Wednesday, 30 January 2019

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Philip Paulwell’s sparkling 56th b’day bash + ‘Alice in Wonderland’ charity event launched

JOLLY GOOD FELLOW: The good times rolled and the champagne flowed as MP and PNP comrade Philip Paulwell, family and friends, constituents and well-wishers gathered to celebrate his 56th in Port Royal on January 12. The guest list featured a who’s who of high society, the political sphere, corporate and the public service. Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and Errald Miller were there; the JMEA’s Metry Seaga also showed support, as did businessman Brian ‘Ribbie’ Chung, and several others. There was a pause for cake-cutting duties, plenty of photo-ops, and DJ Squeeze kept the party jumpin’, as he spun the oldies but goodies and the hottest new party-starting anthems.

FOR THE CHILDREN: Whether it’s Shaggy & Friends or some other charity-minded group, initiatives to raise funds to boost the life-saving work of the Bustamante Hospital for Children always draw support from the philanthropists and the social set. Recently, Millsborough Crescent in upper St. Andrew played host to the launch of the hospital’s new Alice in Wonderland charity ’do, being put on by the Friends of the Bustamante Hospital under the patronage of Her Excellency Lady Allen. The attendees included Chorvelle Johnson, Thalia Lyn, Minna Israel, Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters, Jacqueline Sharp, Wisynco’s Francois Chalifour, singer and medical doc Mario Evon and Rock Capital’s Ryan Reid.

LIFE + STYLE: Grow your wealth and protect it with Scotiabank Wealth Management

FISCAL CONFIDENCE: Grant says SWM will manage your local and int'l investments.

ACCORDING to Roger Grant, they saved the best for last. On Sunday, January 20, Scotiabank Jamaica launched its latest customer-friendly initiative, Scotiabank Wealth Management, a ‘product’ which has already been introduced to customers in The Bahamas, Barbados, Peru and the Cayman Islands.

The Jamaican launch took the form of a brunch at the National Gallery in Downtown Kingston, against the backdrop of its latest blockbuster exhibition, Beyond Fashion. Among the guests in attendance were David Shirley (KLE Group) and Shani McGraham-Shirley, Frank Ventura (Burger King), fashion designer Keneea Linton -George and Richard Pandohie (Seprod). Chef Kim Fennel served as caterer.

Given global evolution in private banking and wealth management, Scotiabank’s new initiative aims to make life easier for on-the-go customers. It’s an innovative, team-based approach to wealth management that addresses the entirety of the client’s life, one facet at a time. “We’ve been able to augment our platform to better serve our wealth clients,” says Grant. “So whether it is management of investments locally or internationally, Scotiabank Wealth Management can help.”

SWM services not only include private banking and investment management but also wealth structuring and trust. Customers are in safe hands, as the wealth management specialists bring their skills and expertise to what you’ve accumulated and how to successfully administer it amidst life’s changes.

In a nutshell, customers benefit from financial advice on managing their wealth ad how to transfer it to future generations.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

BERGER ELITE NETBALL LEAGUE: Manchester Spurs dethrone Kingston Hummingbirds to lift championship trophy

GOLDEN GIRLS: The winners celebrating with Berger execs and coach Connie Francis.

IT was easily one of the most thrilling, nail-biting netball finals ever played on Jamaican soil. The defending champions, Kingston Hummingbirds, locked in a keenly contested battle of wills and skills against the Manchester Spurs to decide the winner of this year’s Berger Elite League.

Before a lively crowd inside the National Indoor Sports Centre, both teams put on an outstanding display. Shooters Sabrina Spence and Shanice Beckford led the charge for the Hummingbirds, while Anna-Kay Griffiths and Jozelle Allison were towers of strength for the Spurs. Such was the quality of the contest that the score kept equalizing all the way up to the final whistle: 54-54.

Extra time would have to show who wanted it more. And after two consecutive seven-minute halves, the Spurs surged ahead to claim victory, with the score reading 71-65. 

The Kingston Hummingbirds were coached by Winston Nevers and Roy Pryce, while the Manchester Spurs were prepared by Connie Francis and Patricia Jackson. “We were really hungry for it. The players wanted this win, and that determination helped us,” Jackson told TALLAWAH in a post-match interview. “What also worked for us was that we kept our composure and the shooters delivered.” 

Spurs goal-shooter Jozelle Allison was voted league MVP during the awards presentation ceremony (medals, trophies, cash prizes) that followed. 

