Telegraph Calcutta

The Windmills Of Holland


The Rascales. Where are they? Flying about? But of course, Rascales would fly; they were meant for that. But where are they? I can hear them dinning away in my ears, but I cannot see them damn Rascales. I can hear them. But why is it I can’t spot them? Perhaps their blinding jetstreams yes, one arching this way, the other that way, scarring the sky and dropping payloads of obfuscation. They are thundering through me, they are shaking me, they are shaking my foundations, I can feel them ripping through my clothing and my farce. But where are they? Oh.

Is that so? They are supersonic? You mean… Oh like our Pushpaks? You know those things, don’t you? You merely have to push and pak, pak, pak, pak they went; you could only ever hear them Pushpaks go pak pak pak pak pak, you could never see them. Or, at least, nobody has vouched, so far our collective knowledge and understanding goes, that they saw a Pushpak. They’ve heard about them, of course, but not actually seen. Like it is somewhat with these Rascales. Where are they? Bit like what Mahadeb has become. We know he’s there somewhere, but we can’t see or locate him. But at least Mahadeb isn’t zooming about and doing zinging flypasts and rattling the ATC and leaving everybody at a loss all the time. They named those things just right: Rascales. Fighters, right? Right. Look at the amount of fighting they’ve downloaded upon us on their sorties! Like a carpet bombardment of bad news. These Rascales, they’ve left us with no credible answers to offer, and they’ve carpet-bombed so merrily and profusely everybody knows. The deals. The payoffs. The cronies that were carted along and stashed with benefits. The capital that was handed away. Truly, with a name like that they never should have been trusted, these Rascales!

I should have known better. As a matter of fact I did. I knew these Rascales would be up to mischief, especially if we brought them all the way from Gaul. These Gauls, always a troublesome lot. Look at the havoc they got up to each time Goscinny and Uderzo got down to plotting such a fun and simple thing as a comic strip. I mean, they just rammed and bamboozled their way through and left each of their efforts in such a shambles, overlaid with the leftovers of their devoured pork ribs too, and a dishevelled bard forever strung upside down at the end of it, blaring a dirge to the latest round of mass pandemonium. Never folks to trust, much less strike deals with, those Gauls. But, psssssst, the thing is the deal was tempting. You all now know how tempting, it’s all out in the public domain, and no longer a thing of our denying. In fact, it has begun to appear to me the more we protest it was a fine deal, the more people get convinced it was anything but. But what is one to do, running this ship and keeping it secure isn’t easy. Once in a way you need Rascales, or a fair few of them.

But I did say fewer. The bandits before me wanted more than a hundred, I sternly said a few dozen and no more. And I also laid down the rules: just send these Rascales as they are, fly them to us and we shall find ways of dealing with them. We don’t need the knowhow to make them at home. Tauba, tauba. We don’t want to be producing Rascales on our soil, no. And not more and more of them at any rate; we have enough of them already, can’t you see? We’ll pay you well, keep the change and keep your extra Rascales. How much would you want? Here. Incentive thrown in? Well, let me see, let me ask one of my cronies at home. He may be able to arrange an incentive, he is into many things, you see, resourceful fellow. So he may be able to serve something on the side for you. But keep it under wraps, you Gauls have a terrible habit of putting everything out in the public space. I am your Rottweilers and your Gayaks; don’t you want to put a veil on such affairs? Take care with us, please. As it happens, there’s enough trouble even before a single Rascale has arrived home. Just look at them, their phantoms crashing into my plate each day like those skeletons the tiny Gaul and the fat Gaul loved to chuck about all the time. This one’s done, but no more, and remember I did it out of good faith, for country, and a needy crony.

And there was also Juli
Who needed a holding hand
So we said, even if unduly
Let’s just shake it with Holland.

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