Bermuda is another world

Bermuda is ‘another world’. Hubert Smith, a great Bermudian songwriter, composed and sang a song that has this title.  It’s also the logo on the personalized license plates that TCD issues.

            The implication is that there’s something so special about life in our Bermuda that we are ‘another world’ where things don’t happen as they do in other countries.

            If our Bermudian ‘another world’ assertion is true, then it’s possible that the connection between Under-educated and Under-skilled and Under-class doesn’t apply here in our Bermuda.

            But read what Bob Herbert, writing in the New York Times of Thursday 6th February 2003, says as he looks at the people in a city in his America: “You see them in many parts of the city, hanging out on frigid street corners, skylarking at the malls or bowling alleys, hustling for money wherever they can, drifting in some cases into the devastating clutches of drug-selling, gang membership, prostitution and worse.

            …This army of undereducated, jobless young people, disconnected in most instances from society’s mainstream, is restless and unhappy, and poses a severe long-term threat to the nation’s well-being on many fronts.            …Education and career decisions made during the late teens and early 20’s are crucial to the lifetime employment and earnings prospects of an individual. Those who do not do well during this period seldom catch up to the rest of the population.            …Our ability to generate family stability and safe communities is strongly influenced by this…            …When you have 5 ½ million young people wandering around without diplomas, without jobs and without prospects, you might as well hand them T-shirts to wear that say “We’re Trouble”.
            …Without help, they will not become a part of a skilled work force. And they will become a drain on the nation’s resources.  One way or another, the rest of us will end up supporting them.”

            IF – If – if Bermuda is ‘another world’, then the connection that Bob Herbert sees between Under-educated…Under-skilled…Under-class won’t apply here in our Bermuda.

            However, it’s my view – and I suspect that you share my view – that the American Bob Herbert’s description is directly applicable to Bermuda. That everything that Bob says is happening in America happens in the same way and has the same effect here, in our Bermuda.

            I do not believe that Bermuda is ‘another world’. I know – and so do you – that Bermuda is one of two hundred countries on this earth.  I know – and so do you – that us 48,746 Bermudians are not genetically different from any of the other 5,999,951,254 people who also inhabit this globe. I know – and so do you – that what happens in other countries and communities tends to happen in Bermuda. And as proof of this, 193 other countries have – proportionately – fewer people in prison than we do.

            That means that what that American has said about the people in his country is likely to be just as true for us Bermudians. And it is. I know it. You know it. We all know it.

            Bermuda is just another country – one of two hundred countries on this galactic ball.  Bermuda people suffer and react the same as people in all these other countries. Bermuda is not ‘another world’.

            But Bermuda is our special world and we should all work harder, and more thoughtfully, to make it a better place for all of us to live in.




[The quote is from an article written by Bob Herbert, and published in the New York Times of Thursday 6th February 2003. Title of the article:- “Young, Jobless, Hopeless”. The city referred to is Chicago, Illinois, USA. Population of the USA is ~278m. What’s 5 ½ million unemployed ‘young people’ (people aged 16 – 24) compared to our Bermuda population? Pro-rated, it’s about 1,000. Now take a peek at the 2002 Census figures, and take a long look around you in the ‘other world’ of our real world Bermuda.] 


A British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, noted that: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

            It’s rare to find all three elements in one statement. But it’s happening right now.

            Where? In this snippet – attached to other longer segments – that scrolls up in a Royal Gazette internet website. The lie? “Bermudian elected legislators… (Most) don’t have listed telephone numbers at work or at home.”

            Arthur Andersen auditors, Saddam Hussein’s propagandists, and Satan himself would be professionally proud of this well-crafted, prominently displayed, and truly magnificent untruth that is presented as a fact.

            The statement is a specially crafted lie. A definite untruth presented as though it were a fact.

            There are 40 elected Parliamentarians. Eight of them do not have direct “work” or “home” telephone numbers that are listed in the current BTC directory. That’s eight out of 40. That’s 20%. One in five. Eight out of 40 is not “most”.

            Of the eight who do not have listed direct numbers; common, ordinary, grassroots Bermudian knowledge would enable any ‘local’ to get four of these numbers. Easily and effortlessly.

            For instance, Kim Young [MP, UBP, Paget] does not have her number directly listed. Is this a problem? Not to a local.

            We all know she’s married to Ward Young. So we look up Ward’s number, call Ward’s house, and ask to speak to his wife – Kim Young, MP.  Simple. Dead simple.

            In this way, 36 out of our 40 elected parliamentarians can be reached. Thirty-six out of 40 is 90%. One must be mathematically moronic, incredibly incompetent, or preposterously prejudiced, to turn 4 out of 40 – that’s 10% – into “most”.

            Besides, if us Bermudians do actually call our parliamentary rep, our parliamentarian may even answer the phone himself; which means we won’t have to go through secretaries and receptionists and ‘nosey parkers’ who might put us off, or who might want to pry into our ‘business’.