> Cream of the Crop: The 2019 Prize Winners 
* MVP Award: Jozelle Allison (Manchester Spurs) 
* Best Centre Court Player: Paula Thompson (Kingston Hummingbirds) 
* Best Defensive Player: Abigail Linton (Kingston Hummingbirds) 
* Most Accurate Shooter: Tracey-Ann Francis (St. Catherine Racers) 
* Teams scoring 60 points or more in a match: Manchester Spurs (2); Kingston Hummingbirds (1) 
* Third-place finishers: Clarendon Gators 
* Second-place finishers: Kingston Hummingbirds 
* 2019 Champions: Manchester Spurs

Monday, 28 January 2019

TAKING CONTROL: How banishing fear opens up a path to purpose and success

BEING BRAVE: Pastor Deane Good says success-seekers have nothing to fear but fear itself.

WHAT are you afraid of? For some people, fear of failure and fear of not being good enough proves debilitating and life-threatening. But Florida-based Christian minister Deane Good, a motivational speaker and life coach, says there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

“You have to really understand what fear is all about,” he argues. Breaking it down, Good says FEAR is a sneaky acronym with two meanings: Forget Everything And Run and Forget Everything And Recover. What’s your choice?

Those who choose flight over fight, the pastor says, will be running for the rest of their lives. “There are people who have these gifts, but fear of failure, fear of the past, will cause them to run away and abort the mission and not discover the purpose that God has for them,” he explains.

But those who choose to fight for their future and bounce back from setback after setback are destined to achieve greatness. “Those who choose to recover, they are the people who say, ‘Come hell or high water, I’m going to complete the purpose that God has for me,’” Good points out. “They are the success stories because those people are coachable and trainable. They are willing to fight for what’s theirs.”

As we embark on a New Year’s journey, one that will no doubt be filled with challenge and change, Good’s message for Jamaicans is simple: choose purpose and passion and say a firm goodbye to fear. “Some people have something kicking inside them, and they don’t know what it is,” he says. There’s no better time than the present, Good believes, for the kind of self-discovery that will further open the door to purpose and endless possibilities.

OFF AND RUNNING: Kingston City Marathon set for March 17 + Sagicor/Sigma Corporate Run returns Feb. 17

GOING THE DISTANCE: At least 5,000 persons are expected to participate in the inaugural Kingston City Marathon, which had its launch in Kingston last Wednesday. According to Nicole Madden-Greig, co-chair of the event (which used to be a half-marathon), entries are expected to come in from Dallas and Miami and from as far as Honolulu and Mexico. Director of Tourism, Donovan White, says the event’s graduation to a full-scale marathon is a most welcome development. “As running becomes a way of life for more people in pursuit of an active lifestyle, and travelling to run marathons continues to grow,” he says, “Kingston City Run’s graduation to a full marathon now gives serious runners, running enthusiasts as well as weekend warriors another reason to consider visiting Kingston.” The Kingston City Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, March 17.

SETTING THE PACE: The Diabetes Association of Jamaica, the Lupus Foundation and the May Pen Hospital’s Neo-Natal Unit have been selected as the beneficiaries of the 2019 iteration of the Sagicor/Sigma Corporate Run, which takes over the streets of city Kingston on Sunday, February 17. An ambitious fund-raising target of $52 million has been set, with the proceeds to be donated to these charitable causes. Twenty years on, the Sagicor/Sigma Run continues to foster a spirit of wellness and philanthropy. “As the Caribbean’s largest road-race event, we not only bring together thousands of fitness enthusiasts, competing corporate entities, families and friends,” says Sagicor Foundation Chairman, R. Danny Williams, “[we are] creating a legacy that has profound impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of our nation’s children.”

Saturday, 26 January 2019

FANTASTIC 50: TV-J takes the Schools’ Challenge Quiz celebration to Emancipation Park

FINAL SCORE: Participants in the Celebrity Quiz Challenge sharing a post-match photo-op; (above) Yvonne Chin interviews Claire Grant.

A milestone like the golden anniversary of a landmark product is worth a parade. Television Jamaica (TV-J) couldn’t be more proud of the fact that Schools’ Challenge Quiz has hit the 50-year mark, making it the longest-running educational programme of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. Unsurprisingly, they’re taking the show on the road.

On Thursday, the station’s management and the show’s production crew took over the Emancipation Park in New Kingston, transforming it into a hub of electric excitement, as fans and past quizzies and loyal sponsors (Tru Juice, Kingston Bookshop, Digicel) came together in celebration of brain power! 

Quizmistress Yvonne Chin was a gracious hostess, conducting interviews with, among others, General Manager Claire Grant and J. Michael Gonzales, the showrunner who’s had the unenviable task of researching and writing the questions and coordinating the matches for over 20 years. 

Special congratulatory messages, viewed on the jumbo-sized screens, came from PM Andrew Holness, Dr. Peter Phillips and Senator Ruel Reid.

