…Can the Centre Hold?

 

chinua-achebeI went to bed Thursday night to the news that Chinua Achebe had died. Many of us in Trinidad and Tobago may know nothing about Africa or being African, but we know Okonkwo, his most famous character from his most famous novel.Things Fall Apart is one of those rare books where if the words seminal, masterpiece, classic and canon are used to describe it, the description would actually be apt.

 

That novel was my introduction to Africa. Not the Africa showed on television at nights that showed malnourished children and their parents lined up for food, while words like famine, refugee camps and ethnic warfare were bandied about. Achebe taught me that Africa had, not just one, but many cultures and civilizations long before the Europeans arrived to dismantle it. He would go on to write several novels, poetry and essays; all of which explored Africa before and after colonization and before and after independence. What happened to Africa in the aftermath of European colonization and independence bears striking resemblances to Trinidad and Tobago, and to many other places that share a history of colonization and exploitation.

 

chinua-achebe (1)In the years since secondary school I have been privileged to not just read more Achebe, but to teach him as well. And to teach him to students who have no concept of Africa or African culture. Students who will easily identify as African or even black on a survey, and have no concept of what Africa or describing oneself as African means.

 

In 2011, as part of the marathon session during which the government justified using something as serious as a State of  Emergency to treat with crime, several ministers quoted the poem by William Butler Yeats that influenced the title of Achebe’s novel. Lincoln Douglas in particular went on to recount the story of Okonkwo, and to explain why a society falling apart at the seams needed its constitutional rights taken away in order to put a check on crime. Had Achebe heard Douglas’ butchered analysis of what is arguably his most recognized text, it may well have caused him serious discomfort. It set my blood pressure on boil; because it wasn’t the spate of murders that signaled things were falling apart, but rather the very clear fact that a government was quite willing to tamper with the rights of citizens in order to further abuse them.

 

Since the SoE, I believe our country and quality of life have gotten worse. And there are many ways in which they have worsened. Crime we all know is at an all time high. And our government, who roundly abused Patrick Manning three years ago for relying on handouts and sporting facilities to solve crime have come and outdone the PNM at its own game. So much so that the Prime Minister in the space of a week has announced that a report done by Selwyn Ryan says more sporting facilities will solve the country’s crime problem. I am hoping to see the report to confirm this myself. Because if that is the case, given the number of recreation grounds in Central and South Trinidad there should be no murders in these parts of the country. Certainly not any with dismembered bodies and heads lying about.

 

I would be interesting to see whether Dr Ryan and his team have made any mention of the other support systems that can assist in alleviating crime and the general societal break down that the President discussed in his inaugural address.

 

Having taught at the secondary level for eight years at both government and religious board schools, I’ve seen first hand how deviant behaviour develops and then leads to criminal behaviour. I have seen students at both prestigious and government schools learn to cheat, steal and lie. I have seen some of these students go on to become criminals. Sporting grounds and million dollar basketball competitions do not solve an already rampant crime problem; these things can play a role in curbing the tendency only at the early stages.

 

But what is also needed are a number of things: an effective and relevant education system; an effective system of counseling and social work; an efficient economy where money doesn’t trickle down but is properly allocated to all the areas that require development; an employment environment that is free of nepotism and corruption, where people are promoted on merit and not their relatives. We also need effective border patrols, a criminal and judicial system that doesn’t favour the wealthy and privileged, and a police service that is trained in better investigative and detection methods.

 

Everything I have suggested there is elementary. The average man in the street can tell you this. The current government promised it. Yet now they pretend not to know it.

 

And it is left to us citizens who hunger and thirst after that elusive thing called good governance so much that we voted out bad to go worse, to figure our way out of this problem.

 

The government has made it clear that it is not equipped, or even willing to solve any of the problems that challenge us. Tim Goopeesingh continues to make mistake after mistake with his education policies. His crowning achievement to date has been to order shipments of laptops. Thereafter…nothing. With every new medical crisis Dr Fuad Khan finds his way into radio and newspaper interviews, gives the big grand charge about cleaning things up, and then nothing.