            Bermuda is unique in the actual availability and accessibility of its government. Unlike Number Ten Downing Street, Bermuda’s Cabinet building isn’t closed-off.  No phalanxes of gun-toting Secret Servicemen keep Bermudians from the Premier. You can bend Minister Terry Lister’s ear when he’s walking along Parliament Street. You can e-mail MP Arthur Hodgson at his BTC listed email address. You can page MP Dr Brown on his BTC listed pager. You can get MP Michael Dunkley at any of six declared points of BTC contact. You can stop by any of their unguarded houses on any day. You can ‘wave them down’ as they drive themselves around.

            Bermuda has always enjoyed this very high and regular accessibility to its elected parliamentarians. It hasn’t changed.  I hope it never changes.

            But why did Keith Forbes, identified as the author of this website, choose to write an inaccuracy [lie]? Why did the Royal Gazette – with thousands of hours and the professional journalistic duty to verify facts – choose to allow, and thus bless, the inaccuracy [lie]. Why bless? Because this website was last updated on 31 March 2003 – just ten days ago!

            When one reads all of the other stuff that Forbes has also written on this website, with all of it copyrighted to the Royal Gazette, one is left to think that those managers at the Royal Gazette who are responsible for accuracy of content are blasé [just don’t give a damn] about truth and facts.

            Or that all of these managers are on a ‘crusade’ against the government-of-the-day. Or that all of these managers are just incompetent and unprofessional.

            It leaves us readers and net-surfers to conclude that we ought to give even less credence to the stuff that appears in the pages of the Gazette and on its website.

            I wonder? Is the individual named Keith Forbes following a highly personal agenda? Using the tools of highly subjective opinion and deliberate falsehoods, is Forbes – and the Royal Gazette – targeting and seeking to destroy some of our unique on-island systems and customs?

            In a free society, men who have individual gripes and personal agendas have the democratic right to voice and pursue them. I acknowledge that.

            But I would have thought that professionally competent editors and managers would see to it that people such as their website writers do not so affect their news-sheets, that their product is dragged, pushed, or pulled into an intellectual wasteland and is turned into ‘bum paper’.

            I would have thought that. But, in April 2003, I have no reason to.


So how did we get so many young males living in what looks like a separate sub-culture?

            From 1960 – 1994, as Kim Young, UBP, MP wrote, we were “keeping up with the chairman of the board”. We were so busy making money, building houses, and taking trips that we never did what Michael Jackson sang about.

            We Bermudians never looked at the man [or woman] in the mirror.  Because we didn’t look at ourselves, we didn’t look at our neighbourhood – the village. Because we didn’t look at our village, we didn’t look at our country.

            Now, with guns popping off, baseball bats batting people instead of balls, and an obvious sub-culture and underclass in our midst; we’ve ‘suddenly’ started to see something.

            What we’re seeing is the result of a human failing. None of us likes to see messy and unsightly stuff. Frequently we try to mask it. If that doesn’t work, we ignore it.

            Then, when it’s completely unavoidable – our longtime Bermudian habit has been to stuff some dollars in the pockets of a foreign ‘axpert’ and launch him at the problem.  Generally, the ‘axpert’ manages to perfume the problem and mask it for a little longer.

            Then, one day, our well-perfumed mound explodes into a stinking mess. Then we Bermudians really react.        

            But we could – should – have seen it happening. How? By looking in the mirror that every – other – society seems to have.

            Look at the past five decades of Bermudian visual art. One thing stands out. There’s damn few Bermudian pictures showing ordinary Bermudian people. There’s lots of sea, scenery, and sunsets. But few people. It’s the solid evidence that we – as a whole country – didn’t even look at or see ourselves.[*]

            Additionally, up to the very early nineties, very few books were written by and about ordinary Bermudians. Writers perform the same function as visual artists. Writers create word pictures. Musicians create sound pictures.

            But not only artists.  Statisticians, whose mission is to collect numbers and identify relationships and trends, seemed to spend all their time following the flow of tourist people and dollars. Statisticians didn’t collect and highlight population numbers and social trends, and their relative values and importance. For statisticians, this is supposed to be their raison d’etre.

            By not looking at ourselves in these different ways, we were placing a low value on our human community and on our individual selves.

            Because we didn’t see ourselves as we actually were, we didn’t see what was actually happening. We didn’t see the under-educating, the under-training, the under-employing, and the consequential displacing. We didn’t ‘see’ the predictable social trend away from certain jobs. We didn’t ‘see’ the forming underclass with its predictable underclass subculture. That’s how we got here.

            In getting out, the value placed on Bermuda’s majority population is of primary importance. In past years, this population was not highly valued.

