Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago | Leave it to Trinis to tie their first trip to the World Cup finals to musical expression. The lead story in the Express on Nov 17 invoked relevant lyrics from Lord Kitchener (née Aldwyn Roberts), who in “Mas in Germany” (1973) sang
I am heading to the North
Guess where? Up in Germany
That’s where I’m going to be
Ah just have the feeling that we should be spreading this creole bacchanal …
The T&T accent will be welcomed in Germany, certainly by T&T killer Paul Caligiuri. He jokes with New York Times columnist George Vecsey before the Wednesday match in Bahrain: “I just want them to win so I can get off parole.” Caligiuri’s late goal in 1989 eliminated T&T as it sent the USA to its first World Cup finals in 40 years. Yet Caligiuri’s impressions of the day—a day that American soccer fans remember, Vecsey writes, “with a touch of sadness and guilt”—are of Trinidadian hospitality.
Never, ever did you hear people congratulate you the way people did in Trinidad. The guys started giving them paraphernalia—our shin guards, our headbands, anything. We appreciated it so much. Normally, you’d be ducking down in your seat.
In her podcast remembrance of the 19 November 1989 pathos, Georgia Popplewell of Caribbean Free Radio (see Nov 16) remarks that she had never seen a crowd of islanders so silent. Sixteen years later, though, she interviews revelers in the St. James district and says, “Perhaps you have to be the citizen of a really small country with a crummy social and political situation to know how this really feels.” Referencing the levels of crime and violence, the winning-goal scorer from Wednesday, David Lawrence, said he wanted the side’s victory to serve as a “stepping stone.” “We hope that this is the start of what could only be peace, love and harmony among people in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Harmony reigned for a day among legislators, according to the Trinidad Guardian—the one-time employer, by the way, of Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul‘s father, Seepersad. Despite a supposed ban on pictures, Diego Martin West MP Keith Rowley is shown in the tearoom, arms thrown aloft as if having a Holy Ghost moment. “Play to the man in space … run them ragged,” he advises the TV.
Politicians love a winner; Thursday, Nov 17, was declared a national holiday.