To the Minister of Food Security, The Hon. Mahen Kumar Seeruttun

Avec le soutien de

Odd how disaster strikes when you’re least expecting it. You seemed to be ploughing a neat furrow and your promotion of bio-farming is particularly appealing. I’m hoping to source my nectar in Bois Marchand shortly – providing it all happens and you’ve included bee colonies. And then this fièvre affreuse comes along. I thought Friend Raj had set up proper national emergency measures but it seems no-one thought about an apocalyptic pestilence.

You’ll no doubt be getting some of the blame, and some will be serging in Rodrigues, so I felt I should drop in on you with a few thoughts. Mind you, in the olden days, people used to come to me. In fact, you might be interested in the scapegoat ritual, the pharmakos, which existed in various forms in ancient Greece. To purify the city and cure it of its ills, a victim was chosen – because of his crimes or his unattractiveness – and then stoned or flogged, not least on his unmentionables, and eventually burned, thrown off a cliff or occasionally just exiled.

This ritual could be applied to the first farmer whose herd was affected. Intelligence sources on Mount Olympos suggest he tried to cover up the problem, in which case he shouldn’t be getting any compensation. However, there doesn’t seem to have been a proper protocol in place and it’s doubtful how many farmers knew what to do and what to look out for. The degree of ignorance is shown by those farmers who complain about their animals being slaughtered.

Immediate action is essential in the event of an outbreak although that might be a concept that functionaries find difficult to grasp. Action taken has been inadequate so do avoid shooting yourself in the foot by claiming otherwise. As the disease can be transmitted through the clothes and skin of animal handlers, each infected farm should have been in total lock-down, with no-one allowed to leave or enter. Meanwhile, I hope you’ve got the right kind of vaccine coming; there are several different strains of the virus…

It’s not that likely the infected meat was brought ashore from a passing boat – otherwise there’d also have been an outbreak in Reunion. In India, the disease is endemic so a passenger from there might make a better scapegoat. Nor is Saudi Arabia foot and mouth free. Although, unlike the police, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, a local emir recently returned from there – limping. He’s also seemed somewhat feverish on an almost weekly basis. Who knows what he’s carried in one of his suitcases on a previous trip? Alternatively, perhaps the disease started in the National Assembly where people are always putting their feet in it and foaming at the mouth.

Meanwhile, while eliminating pesticide use on farms, why not encourage the local bio-medical industry to work on something really useful, a kind of selective weed killer that would eliminate incompetent officials, a problem no-one dares tackle – not even in an interesting budget – although it would produce massive savings and improve productivity overnight. Too outrageous? Has anyone got a better solution?

Meanwhile, is it possible there’s been an outbreak of mad cow disease? As you know, it affects the brain and the memory. How otherwise could my pote Paul suggest that Nice Roshi should resign over his recent heritage, given his own catastrophic misjudgements in the run up to the last election? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

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