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Sunday Brew — March 21, 2021


If you get to know the managing director of J Wray & Nephew Ltd and chairman of its foundation, Jean Philippe Beyer, you will meet an individual who can be best described as possibly the most down to earth business leader you can find in Jamaica.

He is not into the frills of life, and most times when you see him you have to ask if he is the man in charge of one of Jamaica’s profitable companies, judging from his easy-going, dress-down style and witty comments.

That the holder of a French passport has not only decided to make Jamaica his permanent home but seeks to become a citizen of this great country, blighted only by crime and the greed and uncaring style of some, suggests that he is quite comfortable with Jamaican lifestyle and will be a good fit.

In my latest interaction with JP, just over a week ago, he suggested a mix of one of Jamaica’s favourite rums, Appleton Estate, which I had never even dreamt about. It was a serving of Appleton Estate Reserve 8-year-old with coconut water. But, hold on, you do not pour the coconut water. You do some preparatory work by freezing the coconut water into cubes and then serve as if you were having a shot of Appleton on the rocks.

According to JP, it is one of the finest combinations that you can find. So, being a collector of liquor, a hobby that has been a part of me since age 19, which seems like just a few years ago, I began the search for a bottle of 8-year-old, only to find none. But I found a bottle of 12-year-old Reserve and proceeded to do what JP had suggested. What happened after was quite pleasing. It was simply first class…and, as JP outlined, the more the coconut ice cubes melted, the more the drink mellowed.

The next phase of this experiment is to try the Appleton 8-year-old with the coconut ice cubes, which will be the true test, according to the J Wray & Nephew chief.

Some of you (not under age 18 please) may try it too, if you are so inclined. But if you are light-headed, then just stick to a glass of water.

Jamaican life is worse now than 10 years ago

It is always a good idea to follow parliamentary presentations on the annual fiscal budget, as only then do you get a chance to see what the political leaders of this country have in store for the suffering masses.

Prime Minister Holness’s presentation last Thursday was a mere ‘going through the motions’ exercise by his standards, and unlike other budget addresses by him, this latest one did not readily connect, nor inspire confidence in the economy.

In the earlier part of his presentation the prime minister made a comment that I found to be way off the mark – that Jamaicans were better off now than they were a decade ago. I absolutely disagree. Economic and social conditions in Jamaica in 2021 are far worse than they were in 2011 when, incidentally, he was in charge of the Government for a part of that year.

Take the novel coronavius pandemic out of it, although we really should not, in 2011 people were better off. Jamaica had withstood the global economic recession that pressured economies between early 2008 and 2009. Ten years ago it took J$85.81 to buy one US dollar. Now, it takes between $147 and $149 to do the same.

If you look at public sector wages and salaries now, for example, and compare them with the numbers of 2011, not much has grown for the worker. Look at the cost of food items, however. What you were paying for items in 2011 has doubled in many instances, tripled and quadrupled in others.

We are paying more for petrol and related products; the value of the Jamaica dollar against the US dollar is at its worst; you are seeing far more people in the streets and elsewhere begging like crazy, and it’s not because they can’t do better…they genuinely do not have what it takes to live because the quality of life has sunken for the majority.

Other prices have suffered, like for motor vehicles, real estate generally, water, electricity, cable…down to the highly admired and in-demand patty has not been spared. I have not even gone into crime.

So the Prime Minister should awake from his slumber. The struggle is real. I know, I get the requests for economic support practically every day, and I am sure that he, his ministers and MPs do as well, even if they try to hide from the people most times.

Those data crooks can be dangerous

A news item earlier in March on an international wire service site about a data breach at, off all companies, American Airlines (AA), only serves to show how vulnerable everyone can be when it comes to the dangers of cybersecurity.

The article stated that AA’s loyalty programme information had been compromised by the data breach which was also impacting other airlines worldwide. In the breach, the names of AA loyalty members and other personal information may have been exposed, the airline said.

It is one of the latest breaches to have hit industries and goes back to what happened in Jamaica last month when it emerged that Amber Group, which had created a website to help manage the novel coronavirus pandemic on behalf of the Government, was attacked by some of the same demons who rushed into AA.

At the time, it was revealed that the information of over 400,000 visitors to Jamaica had been exposed, something that Amber Group CEO Dushyant Savadia moved to clarify, saying that the files accessed did not contain the personal information of Jamcovid-19 users nor do they enable access to that kind of information, as stated by at least one international publication which was milked across dangerous social media.

With what continues to happen with data breaches globally you may be inclined to feel sorry for the Amber Group, which has performed progressively well in software development over the years, because in real terms there are some bright individuals out there who know the cyber system inside out and will stop at nothing to crack seemingly impregnable set-ups.

The Government has started an investigation so it will be interesting to see what that will produce.

