Friday, 2 October 2009

Uncle, My Struggle

Tomorrow, I am having a party to celebrate the anniversary of my purchase of Homeward.

In commemoration I have penned a specially commissioned letter to my shallow, reckless, cocky younger self, published in the Homeward Gazette.

Dear Uncle,

First things first, how are you? On second thoughts, don't answer that. I know exactly how you are feeling. It is the Sixties and you are frustrated, exhausted and worried sick. Life at this moment is not great. Yet just a few years ago, you felt like you were the king of the world!

However, your dazzling reign has been marred by the Badfort Crowd to say the least.

It is a bad time to be, what the hippies and revolutionaries call, a bread head. You have to wear the right T-shirts; you have to wear the right badges. You are doing none of these things. You are distinctly Not Cool.

You are depressed and your confidence is in shreds.

You feel that everyone is laughing at you behind your back. Do you want to know something, Uncle? That's because they are.

One day you are walking through Homeward for a meeting with some of the dwarfs who run your mines. As you turn the corner you hear one asking another 'What does Uncle do all day?' The other dwarf answers: ’He sits on his fat arse all day like all capitalists.'

You say nothing but inside you are thinking: 'My God, is that what they really think of me?'

But you know what? It is they who are wrong.

You have this idea that society is going to change and you are going to play an incredibly important role in the future of capitalism.

Soon there will be no shame in running a very profitable business.

But this is all some way off yet. At the moment, Uncle, I am afraid, you must continue to suffer.

How did you get into this mess? To find out, we have to wind back the clock even further, all the way back to when you first came out of the jungle and bought Homeward.

From lowly beginnings, you worked your way up the ladder by sheer guts and determination.

Then, came the opportunity to buy the great castle of Homeward from Wizard Blenkinsop.

In those days, you think you are a hot-shot with your own vast domain. You are overconfident, far too cocky and dressed from head to toe in expensive clothes. Oh, nothing but the best for you Uncle! It hasn't dawned on you yet, with great wealth and tenants comes great responsibility.

You believe that everything is just going to get bigger and bigger and that you are an intrinsic part of it all. You are up there, riding so high, that you cannot see what is really happening.

What the hell is that outside your castle? Please don't tell me it is a Traction Engine? Doh! Of course it is, what else could it be?
This is embarrassing. You are making me cringe.

The worst thing is, what I think now is that you haven't earned the right to be driving around in a traction engine like that.

You are too shallow and self-obsessed to appreciate the proper beauty of that traction engine. That kind of discernment and perceptiveness will eventually come to you, but it is a long way off.

Your Traction Engine was nothing more than a 30mph status symbol.

I vividly remember one day - it seems just like yesterday - when you are having a meeting with The Old Monkey about late payment of rents and your knuckles are white with tension and anger. You notice this, and it disturbs you.

'What is happening to me?' you ask yourself.

If I could speak to you now, I wish I could tell you not to worry so much. I wish I could let you know that everything is going to turn out fine. In fact, Uncle, you have absolutely no idea of just how fine it is going to be. But I can't help you now. You just have to get on with it yourself.

As usual it was The Old Monkey who gave you some sage advice 'Uncle, Sir,' he said, 'don't ever blame anyone else if things go wrong. You're in charge, so it's your fault.'

It may sound an obvious bit of advice, but it switches on a big lightbulb in your head. It changes the way you think. Never again will you indulge yourself by thinking that it's poor little you against the world.

From now on, you lead from the front.

You may have managed to purchase Homeward at a very good price, but this was because Wizard Blenkinsop was well aware of the hard work involved with running such a giant enterprise.

You decide to step up to the mark and make a proper fist of it.

So here you are, a little battered and bruised but at last heading in the right direction. And I must say, despite everything, I am quite proud of you, Uncle.

Sure, you can be a bit stubborn, but when it really matters, you know when to listen to yourself and stick with it.

You slash the rents on your many tower blocks, and learn to fully exploit the resources of your astonishing kingdom.

You become known as a great benefactor and supporter of many charities.

The acceptance of neo-liberal economic policy around the world leads to you becoming feted worldwide.

You're happy, you're content and just incredibly grateful for where you are.

For you never imagined, not in your wildest dreams, that you would become well known all over the world.

Yet, your reputation now precedes you.

Your injection of funds into the world economy has led to you being hailed as the saviour of capitalism. No summit would have meaning without your presence.

You, now, even find the Badfort Crowd an amusing distraction, as their traditional left-wing antics have been rejected by the modern world!

However, you have been working flat out since you were 14. As Dad always told you: 'Work hard and be a good citizen!'

You have earned the rewards of a selfless life devoted to the advancement of the citizens of Homeward.

Next week, you are throwing a fabulous bash to celebrate the anniversary of your purchase of Homeward. Your great friend, Dearman, being the largest retailer in Homeward, is organising it for you but, contrary to some reports, he is not paying for it. Uncle, you would never let anyone pick up that tab. Are you kidding? Old habits die hard.

You are tremendously excited about this party. When you were a small elephant, your parents lived next door to one of the bosses at YubYubTree Gold Mine. You remember peering over the garden wall and seeing the likes of Wizard Blenkinsop at a fabulous party.

And what you remember, most vividly, is that you wanted to be at that party. You wanted to join in. Well, this time the party is all yours. It is going to be a great night. Well Done!

Love Uncle

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