John Vlismas
John Vlismas

Happy Black Tuesday

Dear State

Happy Black Tuesday.

I am writing this letter to you while I am still free to do so. I am also doing so against the advice of my agent, who is afraid that if I make you angry, you will punish me out of the blue and limit my potential, even though I pay my taxes and abide by your laws, and hold you in high regard and dear to my heart.

I explained to my agent that I am sure you would never persecute someone merely for expressing an idea, thought, opinion or belief, because of the rules you read out when you first took over the running of this nation.

When I say “took over” — I mean “took back”, because your country was stolen from right under your nose. This was not fair, but I think you’ll find fairness is not automatic on this tough rock. Now and then, if people insist on it, we shoot or imprison them — or now and then we give in.

“Right under your nose” is an excellent place to do bad things, by the way, just ask the minister of state security, he is such a good guy, he doesn’t know what cocaine even smells like, or why his wife walks funny when returning from business trips abroad. What an excellent secret keeper he has been.

Anyway, my agent says that there are things about you, my beloved state, that must remain secret, and if they should get out, we will all suffer terribly, some of us may even die and our borders could be overrun by lesser beasts, our property prices may plummet and our cappuccinos may grow cold in the confusion.

Well, I suppose you can’t tell everyone your special secrets, just ask the “rapist” who ruined the world, Julian Assange … honestly, letting people read the things the servants say when we are at work … you saw the hell unleashed by his shameless trafficking of the truth, the bastard. No one died, but, my God, did you see the blushing he caused?

Even though we punish our children for being dishonest, my agent says that it is essential for you, my treasured state, to lie, because lies are how governments protect the truth. I said that was crazy talk, that it made no sense. But she said that lies are okay, provided they are secrets. Classifying lies makes them official. Official lies are very special, they are the lies told by spies, which makes them even better than the truth.

I did ask how we know our spies are on our side if their lies are so secret? I was told not to ask questions about our official lies, because then it might seem that I am not loyal to you, and then you would put me in a room for 15 years and turn me into a secret, just like they tried to do to you …

My daughter has secrets too. She is 10 years old, but even my daughter knows that if she wants to keep secrets, it is her job to keep them, and not the job of the people she keeps them from.

But my agent was still worried: what if the bookings dried up? What if men came knocking in night’s middle? I said you would never do that, because it was done to you, and you showed the world how the better people eventually get what they deserve.

I told my agent that you would never leave your secrets lying around anyway, I’m sure you would have special vaults to keep them in underground, if they were that important, and you would never leave them to be looked after by the press, surely? Or the public … would I leave my secrets in the care of people who looked like me? Surely not?

I realise that you have to be careful where you leave your secrets, I wouldn’t leave them in the room marked “Commissioner” — that’s for sure. Even I know that would be stupid, and I don’t even have a real job.

My agent insisted that I think about it very carefully before I write this letter, and I promised I would. In fact, I always do try and think before I do things. It’s amazing what having time to think can do for an idea. In 27 years, you can change the world, if you really put your back into it.

I understand now that, like Victoria, your secrets may involve dirty laundry, and we can’t have that, can we? Who could stand a skid mark on our magnificent flag? I certainly couldn’t, I wouldn’t know where to look.

My old ouma used to say that you should always go to bed with clean underwear — in case you were rushed suddenly to hospital. I did try and explain to her that you really should go to bed with clean underwear regardless, but I am young, what do I know … ?

My agent said that it wasn’t about looking after secrets, she said that you were trying to protect the truth, because it an unstable and complex element, and so sensitive that it struggles to exist in daylight, and even though we tell each other that nothing is stronger than the truth, and that it can survive anything, that none of us could be sure, because we weren’t that familiar with it. Would we even know it if we walked past it? She also said that the men and women that you have chosen to protect it are specially chosen and qualified and expert on the subject, and so perhaps we should leave it to them. I had to agree there, as most of the people who decide about the truth have been on every side of it at one time or another, and they have seen it from many angles.

Well, I think I’m going to fire my agent for even thinking that you would ever do such a stupid and deliberately freedom-ending thing, what kind of beast does she think you are? Bloody agent …

My blind love.

John.

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