GSP Plus: Strictly for the birds?

The garment girls must be at their wit's end. Trying to figure out if GSP Plus is in or out. The EU says it is temporarily on hold. But the yobbos back home may well be in denial about it. Trying to make out that it is all a mistake; and even if it is not, it is not their fault anyway. All of which reminds me of another tall story. And like most stories that are strictly for the birds, it is a cautionary tale…

The First Goose

Once upon a time, there was a Goose. As far as geese went, it was a good goose to start off with… democratic, fair-minded, a champion of the common bird… But as many geese go, it went too far. It went so far, in fact, that power went to its head. And when there is a goose at the head, the rest of the birds would do well to feel that the abovementioned G. had the rest of the duck pond by the tail-feathers. This feeling was impressed on the ducks by a closely related gaggle of geese, who were only too willing to help our Goose rule the roost.

So wild were the Goose's near and dear that the rest of the birds were soon divided into two camps. The Sitting Ducks, who had to bow and scrape; and the Lame Ducks, whose quacks were sounding increasingly shrill and ineffective. Only the Wild Geese were happy in this backwater, because they found that their Goose had not only laid a golden egg, but was happy to have his brother-birds feather their nests with wild abandon. Goose liver pâté was par for the course.

A Second Swan

The fairytale did not last very long… At least by the standards of developing duck ponds subject to bird-brained ideas about corruption, cronyism and nepotism. The first ripples were felt when the Swan swam away in the opposite direction and threatened to rock the boat. Even the little rubber duckies who did not stand a chance of making a splash soon lined up in the Swan's wake. But the aforesaid S. soon proved to be rara avis… the type of rare bird who proves several axioms in the shortest span of time (i.e. two shakes of a duck's tail).

First, when our Swan was once a war-hawk (picture that), he portrayed the fact that birds of a feather flock together by being only too chummy with the Wild Geese. Next, when our Swan linked wingtips with the Lame Duck, he illustrated the idiom that politics makes strange bedfellows (don't picture that). Last but not least, when our Swan challenged the Goose and his gaggle to an unnecessary showdown over who had been a real war-hawk - for better or for worse - he demonstrated the maxim that if you ruffle the eagle's feathers, you had better expect to be pecked something fierce.

Thirdly, The Other Poor Birds

Now all the other birds - Pheasants, Pigeons and Plovers - began to set up a raucous squawking. They had realized, perhaps too late for some poor fish in the duck pond (another mixed metaphor), that they all lived in a gilded bird cage… Sooner or later, the Wild Geese would come for them, too. In fact, the wily Goose had taken a jolly good gander at the rest of the aviary and decided to adopt that time-honoured strategy of birds of prey who sense rich pickings in the air: divide, et impera.

Oh, sorry: for the bird-brains among us who may not be classically educated, that means 'divide and conquer'. Or identify, isolate, and alienate.You get the picture, don't you, dear? The Goose, like the Swan in his previous plumage, is a Pheasant-plucker. And that's bad news for the Pigeons and Plovers and other birds like the Joint Venture Parrots, who are now none too keen on toeing an increasingly ducktatorial - er, dictatorial - line…


This cautionary tale could end with "and they all lived happily ever after". But that will happen only if there is no avian hegira wherein all the decent coves who want the iron bars removed from their cage take fright and take flight. In this respect, the rest of us birds can take courage from the example of some Pretty Pollies who recently protested that while they did not think the Swan a fine-feathered friend, they strongly disapproved of the Goose's form of law without order. That form of justice without peace should give us all goosebumps.

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