One of the funnier episodes during the pandemic was during the weeks when curfew was much earlier than now. Our gardener comes on Fridays and usually stays well past dark, meaning easily through 7pm. How work pattern is to follow the sun so that his tasks are not in the blistering sun. He works from about 9am, but we’re not counting the hours. So, when curfew was around 6pm, we had a few times when we were just getting to our dinner time, and could hear him still working as 5.30pm approached. We asked him if he remembered the curfew was starting soon. “Yea, man! Mi easy.” As the minutes ticked towards 6pm, my mother-in-law, a COVID ‘refugee’, would get anxious: “Dennis, isn’t he afraid of getting arrested?” So, we’d call out to him again as we heard another pull of the rake or the mower still rolling. “Mi arite, Missa Dennis; me a lean pon 6.”

Well, I know the phrase ‘I’ve got your 6’, or I have you covered/got your back, but ‘leaning on 6’? Our gardener explained that if the police stopped him close to curfew time, as they knew his work and he seemed to be heading home, they’d cut him some slack, so he could ‘lean’ on the curfew time without too much fear. Well, so it went on and he’s been with us every week, so I guess he knows the runnings better than us. Now that curfew has eased , significantly, to 11pm-5am, the concerns for him have disappeared.

However, those hours and rules about size of gatherings has created new situations as people get back into socializing.

Last night, a party was going on in a neighbour’s yard and at about 7pm the noise was getting noticeable and music, talking and laughter were flowing freely. “I’m sure there’re more than 20 people there,” my wife chirped. I told her she should take a peak over the fence and count, to be sure. She went on her way with a piece of cake—very Marie Antoinette-like 🙂

The evening proceeded and it was now my bed time, around 9pm. My wife was bingeing a Netflix series that has now displaced my classical or jazz music as the soothing sounds that I have as I try to sleep. 🙂 I struggled to sleep through the monotones of James Spader as 10pm approached. “Curfew’s coming up; I don’t hear this thing slowing down,” she said in between the sounds of men chasing and fighting each other coming from her iPad. I suggested she call the COVID-snitch line to avert them to this impending infraction. The side eye I got could be felt burning through the sheet covering me. 😦

Voices got louder as 10.30 approached. I was wondering now what would happen as 11pm approached. Then, as if the plugged were pulled, the sounds stopped at about 10.45. By 11pm, nothing but silence. I’ve been around a few illegal drinking events—‘lock ins’, they’re called in Britain, when you drink past closing time in a pub—in my time 🙂 So, I suggested she take a quick peek through our non-existent lace curtains to make sure that no one was still mingling in the yard next door and sipping on rum and Red Bull. I felt no movement in the bed.

We know curfew breakers have been busy and for some it’s cost them their lives, according to new data on traffic deaths. We also know the authorities have show vigilence in dealing with infractions—the police seem to have been busy stopping neighbour parties, but have missed the goings on in plain sight at swanky establishments like Reggae Mill. We also know that, despite a culture of ‘informa fi dead’, snitching on neighbours has become a new pastime in Jamaica, and elsewhere, both in terms of spilling the beans of visitors breaking quarantine and some loud haling about curfew busting, as citizens were encouraged to do by the Director of Public Prosecutions a few months back.

Well, my wife didn’t have to mark her card last night, but I’ve sewn the seeds in her head, so as the ‘Emancipendence’ holiday runs through this week, let’s see if she’s positioned with binoculars and sound testing devices to pull the plug.

Take it away, DJ Supe (aka DSP Throyville Horton)!