By ADRIAN GIBSON
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life …
- Time Of Your Life, by Green Day
Today, I write that dreaded parting column.
This is so difficult to write and whatever version ends up being published has gone through many deletions and re-writes. I have been thinking about this for weeks and pondering upon what I would say to the loyal readers of this column who have devotedly read my columns for 12 years. Teary eyed, I say thank you, thank you so very much.
I have sought to write this column on several occasions but always found an excuse or some fanciful reason not to face the music. Finally, I had to just do it.
A few weeks ago, I accepted the Free National Movement’s (FNM) nomination to run as its standard bearer in my hometown, Long Island. My acceptance of that nomination, and subsequent ratification, has led to the decision - in all fairness to myself, my readers and The Tribune - to temporarily lay my pen down and suspend my weekly column. This decision does not come easily: it comes with a bit of trepidation, but it is the right thing to do at this time.
I grew up at The Tribune. Though in college, I was embraced by The Tribune, trained as a reporter and worked the news desk. Before returning to college, then managing editor John Marquis, publisher Eileen Carron and then news editor Paco Nunez concluded that I was a ‘keeper’, resulting in me becoming The Tribune’s youngest columnist at 20. Then began the column “A Young Man’s View”. As one who always read Nikki Kelly’s columns, I initially insisted that my column be laid out much like hers and in that request - and in many others that came in the years after - I am grateful to The Tribune for obliging me.
Now 32, whenever I review some of my earlier columns, I could see my growth and maturation over the years. Thankfully, I also had people like Sir Arthur Foulkes (a great adviser and reference point) and even Nikki Kelly herself offered advice (publicly and privately). Notably, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis - then a first term MP - sent me a note once offering advice about a coarse reference I made in an earlier column. He indicated that he was an avid reader and, whilst nothing in that particular column mentioned him, his tasteful chiding of me was much appreciated and memorable. I’ve thanked him over the years.
It has been a wonderful journey to have been exposed to so many people and so many aspects of the life and times of the Bahamas via the vehicle that The Tribune provided me. Mrs Carron, the Iron Lady, has become another mother to me over the years. I have called upon her for personal and professional advice, she donned her lawyer’s garb after years of shelving it and assisted in presenting me to the Bahamas Bar when I was called. I am honoured to know such a great Bahamian woman. Our many conversations over the years have been enlightening and will undoubtedly endure.
Today, I smile about my pursuits as a reporter at The Tribune. From interviews in bathrooms to 3am calls from sources to meeting contacts at clandestine locations for documents to developing story ideas and pursuing them with the hopes of striking gold … it was great! I loved it.
I love writing this column. I have written well over a thousand columns over the years, including supplements and sometimes twice weekly. This has been a much cherished part of my life. Whilst the door won’t be closed on a possible return to writing a column, I have decided to politically enlist with the FNM to serve the interests of my people in Long Island. I am uncertain that my readers would be reasonably persuaded that I can write a column with the same candid, undeterred fervour and fearlessness whilst pursuing political office. I certainly would not want my column to be viewed as a self-serving tool. That has never been the intent and I do not want to tarnish the Young Man’s View brand.
Home is where the heart is. I could not ignore the call of my people. I could not turn down an opportunity to serve the interests of the people of Long Island.
As I enter shark-infested political waters, I state here unequivocally that I intend to remain true to myself. I am a man of conviction and I can assure my readers and all those who have come to know me over the years that I will unbendingly stand by my principles and core beliefs, that being an ethical and honest servant of the people’s interest will be a key driving factor in all I do and that much of the approach and dedication I brought to researching and writing this column will be translated to my new life as a politician (wow, I still flinch at being referred to as a politician).
There are many issues that our country faces. I have articulated many of those issues and proposed solutions over the years in these very pages. I am sincerely hopeful that my involvement in the political firmament will foster change and service-oriented governance that focuses upon the issues as opposed to personalities and foolish political barbs and self-serving political horse-trading. Our country is on the brink of socioeconomic upheaval. We are one major natural decision or global recession away from near economic collapse. Our society has been a volatile powder keg and we are seeing the emergence of a generation who are unconcerned about life, who would kill, rob or maim another human being for as little as $250.
We must stem the tide or lose any semblance of what The Bahamas use to be and the potential of what it could be. Given all that, I have decided to no longer stand on the sideline and now enter the political arena. Honestly, it is a major sacrifice but one that will hopefully result in a better country for my seven-year-old son, my future children and the future of many Bahamians yet unborn. I will certainly commit myself to working hard and doing my endeavouring best to attaining a country where national service, educational parity and opportunities, decent healthcare, functional utilities, effective and service-oriented law enforcement, societal amity and so on, become the norm as opposed to the exception.
In the interest of focusing upon the campaign in Long Island, I am also taking a leave of absence from the firm Callenders & Co effective immediately. I thank my learned senior Frederick Smith QC for his abiding support and the opportunity to work closely with him over the years.
The time required to write a column and to practice law can be all consuming and intense. To mount an effective people-oriented campaign whilst actively doing both would be near impossible and unfair to those to whom I owe my best.
Thank you to all those at The Tribune - news colleagues and friends. I am pleased to be a part of such a great family.
Most importantly, I say a special thanks to the readers of this column. Thank you for following this column over the years from the Friday edition to the Saturday Big T to the Thursday paper. Thank you for your emails, calls, compliments and input over the years. I’ve hardly missed a week, writing on vacation or during special occasions to ensure that when you open the papers you are not disappointed. I will miss writing for you.
This is both an ending and a new beginning.
As I enter the next chapter of my life, I say to the people of Long Island that your native son is coming home and reporting for duty.
For 12 years, I had the time of my life. It has been a 12 year blast … and it may return.
Elton John sings that “sorry seems to be the hardest word” but, in all truth, it is goodbye. And so, to my readers, I say goodbye ... for now.
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