Speculation fair enough, but where is the prophet?

by ammophila

The editor writes: For reasons explained in the last item of this distribution, it does not begin with a piece by Old Boore, despite the requests.  We are still unable, also, to forward items from Luddites’ Gazette.  Their people have been granted an extra month to get to the hearing {see Late News, 30-11-12}, but having had trouble with punctures (the tyres on their bikes, all bought second-hand, were worryingly thin when they set off), with the French police who thought they were Germans, and the snow in France they are still only in Dijon, and may not arrive in time.  We wish them well.  Today   1) Isabelita’s good news   2) shorts   3)  the truth about Old Boore     Next scheduled distribution 31-1-13

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Isabelita is being jolly, most unlike her normal cool, controlled self.  She has had a letter confirming the safe return of the ‘Beast’ (a tribute to his strength, not his personality), three weeks overdue.  It was only six months ago we discovered that on her mother’s side she is related to a large and well-connected English family.  It seems she had long been in contact by letter and telephone in particular with one of them, a divorced fellow fifteen years her senior, formerly in the army, and now apparently running some sort of commercial outfit with the strange name of Intellectual Glass Manufactory.  We naturally suspect there is personal warmth in the relationship although she insists it is purely based on shared technical interests, and it is true her subject was chemistry when she was lecturing in Ecuador.  Nevertheless our suspicions are strengthened by her reaction to the news today, when she went so far as to show everyone the relevant page of the letter.  Jeremy managed to take a photocopy of it when she went upstairs with the whalemeat for the dog:

            I left on the Friday at 8 am for my walking tour in the Yemen, and almost immediately met a preposterous example of the nonsense that gets in the way of reasonable daily life and leaves this country having to struggle like a giant to wade through a kind of metaphorical rubbish dump of regulations, petty pomposity, and sheer bloody stupidity.  Imported from Brussels, half of it.  Bureaucratic arrogance and lazy inefficiency.  The bureaucratic arrogance kicked in at the second security checkpoint in the airport, the one where they take your watch, x-ray your belt, and require you to demonstrate that your teeth are your own and not attached to a plate with a false palate containing high explosive.  I was moved to remark quietly ‘Is all this really necessary?’ and next minute I was all but frogmarched off by three uniformed louts to a tiny windowless room and locked in.  What would have been happening if I’d been black, I wonder.  Anyway I was there for about an hour before a sour-faced young woman came in and proposed to start interrogating me, but I cut her short with a roster of some of my very senior friends and colleagues.  The Interior Minister’s name, I was surprised to notice got only a slight contemptuous smile, but then I mentioned the Deputy Commandant.  ‘May I ask how you are acquainted with our commander?’  I flattened her with my answer, ‘To begin with, he is my brother-in-law and I was best man at his wedding.’  Although she tried not to scramble off her pomp too obviously there was an instant change of atmosphere from You will do what we tell you in favour of We appreciate it’s difficult but we do have to follow the rules sir.  A short phone call, and next moment a pimpled youth in a peaked cap was at the door with my belt, watch, and other stuff in a plastic bag, and my travelling holdall.  He sped me off to where another couple of irritated travellers were being held, trilled ‘Follow me’ and led us at a brisk trot down some stairs marked ‘restricted access’ and out onto the open tarmac, where we piled into a small bus which hurtled half across the airport, stopping with a skid by a set of steps, up which we climbed.  The plane was half empty but even before we had all found seats they slammed the door shut and we taxied out for take-off.  About an hour later I was conning my list of things to say in traveller’s Arabic to the stewardess working her way towards me with a drinks trolley, when one of the other delayed passengers came up the aisle and asked me where I was going.  ‘Yemen, of course.’  ‘That’s where I thought I was going,’ he answered, ‘but we’re both wrong.  This plane is going to Yerevan, in Armenia.’

