I Will Be Whiter Than The Whitewash On The Wall

British soldiers of the Great War had a number of songs, from sentimental to downright crude, and one of them ran as follows
‘Wash me in the water where you wash the colonel’s daughter
And I will be whiter than the whitewash on the wall.’
There is a version of this on Youtube…part of ‘Oh What a Lovely War ….if you don’t know the tune.

There must be a lot of that bathwater sloshing about at the moment as the most surprising people are not only rivalling the whitewash on the wall but surpassing it in brilliance.

To start locally, the police have cracked a loan shark ring, arrresting four people who are suspected of extortion, kidnapping, threats and violence in the course of their activities. Cars, houses and property have been made over by those unable to repay their debts.
While pursuing their enquiries, the police have raided the offices of some local lawyers – what a surprise! – and confiscated files, computers and vehicles. One imagines that these lawyers made the necessary legal transfers of property from debtors to lenders….one would not like to imagine any further involvement, after all.

I know one of the lawyers, a charming man who was involved – on the other side -in the water wars.

I know of one of the others, who managed to charge The Neighbour over eight million colones – some nine thousand pounds sterling – to obtain a concession to use water from the spring on the mountain. Having read his application I am of the view that he could have invented all the lies it contained on his own without legal assistance so can only imagine that the lawyer concerned has some special talent known only to the cognoscenti.

I don’t know the third – not surprisingly when the town, as all small towns in Costa Rica, positively pullulates with lawyers, outnumbering even the dentists.

However, all three have access to the colonel’s daughter’s bathwater and will, no doubt, emerge from their ordeal sparkling clean.

On the national level, top officials at the national tourist board have been selling state land to foreign investors to build hotels….land destined to provide farmland for poor families…despite orders from the President’s office to do nothing of the sort….while at the National Assembly deputies have been busy having the police chase off medical students who want to help out in hard pressed hospitals while meeting with top level drug traffickers in the building itself.

Slosh the bathwater! It will all wash off…

You will all have examples…but let me take Britain.

Here is a man who does not have access to the bathwater…..because he has not done that with which he was charged. Alex Salmond, once First Minister of Scotland, was charged with a number of sexual offences and found not guilty of all but one, where a verdict of not proven was brought in, by a mainly female jury. He might be NSIT – not safe in taxis – but he is not guilty as charged. Notwithstanding this, the current First Minister continually refers to the women involved – one at least of whom has clearly perjured herself – as ‘victims’, The press, obedient as ever to a bung from the Scottish government, echoes her stance. No bathwater for Alex.

None either for the man who recorded the conduct of the trial on his blog, clearly stating the defence case, Craig Murray. The mainstream press – well bunged – concentrated on the case for the prosecution.He has been charged with contempt of court as, despite not naming the women the court – three judges sitting without a jury – found that it might be possible to work out their identities from the content of his blog. He faces imprisonment and has been obliged to remove that part of his blog which dealt with Salmond’s defence. No bathwater for Craig.

However, it is lapping the gills of the British minister who swore that, during the Covid crisis when hospitals were ordered to clear out all who could be cleared out to release staff and beds, no one was sent to a care home before being tested for the bug. He lied, he is shown to have lied, and yet the water level is still high. It dropped a little when he was found to have shares in his sister’s firm which was one of the many totally inexperienced operations to have obtained contracts for protective clothing, but not enough to uncover his unmentionables.

Liars, cheats and thieves in high places, all washed gleaming bright.

We need to empty the bath…to pull the plug, but as the old mouse pointed out in Aesop’s fable of the Mice in Council, it is one thing to propose…quite another to execute.

Archibald ‘Bell the Cat’ Douglas, Earl of Angus had a solution. He seized the then king’s favourites and hanged them from a bridge.

But he was the Earl of Angus and a power in the land. We are ordinary, powerless people, so what do we do?

Vote them out?

Fat chance. While you have a party political system you have these obscenities wished upon you as your representatives to serve interests which are none of your own.

Protest in the streets?

They put up two fingers and ignore you.

Denounce them in the press?

Forget it….the press is always in league with the politicians.

Instead, remember the IRA. Atrocities committed against members of the public – whether by the IRA or by MI5 – did nothing to bring about peace in Northern Ireland. Even a bazooka launched on Downing Street had no effect – even though it was delightful to see ministers for once in the line of fire. But once they attacked the City of London, that capital of money laundering, peace talks became positive and urgent.

