Thursday, August 30, 2007

All that you can leave behind

In the course of my work, I often deal with consultants, usually foreign, who are brought in to tell us, what to do and how to do it. Most of the time, we already know what to do and how to do, are required to tell the consultants what these things are so that they can write it all up in a REPORT and furnish it to us as their "findings". It's an interesting system and as I said before, I get to spend time with them.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I have no beef with the visitors, I shrug and get on with business as do they. We all know the score. The other night, I tootled around with a couple of them in the car. U2 was on my CD player as is often the case these days. I find Bono non-offensive and I can sing along because I generally understand the lyrics unlike a lot of popular music these days. Gack! I have become my grandparents...but I digress.

Matt was telling Steve that he liked U2 because their lyrics are cinematic. Wow, now that is insightful. Because it's true. If you listen to their work, even the very early stuff it's like a foreign language film. Not the black and white stuff with people entering and leaving rooms suddenly, but those films that make you get past having to read the subtitles, engage your attention so you stay until the end.

You know how it is when you hear a particular song and it evokes an emotion or memory, well almost every U2 song is like that, though even I think that Bono goes a little overboard with the well-meaning causes and sanctimonious attitude. Anyway, that said, I did wonder what Bono would have come up with to describe working with consultants.

Just in case you might think this is a pointless rant, bear with me, I'd had a trying evening which I would prefer not to admit to seeing as it made the newspaper. I started humming U2 songs to keep myself going..."all that you fashion, all that you make,all that you build, all that you break,all that you measure, all that you steal, all this you can leave behind".

That's from "Walk On", if you ever feel like " a singing bird in an open cage, who will only fly for freedom". Then you might understand what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Echoing Adele

An artist friend writes a blog about sex in art. The site was/is a reaction to the duality that exits here, as a people, we have no problem walking around the streets in itty bitty swimsuits and body paint; it's okay to have a hornerman/woman, but somehow, we still refuse to acknowledge the sensual side of life. Many works of art have caused national consternation due to their "explicit" subjects. We want the education ministry to ban a literature text because it contains curse words,stand on a street corner and you'll hear worse live.

I love looking at sculpture. The lines, form, the artist's use of material making you want to run your hands over it. It is a lover's caress, an honest admission of admiration for the work whether or not it is the human form.

In the Chicago, you run into huge, towering sculptures by Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Alexander Calder all over the city. They all provoke thought and are all wonders in their own way. In my island, we build monumental sculptural works every year. For several days they are exhibited via competitions and human portrayals. If they are lucky, they tour other countries. Wow you might say, where can I see them now you might ask. They are the costumes built for the King and Queen of Carnival. I marvel at them, and at a country that pays such scant respect to its art that these works are cast aside and forgotten once the music stops playing.

It is a sad indictment that even as lumber and quest after the trappings of "first world" nations, we equate first world with big, glassed in, air conditioned buildings, not realising that out there, its not about the size of the building, but about the attention to design detail. First world is not about having things, it is about how we value our musicians, artists, writers, actors as well as our businessmen. We talk about the arts et al, but do we appreciate their value?

The evidence is does not show this. So what next?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Knowing when to stop.

Ghandi said, " A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blogging my life away...

It's been a while but I felt like I had nothing to say that was worth putting out there. Not like me I know but Richard had asked what the blog was about and I stumbled. Because I didn't know anymore. It's very easy to get introspective and to imbue everything you create with importance. I don't doubt that I could have come up with some highbrow reason, but I suppose it is much simpler. I had stuff to say, was tired of not saying it or repeating it to various friends so I took the lazy way if you will. Now I say, read the blog.

Today, I sat in a meeting that went on and on and I started to write in my head. The headline went something like, "How do you get back the time spent sitting in long meetings" or "is this a waste of time or does it add value" or some similarly trite thing to justify why I was there and not doing something that I really wanted to be doing.

I'm sure my boss would be appalled but after a while I started to think about how I would paint my living room, which needs painting. I would come home from work at a decent hour, start on the back wall, roll on the zen blue paint to cover the icky green. Wall by wall, over a few days or weeks until it was all zen blue. The crisp white edging, the soft curtains covering the windows. Moving the furniture around, it all went through my mind though I'm not generally a house proud type. It was engaging to not engage never mind the other part of my brain was still ticking over in meeting time.

