Readers’ letters Victorian spaceships royal assets Tea Party policy? Marathon times next distribution scheduled 30-9-12
Jeremy: Hallo, Jeremy and Simon here! Welcome all! This is going to be a bit different from the usual Cold Salad distributions…
Simon: Good thing too!
Jeremy: With my best French accent – Attention au cake-hole, you idiot. They’re almost certain to read what we’ve sent out when they come back.
Simon: Doubt it. They never read stuff after they’ve sent it out. Never even open readers’ letters.
Jeremy: Anyway all our big boys are away on their holidays. Editor staying with his sister in Eastbourne …
Simon: In detox probably.
Jeremy: Oh you are a nasty boy today! Do shut up. As I was saying, Deputy Ed is checking his native Scotland is still there. The lovely Isabelita…
Simon: Our princess.
Jeremy: As you rightly say, our princess. Off with her uncle in Italy. Long holidays they must have where he comes from. Manos is still in London, doubtless driving Mervyn King nuts. No risk of the Mad Doc coming in because his wife’s got an exhibition in Dublin all through September. So we are keeping base clean…
Jeremy: …sort of, and we have permission to push something out if anything interesting comes in from Luddites Now they didn’t actually say we couldn’t push out anything else so this is what we have on the menu. First we are going to attend to some of those readers’ letters, then maybe add a comment or two about things that have gone out in the past few weeks where we two weren’t allowed to give an opinion, and then finish up with one or two ideas of our own. We found the letters in a bin in the backyard. Simon and me usually come in the back way so we don’t have to get past the dog, and I suppose some cats had a fight and knocked the bin over. Anyway here is Fanny Carasheen writing from Hartlepool back in May and she wants to know why this distribution system is called Cold Salad. Actually, Fanny it’s what you call an acronym; it comes from the initial letters of Club of obstinate lunatics determined to struggle against lies and distortions which was how someone described them when they were getting started and they were actually rather proud. But the editors are trying to go quiet on it now because they found out some malicious hacker had changed it everywhere to Compendium of leaks from the Department of specious allegations, lies, ambiguities and denials.
Next letter. Nathanael Apomba, of Kirkwall – that’s in Norway, isn’t it? “That bit you sent out back in April, about the alien onions, I’ve been thinking about it. I had this idea. Suppose you could muck about with the geans of a kid, you could save a lot on electricity for nightlights for kids if you got one of those geans from jellyfish and put it in him, because then he would glow sort of green colour in the dark.” Hmm! Enough said really.
Simon: I like it. But what about the tentacles? And better make sure you never take the kid to the seaside.
Jeremy: Whatever. Anyway here’s another. Oh, this is a sad one. “I like it when the sky is blue, and birdies chirrup sweet and true. My friends come round and ask to play and then we go down to the bay.” Some kid heard about the poetaster job we’re offering. ‘Gillian’, no other name, no address. Editors should have put some age limit in the ad. Erm, oh! Ah, now I’m not so sure I was right on first impression. Hear this; verse 5: “I lie beside him in the grass, he rubs his hand across m …” No. Definitely not our style Simon.
Simon: Not yours, you mean, don’t you?
Jeremy: Ahem. Now this one’s from dear old Oz. Oh dear me! Sooo formal! “Sirs, Ruminating on the introduction of computerised voting machines in certain countries, is this not a golden opportunity to make use of the idea of the negative vote? It is only too plausible that the voter will discover there is no candidate for whom he feels able to cast a positive ballot, but quite probable that there is at least one whom he knows to be an outright scoundrel. He should be able to cast a negative vote to subtract one from the total otherwise accumulated by said candidate.”
Simon: Brilliant idea! Bit boring though. Let me have one to read. What about this? “Dear Sirs, I wonder if you would consider helping me by publicising a museum I have set up. I have been fortunate in acquiring a good few pieces of equipment, decorations, and furnishings such as leather armchairs, gaslamps and antimacassars, all of which I am reliably assured are authentic relics from early Victorian spaceships before the programme was abandoned owing to the costs of the Crimean adventure. My museum…” Oh jeez, poor loon! He’s even enclosed a photograph, though why there’s a diver’s helmet … Oh I see. Someone must have told him it was from a spacesuit. Back in the bin for that. Him as well would be a good idea. Wow, this next one has a sticker on the envelope, ‘Fiends of Latvian literature’. Don’t think I’ll risk opening that one. Oh, let’s ditch the rest of the letters. Weren’t we going to add some intelligent comments on what the top brass have been distributing?
