Sunday Brew - September 27


Sunday Brew - September 27

Sunday, September 27, 2020

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Toots, 5446 and the St Mary link

Many stories have been told about the 77 years that Toots, properly named Frederick Hibbert, spent on Earth.

His songs in the early years were like expensive meals in my St Mary household, with 5446 That's My Number being the standout, but Sweet and Dandy, the Festival Song of 1968, was my mother's all-time favourite.

The 5446 That's My Number song had a deep St Mary connection, specifically the community of Belfield in the south-east section of the parish. The story of how Toots and the Maytals did that hit song still lingers.

There was a Mr Fogarty in Belfield, a tall, husky, fair-skinned man with an intimidating presence. He was a close friend of my father. As little boys, most time when you see Mr Fogarty coming you run. If you were brave enough to chance a talk with any of his beautiful daughters, you did so at an exceedingly high risk.

Mr Fogarty was a senior warder, now called correctional officer, perhaps the most senior at Richmond Farm Prison, about five miles away. That was where Toots, in 1967, spent around nine months for possession of ganja, a punishment that many felt did not warrant the crime, but in those days being caught by the police with even a ganja spliff was like being held with an M16 assault rifle today.

At the time of Toots' conviction, many of us youngsters were still at basic school or just preparing to enter primary school. But as my father told me, it was Mr Fogarty who approached Toots in prison one day and asked, 'Boy, what's your number'?, Toots didn't answer, maybe because he felt disrespected in being referred to as 'boy'. Mr Fogarty asked a second time, 'I said boy, what's your number?'. There was still no answer. Mr Fogarty then dropped the 'boy' part, but still shouted out, I said what's your number, to which Toots looked at his shirt and responded, '5446, that's my number.'

It was a huge surprise soon after his release that Toots recorded the song for which he is best known. And the legend still stands that he owed a massive debt to Mr Fogarty.

Outside of that, Toots was a nice man with a pure heart. In recent time, we met at Hotel Four Seasons in St Andrew over drinks in 2018 and shared, what to me were special minutes. He insisted that he must pay the bill and being one who is usually financially wounded, there was no need to object. Another meeting, more of a run-in, occurred at Suzie's, South Avenue, months later at which time he asked me to guess his age. When he told me, after giving up, I almost fell off the chair. I never saw him after that, but Toots will forever stand out in my mind as someone who I was not only happy to have met, but who thrilled me to the bone with his music.

Jeezam, is so Malahoo Forte head tough?

Is it that the prime minister is hard of hearing or blatantly stubborn that he did not see the reappointment of Marlene Malahoo “2,700 bun and cheese” Forte as attorney general, as a kind of omen?

Well, true to form, we did not have to wait long to get an indication of what Malahoo Forte is capable of continuing. To want to pursue the matter of the release of five men who were detained, illegally, some for over 400 days, under the state of emergency, is scandalous and absurd.

Supreme Court Justice Bertram Morrison ruled over a week ago that the detention of the men was unconstitutional, which any fair-minded individual would agree to. You cannot detain people for so long without charge and expect the whole world to applaud you for doing so.

Now, instead of negotiating compensation for the men, Mrs '2,700 bun and cheese' wants to ask the Court of Appeal to look at the matter, perhaps to waste the court's time. Luckily, the Court of Appeal comprises men and women who know the law inside out and will do the right thing, based upon the law. Mind you, it might not get there, because someone could yet tap the lady on the shoulder and say, 'Look, you have given away a lot of bun and cheese, let's go eat some, wash it down with some coconut water and just forget about this thing of wanting to visit the Court of Appeal.' Hopefully, she will listen.

PNP still playing with fire

The same thing that got the People's National Party's gear box stuck in third speed when President Dr Peter Phillips deliberately sidelined some of the people who opposed him in last September's presidential election is playing out again in the organisation now.

If the party elders and prominent few do not understand what happened in Jamaica on September 3, 2020, then they should play no role in seeking State power again.

That the PNP got blown out of the political sky by a green-painted missile called the Jamaica Labour Party seems not to have sunk in yet. Although the president, Dr Phillips has promised to resign, which he should have done already and allowed a vice-president, except his son, to preside over matters in the interim; the general secretary has still not indicated the obvious – that he should have stepped down long before Dr Phillips contemplated such a move.

Julian Robinson, like Dr Phillips, must share the blame, 50-50, for the PNP's embarrassing thumping. Now, we see reports of Robinson thinking about joining the race for leadership. Has he gone 100 per cent mad? He has not been a good general secretary and now wants to become president? What is wrong with some of these people why they can't stand before the mirror and tell themselves that they do not have the ability to perform certain jobs?

DK Duncan the cricketer

His exploits in dentistry, and politics are well chronicled, but what about DK Duncan the cricketer? Well, many may not know that Duncan, the former Member of Parliament, Cabinet minister, and big time general secretary (please take note Julian Robinson) all achieved under the banner of the People's National Party, was an outstanding cricketer while he attended Jamaica College.

In fact, DK, an allrounder at JC, even made the All Schools team during the late 1950s and was on the JC team that won the Sunlight Cup in 1959, which also included Franz Botek, the former treasurer of the West Indies Cricket Board, and Captain Anthony Abrahams, both deceased. When I met him as a patient for the first time in the 1980s at his dental surgery in St Andrew, we would normally strike up conversations about cricket mainly – never politics. The only real argument we ever had was his insistence that Devon Smith of the Windward Islands was the kind of opening batsman that the West Indies needed. I disagreed. Statistics and history will show that DK came up short on that one.

His knowledge of the game was remarkable. DK would talk with you so deep that you would forget why you went to his surgery in the first place. He was the only man whom I looked forward to visiting to do an extraction, filling or cleaning job, because, in respect of the first two, you never ever felt that needle containing substance that would make your mouth feel like 45 pounds heavy.

I will never forget the conversations of those early years, which continued and embraced politics later. His ability to convince people was remarkable.

I have a friend in Hopewell, Hanover, who is more JLP than Andrew Holness. He confessed to me in 2007 when DK went there to contest the seat for the PNP that he was an inch close to being converted from JLP to PNP, and virtually had to run away from him that day, as the lyrics had cast a spell on him.

Such was the power of Dr Donald Keith Duncan, the outstanding cricket mind. His legacy will hang high.

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