 

Our Minister and Ministry of National Security have made us the joke of the Caribbean if not the Western world. And at every turn you have people still referring to Warner as the hardest working minister. Flooding is not a thing of the past, neither is crime. So what exactly has he been successful at? Nothing…

 

In Things Fall Apart, Achebe describes for us a society that is on the cusp of change. A new culture has come and is eroding the old ways and traditions. Exploitation, oppression and greed will soon become the order of the day in the Africa he writes about, and so will poor governance, weak leaders and military coups. Achebe wrote about an Africa that experienced terrible transitional pains. The kind of pain we are now experiencing. Will we fall apart, or will we hold our centre?

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Breakingest News: Jack Probes Himself

Hot off the press, or off the porcelain throne, the breakingest news is that the MoNS isn’t going to issue a statement on the Illegal Flying Squad Unit that it is alleged he set up without Parliament’s knowledge. Rather, the Prime Minister, in another breath taking power play has announced that the Minister will now probe himself.

Stay tuned for further details of this anal probe that no doubt will lead to the country’s biggest prostate massage, ever….

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The Motion of Censure against the AG

Tomorrow our Parliament will see the Opposition bring a motion of  censure against the AG, Anand Ramlogan. The Opposition is charging that the AG was part of the Cabinet that promised to not enact the Bill before all measures were put in place and was also part of the Cabinet that then ignored these measures and facilitated the early…and secretive…proclamation of 5 sections of the Act one of which created an Amnesty for Ish and Steve Galbaransingh. As you well know, Ish, Steve and about 13 other people are facing charges of corruption and bid rigging over the billion-dollar Piarco Airport. They are currently seeking legal action against the repeal of the Indicatable Offences Act…the law that holds Section 34 in it. The following is the actual petition submitted by the Leader of the Opposition:
Motion:
1. WHEREAS Section 76(2) of the Constitution specifies “that the Attorney General shall, subject to
section 79, be responsible for the administration of legal affairs in Trinidad and Tobago and legal proceedings for
and against the Sta

te”;
AND WHEREAS the Attorney General participated in the presentation to Parliament of the
Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Bill 2011 which contained a clause that created
an amnesty for certain legal proceedings [referred to as Section 34];
AND WHEREAS the Attorney General had knowledge of and supported the Government’s
solemn undertaking to Parliament that no part of the Bill would be brought into force until such
time as all supporting rules, administrative and physical infrastructure were in place and
stakeholders consulted;
AND WHEREAS in the absence of the discharge of the said undertakings, the Attorney
General had knowledge of and/or involvement in the unexpected proclamation of Section 34,
thereby prematurely bringing into force an amnesty with consequences for certain legal
proceedings involving certain persons;
AND WHEREAS earlier, the Attorney General made certain decisions in an extradition matter
involving those said certain persons;
AND WHEREAS as a consequence of this series of developments there is widespread unease,
anger, disappointment and a general sense of loss of confidence in the Attorney General among a
large cross-section of the national population;
AND WHEREAS the Attorney General has accepted no responsibility for the improper
discharge of his constitutional duties:
BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House express its strongest disapproval of the
flagrant breach of Parliamentary trust by the Attorney General’s involvement in the premature
proclamation of Section 34;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Honourable House express its loss of
confidence in the Attorney General and call on the Prime Minister to immediately relieve him of
the portfolio of Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago.

Budget Matikor!

Budget Matikor- adjectival noun to describe a party that prepares you for sex. etymology, English and Bhojpuri. Refers to Matikor night in traditional Hindu weddings when the young bride to be is prepared for her upcoming wedding and wedding night. Usually involves, food, dancing and alcohol. Budget Matikor is a party thrown by the PP to soften the people up for the bull the budget will put on us. Usage: Is Budget Matikor in we pweffen this weekend!

I just finish bag about 500,000 pholourie with some watered down pommecythere chutney. Just now me and Ambassador Baps going and booojay some lawah because it is Budget Matikor!

 

Yes folks, the pre-Budget Rally to help us forget that Kamla and her Cabinet tried to free Ish and Steve with Section 34….and to grease us up to take the bull that will be Budget 2012/2013 is under way.

The CEPEP Workers Ready!

The Flags Ready!

The Ipads Ready!

Larry Ready!

Keshorn Ready!

The stage is in front of us time to get advantageous, rape the treasury and pump we flag!

