“How was your holiday? Bring any sunshine back? Any good stories?” Camp asked when I sat down.
“Here is some sunshine in a bottle,” I said, handing over a bottle of Rum. “Cheaper than wine. And yes there were a few interesting stories. Looks like old man Winter came by for a visit here.”
“Yes, we have winter wonderland, snow like in Whistler and weather like in Ontario. You did good to get out of it. Not great for the bookstore but the kids and the tire shops love it.”
“Here is a little modern parable,” I said. I took a drink and sat back. “There was a poor family who desperately needed another room in their small house. Then one day a young stranger dropped by with a present of silky paper flowers. ‘You need another room’, the alien said, and offered to loan the family the funds to build it. Not only that, ‘I’ll even build it for you’ and like magic, workers and materials appeared from far away, all paid for with the money the foreigner loaned the family. When the room was finished everybody was happy and then the alien asked for the loan to be repaid. The poor family had no funds left over and instead allowed the stranger to move into the new room and live there happily ever after.”
“What’s that, a modern fairy tale?” Camp asked, “and let me guess what the moral is: Don’t trust any foreigners and outsiders.”
“It’s not a fairy tale,” I said, “it’s what’s happening all over these small island nations, in the South Pacific as well as in the Caribbean. I call it neo-colonialism by stealth and the moral is: Don’t trust the stranger that loans you easy money.”
“Interesting, here the banks do that and if you can’t pay them back they take your house, your land and your business.”
Camp had a point and we both concentrated on our drinks.
“Has it ever occurred to you that facts don’t win hearts.”
“Yes, but they should win over thinking minds,” I said.
“Here is another fairy-tale. It’s about the seven year old Afghan boy, Murtaza Ahmed, who fashioned a makeshift Argentine football jersey of his idol Lionel Messi out of a plastic bag and a felt marker. It got Messi’s attention and the boy was invited to Qatar to meet his idol before a friendly exhibition match. A fairy-tale you think, except now the boy and his mom are on the run from the Taliban who put out a fatwa on Murtaza, calling for his assassination, because he told an interviewer about the endless killings and suppression by the Taliban. Murtaza and his mom are also from the Hasara tribe, a persecuted minority, and are appealing to Messi to get them out.”
“As he should,” I said. “His motives to invite the boy might have been genuine but it’s Messi and his promo team and club who stepped on this mine which is now threatening to blow up the boy and his famuly. Take them to Barcelona I say.”
“Ready for a refill boys?” Rosy, our Irish waitress asked, and without waiting for an answer exchanged our empties for full ones. As usual we quickly touched on the latest Brexit rumours. “Looks like this whole mess is actually about May and her stupid legacy and not about the people,” Rosie said when Camp prompted her.
“Sounds like hubris,” he said, “and the people will pay for it, as always.”
“Fecking politics,” Rosie mumbled while giving the table a wipe.
“Camp, did you know that when Papua New Guinea – one of the poorest countries on earth – hosted the last Apec summit, they bought a whole fleet of luxury cars, 40 Maseratis and 3 Bentleys amongst them?” I asked.
“This in a country struggling with polio outbreaks, tuberculosis and chronic funding shortages for everything,” Camp said.
“Exactly, but the good part is the police are still looking for nearly 300 cars that have not been returned to the government. They fear that a lot of them have disappeared into the rugged highlands.”
“Well, the cars were bought with the people’s money, weren’t they? Seems only fair that they kept them.” Camp said.
“Here is to the people,” I toasted.
“And to fairy-tales,” Camp said.