            So, first action?  Unpleasant and ‘politically incorrect’ it may be, but we’ll probably have to continue ‘writing-off’ some people. Not shoot or Zyklon them. Instead, as we started doing in the 1970’s, we’ll have to carry on serially ‘warehousing’ them in the ‘new’ correctional institutions specially built for them; and go on ‘warehousing’ them until they die out.

            Second action? Properly educate, properly train, and then employ every able-bodied Bermudian. However, even with heightened Bermudian employment, accept that our peculiarly narrow and uniquely shallow Bermuda job market will always require that part of our Bermuda workforce will always be foreign-born. Also, as we go forward, accept that some of our Bermudian people will always have to work overseas in jobs that suit their skill-sets and dispositions, but jobs that do not – and that cannot – exist in Bermuda.

            Third. Most important. Start, and never stop, looking in the mirror so that each of us sees Bermuda as it actually is, and ourselves as we really are.

            That means that those Bermudian voices and fingers and brushes that are beginning to create those mirrors need to be nurtured and encouraged.

            If we cannot see ourselves as we really are, then we’ll quickly fail as a national economic entity. Why? Because all we’re really selling are our human selves living in our complex social system set amidst our God-given 11,000 acres [don’t forget that the ‘Yanks’ gave us the other 2,000 acres].

            If we Bermudians upset our own – our very own – ‘delicate balance’ – which, nowadays, we can do so much easier – we’ll have only ourselves to blame.

            Ain’t nobody here to mess up but us! 


            [*] Don’t believe me?  Talk to Tom Butterfield at Masterworks!


I’m a father. That means that I have at least one child. Actually I have two. I’m also a parent. This suggests that I share the task of fathering with someone else. I do. I co-parent with my wife, the mother of those two children, and to whom I’ve been married for more than thirty years.

            Because I’m a parent I love our two children. But so do most normal parents. So I’m at least as normal as any other normal parent.

            However, because I’m a parent, and, I believe, only because I’m a parent, I have, at times thought certain thoughts, felt certain feelings, and have been impelled by certain impulses. In all of this I think, again, that I’m normal.

            There have been times – but only for split-seconds – when I seriously considered taking the life of one, or other, sometimes both, of my progeny.  And when, during those split-seconds, I also contemplated the consequences of my actions, I thought that the Chief Justice himself would step down from his seat of judgment, throw his arms about me, and congratulate me for my actions. For he, too, would have seen the wisdom of my deed. And if the twelve ‘good men’ of the jury were parents – they would have understood completely.

            There were other moments when I wondered if the Good Lord had sent these two as special punishments for some grievous sin I’d committed in some previous sojourn on this particular – or some other – cosmic ball.

            There were yet other times when, even though I was sure that they were the seed of my loins, I had cause to doubt that; believing – if only for nano-seconds – that they were the offspring of the One called Lucifer.

            But ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-five percent of the time, I loved those two children. Especially when they were babies, and even when they were teenagers I loved them. I still do. I believe that my wife may have loved them even more than I and she may not have suffered those momentary lapses of which I speak. But then, she is a woman, and as a woman, she is biologically designed, specially built, and intellectually set up to care more than I – a mere man.

            So, as one half of a parent team, I think that I understand something about double parenting. But, never having been a single parent, I confess that I don’t know much about single parenting.           

            In my ignorance of single parenting, I wonder how single parents cope. I wonder who they turn to when those primeval urges well up. But, perhaps, these urges don’t happen with single parents. Perhaps single parents have different children who are always obedient, eternally thoughtful, and who always consider the results before they commit their childish actions. Perhaps single parents are singularly blessed with perfect children.

            But if their children are not perfect, how do they cope? And do single parents cope as well as the natural team of father and mother?

            Judging by the number of persons in Westgate who share a common denominator of mother present, father absent, single-parenthood; it may be that certain aspects of single parenthood may be indicators of future problems.

            Why then is single parenthood chosen more frequently today than before?

            I guess that one of the reasons may be that there’ve been lots of books written – by experts – and many theories expounded – by experts – on child-rearing. Many of these books give the impression that child-rearing is easy. I confess that I’ve read a few of these books. However, I must also confess that, with hindsight, I think I’d have gotten better use from these books – especially the thicker ones – if I’d used them as bludgeoning devices in my unrelenting battle to maintain an upper hand in the continual inter-generational warfare in my household.

            These books and theories so often suggest that there are simple rules, which, if followed will guarantee success in child-raising. However, the only simple rule that I found that always worked was: “Strike first!”  Punish! Then ask!

            This invariably provoked an inter-generational discussion of varying intensity. But because I had already seized the high ground, I discussed from a position of strength.       With the hindsight from two decades of child-raising as part of a natural team, I now know – not believe – KNOW that the natural team is the best team. That all other child-rearing arrangements are creaking substitutes.

            So why would someone – anyone – choose single-parenthood?

