An elephant in the room stumps the gods as they scan Facebook for clues…
‘This Donald Trump fellow is a mortal after my own heart’. Zeus gestured at the giant TV screen filled with a close-up of the American President and his trademark wagging index finger with thumb curled under it in the shape of a figure six. ‘For me, he ticks all the boxes,’ added the Father of the Gods, savouring the clichéd phrase which he had added to his vocabulary after hearing it several times at a recent KPMG seminar.
He enjoyed the new words and phrases that attached themselves to any conversation or discussion between members of Gibraltar’s financial community – words like ‘pre-authorisation’, ‘upside’, ‘down-sizing’, ‘leverage’, and phrases such as ‘distributed ledger technology’ – even if he did not know what they meant. And much of what he said was now punctuated with bits of this new jargon.
It was gleaned in the meeting rooms in the bowels of the so-called ‘yacht hotel’; a former cruise ship moored less than a small thunderbolt’s throw from the penthouse flat into which the Olympians had moved a month previously. Seminars and summits and meetings of various acronymic business associations were held there – usually accompanied by some form of food and drink.
As with so many of these events, the KPMG seminar had been outside his ‘comfort zone’ – another new phrase to delight his ear and tongue, but was something to do with betting and bits of coin, he thought.
However, the Father of the Gods – lauded by Aristophanes and others as ‘all-knowing’ and ‘all-seeing’ – wasn’t there for the intellectual content or to expand his knowledge. He frequented the seminars and summits held on the Sunborn, attracted not by the financial topics which were discussed (tediously and interminably as he saw them) but by the spreads of croissants, Danish pastries, and muffins set out for the delegates as a mini-breakfast.
Early on he had found that if he appeared absorbed in any of the documents lifted from piles at the reception desks, no-one would question his presence or discover his gate-crashing. And during the breaks between the tedium, those attending seemed mostly interested in ‘networking’… another mouth-watering piece of jargon.
‘Yes, Trump is a man much in my mould,’ he repeated as the television screened flicked from the picture of the US president to a pneumatic lady with the improbable name of Stormy Rivers.
Hera looked up from the Spanish cookery book she was trawling for new recipes, which she hoped would wean her husband from his diet of fish, chips, harsh vinegar and occasional marmalade, and woo her brood from a regime of fast-food burgers and pizzas to a healthy Mediterranean diet. ‘Yes,’ she thought. He IS very like you – a womanising liar with straying hands and a boorish attitude.’
Although centuries had passed since the Gods had last intervened in the affairs of mortals – after finally realising that mankind could create its own follies and crises without the help of any Olympian – they remained fascinated by human behaviour and, since settling Gibraltar and daily contact with its multicultural population, had begun to take and interest in what was happening in the wider world – at least part of which had once been their domain.
‘Isn’t Trump in some sort of trouble for having the Russians help him fiddle the election?’ Athena joined the conversation.
‘Something to do with some firm that stole the secrets of 85 million mortals,’ added Ares whose fascination with mathematics attracted him to any news item that mentioned large numbers or statistics. ‘Something called Cambridge Analytica who used the details on Facebook to decide how people would vote – and then how to influence that vote…’
‘Seem a bit far-fetched to me. Don’t see how it could work.’ Zeus rumbled, irked that his ‘conversation’ had been interrupted – first by his wife, and then the children. Once they got the verbal bit between their collective teeth it was difficult to get a word in edgeways.
‘Let’s try it. We can Google humans we know and see if we can work out what their interests are., nd from that whether they would vote for Trump,’ Hebe enthused.
Athena flipped open hr Apple Mac.
‘Let’s try Sir Thingummy – you know the politician with a walrus moustache.’ Athena tapped the keyboard and, within seconds, had pulled up the picture library on the Minister’s Facebook page.
The gods and goddesses peered over her shoulder as she scrolled through photo after photo.
‘He seems to enjoy going out to dinner,’ Athena pointed to several pictures. ‘And what about these plump ladies in bathing suits?’
‘And he like people dressed in red and white,’ said Ares.
‘Aah then, he wouldn’t vote for Trump – he would vote for Jeremy Corbyn,’ Hera announced disregarding the fact that the Atlantic Ocean separated two politicians who would not compete with each other. ‘Let’s try someone else. The CM.’
‘He’s another one who seems to like to eat drink and be merry – lots of champers or cava… and he likes to talk. Look at all the photos of him talking.’
‘All politicians like to talk… that’s pretty much all they do,’ said Hebe.
‘Well, there’s that blonde who has something to do with keeping the financial services in line,’ said Artemis who had pulled up Facebook on her iPad. ‘She seems more interested in open-air activities on beaches and in the mountains, than those who seem to do nothing but eat and talk. There are even pictures of her making friends with an elephant.’
‘That must be the “elephant in the room” that people keep referring to,’ observed Dionysus, whose attention had been dragged away from the wine column in Gibraltar Magazine, by the earlier mention of ‘champers and cava’.
‘Trump’s something of an elephant,’ said Hebe.
The gods fell silent as each mentally pictured and elephant, and their minds boggled.