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These are troubled times

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I heard of another murder on Tuesday morning and wondered, is it just another one? I have been trying to keep count but they are confusing me, for it appears to me that the more murders/homicides I hear about, the more the official number appears to be declining. Whatever it is there is need for action. But my main concern today is about the terrible/shocking incident at Clare Valley that resulted in the death of one person, Edgar Cruickshank and injuries to a number of others.{{more}} I have listened to the stories being told by persons who attended that meeting. I have seen pictures of the damaged vehicles and am familiar with the area. I have drawn my own conclusions but now is not the time to be speculative while what I hope will be a thorough and transparent investigation is being carried out. Transparency is a key factor because too many today are sceptical and critical of the work of the police and the justice system. We need to restore the confidence of the population. This, it will seem to me, is the last chance we have of preventing a complete breakdown.

Remembering Crukie

I want to pay tribute to Edgar Cruickshank and to express my condolences to his family. After receiving a posting on Facebook from a friend, Allan/Wins­ton Huggins, I have had cause to reflect on the man I knew. This is what Allan says, “Last but not least his politics and mine were so different, yet we kept our conversations civil even though we had many disagreements. Today in our society, so many seem to have lost the ability to converse in a humane and spirited manner hearing each other out pro or con for or against to disagree to agree. So many of us have lost the capacity to listen to other views and opinions. We all need better resolve towards one another …”

As a school boy, I remember looking at Edgar or ‘Lat’ as we called him then, performing on the cricket field. He was one of the best cover fielders I have ever seen. He was recognized at the time he represented this country, as a dynamic fielder and hard hitting batsman. His throw from covers into the gloves of the wicketkeeper was always a joy to behold. In his early days he and his brother Russell, led the bowling attack for Barrouallie, as devastating a pair as could have been found. Later he switched to bowling leg spin or as I often heckled him, ‘donkey drops’. When I started playing serious cricket Crukie would always tell me he was sorry he was no longer playing since he would have made a fool of me with his leg spinners.

Edgar left Barrouallie and went to live in Layou. He was the person who actually started football in Layou. I was coming to the end of my secondary school days and he challenged me to bring a team to Layou. Football had been played in Barrouallie for a long time but Layou was just beginning the game, so my team journeyed to Layou. We played on the field then located near to the beach where the primary school is now housed. We scored about 12 or 14 goals to Layou’s nil. My contribution was, if I can recall, about 8 of the 12/14. So football was then added to our discussions and later politics came into the picture. Anytime we met, after heckling him about his ‘donkey drops’ and telling him that he was an overrated cricketer, we would then discuss politics. I had not spoken to him for about a year and after he had hit the spotlight recently, I tried to contact him. I actually passed without recognizing him at the spot I usually met him, at the entrance to Public Works. I was walking past that area in the company of a friend, looked back and noticed that he was standing just inside the gate. I missed him simply because he was no longer wearing his accustomed Red T-shirt, and I was only able to indicate to him that I would try to see him later. Later, of course, never came. He went to the ‘beyond’ on Sunday morning. I felt that he just didn’t deserve to go that way.

‘Lat’ was argumentative. He was never afraid to express his opinion as happened recently when he rebelled against the choice of Jomo Thomas as the ULP candidate for South Leeward. Once he had made up his mind on something he would not easily back down. Like Allan, we had our differences on many matters but our long-standing friendship was always polite. In fact, he consulted me on a number of matters political, starting with the period when he had problems with the then NDP administration. Although we continued to discuss and heckle each other about cricket, increas­ingly the conversation swung to politics and he expressed his convictions.

I never had a chance to speak to him about recent developments in his political life, after I heard that he had made a political U-turn. What I know for sure is that he had abandoned his traditional red shirt for a white shirt. And this was significant for a man who took pride in making a statement with his red T-shirt. His name will, I am sure, become a political football being kicked about, but he is no longer around, red T-shirt or not. I will best remember him from a long standing joke about him in Barrouallie that many of his friends know about. That long-standing joke best reflects the man I knew especially, since he relished the ‘ole’ talk it generated.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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