Saturday, February 24, 2024
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HomeEducation / CultureCome quick here year: You Hear?

Come quick here year: You Hear?

By Tony Deyal

Fortunately for most of us, New Year’s Day is not today. It is two days away and enough time for me to think that having followed my favourite calypsonian, the Mighty Scrunter, and wanted a piece of pork for my Christmas, what should I have for this coming New Year, 2024? This was clearly food for thought.

I knew immediately if we thought about the politicians and all their speeches, it would not be a piece of pork, but a full plate of talk. The only way we could stop them is with a piece of cork, or tell them to fork off. Thinking even harder, I thought about a piece of peach. However, even though most other men would prefer a piece of “piece”, at 78 going on 79, I would go for a piece of peace. This way I don’t have to deal with the politicians and could settle for peace on earth and goodwill for all of us.

This takes me back to when I was eight years old and listening to the radio as the countdown started. We stood in the verandah waiting for the New Year and the noise that went with it- the blaring of whistles and horns, the ringing of bells, the “Auld Lang Syne”, and all the noisy cheering and whistling. My father was there with us, holding the double-barreled shotgun and ready to rumble.

When the noise on the radio died down and the village sounds came to life, he pressed the trigger for the first one and we all held on to our ears. He then handed the gun to my mother. She had grown up in a deeply forested part of Trinidad and was a “crack-shot”. She shot agoutis for the family. This time she had only the sky to aim at, but, for us, she was like Dale Evans to my father’s Roy Rogers. We clapped, laughed and shouted.

I also remember what happened one other New Year’s Eve in the Catholic Church in South Trinidad where my Grandfather lived. Like almost all the other churches in the Caribbean, it held a special midnight session which was always full of women and children. The men were always too busy in the rum shops drinking. Like almost everyone else in the community, they too waited for the Church bell to ring so they could welcome and toast the New Year, take their final drink for the night, and then go and meet their families and take them home.

What they didn’t know is that my extremely mischievous Uncle Slug and his friends had a plan. Just before 11.00 p.m., they started to throw stones on the top of the Church and with threats and shouting, caused the faithful, including the priests, to run for their lives. They rang the church bells. My mother woke me up, and I joined the rest of my aunts and cousins to welcome the New Year. It is only the next morning when the police came looking for Slug that we found out what he and his friends had done. What we and the police didn’t know was that Slug and his friends had a boat ready and had gone for a few days of fishing off Venezuela.

Not everybody, especially men like my father, went to church for New Year’s Eve. One man walked into a local bar on New Year’s Eve and ordered a drink. As midnight approached, he raised his glass in a toast, “Let’s all begin this year standing beside the person who has made this past year worth living.” The poor bartender was nearly crushed to death. A man who had too much to drink decided to walk home on New Year’s Eve. A policeman stopped the man and asked where he was going. “I’m on my way to a lecture,” the man replied.

The cop scoffed: “Who gives lectures on New Year’s Eve?” The man answered: “My wife.” My father had a sense of humour and just before midnight, he used to make a joke he had learnt from an Englishman with whom he had worked in the sugar-cane field. He would take a glass of champagne and say loudly, “You see, this happen again for me. I work so hard and make so much money that I don’t have to work again for the rest of the year.” I suppose I was like the little champagne bottle who called his father “Pop!”

One thing I can tell you is that I am staying up until midnight on Sunday night to make sure that 2023, a year of real pressure for the people of the Caribbean, finally leaves and, at the same time, have a talk with the Almighty and try to negotiate the terms and conditions for 2024. If not, I will stand on my left leg while talking to him, and ask him to do the same so we could start the New Year on the right foot. And if any of you doubt me, I already have a date for New Year’s. Not Eve. It is December 31 and on that night, just before the celebration, I promise not to make any more bad jokes for the rest of the year. Instead, on Sunday night, I will remember last year as if it was yesterday and I will resolve to stop procrastinating. However, I won’t ever start until the next day.

The one thing I try not to do is make resolutions. I give up too early and it is a case of in one year and out the next. My advice is to leave food and exercise out. Forget money. You can try resolving to win the lottery. That way if you don’t keep your resolution, you have somebody else to blame. So, if I were you, the first one of the new two should be not to judge a book by its cover. One of my friends who owns books like the the Kama Sutra and the Perfumed Garden bought one called “Twenty Ways to Mate: Translated from the French with Original Illustrations.”

In trying to sell it to me, he explained: “How could I have known it was about Chess?” The second is to be always prepared for anything yet not to expect too much from life. There was the biology teacher who asked one of his female students, “Miss Perkins, what portion of the human anatomy swells to ten times its normal size during periods of agitation or emotional excitement?”

Blushing, she stammered that she would rather not answer the question because it was personal. The teacher, pointing out that it was not at all personal, explained: “The correct answer is the pupil of the eye, and your response tells me two things: First, that you didn’t read last night’s assignment, and second, that marriage is going to leave you a tremendously disappointed young woman.”

What I would say is that in 2024 may your neighbours respect you, troubles neglect you, angels and the Almighty protect you, and, when the time comes, Heaven accepts you.

*Tony Deyal was last seen explaining that when he was younger, women he met at old year’s night parties used to kiss him on his lips but it’s all over now.     

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