Photo controversy has a big message for Bajans: Remember what made Barbados the choice of the rich and famous – and how we all benefited from our image.
Frank Sinatra would have understood why The Cliff Restaurant suspended employee Kyson Forde for asking Manchester United striker Robert Van Persie to take a photo with him.
Back in 1967 BFP’s Auntie Moses had an encounter with the famous Rat Pack member (as told by Marcus. God, how I miss him)…
“The super rich and famous have always had their gates and guards, and I guess I don’t begrudge them a little privacy. Shona’s Auntie Moses tells a fabulous story about meeting Frank Sinatra when he ran into the kitchen where she was working. Auntie Moses and her friends hid Frankie in a walk-in cooler for a few minutes until his need passed. Then he talked with the staff for half an hour, had a beer and gave all the girls a big kiss before he left. He also sent autographed photos the next day. (Certainly a different profile of Sinatra’s character than one might think by reading some other accounts. Auntie Moses hasn’t washed that cheek since 1967!)”
This island used to be the first choice for the rich and famous of the world. There were reasons for that – our pristine beaches, some upscale accommodations, and most important the Bajan ‘doan care who you are, everybody is welcome’ attitude. You are rich? Famous? Who cares? Never heard of you and even if I did, have a rum and a cutter.
Now everybody has a camera in their phone. It’s not much of a proper camera but everybody has one and feels obliged to record everything. Are we better for it as people and society? I don’t think so.
The rich and famous came here partially because Barbados offered as much privacy and anonymity as possible in a vacation destination. Within walls and upscale hotels, the rich and famous could relax and not worry that their every movement and word would be reported. (That went for the Royal Family too, although it didn’t work out all that well for Princess Margaret and her toyboy.)
Kyson Forde was suspended because he forgot that Mr. Van Persie was our guest – not only at The Cliff Restaurant, but on this island. Mr. Van Persie was good enough to stand for the photo, but he was probably thinking very unkind thoughts about The Cliff and his vacation in Barbados. It’s part of the Bajan deal with the rich and famous: we don’t make a big deal of our guests.
There are many qualities of our culture and business sense that we’ve lost over the years, and the ability to not see anything when appropriate is one of those lost Bajan qualities.
Barbados still has the qualities that attracted the rich and famous for the last 50 years – but we’re losing them. You know we are. I won’t list them all here but think about the changes to our environment and culture. Any Bajan knows what has changed so I won’t go into it further right now.
Congratulations to the management of The Cliff Restaurant for maintaining our standards, and in doing so protecting the reputation of our country. The mainstream media covered Kyson Forde’s suspension extensively, and that probably did far more to promote our tourism product to the rich and famous than anything else this year.
And a big welcome back to Kyson Forde after his suspension. Hopefully he has done some thinking about his job. If not, there are a hundred others who will apply for his position.