Jamaicans often feel there are at least two Jamaicas, one for the privileged and one for the rest. How blatant transgressions of COVID-19 protocols (as set out in Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) and Quarantine Act) is one area where people are so far patient to wait and see if it’s really one law/rule for all. The case: a surprise birthday bash for uber-star, Usain Bolt. The issues: blatant disregard for DRMA Orders and maybe quarantine restrictions, especially by two footballers of Jamaican origin who currently play, professionally in Europe (Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Leon Bailey of Beyer Leverkusen), who had arrived on the island less than 14 days before the party.
Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 days after the event, and went in quarantine/isolation. Reports are that Bailey tested negative and is in isolation (the Bundesliga season starts on September 19).
Sterling had tested negative in Jamaica before leaving the island.
He played for England during last week’s Nation’s League series, and his club Manchester City were due to play their first game of the new season yesterday, but the match was postponed.
The behaviour of these elite Jamaican sportsman can be seen in several contexts and one is that they and other athletes believe they are exceptional and immune. The other is that they are selfish and see no issues in undermining their teams and teammates by taking unnecessary health risks.
During the week, two young England players (Mason Greenwood, Man. United; Phil Foden (Man. City) broke COVID-19 protocols while on international duty in Iceland (inviting women back to the team hotel) and were fined by the Icelandic authorities and each been fined 250,000 Icelandic Krona (£1,360) for the rule breach, which must be paid by the individuals themselves and not by the FA or their clubs, and sent home in disgrace.
Footage of Greenwood surfaced this weekend of him using ‘comedy crack’ (nitrous oxide).
More apologies, and excuses—‘Boys will be boys’; ‘They’re young…’ Whatever moral and ethical guidance they’re getting from teams and peers isn’t setting them in good directions.
In passing, Man. City have had their share of issues as Kyle Walker was one of their players who broke protocols at least twice during lockdowns (hosting sex party); but also, Jack Grealish (Aston Villa, involved in car crash while supposed to be in lockdown) in England.
≈ Comments Off on Fundamentally different: a look back at a career #4: Turkish delight
I visited Turkey twice to address the same problems. The first visit was actually my first ever mission.
Inflation was in the 80-90% a year range, and though I’d lived through relatively high inflation in the UK during the 1970s, this was something new. I realized the exchange rate was shifting so fast that my hotel bill in Turkish lira was rising rapidly each day, so I took to paying it off day by day; I wasn’t in the position of playing with a credit card and enjoying the exchange swing in my favour. Turkey was being affected by war in the Persian Gulf and was on its way to a massive debt crisis in the mid-1990s.
My technical assistance missions were to look at how the central bank and ministry of finance had treated a repurchase agreement (repo) between themselves. Turkey had a Fund program at the time and the IMF team were concerned that the monetary data badly understated borrowing from the central bank, so compromising the program’s integrity. In flies our heros.
My mission chief was an American with a great mind as an economist that translated into a shrewd assessor of the real meaning of statistics. He mentored me, carefully, and we spent hours before the mission understanding the underlying nature of repos and how they could be treated; it was complex in statistical terms.
So, we hunkered down on the first mission and worked our way through transactions with counterparts from both central bank and finance ministry. We got to our conclusion; the data needed to be reworked for the IMF program (which would need explaining to Management and the Board) and then later revisions had to be sent to the IMF’s Statistics Department for publication in International Financial Statistics (IFS), which presents data for all member countries on the basis of common definitions.
Data for IMF programs did not have to conform to those common standards, though often did, but there was a major problem in the Turkey case. The program mission chief (a Dane) wanted to remove any discrepancies and our work would help set the basis for common reporting. That decision opened a door for me a few years later, as the Dane wanted me to work with him on the program for Latvia—where statistical issues were immense at the start of relationships with new member countries—and he engineered my transfer to his department to do that. That would be an important step, as people often went in the other direction, as their IMF careers waned, and it marked the start of a move out of Statistics into program mission work, especially to deal with the thorny accounting issues in the former Soviet Union (FSU).
