Keith Smith Has Died

By admin Tue, 02/08/2011 - 00:00 Newsmedia

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Keith Smith, seen here during a visit from Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters last November in this Express photo.
     The veteran newspaper journalist and author battled a series of health issues in his last days, prostate cancer among them. He had become a fixture at the Trinidad Express in a career than spanned more than 40 years.
     He entertained readers daily with various literary columns celebrating the language and dialect of Trinidad and Tobago. One of his most prominent articles was his coverage of the PNM campaign in his hometown of Laventille when he quoted Desmond Carthy as saying "All Ah We Tief". Here's an excerpt from one of his columns in which he reflected on the death of the old newsroom, and sportswriter David Brewster.

The Passing Parade
By Keith Smith
"Bootins'' Alkins voice rose above the type-writer clatter of the News Room (with the coming of computers and indeed the disappearance of colourful characters, the room has become a quieter place these days, even I no longer banging on the keys that used to so annoy a visiting editor from England who never could abide my explanation that I learnt the craft in the days when one's fingers went clicketyclack, of finger, in the case of one-time ace-crime writer since turned businessman, Kishore Tiwary, Tiwary a speedy marvel of a one-finger typist, that one finger of his doing double the work of my two).
"KEITH SMITH!'' Bootins bellowed (my name being easiest to call so easy, in fact, that it was only, on the weekend that my eight-year old neigbour realised, on seeing it in the paper that they were two separate names, the lass believing all the while that it was "Keithsmith'', the community for whatever reason (ease of call, no doubt?) contracting the two, even some of my lifelong friends among them.
"Wha' happen, Boots?''
"Keith Smith, if Batman and Robin walking down the road and a steamroller roll over them, wha' go happen?'' By now, of course, the old "Boots'', as was his intent, had the attention of the whole News Room and as, clueless, I looked at him, he harrumphed:
"Why, then, the world would now have a Flatman and Ribbons!'' And now that he had me (and, indeed, us) he went on:
"And who go bury them?'' I knew better than to try and find an answer so he hurried on: "Batoo!''
My puzzlement was answered by another question: "And why Batoo go bury them''. No answer from me so he pulled the rug:
"Because he is a bat—too!''
Steups, if you like, but I have never told the joke, over all these years, without getting a grin at least, Alkins, even as he managed the Sports Desk ready to take time-out for a laugh, the old boxer, whatever the deadline pressures always able to roll with the punches.
He has "passed on'' now, as people have increasingly taken to saying as has his "student'', David Brewster, with whom I shared a passion for ping-pong, the towering "Christmas tree'' in my yard, a permanent reminder of his presence, David falling down dead waiting his turn at the table one night, just as he had feared he would, both of us having spent time lamenting the kind of instant cut-down that leaves you unable to cry out: "Oh God, Ah coming!'' the exclamation a combination of both fear and, well yes, hope, the tree David planted there for me more than a decade go, outliving him which, I suppose, was to be expected as, I suppose, was his death, that being an essential in the human equation, David's death, nonetheless, grieving the News Room both in itself and in the memories it recalled of the news people who had passed on and gone beyond.