How to make progress, backwards
From ancient times
Rumours have emerged of a secret project launched last year at a closed session of the Commissioners to support a billion-euro research programme aimed at standardising the size and shape of EU citizens within approximately 10% by 2040. Initially, it is said, the plans for height envisaged that all male adults would be between 165cm and 185 cm tall, while all women should be between 160cm and 175cm but following vehement protests from the female commissioners the same limits were set for both sexes, at a minimum height of 163cm and a maximum of 180cm. It was, however, accepted that different limits would apply in the case of chest and stomach measurements, the figures for which are not as yet known, although it is reported that temporary exemptions from the latter will be granted to pregnant women on provision of medical evidence. Similar arrangements would be put in place with regard to weight and posture.
The plans have been advanced in the confident expectation of making immense savings in cost in many spheres of daily life, notably in the building and retail clothing industries and in transport, as well as in convenience for citizens, while it is understood that some Commissioners argued vigorously that the new limits would be a powerful force for the much greater degree of social cohesion they felt desirable and even necessary.
It is not clear what sanctions will be applied in the case of those who are unacceptably tall or who fail to reach the minimum circumference. One option is thought to be the possibility that some particular region (perhaps one not favoured by ‘standard’ citizens, as they will be known) could be set aside as the the territory in which they would be required to have their permanent residence, though another possibility would obviously be a discriminatory tax rate.
(from Grandnephew’s treachery, 2008)
The present (by our bureaucratic correspondent)
It is reported that the government programme designed to enhance the individual competitivity and self-reliance of the population is to be developed further. The proposal currently before Parliament involves measures to abolish the institution of the queue and to forbid any office, commercial outlet or other organisation (except government offices) from requiring members of the public to queue. Citizens must instead learn to make use of their own resources, of whatever kind. We understand that this legislation is to be followed up by a wide raft of measures to be introduced by the Ministry of Health. The overall aim will be to progressively downgrade both the range of services provided by the National Health Service, and the treatments available within each of those. In addition there will be a number of new charges for medical and related care, and increases in the levels of existing fees. At the same time there are to be drastic cuts in the numbers of staff employed in all areas. The overall strategy is to promote deterioration in the National Health Service so as to stimulate members of the public to take better care of their own health, and to learn to pay proper and full attention to the avoidance of accidents at work and in the home. The government is confident that this imaginative and unconventional approach to reform when combined with further exploration of the possibilities offered by co-operation with private investment will produce immensely more satisfying results, than the former policy which consisted in essentials of ‘throwing money at the problem’.
If Manos had been sober when he came in last Wednesday we could have continued this posting with Times possibly lying in wait. We could not of course throw him out. He is big enough and strong enough to throw any two of the rest of us out if we were to try. To be fair he’s no real trouble when drunk, just offensively cheerful, very [deleted by censor]. It turned out, when he had at last gone to sleep on the floor with Karela’s backpack containing all her notes as his pillow, that he had come to offer a piece to make up for what we lost when Sephelia had to leave us. Poor Sephelia was deported last week, even though she has British nationality. She had been living in Uganda for the four years up until January, and her British passport had run out, so she travelled on a Ugandan document Initially she was refused entry, but eventually was allowed in for a restricted period and signed a document which she understood to mean she faced gaol if overstaying, and she did not want to try the mettle of any lawyer she could afford standing up against the Home Office. At one point she had had the idea of running a ‘linguistic corner’, and Manos intended to make a contribution in the same way. The notes he brought in were evidently aimed at the precipitous decline in standards of English (who better to assess us than a brilliant Greek?), but there was no chance of getting them sorted out in time with him snoring on the floor for the rest of the afternoon. We hope they will appear in the next posting.
The other proposed posting, Part 2 of Putting the intelligence back into intelligence, has had to be withdrawn