            I understand that single-parenthood can happen as a result of ignorance and inexperience, condom slippage, pill failure, wrong rhythm, or just plain trickery. I accept that when this happens, one is left with no real choice.  But I am puzzled by people who knowingly choose single-parenthood.

            By this I mean those persons who choose to rear a child when they know they are not part of a natural team. Marriage is one way to form a natural team. A steady long-term cohabitation can also make a good natural team. But where neither of these two adult relationships occurs, it’s unwise – stupid even – to attempt to successfully rear one child, or two, or three, or more.

            If my experience is anything to go by, those primeval urges will come, and if not properly handled, the children can be damaged. I believe that many children of single parents are damaged. My belief is supported by Bermuda’s national social statistics.  It is also supported by the statistics of many other countries whose people care enough to study these things.  And Bermuda does, after all, have the world’s seventh highest prison population. Which means that 193 other countries are doing better than us.

            What to do about it?

            Support the natural team! Join one or form one! Don’t go single!



One of life’s still unsolved mysteries, yet to turn up on cable TV’s Cold Case Files is: “Why do socks come up un-matched?”

            Ever since I can remember, I have always had one or more singles of socks. That’s one sock when I should have had two. Or two socks – of different colours – when they should have been of the same colour. And texture. And design.

            I believe that I’m not alone in this. I believe that one or two, and maybe more, men share this problem.

            I go into a retail establishment and thoughtfully buy a carefully and properly paired pair of socks – two socks – of the same colour, texture, design. I pay for this pair of socks. Bring them home. Put them in my sock drawer. I take them out of my sock drawers. Put them on my two feet – one sock on each foot – and wear them. I later take them off and at this point I still have two – matching – socks.

            Then this carefully matched pair gets into a wash process.

            And what comes out? One sock! Or two unmatched socks!

            How does that happen? So regularly?

            The wash process itself has modernized from the old days when we washed clothes in big galvanized tubs with glass washboards and bars of yellow Sunlight soap. Now we use machinery. Now socks get put into a washer. The washer lid gets closed. And in the darkness, spooks and detergent microbes do their stuff.

            Because modern washing takes place in this primeval darkness, I have the feeling that primitive and ancient forces are at work. Perhaps all the whirling and whirring of modern washers comes from the frenzied actions of sock-eating spooks. Spooks with tastes both peculiar and particular.

            Peculiar and particular because they only consume socks. Not shirts, or pants, or boxer shorts.

            It probably isn’t socially acceptable to go around speaking of spooks and stuff. It may upset some people. But the continued disappearing of my socks tells me that spooks are real, alive, and kicking. And stealing!

            So if anyone wants to join me in a spook hunt, come along. However, if it makes you happy, we’ll call the spooks something else. But before you come, make sure your socks match.

            On the other foot – hand? – I think there may be some merit in us men wearing tights. At least that’ll get rid of the eternal problem of finding and matching two socks.

            Of course in our strongly conservative Bermuda society, eyebrows and hackles will have risen already just because I’ve suggested it.

            But consider this. In the good old days – when people who looked like me worked for free – even the Kings of England and Republican Americans used to mess around in white tights. Now you can’t get more conservative than those guys.

            However, now that I remember, George lll and George Washington, both of whom wore tights, went to war. So did that Louis the some-teenth guy and Napoleon Courvoisier – oops! – Bonaparte.

            Do Dubya and Rumsfeld wear tights?



In February 2003, Bermuda’s Chamber of Commerce will put out the figures for December’s retail sales. These figures are unlikely to show any significant increase in local spending. Admittedly, retail sales seem to be down in all western economies, so it’s arguable that Bermuda is simply following a global pattern.

            That may be true. But it’s also true that Bermudians do a helluva lot of shopping overseas and on the Internet and through service providers such as Zip-X; and through other means. And not much of this kind of shopping is tracked or recorded.

            The odds are that nationally, Bermudian spending is generally higher – perhaps significantly higher – than last year. The odds are that while nationally, Bermudian spending is significantly higher, direct Bermudian spending in Bermuda’s on-island local retail market is down; or not significantly up.


            Because overseas shopping and Internet shopping offers a variety of choice that local retailers would be – actually are – hard-pressed to match. Then, with UPS, Fedex, and Zip-X delivering goods in two to five working days; there’s also a high element of convenience.

            Whilst a three day wait may seem a long time, it needs to be set against the reality that the selection and choice and purchase arrangements are made in the comfort of one’s home, at a time of one’s choosing, and without the hassle of driving, parking, walking, and then hunting, and – often – not finding; all followed by more walking and driving. For many of these imported items, the final price is unlikely to be much higher than what would have been charged for an over-the-counter local sale.

            Bermudians are a sophisticated people. They are accustomed to the ambiance of modern shopping malls and shopping precincts. They are used to wandering amongst vast choices; wandering without vehicle traffic; wandering and able to stop and eat, or stop and rest; just wandering in a shopping area that’s full of people and people friendly activities.

