis – Robert (Bob) Athletics – (CARIFTA Gold) Orde, Netball – Joanne and Soccer – Junior (Midge).

My Big Buddy was ah Roots Man, born and bred ‘Up-street’ aka as ‘Long Wall’. Ole people uses to say dat nothing good could come out ah Long Wall. But amidst serious challenges, Freddy passed Common Entrance and entered Grammar School. Misfortune struck early. After one year and ah month in school, his mom could no longer afford to pay his school fees, so young Ballantyne, wid all his promises and talent had to leave school. However, Miss Winny kept her one child on de straight and narrow path, but allowing him to hone his natural skills in Pan, Bat’n’Ball and Football where he excelled at local club level. He was rated among de best Tenor Panists when he played wid “Commandos”, ah small Steel Band from Up-Street.

Actually our Big Buddy thing started when he got married and moved to Murray’s Village wid his wife and baby daughter Rossie. De small family made themselves comfortable in ah lickle board house wid outside kitchen. But his Blessings as ah Christian blossomed at de workplace. He made remarkable strides foh someone who began at de bottom of de ladder as ah Linesman, dat included digging holes, planting and climbing poles, running electrical wires wid CDC, now Vinlec; in less than 20 years, he moved from ah daily paid field worker, literally skipping up de ladder to become Manager of de SVG Electricity Services.

Soon after he had moved into de Village, he seemed like he wanted to get back into Weight Training, so he invited me to train and learn de techniques in weightlifting; ah took up de invitation and am still training up to now. He had ah bar and only 50 pounds of weights. We shifted dining table and chairs in de kitchen and dat was our Gym. Word got around dat ah was training wid de Grand Master himself, and dat he had represented SVG in B’dos and won in de Middle Weight Class. Soon de lickle kitchen couldn’t hold de crowd, but no matter how large de crowd was, Freddy never turned back any body.

After ah few years in de village, he moved to Frenches, changing residence twice, where he created another Murray’s Village situation. Outfitted ah bigger Gym providing training foh Body Builders, Footballers and Athletes. And den he migrated to de USA and ah lost me Big Brother.

Ah overs dat St Peter was looking foh coaches in Pan, Weight-lifting and Body building, but when dey saw my Big Buddy’s Resume, dey offered him Chief Coach. Of course he took de offer and ran wid it.

LIE-NEL WRITES LIE-ZA Lie-Za is all crazy about Hon. Fitz Bramble’s contribution to de Budget. She sent as far as Canada to get her ex-boyfriend Lie-nel who is an E-con-ah-mess, to do ah 100 words summary of Fitz’s Ah-dress. Bear wid me and read what Lie-nel wrote: “ Since independence, Fitz’s presentation has been the most substantive analysis of fiscal economic policy in the SVG House of Parliament. He presented economic data germane to macro- economic issues confronting the Small Multi-Island State; more specifically, the sectors impacted by policy decisions. He is correct in indicating that the budget does not include any fundamentally different initiatives from the past. He however failed to assess what the effects the 20% increase (1% of 5%) in the customs service charge is likely to have on a contracting economy which is in need of a stimulus to combat the downward pressures. Further, the 20% in Custom Service Charge (CSC) will have an inflationary effect and is likely to adversely affect consumers purchasing power.” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy .

● Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.