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Here be dragons

Thursday, August 14, 2014
London Calling

It was 3.10 am when my eyes finally closed. All my friends had gone to sleep. It was just me and Parliament left standing. Victory! 

I was the true victor in this parliamentary debate, the only one still awake to hear Kamla’s 3 am final flurry—a surreal concoction about demons, dragons and Christopher Columbus. 

“If it hadn’t been for his belief that the world was not flat, we would not be here today!” she free-stlyed. 

Earlier in her entertaining, though frankly incoherent ramble, she had reminded people of the time, as if they had forgotten. Dookeran was asleep in his chair and Fuad Khan had been happily snoring until Prakash woke him up to gnaw his ear off. 

“I’m being disturbed by the honourable member for Diego Martin North/East, Mr Speaker, I don’t want to be disturbed at this time of night,” said Kamla. 

But it was now morning. She was freewheeling, like a woman trying to ride a bicycle whose pedals had come away. It was a far cry from her assured opening address 16 hours earlier.

“Democracy is alive and kicking!” she exclaimed. And I began to wonder whether sleep deprivation had caused me to hallucinate. 

Falling into a deserved sleep, I battled with the ghostly apparition of a demon wearing a Rowley face-mask while a diminutive fire-breathing dragon, with Imbert’s sneering visage, tried to get into my house. 

I tried to scream and run but Anand Ramlogan was pinning my legs to the ground with all of his substantial bulk whilst Lincoln Douglas held his hand over my mouth, fixing me with a death stare which chilled me to my very core. 

Eventually I broke free but tumbled off the edge of the sea where I found monsters, wearing reading glasses, flicking through the Constitution Reform Bill and making some crucial last-minute amendments.

Waking again—phew! It was only a nightmare—I found my iPad still on the T&T Parliament Web site live stream. But it was now morning.

I had missed the vote! After everything I’d been through! After enduring Fitzgerald Jeffrey, the member for La Brea, and his unconstitutionally-long rant, replete with two minutes’ silence while he shuffled through his papers. After Suruj Rambachan reminding everybody what the Constitution is, when it was created and when it was amended. Reminding us, three times, that India, “the largest democracy in the world,” uses the runoff system. 

Like his colleagues, Rambachan had been asked by the Speaker whether he wanted more time and, like his colleagues, he had, of course, said yes. 

“I’d like to repeat that again...” said Rambachan, before slowly and methodically repeating something again, as though the day’s session had just begun. At that time of night, when a man is repeating something again (even I’m doing it now), something has gone awry.

At least we had the opportunity to hear the thing opened up, picked apart and rejected by respected senior politicians like Winston Dookeran as well as the next generation like Amery Browne. 

The electorate must surely be readying the hammer and final nails for the coffin of this government. They must be asking themselves—in the absence of the opportunity to have their own say via a referendum—why allowing referenda is not part of any constitutional reform.

I had attempted to go to sleep before midnight. Maybe it was the full moon, maybe the giddy excitement; I could not sleep. 

I was drawn back into the fray by a Facebook post saying: “Imbert waxing hot like he real vex he had to come back home from Germany boy he pelting blows left right and centre.” 

Though grammatically unconstitutional, the post had me running back to the living room, with only my bed sheets protecting my modesty, to hear the little man (dubbed “Column Inches” by a friend of mine) who is surely the best orator in Trinidadian politics.

“This entire bill is a lie!” Imbert screamed. 

Wade Mark interjected, his voice now husky, reprimanding Imbert for his choice of word. In Westminster the one thing you cannot say in the House is that somebody is a liar. 

Is democracy alive or a lie? The Upper House is sure to let us know.

Imbert sat down. The comedy rolled on. I tried to stay up but, alas, I failed. 

Whatever happens next, it’s bound to be entertaining. Whether politics ought to be entertaining is a matter of opinion. But at least it’s better than boring. 

I put it to a colleague that people will soon give up on politics. But, in a blaze of heady optimism, she told me, “Loads of people are watching Parliament now, including young people. It’s a good sign. Some are talking about going down there now (in the dead of night). 

“This is a very young country. Teething problems are inevitable.”

Perhaps so. But some have rotted their teeth with too much sugar. Where, oh where is the dentist to fill the cavities?


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