Mind you, I hearing that the headliner act, Mr Heh Haaaa might be missing ah fete….we go see if he will let Miss Must Fete party without him tonight.

 

But in all seriousness folks we need to assess a few things.

Trinidad and Tobago, the land of 9 days wonders has broken that trend with Section 34, more than 20 days have passed and we still vexed as ever about the fast one this government try to pull on us and the constant lies, half truths and misdirections they keep pulling out of hats. Instead of Kamla Persad-Bissessar womanning up and telling the country the truth she gives us 30 minutes of televised lies in a speech and then tells Ernie Ross to handle the PR and marketing for the next week. Then in that week you have her bloggers attacking people using racist or violent language to do so. I see on Suruj Rambachan page they called Rowley Rawan…the old Hindu standby for insulting anyone of afro-creole descent….liken them to the greatest villain in the Ramleela, ent? One wonders if Warner will be given the role of Hanuman or Ram in this epic, given his proximity to Sita….

So, in this past week anyone who questioned the Government’s role in passing Section 34 was attacked, called racist, threatened with violence. Reporters who were doing their job and investigating and probing public officials were targetted and attacked by no less than the Minister of National Security….imagine Jack Warner has surpassed Manning for aggression and rumours of corruption! Media workers have been threatened with having the details of their personal lives and sexual orientations revealed….all in an attempt to intimidate them and make them cower before the might of the PP. A coalition government that Prakash Ramadhar remains committed to.

Well Mr Warner, let me save you the harassment. I am a try-sexual. I will try anything once except you and your stinking government…..and I put high on that list Doopeesingh, Roodimonster, &&, and yourself! Print that son…and keep harassing me.

What continues to bemuse me is the behaviour of UNC supporters, rabidly lashing out at all and sundry in defence of their party, and in defending their party they are defending and supporting shit! Not a group will stand up and say to Kamla and her small goal side ENOUGH! Not one of them will say to her publicly, this is wrong, you are hurting the nation…..not one of them will put country before tribe and yet they continue to carry the privilege of being called citizens.

In their bid for ethnic dominance in a multi-ethnic space they have lost sight the rights of other groups…..every creed and race can only have an equal place here, after they have had their fill…..tsk tsk UNC/COP….you will suffer for your greed. Mark my words….and I will write the obituary!

So today we have a fete…because Miss Must Fete needs her weapons of mass distraction…it’s the only way she can rule (not lead…never lead…and I point fingers now at the local Feminazis who have supported her, continue to support her and willingly line up for National Awards and yet never once speak about against the foolishness).

Today we will hear about all the good the Party has done.

Today we will hear about Manning, Rowley, Hart and how TheVote for It Too!

Today we will hear Howai deliver a revised budget, because with the country vex so, Kamla will try to give an elections budget of goodies and the treasury cannot afford it.

Today folks, we will hear our Budget be delivered at a fete!

We won’t hear them account for their spending of the last year…and remember they ased for money 2 more times after the intial budget and still went over budget in several ministries. We won’t hear any analysis of last year’s spending or how we are going to weather the economic storm that is here…..the drizzle done coming down….

We won’t hear how much this week’s public broadcast on all local stations and today’s Budget Matikor costing the tax payers…..instead we will hear that the Partnership is strong and LOOK AT PEOPLE! And we have a bigger crowd than Rowley….because political dick measuring is the level of responsibility that we have put into office.

We have gotten a pack of rotten, sickening spoilt brats as a government and they need to be disciplined.

But there is a shift in the winds folks….the citizens brought it on….the government is desperate. In their backrooms and corridors the Jahaji Desi’s are frightened. The UNC supporters are frightened. The COP remain helpless…content to guzzle what they can for as long as they are allowed to guzzle…..but the citizens are waking up.

I will be at Budget Matikor…look out for the videos as I post them up on Twitter and FaceBook and Veetle.

De Vice Cyah Done!

