Paying the piper

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Readers are probably familiar with the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a story in which a magical figure appears in a time of need and (for a fee) promises to deliver a town from its troubles.

The gist of the story is as follows: the town is overrun by rats, which are plundering the town’s resources, tormenting the people and being terrible nuisances in general.

For a predetermined fee, the Pied Piper promises, by means of his enchanted pipe, to lead the rats out of the town and into the nearby river.

The locals, delighted by this offer, agree to the transaction. But after the town is freed from rats, the locals refuse to pay the piper for his services.

In a rage, he uses the same magic to lure the children out of the town and through a magical door into a mountain.

The door closes and the children are never seen again.

Local version

This province has had its share of Pied Pipers, all of them offering magical solutions to our social and economic woes: Joey Smallwood, Frank Moores, Clyde Wells, Brian Tobin, Danny Williams and, last but not least, Kathy Dunderdale, are a few that come to mind.

In one regard, the end result of their promised magic has been pretty much the same as in the story, except that our young people have disappeared because there is no work for them in the province.

The major difference between this story and the original is that here, although the people have paid the piper many times more than the agreed amount, the rats have never left town, and have been promoted by the piper to prominent positions in government and business, where they remain firmly ensconced to this day.

Tony Rockel


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