November 2, 2017
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We all know the obvious consequences of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. We see the closed signs on shops, the empty airports, ports, schools and churches. We see an economy temporarily grinding to a halt. We hear the silence of streets after 9pm and we are far happier than we should be to see the garbage collection truck because it signifies activity.
When you consider that Hubert A Minnis has been a doctor ten times longer than he has been prime minister, you can appreciate his medical stop-the-spread-at-any-cost approach to COVID-19.
We have all seen the pictures. Empty streets in downtown Nassau. Empty seats on planes. Prince George Wharf and Festival Place, where the usual complaint is overcrowding, now eerily silent. Store shutters and roll downs sending an unmistakable message – closed for business. At LPIA, the nation’s largest and busiest airport, you could stage a soccer match outside two terminals without causing inconvenience to anyone trying to check in.
I’m writing this on a Sunday midday knowing full well the numbers will change by Friday when you read it. As of now, there are 87,000 cases of coronavirus. That’s 2,000 more than there were 20 minutes ago. The death toll stands at nearly 3,000 and no doubt will jump while I continue to write and monitor.
AN old friend died this week. His death was not the saddest part of the story, the end of his life was.
Through the six decades that I have been writing thousands of published news articles, magazine pieces, more lately columns, I have steered clear of politics and have rarely tapped the overflowing well of famous people whose legacy descends into a downhill slide from grace.
News alert. Today is Valentine’s Day. That is, it’s a news alert for anyone who drove to work today with blindfolds on and did not see pop-up florist stands proffering roses for those to whom planning ahead was something that could be procrastinated.
What happens in and to Grand Bahama transcends partisan politics and for nearly two decades has challenged every administration in office. What was once proudly deemed The Bahamas’ Second City, was founded in mid-last century as a planned resort, a glamorous casino a magnet.
The enormous economic toll of Hurricane Dorian continues to shake The Bahamas with Finance Minister Peter Turnquest this week confirming we were borrowing hundreds of millions more to help rebuild our devastated islands.
When a Methodist minister writes a tell-all book about his life, you aren’t too surprised to hear him wax eloquently about the one woman he loved for half a century, or the fact that he never lost faith, no matter how many challenges he faced.
Here comes a group of women, all belonging to the same church. There’s something awry about their shape so you wonder if it has to do with their particular form of worship or was it what they served after Sunday School?
Jeanne Dupuch and Anne Maury grew up in Nassau close friends with a special bond – their love of horses.
DIANE PHILLIPS: Dick Coulson never had to hold an elected office to be voted one of the most influential men in Bahamian history
There are men whose lives are remembered because of the high office they held, titles they dined on, money, women or fancy toys they accumulated. Richard ‘Dick’ Coulson’s life mattered not for any of the obvious reasons.
Fighting corruption would be a lot easier if it had at least a little sex appeal.
Who among us hasn’t at one moment or another thought, “If only I were younger” or “If only I had more financial backing, I could do such-and-such” or “Why doesn’t someone create a business to do (xyz)?”
Like most folks, I hate to owe anything to anybody. I feel a sense of supreme satisfaction paying off a credit card. I even enjoy paying bills (except BPL which infuriates me), but as I said, knowing that I’m momentarily debt-free and what I earn is what I get to keep - at least until the next bill comes along - provides a good-all-over feeling.
When Disney launched its streaming service on November 12, 10 million people signed up the first day, a subscription rush so much faster than expected it caused the system to crash. That hiccup was quickly fixed to the delight of families who could soon settle down and watch Toy Story 4 as many times as they wanted for a monthly fee.
One of the brightest men I know was engaged in a conversation with another friend and myself on the subject of education when he remembered a quote, grabbed his phone and found the words he was looking for. It was a quote by Einstein on genius and how the misuse of teaching thwarts potential.
Out on a remote strip of road where the airfields of New Providence dwindle away and the land forms a T-junction with an extra arm, like a partially amputated roundabout, lies a subdivision called Coral Harbour.