Andre Russell will be critical to West Indies’ T20 success

Things looked good for the West Indies in the recent series against Sri Lanka, although the best 11 was still not selected due to the unavailability of some players and injury to others.

The jury is still out on Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, and Fidel Edwards being part of the Twenty/20 set-up for the World Cup later this year, but it is a good problem to have.

Gayle’s brutality with the bat is not in question – it is his ability to run at accepted speeds when singles and twos are on offer.

Bravo has clearly lost it with the bat but he is still clever with the ball – especially at the ‘death’ of an innings – and he remains one of the best catchers around.

Edwards you can do without, for there are other fast bowlers who can produce what he can contribute and do much more. One of them is Andre Russell who, we are told, is not as fit now to play for the West Indies and is bothered by the frequency of COVID-19 safety bubbles. Hopefully, he will get back to his best within months.

Russell is a special kind. I met him around 15 years ago when he was a teenager attending school and representing St Catherine Cricket Club.

A media cricket team decided to select me and 10 others in a ‘curry goat’ match against a St Catherine/Clarendon All-Stars at Port Esquivel. Before the match, my good friend Winston “Ossie” Osbourne told me about this ‘young boy’ who must play for Jamaica and West Indies. It was Russell.

He and Osbourne opened the batting and the team smashed the media XI for over 200 in the T20 match, Russell hitting 105 not out. I felt his venom, as I was the one who bowled the first over.

Like spite, Russell opened the bowling too and took five wickets – including mine as I (maybe like ‘follow fashion’) also opened the batting – and made a mess of the media operatives. That was the first meeting with Russell.

The second one was at a match a few years later organised by singer Freddie McGregor at Jamalco, Clarendon, as a prelude to a fund-raising concert in his parish of birth.

A Freddie McGregor XI and a Courtney Walsh XI would play a rain-delayed match on a hastily prepared pitch, with McGregor’s team including Wayne Marshall, a former star bat at Wolmer’s Boys’; Kevin Blair from Voicemail; Dean Fraser and, you guessed it, Russell.

Walsh had Curtly Ambrose, whom he had joined in retirement from international cricket; former Jamaica player Nehemiah Perry; and they felt sorry for me and handed me a pick. So another match-up with Russell beckoned.

Well, we batted first and made 140-odd for six off 15 overs, Ambrose surprisingly being the top scorer with 37 and Walsh (yes) making 21.

Guess who opened for McGregor’s XI? Nuh muss Russell! And like sin, Walsh gave me the new ball to bowl at him. Wow. The first ball was a dot, Ambrose at slip shouting, “That’s it, that’s it”; the second, another dot, Ambrose saying, “Keep it there, keep it there”; the third ball, another dot, “Right there, right there” said Ambrose; the fourth ball, Russell missed it again. “You have him now” Ambrose shouted, which seemed to have awoken Russell, for the next two balls were hit out of the ground for sixes and the ball had to be replaced after the second six. Ambrose was quiet. That was my only over, but we won.

One lesson from that was never to underestimate Russell. From a youngster of promise has emerged a world great.

A nice mix of Appleton Rum and coconut ice cubes

If you get to know the managing director of J Wray & Nephew Ltd and chairman of its foundation, Jean Philippe Beyer, you will meet an individual who can be best described as possibly the most down to earth business leader you can find in Jamaica.

He is not into the frills of life, and most times when you see him you have to ask if he is the man in charge of one of Jamaica’s profitable companies, judging from his easy-going, dress-down style and witty comments.

That the holder of a French passport has not only decided to make Jamaica his permanent home but seeks to become a citizen of this great country, blighted only by crime and the greed and uncaring style of some, suggests that he is quite comfortable with Jamaican lifestyle and will be a good fit.

In my latest interaction with JP just over a week ago he suggested a mix of one of Jamaica’s favourite rums, Appleton Estate, which I had never even dreamt about. It was a serving of Appleton Estate Reserve 8-year-old with coconut water. But hold on, you do not pour the coconut water. You do some preparatory work by freezing the coconut water into cubes and then serve as if you were having a shot of Appleton on the rocks.

According to JP, it is one of the finest combinations that you can find. So, being a collector of liquor, a hobby that has been a part of me since age 19, which seems like just a few years ago, I began the search for a bottle of 8-year-old, only to find none. But I found a bottle of 12-year-old Reserve and proceeded to do what JP had suggested. What happened after was quite pleasing. It was simply first class…and as JP outlined, the more the coconut ice cubes melted, the more the drink mellowed.

The next phase of this experiment is to try the Appleton 8-year-old with the coconut ice cubes, which will be the true test according to the J Wray & Nephew chief.

Some of you (not under age 18 please) may try it too, if you are so inclined. But if you are light-headed then just stick to a glass of water.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login





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