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Ralph, Hurry up! They want to come Paranging, too!


by Dr. Richard A. Byron-Cox Fri, Jan 20. 2012

In his “Christmas in St. Vincent sweet”, Parang maestro, musician and songwriter extraordinaire Carlton “CP” Hall captures yuletide Vincy style in real time and flowing rhythms without missing a beat or moment. I am now back in Europe, and in the same way that Alston Becket Cyrus had to relate what is Vincy Mas years ago when he was a GI, so, too, yours truly is questioned about Christmas in my Caribbean paradise. Easy to answer, you say, just follow CP. Wrong!{{more}} Dead wrong!! I racked my brains wondering where to begin, what to and not to disclose in promoting, while protecting SVG’s image.

I mused about starting with Nine Mornings, where Michael Peters and Assistant Superintendant of Police Jonathan Nichols reduced me to tears through laughter. Or how Starliff Juniors and Sion Hill played pan, such that the ground under my feet shook, indicating that they had awakened Shadow’s Baseman. I pondered; should I go into details that this whole Nine Mornings phenomenon is a people’s thing, where we, inter alia, spontaneously perform; singing, dancing, eating, drinking and doing comedy skits? That this theatre is absolutely free where they, too, could perform if ever they were in SVG? Would they believe any of this?

Then I thought it better I tell them the more credible tale of my liming at Sid’s and indulging in walking with Jonny Negro, stripping some Jacks or Robins, while confronting Jomo on his Polyphemus view of things. Or how the Morning Star of radio in SVG Sehon Marshall and I drifted from Star Radio to We Fm and places in between, loading ham and spirits “down the hatch” like no body’s business. And, how a rather sophisticated Rae readily joined me in renditions of my Christmas-visiting anthem; “Neighbour bring out the ham!” on our arrival at friends’ and family members’ homes.

Some further reflections; and scenes of Heritage Square surfaced with Jimmy Prince, Sketch Edwards, inter alios, liming around the Jumbie Table, where everything is five dollars a shot. Vivid images of rum changing laymen into experts on everything in the universe while they kept a third eye out for the ladies that passed by, caused a smile. Laughter replaced the smile on recalling how these rum-fuelled exchanges inevitably turned to how “Ralph mashing up de country”; and, “Arhnim being exceptionally doltish bright,” further evidencing rum’s ability to help tongues wag, even though brains are disengaged.

Flashes of the last-minute-mad-rushes in the shops; vagrants on the streets; and only the Salvation Amy showing any true commitment in helping the poor, stirred feelings of shame. Can I be brutally honest and expose that like in Europe, materialism is centre in the Vincy yuletide celebrations, so amid what seems to be our merriment, selfishness, greed and apathy are all very present, mandating that dollars determine the strength and direction of the tide?

I also wonder if I should tell them that I went down to Rio Foods walking with two bodyguards for fear of getting “bitten up” like Burns. As CP says, “The Christmas food sweet boy,” and Ron offers the best! Rio Foods, therefore, is a must on my Christmas-roaming calendar, petty thieves or not.

All this thinking about what to tell them reminded me that we have the budget during the season. Should I tell them that this in part is classic standup comedy staged in our legislature of all places? That the Opposition Leader in place of responding to the Budget became consumed with a letter sent to the IMF? Must I tell them that Montgomery, of late fast becoming a master of faux pas, took his gratis dictum to the Assembly and so damaged the ever extremely fragile sensibilities of the Opposition, they promptly resorted to child’s play, taking their bat and running home? Is it unpatriotic if I relate that Nature determined that he was there to preach and curse? And, to cap it all off, a major late-cock waking from slumber in the chamber; and perpetually pregnant with pomposity, crowed noisily throughout the rest of the proceedings, as if wanting to reduce the House to a fowl pen with him as the rooster? My European colleagues would surely think that SVG’s yuletide is a time of the grand circus of honorable clowns in the legislature!

Demoralized by such thoughts, I looked on the brighter side of our lighted homes and decorated public spaces. My pride surged, thinking of the various caroling contests, the police giving concerts all over the place, and the magnificence of the “Starliff and Friends” showcase of 2010. I smiled recalling the High Wycombe and Brooklyn accents at Nine Mornings, reminding that our Christmas is an occasion for reunions of family and friends, where peace, love and goodwill become a bit more than mere words. The smile twisted on remembering that amidst all this, we still have people breaking into other persons homes, and some sort of violent tragedy would inevitably mar the season.

Not being able to paint a blissful picture of Vincy Christmas that I could peddle, I closed my eyes hoping to conjure up a reasonable image. It came in the form of CP on stage, being Father Christmas and touching the crowd with his magic. And, I saw everybody “putting way” everything bad; united through his nationalistic Parang, if only for that moment.

So this is what I say to them, “I put away Europe, my work, the UN, problems!! And ah bin Paranging!!” “What do you mean?” they asked. I lend them my CP DVD “Christmas in SVG sweet,” saying “just take a look.” They bring it back an hour or so later, confessing piracy (sincere apologies CP), and ready to come Paranging from 2012 and beyond.

Ralph, man, “leh we look sharp finish we airport!”