A celebrity quiz challenge kicked the excitement up a notch. The match featured The Wise Guys (Wesley ‘Burgerman’ Burger, Alaine, Jodi-Ann Quarrie and Jordan Forte) going up against The Bright Sparks (Archibald Gordon, Debbie Bissoon, Sheldon Shepherd and Clyde McKenzie). In the end, quizmaster Jean-Paul Menou announced that The Wise Guys had eked out a narrow victory over opponents who put up a tough challenge. (No scorekeeper had been engaged for the encounter.)

Meanwhile, Kevin Downswell was also on the scene, and a well-received performance by the gospel star brought the curtains down.

OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE: Heart Foundation wants to establish more Healthy Heart Clubs, welcomes ban on sugary drinks

CHILD'S PLAY: Philpotts-Brown sharing a light moment with some of the young attendees at the recent launch of Heart Month in Kingston.

THE Heart Foundation of Jamaica wants to expand its education campaign in schools, as they look to boost efforts to get the health-lifestyle message to all parishes – “Healthy eating for a healthy heart.” 

This decision is coming on the heels of the recent ban on sugary drinks at institutions across the island. “We have a schools’ education project that we started seven years ago, out of which we started the Healthy Hearts Clubs with 10 schools in two parishes, Kingston and St. Catherine,” says the HFJ’s Nola Philpotts-Brown (Senior Manager for Health Administration), speaking with journalists during a rap session and tour of their Beechwood Avenue facilities last Wednesday.

“We have to start educating them about eating right and the possible damages to the heart because of poor lifestyle choices. Kids are the ones, especially in the inner-city, who will bring home the message and influence their parents.”

On the eve of next month’s observance of Heart Month, Philpotts-Brown says the timing is perfect to establish more Healthy Heart Clubs. “At the moment, we are only in Kingston and St. Catherine because lack of funding stymies our efforts. Schools have been calling and asking us to come and help them set up Healthy Heart Clubs, and I think it’s very important that the public hears that we need help to expand this education campaign.”

What does the funding go towards? “We use the money to provide the clubs with resources and material. We have a health promotions officer who goes around and checks on the schools,” Philpotts-Brown explains. “The students are provided with snacks and exercise equipment. Some clubs have been helping themselves by putting on fruit sales and by collecting dues from members.”

To take the programme to other parishes, sponsorship would provide a huge boost. “We would love if sponsors could come on board with us,” the senior manager says, “and we would appeal to corporate to adopt schools that want to set up Healthy Heart Clubs.”

In the meantime, Philpotts-Brown welcomes the education ministry’s sugary drinks ban, which she says was catalyzed by the HFJ’s anti-childhood obesity campaign. “The ban supports our efforts to educate kids about the harmful effects that can come with the large intake of sugar. We have to reduce the consumption to reduce the damage,” she tells TALLAWAH, “and so the ban is helping us to get that message out there and with a wider reach.”

BETTER MUS’ COME: All Aboard stays afloat with a tuneful mix of community spirit and family entertainment

GOING AWAY: Cast members take their leave during one of the show's musical numbers.

“THIS place has no future. That’s why mi must get pon that ship.” Aspiring nurse Maisie (Maxann Stewart-Legg) is not mincing words when she declares her intention to leave her long-suffering village for the greener pastures in England via the Windy Rush that has come beckoning passengers. Welcome to Banana Grove, the down-on-its-luck farming community at the centre of the amusing and ambitious 2018/19 LTM Pantomime, All Aboard, whose attributes outweigh its shortcomings. 

When the production harks back to the 1950s, times are hard in Banana Grove. “We wuk fi live, oh,” the struggling villagers, including diligent farmers like Cliff (Tevin Gibbons), lament in one of the show’s musical numbers. In addition to Cliff, we also meet Patsy (Antoinette Perkins), Maisie’s older sister who teaches at the schoolhouse that’s one the verge of closing.

Miss Sarah (Faith Bucknor), who runs the local post-office, is the mother of these two young ladies who couldn’t be more dissimilar. While Maisie is bent on leaving on the ship, Patsy is torn between her blossoming relationship with Cliff and heeding her sister’s warming to seize the opportunity and “sail to better days” in England.

To say the least, Banana Grove is a community filled with dreamers, but you have to respect their hustle, their ambition and their determination to rise up out of poverty. “Better, better, come,” they plead in another tuneful but sorrowful song.
Hands down, the most determined person in all of Banana Grove is Boysie (Donovan Stewart), the mischievous, wide-eyed schoolboy who vows to get on that ship by the hook or the crook. “Mi nah stay yah and tun no country bumpkin,” he asserts. He provides much of the show’s comic relief. Kevin Halstead, in a memorable turn, rounds out the main cast as Keys, the town drunk whose wisdom and knack for old-time sayings remain unaffected by his constant drinking.

