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   Ever, since the advice of the prime minsiter... (September 7, 1991)

Ever, since the advice of the prime minsiter to citizens to tighten their belts, the business of a cobbler who works at the bottom of out street has boomed.

This morning, when I went to him to have an extra hole made in my belt, he said: "You can leave your belf here and come back after eight days. I should have it ready with a new hold by then."

"But I can't wait eight days!" I said. "Our economy will crumble and the IMF will officially declare us bankrupt if I do not tighten my belt immediately."

"I am sorry, but that is the earliest I can attend to your belt," the cobbler said. "As you can see, I have belts piled up all around me that require to have new holes made into them. I am working day and night, since it is in the interest of the neational economy, but I cannot attend to you any earlier."

"But you must," I said. "Think of the amount of foreign exchange that would be saved if I am able to tighten my belt immediately. We may be able to get back all out gold from the Bank of England."

"Everybody is telling me that, but what can I do! I have only two hands," the cobbler said. "There are people who are offering me double and treble my fees for making holes, but I am treating all my customers equally."

"You can made an exception," I said. "Look, I am a very conspicuous consumer, I spend money on all sorts of things. You tighten my belf right now and half the problems of the finance minister will be solved."

"You seems to be a genuine case and I wish I could help you," the cobbler said. "But favouring some customers over others is no way to run a business. There are people who have brought three and four belts together, because they say they keep chainging their belts to match their trousers. But I have made it very clear to them also that I will not take their work out of turn."

"You are forcing me to take my belt to some other cobblet," I said.

"You are welcome to go elsewhere, everybody is busy," the cobbler said. "I am told that there are some black sheep who do belts on the quiet, but I am not one of them. In this t time of national crissis, it is important that all belt tightening should be done legally."

"I don't want to do anything illegal," I said. "All I am trying to do is to assist out prime minister in meeting our international debt commitments. So couldn't you made a small hole. I do not care how small it is, I am not fussy."

"I am sorry," said the cobbler.

"Is there any other alternative you can suggest by which I can save the economy without having to tighten my belt?" I asked.

"There is one," said the cobbler. "Don't wear a belt. Start wearing a dhoti or pajama, like our ministers do, then you don't have to tighten you belt and you can tell othrs to tighten theirs."

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