Tuesday, April 23, 2024



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It was a dark and stormy night. Or a bright moonlighty night. Where I was, I couldn’t see nuttin’. I had awakened seconds before in pitch darkness. Stretched forward a hand. Bup! There was a solid wood partition just inches from my nose.
Reached over my head, same thing. Kicked down with my toes. Solid wood down there too. Panic rising. Dear God, please tell me I’m not in a . . .
I raise a hand vertically and hope dies. Above me, underneath, in front, over my head, below my feet, all is solid wood: someone has put me in a box! But who?
Prime suspect: Kim Kardashian. She obviously wants to take me to some deserted farmhouse, tie my hands with her 32-DD bra, and have her way with my manly body.
Three problems with that theory. First, that incident happened in 1970. Kim wouldn’t be born until October 21, 1980. Secondly, the geezers who read this column don’t know who Kim Kardashian is. In their day, Bardot was sex, sex was taboo, and Taboo Wood was manager of Vaucluse plantation.
Thirdly, never put a Hoad in a box if you want him to perform. We can’t take it.
Late at night, mummy and I are waiting for brother Georgie to come home. She, to warm his food. Me, hoping he has had a few liquors and some action, and will describe the latter in glorious detail. And now here he comes, singing away:
“Give me land lots of land with the starry skies above, don’t fence me in; let me ride through the wide open country that I love, don’t fence me in . . . I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences, gaze at the moon until I lose my senses, I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences, don’t fence me in.”
It was his anthem; it is certainly my anthem. Probably the anthem for all Hoads. We can’t handle being boxed in. And when I get my hands on that Kim Kardashian or whoever . . . .
But, come to think of it, it’s a good anthem for us all. We can go through life free as a bird but, in a moment of dementia, sign a convention, take marriage vows, join a political party, adopt a religion and brups! Freedom gone. Fetters of our own making cramp our style and box us into physical and mental slavery.
We boxed ourselves in by allowing alien cultures to influence our implementation of hanging, flogging of adults and schoolchildren. Now we have no tools to combat lawlessness.
To back-slapping heads of government, the Treaty of Shaggyramus might have sounded like a good idea. Eh, eh, pardners, we comin’ together, oui?
Now we find ourselves in the Caricom Single Market and Economy box, or rather coffin. We don’t want to appear anti-“integration”, but only a madman would open his country’s doors to two million Haitians willing to work for US$2 a day and destroy his own work force. Or sit with the latest CARICOM brother, convicted cocaine trafficker also accused of the torture and murder of 15 opponents, Desi Buh-Thirsty.
Friends, Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it nicely: “Man was born free but is everywhere in chains.” Don’t let them box you in. Recently some of us gathered to celebrate 70 years and counting for Maurice Burke. He never married. Never kept a cow, but has drunk and still drinks more milk than most of us. A role model for men everywhere.
By the way, contrary to my opening remarks, I wasn’t really boxed in. An older Englishman, my future sister-in-law and I were on a farm tour in America. At one point our hosts could only accommodate one of us in their home; the other two would have to sleep in a nearby trailer.
Would you believe that the stupid Americans, seeing two young Bajans of opposite sexes, hormones raging, heaven-sent opportunity right there, put me and the Englishman in the trailer and my future sister-in-law in the house?
To cap it all, I got the bottom bunk, must have turned in my sleep to face the wall and nearly died on awakening to find myself seemingly in a box.
Stupid, stupid Americans. No wonder they’ve boxed themselves in by declaring carte-blanche freedom of religion and now can’t stop a mosque at the 9/11 site.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.


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