When some leaders coin a phrase, its stays in currency for a long, long, time indeed. For example, Julius Caesar coughed up this memorable wheeze: “Veni, vidi, vici” – referring, of course, to the ancient Romans (who were declining and falling all over the place) as “weeny, weedy, and weaky”. Our imperious, er imperial, chief executive is no exception. Only last week, he was quoted as saying that he needs “five more to complete the two-thirds majority in parliament”. And not one to let either the moment or the mot juste just slip by like that, he slipped in this last twist of the knife: “The door is open… but it will be closed – so walk in now…” (or words to that effect).
We paraphrase, dears. Far be it from us to be able to capture our head of state’s argot with such felicity – oops, facility. That kind of jargon comes only after years, nay decades, of facile – er, felicitous – speech-making. Obiter dicta! Amen… So be it. Five more faces before the full house – whose doors are now, still, open – slams shut in the face of late-comers, lackadaisical hang-backers, and dunderheaded dullards who’d rather languish in the opposition. If the head of government was any good at dog- or pig- Latin, no doubt he would have added for good measure that those MPs considering a cross-over should “carpe diem”. Seize the day, that is. Strike while the iron is hot, also. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may for time is still a-flying, and this same flower which blooms today tomorrow may be dying, anon and anon. But you get the picture…
Now we have no doubt that any backbencher in the house worth his or her weight in gold will seize the day, all right! The message is clear; the gauntlet has been thrown down. Thus far no farther, may be our most-successful-to-date coalition leader’s thinking. It is the other bunch of morons – um, mandarins – whom he addressed that we worry about. For while the head honcho made it plain as pikestaff that opportunity knocks urgently at the door of opportunistic members of parliament, who are seeking to make hay while the sun shines, the chief also had a kind word for the complementary lot of nitwits – uh, nitpickers – who help the state run the country. At the same forum from which he encouraged the ‘famous five’ (whoever they may be) to cross the Rubicon with dispatch (like J. Caesar, that jolly old geezer), he also urged the myriads who man and staff government departments to buck up – or be summarily despatched.
In as many words as it takes to say, “See ’ow ’appy the ’arbour is making heverybody Down South”, our man from Hambantota pointed to the expeditious example set by the landmark port project that is trans-shipping, er transforming, the southern landscape. Shape up or ship out, the skipper may well have said… if he had remembered that nautical expression in time, and mulled over how apposite it would have been…
Be all of this as it may, the real point that we began to try to make – before we were so rudely interrupted by the port workers of the deep south (like the murmuring of innumerable bees) – is that haste makes waste. So much so that if the five individuals who are being inveigled to break with their respective parties and join ranks with the incumbent cabal so much as hesitate one fraction of a moment, their momentum will be lost… In much the same way as our recalcitrant civil servants’ prospects, promotions, and pensions will be lost… If they don’t stop moaning like doves in immemorial elms, and get a move on with it!
That, folks, is the state of play in the country today. Those who are quick on the uptake will go far with the powers that be; those who throw a spanner in the works will be thrown to the lions. If Julius C. had been around, he may have said “you can’t fool ye us” (just like old Julius to play on words like that) all the time… or is it Honest Abe I’m thinking of?