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Crystal balls-up

Friday, January 23, 2015

To write a breathtakingly original newspaper column you’ve got to steal the best ideas you can and, in 1999, I stole one of the best from Robert Steinback, then of the Miami Herald. At the start (or end) of every year, Steinback wrote a column of predictions for the coming year and considered the accuracy of the previous year’s predictions.

Steinback’s predictions were entirely serious, because he lived in a First World liberal democracy but mine could not be because I lived here; indeed, some of my predictions are included only to make you laugh, while others are deadly serious and would make anyone weep; and the perennial Trinidadian challenge remains to distinguish fantasy from reality. 

What’s been surprising, over the years—what I couldn’t have predicted—was that, instead of T&T becoming more like the USA, the opposite happened: just as we looked to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to save us from the madness of partisan political greed, so the US looked towards President Obama; it’s hard to say which nation was more disappointed.

I think people will be stupefied by the stunning accuracy of my first prediction for 2014:

• The price of oil will drop by 50 per cent, effectively slashing the T&T budget in half. Correct, but only because I added this prediction this morning, trusting the stupidity of a nation that happily accepts a prime minister’s gratuitous self-promoting billboards that cost “only” $50K;

• Hilary Clinton will run for president. Not true, but only because it’s too early; you’d think a responsible soothsayer might have seen plain calendar timelines a little firetrucking clearer;

• While people are lining up to buy iPhone 6, iPhones 7, 8, 9 and 10 will be released, and people will buy all five versions. Close enough—just watch the upcoming Apple watch;

• Jack Warner will shut down the ILP and join the PNM, once Keith Rowley gives him the Ministry of Firetruck Flat Tyre Repair. Half true, with the ILP effectively ineffective;

• Facebook will face stiff competition from a Trinidad porn version called BumceeBook. One glance at any Carnival costumed band Web site proves this true, although the band names aren’t quite so blatant;

• Kamla Persad-Bissessar will lose the UNC leadership to some clown, who will lose the general election, but won’t mind, because he or she will have gained so very much—prestige, of course—in a few short months. Wrong: Kamla faced no internal competition and the general election will not be called until the latest constitutionally possible date; but they’re going to town on that prestige in the interim;

• Brasil will win the World Cup; West Indies will lose every home game against schoolboy teams. Partially correct, since West Indies threw away half a tour and all their future profits when they abandoned the series in India, but way wrong regarding Brasil, who conspired to enter the World Cup record books from the wrong end in a horror-show loss to Germany;

• The only tourists in Barbados and Tobago will come from Trinidad—but will still be bitterly resented. Half true; they resented foreign tourists so much in Tobago, they killed them;

• The murder rate in Trinidad will be higher than the average weekly wage in dollars. Sad but true; even with a minimum wage rise;

• CNC3 will screen a reality show called Real Child-Mothers and Real Widows of Laventille-Morvant. Not true but only because the platinum sponsorship deal with a line of high-top sneakers and glossy hair and nail extensions fell through;

• Johnny Depp will make a very good and a very bad, movie. Half-true: both Transcendence and Lone Ranger stunk;

• The Savannah will be turned into a People’s Mall/Criminal Convention Centre. Not true yet; but give that spreading food court on the Track near Memorial Park a little more time;

And here are my predictions for 2015:

• Roger Federer will win more grand slams than Novak Djokovic;

• The T&T electorate will vote out the Government but its replacement will prove worse;

• Sepp Blatter will lose the Fifa presidential election but segue without financial loss into the International Olympic Committee;

• The Road March will feature a bass loop, an auto-tune lead vocal, a massed male chorus and only computer-generated sounds;

• Hillary Clinton will not get the presidential nomination;

• The West Indies will excel at T20 cricket and suck at every other form; the WICB will fire our best players;

• The Rolling Stones concert merchandise will sell tongue-logo wheelchairs and Sticky Fingers album cover-style Depends;

• Carnival fete tickets will cost more than mortgage payments;

• Women in the Islamic State of What’s Left of Syria and Iraq will have to wear mouth-hijabs to prevent answering back to males, including their infant sons;

• The T&T Government will invest in solar power, and a Trini Cabinet member will steal the sun;

• Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will appear on Celebrity Apprentice to get noticed;

• The Pope will replace the Pontiff’s hat with the guaybera;

• China’s economy will get a boost from salt prune sales, but it will be offset by smartphone purchases;

• I will not be able to think of a better way of ending this column than I have for the last 16 years. How did I know? How did I firetrucking know? I amaze me!

• This column will end abrup

There is no paper but the Guardian and BC Pires is its not-for-Prophet


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