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TGIF columns are in order by date from the most recent.

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​Maracas Breach

DECADES AGO, I almost drowned at Maracas Beach on Trinidad’s north coast.

Once when I was a small child and only knew I had almost drowned because of the terror in my heart and because of how my father held me when he pulled me gasping from the water.
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​Two-Gun Chemo Kid

ON TUESDAY NEXT, if all continues going well, I will restart my final four cycles of chemotherapy as a hedge against the possible return of cancer. My body will be pumped full of toxic chemicals that will kill everything they touch.

Some guys just know how to have fun.
I’d say, “Eat your hearts out” but it would be too close to home, since my cancer was oesophageal. (A knowledge of Gray’s Anatomy, the med school text, not the TV show, might be required to catch that joke.)
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​Freeing the Panday Two

ON MONDAY, the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the 2005 Piarco Airport construction corruption cases against former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday and his wife Oma, former Minister of Something or the Other Carlos John and Still Very Rich Man Ishwar Galbaransingh and, in the slave ship-level overcrowded Remand Yard of the Port of Spain Prison, young men rejoiced as one, although they were crammed 11 to a cell built for one.

Because, if it took only 18 years for a prosecution unlikely to succeed against some of the most powerful individuals in the country to be withdrawn, there emerged this week a slim chance that those Remand Yarders might have their own potentially dodgy prosecutions nullified and, ergo, might get out of jail before they were entitled to claim the state pension.
There’s a page one story waiting to be written about the number of young men accused of crimes who have now spent longer behind bars waiting for their cases to begin than they would have if they’d served the maximum sentence, had they been convicted of the crime with which they’d been charged. (I would write that story myself, because I think we would all be shocked by it, but I still have PTSD from the day, 20 years or so ago, that I rang the Commissioner of Prisons, then Michael Hercules, who was at Hugh Wooding Law School with me in 1983, to find out how many prisoners there were on Death Row, a stat I needed for a single sentence in one of these columns; Hercules was not in the office and the officer I spoke with, on hearing I was writing for a newspaper, flatly refused to tell me, claiming the figure was a matter of national security. “How am I supposed to find out, then?” I asked him. “Come down and count them if you want!” he snarled; and hung up.)
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​Watermelon Man

AFTER MAJOR surgery to remove a tumour from my gullet on December 10, and with two-thirds of my stomach removed (against the spread of my oesophageal adenocarcinoma), I had to eat much smaller portions of the few foods I was permitted.

Overnight, Christmas excess became Ramadan moderation. On Friday, the day before surgery, I could have piled a plate high with chicken curry, paratha, channa-aloo, chataigne, pumpkin, bodi, mango all soaked in dhal, and cuffed it down like a Russian soldier meeting a Ukrainian civilian in Donetsk. On Sunday, I was in ICU and in hospital for six more. Thin soups were as rich as my meals got.

It was close to Christmas before I was allowed soft mashed potato. Dieticians and gastroenterologists add new items to a patient’s diet as if they’re adding phosphorous to water and all solid food is one big vat of nitroglycerine to them. I was out of hospital for two weeks before I was allowed a piece of toast with my one scrambled egg: what was left of my stomach just couldn’t take it.

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