I have spent the pandemic working remotely, mostly in the company of a toddler. Other people have mastered sourdough or learned a language. I have polished my ability to ad-lib fresh lyrics into the tunes of nursery rhymes and make up stories on the spot.
My most successful tale is now commonly called for at bedtime and involves a beloved teddy bear overcoming challenges associated with building a snowman through the generous help of his friend, Spiderman. I will refrain from sharing any more of this thrilling tale for fear that the Disney Corporation get their lawyers involved over my appropriation of their intellectual property.
Thankfully, nursery rhymes are in the open domain.
Speaking of tales with transparent moral messages:
Once upon a time there was a land where people made fine and noble pronouncements all the time about dignity, and community, and solidarity. “We’re all in this together,” intoned the politicians and leaders, night after night and day after day. The people, for the most part, knew this was not the case and that if you came from the right family or the right school or the right neighbourhood, things could go much easier for you and the same was true if you were unfortunate enough to come from the wrong family or wrong school or wrong neighbourhood. But in broad brush strokes, they went along with the official story.
The project that everyone shared – the task in which they were altogether – was the pride of this land, the source of its strength and prosperity. They were so committed to this shared endeavour that they made alliances with any other lands similarly inclined and they sent missionaries to the territories of the earth that did not share their commitment. Everyone had a part to play and everyone played their part because this project was the source of all that was good.
This meant that all the people went to work – or just as often worked from home – and paid their taxes and bought their essentials and their luxuries and the proceeds of all this toil and exchange was dedicated to making the project bigger.
You might ask yourself, “What is this project they shared? What did they do?”
Well, here’s where the story takes a turn. The project they shared was the digging of a hole. Day and night, winter and summer, even on Sundays and bank holidays and on Christmas Day – especially on Christmas Day – they dug the hole deeper. They set their best minds to engineering ways to refine the digging process. They assembled the most advanced technology to speed it up. Into the hole they poured all their surplus money and when the money filled the hole, a door slid open at the bottom and the money drained out. The people cheered when this happened because this proved they were the most efficient and productive and hardworking people. This truly was the best little country in the world to dig a hole. “See, we’re all in this together!” cheered the politicians.
And what did they do when the hole was finally empty?
Why, they started filling it up again…
Clearly, I am no future JK Rowling in the making. But also, look at this! Oxfam have adapted my story for real life.