It’s Christmas Day, so why are no mice stirring, and who’s the bearded guy eating my mince pies?

I’ve stated on various social media platforms that I will be absent for a while during Christmas.

However, thinking about things, problems or not, is like health: it does not take a rest when you say it’s time. But, I am not going to break my commitment, which is to myself as well as to those with whom I am spending the holidays. It’s truly important to get some space between what one normally does, which is often self-centered, and time spent with others. In that regard, I am immersing myself into the space that is filled with my wife and her immediate family, and my children. My time is being spent quietly, for the most part, and, I admit, I am happily consuming several intriguing series and maybe a few films. Interestingly, the series–mainly based around crime, are of the Scandinavian noir type–‘the settings have bleak landscapes, and the mood is dark and morally complex. The genre depicts a tension between the apparently still and bland social surface in Scandinavia and the murder, misogyny, rape, and racism it depicts as lying underneath.’ I find them appealing because I can relate to many of the settings, having travelled much to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, and there is something about such places, urban or rural, that seem to draw out the darkness that is a real part of life in northern climes. I’m currently watching Bordertown, based in Finland with a good overlap with Russia, about a detective who seeks the simpler life away from the capital, Helsinki, but quickly finds himself on the trail of odd murders. He’s odd, himself, with his mnemonic methods for resolving problems.

In watching them, I’ve been thinking whether there is space for a Caribbean noir. There is, but it may not sit well, as it must focus on our badness, which is something that many feel is part of a rapid decline in the quality of our lives. But, it’s an art form, and as such should depict life not avoid it. Genres that revolve around crime, coming from well-ordered societies, such as Scandinavia, or Japan or Korea tell us that even though they built themselves modern societies well-guided by the rule of law and have made many aspects of human life seemingly antiseptic, they have not killed off the base instincts of mischief, greed, hate, fear and whatever sins you may want to list. They have seemingly well-adjusted people who fall foul of simple temptations–children with needs that parents cannot meet; workers with aspirations that go unfulfilled; grievances for which vengeance must be extracted. We are nowhere near their level of social inoculation and I believe strongly that some of our problems stem from a simple unwillingness to face up to what we are–humans, warts and all–rather than building yet another layer of falseness to suit outsiders. Our deviousness, connivance, etc are not the same as in Europe and North America or Latin America, and that ought to be seen and resonate with those who live in our Caribbean communities. Enough of the faux dramas set in ‘fictional’ island settings, where some European dude works with some locals, including a beauty, and swill around with accents no one can recognize. Take a leaf out out the Happy Valley play book and set the material somewhere real. But, enough on that cultural diversion.

I’m not going to analyze anything more, just touch on things that I am struggling to understand. I wont elaborate, so if the matters dont resonate, don’t worry…about a thing. 🙂 So, just some topic bullets, to indicate around where my mind is rolling:

  • Separation of private and official, in the world of public office. My main thought, is that it’s a delusion:

That’s not to say that officials can take comfort from thinking there is such separation, but it matters not. Why? Because no one knows the difference, except the person concerned, and there is never anyway to prove the separation is either real or contrived, permanent or temporary. The prudent approach for anyone who hears or reads public officials making such utterances is to ignore it, because it’s impossible to know if it’s part of a ploy to distance someone from an action that has been taken officially but will not change. Broadly speaking, it’s an empty gesture.

If public officials want to express private views or see themselves as separate from their roles when they make public utterances, then resign. Simple!

  • How much of the public truly believe that the job of policing in Jamaica is too much for the JCF? I think a significant proportion. Does it matter, however, if it does not include critical mass of existing MPs?
  • I’ve gone nearly a year without uttering willingly the name of the current US president. It’s a personal commitment, and I try to correct myself quickly if I slip up. That said, some related terms are useful, such as #trumpled or #t-rump. But, I am thankful to pass through this period of political history, which has seen more misinforming of the public than I can ever recall, even after working a while around Soviet regimes. Maybe, not for you, but that’s a scary parallel.

That’s it! It’s past 8am, and no one else in the household is stirring, apart from the cat. It’s so different when your home is full of grown-ups, and they’ve lost the excitement that comes so naturally to a young child. Oh, that’s a good topic 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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