The prime minister’s appearance on last week’s Dolor Factor offered a fascinating glimpse of the man, all the more so because the host had chosen to go where no other interviewer, save one, had gone before. Speaking of which, please permit me this opportunity to say that it was Kenny Anthony himself, not I, who had suggested we revisit his childhood for the purposes of Lapses & Infelicities. He was understandably quite unhappy with his public image as a child who had grown up in the lap of luxury—and with a particularly lascivious white plantation owner for a father.
Clearly the prime minister had prepared himself for what he must’ve imagined another opportunity to profit from exposing his vulnerabilities, his humanity, his softer side. Gone was the constipated, often humorless, suited-up officious character of so many televised parliamentary engagements. For close to an hour he projected not a minute of arrogance. Neither did he bring to mind the stern class lecturer that had dominated so many Budget debates. He came on the occasion dressed to impress: hair obviously freshly manicured, no jacket, just a dark-brown shirt unbuttoned at the collar that nicely matched his host’s beige ensemble, and smiles, smiles, smiles from ear to ear. Seldom did he look directly into the camera. For most of the time, he saved his suitably softened eyes for his host.
More than once he fondled her, gently massaging her hand. At one point they even high-fived—to their obvious mutual delight. Try as I might, I could not recall him behaving similarly with Andre Paul or Timothy Poleon or Clinton Reynolds. Not even with his alleged regular breakfast companion the host of Straight Up. Or with his telegenic press secretary Jadia JnPierre!
Which is not to say there was ever anything prurient about his pressing the flesh with the Factor’s host. Chances are he is still in kissy-kissy campaign mode. I imagine it takes more than six months after a tumultuous five years on the hustings to return to normal political correctness.
For the most part, Ms Dolor’s questions were anything but confrontational. That’s not what her show is about, after all. One imagines its aim is to make waiting for better days less stressful; not to confront viewers with more reality after another day in the trenches. On the one or two occasions when the Dolor Factor had inadvertently shocked some viewers, the accident was related to the way male and female Saint Lucians interact with each other, whether on the dance floor, the street or in the bedroom.
Our premier politician had no reason to anticipate questions of, er, a political nature, not on the Dolor Factor. Which may or may not be the reason why he confidently invited his host to “ask me anything!” (It certainly would’ve made my night had the she asked the prime minister to shed some light on the darker corners of, say, Grynberg. Then again, she probably was as ignorant of that issue as are most Saint Lucians, notwithstanding that US$200 million lawsuit! I imagine Grynberg will have to wait, as they say, for another show!”)
Wednesday’s Factor opened with the host reminding her audience that “behind every successful man there’s a woman lying there!” A new development, I suppose. Time was when women were to be found behind every successful man. With the advent of feminism, they had moved to his side—which was supposed to indicate equality and all that good stuff. Who knew they had yet again changed position? In any event we soon learned a little more about the prime minister’s love affair with the Greeks: he revealed for the first time that he had named two of his offspring after heroes of Greek mythology. (More insight into the governor general’s most recent throne speech.)
There was another interesting moment when the host, doubtless with Father’s Day in mind, questioned the prime minister about his relationship with his father. Already he had revisited a time in River Doree when, at just six years of age, he was sent to live with a certain Reverend Smart, whose lifestyle, the prime minister neglected to tell his host, had been anything but priestly. However, he acknowledged that his relationship with his father had been less than ideal. Little did he know at the time that David Barnard was burdened with his own “challenges.”
Sounding like Vincent Price in House of Wax, the Factor’s “regretted” that he and his father had never settled their differences. He had been in England studying for his PhD when his father died, said the prime minister. What he revealed on the Dolor Factor hardly coincided with what he had told me in recorded interviews. But never mind, the important part was the message, which was, in short, that we should all learn to accept each other for what we are and not bear grudges. Presumably, that had been his thinking when he permitted Ralph Gonsalves to persuade him to interrupt official business in New York and come to George Odlum’s bedside when he was near death.
Depending on the teller of the story (mine was Odlum’s best friend Newman Monrose, now also deceased), by the prime minister arrived at Tapion Hospital his former Cabinet colleague turned the Great Satan was already heading out the building, en-route to Valhalla.
It remains conjectural whether the dying or dead man was ever aware of the prime minister’s tears as they fell on his belly.
The evening’s final call had a familiar hack ring to it: “Hello Doc, how you doing?”
“I’m doing fine, thank you!”
“Good. Now, I want to get into politics.”
The prime minister blinked. The evening had gone so well, was it about to be spoiled? He invited the caller to go ahead with his political question.
“Doc, why is it that Rick Wayne is always on your back?”
The prime minister’s answer was as sparse as had been his earlier responses to his host’s questions. “Well,” he said, “we have to respect other people’s opinions
. . . I hold nothing against anybody . . . they have a right to their views” blah, blah, blah.
If only the prime minister had asked the caller to explain “always on your back.” But then that might’ve landed the Dolor Factor a dangerous precedent. And, wisely, the prime minister did not wish to be rude. There’ll be time enough to get to the bottom of “always on your back!”