Amor vincit omnia fe true

We have 125 channels on TV.

I watch very little and very irregularly: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and, the main advantage of so many channels, reruns of great US comedies such as Seinfeld, Frasier and vintage Cheers. Yet it’s one of the mysteries of the universe that I seem condemned to see the same six episodes of Seinfeld over and over again. Did they only make six?!

But now a new distraction has come into my life: Nigerian romantic movies. They are very popular in Kingston and are bootlegged for the same price as authentic movies, such is the demand. What they offer is a satisfying formula of romance thwarted and refound, wicked rascals vanquished and lots of shaky camera work.

Here’s the latest: Love Affair. The blurb begins thus: “A girl finds herself in love with another man when her fionce is sent to prison.” What? Fionce? Think Beyonce and you’ll get it.

Frank being frankPretty RoseSo boy (Frank) meets girl (Rose). Girl drops out of school. Boy sacrifices everything to help girl graduate.

Bad boys
Bad boy (Poka Messiah), imagining he’s God’s gift to women (perhaps understandable with that name), hits on girl, but gets the cold shoulder.

The victim and THAT car
Bad boy frames good boy (“for a crime he didn’t commit”), shooting a college teacher by his car.

Frank's scar
Good boy arrested with unexplained bloody wound and is condemned to 10 years in jail, abandoned by all except faithful girl. Girl graduates and begins work in bad boy’s father’s company.

Painted prison uniform
Good boy forced to wear hand-painted prison uniform, finds God and sets girl free from obligation to wait for his release.

Frank is just being frank! explains good girl’s feckless friend.

Rose succumbs
Girl succumbs to reformed bad boy’s wily ways (e.g. now calling himself Patrick). Girl’s wedding to bad boy is on the same day good boy is released from prison …

Lights! Camera! Action!

There’s an obvious similarity to The Graduate, although the soundtrack as they run makes me think more of An Officer and a Gentleman meets Benny Hill.

Poka's nemesis
Retribution is all the more satisfying as the car that kills Poka appears to be the same as that of the teacher he shot.

Ahh! Dem wicked brute dem ded and righteous so.
Amor vincit omnia, fe true. A-hoa!

Final heartwarmer is in the credits … Can you spot it?


Blood and cement

As if the recent shortage of cement in Jamaica was not bad enough for the construction industry, I read in today’s Gleaner that companies will now have to factor the cost of blood offerings into their budget plans:

CONSTRUCTION WORK came to a halt at the Piñero Group hotel site in Pear Tree Bottom, near Runaway Bay in St. Ann, yesterday, after a section of one of the buildings collapsed, pinning workers beneath the rubble. […]

“I was taking a rest when I saw the building falling down with a man on top of it, holding a vibrator and screaming for help,” a contractor told The Gleaner. “When he reached ground, I rushed over and began removing huge chunks of concrete that buried him from the waist down. […]

The freak accident forced the emergency services to scurry to the scene where they engaged in a rescue and investigation operation.

The workers contend that the 16-foot columns in the area that buckled were not shored up properly to reinforce them for decking.


But they have since expressed fear to continue labouring at the site, as they believe a supernatural force is behind the increasing number of accidents there in recent months.

“They will have to kill seven cows and seven donkeys to quench the thirst of the land with blood,” one worker commented.

Another man, who has only been employed for two months, remarked: “The lands want blood; every week people fall off the building. One man fell from the third floor just last weekend.”

Apart from the instant and precise solution to the problem, what appeals to me is the choice of words and information. No UK or US press would use the verb scurry to describe the arrival of emergency services. Adding the seemingly irrelevant information that the final commentator had only been employed for two months jolts me into wondering if there is not a hidden reason for this information (Maybe he’s behind it all!).

The writer also captures the idiosyncracies of the workers’ world, the contractor describing the fall with the delightful understatement, “When he reached the ground”. And to prove that there’s an Old Testament prophet on every street corner in Jamaica, the second worker comments, “They will have to kill seven cows and seven donkeys to quench the thirst of the land with blood.”

Note: the prophesy seems to be a mix of Genesis 41 and Jeremiah 46:10. I think he was just ad-libbing with the donkeys.

