March 18, 2011

Saint Patrick in Saigon

Corporate city Vietnam, 2011: This "Patrick's" day of ritualized alcohol consumption has long since become dissociated from the mythical man who gave this day his name. Patrick was a Roman Britain who wandered dangerously close to the edge of empire being snatched from a British beach by the corporate raiders of the 5th. century, an independent consulting firm known by the charming brand: "Niall of the nine hostages."

Niall was no fisherman! His team captured slaves from the coastline of Roman Britain selling them on as forced labour to a rural Irish economy. The legend says that Patrick was sold on as a pig farming slave to an animist Celtic Chieftain on the island the Romans called "Hibernia", on or about the year of our lord 450AD.

Niall and his happy band of marauders got lucky, they snatched a young nobleman strolling the beach, shipping him to Ireland, they sold him on to a pig farmer for a pretty penny. Patrick, it is said, never forgot his tarining in the brand new Christian religion of his Roman conquistadores. The young Britain found himself with nothing but time (and pigs) on his hands. Deeply convinced of a calling to evangelize, this child slave dreamed of converting his barbarous captors to the new official imperial religion and thereby save their souls.

Here in the Saigon of 2011, the tradition continues. The marauding hoards are the brand marketeers whose task it is to incorporate the (formerly communist, now socialist) victors of the great Imperium, dragging them back into the fold of the global state religion which is consumption.

I am powerless to resist.

Playing 8-ball pool in a Saigon bar I am captured by the British corporation of my home town who sells the expensive black alcohol which goes by the name of "Guinness." This modern brand, once the family company of Lord Iveagh, was established in 1759, six hundred years after Viking invaders created the settlement named Dublin in my passport. Dubh Linn is Gaelic for "dark ford" a convenient export port for the viking economy and a crossing point over the river Liffey.

For two pints of the black beer, I exchange 180,000 of the local (dong) currency units and am "given" a free black T-shirt sporting the Brand and the message "Saint Patrick's day festival 2011". I wear it now to reconvert the Southeast Asian natives to my corporate logotype and the habits of empire.

The legend continues...

Happy Patrick's Festival Vietnam.

PS: I repented and gave the shirt to a guy from Liverpool. Let's hope he brings it back to Britain!

Posted by Tony Phillips at 01:52 AM | Comments (1)