Unsustainable Development People’s Panchayat Style

“Coming from the canefields and rough dwellings of Chaguanas, the Capildeo family led by Simbhoo had little idea what to do with their new domain, which had been sold to them cheap by the Maillards because it was unprofitable. To the dismay of the people in the local village, the area around the house became squalid, in its beautiful setting. ‘They did a kind of peasant agriculture,’ said Vido later, ‘burning own the hillsides and planting corn, maize and peas. They pillaged the oranges from the orange trees, took the avocadoes. They planted nothing. They were camping…It was all so improvised, all so dreadful. We were given a very low idea of human needs. I think without anybody knowing, this was coming from Mother India, from a beaten-down, broken-down people. Trees were uprooted and the house re-worked. A big, unfamiliar brick oven was taken apart, and the area beside it roofed over in corrugated iron and tree branches. The verandah was used to store crops and old bread, which Nanie would buy in bulk from a baker in Port of Spain. The indoor water closet with its European cistern and chain was dismantled, and an outdoor latrine built in the woods…the WC offended the Hindu sense of cleanliness and so it was destroyed. It became a room where people sewed…I am talking about people who were close to immemorial peasantry. An ornamental cherry tree by the tennis court on the side of the main drive was turned into logs. ‘There was no reason to chop it down. Where we come from ancestrally, there are no trees – they think spirits hide in trees. While the children watched in excitement, Uncle Simbhoo supervised the destruction of the electricity generator, the leaves of lead being melted in a large pot and tipped into Ovaltine tins; pipes were put between the tins and the molten metal hardened, creating dumb-bells for the Mausas [maternal uncles] to use for exercise.’I think they played with them for a while and then forgot them’. The house was lit by oil lamps now, like the Lion House. Vido’s retrospective cynicism was matched by the memory of Margaret Maillard, the granddaughter of the vendor, who visited. ‘It was a roomy house. The Capildeos were very gracious to us when we came but we were horrified by the way they had partitioned it.” – The World Is What It Is by Patrick French pp 33-34.

VS Naipaul, for all his cynicism, has been for me one of the most insightful critics of our society. If you want a concise analysis of local politics, read The Suffrage of Elvira. If you want to understand the inner workings of the dispossessed post-colonial or of Hindu families, well the ones that identify as Brahmin anyway, read A House for Mr Biswas; if you want to understand the ambitions and machinations of the average Trinbagonian to get ahead in this post-colonial space, read Mystic Masseur; of course, if you want to understand the ambition of every single Trinidadian (not I didn’t say Trinbagonian) read Miguel Street….everybody here is a charlatan, willing to do a little or a lot of bobol to get ahead. And to understand the ambitions of this lot that we currently have in our overly large parliament and on every state board, read Mimic Men.

Since 1995, at the start of each election season, I read Suffrage. Since Kamla became Prime Minister, Mystic Masseur is on the home page of my Kindle, because I are prutty, prutty certain that the PM being very suckastic in my pussonal with every move that she and her small goal team makes. But this small goal team is beginning to remind me more and more of a horde of locusts, hence the quote from Naipaul’s biography. The very first time I read the biography it struck me that here was this prominent family moving out of a rural area into the more urbane Diego Martin, a kind of country bookie-come-to-town scenario and Naipaul’s depiction of his family is almost cruel, but since it is his account to give, I must assume that he has been truthful. Not more than a year after first reading this passage I would meet Patrick French and talk about this excerpt, and subsequently met a member of the Maillard family as well, who confirmed the horror and incomprehension at the destruction of the house in Petit Valley by its new owners.

I think it is with a similar horror that I am looking on at the governance of Trinidad and Tobago. In the first six months of the PP’s reign I held my peace, wanting to give them a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Although from within a month of them taking over ownership of the Cabinet and Parliament I’d had misgivings, my attitude was that the PNM had done a lot of nonsense with their last 8 years of tenure, let’s see if this coalition would at least make an effort to turn things around.
And for me, I didn’t need ambitious gestures from this government. My wishes were simple: Equity, Public Consultation and Transparency with policies and the public purse. I didn’t expect crime to disappear, but I didn’t expect to see a man with allegations of corruption surrounding him being in charge of my security, nor did I expect that all the crime initiatives of the previous regime would be so unceremoniously dismantled with nothing new or viable put in place. I also didn’t expect that the government’s crime initiatives would all be ethnically driven. Now we have Hoops for Life in predominantly black communities, because I guess in other neighbourhoods there is no need for crime initiatives or basketball courts, yes? And hotspots and Orange T-Shirts are only for economically depressed areas like Beetham and Laventille, while in other areas we give out Food Cards and CEPEP contracts. The country is now in the National Security latrine pit and Kamla couldn’t give a hoot.

