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Several days ago, I reacted to a column I read in The Gleaner by sending a response to the author and the newspaper’s editor. The author responded that he hoped the paper would publish my reply; I’ve not seen it, yet, and I am not worried about that. He has my views and that’s what’s really important. Just before the Easter holidays, I read another article, in The Observer, which had my hackles rising, so again I wrote to the author and the newspaper. Over the weekend, I heard from one of the paper’s editors that he was considering publishing my remarks as a column. We had a few exchanges and I sent a short biography and a picture–funnily, one I had just taken while relaxing ahead of tournament. Yesterday, my words and picture graced the pages of The Observer…and life has not been the same since.

I’ve had my views published before in the press, but a column is always seen as a bit more substantial and often leads to more reactions. Well, after my early morning excursion on the golf course with one of the ladies who’s both fun to play with and also just a hoot, I came back to bask in the glory of being a newspaper columnist. My older daughter had suggested earlier in the year that I do this and I had a plan in my head about how to go forward; I had even made a pitch to the papers. But, life is its own wheel of fortune, and I roll where it rolls.

I received some very nice comments. I had a publisher suggest that I do a book about my life experiences–it’s in my thoughts, already, but I cannot get the flow as I want, yet. I had another reader suggest that I write more about the mish-mash that is English–that’s tempting, and I do it in a way all the time; maybe, I need to see if I can ‘package’ it more clearly or better in some way.

However, exposure is not all about adulation and back-slapping; it comes with a fair amount of brickbats. I mentioned to my older daughter–an English and History graduate–how amazed I was at what people see in what is written, often way beyond ideas in the mind of the author. Sometimes, my reactions trigger something in the reader but I’m flabbergasted when that turns out to be some seemingly visceral reaction either to me or the object of my writing. I’m not going to share the comments, but suffice to say that some people get hold of the wrong end of the stick and then turn it into corn pudding. Otherwise, some people have to vent and I just happen to be in the way; they harbour some serious resentment about the writer of the piece that triggered my reply. So, much of my afternoon–once I had gotten the body rehydrated and refuelled–was spent reading and responding to comments.

In the current age, when we have so much access to each other’s views without face-to-face contact, it’s really a blessing.

Dennis the Menace (UK version)

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher (UK version). Is this my new image?

I was absolutely exhausted after a few hours of reading and thinking about comments, and then deciding how to respond. Of course, I’m not obliged to reply, but I like to do so if it helps me clear up some misunderstanding or a point needs expanding.

Well, it’s just 24 hours since I hit the streets, so to speak. I have not had a call to do a radio or TV interview about my ideas–yet.

I’ve a wry smile on my face. Much of the last seven days, though I wrote briefly about how Jamaicans speak, was consumed thinking and writing about how I think Jamaicans feel about something afoot in the economy. Finance Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, has summoned all wrath of The Furies and they are still headed his way over his proposed ‘bank transaction tax’. There, too, my views got some airing, but not obviously attributable to me. Some of the possible ‘unforeseen consequences’ of the measure that I touched on got a response from the Minister during his press briefing on Tuesday, eg, he does not see people fleeing the formal banking system and heading towards barter. Interesting, though, the Jamaica Bankers’ Association seem to come out on my side. As reported in The Gleaner: ‘The levy may discourage some individuals and businesses from utilizing the formal banking system, which not only conflicts with the country’s aim to achieve greater financial inclusion, but encourages greater activity in the informal economy‘. Some people claim to be ‘dunces’ about things economics, so those of us who think we understand how economies work are duty bound to try to help others understand what may seem obvious to (some of) us.

Jamaica is blessed with a relatively free press, and I am glad that I can benefit from that in expressing myself to the public–subject to an editor’s approval. But, in the modern world, I don’t need such approval because I can publish and be damned, anyway. Here’s to healthy conversations about things that concern us all.

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