Patterson celebrates his 70th
This being Jamaica, it was probably too much to expect the guests to turn up on the dot – even if it’s for a pre-birthday party for a prime minister. In this case, Prime Minister P J Patterson, who turns 70 today.
So, at 7:30 last night – half-an-hour after the time on the invitation – guests were just trickling into the cocktail reception ahead of a formal dinner for Patterson at the Riu Hotel in Negril, Westmoreland.
The event, according to officials of Patterson’s People’s National Party, was being put on by friends of the prime minister to celebrate what PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill called “a significant milestone”.
“We are celebrating three-scores and ten of Mr Patterson’s life,” Pickersgill said, shortly after arriving at the Riu for the reception. “That is a significant milestone which is being celebrated with friends and well-wishers.”
Well, the ‘friends’ expected at last night’s do were more than a handful – about 300, according to sources, including some of the best-known names from the Caribbean. Sir Shridath Ramphal, the former secretary general of the Commonwealth and Edwin Carrington of the Caribbean Community were there.
So, too, were Michael Lee Chin, the Jamaican/Canadian billionaire fund manager who owns National Commercial Bank, Professor Rex Nettleford, former vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and Dr Ossie Harding, one-time JLP government minister.
“If you have been in leadership for as long as he has, you accumulate a few friends,” said Pickersgill. Several of Patterson’s colleague prime ministers from Caricom couldn’t make the date because of flight difficulties.
Guests sipped wine and nibbled hors d’oeuvres ahead of a dinner inside Riu’s Shadows restaurant, which was decorated in the Jamaican colours. Nearer to the entrance were ballons in black and orange, the traditional colour of the PNP. Several ice carvings, one of which said “Happy Birthday”, were also on display.
Guests were to dine on an eclectic mix of beef, lamb, snapper and shrimp.
Pickersgill declined to name the friends who put on the function, stressing: “This is not costing the government or the party.”
The celebrations continue today, with a 4:00 pm church service at Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston. Then tomorrow there will be a formal reception at the prime minister’s Vale Royal home at 7:00 pm.