Now as well as then: Requiem for Lyn

The title might suggest a poem, but I am not in the poetry-writing mode at the moment. I wish merely to remember my old friend, Edward Evelyn Greaves (Lyn to a few of us who loved him). Lyn’s father and mine were born within crying distance of each other. In fact, Lyn thought that I was related to one of my father’s dear friends in the area. I believe that it was only after the death of my close friend Richard Armstrong that Lyn was told that we were not actually relatives.

Lyn was the ideal public servant. That is how I knew him best. Elected for a seat in his native St Lucy, he became the Minister of Trade. He took his role very seriously, but with little pomp. He even became very friendly with two of my African colleagues, Ambassadors Katungi and Iroha of Uganda and Nigeria respectively. We were in fact the three musketeers who determined as far as possible the ACP agenda. I remember that we met Christopher Patten, the British Minister responsible for ACP/EU relations in the bathroom at one of our meetings and proposed that he call a meeting of Anglophone Ambassadors in London on a Tuesday or Thursday, the days on which there was usually an ACP Ambassadors’ meeting. We were fed up with France simply calling the francophone countries to Paris to discuss a common policy with respect to EU/ACP relations. Minister Lyn Greaves, who was the Barbados Minister responsible for ACP matters was duly informed. He was therefore well prepared for the following ACP/EU Council Meeting, which was to discuss the terms of the new Lomé Agreement. His physical resilience at this meeting came through in the most incredible way. The Europeans have a peculiar way of dealing with time overrun. Since a decision has to be made within a certain time limit, if no agreement is reached on the appointed day, they simply declare the clock stopped and continue day and night, if necessary.

Naturally, this puts small countries like Barbados at a severe disadvantage. We had only two persons at the meeting beside the Minister, an officer from home and myself. Lyn said: “You two take three-hour shifts to get some sleep and brief the other one when you return. I will remain here and catnap.” It worked incredibly well. He seemed to have slept little over the thirty hours or so that the debate continued. His only hint of discomfort came when the Senegalese Minister came to him and said that the French had come up with a proposal for funding. Lyn looked him in the face and asked: “Is that an acquis?” The question was: So the French have proposed a budget, does that mean an automatic end to the deliberation? The francophone Minister withdrew quietly. We did not get quite as much as we thought desirable, but we had put up more than a decent fight. Not very long after, Lyn resigned over a matter of principle. It was only in the late DLP Administration that he was assigned the role of High Commissioner at Ottawa. One might have thought that he would have simply breezed through the appointment. Instead, he set about compiling the story of Barbadians who had made a significant impact in Canada. This was followed by a similar project for the USA. He could return home with considerable pride. I had written my own memoir, BEING ME, and I only realised he was back when he called me to tell me he had read the book, which he had bought. I believe that it was one of the reasons that he started to write his own memoirs. Regrettably, he passed on before he could finish what would have been a memorable account of a life well spent. My last comment is that I did not enjoy working with any Government Minister that much since Errol Barrow and Tom Adams. Rest in peace Lyn! You certainly have made a serious input here on this plane.

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