Jeremy: Actually, the only thing I’d add is that the Chinese sending their millions on trips abroad to keep them out of political business is a pain in the backside to the rest of us. Try and get a gondola ride in Venice, and they’re all booked up for the next six hours by Chinese tour groups, even the Huns can’t get in. Can’t get a decent photograph of a friend standing under the Eiffel tower because of dense crowds of elderly chin-high Chinese milling around in the way or squinting through their glasses at your camera and then shuffling off giggling.
Simon: Too right. Except the ones laughing at your camera will be Japanese. But didn’t you want to say something of your own about the royal tits? Sounds like a flying version of the royal corgis, doesn’t it?
Jeremy: Ah, the holiday snaps of la belle duchesse! Except I don’t think marrying into the family makes you personally royal, does it? I suppose if you had a complete blood transfusion from one of them, maybe that would count. Do they ever give blood?
Simon: I doubt it, because if they did somebody by now would certainly have stolen some and put it on eBay.
Jeremy: That’s no proof because you could put a test tube up for sale and just say ‘believed to be genuinely royal’, like a coach saying ‘we all believe this great athlete is dope-free’; and if you were American you’d probably put blue dye in the test tube to really convince the punters. I expect people do it all the time, but MI6 probably have an ultra-efficient cyberguillotine which cuts the advert into tiny electrons before it ever sets foot in cyberspace.
Sinon: You’re trying to change the subject. Jealous?
Jeremy: I don’t know what you could possibly be referring to. But to be serious, I really can’t see what the fuss is about. I mean, nobody has done anything, all that’s happened is that now we all have evidence she’s a thoroughly normal woman, which is what the masses all assume and want anyway. Was anybody suspecting she was hiding something else inside the clothing, a couple of cornish pasties for a quick snack or something? If the photos showed that she didn’t have normal female equipment in there, then there might have been a reason for trying to suppress the pictures. It’s not as if they’re a rare female feature. All normal woman are born to be like that if they grow up – lucky them.
Simon: Meaning, Jeremy?
Jeremy: After all, very few statues of female human beauty try to pretend they’re not there. Now, I don’t want to talk about that any more, if you don’t mind. Isn’t it time we went upstairs to throw the whalemeat down to the dog?
Simon: Oh jeez, I forgot! He didn’t get any this morning because I couldn’t get the window open, and I meant to go back and oil the lock, but when I came down there was that story on the television about scientists working on viruses to attack specific occupations, especially politicians. Remember? They reckon 85% of politicians have particular patterns in their DNA which are rare in the normal population and that it should be possible to redesign viruses so they will attack just that group.
Jeremy: Those Tea Party scientists you mean? Said they really know a way to cut the size of government?
Simon: Tea Party?
Jeremy: Yes. But what you saw was just the intro. Then you went out to get the croissants and the olives. Those weren’t real scientists, they were just actors, acting out the dreams of some of the more enthusiastic supporters of the Tea Party. Actually, it sounded like cutting the size of government is just a side issue with that lot. Near the end, they brought on this old chap, looked as if he’d walked straight out of one of those films about plantation-owners before the Civil War, and he seemed to sum it all up rather simply: ‘What we want is freedom. I don’t want Washington taking any of my money to share round causes other than me, and I want Washington to scrap every one of those damn rules that are stopping me doing what I want’.
Simon: Surprise me some more. Anyway, haven’t we got enough now?
Jeremy:I reckon that’ll do. But didn’t you want to do a challenge of the month or something?
Simon: Oh fetid kidneys. I forgot that. But I’ve got one ready, just let me find it. Right! Mr Ryan, vice-presidential candidate, claimed on radio this August that his best time for the marathon was ‘two hours and fifty-something’. But it turns out he has only run a marathon once, an event called ‘Grandma’s Marathon’ in 1990, and at the time he finished in four hours, one minute, and a bit. So the challenge is: if we assume that this amazing improvement, over twenty-one years, could be matched by the world’s top marathon runners, starting from now (two hours, three minutes and thirty-eight seconds) what is the earliest year in which it will be possible to report that some runner somewhere must have finished the race before he started?
honor honestique floreant