I had hoped that this government would move away from welfare, and actually make good on its 7 Pillars of Sustainable Development. So I waited on the diversified economy, only to realise that tar sand from south Trinidad, and Tobago’s territorial waters are their new areas of exploitation. So screw the environment and eonomic diversification, we are still going for bust on a fuel economy. Interestingly enough, our non-fuel producing neighbours higher up the Caribbean are less and less interested in buying our fuel and have begun exploring water, wind and solar sources of energy for when it’s no longer economically viable to purchase fuel. Here in Triniad we wave beakers at the cameras and say “God is ah Trini”. We keep cutting down the trees around the estate with the hope that without replanting they will miraculously replenish themselves. Or maybe the current owners don’t really care about the future of the estate, so why bother to plant new trees, just migrate to a different estate…riiiight? And in the meantime, while we here, keep all the useful resources within the family.

Education and healthcare are two other areas in which we seem to be regressing, and I had thought we’d hit rock bottom under the previous owners of this estate, but the People’s Partnership have really surpassed my expectations. Where I had hoped to see a cleaning up of the inefficiencies of the education system: delinquent staff; cluttered and inefficient administrative system on Alexandra Street; a phasing out of SEA and better use of National Tests; technical and vocational programmes that cater to alternate intelligences; a wider implementation of teaching styles and equipment that will enable students with varied learning abilities, instead what we got was the wholesale giving away of laptops to an education system wherein neither the teachers nor the curriculum was adequately geared towards proper incorporation of the technology.
So while it sounds good to say every child has a laptop, how exactly is it being deployed and how effectively……and why are laptops being put in schools at the expense of text books?

Then you have a Minister of Health willing to scrap a nursing exam, instead of reviewing it, in order to allow more individuals to qualify as nurses. Now, with all of the concerns we have with our healthcare, all the casualties and tragedies for which no one is ever held accountable, add to that concoction nurses who don’t have to meet any criteria nationally to be allowed to give you medication, injections and patient care. Scared yet?

When you look at the present condition of the estate and the policies and attitudes of its owners, is it any wonder that we want to get rid of them? The question is, who to put in charge?

De Vice Cyah Done!

Counting Turtle Eggs Before They Hatch

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I need you to read the EMA’s take on the leatherback massacre that took place a few days ago. EMA Responds to Grande Riviere River Diversion 9-09-2012 The EMA led a team into Grande Riviere this afternoon to investigate reports of major drainage works conducted over the weekend on the Grande Riviere river. The river had drastically diverted over the course of the last few weeks and caused significant erosion resulting in the loss of Leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings. The EMA consulted with Mr. Len Peters of Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guiding Association to get a clearer picture of the situation which has been sensationalized in the media over the weekend. On Saturday morning workers of the Drainage Division conducted an exercise which diverted the river to the sea creating a shorter route and preventing further erosion of the nesting areas. If left on its current course, the existing route of the river would have caused more erosion and loss to precious nesting sites towards the western end of the beach. Mr. Peters indicated that contrary to reports only a few hundred hatchlings were unfortunately lost in the action. He stated that this diversion through zone four allows access to the beach for turtle monitoring as well as eco-tours which provides for sustainable livelihoods of community members. This action also preserves zones one to three on the western end of the beach for turtle nesting sites during the remaining two months of the season. The EMA believes that this emergency action will have some positive impact on the overall population of Leatherback turtles nesting in Grande Riviere. At the beginning of June I visited Grande Riviere and noticed the erosion taking place on the beach. Coastal erosion is nothing new in the area. In previous years under past regimes repair work, such as was undertaken over the weekend, has been done, but not during the hatching and nesting phases of the leatherback turtle season. It’s no news that this current government has no environmental policy. But I am beginning to think that Joth Singh is in its back pocket because even he beginning to sing their tune and loudly at that. Mt Plaisir Estate in Grande Riviere is a conservation site. To do any sort of work there would require a particular process, the least of which would be a Certificate of Environmental Clearance and of course requisite personnel would have to be onsite. That the EMA would part of a decision by state to excavate a beach and destroy turtle eggs and hatchlings is not even ironic, it is sinister. Further, to use government resources and the website to white wash the situation amd insist “only” a few hundred eggs were lost, as if you actually did a head count and as if it was numbers lost and not the principle behind your actions is the major issue is both asinine and sinister. The EMA, the body that should be protecting the environment is kow playing the numbers game and obscuring the real issue. That Joth Singh can still be the head of the EMA after such a debacle speaks volumes about this government’s environmental policies and the integrity of the EMA.

