It was a hot summer Saturday in 1976 and the Khooky Khast of Kharacters were all gathered around the domino table.

Chairman of the Board was my partner, Gene Autry, who got his name by warning all and sundry “Don’t joke with Gene Autry!!”  Why did he do that?  Because it sounded cool – why else?  Except, of course, in those days, we didn’t use four letter words like “joke” when sterner stuff was available.  Now that we are all old men belatedly trying to get into Heaven, we do actually use words like “joke”.  In those halcyon days, we were much more descriptive and the word actually used made the warning sound more like encouragement for abstinence.

The Beast, as usual, had been the first to arrive.  His name was earned in the usually complex teenage method of circular thought.  He liked my sister (from a distance) but did nothing about it.  Back in those days, a popular name for a girlfriend was “beast”.  Somehow, because he did not pursue a “beast”, this quiet, bookish young man became “The Beast”.  His was a most earnest disposition making him an automatic first choice as a third for any domino game.  You could be assured that he would arrive at the appointed place and wait patiently for hours without complaint confident, despite the absence of contact by his host, that a game was on.

The Domino leader was the street hustler Dessie, a brilliant player who earned his spending money around the domino table.  Also present was “The Dunce” who, if asked about his occupation, would reply somewhat vacantly “walk street and kick stone!”  It was rumoured that, as an infant, he had fallen from a tree on his head.  A fan of the early Toasters (now “Rappers”), his would frequently chant “If a Macka mek it jook yu!!” regardless of the context.  “Little D” (short stature; big heart) and “Poop” (a lifetime reminder of one embarrassing moment in class) were also there.

Even Upsetter, purely a turfite, was allowed to kibitz.  He was named after irritating Autry with pointed teasing whenever his favourite horse defeated Gene’s.  One day, Gene could take it no longer “Boy” he growled, “You’re upsetting me!”  The name stuck – he became “The Upsetter” for life.  We even had two visitors from UWI.  The elder (and better), player called himself Dr. S. Blank, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Domino.  His partner was unkindly referred to as “Jimmy Hunchback” for obvious reasons.  Jimmy was the worst yet luckiest domino player of all time.  It mattered not how badly he played, the game would somehow come right back to him and he would win with great glee not having a clue how or why he won.

But this was 1976 and the talk around the table was all IMF.  To be or not to be an IMF borrower?  “Well” declared Blank as he slammed down a domino, killing double-six, “Me a die-hearted Socialist but, if dem hever sell me out to de IMF……….”

“What yu saying Blank?” Autry interrupted “once they don’t ban dominoes or racehorse, what do you care?”

“Yu no see sey de IMF always stop Govanment from helping poor people.”

If a Macka mek it jook yu………… (The Dunce announced his presence to his own private melody).

The Beast took on Blank “You mean to say IMF stop Government from making poor people poorer.  No more populist pork barrel spending like Crash Program.”

“Yu a heediat bwoy?” lectured Blank.  “IMF don’t business wid Crash Program.  IMF jus’ help wid foreign exchange shartrage but den fas’ inna hevryt’ing.  Laad a Massy………..”  Blank suddenly noticed Jimmy accidentally killing his own double blank instead of winning outright “is wha yu a do Jimmy?”

But fortune favoured Jimmy as, after Little D’s compulsory play, Blank, offered an opportunity to block the game, accepted with aplomb and double blank won after all. “This is exactly what I’m trying to tell you, Blank” said The Beast, “If you allow Jimmy to make too many foolish plays without supervision, he will colt the game.  It’s up to you to block and force him to keep the dominoes he has left.  Is de same thing de IMF do,  Dey stop Government from spending senselessly; mek Government count what it have and use it sparingly.  Left alone, every Jamaican Government would end up colting the game.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Peace and Love.


2 Responses to “WHO COLT THE GAME”

  1. Paul Wright Says:

    What on earth could be so “offensive” that it was not printed. That type of column makes a change from what is churned out daily. So-called serious journalists pontificating on the National Malaise Lack-of-Leadership. The Gleaner editor responsible for yanking thjis column just does’nt get it. The Gleaner is losing money because you can safely predict what the columnists will say on any given day. Please try again

  2. Lynda Mair Says:

    Apparently the job of a newspaper editor is to cater to the least common denominator and not to even try to educate. I would have thought that even if he didn’t recognise a French phrase which has become a part of the wider usage of English (in other countries that do in fact affect to speak English) he would have printed it with a translation underneath.

    The TT’s problem is that he (a) delusionally believes that he is living in a literate, civilized society; (b) has failed to realize that he is now a part of a rapidly diminishing underclass.

    All this to say that this is further justification for my decision to cease purchasing local newspapers (other than for when my dog has puppies and I need the paper for the whelping box) and to just read them for free on the internet. Incidentally, the Gleaner is much more absorbent than the Observer, so it is still my favourite.

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