A Conversation with Uncle Claus

By TP Saran

TP Saran: Hello, nice to see you again old Boy! How are you doing?

Uncle Claus * Mean you’re a myth?

: Oh I am forever fine, ‘cos I’m er… what you guys call that these days? – virtual, that’s it! I don’t actually exist you see, except in some people’s imagination.

Yea, there, clever guy, you got it! But a myth also tells us about ourselves. Like, that’s why you find me still going strong since those Northern chaps invented me nearly two centuries ago. Hard work’s the trick! 

* Yes, indeed, it certainly does appear that working chaps like you seem happier and healthier…

You bet we are! ’Tis said, isn’t it, that work is worship. But don’t count on me for the worship bit!  

* But I thought you believed in all that goes with Christmas? – God, His Son, the angels…

Dude, that’s for the believers, let them be, great imagination they have, I say.

I worship work that’s what! 

* Is that why you go on dedicating your life to bring toys to the children of the world?

Yup, you got it. All children. I am happy to make them happy, especially the ones who have so little that the smallest gift makes them beam. And what with the crisis you guys have created I am afraid I can only get simple presents now. 

* I do not recall who said it, Uncle, but if my memory serves me right, there’s that author who said that if everyone had just a little bit left of the child in them when they are older, the world would be a much nicer place — and there would be no need for Santa Claus…

Aha, smart guy! You wanna trick me out of a job, do you? But yes, you’re right. Unfortunately in many adults the child has been replaced by a greedy rogue. 

* I guess things must be tough for you because the world has become too populous, all of 7 billion, and you have no way to reach all the children, isn’t that so dear? And, on top of that, getting gifts for today’s kids must have become a headache what with their craze for iPods, tablets…

Like I said, dude, I’m only make-believe, see, it’s the parents who do most of the running about – and much of the spoiling too if I may add. Good thing is, though, at best kids will say Santa has forgotten them this time around, they won’t curse me, maybe they will be a bit sad and keep up hope for next time. I hope the defaulting parents learn to assume their responsibility. 

* But, Uncle, the older kids seem to be in a much worse lot than earlier generations with many of them falling prey to drugs – at least this is what a part-time priest and part-time politician here has been saying lately. Unbelievable, don’t you think?

Not so unbelievable to me – I have been coming here long years now, I kinda like the warm weather eh! And have been following your local scene, have heard this from many others of the same mould, part-timer this part-timer that!

There are pseudo-responsible adults across all of society wanting to get a name by whatever means – especially exploiting the credulity of the weak-minded, pushing their own agendas, feeding their own appetites and inculcating greed in those children from a young age. Not to speak of trying to find scapegoats to make up for their own failings. And then it’s too late when, to add insult to injury, religion is used as the opium of the people to make the susceptible ones believe that they are owed everything by the State and they don’t need to make their own efforts and work hard like everybody else.

Next you have your dude politicians going out of their way to please and appease these fly-by-night operators without taking the trouble to understand what’s truly happening, because they keep away from the hoi polloi and remain in their closed sycophantic circles that filter the information reaching them – they get to hear only what they want to hear! I guess being too drunk on power leads to one having a skewed take on ground realities. And so what else do you expect than getting those drugged guys more drunk on opiate?  

* Phew Santa! Where did you get all this?

How do you mean? Looks like you take me for a dud… 

* By golly, sorry man I did not mean to offend you!

No worry, I’m made of firmer mettle, despite being virtual, haha, got you! 

* I forgot that you span and scan the world for most of the year to keep yourself busy, and thus keep abreast of whatever’s happening all over the place. And Santa, thanks for appreciating our warmth.

I meant the climate, not the people – they sure could be warmer to each other! There’s too much of double face around if you ask me. Sorry to say, but the guys at the top are all the time setting the bad example. And oh, many of them are past-by-date too, stale, fromage rasi isn’t that what you say here? 

* Quite so, I am afraid a lot of people are coming to the same conclusion and are wondering what next, pinning their hope on political reform. What’s your take on that, Santa?

Simple. Get rid of the Westminster system which allows your leaders any number of runs. Adapt the American system. A maximum of two consecutive mandates of five years each, with elections and installation on fixed dates. And that’s it! But sorry to say you won’t get that. 

* And why, if I may ask?