            Designers of modern shopping malls and precincts now understand that they are not just delivering measured selling space to a retailer; they are also delivering ambiance and atmosphere to shoppers. Retailers in these malls take care, nowadays, to ensure that their mall and precinct managers cultivate an atmosphere and support activities that will attract and hold people.

            That’s what happens overseas. In Canada, the USA, the UK, the European continent, in the Islands.

            But not here. Not in our City of Hamilton. Not here. Oh no! Not here!

            With great and sustained effort, Hamilton’s whole merchant community, has actively resisted – and continues to resist – the kind of change that is necessary for their own economic survival. Hamilton’s merchant community persists – insists – on maintaining a retail environment that is NOT people friendly; that does NOT invite wandering; that does NOT encourage people to come and tarry awhile.

            Hamilton’s merchant community persists – insists – on maintaining a retail environment that requires – demands – a narrow and focused ‘hunt and seek’ style of shopping. And that’s stupid. Damn stupid.

            Hamilton’s retail centre of gravity is probably a point near Frankie Brewster’s Pro Shop. If you stand there, you’re probably at the centre of Hamilton’s major shopping area. If you measure out from there and go 150 metres [500 feet] east and west, then 150 metres [500 feet] north and south; you’ll find all the major shops. But this whole area is just about the same area as a medium size [new] mall in North America or a shopping precinct in a mid-size English town.

            But oh, how inconvenient! Cars, bikes, trucks. Parking and double-parking. No convenient eating places. No convenient sitting or resting places. And when it rains…  Oh forget it! 

            So here we are. The Bermuda Monetary Authority said there was $91,000,000 in circulation at Christmas. We’re a sophisticated population with money to spend. A cosmopolitan population that is renowned in East Coast malls and factory outlets for being free-spending shoppers. A free-spending population that saves to spend.

            Yet, in February 2003, local retailers will complain that Bermudians didn’t spend as much this year as last.

            Perhaps local retailers need to examine the ambiance that Hamilton delivers. Perhaps local retailers need to create a shopping precinct that attracts, holds, and services people. Perhaps local retailers need to appreciate that their ability to attract dollars depends, ultimately, on their ability to attract – and hold – people.

            Perhaps local retailers need to move fast to push the traffic out of town and pull the people into town. Perhaps they need to rip up that long strip of dead asphalt that knifes through Hamilton. Give it over to grass and flowers, or tile and flowers, or cobblestones and flowers; and walking and sitting people, and commercial services that cater to walking and sitting people.

            Imagine what would happen if one of those North American malls suddenly decided to let people drive and park their cars right on the main mall walkway. Can you imagine that? It should be easy. It’s exactly what the local retail community has been doing for years, and is still doing now.

            But in February 2003, in an ironic twist, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce [Retail Division] will speak for Bermuda’s retail community and will comment on low retail sales!  

            Come on guys. In this New Year, take your fingers out from where you’ve got them so firmly stuck, put your wooden heads together, talk to the four banks and to this government, float the bonds, and make the changes.

            If you don’t, you’ll be Zip-X’ed, Fedex’ed, UPS’ed, Amazon’ed, J C Penney’ed, Land’s End’ed, King of Prussia’d…  out of existence.

            But why should I and anybody else care? We should care because our whole Bermuda environment is affected by this steadily reducing choice. This reduction is driven by the lack of profit that can’t provide funds for re-investment and improvement and that helps to further reduce future choice…

            I and my 48,999 fellow Bermudians are all part of the problem. If I and you and  government and business and retailers work together, we can all help enhance choice, improve ambiance for both locals and tourists, retain and increase retail jobs, improve profits, and back to where it started – enhance choice.

            That’s if we work together. But if we stay separate, consumers will go on seeking variety and silently complaining – by withdrawing their custom – about the lack of ambiance. Retailers will go on watching their market shrink. Tourists and International Business will find Bermuda to be even more unjustifiably expensive. And all of us Bermudians will eventually find that our whole quality of life will have declined to where Bermuda becomes an extremely expensive but unattractive living environment for everyone from Local to Tourist to Businessman.

            It isn’t that I want a mall. I want a growing future. Not the declining future that I see looming. So all of us – customers, merchants, business community, and government – need to invest in change – NOW!


Fact:- The Attorney General and the Accountant General referring to the existing legislation, said that the late David Allen’s getting Government Employees Health Insurance [GEHI] cover in the way that he did was entirely legal.

                Fact:- The speed with which Mr Allen got cover was not abnormal. There is no vetting process that eliminates potential GEHI members. Thus joining the GEHI plan never takes more than one working day for anybody.

                Fact:- Neither political power nor special influence is necessary to join GEHI.

