Juxtaposed, in two adjacent rooms of basement 2309 Stroud Street, were the sounds of loud but harmonious Bajan voices, who were enjoying a Wednesday night Bingo session. The domino room and the bar space – separated by an open hallway – allowed two activities that only mixed when the noise levels were half an inch a noise level scale while some 50 or so bingo players eyed a jackpot of $200 and those at the bar reflected on the outcome of the recent election in Barbados.
“We are playing line Bingo, and then an X and then full card so please keep your numbers until the end,” said the secretary of the Stroud Street Domino Association, and the organiser of event. “B -2 has just been called, we have a queen. Pay the queen,” she joyfully announced.
“B – 14, I – 16, N – 43, G – 55, O – 68 … Do we have a winner? Yes…Yes. Yes ” the call recorder shouted, as she covered the numbers with black circles, on the board.
As the first session progressed, one could not help but hear the discussion at the bar. It was politics. There were questions about the missing St. Philip Box, consideration of the constitutional issues that could have arisen with a 15 – 15 results, debate about why the BLP lost and the DLP won, and a prediction that someone may even cross the floor.
During the bingo break, when I approached those persons who sat at the bar for comments, I could not get anyone to give a specific quote. The five persons sitting at the bar held the view that Barbados is not as bad a situation as was made out during the election. Indeed, there was agreement that Barbados is still head and shoulders above the Caribbean islands in many respects and wondered why such a tactic was used.
However, Lionel Blackman – President of the Bajan/ American Domino Association and who spent eight days at home during the election was more than willing to share his views. Listen.
“I am a Mottley. My grand parents and Mia’s grandparents are cousins. Over the years, I have supported the Barbados Labour Party,” he said.
“I was home for eight. I go home often and so I am familiar with what is going on there. I am a war veteran (see my cap) and I have at least 40 years experience in this country. While I have learnt a lot from this place, Barbados is still the best place in the world for me. In two years, if all goes well, I shall be going home and I plan to offer myself as a candidate, I was born in St Philip and grew up in Grazettes, St Michael. This will restrict my choices, but eventually it will depend on what Mia wants. Let us move away from the noise. Come let us sit over there.” He was not only serious but frank.
Do you have any specific comments on the elections, I asked? Listen again:
Youth made the difference
“I think in the end the young people made the difference in the outcome of the elections. Both parties targeted them and they responded. Their participation was tremendous and historical but I was surprised at the emphasis which was placed on cash. There is no free money,” he said.
With regard privatisation Blackman said: “Look, I have friends who spent their whole life working at the transport board and their pensions etc. are all tied up with that institution. So, if we privatize, what kind of protection will these people have? I have a problem with privatization,” he said.
Reiterating how he felt good about Barbados Blackman, the son of Ralph Blackman, admitted that fuel prices and some food items are a little high, but Barbados is still an excellent and respectable place to live. He also felt that the media, in their coverage, placed too much emphasis on the leaders Arthur and Stuart, and neglected to promote the new candidates.
By the end of the evening, most had had another enjoyable evening. It was however Wendell Haynes, who came after the break and left with the biggest smile as lady luck, ensured that he won the evening’s Jackpot of $200.
At this time of the year, the Stroud Street Domino Association whose president is Kenneth Griffith (Big Bobby) sponsors bingo nights on selected Wednesdays and Saturdays.
At the Friends of Barbados DLP Valentine and pre-election celebration Cocktail Sip at Tropical Paradise on Monday February 17, 2012, there were a few whispers with regard to the “red outfits’ and if it were timely or politically correct? These whispers in the end added some lighthearted moments to the evening. Some of the patrons explained that their outfits were pink and magenta. However, the Master of Ceremonies was on point when he said that the red you see here tonight was an expression of the love which members had for each other, their friends and Barbados in general and had nothing to do with politics.