            Yerevan could be considered a rather charming place – if judged by the standard of ‘other-ranks’ cities round the east of the Mediterranean, but its air services, even when functioning according to schedule, are not very frequent.  Even with the first flight I could book, to any airport where I could then count on making a further booking to take me Yemenwards, there was no chance of being able to take the walking tour as projected, so I faxed my pals in the Embassy and asked them for further instructions.  They came back with some rude remarks, totally unjustified, and a plan which looked oddly as though it had already been worked out, to get myself into Turkey (nerve-wracking plane flight), buy a bike and  follow a specified route to Istanbul with half a dozen stop-offs at places indicated.  So I had a 3½ week cycling tour.  Tough work on the legs, but absolutely fascinating and as a bonus I was able to take in Boghazköy and Konya.  Beautiful country, amazing architecture; fine people if we discount the brutality of the peasant cattle herders (though I should add that much of the region of my tour is ‘ethnically inhabited’ – whatever that means – by Kurds, not Turks).  The people seemed most refreshingly different from the consumerist masses of western Europe, more like peasant Australians you might say.  Was favourably impressed when I left the camera and lens bag on a chair in a busy eating booth; three hours later coming back into town, an unshaven dishevelled fellow came up to me, and jabbered away incomprehensibly obviously trying to get me to go somewhere.  From one or two words I caught I think he was under the impression he was speaking German, but anyway once I realised he wasn’t a beggar I thought he might have something useful to offer so I went with him.  Led me along to the ‘restaurant’ and pointed to my camera, still sitting on the chair where I had left it.  I thought it only right to tip him a few coins.  Why the Turks should ever have wanted to ‘join Europe’ is a baffling enigma.

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This week’s book recommendation:

   Oswald Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes.  For the benefit of those readers not equipped with German we can cite the English edition translated by C.Atkinson and edited by A.Helps and H.Werner: The decline of the west : published by Oxford University Press.  1991   isbn 0-19-506751-7

‘A wonderful enriching experience; if the Nazis liked it, they did not understand it’ (Jervois Fitzroland)

If you do not enjoy this book, you may also fail to enjoy

E.Gibbon  The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire various editions including  Penguin   London   1995   isbn  978-071399124-6)

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Uncertainty of the week (contributed by Simon).  “How many American troops will remain in Afghanistan after the American forces have withdrawn? (You see, I’ve read that after the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in 2010, six brigades and 94 bases remained there, and I do not really understand.)”

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Small Ad appeal

Are you a reader living in the UK?  Do you think that satire is enough to make human beings observe the practice of fair play?  Whether you do or not, please read the article by Charlie Cooper in the Independent online, 11 January (obtainable after that date by later search); also the comments on the article, the same day, by Peggy Lloyd and Hadic Spelm; then try anger.  [Caution: this technique can be dangerous if not properly used; must not be employed in conjunction with violence; should be combined with adequate supply of intelligence for best effect; to be kept away from the immature and the deranged]

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Editorial note:

The amount of mail that reaches us in Guernsey is one of the problems obstructing our efforts to cast pearls before the public.  The great majority is variously, too long, too obscure, too pornographic (those items are kept in a special padlocked box labelled ‘used bandages’) or too illegible to peruse at length.  Some is put into our collection as evidence of the astounding gamut of human misunderstanding.  One or two are kept in case they may one day serve for a public-spirited  exercise in blackmail.  But in the last week or so, there has been a veritable flood (thirteen) of appeals for more contributions from Old Boore, which is as many will have guessed a pseudonym, in fact a pseudonym for a redoubtable lady in Hampshire.  Aged 91 she goes sea-bathing every day of the year whatever the weather, and still manages her own pack of pitbull draghounds, and runs with them.  Living here in Guernsey when the Germans invaded she was the one who welded a submachine gun to the handlebars of her bicycle.  (It was only a gesture, since she could not get hold of any ammunition; still, she was summoned to a meeting with Gussek himself, where she argued vehemently that her action was in the spirit of any aryan woman faced by a foreign occupying force.  After an hour Gussek gave up, ordered her out, and took no further action except for confiscating the bicycle and ordering a bottle of schnapps.)

   Now I have no intention of letting an amateur edge herself into my position of eminence in this office; ever since I was a pupil at Lady Wilhelmina’s School for children of gentlefolk, in darkest Wales, I have been aware of the need for sharp elbows to hold one’s place by the trough while there are still any sausages left in the tray.  So I can perhaps dampen the enthusiasm of those who want her to replace me in the editorial chair by revealing her views on the current uproar about forms of marriage, as expounded at an office party last year.  (1a) The age for consensual sexual relations to be immediately lowered to 14 ‘since they are all at it anyway and there is no point in giving them a criminal record as well and after all Shakespeare’s Juliet was only 13’ (to which my own rejoinder was ‘see what happened to her!’  (1b) Ferocious penalties for any default on consensuality by the male, up to and not excluding compulsory chemically enforced impotence.  (1c) An obligatory programme of information about medical problems, such as pregnancy and its consequences, to replace all other school subjects until the student passes a rigorous examination.  (2a) The age for marriage for women to be reduced to 14 (2b) The minimum age for marriage for men to be 58, on the grounds that this is the youngest age at which they could have reached the necessary maturity.  (2c) Women to be allowed to marry men only if  they can be certified sane by two independent fully qualified psychiatrists.

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honor hominesque honesti floreant

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