NOT AS I DID
Son, I do think that each family
should only be cursed
with one revolutionary,
is one too many.
And that is why I say
I do believe it’s better
son, do as I say
and not as I did.
(- from NOT AS I DID, written by Evan X Hyde in 1975, and published in POEMS OF PASSION, PATRIOTISM, AND PROTEST by Roland A. Parks in 1981.)
Last week I began a partial holiday early Tuesday afternoon. I did not have anything to do with the preparation of any of our two issues last week, but on Tuesday morning from 5 to 7:30 I had sold the Tuesday Amandala from our old family home near Bolton Bridge and the Haulover Creek.
I was taking a holiday because my wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, besides which I felt somewhat “stressed” from a series of public events, including an awards ceremony, a funeral, and a memorial service which had come one after the other in rapid succession.
It was the said last week Tuesday morning, however, when a drama began to unfold on Mose’s WUB show on KREM Television and Radio. My oldest son is a grown man, and I do not interfere in his business. Sometimes he consults with me, but that is relatively infrequently. In the Elvin Penner passport matter and Mose’s call for a police investigation, Mose was paddling his own dory on Tuesday morning.
As we set out for Belmopan early Tuesday afternoon, Mose’s mom had become concerned, and her concern grew as the day later began to become evening and we were watching some of the repeat talk shows and evening newscasts on television. This is how moms are. I was paying attention to the increasing drama, but I was not alarmed in any way. This Penner excitement was how it is on Partridge from time to time.
I was intrigued more by my personal realization on Tuesday that my days of disrespecting Belmopan were over, and that what used to be, for me, a village, had now gone big time. My parents and four of my younger siblings (two boys, two girls) had departed Belize City for Belmopan when the first wave of Belize City public officers had to take up residence in the new capital in August of 1970. I think I led those of my brothers who remained in Belize City where our pooh-poohing of Belmopan’s urban status was concerned. But one of us older ones, Michael, soon had to report for work in Belmopan at Lands and Surveys, while another older Hyde sibling, Charles, taught at Belmopan Comprehensive School in the mid-1970s.
The government move to Belmopan in 1970 divided my parents’ children permanently, in different ways. Belize City had been an old pirates’ haven for centuries: there had always been bars, clubs, whorehouses and gambling dens practically in the center of the city. Belmopan absolutely had no such when it opened: if you were an adventurer or a sinner, you had to go to Roaring Creek after dark. At least, that’s how it seemed. I was in my young, wild days. How could you have a city without adventure or sin?
Please understand. I’m not saying there is adventure or sin in Belmopan in 2013, as opposed to 1970. I’m just saying I can’t disrespect Belmopan “no more.” For crying out loud, Belmopan has now won the national football title of Belize. In the world we older Hydes grew up in at the corner of Regent Street West and West Canal, there couldn’t be anything bigger than that. Respect, Belmopan. It took me 43 years to give you that.
Well now, by Wednesday morning my wife’s concern about her only son had become alarm. So, she called Mose during a WUB break. Her call to him, predictably, sparked a call from him to me. I assured him that I had complete confidence in his judgment, reminded him that this was how moms are, and said that I was cool.
The Penner matter, nevertheless, began getting hotter and hotter as the sun rose higher and higher over the nation of Belize on Wednesday. Personally, I had a wonderful Wednesday in Belmopan. My wife and I had lunch with the Mexican ambassador and his wife, Clara Ines, at their embassy residence, and in the evening we had dinner with my younger brother and his wife, my younger sister and her husband, and my first cousin, Louis B, and his wife. Of the three couples, the first two have lived in Camalote (Camalote being a village just west of Belmopan) for three decades and more, while Louis B and Val have resided in Belmopan for a similar length of time.
My Camalote brother and sister represent half of the “dissident” faction of the Hydes. In family lore, they are known as the “Islanders,” while we older ones are known to them as the “Invaders.” This came out of a famous cricket game at Spanish Caye in the 1970s, but that is the Islanders’ story to tell.
I am trying to remember when precisely I saw the television interview in which the Prime Minister became visibly agitated under questioning by KREM’s Marisol Amaya. It must have been early Thursday morning, because Wednesday evening from 6 onwards I was in the Bull Frog dining room. On Thursday morning, I knew that my too brief holiday was coming to a rapid end, and by Thursday evening I was essentially back in the saddle.
It was not the Penner matter which ended my holiday, but it probably contributed. To repeat, I had a great time in Belmopan on Wednesday, and I did declare to my Camalote and Belmopan family members that my days of disrespecting Belmopan are over. Also, the Mexican ambassador and his wife were so very gracious.
Early in this column, I referred to a series of public events which had driven up my stress level. I always used to wonder why it was that I felt pressured before such events. It is because I suffer from a form of something which the Americans now call social anxiety disorder. It’s not a crippling problem, just irritating.
A few weeks ago I had to make an appearance at Grace Primary School for an awards ceremony for “patriots.” I felt pressure before the event, but I really enjoyed being present when the various Standard VI students introduced their selected patriots, many of whom were humble citizens who are the salt of our Belizean earth. In line with this, I want to express public respect to Grace Primary’s Mrs. Diana Swift Azueta, and to Mr. and Mrs. Dean Tillett. Big up.
Power to the people.