Letters & Opinion

River of No Return!

By Earl Bousquet
By Earl Bousquet

With the next national polls just a bell away, some even discriminately choose whether to have apples or bananas for breakfast, lest some too-serious partisan observer politically associates them with the fruit’s colour. Everyone has an idea (or two) about how his or her party should obliterate the other.

The political theatre is no less amusing or amazing: The main opposition leader is challenging the Prime Minister to call an election now; the SLP leader is being encouraged to do just that to catch the UWP leader “with his pants down”. The UWP leader is promising free visas to the USA and Canada, only to be reminded he was in Cabinet when both countries slammed visa restrictions on Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians. The IMF confirms the Finance Minister’s earlier indication that the economy has come out of the red and into the black, but the Development Banker in the UWP Leader says he can prove that the IMF – and the PM – are both totally wrong. The Opposition hits the roof over a Saudi billionaire being supposedly wrongly appointed as a Saint Lucia diplomat in London, only to be reminded it had also – in office — appointed Hollywood martial artist Stephen Segal as a Cultural Ambassador for Saint Lucia.

And the show goes on…

But guess what: from Monday – the first working day of this week — we all embarked on the River of No Return towards the next general elections – and that no one (here or there) may dare deny.

And talking about the River of no return…

On Sunday, while taking in all the weekend’s accumulated political vibes in Vieux Fort, I spent much solitary time remembering my ‘old friend’ John Kessel.

If ever there was one head to fit the cap of the character called ‘The old man and the sea’ it was John Kessel. An Australian who lost everything Aussie after arriving here eons ago — except his accent and his ever-sharp educational wit — he knew everything there was to know about anything.

John’s cremated dust was supposed to be blown back into the sea from whence he came, with and in which he lived. When the urn was opened and he was thrown back from whence he first cameth, all aboard the slow boat for his last ride were supposed to see his finite dust returned, not dust-to-dust, but to the infinity of the water of his life.

But guess what? When his dust was thrown overboard, John refused to go and so he flew — every spec of the dusty way — back into the faces of all aboard.

(Now, I could just hear John exclaiming, in loud delight: “Ha! Gotcha!”)

I will miss our not-so-usual Saturday morning ‘by the market’ exchanges at his favourite parking lot behind the bank, from which I always emerged with a better appreciation for his wit – and a better understanding of something I didn’t. He knew what jokes, ‘facts of life’ and ‘fruits of the earth’ would excite me and spike my interest.

Our common interest in marine affairs, our lifelong family associations with the sea and our mutual affection for things unusual transcended our generation gap.

John was online “on the net” long before me and asked me often enough whether I was “too much of a landlubber to make the transition from a business card to an email address?”

Yes, I’ll miss John.

I’m glad I never saw him down. My eternal memory will be, not of his slight perch in later years, but of that inimitable connection between his brain, his memory and his tongue that made the senior Mr Kessel ‘The youngest old man of the sea’ I ever met in all my years crossing the Seven Seas and flying the skies of the world.

And yes, the John I got to know would always have chosen, long before that trip into infinity along the river of no return, to go in the finest grade of scattered pieces than to go alone in peace.

And he made sure, from way Down Under, that he never went anywhere!


  1. I once thought
    (he was so sturdy-tall and comfortably confident)
    that he was the the local HMSS -00*.
    An exquisite read that balances Japanese minimalism,
    somber oboe notes with brisk French Horn tones and a cadence of stanza structures that imply Dizzy Gillespie or Charlie Parker
    You write a most dignified epitaph.
    I share your profound love for the sea and the commitment to writing by E. Hemingway
    This was a most satisfying reading session.

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