In cricket, a bowler delivers six balls consecutively in a spell called an over. Here’s my literary over to start off 2008.
• My three children are addicted to those sausage rolls, or hot dog rolls, which is basically a peppery hot dog encased in pastry. Now the bald truth, as any nutritionist will tell you, is that this stuff is just not good for you. Starting out with the hot dog, which is loaded with animal fat and those horrible nitrates, we then add refined flour and common salt to the pastry, add margarine (yes, Doctor Look Loy, margarine) and then cook the thing in the worst possible way – in a deep-fryer, for heaven’s sake. The Caribbean Nutrition Institute people are going ballistic. But let’s face it; like a lot of other stuff that is bad for you, those sausage rolls taste terrific. Just writing it about here makes me want to rush out and nyam one. When my children come home from school in the summer, I meet them at the airport with a sausage roll and a drink. (Don’t bother calling me about this; I never said I was the perfect father.)
• Now, Joe Jackman is my friend and all that, and he’s made a lot of contribution to agriculture here, but I sure wish he hadn’t introduced that annoying African grass to Cayman. I assume you know I’m talking about that hardy low-lying grass that sends out these long, narrow runners, looking like barbed wire. The rationale for bringing it here was that it can survive drought and it helps hold soil together – and, boy, does it survive – but if you have a lot of it in your yard it’s unsightly and it’s hard to get rid of. Worse yet, if you’re not careful, and you get your foot caught in those runners (they’re really tough) you can go head over heels. A friend of mine told me he spotted a guy skulking around his yard, the guy took off running, my friend shouted at him, and the fellow went down like he’d been shot. My friend reported: ‘I thought it was from fright. As I got closer, I saw the African grass had got him.’ I bet Joe Jackman never thought his idea would help catch crooks.
• Depositing a Butterfield Bank cheque into someone else’s account at First Caribbean, takes four days to clear. All the banks operate that way. That’s right – two banks, right here in Cayman and that’s how long it takes. I couldn’t believe it. Four days, and the two banks are not 100 yards apart? Get with it guys. In this instant message age, four days to clear a local cheque? Where are they sending it? To Geneva? And guess what they’re doing with our money in those four days?
• Everywhere you turn, the banks seem to have some sweet deals going. Here’s one: If you happen to get cheques from Canada, as I do, you can do two things with them. You can deposit the cheque at your bank (overseas cheques take 10 days to clear, which is another gripe) eventually into a US or CI account, but of course you’re losing on the exchange rate, so you take the clever route of opening a Canadian funds account and then you can withdraw Canadian funds intact as you need them; but the banks have us covered. The interest on Canadians funds in a savings account here is .125 per cent; yes .125; I’ll tell you a third time, .125 per cent; yes, less than one-quarter of a percent, and that’s not even the bad news. The bad news is that when you take the Canadian money out, the bank charges you 2 per cent, so if you take out $700, as I did recently, you actually end up with only $686. As Andre Iton will tell you, if you want to get into business here, forget restaurants – open a bank.
• I come into town early, and every morning without fail, approaching the Tall Tree junction, there’s a lady walking up and down, waiting for a ride and, every time I pass, early or late, there she is with a cell phone glued to her ear and talking animatedly to someone. I swear to you: if I pass her six mornings, five of those she’s on the phone. In town now, on Goring Avenue, there’s another lady, doing the same thing. Every morning she’s there, at the roadside, cell phone to ear, talking away. I would like to see their phone bills at month end. (Just struck me: maybe the two of them are talking to each other.)
• Even the Oxford Concise can be stupid. Their definition of the word ‘lading’ reads ‘The act or process of lading.’