Saturday, October 4, 2008

The peanut gallery talks

Fellow blogger Wudzdescene was talking about the thing that her blogging, it was interesting because my blog was started for a similar reason. A bunch of friends decided I should so I did. At least that's the Reader's Digest version. I've said it before, blogging is a somewhat narcissistic pastime, you sit and ramble on about you, what you think, blah, blah,blah. It's really, all about you. To some degree anyway, but you've heard all that before so I'm not going to belabour the point. What I like about this is the conversations that I start, the go on somewhere else, without me.

Several weeks ago I wrote about the distress caused by the church on the corner putting up an electric fence. To me it has become a symbol of the negativity we face each day, feelings that I am less and less willing to accept as the status quo. Another writer, a columnist in a daily newspaper who is well known for her pro-Catholic stance astonished me by taking on the issue of the fence. 'Scene shared it with me and we both agreed that it was nice to know that we were not alone in our dismay. You can find it here:,87158.html if you're interested.

So it is with regret, this year I will not be attending "Family Day" over at the church as I have done for all the time I have lived here. Usually I bump into people I know, have a great time raiding the second hand book stall, admiring the plants which will not be coming home with me and pick up lunch at one of the stalls. Nope. This year there will be none of that. And since the stalls take up the entire car park, the masses will be parked all over the street, including in front of my house. But really, I would prefer if they didn't and I'm going to tell them that.

I had intended to make photocopies of that article and stick them under windshield wipers though I am sure it will make not an iota of difference. What is distressing to me, family day is supposed to raise funds for "charity", people who are not from "here", except the people who attend this church are by and large not from within the immediate community. I'd like some leeway to quote from Mrs. O'Callaghan:

" The gated communities have been carved out of what was once mangrove or modest buildings. Beginning in the late 1940's with a middle class development: Glencoe, the gated communities became wealthier, spreading from Westmoorings to Yachties in Chaguaramas. Some areas remain poor. Big Yard in Carenage, the area around the Carenage Health Office, up some of the hills, along the Main Road. Here, in this North West Peninsula and increasingly in Cascade, St Ann's, Maraval, the geography of settlement is the affair of the developer. The old pattern of Parish Church, Centre and Parish School, with a mix of the wealthy – and they were far fewer than today – the middle class and the poor in the same church, their children going to the same parish primary school, is gradually disappearing. It was in this shared community of church, school, fairs and playgrounds that Trini tolerance and a shared identity were formed. That community is now replaced by the Gated Community. This is as much status as it is security. The Parish School is increasingly the school of the poor. Well-heeled parents send their children to one of the fee-paying primary schools. There may not be mixing at secondary school: parents in Westmoorings or Goodwood Gardens increasingly send their children not to St Mary's, Fatima, Holy Name or St Joseph's Convent, but to the International School there in Westmoorings, or to Maple Leaf, its Canadian equivalent. There is some concern that these may not be Catholic schools. I have heard little concern over a lack of class-mixing. "

Our national anthem proudly states, " here every creed and race find an equal place" but this is becoming less and less so. We, the so-called middle class are becoming more and more marginalised with each successive Government budget. And yet we are excluded from the benefits received by both poor and rich, apparently, even in that space, the church, where one should rightly expect to be the same. We are ever increasingly losing that sense of generosity that made Trinis so special, retreating into our enclaves, becoming surly and less willing to offer a modicum of courtesy.

Every day, on the receiving end of rudeness from service people, discourtesy on the roads, abuse on the phone from the irate public, I find that I am becoming resentful of my life, which so far has been dedicated to some form or other of public service. As Angry African would say, we care too much to not do what we can. But I don't know anymore why I should care.

Tomorrow, instead of strolling down the street to say hello to people I have not seen outside in a while, I'll be at home with the dog, pretending not to care. I don't wish to be so negative but that fence in my face all the time is too close a reminder so I will go and do other things that will, I hope, have a much more positive effect.


Gabriela García Calderón said...

Thank you a lot for commenting on my blog. I'll keep visiting yours as often as I can, and I'll add a link to yoour reflections on my blogroll.
All the best!

Wuzdescene said...

Wallah girl ... I didn't even know dey having Family Day tomorrow .... I only realise dat today .... while takin ah lil gape on meh porch ... all ah was seein is a setta tent tops ... I'll be home too ... secure in the knowledge that all the attendees will be very well 'protected' by the 10 foot wall topped with barbed wire and electric zappers!

Coffeewallah said...

Yes, while they all park their very expensive cars in the ROAD and in people driveway etc. I think I'm going to have to go out and escape all this Christian togetherness.