Friday, April 19, 2024

Pals for 32 years


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THREE NAMES have been inextricably linked to late Prime Minister David Thompson in friendship for the past 32 years.
It is a union that started at Combermere School and remained steadfast over the years, with fierce loyalty the foundation on which their alliance was built.
In fact, as grieving chairman of the Transport Board, Pedro Stanford, told The Nation yesterday, such was the close relationship shared among Rodwell London, Pearson Bovell, Thompson and himself, that “David never forgot us in anything”.
Stanford said his friendship with Thompson took off while they were seniors at school and during a two-year stint of part-time employment at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation [CBC] in the late 1970s.
“When we were boys at Combermere we worked at CBC for about two years. We used to go and send out thousands of TV licence forms every week . . . that is when we really got tight . . . we used to send out the licences for $20,” he said.
Stanford recalled when he started to work he was the only person with a car and he used to drop home Thompson and the rest of the Combermere crew.
“I remember one thing mostly about this period. In those days CBC’s office used to be in Sunjet House in Independence Square. We were there one Saturday morning and Tom Adams passed and if you saw how he looked at David.
“He looked at David in this serious manner, held up his hand and waved at him. He looked at him as though David was a real, political foe. I remember that as though it was yesterday morning. I could not think of why Tom would look at him like that . . . David was still at school,” he said.
Stanford recalled that Government consultant Sarston “Frank” Lavine had an early influence on them, since he was in charge of the television licensing section where they worked as boys.
He reminisced that Lavine always looked out for them and treated them as though they were his sons.
“He would often take us around the corner to Chicken Barn after we finished work,” he said.
Stanford recalled one amusing incident with the youthful Thompson.
“Once I told the fellows that I had to pick up my girlfriend, drop her home by me and then we would go and lime. David and my girl could not get along at all. So he told me that if I was going for her to put him out the car.
“We were by the wharf by Carlisle House so I pulled in neat and David got out and slammed the door and I drove off. That was like the Thursday. The next week he come quarrelling: ‘Man, you put me out you car’. Then he accused London of not showing solidarity with him and getting out the car too,” he said.
Stanford said Thompson told them that they did not even ask him if he had money and he had to borrow bus fare from a snow cone vendor in the Lower Green Bus Stand to get home.
“Up to this day, David tells everybody the story that I put him out of my vehicle,” he said.
Stanford recalled the many great times the four spent together, including meeting a minimum of twice per year to socialise at one of their homes. They invariably attended Thompson’s annual birthday celebration at his Mapps, St Philip residence.
“Last Christmas, David told us we had been doing this every year and we don’t have any pictures, and to come inside and let us take a picture. We took one with all of us and he had engraved on it ‘Friends For 32 Years’ and each of us has one,” Stanford said.
He said it was uncanny that as a politician Thompson seemed to know everybody in St John. He marvelled at his powers of recall.
Stanford described his late friend as immensely humble, noting he took great pride in opening up his official residence at Illaro Court to all Barbadians.
“He loved this country and he loved people,” Stanford said.
He noted that Thompson and wife Mara had a tremendous relationship and that the Prime Minister absolutely adored her. He revealed that he had spent many hours on the greens playing golf at Sandy Lane with Mara at the behest of his friend.
Emphasising Thompson’s terrific wittiness, Stanford recalled one incident where the joke was on Thompson.
“He knew nothing about cars. If he opened a car bonnet, he didn’t recognise anything under it . . . he really didn’t care about anything like that. Once he went playing he helping somebody put oil in a car and put transmission fluid in the engine and then had to call me.
“I had to tell him this is no legal or political matter and then I had to drain out the transmission fluid . . . ,” he said.
Stanford revealed that one of the most painful experiences in Thompson’s life was the fall-out with former school and political colleague, Clyde Mascoll.
“But he never said anything bad about ‘Bowman’. They are both my friends and despite some bad things said about David, he never said anything ill about Clyde. He never fought him like that,” Stanford said.


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