…The Cupboard Was Bare!

It’s Cabinet Reconfiguration week, folks. And most, if not all of you, must know  the nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard!

Methinks a bare cabinet is what Kamla has been coping with these past few weeks (if not 2 years), because is the same rotting shelving board and rusty hinges she trying to move around to give the impression of a new look and freshness.

And that’s one of the sad things about our politics and governance. Look around you and notice that it’s often the same old, corrupt and dishonest geezers, or young party fanatics who are only too eager toe the party line, repeat drivel and assist in violating the country further.

Since Kamla’s announce that she was going to reconfigure her Cabinet…as opposed to reshuffle, because this PM likes new words for old things….the country has been rife with speculation about which ministers will be moved and who is likely to replace whom.

I want to be a little more pro-active than that and suggest my own changes:

National Insecurity is a big issue here. Everyone (except the govt) acknowledges that there are too many problems, serious crime is up, and People Resembling Sandy needs an anatomy lesson, because like he thinking with his elbow! Instead of setting a thief to catch a thief though….in other words, Making Jack Warner Minister of National Security….which is the most persistent rumour, Kamla should instead appoint the one thing that has been tripping up and stalling the criminal elements here and then some….yes, you got it…..STRAY BULLETS…..I endorsing Stray Bullet as Minister of National Insecurity.

The Ministry of Finance is another hotspot in Kamla’s Closet…ooops, Cabinet. Because our Minister of Finance might be the only person I know who could make a gyro cart, coconut vendor or doubles man go buss! It’s Fizzle, not fiscal policy with Dooks….so, my first choice for Min of Finance is Sauce Doubles, if he turn down the work because Curepe making more money than Dooks, then hire anyone of them “foreign nationals” on the Avenue!

 

 

 

I believe that our loud mouthed Attorney General, who can’t recognise a piano to save his life, but knows how to interfere with Integrity Commission enquiries should be replaced by the Consitution….plain and simple. Just rest it on the seat he used to occupy in Parliament. The Cover page alone more intelligent than Anand!

 

As for Sports, take yuh pick Kamla, a cricket bat, football or swimming pool will sound more coherent and sophisticated, and do more for Sport in this country than Anil could “talk” about in this lifetime. Plus all three objects know that drugs and sports don’t mix!!!!!!

You also need to move Suruj as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Information. Number one, no foreign or local person would have affairs with Suruj…number two Suruj is racist and is not a true reflection of our demography…in fact your entire Cabinet ignores the complexity of the country’s demography. But I think that is deliberate, because you endorsing the Indian Time Now policy….and that’s your prerogative, but at least get someone who understands how to conduct foreign affairs….pretty much any of the imported prostitutes from Latin America that (allegedly) know Ravi Ratiram name real good!

And for Information put Sat Maharaj…yes, you heard me. Since it going to be propaganda anyway, put somebody who will make me laugh. I want to hear Sat talk about who wearing and aint wearing underwear….it seems to be quite a fixation with him…first was the OJT underwear lines, then was Harry Harnarine’s. I want to listen to Sat talk about Indians here as if they are still citizens of the continent of India….and I want to watch the Indian community here continue to remain mum on the issue of Sat and your government and the tensions and misconceptions about our society your are intent on creating.

I can’t think of who could replace Chandresh Sharma in your closet, Kamla? Maybe we should give HD a turn? After all, he sing real soca tune about Hard Wuk…..and you done very practised at handing him cheques and holding his hands in public!

Any blank copy book you find can replace Grim Doopeesingh…..and any jackass not named Deviant could handle the Transport Ministry.

 

Is Friday Folks…and apparently International No Drawers (Panty) Day….how fortunate for the Cupboard Lady!

 

De Vice Cyar Done!