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Milk the Wheelers

Published: 
Friday, October 23, 2015

The mean-spirited and unpatriotic hordes are making their usual empty noises about the Monday murder of Richard and Grace Wheeler in Tobago, but I want to suggest they stop being selfish for a little while and put our country first. 

If we can only be a little proactive, a great deal of potential national good might come out of the chopping to death of Richard, 72, and the slitting of 63-year-old Grace’s throat on their own property; and there has already been at least one positive a true Trinbagonian patriot might identify.

First, and with all due respect to Sunday’s Blue Food Festival (at what I realise now is the wholly misnamed “Bloody Bay”—southern Tobago has the real deal), the Wheelers have given their lives for a genuinely noble cause, namely, the advancement of what is now clearly Tobago’s number one hobby: the at home-slaughter of well-off white couples; it’s bigger in Bacolet than standup paddle-boarding at Pigeon Point.

Since 2008, as Casandra Thompson-Forbes’ Guardian story reported on Wednesday, there have been seven other older white people murdered by machete (or attempted to) in Tobago. Last November, Germans Hubertus and Birgid Keil, aged 74 and 71, respectively, were chopped to death (though their murderer did buck the popular national trend and leave the bodies on the beach rather than in their own expensive homes). 

Before them, in November and August 2009, respectively, the German national, Peter Taut, and the English couple, Peter and Murium Green, were all chopped up. (Unfortunately, the Greens survived and live now merely severely maimed, though their mouths obviously work well enough for them to bad-talk, pettily, the glorious tourist destination of Tobago.) 

In October 2008, Oke Olsoon, 73, and Anna Sundsval, 62, were sliced-and-diced in their own villa but, for the earliest recorded instance of the Tobago hobby, you have to go back to 2006, to the Italian woman decapitated in her own home, which would have the added attraction of evening out the male/female numbers, if she were considered Peter Taut’s “plus one.”

We, as an emerging but confident people, a young country fully prepared to encounter the world on its own terms, declare our sovereignty, and assert our absolute right to define our own national instrument (the steelpan), our own Tobago dish (curried crab and dumpling) and, now, our own national hobby in murdering old white folks of both genders (Tobago) and young black men (Trinidad).

And I make this statement on our behalf confidently; because, if you don’t take something seriously, such as multiple murders that could ground a novel for the late Henning Mankel and that might be solved in an hour-long episode of CSI, it obviously must be your hobby.

But there is a far greater potential national benefit that might arise out of the national Tobago hobby than simply the good feeling associated with a justifiable pride in one’s maturity as a nation.

In a rapidly shrinking tourism global market, and with Cuba poised to take away from all the other islands the majority of American tourism, all the good work done in the diligent refusal to solve so many murders with the same modus operandi could be put to securing a distinct international branding advantage: Tobago could become the world’s leading septuagenarian murder tourism destination.

Consider: you are a white European couple approaching doddering old age. You face a long, drawn-out death in a cold climate with nothing to cheer you up but soggy fish-and-chips and rain instead of hailstones on a good day. Sheer firetrucking misery.

But, for just the price of two plane tickets to Tobago (and the short-term rental of one of at least three now-empty houses in Bacolet or Carnbee), your last days on Earth could be spent in a tropical paradise. Instead of taking months or even years to die the dullest of deaths in a dreary European hospital, you spend your last weeks going to a different glorious beach every day, and sampling a cuisine so fine it includes bene balls and pink sugar-cake. 

Instead of years spent literally dead boring in England, your last minutes of life in southern Tobago are filled with the greatest imaginable excitement. Your last breaths, instead of being so insignificant that passing orderlies don’t even notice your chest has stopped rising and falling, are huge gasps. 

Your very last moments are filled with all the adrenaline your ageing body can produce, so much so that your heart may stop and you may die very quickly, perhaps even before your head is cut off.

The European countries our murder victims/tourist arrivals travel from would also benefit, in that their socialised medicine hospitals would not have to spend the huge sums necessary to keep alive ageing people who really could be killed far more quickly and cheaply in Tobago; which would surely tend towards improving our relationships with them. With a bit of luck and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, we could reverse those travel advisories that trouble us so much. 

Instead of making a doubtful promise to Europeans that they would have the time of their lives in Tobago, we could assure them of the time of their deaths.

We’ve proved it eight times over already.

I’d like, though, to correct a repeated media mistake in calling Richard Wheeler “an English expat;” he was no more an expat than Anthony Sabga is. When I was called to the bar in 1984, he sent me my first brief. He lived and worked here almost all his life and was murdered here in his own home.

If that doesn’t make him a true Trinbagonian, nothing will.

n BC Pires is deeply sorry for the loss, and its manner, of people who gave far more to these cruel little rocks than they ever took.

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