The action eventually shifts to London, when the passengers arrive, ready for a new lease on life. But what a big bag of surprises is awaiting them! Will they survive? Will they return to Banana Grove in one piece to help their beloved community achieve prosperity?

The show’s first half would benefit from some tweaking as some scenes are unnecessarily long. But instead of diminishing the production’s rich flavor such a move by director Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke would serve to tighten the overall package.

On the upside, the show’s committed creative team of Clarke (director), Barbara Gloudon (book and lyrics), Larry Watson (set and stage management), Michael McDonald (lighting) and Anya Gloudon (costumes and props) have combined their respective skills to create a visual and musical feast – a good Jamaican story – that’s fun, entertaining and adequately wholesome for the entire family. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Friday, 25 January 2019

BEAUTY OF THE WEEK: Singer-actress Keisha Patterson on her focus, fast food and feeling free

TASTE & SEE: "To tell you the truth, I juice a lot," Patterson says of her healthy-eating habits.

KEISHA Patterson gets to sing and dance in her new show, Romi & Julie (a riff on Shakespeare by writer-director Patrick Brown and the Jambiz crew) and it’s one of the highlights in the musical comedy that’s been drawing sold-out nightly crowds to the Centrestage Theatre in New Kingston since December. 

The leading lady and showbiz veteran, “forever 21” years old, knows all about the prerequisites for keeping one’s instrument – and physique – in top-of-the-line shape for a grueling weekly performance schedule. But Patterson readily admits that, for her, handling life in the spotlight still requires practice and discipline. 

On sleep: Because I work at night I get most of my sleep during the day. I sleep late (Laughs). I’m probably drinking too much coffee. But I work Tuesdays to Sundays. Monday is my only day off. 

On her go-to beauty products: To remove makeup I’ll use cold cream. I don’t use any harsh stuff on my skin. I also like grape-seed oil. I don’t use many products, but I find that grape-seed oil is really good.  

On her diet: To tell you the truth, I juice a lot. I also love salmon with vegetables. Of course, I still do eat my fast food. But I try to eat healthy. 

On clearing the mental clutter: Oh, my. I think it’s the most important thing. I have to be totally centred before the show. If I’m to be here at a certain time, I’m here like an hour earlier. I leave the outside world outside. I’m Julie once I get here. And when my dad died, I definitely had to take some time to clear my mind, so I could focus solely on getting back to work.

On this magic moment in her showbiz career: At this point I feel free. I feel ready to take on the world (Laughs). I feel better than I’ve ever been in a long time, and I know there is much, much more to come.

>> Watch the Romi & Julie trailer HERE.

ON WITH THE SHOW: Quizmaster Jean-Paul Menou savours the personal and professional triumphs of his full and amazing life

GREY'S ANATOMY: "I think I've grown into the role," Menou says of hosting SCQ. "I do the homework. I'm in the habit of doing that."

TITANIC. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Scent of a Woman. What do these movies all have in common? Apart from the fact that they rank as Oscar-nominated classics, Jamaican actor Jean-Paul Menou auditioned for all of them.

On a breezy Monday afternoon, Menou and I are among the early-lunch crowd at the Victoria Pier in Downtown Kingston. The terrace by the Island Coffee Shop is our haunt for today. When our conversation shifts to his upbringing, that’s when he starts telling me about his close brushes with Hollywood greatness. “The high school I went to had a strong theatre department, so we would regularly hear about auditions, and some of us would get selected to go and try out,” Menou recalls, clearly enjoying the little trip down memory lane. (Of course, those movie roles went to the likes of Leo DiCaprio and Chris O’Donnell.)

Menou attended school in Chicago, which he calls a big theatre town. He then went on to Colombia University to study TV, journalism and cultural studies. But performing-arts buff that he is, he had a deep-rooted passion for acting that he never let slip away. “I always did theatre on the side,” he says now. “It was always my passion. But I was also a good student.”

The United States. Jamaica. Chad. What do these countries all have in common? Apart from the fact that they are all appealing travel destinations, Menou has resided in all three of them. A true man of the world. He grew up right here in Jamaica until he was 10 years old. That’s when his parents decided to migrate to the States and then to Chad, because his father was going to be stationed there. But it was back to the US for school, which led to coming-of-age sojourns in New York and Chicago.

He speaks lovingly of his folks. “I really was very fortunate to have parents who made education a priority,” he says. That solid education held him in such good stead that he landed a job as a visa officer not only at the French Consulate in Chicago but also at the French Embassy in Kingston upon his return to Jamaica to reconnect with his roots and diversify his résumé. “When the French Consulate closed,” Menou remembers, “it was like God’s way of saying to me, That’s not your life.’” He chuckles.