Did I feel like it was a good five hours spent? Maybe not but tomorrow is another day. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to get a paint roller, organise myself and get started on the great change. At least I have control over that!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For the last few days I've not felt much like writing anything, it seemed too much to have face the blank page and talk. Changes are flowing, people and places are moving on. Adele is making her leap, Elspeth too. CCA7, Art Creators, 2Moons Aromatherapy and a bunch of other places are closing or have closed their doors. I'm not sure anymore what the next few months will bring, all I can do is to quote Bob Dylan, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Budget day

By 2:30 this afternoon much of the speculation will be over, at least for those who understand economist speak, as yet another budget day rolls by. The PM has said his presentation is going to be 3 hours long, but most people stop listening early in the game and wait for the precis by the experts in the aftershow.

Much hype, much pontificating, much speculation, in the end, it will be read and we'll either live with it happily or live with it complaining all the way. But it's not so much about the budget. This is another nine day wonder in a land filled with them. We'll grouse if we don't like it but not a whole lot else. Meanwhile, we go to public consultations and complain about the price of things while we continue to buy them.

I wonder what would happen if consumers got together and started to refuse to purchase, say market produce. I find it instructive that at several of the stalls that I frequent, the owners all drive large, European luxury cars. Now, I'm all for capitalism, working hard and making an honest living and enjoying the fruit of your labour, I try to anyway. But I also know what the payments on one of those cars is, and the insurance. I'm told by several car sales people that there are those who pay in cash for cars that cost in excess of half a million TT. On an aside, I''ve also noticed most people in the food import business also drive expensive cars and live in up-market area with large walls and security to keep people out.

That's a lot of vegetables. These are not the people growing them, these are the people buying and RE-SELLING. Makes you wonder about the mark-up given that they have to, one assumes, pay rent, utilities, staff wages etc. It is a given in today's world, people must buy food. The law of supply and demand. We demand, someone supplies but at what price?

So think while you whinge about the price of things; is it not partially our responsibility to police our willingness to pay the cost whatever? To quote the tag from the Consumer Affairs, The Power is Yours.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Become an M&M

On the lighter side of life, if you want to have some quick, clean, innocent fun, visit It's a cute little site from the makers of M&M's, the chocolate candies that promise that to melt in your mouth not your hand. Like their ads which have taken to showing M&M candies as having personalities, you too can create your very own MM character and then have it star in a video or photograph. It's a fun way to blow steam when you need to give yourself some space but can't do it physically.

Of course your IT department might not thank you for using up the bandwith with frivolities but as long as you don't get hooked and spend all your time there, it beats on-line shoe shopping for entertainment/stress relief value. Best of all, you don't spend any money other than your intenet usage fee, the site is free and you're confined only by the limitations of the templates and extras, modem speed and your creative thinking.

Have fun!

Home; castle or jail?

This morning it poured and I reluctantly left the house, it seemed like a good day to curl up with a book. As I locked my front door, blowing kisses to the hound, I noticed a black handbag perched at the bottom of the steps. Weird I thought. Wonder who left that there. Negotiating the steps in four inch heels is, at the best of times, something you do carefully, on a rainy morning, more so. I didn't pay much attention to the bag until I was almost upon it, only to realise that it belonged to me.

Well blow me down, how in heck did it get there! Last I looked, yesterday evening when I got home, it was sitting on a chair in my living room. Admittedly it's not a handbag that I was using, obviously. But still, it's mine. I circled it, prodded it with my toe and when it didn't explode, picked it up and headed back up the stairs. It was wet, the bits of detritus inside unrecognisable. It could only be that I'd had a night time visitor who'd fished through an open window.

Now let me tell you, that's not easy. My windows are not that close to the stairs. And I have a large, vociferous dog. How could this have happened and does this mean that not only do I have to bar every door with triple locks but do I have to close all the windows all the time, just in case some enterprising thief or worse, decides to play Spiderman and scale the walls. It's bad enough that there are burglar bars everywhere, aforementioned large dog, and the fact that you can no longer sit on the front porch or leave anything lying out accidentally.

This is a violation. I suppose you could say that I'm lucky that it wasn't worse but does it have to be? Someone pulled a bag out of the house, rifled through it and learnt things about me from what might have been in there, while I was in the house, with two sets of neighbours downstairs! Isn't that bad enough. I am oblivious? No, quite the contrary...right, guess I was being watched while the miscreant waited for lights out, well after 1:00a.m. Now how is that for creepy. Does anyone have the number for the guy with a sword for hire?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is corporate responsibility an oxymoron?

