Highlighted by a high school band and local activists, the event was upbeat and urban. It also seemed, to us, Very North Caicos. I know that Fairfield and 25th, across from a Family Dollar and near a laundromat and public housing, is as far away from North as you can get, but the vibe was similar. I almost expected to see church vans and ladies with containers for free food.
There was even a version of that odd island phenomenon that we call “protocol having been established.” Those who have attended a few ribbon-cuttings in the islands know what I mean. The first speaker gets up and hails everyone (yes, I know I’m using an island-ism) by naming all the important people, from the top politician/statesman on down to “boys and girls.” After that, each speaker avoids having to do all this naming by simply stating, “protocol having been established” and going on with the speech.
I’ve wondered if there is some sort of template for speakers at public events describing how to do this. In research, I didn’t have a lot of luck, but Tom did find a commentary from Montserrat describing the same type of speech introduction, and I found on the TCI government website some examples of introductions under the annual government “throne speeches” from the governor. (Aside: I was amused by one link that included the words “thrown-speaches.” If only.)
Here’s how it goes: “Mr. Speaker, Honourable Ministers, Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Honourable Premier and Members of the Cabinet, Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Members of this Honourable House, Officials, Members of the Clergy, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.”
That mostly tracks with what I’ve heard at official events on North, except that “boys and girls” is usually added in a nod to the children that might be present. And if the governor is there, he/she (has there ever been a she?) goes first. And then there’s “protocol having been established” from each subsequent speaker. It’s kind of comforting to know how everyone will start a speech (or speach). And to me, it’s very North Caicos, even when I’m hearing the equivalent at a grocery store opening on the east side of Richmond.
If you’ve never attended an official event in the islands, I recommend it. It gives you a sense that the place you might have thought was a lawless Wild West is indeed a country with a long and distinguished history of laws and formality. It makes you a little bit proud to be there. And, if you’re lucky, there will be free food. Bring your own containers.