Radio and theatre became his life. He worked at Power 106 FM for years, reading the news and producing shows like the Ronnie Thwaites-hosted Independent Talk, which got cancelled. As the media landscape continued to change, Menou would hear comments like, “The media pie is getting smaller.”

And when Power 106 got swallowed up in the RJR-Gleaner merger, Menou found himself out of work for the first time in a long time. “Changing times,” is how he sums it all up. While he would teach part-time, it was in the theatre that he could always be his best self. You could say he found solace.

Bedward. After Mrs. Rochester. Tek Yuh Han’ Off Ah Me. What do these plays all have in common? Apart from the fact that they are award-winning shows, Menou had starring roles in all of them over the course of an acting career that continues to flourish despite limited financial gain. “Theatre is one of those things I do for the love. It’s not a lucrative business. People can’t make money unless it’s full time,” explains the actor, whose body of work spans collaborations with everybody from playwright-producer Basil Dawkins to the Brian Heap-led University Players, and filmmakers Jeremy Whittaker (Destiny) and Michelle Serieux (Sugar).

Truth be told, roles in local theatre for ‘non-Black’ actors like Menou can be few and far between. “Do I wish I could work more? Of course. The problem for me is you have to wait until somebody writes a role for a White man or adapts a play with such characters,” says the actor, who snagged the 2014 Actor Boy for his supporting role in Absent Friends, helmed by Heap, who Menou hails as an envelope-pushing director who “picks stuff with more diversity.”

This season, Menou is garnering awards buzz yet again for playing Felix (opposite Nadean Rawlins’ Doris) in Pablo Hoilett’s adaptation of the two-hander The Owl & The Pussycat. “The play is lovely because it speaks to the power of love – with two very different people,” he says.

He loves playing Felix, the bookish single man whose world gets turned upside down by a vengeful prostitute. “I’m always cast as the bad guy, so it was nice to play a regular guy for a change,” he notes, reflecting on the role. “It’s a lot deeper than some of the roles I’ve played over the years. Much, much deeper. It’s a three-dimensional character, and with each performance we’ve done, we discover something new about the character.”

At the moment, there’s another role Menou is reprising with mucho gusto: quizmaster on Schools’ Challenge Quiz, now in its 50th anniversary season. “It’s exciting to be a part of the 50th. Doing Schools’ Challenge Quiz is one of my favourite jobs. I feel like I’m in a position for educating young people,” says Menou, who also lectures full-time at the School of Drama (Edna Manley College), teaching voice and speech, among other subjects.

Since joining the SCQ family in 2010, he has earned comparisons to the late great quizmaster Dennis Hall. “It’s a real compliment because he was a very close family friend. He lived in Greater Portmore when we were in Edgewater. I remember watching him on TV, and I remember saying, ‘I want to do what he does.’ So it’s nice to hear people say, ‘You remind me of Dennis Hall.’”

The fanbase is widening exponentially. “I can’t hide. People recognize my voice especially when I’m in the country. It’s nice to have them saying, ‘I like you on the show.’” But Menou got a taste of the mean-spiritedness during his very first season. “I was a little shaky in the first season. And I’d hear comments like ‘This White man too slow.’ But by the second and third year I got nicer accolades. I think I’ve grown into the role. I do the homework. I’m in the habit of doing that.” 

Sporting a red tee-shirt, shorts and sandals, Menou could easily be mistaken for a sight-seeing American tourist down here at the Victoria Pier. But on closer inspection, SCQ aficionados and theatregoers will recognize him. Physically, he’s much stouter than then last time we saw him in person. Professionally, he wants to keep growing. “For now I’m focusing on teaching. I have a responsibility to my students,” says Menou, who works with Nadean Rawlins and her Raw Management company, nurturing young artistic talents.

Are Menou and Rawlins an item? He blushes. “She’s lovely.” That’s all he’ll say, after removing his hands from covering his face.

The University Players, under the baton of Michael Holgate, are doing a show in May and he’ll probably be cast in it. SCQ, meanwhile, runs until March. Menou loves having a full plate. 

As our interview winds down, he waxes nostalgic, harking back to his former life. “I think of how surprising things happen in your life. I was engaged to be married in Chicago in 1999. She passed away in childbirth. We lost a great deal,” he recalls on a solemn note. “I have beautiful nieces and nephews, but I really wanted a child. I might adopt. Who knows what’s going to happen?”

In any case, his happy new life in Jamaica keeps him superbusy – and that’s what he likes most. “I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I feel like I’m home,” the 42-year-old says. “I am surrounded by love.”

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

BOOK OF THE MOMENT: Oswald Harding shares his fascinating life experiences in a candid new autobiography

STORY OF MY LIFE: Harding's book takes us into the world of a public servant, successful attorney and patriarch.

