Scrooge tactics needed to keep the Christmas chancers away
THE intercom buzzed at the Bullard home this week and a voice announced that here was the Supervisor of Drains and Sewage come to collect his Christmas box.
The Supervisor hadn't chosen a good time to arrive and I found it difficult to sound enthusiastic.
It was pouring with rain, there were bolts of lightning every few seconds and I didn't relish a soaking dash down the driveway.
If you are in the drain and sewer supervisory game then I guess that any free time above ground is such a welcome relief that a little rain isn't going to send you scuttling back again.
Until the surprise arrival of the supervisor, I was feeling rather pleased that I had finally streamlined the system as far as paying the procession of Yuletide tip collectors went.
Firstly, the dustmen need to be looked after. In our first year three different teams turned up all claiming to be the ones who removed our rubbish every week.
We gave to the first lot and then, out of conscience, to the second lot.
The last got nothing which is a pity because they turned out to be the genuine dustmen.
Now a positive identification from the domestic services operative is required plus a signed affidavit that the money has been received.
The lady who cleans the street gets something as does the man who delivers the paper and the man who cleans the pool.
These are people who I see all year going about their business and I am happy to give to them.
I didn't feel the same affinity for the Supervisor of Drains and Sewers, probably because of the passive nature of his job, so I sent him away empty-handed.
After all, if I start giving to drain supervisors who knows what other demands might be made on my charity?
Before long the air traffic controllers will be asking for money claiming that they have spent the year keeping jumbo jets off my front lawn.
TELKOM engineers will be wishing me compliments of the season and hinting that, had it not been for them, my telephone line would have been gnawed by rats.
At this time of the year charity may begin at home but unfortunately it doesn't end there.
The short drive to the nearest shopping mall will take you past several sets of traffic lights, all with their regulation quota of beggars and plastic coat hanger salesmen.
I don't object to the hawkers nearly as much as I do to all the scroungers holding up bits of cardboard claiming various degrees of destitution (miraculously they are always able to afford cigarettes), but I do wish they would change their product range occasionally.
There is a limit to how many plastic coat hangers, car sun screens and bags of dustbin liners a man can own.
THE problem is that once you have tipped everybody for Christmas, paid off the beggars, bought another 30 coat hangers and paid for your parking there is very little left over for Christmas shopping. Is it any wonder that we have to live on credit?
James van den Heever (Letters 8th December) is quite correct when he says that we are experiencing freedoms under the ANC that we have never experienced before.
The fact that I am able to write articles which are critical of government policy or of particular members of Parliament is certainly not lost on me and is a new democratic freedom in this country that we should all cherish.
HOWEVER, I am not sure I can agree with him when he says the responses to my criticism are evidence of a climate of openness and accountability on the part of "pilloried" ministers and deputy ministers. They look more like the predictable responses of people whose egos have been bruised and offer little argument to refute my allegations of ministerial shilly-shallying.
Peter Mokaba's recent response to an article I wrote was a perfect example of populist political twaddle which left me in no doubt that the tourism portfolio is not being taken seriously by the government, but is simply a place to "park" loyal party members until a better use can be found for them. Naturally, I would be happy to be proved wrong.
In response to Mr van den Heever's question as to why my vociferousness against financial mismanagement in government was so muted during Nationalist days, the answer is disarmingly straightforward: I didn't write a newspaper column then.