                Fact:- All insurance companies that operate for profit would have refused any request, made by any person, at that late time, to provide full health insurance cover.

                Fact:- All insurance companies that operate for profit do reject some applicants and do withdraw or limit their coverage, or demand very high premiums with extensive exclusions.

                Fact:- All five facts above are simple verifiable pieces of information that are independent of, and not influenced by, the political power or emotion of the moment.

                Fact:- All of this factual information was available to the Editorial staff of the Royal Gazette.

                Fact:- The Royal Gazette ran a story that said that David Allen’s ability to acquire GEHI insurance cover was possible only because of the exercise of political influence.

                Fact:- The information presented as fact in the Gazette’s ‘news’ story and supporting editorial was wrong.

                Fact:- The honest and professional thing to do is to admit an error and retract incorrect statements.

                Fact:- The editorial staff of the Royal Gazette has not admitted error in running the story or in comments in its editorial.

                Fact:- The historically low level of credibility of the Royal Gazette has not been raised by this story.

                Opinion:- In the editorial offices of the Royal Gazette, the biases, values, and spirit that were put in place by that old retired “Poodle of Par-la-Ville” live on and, at #2 Par-la-Ville Road, the Flag of Truth flaps upside down at half-mast.



Some people say that there’s some kind of ‘inversion’ in the ocean. They say that’s the reason for the extra high tides that we’ve been having.

                Others say that global warming is causing the polar icecaps and glaciers to melt and that this is raising sea levels all over the world.

                Frankly, I believe that both explanations are ‘cover stories’ put out by ‘they’. The same ‘they’ who put out those ‘cover stories’ about UFO’s in the sky and WMD’s in Iraq.

                The truth, the real truth – not a Royal Gazette truth – is that water levels around Bermuda are rising. But only apparently so!

                The real truth is that Bermuda is disappearing. Little piece by little piece. You see, some smart aleck ‘onion’ has realized that real estate in Bermuda is so expensive that there’s a killing to be made in just selling a ‘piece of the rock’.

                An acre of cheap Bermuda land is worth $1,200,000. That works out to $247.94 a square yard, or $27.55 a square foot. Worse – that’s 20c a square inch. But if you go to where ‘nice’ people live, you’ll spend half as much again. So be ready to fork out 30c a square inch – that’s $43.20 a square foot, or $388.80 a square yard, which comes out to $1,881,792 an acre. And Tucker’s Town? Hah!

So, despite the cover stories, I believe that this smart ‘onion’ – least I hope it’s an ‘onion’ – is sneaking around with a ‘wheelbarrel’ and a spade – or maybe a shovel – and he’s digging up bits of Bermuda and flogging these bits to rich foreigners.

People used to buy gold when troubles hit. But with Arthur Andersen’s accounting practices and Merrill Lynch’s market shenanigans – gold’s just not safe anymore…and can’t trust the stock markets and accountants…never could trust lawyers…priests are getting suspended and jailed…Governor-Generals are resigning…

So that old “cri de vox populi” that ‘land’ always appreciates or holds its value is the newest shout in the bazaar.

Folks! Look out for a guy pushing a well-used ‘wheelbarrel’. Keep a sharp eye on your ‘piece of the rock’. Some bugger’s out there taking it. Piece by piece.

Tide’s higher? Na-a-h! It isn’t the water coming up! It’s Bermuda going down!

What to do about it? Go ‘round Gorham’s and get some two-by-fours, one-by-sixes, and some nails and start making an ark!

Oh! And a hammer and saw!

But…even better! Get that Rance ‘bye to run his Waterworks at full blast so we can suck up the rising tide, turn it into Pure Water, bottle it, and sell it to Saudi Arabia….


Sir John W Swan spoke of the problems surrounding Bermuda’s young men. He was right when he first said it. He’s even more right, eight years later, in 2003 when everyone else is saying it – too!

            In June’s UMUM magazine article, Violence and Bermuda’s Youth, Kara Smith writes: “…Bermuda’s young people have tainted their promising image with a slew of violent and fatal outbreaks…”. She goes on: “The situation is not easily explained because…the roots of the problem run so deep…”.

            Like Kara, I agree that the situation isn’t easy to explain. However, I believe that it’s explainable in simple terms. Kara offers part of the explanation: “Surely…a child does not come from the womb with an acute knowledge of offensive language and physical abuse.” As life begins. That’s where the explanation begins.

            The un-named bundle of genes that pops into the world may come with a genetic disposition created by drugs and chemicals – legal or illegal – that its mother may have used during gestation. But if the bundle’s mother took reasonable care – as 98% of mothers do – then that bundle will be a genetic thing without any pre-disposition to do anything.

            If that bundle is then adopted by an Australian couple, it will grow up surfing and ‘matilda-waltzing’. If a Jamaican couple adopts, it’ll grow up wearing dreads and singing reggae. A Brit couple? It’ll grow up stopping every afternoon for tea at 4:00pm and going to Saturday football matches.