YOU’D be hard-pressed to find a more devoted family man than Oswald ‘Ossie’ Harding. As expected, several of his close relatives were on hand at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) last October to see him receive a Musgrave medal for outstanding contribution to Jamaican life, among a bunch of fellow stalwarts like Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and Mervyn Morris.

At the event, his son Jeremy told TALLAWAH that no one was more deserving of such a prestigious honour than his old man. Longtime admirers, especially those readers who’ve picked up a copy of his just-published autobiography, Grandson of Essie (LMH Publishing), will agree without hesitation. 

Packing 230-plus pages, the book candidly sets out the journey of Oswald Gaskell Harding, in his own words. A patriot and public servant who became well known to Jamaicans as a stalwart of the Jamaica Labour Party, Justice Minister, Attorney General and Senate President. In fact, Harding’s stint from 1977 to 2002 sets him apart with the distinction of being the politician with the longest continuous tenure in the history of the Jamaican Senate.

And that’s not even half of his story. In addition to highlighting his public and political persona, the memoir delivers chapters centred on his early years, sojourns abroad (in Canada and Mexico, in particular), not to mention his experiences in the world of academia.

And we also meet the committed husband, father and grandfather, as the book delves into his life at home with the family. Did we neglect to mention that Harding is also a renowned art collector, with a world-famous collection of ceramics? To wit, the 2018 Musgrave medal he received was in tribute to his exploits in the arts.

These days, Harding (who still has a law practice in his native St. Andrew) remains a patron of the arts and dedicated collector, work he took up a notch when he retired from politics in the early 2000s. Still passionate about academics, his retirement allowed him to read for a PhD in philosophy from Mona’s University of the West Indies campus.

Dr. Henry Lowe is a fan of the autobiography. “His complete person has been revealed. As a lawyer, entrepreneur, lover and supporters of the arts, politician, statesman, public servant, academic and family man, [his identities] are all blended in an interesting set of related stories,” offers Dr. Lowe, who knows a thing or two about outstanding achievement. “This is the work of an outstanding Jamaican who has a great story to tell, and hopefully, it will delight and inform those who have the good fortune to read it.”

For his part, Harding hopes his words will inspire Jamaicans now and in years to come. “I have led an interesting life, and I say so with all modesty,” he notes. “If my story could inspire others to achieve, then this book would have been worth the effort.”

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Sports legend Connie Francis reflects on her achievements and a brand new era for J’can netball

ON THE BALL: "It’s been a pleasure seeing the girls develop," Francis says of coaching in the Elite League.

ANOTHER season of the Berger Elite Netball League is almost at an end, and the Manchester Spurs are on a winning streak. Their coach is Connie Francis, the legendary Sunshine Girl and former national skipper who represented Jamaica at five World Championships! Today, in her early 50s, looking very fit and trim, Francis is a devoted mom and long-serving employee at Seprod. Netball is still a rewarding passion. As she tells TALLAWAH, this chapter of her life is about giving back to the sport she so loves and having the time of her life. 

TALLAWAH: Is netball in Jamaica still as exciting as in your heyday? 
Connie Francis: That era is gone. It’s a different brand of netball being played now, very different from when I was a player. But I’ve been enjoying this new aspect of my life in netball as a coach. 

TALLAWAH: What do you think of the new crop of star girls – Jhaniele, Vangelee, Thristina, Shanice…? 
Connie Francis: They are talented girls. Jhaniele is an excellent shooter, and the others are very, very good players. I wish them all the best because the country needs the best to represent us.

TALLAWAH: Do you miss coaching at the national level? 
Connie Francis: No. I still coach at Mico, and I enjoy it very much. I did my time as a national coach. Coaching is something I love. I love seeing the players grow and develop, so it doesn’t matter if I’m coaching at the prep school level or the national level. I get to help players be their best. 

TALLAWAH: So there’s no tension between you and Netball Jamaica. 
Connie Francis: I don’t have a rift with anybody in the current association. It’s about respecting the president’s decisions and those who have been put in the positions. I don’t have any problem with anybody. 

TALLAWAH: What’s it like coaching in the hyper-competitive Berger Elite League? 
Connie Francis: This is my third year. It’s been good. The only problem is that we don’t get time for practice because we have players from various parishes on the team – from Westmoreland, Manchester. But they are elite players, so they adjust to the coaching with the limited time we have and when we come together for matches. It’s been a pleasure seeing the girls develop. You work with what you have and you hope for the best. 

TALLAWAH: How did you feel to receive one of the icon awards during the Sunshine Series in November? 
Connie Francis: You know, after playing for so long and representing my country, it was really a surprise and a great honour. I felt privileged to have been selected among the ladies to receive it.

TALLAWAH: What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Connie Francis: The love of the sport and the camaraderie. I played with some really great girls who loved netball. And that passion for the game has stayed with me all my life. 

