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Red sea at Eagle Hall

by Wade Gibbons

blpmanifestocrowdFor just over five hours last night it was as though the compound of the Eagle Hall Post Office and the roadway in front of it had been transformed into a red sea.

And there was no parting of this expanse.

As the night progressed the sea of humanity stretched farther, only shifting occasionally for light rain that teased more than threatened those without protective wear. People in red shirts, and red trousers, and red hats, some with red scarves, in red shoes, and red socks, with red coats, waving red flags, and red placards, and with red intent, listened as speaker after speaker brought the Barbados Labour Party message.

The reds were in Bosvigo Gap, and Gill’s Road, and Alkins Gap, and R A Mapp Bar and Grocery, and Sawh’s Shop, at every vantage point, eyes fixed on the stage or the big screens.

Buses that paused at the commuters’ stop in Eagle Hall seemed to linger that bit longer, as though allowing gawking passengers the opportunity to take in the spectacle before going on their way. And there was a great din, voluble but respectful, and always quiet when the speakers spoke, responsive when urged.

The music that accompanied each speaker occasioned an immediate gyrating of hips, shouts of approval and the stirring of the red sea.

The stimulus was not only on stage.

It was also to be found in the stalls, as well as the baskets and trays of itinerant vendors.

There was the aroma of fish-cake batter bubbling in oil, and barbecue chicken, pig tails and chips making their appearance, only to disappear down the throats of hungry Bees.

And beers, and wine, and liqueurs, some bought, some brought, made the night complete.

They cheered for everything on stage but reserved their loudest acclaim for the man at the helm.

They ate out of Owen Arthur’s palm as he brought them his message of hope for Barbados.

The sea of red became even thicker at his feet.

And then the Bees delivered the written promise, the proposal for progress and their subjects surged to get it in hand, eager, frenzied but safely.

Denouement, climax, fulfilment, whatever it may be called, the grabbing of the manifestos was akin to a lover seizing a partner but then, it was Valentine’s night — a time for love. And the crowd poured out their affection for what the hive had to offer.

As the crowd dispersed, almost reluctantly, a voice belonging to a well-known son of St. Philip, said: “Quote me Andrew Mason, the Dems gone!”

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