Chris Gayle too sexy for his own good

26090FDA00000578-2966545-image-m-39_1424778583761I feel sorry for Chris Gayle. It must be so hard to be a sex symbol. Women always throwing themselves at him! Perhaps, even men, too. With all that attention, it’s easy to see how Gayle could start to think of himself as irresistible. So much so, he dared to stroke his ego on national television in Australia. Flipping the script, Gayle ‘put question’ to Mel McLaughlin, the female journalist who was interviewing him.

Gayle is not the first athlete to get carried away in Ms McLaughlin’s glamorous presence. In 2012, Australian soccer star Tim Cahill stepped up to the mike to be interviewed by the journalist and gave her a completely unexpected kiss on the cheek. Ms McLaughlin looked flustered. She was clearly taken by surprise. Perhaps she blushed. But she kept her cool. She gave a half-laugh and said, “OK.” But was it?

As far as I can tell, not a bit of a fuss was made about that Cahill kiss. There was no talk of sexual harassment at the workplace. No fine. No call for a worldwide ban on Cahill. No bogus story that Cahill had exposed himself to an anonymous female who wandered into a male dressing room. Cahill is white and Gayle is black. Is that the difference in the treatment of the two athletes?


Don’t get me wrong. Gayle was well out of order to be asking Ms McLaughlin out on a date. Talking about looking into her eyes and calling her ‘baby’! What is so puzzling is that the interview started off quite professionally. Ms McLaughlin congratulated Gayle on his performance and then asked, “Were you just not in the mood to run today?” He said he was cold and then went on to talk about the rhythm of the game – hitting the first four and wanting to entertain the crowd for the last game.

Then Ms McLaughlin gushed, “Incredibly aggressive approach for you, too! Looks like you absolutely just smashing this innings.” (sic) That compliment seems to have been Gayle’s undoing. He gets tongue-tied: “Yeah, definitely, ahm, I mean.” And next thing you know, out of the blue, Gayle head tek him.


He then makes the now-infamous confession, “I want to come and have an interview with you as well.” This is punctuated by loud sniggering coming from the Channel TEN studio. Gayle continues, “That’s the reason why I’m here. Just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice. So hopefully we’ll win this game and we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby!”

Denying that she was blushing, Ms McLaughlin efficiently steers the interview into less troubled waters. After a little stumble, her next question seems to cut Gayle down to size: “Ahm, did you, any injuries? Did you have any?  The boys were saying maybe you picked up a bit of a twinge in your hamstring.” Is this injury wishful thinking? Does the twinge stand for impotence? Or, worse, castration? Gayle is not fazed. He cockily  says it’s back pain, he’ll do physio and hopefully he’ll look into Ms McLaughlin’s eyes again.


Chris Gayle doesn’t seem to know the story of Emmett Till. The place was Mississippi and the year was 1955. A 14-year-old black boy, Emmett Till, was accused of flirting with a white woman. He didn’t even speak to the woman. All he did was look at her. Or so they said. And he was murdered by two white men protecting the honour of the white woman. The men were tried for murder but were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury.


This family handout photograph taken in Chicago, date unknown, shows Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. FBI officials planned to begin exhuming Emmett Till’s body Wednesday, June 1, 2005, after a morning graveside service for the slain civil rights icon’s family at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The U.S. Justice Department announced in May 2004 that it was reopening the investigation into the 1955 murder. (AP Photo/Mamie Till Mobley Family)

Gayle is lucky. He’s not likely to be murdered for flirting with Mel McLaughlin on national television. But his career might take a hit. The Australian cricketer Ian Chappell is calling for a worldwide ban on Gayle. This punishment seems completely out of proportion to the offence. Gayle made a stupid mistake. But to ban him from cricket forever?

Gayle says it was an innocent joke. I’m inclined to believe him. And he made the pass out in the open on television. It was on show! To me, this makes the flirting less troubling than it might have been in private. But the image of an athletic black man flirting with a white woman remains threatening to ‘the boys’, even in the 21st century. That seems to be the real issue.


Of course, sexual harassment on the job is no laughing matter. And it’s not only women who are harassed. Men are also harassed by both men and women. The workplace ought to be a safe environment in which both men and women can work in peace without fear of unwanted sexual advances.

6a00d8341bfc6e53ef0176164e8349970c-piAnd though the global condemnation of Chris Gayle’s flirting with Mel McLaughlin on the job seems over the top, the controversy over the incident is a welcome reminder that there are lines of propriety that should not be crossed.

I’m sure Chris Gayle will now think at least twice, if not more, about inviting any woman to have a drink with him. And certainly not on TV! But, hopefully, he will continue to enjoy the pleasures of appropriate flirting. After all, if he stopped, it would be such a waste of a deliciously sexy man.



