Sun | May 31, 2020

A man with a perfect sense of humour

Published:Friday | May 22, 2020 | 12:14 AM


I SALUTE Mr Oliver Clarke for his bold, innovative and building capacities. He took an obscure building society from Westmoreland and made it into a formidable financial institution. In spite of the awkward ‘political’ issues of the 1970s, he guided The Gleaner into the modern world of communications media.

In recent years, I was bestowed with the honour of receiving The Gleaner Silver Pen Award. I was invited for the presentation in the boardroom of the newspaper. It was a most memorable encounter, not just with the invitees, but an unforgettable meeting with Mr Oliver Clarke, the chairman of the board of directors. Of course, the knowledge of the man of the turbulent politics of the 1970s reflected no bitterness; my thoughts were suspended when he began to speak.

Not even the sumptuous dinner swayed my focus of his gentle yet piercing line of questioning as he circled the dinner table. I was wondering when my time would come; it was after he spoke to a Muslim representative, and he solicited my response to the Islamic issue in a snail-paced movement as he enfolded his barrage of memories of the 1970s. The perpetual philosophical question about perception and reality occupied my thoughts.

I was also amazed at not just his brilliant memory, but also the depth of his knowledge of the People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) of the 1970s and some of its activities. His intimate knowledge of some of the members of the organisation, and his unfolding of the story in such humorous and restorative style, was tremendous as it relieved that pent-up anxiety inside. I was there thinking about the PNPYO capturing of his Llandilo properties in Westmoreland in 1972 and later, that mighty PNP march against the North Street institution, led by the late prime minister and leader of the PNP, Michael Manley. All these issues were cover in his witty, hilarious and entertaining style. In a sharp uppercut jab, with a provocative laughter, he mentioned how he was puzzled how a radical like me got the visa to study abroad.

After the function I exited the building in a cathartic mood.