memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for June 7, 2011

Water the plants, Mr. Prime Minister

The last film in which the late great Peter Sellers appears he plays a simple gardener called Mr. Chance who, on the death of his rich and eccentric employer, is found alone in this enormous mansion. The plot develops in such a way that he is mistaken for his late employer, a financial guru and the adviser of Finance Ministers and Presidents. In his simplicity he takes the country’s Economy as a metaphor for his garden and offers the President the following advice: water the plants, Mr. President. The film ends with the Sellers character being hailed as a sort of idiot-savant.


So the country where I live has a new Prime Minister Mr. Pedro Coelho (Peter Rabbit); thus Socratic wisdom is exchanged for lettuce-munching earthiness and common sense as the scourge of Mr. McGregor’s vegetable-patch has turned game-keeper. It seems to me (and I speak as a resident who has being paying income tax in this country for some thirty years) that he has a somewhat thankless task ahead of him presiding over the winter of our discontent. But with dramatic rising unemployment and a contracting economy where will the growth come from?

Mr. Chance might have advised: plant some new seedlings, Mr. Prime Minister, and water the garden.

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