Patwa: Bridge or Barrier?

13384_10153329148929369_1805303501038876440_nJuly 1 was International Reggae Day (IRD). Long before February was branded as Reggae Month, a mere seven years ago, Andrea Davis ‘sighted’ the need to pay annual attention to reggae’s global impact. For more than two decades, this energetic creative industries consultant has worked very hard to make IRD a calendar event, not just in Jamaica but around the world. And she has certainly succeeded!

One of the highlights of the IRD media festival is a forum, streamed live on the Internet, which focuses on current issues in the music business. This year’s theme was ‘Securing Jamaica’s Competitive Advantage in the Global Market’. The packed programme included a wide range of speakers such as HBO’s corporate VP of affiliate sales, Javier Figuera; and attorney Cordel Green, executive director of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica.

Billboard journalist Patricia Meschino confirmed that Jamaican artistes have lost their dominance on both the album and singles reggae charts. Our music has gone to the world and we no longer control the market. I suppose that was to be expected. All the same, it makes you wonder if we in Jamaica really understand the economic potential of the reggae music industry.


I was asked to speak on the topic, ‘Cultural Authenticity – Patois: Bridge/Barrier’? I really don’t like that generic term ‘patois’. I prefer ‘Jamaican’, which specifically confirms the link between language and national identity. Language is, indeed, a powerful expression of cultural authenticity.

185639_216714311798932_390570728_nBut ‘authenticity’ can be very tricky. Who decides what is authentic and what is not? It all depends on who is talking to who. Or whom, as the English-language purists would prefer. Jamaican is the heart language of the majority of the Jamaican people. Some of us would say it is an authentic expression of Jamaican cultural identity.

But our school system does not take this language seriously. It’s not on the curriculum. As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned, the mother tongue of most Jamaicans is not a proper language. It’s a bastard child of legitimate English – an ‘outside pikni’. To be truly educated in Jamaica, you must leave that ‘backward’ non-language far behind.


By contrast, foreigners clearly recognise that Jamaican is a real-real language in its own right. And it has to be learnt systematically. So they open their minds. Last month, I got an email with this subject heading: “I can’t seem to figure out what ‘fi wi’ means.” Based on the name and email address, I assumed it was from a Jewish-American male.

After giving some examples from my blog in which I used ‘fi wi’, he asked, “Can you help?” Of course, I could. I explained that ‘fi wi’ means ‘our’. He sent another email: “Interesting! So what is our ‘sinting’? And thank you very much for your prompt reply.”

Again, I translated. ‘Sinting’ means ‘something’. And I elaborated. For an individual, ‘fi mi (me) sinting’ would be personal possession. On the other hand, ‘fi wi’, first person plural, suggests collective possession of cultural traditions – intangible assets. I was amused by his response: “Wow, so complex! Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions.”

motivationIt would be quite rare for a typical victim of our school system to conceive Jamaican as a ‘complex’ language. Because it is the language of home and heart, it’s ‘simple’. We learn it naturally, not as a result of hard effort, so we don’t even realise that Jamaican has its own grammar.

If you want to hear ungrammatical Jamaican, just listen to a foreigner who hasn’t mastered the language! We don’t understand how difficult it can be for non-native speakers to become proficient in Jamaican. Many of them are highly motivated and they invest a lot of time, energy and money in the enterprise.


A classic example is Mike Pawka, who compiled the online Rasta/Patois Dictionary in December 1992. It’s regularly updated, the last time on April 13, 2014. Here’s link to the dictionary:  <>  I emailed Mike to ask what made him do the dictionary. By the way, his email address is It sweet mi fi true!

Here’s his response: “When I became interested in reggae music in the early ’80s, a lot of it was hard to understand, and I was looking for glossaries or dictionaries to help me out, but didn’t find any. I began to collect definitions that I found in the back of books.

51L63gcxZtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“I started the newsgroup in the early ’90s and got a lot of definitions from contributors to that group. From there it just grew, as you can see, from the sources section in the back. Later, I added phrases and proverbs.”

There’s also a Japanese/Jamaican dictionary, The Patois Handbook: Let’s Speak Jamaican!, written by Yvonne Goldson, a Jamaican who has lived in Japan for quite some time. Her book was first published in Tokyo in 1998 and has become a best-seller, now in its 10th edition. Incidentally, there are quite a few Japanese who don’t know English but are fluent in Jamaican.

So is the Jamaican language a bridge or a barrier? It’s both. For many Jamaicans, our mother tongue is nothing but a barrier to upward social mobility – even though it speaks to our heart. And then there are all those non-Jamaicans who learn the language as a sturdy bridge to understanding another culture.