Columns

Wha' sweet yuh can also sour

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, June 21, 2019

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Everybody knows the joys of mango season; from the smallest boy eating a dozen blackies with the juice staining his shirt, to the society maven using a silver spoon, with pinky finger extended, to scoop out a Bombay.

And, everybody has their favourite. Bombay, Julie and East Indian are the top shelf; followed by Number Eleven, Black Mango, Robin, Sweetie Come Brush Me, and Common mango. Not as fancied, but still in the race are Number Seven, Long Mango, Hairy/Stringy, and Beefy. Other varieties can be found, and there will always be someone to wash them pot, tun it down, and enjoy mango time.

About a week ago news was shared by the Ministry of Agriculture that there was a resumption of mango export shipments. On Thursday, June 13, Julie and East Indian mangoes were carefully selected and were the guests of honour at an official ceremony at Sangster International Airport. With the proper exit papers and permits Julie and East Indian mangoes were on their way to delight buyers in the US.

Jamaica used to ship mangoes to the UK in the past. Canned mangoes and mango chutney were on the export list a few decades ago. In more recent times (2013/2014), several thousand kilogrammes of the favoured fruit have found their way abroad to Canada and the US since the United States Department of Agriculture gave clearance for Jamaica to send mangoes Up So, but the rules and regulations proved challenging to overcome.

Fast-forward to 2019, and friends in Florida who have been suffering from water-wash, chowy-chowy mangoes were dancing with delight at the news of the recent shipment coming their way. I have it on good authority that our Jamaican family have been scouring the aisles of supermarkets in search of the real-real mangoes. While some haven't been lucky enough to get their hands on the fruit yet, they now have more opportunities to try.

A news release from the Jamaica Information Service says the shipments should continue until late July when the mango season tapers off.

On Sunday of this week, in Portmore, St Catherine, the joys of mango season turned deadly. What should have been a morning of enjoyment and sharing with friends became a tragedy when 16-year-old Tyreese Winter went to pick mangoes. The youngster climbed into the tree, came in contact with Jamaica Public Service (JPS) wires and, sadly, he was electrocuted.

Residents complained that the authorities were slow to respond to the tragedy. Reports are that it took more than an hour for the fire brigade and the Jamaica Public Service to arrive at the scene. A spokesperson from the fire brigade has advised that residents should know the contact numbers for the nearest station when reporting incidents to ensure help will arrive quickly. Apparently calls to the standard emergency line don't mean the message gets delivered to the right station at the right time.

JPS, for their part, indicated that any reports regarding the safety of individuals or their property are treated with urgency; however, it still took about an hour for a team to be dispatched to the scene and for the power lines to be de-energised so that the boy's body could be safely recovered.

Residents are also urged to work with the JPS when their maintenance crews go out on their rounds to trim trees in an effort to keep them clear of the power lines. Understandably, some property owners are reluctant to have their trees pruned as the sight of a power saw and machete hacking away at their beloved greenery can be too much for them to bear, but safety is the order of the day. Let us hope that this mango season will bring more joy and the only pain is the “wash-out” at the end of summer.

Condolence to the

Musician, composer, musical director, and band member Conroy Cooper passed away late last week. He was a talented musician who worked on several theatre productions as well as television and radio programmes. He was an early member of the Fabulous Five Band, alongside his brother Grub, and worked with several well-known individuals in the music industry, including Peter Ashbourne and Ernie Ranglin.

He worked with several theatrical productions, including the Little Theatre Movement (LTM), arranging and composing music for the LTM annual national pantomimes, notably Queenie's Daughter (1973) and The Pirate Princess (1981). He produced jingles for several radio and television commercials and for the well-loved radio series The Fortunes of Flora Lee.

He also ventured into “integrative medicine” and was adept in the study and practice of “Cymatics”, which utilises sound waves to assist with healing.

Conroy was a source of interesting information and talent — musical and otherwise. He will be missed. Walk good, Conroy.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.


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