TALLAWAH: How do you measure your happiness these days? 
Connie Francis: By my relationship with God and my kids. The success of my children makes me very happy. They are humble and respectful people. What also makes me happy is when I get up in the morning and I run my four miles. I do it six days a week. That’s when I link in with the Lord, and he prepares me for the day. And I tell myself that nothing will unsettle me.

LETTER FROM MANDEVILLE: Residents express mixed views as scandal bags become a thing of the past in Jamaica

CARRYING ON: The ban on single-use bags is taking some getting used to for folks in Manchester.

“DO you want to purchase a bag?” the cashier inquires.
“How much for it?” the young lady asks her.
“Just $130.00.”

As more and more customers arrive at the Shoppers’ Fair supermarket at the Manchester Shopping Centre on this warm Saturday morning, the lines at the check-out points are getting longer. With the ban on certain single-use plastic items now in effect across Jamaica, customers here can choose to take home their groceries in free brown paper bags or via a medium-sized Progressive Shoppers shopping bag that will add $130 to their receipt.

Brown paper bags aren’t sturdy enough to carry certain kinds of groceries, especially tin goods, so the $130 bags are going fast. Extra bucks for the proprietors. The ban on the (usually free) black scandal bags is still fresh so, unsurprisingly, many customers forget to leave home with their own bags to carry their groceries, etc.

“They’ve been arguing a lot,” the cashier tells me when I ask about the transition and the customers’ reactions to ‘the new system.’ It hasn’t been a smooth transition, she concludes. But, by all accounts, some people are taking it in stride. After all, it’s become super-clear that there will be no reversal of this islandwide ban that the Holness-led government put into effect on January 1. New year, new rules.

“It’s a win and a loss,” says Jason Hurley, an Ingleside resident, who was among the shoppers handing over the $130 for a bag to carry home items for his fridge and his pantry. “Not everybody remembers that they won’t get the scandal bag, so for those who commute by public transportation it will be harder, but for those who drive it will be a bit easier.”

He’s cool with the new system. “It’s not affecting me,” he says. “You just have to go back in time to when your mother used to go shopping and had to bring her own bag with her to carry home the goods.”

While other Mandeville residents like Debra Mitchell and Rosemarie Simpson (who bought a new shopping bag for $200 to use over and over) say the removal of scandal bags is ‘alright’ for them, others like 64-year-old Mary White are on the fence. “I had to go for a box last week because I didn’t remember. It was very sudden. I don’t think it was initiated properly. And not everybody has the money to buy the bags being sold,” she tells TALLAWAH, standing outside the Super Plus food store awaiting her ride home. “But I agree that we have to do something about the plastics because when it rains they clog up the drains and we have to protect the environment.”

Manager at the Super Plus branch, Dawn Davidson, says the transition hasn’t been easy for her staff and customers. “It’s been challenging because some customers don’t remember to bring their own shopping bags. We give boxes but some of them can’t manage the boxes, and we have to have someone accompany them to the bus stop. So it’s a challenge right now,” she says. 

Views were similar at the action-packed Mandeville market, where one female vendor with ground provisions and tomatoes had a few black scandal bags on sale. “We sell them because we have them, but we know that them soon out,” she says. Looking on is a plump, light-skinned peddler with her arms laden with sizeable blue and red shopping bags, for $100 each. 

What can ever truly replace the good old scandal bag? Sharon Davis wanted to know. Her two cents: “No matter what, it still ah guh use same way. Scandal bag can’t out. Even if people don’t bring them on the road, we use them for garbage bag at home.”

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

ON THE COAST: Ambitious Negril strikes a chord despite technical challenges

TOUGH CHAT: Richards (as Ras-I), left, and  Facey (as Detective Brown).

Negril (DPT Productions)
Director: Oneil Richards
Cast: Aurelio Holmes, Natasha Heron, Yvette Richards and Oneil Richards
Venue: Stephanie Hall Auditorium (Holy Childhood High)

ALL is not as it seems in Negril, a commendably written and acted theatrical drama-thriller from DPT Productions, headed by budding playwright-producer Oneil Richards, who not only wrote and directed the production (which recently completed a semi-islandwide tour) but also has a starring role.

Richards plays Ras-I, a cool-conscious Rastafarian who runs a small natural-juices business with his partner and equally good-natured friend Ras Juvie (Aurelio Holmes). They work in the bustling tourist mecca of Negril, occupying work space at the Virtuous Mall, next to Speedy (Melvin Miller) who “sells movies” and Cutey (Natasha Heron), a boutique owner and single mother to schoolboy Akeem (Nathan Fagan).

