Here’s a little tale I wrote at Holmfirth Writers a week or two ago. A billionaire give a statement to rebut criticisms regarding his island home ….
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cannot emphasise enough to you that, while I am very sad about some of the things that have happened here on Paradise Island, everything I have done has been motivated by a deep and sincere love of this island, its unique flora and fauna, and above all its wonderful people.
Please don’t forget that it was my love of this place, and my desire to benefit its people and wildlife, that led me to build a home here in the first place. Remember too that before my arrival there were some serious problems here that I was determined to address. The fact is that, though life for the inhabitants had been colourful and distinctive, in a way that is always appealing to anthropologists, it was a hard life, eking out a meagre subsistence from the limited resources this place had to offer. And in order just to survive, it had been necessary for those people to encroach more and more on the island’s natural ecosystem each year, for the purpose of growing crops, to the point where, after a couple more decades, that unique flora and fauna would have been lost for ever.
So that is why I took it upon myself to build, at my own expense, an airport and a deep water port, to make the island that little bit less remote. It is also the reason why I offered to fund, again at my own expense, the import of all essential food supplies in perpetuity, so the people would no longer need to scratch a living from this thin soil; and, with their agreement, established a nature reserve to protect the island’s natural future.
So I feel it is grossly unfair that I have been blamed for the fact that 40% of the population have left the island and for the prevalence of heroin addiction among those who remain. And as for the AIDS pandemic, I agree that is highly regrettable, but I don’t think I can be blamed for the reckless philandering of certain members of my yacht’s crew, who have since been dismissed – or for the unhygienic practices of intravenous drug users. And, let me add, I responded by establishing a free HIV clinic for residents, again at my own expense.
Similarly, there is the matter of the rats. I have always insisted upon the strictest standards of pest control upon my own vessels, and demanded the same from the contractors hired to provide the island’s free grain supply. By breaching those standards, thus precipitating the arrival of rats on Paradise Island, they have betrayed their obligations to the island, and to me. I have pursued them in the courts with the utmost vigour.
Once the rat infestation had got out of control, there was universal agreement among all parties that urgent action needed to be taken. And the record shows that I did not shirk that responsibility. On the contrary, I acted promptly and decisively, once again entirely at my own expense. I sought out expert opinion and was advised that the controlled introduction of the European Polecat would be the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control the rats. And who can deny that this measure succeeded in its aim. Ladies and gentlemen, I can now declare that Paradise Island is rat-free.
It is, of course, unfortunate that the introduction of polecats also resulted in the extinction of the Paradise Island flightless heron, the Paradise Island giant squirrel and all other indigenous vertebrate species. But drastic problems require drastic measures.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are where we are. I cannot deny that there is still a polecat problem on Paradise Island. But rest assured that a solution is at hand. On the basic of the best scientific advice, I plan to introduce a control measure – a modified form of the influenza virus – and am absolutely sure that this will be the solution to the island’s problems.
[ picture (c) Peter Trimming 2010 ]