By Gordon Robinson
In Apocrypha, that fairy-tale land beyond the clouds, R.U. Shaw and his friend Oma D'unn were playing poker when Roger the Dodger burst in.
Regular readers remember R.U. Shaw, Apocrypha's former finance minister who was like a man whose initials were G.B.S. When asked "Are you Shaw?" the man replied "My dear fellow, I'm certain of nothing!" Sci-fi fans remember Oma. Like a moon, Oma was bright only in the dark. But he had a PhD in logic so his political colleagues often sought his advice on complex issues.
Oma, although returned as finance minister after his party's win at the last election, didn't discriminate politically with his advice. When R.U. was struggling to get into his party's Cabinet, Oma advised him to buy a lawnmower (see 'The essence of logic', March 9, 2010). Logically, Oma reasoned, "If you own a lawnmower, you own a lawn. If you own a lawn, you likely own a house. If you own a house with a lawn, you're probably married with children. If you're married with children, you can't be homosexual. See? Logic dictates that, if you own a lawnmower, you're not homosexual, and you have every chance to be in the Cabinet ... ." The previous Government had come out publicly against homosexuals in the Cabinet.
Later on, R.U., faced with a rapidly devaluing dollar and banks refusing to reduce interest rates, again sought Oma's advice. Oma told him to buy a wheelbarrow (see 'The essence of economics', August 10, 2010). He relied on the story of the poor cattle farmer: "There's a deep rural Apochryphan district named Moneyleague. It's very isolated ... . The only economic activity is cattle rearing and only one farmer owns a bull. All others must transport their cows to his farm for servicing."
"Another farmer," Oma continued, "was so poor he had one cow and no transport, so he used a wheelbarrow to deliver his cow for servicing. ... At dawn on three consecutive mornings, the farmer loaded his cow into the wheelbarrow and pushed it over to his neighbour's farm where the dirty deed was swiftly accomplished. On the fourth morning, he awoke to find the cow waiting for him in the wheelbarrow."
Oma reasoned the banks were too comfortable in their current wheelbarrow (policy environment) so R.U. should 'buy' a new one.
This time, it was Agriculture Minister Roger the Dodger, facing a popular revolution, who needed advice. His assistant reported widespread complaint from the lower-income population about a chicken neck and back shortage, to which Roger testily replied, "Let them eat oxtail!" Somehow, his remark was leaked. Poor people were looking for Roger to eat him!
Oma told him to visit Joe's widow. "What yu mean Joe's widow?" Roger asked. "Me jis' see Joe yesterday an' 'im was fine."
"Well, he's not fine now," said Oma, pointing to Joe's dead body stretched out on the floor behind the poker table.
"Rahtid!' exclaimed Roger. "Wha' 'appen?"
"Joe jis' lose $500,000 on one hand. Him nuh 'ave 'eart attack and dead same place!"
"So, how visiting his widow gwine help me?"
"Simple," Oma explained. "If yu can break the news to her diplomatically, people will see yu 'ave a kind heart and forgive you one careless oxtail outburst."
"Ahhh!" said Roger. "I get you."
"But you mus' be diplomatic," Oma warned, "yu can't jis blurt it out."
"Relax, man," Roger assured him. "Me is de essence of diplomacy."
Roger scurried away to visit Joe's widow. When he rang the doorbell, Joe's wife answered and asked what Roger wanted.
Roger, at his diplomatic best, said, "Your husband jis lose $500,000 playing poker, and is afraid to come home."
"Tell him to drop dead!" said the wife.
"Will do," said Roger.
Oma and R.U. didn't get the news of Roger's hospitalisation until the next day. When they visited, Roger spoke with difficulty through a wired jaw. "What happened?" R.U. asked loudly.
"De woman sey she t'ink me was gwine murder her husband. She lick me inna me face wid her umbrella an' bruk me jaw."
"But I told you to be diplomatic," Oma shook his head. "Maybe we haffi stop yu from talk completely."
"It gets worse," complained Roger. "De Christian dem flock de hospital ever since dem hear. Dem sey poor people tell dem a major historical discovery in Christianity was made."
"What yu talking 'bout, Rog?" queried Oma.
"Dem sey dem hear sey a woman jis locate de jawbone of an ass."
Peace and love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.