If you ever want to waste a morning, try to cancel a credit card. In life, there are challenges and then there is the challenge of unwanting and ditching, whether online or by phone, a four-inch plastic card that holds the power of purchasing anything you want with an insertion, swipe or scan.
To the average reader, Page One of a newspaper contains the news they most need to know to get through the day. But in newspaper parlance or the world of those who have worked in the extremely underpaid and overworked world of journalism, there is only one part of Page One that truly matters. It’s called above the fold.
When the Miami Herald ran a front-page story on the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on September 27, instead of mountains of debris, homes without roofs and lives torn asunder, the image it showed was a bearded man, bent over at the waist, handing a child a toy.
IN the 1960s, long before the Queen Conch was the subject of conservation debate, the mollusk was so plentiful that some considered it a pest.
IF ever there were proof that there are two sides to a story, it’s in the history of The Mudd, a community obliterated by the flood waters, swells, surges and winds of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm of historic proportions took an untold number of lives and wiped out a shanty town that more than 1200 people called home.
DAVID Radford-Wilson is 53, tall and muscular. With looks that would be equally at home in a jersey on the soccer field or a power suit in the board room, he’s an executive coach with clients including a director in a major London bank, a legal counsel in an American law firm and a high-ranking officer in the British government foreign office. By phone or face-to-face, he coaches them in crisis leadership and training.
At the Fox Hill Community Centre, volunteers try to keep 56 children occupied. It isn’t easy. The shelter is at full capacity with 250 souls. It is one of the better ones, newly built, air-conditioned but still it is rough. People aren’t supposed to live like this, herded like cattle, sleeping in rooms with hundreds of strangers, sharing toilets with those they have never met, wearing the same clothes day after day.
DIANE PHILLIPS: Dorian’s emotional toll – where are the shrinks, the counsellors, the comforting hugs?
On August 23, 1992, family members were stationed on an island just off Bimini when Hurricane Andrew slammed The Bahamas with ferocious winds that topped 200 miles an hour.
The first time I saw Angel, her frightened eyes flashed back to some unnamed horror she had experienced. Those dark eyes, so filled with fear and terror, dominated her face, obliterating other features. Later, I would see a new Angel, growing up and out of the fear, strong, smiling, overcoming the terror that had forced officials to remove her from her home as a child.
If you think the environmental woes of the world will be solved by tree-hugging, species-loving do-gooders, you’re so wrong.
DIANE PHILLIPS: The strange, sick case of Jeffrey Epstein and why some people can never be satisfied
The world has watched the Jeffrey Epstein story unfold with the same kind of stomach-churning fascination with which it watched the Charlie Manson murders, curiosity piqued by a failure to understand how someone could do the things he did.
Let me state this up front. I am not a psychologist and I have absolutely no training in the psyche of anything. Sometimes I don’t even understand why my dog barks at nothing, or nothing that we can see or hear. Just stating all that up front so you don’t have any expectations that what I am about to discuss has any scientific basis whatsoever and is based solely on serious conjecture.
For my 50th birthday, our close friends Jackson and Pam Burnside gave me a very sexy, see-through piece of lingerie. It was an all-in-one panty and top with ever so thin straps, made all of lace and imagination.
I was trying to remember when I wrote my first to-do list. Maybe in high school or college.
It’s hard to get over the past. So when a white man who happens to be wealthy decides to offer himself for public service in a country where white people, possibly his own ancestors, once had slaves and colonial rule led to what some call the plantation economy, the past stomps on the present. In your face, present. It brazenly paints current perception with a patina of ugly reflection.
In a few days, The Bahamas will celebrate its 46th anniversary of Independence. There will be the usual pomp and circumstance, the banners, flags, bunting, music and feelings of pride and nationalism. It will be preceded by a Beat the Retreat on the 7th and culminate in a Junkanoo rush-out on Bay Street that insiders say will be different from any that came before.
DIANE PHILLIPS: How a British war hero and a young Bahamian woman proved that love really can conquer all
On June 17, three generations of a low-profile Bahamian family boarded flights to a remote town in Wales where the man who was their father and ancestor would receive one of the highest honours ever accorded.