            In the absence of birth defects, a genetic bundle will become whatever its nurturing community shapes it into being. The eighteen year-old lager lout, the eighteen year-old footballer, the eighteen year-old college student, are all created by some set of nurturing and shaping values. These values are those that predominated in the communities that sheltered, fed, educated, and trained them.

              Put another way, the values that reside in the soul of an eighteen year-old are the values that are quietly, but absolutely, passed on to him in the 6,570 days from the day he popped into the world and the day he turns eighteen.

            Early in those 6,570 days he learned a language.  He learned to use either ‘offensive language’ or ‘socially acceptable’ language. One or the other. As Kara reminds us, a new genetic bundle has to be taught everything.

            Ultimately, the values that reside in the deepest soul of any eighteen year-old anywhere in the world, are the values passed on to him by his immediate community [his family], and his wider community [his religion and his clan or tribe or race], and his widest community [his country].

            But look at what these three communities have done to Bermuda’s eighteen year-olds. Not at what they say they’ve done. Look, honestly, at what they’ve actually done.

            These three Bermuda and Bermudian communities, perhaps not acting with great deliberation, but still acting deliberately, have under-educated, under-trained, and then allowed and encouraged the economic and social displacement of a large part of its annual crop of eighteen year-olds. These Bermudian communities have been doing this – deliberately but not with deliberation – for more than twenty-five years.

            After twenty-five years of discarding a small number of similar items, in the same place, you’ll get a noticeable pile of something. If it’s beer bottles, you’ll get an unsightly green mound. If it’s old cars, you’ll still get an unsightly mound – just different.

            With discarded people, you get – at first – a hardly noticeable number of people who don’t seem to fit in. Then you get a larger number who are clearly not fitting in to ordinary society. Then, in the final stage, this group of unfitted-in people reach and pass the critical mass where they form their own society. A society complete with its own set of values, standards, styles, customs, and traditions.

            Bermuda’s discarded “young males” probably entered the first stage some time in the early eighties. By the mid nineties – when Sir John noticed them – they’d reached the second stage. Now? In 2003. They’re probably in the final stage and they could already be a strong group about to enter the ultimate stage of self-perpetuation.

            Special problem? On this 13,000 acre plot with its delicately balanced social and economic life, numerically small but socially negative groups have a bigger than usual ability to wreck Bermuda’s very delicate, highly vulnerable, balance.

            By the way – if you think that Bermuda’s “young male problem” is exclusively black – you need to wipe that colour blot from your mind. It isn’t a colour problem.


My wife and I usually make our Bermuda Festival selections early and book online. This year we did so. However, by the time that we booked, all the seats for all the Soweto Gospel Choir performances were gone. Fortunately, we were able to get tickets for the special performance put on for Sunday afternoon. So we did get to see and hear that superb choir.    

            I would have been unhappy if I’d missed them completely. However, I have been listening to their music for some time, having discovered them about two years ago.  Over the past five years, I’ve been awakening, generally, to the music of South Africa.  Hugh Masekela, West Nkosi, South African gospel choirs generally, and of course Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

            In 2002, I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the South African musical ‘Umoja’ during its London run. Before that, and long before Nelson Mandela’s release, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1986, I saw the South African play ‘District Six’.

            There is a special vibrancy in the music coming out of South Africa. As the country metamorphosed from apartheid into the ‘Rainbow Nation’, South African music also underwent a change.  The rough ‘penny whistle’ street music grew into bands and groups that stayed together and got better. Bob Marley’s reggae found its way back to Africa and was then bounced back to us in the West in the beautiful smooth sounds and powerful lyrics of Lucky Dube. Johnny Clegg burst the old banning barriers and sang songs praising Nelson Mandela. European compositions created by long dead white men, blended into ancient African styles that had been created by long dead black men and women.  In their beautiful sounds, the Soweto String Quartet brought those two deep classical streams together.

            I enjoyed the Soweto Gospel Choir. For me, the most intense moment in their program was when they asked the audience to stand while they sang ‘Nkosi Sikele’ – The Rainbow Nation’s National Anthem.

            For me, the intensity was deepened by several previous references to the tenth anniversary of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. I recalled that ‘Nkosi Sikele’, originally the ANC’s theme song or anthem, was once a ‘banned song’ and that there was a time when the mere singing of that song would be cause for punishment. At that performance, that Sunday afternoon, those voices singing that song showed just how freedom and change do come and do flow together until they provide a beautiful new mixture.

            I’d already heard that beautiful new mixture. On Sunday I saw that beautiful new mixture. I’m glad that I did.


Wayne Furbert’s shuffle of his Shadow Cabinet has removed a Gibbons from Bermuda’s political power centre. Now, in all of the whole mechanism of Bermuda’s elected politicians, there is only one old money, old family name left on stage centre. All the other prominent UBP players are new money or new people or black.