Late night reading

Late at night, when everybody else is asleep, I reach under the bed and get out my favourite porn reading: The Rough Guide to Jamaica. Check out this extract:

A mile or so past Chukka Cove, a tiny paved road cuts inland towards Cranbrook Flower Forest, an exquisitely landscaped, 130-acre nature park with several grassy lawns, a fishing pond, a family of resident peacocks and a swift-running river with plenty of marvellous swimming spots. Run by a friendly Jamaican family who wanted to create a space where visitors and local people could retreat from the urban clamour, Cranbrook is an overwhelmingly peaceful spot (ooh). You can bring your own food and drink, or buy it from the tuck shop, housed in a pretty cut-stone building that was originally an outbuilding of the sugar estate which flourished here. To the right of the tuck shop is the fishing pond, a flower-wreathed man-made pool that’s well stocked with tilapia (aaah). Caught with the aid of a customized bamboo pole, it costs US$5 to have your fish scaled, seasoned, roasted and served with roast yam or rice and peas, etc. (oh yeah). The stretch of river next to the pond has several shallow pools ideal for splashing children. Beyond the pond is the largest of the lawns, and, to the left, a series of mesh-covered walkways sheltering a staggering variety of orchids and anthuriums (don’t stop!). Strategically-placed steps lead down to deeper pools, where the river gushes up from the rocks. Overhung with lush greenery, the deep turquoise water is cool, refreshing and absolutely clean, having been freshly filtered through the limestone (yes! yes! yeeeeesssss!!).


Other reading, from the Jamaica Observer, is less enchanting:

Four people were shot dead by gunmen in Kingston, yesterday.

One of the dead men has been identified as Roy Burgher, 68, who the police said was shot inside a bar he operated at 63 Mountain View Avenue, the community where one man was killed during Tuesday’s protests by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party.

According to the police, a group of gunmen assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, invaded 63 Mountain View Avenue, an impoverished community, and shot Burgher while he ate lunch at about 11.30 am yesterday.

Burgher’s daughter, wife and neighbours were all shocked by the brutal nature in which the elderly man was killed.
“What a set a brute them wicked,” one woman said as tears streaked down her cheeks.

A large pool of blood marked the spot where Burgher fell. He was shot in the head and the abdomen and died on the spot. A piece of food he had been chewing at the time, was still affixed between his lips when workers from the Maddens Funeral Home removed his body. Blood soaked his whitened hair.

“See the food all still inna him mouth, them boy deh wicked and no have no soul,” another onlooker said.


Where there’s muck

Out cycling this morning, I passed a field being ripped up. Walking a few metres behind the earthmover (It’s Scoop, mama!) was a man with a metal detector and a spade.

Where there's muck ...

Get a lijf! (alt.dutch.humour)

“Dude! WTF!!” I shouted, but he was too busy to look up.

I can’t imagine what he hoped to find. Since the land has been reclaimed from the sea, it’s only been used for cow pasture.

Bah! Two metres of compacted dung.

Beep! Beep! Beep! My god, he’s found something! …

Just kidding.

In Rome, developers were reluctant to dig in many places for fear of hitting a buried ruin. Once that happened, the ground would be seized and cordoned off by the Ministry of Monuments.

” ‘old yer ‘orses, Marco. You’ve only gone and uncovered the almost pristine remnants of a paleochristian oratory, ain’tcha, you dipstick!”

I’ve freely translated from Romanesco, the local dialect. Although it may not be long before Roman builders do talk like this. The spread of Estuary English seems relentless – it’s already reached Friesland where my Dutch mother-in-law talks like one of the Slaters (she’s a devoted Eastenders viewer).

And she has a sense of humour …


Asleep in Trastevere

I always reckoned that if you were going to be a bum, there are worse places to choose than Rome.

I took this photo in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. The coat of arms of the city of Rome forms part of the fountain sculpture. The letters SPQR stand for Senatus Populusque Romanus (the Senate and the people of Rome) and were emblazoned on the standards of the Roman armies two thousand years ago. They can still be found throughout Rome, from city council buildings to manhole covers.

I always preferred Obelix’s version of the meaning: Sono pazzi questi Romani (These Romans are crazy!).