Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Gordon Robinson | Tea Party in Boogie Wonderland

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

During my brief hiatus, many readers complained that I'm drifting away from my roots.

"Too much politics!" they grumble. "Not enough satire and dominoes." It turns out the educated elite hate my intermittent forays into lyrics; the people for whom I write love it. So, guess what? Music lessons shall continue. Oddly, the advantage of including lyrics was first brought to my attention years ago by a fellow attorney ('educated elite') who said to me, "GR, I love how you throw in the occasional musical verse. It breaks the column's visual monotony and gives us breathing space to absorb the heavy stuff."

If The Gleaner could cast off some of its silliest, most archaic rules and present lyrics in bold and italics as they're presented to trigger-happy editors, readers would better see what my colleague meant. Once, Opinion Editor Andre Wright, the bane of my Gleaner existence, was off work (and, for once, warned me), so I sent the column to Arthur Hall, who reproduced it verbatim with lyrics in bold/italics. It can be done! The improvement in presentation was marked. Don't get me started on the Gleaner Online, for which everything is one sentence. My columns are formatted (for best visual experience) with quoted speech in italics; lyrics in bold/italics and headlines/titles in bold. I fantasise that, one day, The Gleaner might try dragging itself into the visual age without fearing paper cuts.

Anyway, let's take a dream trip to Wonderland where we join the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Wonderland's racetrack. The party promo invited guests to 'Boogie Wonderland'. The usual suspects are present. Bruceontheloose, who bolted, was a non-starter, replaced by King Juvenile. Alice came in all her finery, including a very short skirt and stylish glasses. "Alice," said the Hatter, "You look decades younger. What HAVE you done?"

Alice was all a-twitter. "I've worked hard to make it hard," she giggled, "for anyone to confuse me with anybody from Oz. I've even learned to use the computer."




The Jabberwocky wasn't invited but kept trying to crash. He poked his head in from time to time. "Manatt, anyone?" referring to the second agenda item, namely, telecoms licensing/US interference. Jabberwocky was the 'go-to' guy for blocking US attacks on party dons (oops, sorry, 'donors').

"No," snapped the Hatter, "not yet."

The March Hare was present (mainly for Agenda Item 2), anxious to blame judges for every problem. The new Dormouse, a female battleaxe wearing thick glasses and a permanent smile, who suffered from dropsy, arrived with the Hare. The party couldn't begin without the White Rabbit who controlled purse strings. Finally, Rabbit scurried in (late as usual). "Oh, my ears and whiskers," panted Rabbit. "I'm late; I'm late." The Queen of Hearts (and Gender Affairs) lost her composure: "You're always late, you IDIOT! Can I cut off his head?"

"Everybody, calm down!" admonished the Hatter, "Unity is key," and promptly announced the first agenda item: racetrack divestment.

"Cauldron bubble," Rabbit muttered. "Soup & Reamout Ltd (SRL) want to close down racing in 12 months if it's not profitable. Oh, my ears and whiskers. We can't have that."

"No, we can't," agreed the Hatter. "Suppose SRL eliminates its backstretch and public relations difficulties by subletting? The subtenant then charges market rental for stalls and amenities, including waste disposal? SRL can't close down racing after. Madness! How we (I mean di subtenant) gwine recoup? ALICE!"

Alice adjusted her miniskirt. "It's my opinion (unless I change my mind) that SRL can do whatever it wants since we (sorry, I mean 'smaddy') already sublet the place and di only alternative bidder come from di Opposition. Can't have dem!"

"No, no, no, YES, we can have them if it's in racing's best interest," exclaimed Rabbit. "Nobaddy tell me 'bout subletting the backstretch?"

"Is hypothetical, Rabbit," said the Hatter.

"Well, den, stop di nonsense. We can't agree for racing to shut down fi any reason. SRL mus' inves'/keep it going."

"Yu no hear sey," Hatter chortled, "dey don't haffe inves'. Expert sey dat all dem haffe do is change back to a handicapping system and profit will pour in."




Rabbit laughed heartily: "Handicapping was in place when de track went into receivership, then liquidation. Not going back dere!"

"So leave out di odder bidder completely?" asked the Hatter. "Mek sure 'smaddy' get dem sublease?"

"Yes," said Rabbit. The motion was carried unanimously.

Hatter wasted no time postponing Agenda Item 2, quickly adjourned the meeting, and scurried off to visit 'smaddy's' new stables.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to