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The Prince-Apple Tree

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Before ah began my career in Land Surveying, ah worked as ah gas attendant at Public Works; de post, however, had ah high-foh-low-ting name “Assistant Storekeeper.” De good ting was ah made overtime, something dat most civil servants yearned foh in dem days. Ah remember working under de Supervision of Rawle Marshall; his post was Storekeeper.{{more}} He was efficient, familiar wid all de Financial Store Rules and Regulations, and did his wuk widout fear and fear-foh! Ah decent boss-man, de son of Teacher Marshall, ah stalwart head-teacher in his day. Marshie as he was affectionately called, grew up way dey had an imaginary “Prince-Apple” tree in dey yard. Dis “Prince-Apple” tree bore ah fruit dat was forbidden to swallow and yuh don’t mess wid it. It is like sacrilege to swallow “Prince- Apple.”

Marshie and I wuk together in de early 1960’s; Joshua’s PPP was in power, lots ah Feeder Road wuk was in progress, and lots ah corruption was taking place too. So, Marshie had us on our toes when delivering Guv-ah-mint stores. Wuk was also in full swing on de first section ah de Deep Water Wharf, dat’s located between de present Grenadines wharf and de Financial Complex. Ah Canadian Construction Company headed by one Jack Woods had de contract. All M-foh-Cess was on de Deep Water Pier, just like it is today wid de Argyle Airport. See how things could change and remain de same? Dey is ah difference wid de two projects. De Deep Water Pier was ah gift from de Guv-ah-mint of Canada, every dollar and sense spent was Canadian. De Argyle Airport is being built on Promise-sorry Notes from ah “collision ah de wailing.” But is our Vincent-shun money paying foh de Cuban labour, de ALBA loan; people also feel strongly dat we paying foh de Airport Few-Ill in our Electricity bills. De Lord reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what’s in de darkness.

Now, de Canadian Contractors were using dey influence on Customs, and dey were high-jacking all de cement from T’n’T consigned to PWD. Local contractors on Guv-ah-mint jobs were held up, like down at Buccama, and Marshall was under pressure. He registered his protest and when Customs stopped de Canadians from teking PWD cement, dey went to de head ah de fountain. Mammy Ivy Joshua, ah “bad Jan” in her time, accompanied Jack Woods wid ah letter to Marshall from Guv-ah-mint Office, straight from de top ah de ladder, wid instructions to deliver de cement. But Marshall refused to budge, he told Mrs Joshua he not delivering, Guv-ah-mint projects suffering and de Canadians must order dey own cement, den he threw de letter in de waste paper basket and went home. Mammy Josh caught ah Fire! Marshie got ah full quota ah cussing from her, but as ah said earlier, he was brave and grew up on “Prince-Apple,” he stood up to her like ah rock! He was subsequently transferred.

When Labour Party took office, dey was ah Commission of Enquiry into de PWD under Joshua’s Guv-ah-mint and Mammy starred in ah very neg-ah-teef way. But de ones who paid de high price foh incompetence were de Public Servants. Dey failed to tek ah stand foh “Prince-Apple,” and foh teking instructions from Guv-ah-mint ministers, some loss dey wuk and dey pen-shun as well.

BARRACUDA SQUEALED PON SHARK

Ah think of Marshall all de time and wondered how he would ah fared today wid all dis corrupt-shun and pull-it-tek-all bull-dozing. De names ah Senior Public Servants calling up in all sort ah shady deals. De revised slogan is “When de Pry-minister tark, no darn dog bark!” Except of course de diminutive figure of Jomo Thomas, “Jomo foh Miss Molly,” ah Murray Village man who as ah boy ate ah lot ah fruits: Plum, Plum Rose, Guava, Mango, Sugar Apple and Golden Apple, all except de “Prince- Apple!” Man we in de village felt proud ah Jomo when we read dat he resigned on ah matter ah “Prince-Apple” from de National Hero Select Committee. De resignation was Jomo’s way of protesting against de Pry-minister’s speech on National Heroes. Ah think Jomo knows Gonsalves more dan many; dey go way back in de days ah Youlimo when dey were like small fish in de sea water swimming, and if Barracuda come out de sea and tell yuh shark got teeth and gearing to bite, yuh better believe. Now, early o-clock, Gonsalves made it clear dat Cabinet which he heads, will have de final selection. But den it seemed like de National Hero’s exercise was not going according to de perceived plan; no mention was made of Cato. How E go look when cases are presented foh Mc Intosh, Joshua and Dr Eustace, but nothing on Cato’s behalf; Cabinet can’t proceed when de primary purpose ah dis exercise is to mek Cato ah National Hero, and his name not among de nominees? Ah salute Jomo foh his courage to stand up, when we buckle to polly-trick-hans, we create monsters out ah dem. But best of all ah glad Jomo still remembers he could eat or swallow Star Apple, Bell Apple, Wax Apple, Golden Apple, Sugar Apple but never swallow “Prince-Apple.” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

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

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