They are struggling but hardworking people just trying to make ends meet. So you understand their frustration at being constantly harassed by Detective Brown (Donovan Facey), a crooked cop who reminds them that “this place run under order. If you don’t pay, you can’t stay.”

Things get even more interesting when three sassy girlfriends arrive to soak up the sun and get their groove on while on vacation. Ras-I, meanwhile, musters up the courage to reveal his feelings for Shernett (Yvette Richards), the ‘empress’ he sees all the time because she lives nearby but has never approached. Together, they hold some deep conversations about life and love and the Biblical story of Leah, Jacob and Rachel.

But Detective Brown is the pestilence that will not go away. Something’s got to give. And it does – in a clever twist that gives the story some jolt and a great climax.

In spite of its shortcomings (poor lighting, sound glitches and other technical flaws), Negril is an ambitious little play that strikes a chord and makes a solid statement about extortion, criminality and undercover police work, juxtaposed with such themes as faith, family and the power of friendship.

As one character wisely observes, “We expect better from those who should know better, but we don’t expect perfection.” Tyrone’s Verdict: B

KEEPING THEM SAFE: New Safe Schools Monitors Programme selected for funding from NLPB

IN ONE ACCORD: Davia Moore-Gordon (2nd left), Acting Principal at The Randolph Lopez School of Hope, with VMBS' Courtney Campbell (left) and Naketa West (2nd right); Minister Claudia Ferguson, Secretary at the NLPBC and Rt. Rev. Stanley Clarke, NLPBC Chairman.

PROCEEDS from the 2019 National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, set for Thursday, Jan. 17, will be pumped into the Peace Management Initiative’s (PMI) Safe Schools Monitors Programme, which commences this month. The announcement was made on Tuesday morning, as the NLPB committee hosted a press briefing inside the Rio Bueno Suite of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. 

The aim of the project is to provide greater security and support to pedestrian students travelling from school in the Kingston Central police division. The main schools being targeted under the initiative are: Kingston College, Holy Trinity High, St. George’s College, Kingston Technical and Alpha High and Primary.

According to the PMI, the main risks to the students on their way home include bullying, harassment and robberies. Six safety resource monitors will be trained in the areas of conflict resolution, psychological first aid, mentorship and guidance and first aid.

“The [PMI project] is a timely response to a growing crisis in our communities and is fully deserving of our support at this time,” says Rt. Rev. Stanley Clarke, Chairman of the NLPB committee. “It is imperative that we find effective ways to end the scourge of fear and insecurity facing our children at school and play. It is imperative that we collaborate to find effective ways to disarm the perpetrators of crime and violence. It is imperative that we collaborate to find effective ways to win the war against what is not good for Jamaica.”

The project, which will also include the promotion of community initiatives, town hall meetings, socials and workshops, is scheduled to run from January to June.

Now in its 39th year, the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast (sponsored by the VM Foundation), sets aside funds from annual donations to support a charity selected by the committee. In the past, they’ve made sizeable contributions to Children First, the Eira Schrader Home for the Aged, last year’s adoptee the Randolph School of Hope, among others.

This year’s prayer breakfast theme, “I Pledge,” was inspired by the national motto.

BEAUTY OF THE WEEK: Talking art and life, inner and outer beauty with Lindsey Lodenquai

GLOW GIRL: “I’m really basic when it comes to my diet,” Lodenquai shares.

ONE of the bonafide highlights at the Company Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary season in Kingston was Lindsey Lodenquai’s solo piece “Blood at the Root,” with choreography by Tony Wilson and Nina Simone on vocals. Splendid. Solemn. Sublime. We’ve always been impressed by the young dancer’s precision, passion and commitment to craft whenever she hits centrestage. These days, she’s coming into her own not just as performer but as a first-time mom and a businesswoman, whose increasingly popular company New Wave is all about what’s cool, hip and trendy in Jamaica’s creative industries. 

On life at 25: “It’s good. I definitely feel like I’m on the right path. I just want to keep exploring and trying new things.” 

On her approach to healthy living: “I make sure I drink lots of water and eat as healthy as I can. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables. I’m really basic when it comes to my diet.” 

On her time at the Martha Graham School in New York in 2016: “It was a great experience. I definitely learned a lot about that technique. But in the end I decided that it wasn’t for me.” 

On what always makes her laugh: My friends make me laugh; they make me smile. Hanging out with them is always fun.” 

On clearing the mental clutter: “I find that getting regular exercise is good. That really helps. And keeping focused and having a special zone for yourself is also important.”  

On sleep: “I have a 16-month-old, so I don’t get as much I would like (Laughs). 

On what’s next for New Wave: “The plan is always to improve on the brand as much as possible. We have something planned for Reggae Month and we also hope to do a summer series. This year we want to make all our projects bigger and better.”