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Crystal Balls

Friday, January 29, 2016

To write a breathtakingly original newspaper column you must steal good ideas and, in 1999, I stole one of the best from Robert Steinback, then of the Miami Herald. At the start (or end) of every year, Robert wrote a column of predictions for the coming year and considered the accuracy of the previous year’s.

Robert’s predictions were entirely serious, because he lived in a First World liberal democracy, but mine could never hope to be because I live here; indeed, some of my predictions are purely comical, to make you laugh, while others are deadly serious and would make anyone weep; and the perennial Trinidadian challenge remains to distinguish fantasy from reality.

I think people will be shocked by how farsighted my first prediction for 2015 was:

• Donald Trump will stun the world as the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nominee. Amazingly perspicacious but only because I added it this morning, trusting the demonstrably short collective memory of a nation that just re-elected the PNM

• Roger Federer will win more grand slams than Novak Djokovic. I can sidestep this gaffe by declaring I’m a Federer supporter and was just trying to jumbie the old Novak

• The T&T electorate will vote out the government but its replacement will prove worse. Already half-right, this morning; likely to become fully right in the next four-and-a-bit years

• Sepp Blatter will lose the FIFA presidential election but segue without financial loss into the International Olympic Committee. Almost right: anyone else would have thrown in, not just the hat, but also the boots and shin-guards

• The Road March will feature a bass loop, an auto-tune lead vocal, a massed male chorus and only computer-generated sounds. A safe one. It will be right every year until a soca saviour comes along a la Shadow, or David Rudder, or Bunji Galin to upset the computer programmers

• Hilary Clinton will not get the presidential nomination. A responsible soothsayer really should have looked far enough into the future to see that the process would not even have taken place last year; clearly not my best clairvoyant moment

• The West Indies will excel at T20 cricket and suck at every other form; the WICB will fire our best players. Depressingly accurate and becoming increasingly depressingly moreso with every selection “opportunity”

• The Rolling Stones will sell tongue-logo wheelchairs and Sticky Fingers album cover-style Depends. Not yet true, but they are flogging everything but their own baby nappies on; they’re having difficulty making ends meet; or a new record

• Carnival fete tickets will cost more than mortgage payments. Another safe one; the PNM taking away subsidised state housing from people earning $40K a month didn’t even make it wobble

• Women in the Shaitanic State of What’s Left of Syria and Iraq will have to wear mouth-hijabs to prevent answering back to males, including their infant sons. Depressingly accurate and becoming increasingly etc, etc

• Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will appear on Celebrity Apprentice to get noticed. Give it time; Trump has to lose the nomination first

• The Pope will replace the Pontiff’s hat with the guaybera. No matter how many hats he changes, the Holy Father still wears the one advocating virgin pregnancy for Mary and banning birth control for everyone else

• China’s economic boost from salt prune sales will be offset by smartphone purchases. Accurate, if you count leading Chinese brands, Xiamoi and Huawei. I amaze me. I actually predicted the iPhone sales slump; in a kind of a way I’m firetrucking well claiming

• I will not be able to think of a better way of ending this column than I have for the last 17 years. How did I know? How did I firetrucking know? I amaze me!

And here are my predictions for 2016:

• Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic presidential candidate, despite Bill and Hilary playing even nastier tricks than they tried against Barack Obama

• The non-nominee, Donald Trump, will hire Kim Kardashian as the Celebrity Apprentice; Kanye West will be the first one fired

• Oil prices will fall farther before rallying; to make up the Budget shortfall, the PNM will tax doubles, effectively forcing everyone to have them with slight pepper

• Trinidad house prices will fall, but only people who already own property will be able to buy, leading to the emergence of a new crime of “kidnap for rent”

• Several more realistic countries and US states will legalise marijuana while West Indian pretend-countries intensify their “War on Drugs/Common Sense”

• There will be a high-visibility, celebrity gay marriage in Trinidad but our politicians will “avoid that stinkness” by accepting conflicting invitations to parties thrown by murderers, thieves, rapists and other party financiers

• The rich will get richer; the poor will get children

• Trini Shaitanic State jihadist returnees will attempt another Islamic coup in Port-of-Spain; Fuad Abu Bakr will mediate in any standoff

• The murder rate in Laventille-Morvant will finally drop, but only because only women will be left alive there

• Fireworks will be banned in Trinidad, leading to a demonstration assault on Parliament by men armed with Roman candles, skyrockets, firecrackers and comets; police dogs will run in all directions, biting wild; no, wait, that’s the Board of Inland Revenue (see oil price prediction)

• The fireworks protest will be mistaken for the Shaitanic State coup attempt; the TTSPCA will meditate on why they even firetrucking bother

• A Trinidadian will do something of international notice which the PNM will claim but it would really have been because of Kamla

• Carnival will be louder, more expensive, more vulgar, with a lot of near-total nudity—but somehow also more boring

• Uganda will invade homosexual Scotland to impose God’s will that no man should wear a kilt

• Europe will accept only refugee families; all males fleeing Syria will be redirected to Arab state army recruitment agencies

• This column will end abrup

There is no paper but the Guardian and BC Pires is its for-profit


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