The time has come for me to tell you a story. You have to go way back to late 1962 or early 1963, and you?re looking at a young teenager named Evan Hyde (no ?X? back then) who didn?t know much about anything except books, sports, sea, and the canalside. I was a student at St. John?s College.
There were only two newspapers in British Honduras then ? The Belize Billboard and The Belize Times. (Hurricane Hattie in October of 1961 had finished off The Daily Clarion.) The Billboard used to do a little sports from time to time, nothing much, but the Times had absolutely no sports.
There are things that happen in my life which I can?t explain in terms of logical progression, and this was one of them. I stepped into the office of The Times one day and asked to see the editor of the newspaper, a young man named Bobby Leslie. Yeah, the said same Cab Sec of 2004. I said to him, you guys need a sports column. I?ll do one for you every week for $1.00 a column.
Some background to this is important. I was raised as an NIP, because my mother was a Methodist and an NIP. My father was a Roman Catholic and a PUP sympathizer. But he had no say in our home politically. We children were all NIP. So I didn?t belong in the Times? office except that I knew that I knew sports, and I knew that I could write.
So, I get the go ahead from Leslie, and, as far as I can remember, I wrote four sports columns for the Belize Times, which would be a total of four weeks ? one month. The columns appeared, I believe without byline, in the Sunday issues of The Times.
After the month, I stepped into the Times? office again and told Leslie I needed a raise to $2.00 per column or I would quit. I had no reason to believe that my column had any value for the people who owned and ran The Times. In fact, I had no reason to think that my column had any kind of popular appeal or anything. All I knew was, it was $2.00 or bust. In retrospect, I was behaving in an audacious manner, and I am not an audacious person, I don?t think.
Leslie said that such a decision was not within his power, that I would have to go upstairs to see the manager of the newspaper, a man named Tony Meighan. 10, 15 years after that I started hearing a lot of stories about Tony Meighan, but all I knew at the time about Tony Meighan, was that I had seen him pitch briefly for one of the baseball teams in the league at Edwards Park.
Meighan said he would have to talk to the owner of the newspaper about my demand. It took a week for me to get the answer. At some point, I can?t say whether it would be during my first or second meeting with Mr. Meighan, I got the firm sense that Mr. Price was the owner of The Times. This was news to me. It was not a shock, just news. And I?m saying this, because it corroborates what I said in the first paragraph ? I was a young teenager who didn?t know much of the real world.
Well, after the week and I go upstairs to Meighan?s office for the second time, he informed me that my request/demand had been rejected. I told him that I quit, and then delivered the same message to Leslie downstairs.
Heading up Queen Street across the Swing Bridge and down Regent Street West on my way home, I expected for my father to be angry at me, but I had no idea my mother would feel the same way. Both my parents were much displeased. Perhaps they feared for their oldest son?s future. How had I gotten into such a confrontation, such a predicament? It was a time of great stress for I. I?d done what I felt I had to do, and that was the result.
Remember this now, that in 1962, 1963, Mr. Price and the PUP were at the height of their popularity. The PUP had won three straight national elections, the last one in 1961, a few months before Hattie, being a clean sweep of all 18 seats ? a political destruction of the National Independence Party and the Christian Democratic Party. You simply did not disrespect Mr. Price and the PUP during this time, or you would feel pain.
In retrospect, this type of unplanned challenge/confrontation became the signature of my life. And the reason the time has come for me to tell you this story, is because the only thing I have when I am in these crises is what Taegar calls ?the Spirit?. I can?t say how it works for him, but for me there is an absolute, though unscientific, certainty that I am correct.
That is all I have, and when you take that away from me, then you have defeated me. During the last few weeks, where the matter of the University of Belize is concerned, I have come close to defeat. I salute my opponents on a campaign well planned and brilliantly executed. Yet, the battle is not yet over.
It must have been in a time such as this that the poet, William E. Henley, wrote as follows:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll:
I am the Master of My Fate;
I am the Captain of my Soul.