            My cousins, the Talbot Brothers, used to sing a calypso about “Mr Trimingham and Mr Trott”. Bermudians used to talk about the ‘Forty Thieves’ and ‘Front Street’. Families like the Cox’s and Spurling’s and Tucker’s and Astwood’s used to loom large on Bermuda’s political landscape. I think they’ve gone. Gone the way that Trimingham’s has already gone.

            South Africa has actually changed since 1994. All South Africans, black and white, acknowledge that change. Here in Bermuda with all the change that has happened, I still hear many voices shouting and several pens scratching that things haven’t changed. Yet when I look and listen around me, all I see and hear is change.

            In fact, while waiting in the queue to pick up my tickets for the Sunday performance of the Soweto Gospel Choir, I looked east and saw two signs. One said ‘Gosling Brothers’, the other, much higher up and farther back, said ‘Trimingham’s’. This time next year that high up Trimingham’s sign will have gone. Only the Gosling’s sign will remain.

            Still there are those amongst us who seem determined to refuse to acknowledge any change whatsoever. I reckon that these unchangers are people who have their heads stuck so far into the sands of ignorance or obstinacy that their normally lowest orifice has become their highest.

            If, in ten years South Africa can undergo radical change and then acknowledge that change, why can’t we in Bermuda?



Most of us see the angry ones as the people who adorn the walls, or who hang on the street. To many people they’re identifiable because of the way they dress. A few of us identify with them because they’re members of our family. Some close. Some distant. But still family. To most of us, they’re young, black, and male.

            They’re not the only ones though.  I believe that there are two more angry groups. One group is smaller. The other group is probably – possibly – as large as or maybe even larger than the oft-mentioned group of ‘young black males’. This third group consists of both blacks and whites. Males and females.

            The smaller of the two groups is the ‘young white male’. He can be, and he often is, as shut out as the ‘young black male’. Though he may have been privately schooled for all of his Bermuda education, he might have just squeaked through this better and more efficient private education system. He might have failed to graduate from either system.  Educational failure isn’t discriminatory!

            He doesn’t always come from a new money or old money family. Often he comes from just an ordinary hard-working family – that just happens to be white; and, in all other aspects is not different from an ordinary hard-working family – that just happens to be black.

            He is not markedly different from his black male counterpart. Like his black male counterpart, he is not so numerate and literate that he can easily fit himself into Bermuda’s economy with its insistence on high-end intellectual skills and its huge demand for exotic but narrow skill-sets.  So, like his black counterpart, he too, finds it hard to compete successfully in Bermuda’s globalized job market.

            But he’s not that visible is he? I guess it’s his colour. With all that black around, he’s not so easy to see. But he’s there…he’s there.  Like a white ghost, he’s there. And he’s Bermudian and he matters.

            Though I see him and I’m worried about him, I’m even more concerned about this other group – this other race and gender integrated group. Like ‘hizbollah’ rockets, this lot are well-hidden.  They’re  buried deep.

            They’re the ones – black and white, male and female – who did go off to college or other school; who worked and paid for years of education or specialist training so that they could get a degree or a technical skill. Then they came back home to Bermuda to work and live. They did get jobs. They actually do turn up every day. They actually do a lot of good work. They get paid. They get paid good money.

            Then they get caught. They get caught in the Bermuda Triangle of ‘Not’s’. Not enough total income to buy a Bermuda house. Not enough disposable income to live the way they’d like to live because of high Bermuda prices. Not enough promotion or advancement prospects because of the relatively small and ‘flat’ corporations or entities that they work in. 

            The worst ‘not’ is the house ‘not’. A couple of college-educated professionals, each working in a ‘good’ job, each bringing home  $75,000 a year is caught in the ‘not’ triangle. Have kids? Not enough income for their children’s private sector education and a mortgage.  No kids now? Probably can afford a mortgage but must not have any children. Want to enjoy the fruits of their labours? Forget the house.

            But isn’t that why they spent four years and $60,000 [and often much more] on getting that college degree?  Didn’t they do all that so that they could have a better range of choices? Didn’t they forego ‘now pleasures’ for ‘tomorrow satisfactions’? And doesn’t it now look as if something has taken tomorrow and ripped it apart and trashed it? Made tomorrow disappear?

            Over time, I’ve received many emails expressing this kind of sentiment. I’ve seen the feeling set out in other people’s blogs. I’ve had telephone callers spill out their frustration. I’ve had professionals and semi-professionals tell me directly how angry they are. How cheated they feel.

            I wonder. Am I just hearing gripes from a few sour-grapers, a minority of inveterate grumblers? Or, am I hearing the cries of a sizeable, but not so easily visible group, that is very, very, angry?

            What am I hearing? What am I seeing?  Can someone tell me?