When a tour bus carrying four locals and 24 passengers from a Carnival Cruise Line ship docked in Eleuthera crashed on Monday, the rush to assist was nothing short of phenomenal.
We take so much for granted. Rightly or wrongly, we believe we are invincible and our coping ability will fix anything. Throw a problem at us and we will find a cure. Tell us a species is nearly extinct and we’ll pull off an 11th hour rescue. We’ll rush through legislation. We’ll scour funding. We’ll create a habitat to ensure survival and change destiny.
It’s possible that I slept through the last decade but highly unlikely so how else do I account for the fact that until Friday I never heard of the world’s fastest growing sport? Wonder if you have.
You can blame it on whatever or whomever you want. You can point fingers at the Airport Authority or the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation or the Ministry of Works but the real problem with what is supposed to be an international airport at Great Harbour Cay is a lack of pride.
Next time you can’t figure out why you feel a burst of happiness for no apparent reason or you suddenly sank into a slump, check the weather. It has a lot more to do with how you feel than you probably realise.
Friends are easy, tough, strong and weak. They demand so much of us and we of them. We make friends almost as early as we say ‘Mama,’ ‘Dada,’ we link hands when we are just about old enough to reach out and touch someone other than our parents. Even when we are too young to know the word for friends, they are there for us.
Car accidents aren’t sexy news. They don’t compete for headline space with juicy scandal or murder for hire.
Usually a sucker for the underdog, a protector of whatever species is facing undeserved or premature extinction, the penny is one lesser specimen of which I am not a fan. Quite the opposite, I stare at it with wonderment, like why in the world is it still around?
In March, when the story broke revealing some 50 people had been indicted in the US for what was labelled a “racketeering scheme” involving Hollywood hotshots, hotheads and CEOs paying up to $500,000 to have test scores altered so their children could get into good colleges, shockwaves radiated from coast to coast.
Once the avenue of luxury shopping dreams, today’s Bay Street is more accurately the ageing T-shirt capital of The Bahamas. All is far from lost.
A proposal is before the Department of Physical Planning to build a resort complex to be called The View Love Beach on a 7.4-acre site on Love Beach.
The Bahamas is defined by its waters.
In everyone’s life, there is someone who changes you. For me it was Michael Wells. Michael was born with cerebral palsy, the result of a breach birth. No one expected him to live past the age of 20. In June, I helped him celebrate his 53rd birthday.
Our daughter got married last Saturday. It was magical.
Out in the middle of the island mostly hidden from view is one of The Bahamas’ greatest treasures. It’s called Lake Killarney and today it is under threat from development that is encroaching on its banks with buyers building down into the swampy marshes and destroying mangroves by the hundreds with careless abandon.
It is Valentine’s Day and I should be writing a soppy love story instead of something that sounds like fear-mongering against a backdrop of Darth Vader. But recent events converged to force this from the bowels of my keyboard, a warning that even when you think you’re safe, think again.
There are three things Anita Collie Pratt will never forget when she thinks of Hurricane Joaquin – the howling of the wind, the sound of the sea as it roared closer and closer until it crashed through her door and when it was all over, the kindness of strangers.
There’s hardly a soul who hasn’t heard of the Fyre Festival debacle, an elaborate scheme to lure the newly rich and somewhat famous to the beautiful beaches and waters of Exuma for days of languishing in the sun, frolicking in the sea and imbibing the best of champagne and Bahama Mamas with intervals of music and dance.
Long before he became the latest iteration of superhuman James Bond 007, actor Daniel Craig debuted in an often overlooked movie called The Power of One.
Over the holidays as our little public relations office was officially closed, I worked there nearly every day anyway because it is what I do.
Another day, another week, goes by and before you know it, you look up and another year has gone by. And you wonder, how did it go so fast, no wonder they say time flies, what did I get done?
