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'Man-a-Yard' speaks. Audley Shaw's voice almost back to normal

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Madam Speaker are words Audley Shaw has said countless times in his 28 years as a Member of Parliament either at the start of or during a presentation.

But, when he rose to his feet for mere seconds in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and addressed House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert as “Madam Speaker”, there was sustained applause and knocking of desks from his colleagues on both sides of the political divide.

The reason was evident.

When Shaw, who is the Minister of Industry, Investment, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries spoke, it was the first time in more than a year that he was sounding his usual self, or at least close to his usual self.

The self-styled 'Man-a-Yard' who is known for his bombastic pronouncements inside the Parliament and on the campaign trail, was at times difficult to hear over the past year as his vocal cord was damaged after he underwent surgery.

Attention was first drawn to Shaw after the Cabinet was being sworn-in on September 15 last year, less than two weeks after the Jamaica Labour Party romped to victory in the general election.

Shaw's voice was described as both pale and high pitched and, after questions were raised about it, he disclosed that he had damaged his vocal cord but that his voice would eventually return to normal. In presentations in the House just last week, he was still not his usual self.

On Wednesday, the House Speaker who had apparently heard Shaw's voice before he entered the chamber, welcomed him and said she was looking forward to his presentations in his former style. As she spoke, she struggled to correctly name all of his portfolio responsibilities, him having recently been given Agriculture and Fisheries following the resignation of Floyd Green, to go alongside Industry, Investment and Commerce thus making for a super ministry.

“We wish you well and we look forward to hearing you…” said Dalrymple-Philibert.

Neither she, nor her colleagues would not have to wait long as Shaw rose and said “Thank you very much Madam Speaker” at which point he was drowned out by the applause of his colleagues after they heard his 'new voice'.

While his voice is not yet 100 per cent back to what it was before he injured his vocal cord, it appears that it is almost there.