Bassy - Love Vine
May 20, 2005

De day of de classmates

Great encounters foh me this week. Tuesday ah ran into Charles “ Binot” Francois ah classmate now in Canada whom ah have not seen in years. Binot was bright, ah good crammer too, ten out ah ten foh Latin and French was de regular with him. And when he got ten he still uses to complain. We had ah lovely lunch at Ann Joshua’s, and coming down the steps we ran into Charles Ellis, another classmate. We all remember Charles in form 2, when Victor Hadley bet him 25 cents, that he can’t drop his pants in the class-room foh all to see; that was ah easy win foh Charles even without ah under-pants on. But when de pants hit de ground the whole class froze, standing at the door was Mr. Toby Antoine, one ah the roughest teachers in the school. Needless to say Charles got his cane-in, not with his pants off though. {{more}}

We started reminiscing and the name Priest came up and Charles said: “Priest is in town, he’s downstairs at the Bar!” So we went foh Dr. Franklyn “Priest” Jacobs. If yuh know ‘bout meeting one friend yuh ain’t see foh years, well just imaging four ah yuh meeting one time, Cobblestone walls shook with the outburst. Priest of course, is now thrice the man he uses to be thanks to exeter corned beef and rice. Hally Dougan swares when Priest visited him in Jamaica from London, he landed with two cases ah Exeter Beef and ah twenty pound sack ah rice. We normally give Buckey ah twenty percent discount on his stories, so it was one case ah beef ten pounds ah rice.

Sitting with Priest was Molly Arthur of the 1945-50 generation, Hugh Marshal 50-55 and Charles, Binot, Priest and me from the 55-60 generation. It is not often that one bumps into three generations ah the older past students of the Grammar School, but whenever that happens, the topic is always that legend of ah Headmaster, Mr. Lopey, “De Don”! And how well we all remembered De Don and his dramatic presentations. Molly recalls when Charles’ dad, Doctor Ellis ah dental luminary, was invited to lecture them in Sex Education. He was so graphic in his opening, that De Don sprang into ah panic and terminated the session after only ah few minutes. Hugh’s admission is that as ah lickle youth coming up from Troumaca, he had ah culture shock he never got over, the sight ah all dem pretty High School girls just across from the school. The session was hot and had to be adjourned, but to be continued on Thursday 7th July when the Classes of 1954/1955 meet foh the Re-union.


In the meantime the Re-union Committee met that same afternoon, things looking good. US based Bully “Ello Man” Lawrence who arrived that afternoon, turned up and gave us all the surprise ah de day. So far we have on board: EG King, Rodway Fraser, Fr. Syl Regisford, Victor Peters, Le Roy Rose is our Secretary, Fred Providence, John Horne, Dexter Lewis, Sims Martin, Winston Gaymes, Sam Commissiong, Hally Dougan, Nolly Mc Kenzie, Chas Ellis, Victor Hadley, Bev Brisbane, Cliff Edwards, Bernard Mills, Edgie Gabriel, Len Clarke, Fuzzy Knights. We expect folks from Canada, the USA, UK and wherever to be home. Priest was at the meeting too and he requested that we clean up de ole school steps foh that Thursday evening, go back to the school compound, serve Mah Emily’s mauby and ginger beer, heavy bread, then he went silent: “ Promise me”, he begged, “ yuh won’t forget the traditional House Feed Menu, exeter corned beef and bread, forget the rice”!


When the Colonial Masters took their exit, they left the country in the hands of ah cadre of trained, experienced and competent locals, none was as fearsome as Hugh Hamlet; the man that headed the Audit Department, the FBI ah the Service, with prime responsibility foh detecting Fraud in Guv-ah-mint. The Director of Audit is appointed under the constitution with certain powers and immunity. S/he cannot be easily fired, or threatened by pull-it-tek-all in-timid-dare-shun. S/he must be strong, straight and sound, and Hamlet was not lacking. The British surely did ah good job meking ah militant out ah that man. He stood erect and strutted around with ah staid face that rarely smiled on the job; and his abrupt, matter of fact way of delivery, rounded-off the personality of this no-non-cents man especially when it came to accountability foh the Nation’s Money.

Mr. Hamlet came at ah time when ministerial responsibilities were handed to local Politicians most of whom were ignorant to these matters, and would ah M.T. the Treasury if they could ah get the chance. But Hugh Hamlet and of course his “A” Team at Audit would have none of it. That “A” Team contained successive Directors: Saville Cummings, Beryl Baptiste the best dressed lady of her day, Fred Providence and Cec Saunders, thanks no doubt to footprints planted by Hamlet.

Mr. Hamlet was blessed with ah one-dah-full wife and family. Ah family steeped in the Christian Faith, he himself was ah staunch Methodist who dedicated his academic skills to Vineyard Service. He was clearly Governor General material but was only allowed to act as Deputy. This brings to mind the very simple burial he got or was given, no State Funeral, no Police Band. But that was the order ah the man, no pomp and flare foh him. Ah wonder what kind ah wuk St. Peter and them got foh him up there. There’s no corruption up there, ah bet yuh all dey looking foh, is ah competent man to keep the books. My love goes out to the Hamlet family.

And ah gone again.

One Love Bassy.