We pulled a few all-nighters wrestling with the data, but got our work done, and report submitted to the authorities and headed back to Washington DC. My task, though, wasn’t over and I had to go back six months later to work through the data going back several years and agree all the revisions for publication. So, now, I was flying solo on a mission—chief and bottle washer.
Missions can be isolating and solo missions obviously more so. I was getting my first taste of being in hotels on my own, dining alone, and dining on room service in my room. Going out alone, at night, is clearly a different proposition, especially in a new country and one whose language you didn’t know. I often try to get a few phrases learned early and pick up more fast. Turkish has a nice cadence and I managed to get past a few simple greetings. But lone travel for work is no fun, for me.
But, that isolation was broken by my central bank counterpart, who was a seasoned statistical compiler and a really nice man. He decided to introduce me to his family and have lunch with me at his home most days. Turkish and Mediterranean food became my loves, in which I was able to indulge a few years later when working in Azerbaijan (really Turkey’s cousin from the FSU).
Home cooking by my colleague’s wife was really good, and all the lamb and vegetables and grains…and desserts, like local baclava, and Lokum Turkish delight), not plain but with nuts and fruit and… Being with a family during the days was just far from my expectations.
This was not what had been sold as Turkish Delight in England by Fry’s!
So, work took on a new flavour, almost literally. I was due to finish my report on the last weekend. However, the central bank governor thought I was overworking, and told me to rest over the weekend and we’d adjust the reporting timetable. He then gave me a plane ticket and told me I would spend the weekend at the central bank’s holiday resort in Antalia 🙂 So, I had to take a flight from Ankara to Istanbul and would be met there and taken to the resort. Well, that’s when life got INTERESTING.
Well, my family have heard about how I was ‘kidnapped’ at Istanbul Airport, by a taxi driver who grabbed by bag and forced me to take his cab. The short story did not involve any James Bond-like heroics, though I was looking at the door lock and thinking how to jump out. But, my suitcase was in the trunk. I was taken to my hotel by a strange route and as soon as we got there, I got the management to call the police, report the incident and deal with the taxi driver, who had to cheek to ask for a tip! I did not sleep well, as my room was on the ground floor and I had visions of someone jumping through a window and setting onto me.
The next day seemed so calm, by comparison. I took another small plane to Antalia, and was met by a car and driver. I was taken to the resort, where I started my VIP treatment. I was assigned a table of my own and quickly offered bottles of wine and spirits to go with my meal. The other guests looked on and nodded, no doubt wondering who was this black man being feted so. Could it be the head of an African country?
Once, I’d eaten, my young ‘minder’ came to me and said we were going out for ‘fun’ for the night. I pleaded that I was tired, but he showed me the wad of money that he had been given to make sure I had a ‘good time’. So, off we went to, if not a red light area, then a pinkish one. He asked where I wanted to go. Like I know Antalia! Anyway, we ended up in a club had a few drinks, watched some dancing, and then headed back. BORING!
Next day, I was up and breakfasted and we were off in a bus, for a tour to Cappadocia to see some cave dwelling sights and to sample mud baths. I suddenly had all the company I needed 🙂 We managed to converse in a range of languages.
We reached our destination and oohed and aahed at the magnificence of the sculpted cave cities, carved into the hillsides. Extraordinary!
We were then shepherded to a mud lake, where we dipped and slathered our bodies. Great ice breaker. We had lunch at a restaurant nearby, then headed back to the resort.
In my mind, I had hoped to at least do some work on my report, but, alas. I packed my things after breakfast the next day and was back on a plane to Istanbul and then Ankara. I spent a long day crafting my draft, which I presented to the governor, a day later than promised, initially, but on time as we’d rearranged. It meant a tight last day before having to head to the airport and head back to DC.
It was my last visit to Turkey, but such rich memories. The country has survived a few economic crises since, but, as we have to as Fund staff, we can say we had a hand in things not being worse than they could have been, no matter how bad they turned out to be.