There are 18 thieves in my house, maybe more, five in my bedroom alone, another six in the kitchen. I have tried to ignore them, shut my eyes and pretend they are not there. I have willed them away and tried cover-up tricks to get rid of them, but I can’t. Most of them are smaller than a fingernail but thieves they are. They steal my sleep and run up my BPL bill.
The Washington-based National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, estimates Americans will spend $465 billion on Christmas gifts this year.
Every time I get into one of those frenzies known as the immediate need to de-clutter, I stop cold at one room where history lives.
Over the past two weeks I have had the great pleasure of going to primary school. To say it has been a while since I last went to school would be an understatement on the order of well, let’s just leave it there. Some things are just obvious.
There probably isn’t a Bahamian soul alive today who would trade independence for rule by another. We are so proud of being a sovereign nation and a success story from the moment we threw off the reins that bound us that we celebrate every year as if it were the first.
Long before someone decided to make life easier, there were a lot of everyday things you could to that were actually easier to do. Remember the days that you used a large impressive key to open a hotel room door? There was something classy about that. You felt you had arrived and taken possession, even if just for a day or two.
In 2013, the movie HER, the story of a lonely writer who falls in love with a computer, won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
If you live on the eastern side of the island you see them every day – men and women in light blue shirts and khaki pants holding tin cans in the shape of a church. They wait patiently for donations, a few hundred dollars a day coming from regulars who know the work these extraordinary men and women do. They are the members of Ambassador Chorale and the money they raise helps to house, feed, clothe and teach those who have fallen through the cracks or whose drug-sodden parents are incapable of caring for them.
What follows is not a soliloquy in print about whether Prime Minister Dr The Rt Hon Hubert A Minnis did the right or wrong thing when he pronounced “Bahamas First”, signalling no help for Haiti in the wake of an earthquake that took lives, destroyed buildings, left people homeless last weekend. Much has already been written about that.
At 3:30 yesterday CNN interviewed a man named Jeff Todd about a phenomenon called swimming pigs. Todd lives in his native Canada these days with his wife and twin daughters. He is in his early 30s, a former Nassau Guardian business editor, AP contributor, prolific journalist, author of three books and, of late, a serial Exuma promoter whose fascination is with the swimming pigs.
I first noticed this strange phenomenon when working at the National Enquirer and its sister paper, the now-defunct Weekly World News. We humans are like passengers. When a new celebrity or sports hero appears on the scene we climb onboard, celebrating their talent, commenting as if we were experts on their particular skills. We watch them perform, applaud for them.
There is an almost inexplicable pleasure in cleaning out a drawer, a satisfaction that far exceeds what would seem appropriate for such a mundane task.
Remember when you were little and everyone asked if you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? You looked at them feigning respect and thinking what kind of idiot is this tall person in front of me? I’m six - my idea of the future is dinner! But as that six-year-old got older, the expectation that she would set goals became more ingrained. We grow up and long before there was such a thing as a bucket list, we were expected to set goals. What we want to be. Who we want to be. Eventually where we want to be. Even how many children we want to have.
Every woman could have written the beginning of this column. I did not. It was sent to me by someone close and special and it was too good not to share so I do so in the form in which it landed in my inbox.
As The Bahamas prepares for yet another state funeral and honours are bestowed on new deserving recipients, a man who brought joy and wonder to tens of thousands and fame to The Bahamas slipped quietly away almost unnoticed.
Some things are perfect just the way they are, even when we don’t understand why they are the way they are.
On the front page of this past Sunday’s New York Times was a photo of a large green area that at first glance could be a grassy knoll.
Every time I hear the Willie Nelson song “For all the girls I’ve loved before”, I find myself transposing the word “words” for girls. I am not sure why and it probably doesn’t matter. I am not denouncing the right to love girls and Willie has my blessing. Personally, I have loved a few myself – my daughters and granddaughters and had I thought of my late mother as a girl instead of a mother, I would have included her.
Officially, cricket is the national sport of The Bahamas. Officially, oatmeal without sugar and cream is really good for you.
This is a very personal story and, in some ways, it is a story about all of us.
