Friday, 15 March 2013


After all I have done for that computer, the gold coins I have hurled at its undeserving cartridge head... Only last week experts on two continents spent hours coaxing it to do a simple thing like delivering a few emails.

That is the last time. It's back to the biro and the cover of my cheque book to write on. I will probably sell Skidmoresisland to the Argies or British Coalite and go into business writing begging letters to footballers.

The Blog? I have put my name down for a course on blogging by IPad and for the next two weeks I am letting out this enchanted isle to a friend of mine. Her name is Kathyann Latchoo (nee Waterman) and she is the Deputy Director of Prosecutions in Trinidad. She also writes a weekly column in the Trinidad Express of which she was once the editor. She studied for a law degree with Leicester Distant Learning Project and qualified as a barrister.

My old, much lamented chum Neville Stack first brought her to Skidmoresisland. He wrote: "Inevitably she grew out of the newspaper job, its frustrations and - worst of all - its vicious office politics. So she quit. After a bit of trial and error at highish levels she used her academic prowess to become a State Prosecutor, where she shone so brightly that she is now Senior Prosecutor.

"Kathyann is 50, voluptuous, very,very clever and humorous. Her husband, Max Latchoo, also applied himself to distance learning and is now a graduate health and safety expert.

"Can't think why, but she enjoys the company of certain old hacks in these islands. She asks me to introduce her.......You will enjoy knowing her.”
Indeed I do, as I hope will you. Here she explains what you have to know to hold down her job in Trinidad: 

"Do not kill or wound pigeons. Never be quarrelsome in a shop. And whatever might happen, stop stealing dead fences.

"Did you know you can’t crook goods on a Sunday? That sounds like something that should be forbidden every day of the week and written into contracts of Italian politicians and Trinidadian contractors. But it’s actually a provision in the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02 and has to do with hard labour (the preferred punishment for other kinds of crooking, provided we can catch the well-dressed crookers). 

"Reading up on weird or obscure laws is a favourite contrarian pastime of mine. It brings out a spirit of anarchy which is one of my best features.

"Crooking is one thing but look out for the hooking too. Allowing known prostitutes, rogues and vagabonds to live on your premises can make you a guest of the State for up to three months.

"During Carnival, it’s forbidden to indulge in lewd behaviour or drive a car while wearing a mask. Taxi drivers have to provide a litter bin in a convenient place in their vehicles or they could be fined $500. Do not trundle hoops or fly a kite in Port of Spain or any borough.

"Internationally also, law is a source of divertisement. In Oregon - and I can think of no reason whatsoever for this prohibition - it’s illegal to strap children to the fender or hood of a car. In the United Arab Emirates, only married couples and close relatives who are of the opposite sex can share a hotel room. You can buy, sell and smoke marijuana in coffee shops all over Amsterdam. And in Greece women are not allowed to wear shoes that 'wound the monuments'. In Iceland you have to choose your child’s name from an approved list. If the name is not on the list, you have to apply to a committee. So if you are a boy, you can be Adolf but not Alistair. And if you are a girl, and you want to be called Gentle Breeze, you will be denied that right by officialdom and be referred to for 15 years as 'girl'. 

"The secret unwritten rationale behind these ancient regulations is that there should be less work for therapists who won’t have to treat traumatised patients, scarred for life because their evil parents gave them the first name of the lioness in Born Free. Therapists are already overworked curing the masses suffering from winter depression because, over there, the blasted sun never stops shining yet they still have 13 months of snow and ice.

"In the Cayman Islands it is an offence to insult the dignity of a woman, which, by the way, is what happens to me every month-end when I collect my salary cheque.

"But my all-time favourite is found right here in our Fisheries Act, Chapter 67:51:
You must not attempt to resuscitate a dead turtle.
But if you have one that is merely comatose, here is how you do it legally: place turtle on its back and pump its breastplate with hand or foot. Or you can place it face down and elevate its hindquarters for one to 24 hours.

"And you thought all those yoga classes practising your Downward Facing Dog would never come in handy..."

Katyann will return next week for another look at the legal oddities of life in the sun.

In the meantime, here's a thought to stay awake by:
In the 20th century the cost of 165 wars was 5 trillion dollars. The result of this profligate waste of money? One in four children in the UK is living in severe poverty, three out of five classrooms are full, the NHS is saddled with massive debts and its nursing staff is far below strength. We have betrayed our warriors, and the people with the greatest need who can least afford it are having to pay a bedroom tax to have a separate room for a sick child.