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  • It is election time in Trinidad & Tobago and questions need answers.
    Trinis have this made up rule that you have a “grace period”. 15 minutes grace when you’re late for work. You can be as late as you want when you have to meet your friends. You have a grace period, no? Half an hour grace when the health specialist has to see you. It’s just not good enough.

    With life situations, there is No Grace Period. We need to take action immediately.


    I am always an early bird. I go to the sitting room, open the window and stick my hand out. It is freezing outside. I look at my phone and it has clocked a temperature of 6⁰C. Brrrr….but I leave the window open for there is no breeze and my sitting room slowly freshens. I plug in my headphones and I click “Play”.

    When the intro is cleared, the first word strikes a chord with me and in the first sentence, I all at once, hear everything I look for in a Calypso.

    The daughter of a God or poetry designed around a topical theme. The rhythm of my African ancestors pours through my veins with the beat. A beat that is constant like my heart, my breathing. I don’t just hear that beat, I actually feel it and my shoulders begin to shuffle back and forth. I close my eyes and listen eagerly and I wonder when the rhythm will change; sometimes you are not aware and the spirit takes you. You “catch the spirit” and my childhood is recalled. I continue to listen and I see the lady who has broken away from the dance class. She falls to the ground violently and starts convulsing; her eyes turn up. The drummers continue on the dried out goat’s skin. I’m afraid but those around, leave her be. Particular beats cause some to go into a trance-like state. She has caught the spirit.
    I open my eyes and focus on the lyrics.

    Lyrics.

    There is a Calypso today with lyrics? The lyrics are actually relevant?

    Calypso.

    When the slaves finally had time in their quarters, they dressed up and mimicked the massa and overseers. Dame Lorraine with her broken parasol and exaggerated bustle which then simply became…. a big arse. So too, they sang and chanted and competed by extemporising. They sang of their woes and sang of nuances and innuendos. When I think of how I have lived the evolution and equally, the regression of Calypso, I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear Kurt sing. He is the Last Bardjohn of Calypso in its most honest sense. Like those who had a message before him. “Captain this ship is sinking, Captain these seas are rough, oh yes. We gas tank almost empty, no electricity, we oil pressure reading low…. ” Well look how this 10 year old thought that Gypsy was on a ship. The adults read between the lines, though. The man with the Hammer. I had to ask my father, who was the man with the Hammer. True Calypsonians taught me about the people I need to know about. Who remembers No Crime No Law by Commander back in ‘59? What a thought provoking opinion.

    Some of the masters of Calypso are now gone and there are few who remain standing alone in a crowd, alone in a sea of people with their “Jump and jump and jump and wave yuh flag.”

    Sometimes I feel that Kurt is alone.

    As I continue to listen, I know I want more. I want more of the Lizard Under She Dress, I want more Ten to One is Murder. I want more Dust Dem and Calypso Rose and Singing Sandra.

    I want more brass!

    I want more Kurt Allen and his perseverance to maintaining an art form that is unique to the people of Trinidad & Tobago. Calypso is a story told, a lullaby, a distress call, a jokey rhyme. A subtle, adult talk.

    Calypso is we ting.


    (Ref. Bard - a poet, traditionally one reciting epics and associated with a particular oral tradition)
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