At the southeast corner of Bay & Frederick Streets stands a store that seems to defy time. The sign above the door reads simply A BAKER & SONS, ESTABLISHED 1894. If you were alive when it opened, you would be 124 today and probably not remember the day it opened. But for most of the rest of us, we cannot remember a time when it did not exist nor when we were not fascinated by the fact that it remains, a survivor of the days when men’s shirts and baby clothes shared the same kind of tight plastic see-through protective wrapping.
A CHILD cries out, her outstretched arms clinging to her mother as officials tear her away, her tiny trusting fingers nearly ripping Momma’s skin holding on for one last futile second. Her mother’s pleas go unheeded.
WHEN I wrote a column last week that started with the words - shame on me - I was fighting back tears. I am a Bahamian citizen and as guilty as every one of us who stands by and lets history crumble before our eyes. Earlier that day, I had stood in front of a building that once housed Pan American Airlines headquarters and realised, just as I had the Sunday before when a young friend and I pushed away the bush to get inside Blackbeard’s Tower, that we are letting our incredible history vanish piece by piece, decaying block by block, day by day.
Shame on me. I am a Bahamian citizen and I am sitting by and watching history crumble before my very eyes.
On Sunday, I threw away a Scrabble box that was more than 50 years old. It was hard to do because my parents’ hands had touched it. My mother died in 1965, my father the following year. That Scrabble box was one of the few remaining things I had with a trace of their DNA on it.
Lighthouses captivate our imagination and move us in a way we rarely stop to define. Maybe it is because they stand apart from all else around them - tall, proud, lonely, independent, dependable, a sentry that never needs sleep.
I went missing last week, not literally, but from the regular routine of work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, and found myself accidentally in small town America. How I got to where I’d had no idea I was going is probably the funnier part of the story, but the consequences of what I found when arrived were interesting enough to give pause for thought, a whole heap of pause, in fact, and the takeaway was both greatly satisfying and stomach-bubblingly unsettling.
Dear Prime Minister, Cabinet, Loyal Opposition . . .
If there were profit to be earned, some savvy entrepreneur would create an award that rewards the dumbest ideas ever. The scheme could work just like other awards, except it would be funnier. Like this letter which I received a little while back. It was sent to me by a well-known retailer.
There is a lot that many of you out there know about me. I’m the other side of middle age and stuck with too much energy for my own good. I say what’s on my mind. I have had a lifelong love affair with words and secretly confess that I spend ridiculous amounts of time thinking stupid thoughts like which is a better example of a double-middle-consonant verb that sounds like what it means, hobble or cobble. When you say the word hobble you immediately think of someone bent over, struggling for the next step. But when you say cobble as in cobbling a… anyway, you get the picture.
On Tuesday, my personal trainer, a man named Robert Hamilton, and I were walking. It’s what we do when I am too lazy to work out after a gruelling 12-hour day when I could think of at least a dozen things more preferable to push-ups and crunches.
“Hi, Joe on time for the call here. Anybody there?” Guess I’m a minute early, Joe thinks silently, hoping no one else remembers and it will all be over before it starts.
ONE day after a crowd of 800,000 descended on Washington in the March for Our Lives demanding stricter gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 students, wounding another 17, Remington Outdoor Company, America’s oldest manufacturer of arms and munition, announced it was filing for bankruptcy.
Where, oh where, did our attention spans go? I lost mine somewhere between the cell phone, Kindle, Surface and life. Hopefully, I did not put in the laundry with the week’s linens or sock it away in a drawer like I did one time with $100 bill that would have come in so handy had I remembered it when needed instead of years later by accident when I didn’t.
There is a phobia for just about everything. Fear of heights, fear of open spaces, fear of looking ridiculous, no just made that up. But the fear I find most relevant to all of us in The Bahamas is something I just learned the name of. It’s called Chronophobia and it is a fear of the future.
It’s official. As of this week, Jeff Bezos, age 54, is the richest man in the world and the first on Forbes magazine’s richest people list whose net worth tops $100bn. For anyone who has spent the last 20 years under a rock studying whatever lives u
Like thousands in The Bahamas, we have been glued to the TV since the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang started on February 9.
