The Fifth Column

9th November 1997

Patches, catches and matches

"Thaaththa", Bindu Udagedara asked, "what do you think of Gas Labu's budget?"

"Why do you call it Gas Labu's Budget?" Bindu's father Percy wanted to know, "he is only the Deputy Minister".

"But surely thaaththa," Bindu said, "Satellite wouldn't have had the time to prepare such a long speech".

"And", Percy added, "if Satellite prepared it, we would have at least understood what she was saying".

"But", Bindu said, "Gas Labu called it a people's Budget"..

"I would call it a some people's Budget".


"Why, the pay increase promised last year from 1998 has now been postponed except for some people".

"Gas Labu must be thinking that only some people are affected by the rising cost of living", Bindu said.

"But," Percy cautioned, "we shouldn't criticise Gas Labu too much".

"Why is that, thaaththa?"

"Why, poor chap, that's the only day he gets a chance to be shown live on TV for several hours at a stretch".

"So they did that this year also".

"But Bindu, Swarnavahini was showing Sanath and Aravinda blasting centuries at the same time and you know what all watched".

"But thaaththa didn't Rupavahini also try to telecast the matches?"

"Mercifully, they couldn't?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, just imagine what would happen if they had exclusive rights. They would have then telecast Gas Labu's speech and recorded the match and shown it later.

"Would they be so foolish?"

"Why, don't you remember how uncle Dew once decided the whole country should watch cricket matches on Vesak Day," Percy said.

"But Rupavahini can still telecast a good cricket match," Bindu said

“What’s that?”, Percy asked. “I thought the tournament was over yesterday.”

“Why thaaththa Seeni Bola’s bribery allegation.”

“Ah yes,” said Percy “but what really puzzles me is why Seeni Bola took three weeks to give publicity to the allegation.

“What do you think will happen now Thaaththa?,” Bindu wanted to know.

“Whatever happens”, Percy said “I hope Seeni Bola doesn’t spoil all the good work done by Arjuna and his boys.”

Bindu readily agreed.

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