Generally, most days I see something truly cringe worthy from our politicians or captains of industry but manage to keep whichever meal I've had down and proceed with life. Today, I was struck by an article from the Chief at a privately owned house building agency. For more than a year, this agency has undertaken a mammoth high rise, located at the entrance to St. James. An attempt to "gentrify" the neighbourhood if you will. Not that there was anything wrong with it to begin with but that's another story.

The Chief was sitting in his fifth floor office at his shopping mall, a grungy place with awful bathrooms I might add, ruminating on the cost of building the said behemoth, how much the price had gone up on materials, incidentally raising the price of the apartments it contained. I sympapthise, it can't be nice to be out millions of dollars. But this is not what stuck in my craw.

His complaint was that the construction that was taking place across the road from his office at a site, owned by a large trade union, did not have to toe the same line his company did. Let me give you the context, he was upset that he had to keep the noise level down at his site, located in an OLD RESIDENTIAL AREA, wash the dirt and dust generated from the trucks going in and out off the road. Now excuse me, many of the residents have lived there for a long time. Several are senior citizens whose families have been there since World War II. Do they have less rights than you because of the cost of your high-rise?

Over the last year, if you lived in that part of Woodbrook you put up with piles being driven in, orignally round the clock until someone got a politician to listen to them. They've had dust, traffic, trucks and a lot of other stuff too. Actually, the pile driving caused the wall separating the site from Pizza Hut to collapse, something which the Construction company has dutifully ignored. But this is not my issue.

No Mr. Chief, it is not one rule for you and another for others. Just because your neighbours across the Long Circular Road don't take care of their grot in the road, does not make them right. It means that they have no sense of social responsibility. Something you seem to have a problem with too since you admit that that your company only complied because of the complaints from neighbours instead of doing the right thing in the first place. I guess you would happily have continued with your bad behaviour otherwise.

So be a man, suck it up and say, I am taking corporate responsibility for MY project and maybe your neighbours will follow suit. If not, you have the same right as a citizen to let your voice be heard.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Saying Goodbye

A Different View Bookshop, as I thought with wry fondness of the many of the things that happened there, would have made for great tv. During the last couple of years, I’ve said good-bye to a lot of old friends, colleagues and “liming” spots but this one is going to be tough. At the end of August, the current incarnation of ADV will be no more and those of us who have shared time in this space are going to be at a loss.

If ADV was the bookshop version of Perks (the Friends coffee shop),then I would have been Rachel, the character played by Jennifer Aniston, at least without the blond hair and great figure. Unlike Rachel, I am a great wait person so it all balances out. I was fortunate enough to have worked in the bookshop while sorting out my life, tending to the friends who turned up to lime, for coffee, meetings and sometimes to buy stuff. As a lover of books it was a wonderful opportunity to soak them in, many things on the shelves became friends and I also learned how to read without creasing the covers. Valuable when you have to put stuff back on the shelf!

What I didn’t know when I said yes to minding the book store was the opportunity I was going to get in meeting some unusual people, all of whom added a little something to my mix. The characters that came and went were mostly colourful but none more so than the owner, Elspeth. I watched and learnt as she touched people’s lives without being aware of how much she was giving. Elspeth has that truly rare gift of making people feel important and customers came not only to buy books but to just be around her. In today’s fast paced world her gift of time and an ear are more valuable than money.

In my time minding the store, we had an itinerant swordsman, tarot folks, artists, lovers of books, some truly strange people (including me) but I cannot truthfully say I regret meeting anyone. One character was Anthony Habib, former advertising exec but depending on where you knew him, tarot card reader or Unity Minister. An incongruous mix, maybe to some but in the ADV setting, perfectly normal. Over the years we had many meals, I gave him lifts to places and other sundry meetings, we enjoyed many conversations and Tony really enlivened my life. Stricken with several medical conditions, he refused to modify his life and instead, lived it his way. Tony died of a heart attack on Sunday, I’m going to miss seeing him around.

After eleven years of carrying the torch, Elspeth is now moving on and I’d like to wish her the best. For more years than I will admit to, she gave me a place of refuge where I could be myself, she helped me to understand so many things and most of all, she is a truly wonderful friend. Yes, I’m going to miss the place but I do get to keep the friends.

So to my Saturday compadres Adele & Richard (& Aurora) and the other folks Stuart, Carol, Karen & Ian, Andre, Giselle & Anthony, Catherine & Chris and of course Elspeth, thanks for a really great ride along this part of life’s journey, it’s been a blast. I know we’ll be liming in a slightly different view. To the new owners whomever they might be, may you enjoy what we have and may you find your own place in people’s lives.