Many of my friends are of retirement age. But they don’t, retire that is. Why would you choose to work when you could choose to not work, a question that assumes the choice is not based on a need for money, but is strictly a personal one? The question intrigued me so I began to a totally non-scientific study. I asked about ten people, ten being a large enough sample to provide a clue that would have one of two outcomes – reaffirm my guess or be such an eye-opener as to qualify for revelation status.
Local drama aside for a moment, this was a very good week to watch history unfold and think about why some events move us, others shake us to our core and still others make us so proud we have to contain ourselves or we might just burst.
Bucket Lists interest me. I also feel threatened by them or maybe intimidated is a better word because I don’t really have a full bucket list and that makes me think I must be a pretty boring person.
Funny the things that cause you to think differently about a subject that was staring you right in the face all along. It happened to me recently. Late last Wednesday, I was heading to Florida.
We often talk about beautification, meaning planting flowers or adding greenery, lighting, benches in a pedestrian area. We include clean-up where appropriate, public art where possible, underground irrigation where affordable. But we rarely stop to think how the place we are beautifying got into the shape it did that required beautification in the first place.
Two funerals are scheduled for tomorrow, one for a toddler named Aidan Carron who spent the last year of his two-year life in a hospital battling the effects of therapy-related leukemia.
It is easy to say The Bahamas is at a crossroads. You could say that at the end of any year though a new year is only an artificial separation of one day from the next. Birds don’t mark the years, nor do wild animals. Man does it out of convenience to give us a moment to stop and reflect, to think about where we were and where we are going.
My late mother-in-law, God rest her soul, was such a worrier that one day when she had nothing to worry about, she confessed she was worried that she had nothing to worry about, as if she had overlooked some major reason for worry, and would regret it. She spoke about worry as if it were a place that should have been dusted but wasn’t and would be revealed to her extreme horror by distinguished guests later.
Down deep inside all of us behind our outwardly well-adjusted exterior there are conflicting wishes. We wish we could be a genius who invents something that changes the world or we wish we could be rich or thin or beautiful or best of all rich, thin, beautiful geniuses who invented something that changed the world. But we settle for what we are because either we believe we are ill-equipped to be anything else or we are ill-prepared to do the work required to become all those things we wish we were.
Photographers must be about the luckiest people in the world. When they don’t like the view they see, they can change a lens. 50mm to wide angle, 100mm to panoramic, 400mm to capture the hair on a hare. The price they pay is lugging all that special equipment around, tripod, camera bag, backdrop, cords and cables. But what a deal – a tiny bit of heavy lifting for the ability to create the view you want when it was not there the first time you looked at it, like magic in a leather bag.
The Bahamas holds an amazing array of records. From athletes who have run faster and jumped higher to world-shattering numbers of shark species in our 100,000 square miles of waters, The Bahamas shines. We exceed in sailing, singing and culinary arts. Our hotels are among the most famous on the globe, our fantasy islands among the most sought after, our beaches among the most dreamed of, some of our residents among the most noted or notorious.
You’ve probably never heard of Stella McCartney. I never had either, until she landed on the cover of my favourite business magazine, Fast Company, in October. McCartney, a famous fashion designer, it turns out, is known for her men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as shoes, bags, caps and even gifts.
History waits for no one and clocks do not stop because a loved one dies. Each time we lose someone who means something special to us in our personal lives we wonder what more we could have done for them before they passed or how we might have acted differently had we known their end was so near.
In 2005, a jaw-dropping California court ruling sent shock waves through a crowd of Hollywood A-listers.
IF you grew up anywhere near the water tower in the heart of Nassau or just east of Chippingham, there is a sound that you will always identify with a group of men having fun the old-fashioned way. They didn’t have guns or knives or utter predictably ugly multi-syllabic words. They had dominoes and the sound was the clack-clack of tiles in a game that involves a combination of skill, strategy and yes, a dose of luck.