My life in a banana republic:summer edition


I decided not to take my vacation, just yet, in case there is a miracle upon the Great Hill and government returns.

This would unleash great amounts of funds, such as would put Peace IV in the shade.

These are not my words but those of a great Guru I have discovered. He is deeply immersed in the workings of grants and , as he says ‘handouts’ from the State.

His name is Patrick Herd and he is the CEO of the Greater Waterworks Collective.

He has been many years in the Waterworks and knows its workings.

He held a workshop at the Queen’s University. I am always surprised at workshops. They are not shops and very little work is done, after ‘greetings’ , ‘introductions’ a speech, morning coffee, a speech, luncheon, ‘group work’, then ‘goodbyes’. I used to be told that the white people were hard working, now I’m not sure.

But this is digression.

Pat Herd was the main event. He talked of much wealth. He said that a group , if they played their cards right, could amass a great fortune. Income from many sources, Children in Need, the Heritage Lottery Fund, DRD and all government departments. Many community workers could be employed with such funds. Premises could be purchased. Events could be organised. He said that the Greater Waterworks Collective was second only to the Gasworks Partnership in income and assets. His chest was puffed out during this impressive speech. He told us that he had met Her Gracious Majesty , that the Open University had bestowed many degrees upon him and that he calls Mr Stockman “Harry”. He said that he employed almost 100 persons, in various guises, thus reducing employment in the Waterworks.

Many persons clapped this peroration . Two fellows did not.

From in front of me an old fellow asked “to what end?” This seemed to puzzle Pat. He asked for him to dilate.

“Cui Bono? ”  the old chap said.

“I’m just an ordinary guy from the Waterworks”;  was Pat’s reply.

Much adoring applause followed.

I had the temerity to ask this God-like Pat, if you have such wealth, why do you charge children £10 a head for a summer transition programme, for those going to big school?

Pat scowled. “you have not been long here” , he said, “do you think we’re a charity?”

So ended my Summer School. I have returned to CRAP and we are making plans. Not to be the Greater Waterworks Collective or to be the Gasworks fellows but to try to make a difference to some children.

My secretary said “why do you bother?”

Because I remember the young white British fellows who came to my village in 1967, I replied. The world is a smaller place than even the Waterworks.








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