Violence will be repressed…but hackers could bring the system which supports the well washed to its knees. Then we all need to protect the hackers. As the people of Glasgow protected asylum seekers whom they saw as their own.

Pura Vida!

Totally fed up with the basket case to which the corrupt leadership of the Scottish National Party has reduced my country…resigned to not seeing independence in my lifetime…appalled by the whole pack and boiling of them, I thank my lucky stars we live in Costa Rica, mismanaged though it is. That purchase on a whim, all those years ago, has turned out to have been a good call, despite walking into a local water war at the start of it all.

Mark you, the Costa Rica in which we live is not that of the tourist posters, specialising as they do in lunatics in helmets and water wings rafting down fast flowing rivers, other lunatics in helmets screaming down zip lines to the horror of the local wildlife, and thin women in bikinis prancing in the ocean. None of that round here, thank goodness.

We have a National Park…..the Cangrega….

Closed, needless to say, thanks to the bug, but a super place to visit if keen on nature in general and hiking in particular, but as it is off the beaten tourist track it does not attract many visitors even when open.

That might change as it is approachable by the old main road from the capital to the coast, deserted for years in favour of the laughingly named motorway – two lanes most of the way – which replaced it, but this year there has been a publicity campaign, pointing out the tedium of the endless jams on the motorway compared with the pleasures of running through the countryside and enjoying the little cafes and wayside stalls which mark its path. Judgng by the volume of traffic in town on the weekends, it seems to be working and a friend with a cafe on the route is delighted with the uptick in custom.

This is the view that comes free with the meal…..

This is the working Costa Rica, not the tourist traps of the coast, where family farms were the backbone of the country’s economy long before United Fruit started its plantations. While ox carts hauled coffee beans over tracks that existed before the arrival of the Conquistadors to reach the Pacific coast whence they were shipped to Europe, farmers produced for the local market and this area was famed for its beans – that staple of the Central American diet.

The farmers started to exploit the lands between the capital and the coast in the early nineteenth century, and as the population grew there was felt to be a need to supply its spiritual welfare. The Roman Catholic Church, under a couple of energetic archbishops, began evangelising the rural areas, providing priests and building chapels, a process which continued into the early years of the twentieth century.

It was a community effort. Someone would donate the land, others materials or means of transport, others would give their own time to work on the project.

Given the country’s links with England, through the coffee trade and through the cultural influence of the then British empire, many churches were buit in what is known as the Victorian style….adapted to the materials and skills of the builders…and there is a cluster of these churches in this area, well worth a side trip when heading for a beach holiday, or a day trip from the capital – take a picnic and enjoy a part of old Costa Rica.

Starting from the busy town of Cuidad Colon in moments you are out into the country, wending your way to El Rodeo

Still maintained and in good order.

On to Picagres with its tower…

And Piedras Negras…

Then Llano Grande with its twin towers and metal plates

Jaris….supplanted by a modern church….and in need of TLC when I last looked…

There a a couple of other churches in that style, but more difficult to fit into a round trip…Corralar

And dear little Balsilla with all of eight benches for worshippers.

I had to discover these places for myself…the tourist guides are not interested in these monuments to faith and solidarity out on the old gravel roads….but then, the tourist guides assume that Costa Rica has no culture save that of hedonism on one hand and much trumpeted ecologism on the other, with a passing – obligatory – bow to indigenous customs and handicrafts.

A friend who is a talented artist cannot fnd a gallery to show his work because he is not

A indigenous

B a recovered drug addict living in the streets

C an abused child or

D has no art world contacts

because people buy the story, not the art.

Just as people buy the idea of ‘green’ Costa Rica, the false animal refuges, the ‘spiritual’ scams of the exploitative hippies and the ‘pura vida’ of the tourist traps.

So why did we buy ‘on a whim’? Because we had the good fortune to have stayed with a family who loved their country, loathed the tourist industry and let us loose to explore.

But that resource is not open, in general. People come on tours…see the sights…swallow the publicity and see what they expect to see, as in all countries.

So, you can come to Costa Rica…no vaccines, no tests, just an insurance in case you have health problems…but when you are there, or in any other country you visit, don’t rely on the tourist professionals…ask local people what to visit and you will get some great surprises.

Like this great group..Malpais