Can’t you see that these guys want to hold on to power by any means? Aren’t they already talking to and behind each other on the same old agenda of who will get more power, in which position, prime minister or president, without any fundamental reform of the system or even regime change?  

* What can we do, Uncle? The politicians do not seem to care, so engrossed are they with damage control when they are not busy jockeying for power – you know, the usual thing…

Yes, indeed, I can see that. Your so-called ‘Paradise Island’ has had its MedPoint affair – that same place brought the MSM and the MMM chaps together earlier, and then brought the latter-day Labour-MSM alliance apart… How come the scandal is no longer in the news after being whipped up for almost a year by the MMM guys? 

* Well, you know the things we have been given to see lately – I mean politicians conjuring up virtues in their long-time political adversaries.

Exactly, and that’s why you will never get your President American style, for there’s no limit to the shameless coustiks – oh do I relish that term! – these guys are so agile at performing. And I can’t believe my ears – Berenger and the Labour Party sharing the same historical bed, eh? They led the same battle, it has been said! Goodness me, anything goes for staying on! 

* Anyway, that’s no fault of his, Uncle, if the mustachioed guy has lately become the darling of his… political adversaries, don’t you think so?

Agreed. Give the old fox credit for knowing how to lure both the MSM and Labour Party into his lair. To hang on to power at all costs they are hanging on to each other. Sad to say – but you will never have your Vaclav Havel moment here.  

* Vaclav Havel, the ex-Czech President who passed away last week?

Yes, him. Such a decent, principled man, founder of the Charter 77, who was a President-Philosopher with no hidden personal agenda. They accused him of not being pragmatic enough, what with his ideas of moralising politics – but he did it during his ten years of Presidency, damnit, oops sorry, I shouldn’t use such language… 

* It’s ok Santa, I can understand your exasperation.

You could say that again, ‘cos I’m ashamed that his successor was a namesake of mine, a Klaus, corrupt as the Czechs had never seen. 

* Oh?

That’s right. He could not be bothered with moral scruples associated with the rule of law. Very quickly the Czech Republic became viewed as a place where politicians became the agents of powerful economic groups, what Vaclav Havel as a staunch, principled dissident had referred to as ‘mafioso capitalism.’ Now that Havel is no more, I really fear for his country I must say.  

* Rather scary all this, Uncle. Makes me also think of what news agencies have only this week highlighted: the dilemma of young students in the UK turning to prostitution, gambling and other dangerous pursuits to fund their university studies – all that due to austerity measures imposed by the British government in the wake of the financial crisis.

You’re right about the plight of the students in the UK, but this has been going on for some time as far as I know. Got worse now because of the hike in university fees to 9000 pounds a year, there were protests by students in the streets of London about this remember? But at least you must give credit to those who are keen on getting an education so as to improve their lives, and are prepared to sacrifice for that.

You don’t realise how lucky you guys are here that your children have free education all the way through to university level. But I daresay you have to be a bit more careful about your support schemes like free transport. If you ask me, it needed some in-depth thinking about the nitty-gritty of implementation. It is not too late to do so. One should not have things done on impulse. And there is such a thing as midcourse correction, why even on a personal basis one can make one’s mea culpa and come clean. 

* I could not agree more with you, Santa! But at the same time, look at the ‘banksters’ laughing their way to the bank. Now, that’s…

Outrageous, to say the least! You saw the fat bonuses the banksters have got in the US, despite Obama’s appeal? Same in the UK too. And here too, your bank guv’nor has been right in calling a spade a spade: Rs 65 million of profits per day by your banks! Isn’t it time to take a more serious look at the cartels? 

* These capitalists and their crony politicians seem to have lost touch with the people, haven’t they? What are we coming to? Are we going to have an ‘Arab spring’ here too?

Well you know that the Arab spring has turned into a rather harsh winter. And remember that in your paradise island SMF soldiers don’t get into the streets to give biberons to protesters, especially if they are women! You have your answer I hope? 

* Le mot de la fin Santa?

I’m usually a cheerful guy but I am really really afraid that winter is going to last because these are times of universal deceit, and telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act, as George Orwell said. He foresaw that ‘political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’

* Is it that bad?

I cannot but speak the truth my friend! Nevertheless, you have my best wishes for the season. Bye dear friend… let me hurry back before the SMF guys come after me!  

* Bye Santa, do come again next year, will you…

I will, if you promise me a biberon…     

* Published in print edition on 23 December 2011

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