Part I Sober Survey Part II Yuletide Quiz : MMQQ3 scheduled 16-01-2018
A poll has reported that, despite the appalling helpings of tasteless and precision-free verbal fudge served up in Brussels earlier this month, 64% of independent analysts consider it likely that the UK economic system and indeed constitutional apparatus will collapse on about 29th March 2019 if government policies and practices continue on their present path. Accordingly means need urgently to be found to maintain government authority and revenues so as to keep at least minimal control over the population and activities of these islands. However, there is room for guarded optimism. Ideas for new developments are said to be flooding into government departments every day and in some cases meeting warm encouragement. One project likely to win approval at an early date aims to eliminate the hugely burdensome cost of defending the realm by outsourcing both army and navy, under contracts carefully designed after scrupulous background checks by Whitehall’s world-renowned negotiators, to approved private groups who will implement delivery with the cost-savings and enhanced efficiency typically found in the private sector. Naturally under the new relationships there is no good reason why the personnel of the partnering companies should be required to concentrate their activities exclusively on defense of the UK; on the contrary they will be encouraged to improve their expertise and return on investment by engaging in joint activities with other military forces where these can be approved by the newly independent post-Brexit British government. A number of organisations able to demonstrate a high level of competence in those areas have already thrown their hats into the ring. Given current developments in the Middle East, London is unofficially confident of a large and continuing inflow of funds to the government’s coffers. These plans have been run before the high commands of both services and ministers assure us that senior officers are whole-heartedly favourable to such reforms.
The case of the British airforce is somewhat different, however. An insider, speaking off the record says she believes that the government would wish to keep control of the RAF and some personnel, as well as of certain well-placed airfields, to form the basis of a dynamic new national transport system taking advantage of cutting edge advances in transport management using computers and new high-speed telecommunications (such as those which are going to make the new Irish border frictionless) so as to make Britain the first country in the world where transport of goods and persons is based primarily on air travel. The network will operate under a new joint taskforce set up by the government provisionally to be called ‘Aria-OK UK’, which will concentrate initially on headhunting top level managerial talent from the private sector. The government, she says, takes the view that for far too long innovation has been lacking in the British approach to transport. Nations relying on ‘19th century’ style surface travel for their national networks will lose out commercially and in terms of prestige to countries where travellers can take it for granted that – for example – on the day of their ‘weekly shop’ they may choose to be whisked in premium-class comfort from one end of the country to the other, in less time than it takes to push a trolley round their chosen supermarket. The new air network will of course be open to private ventures, and with suitable calibration of schedules and positioning of government services to citizens (e.g. with all HMRC business handled in a brand-new time-saving one-stop super HQ in Aberdeen) the result should be an enormous increase in traffic on favourite routes, and keen competition between different carriers will inevitably drive down fares to levels everyone will be able to afford. Meanwhile enormous sums will be saved by reducing costs on road maintenance, and by radical reduction of the old-fashioned and unnecessarily complex rail network. In addition, large areas of railway property can be sold off to provide land for building much needed houses. (With careful presentation it should further be possible to use some of the rolling stock no longer needed on the tracks to serve as new housing units themselves, thus making it possible to achieve targets for new housing units promised under government plans faster than ever before.)
Many other sectors of international trade will also see creative British initiatives racing ahead and every encouragement must also be given to those commercial activities of the government which will not be adversely affected by Brexit, for instance production of bombs and missiles (obviously exported only to approved countries and exclusively for defensive purposes, since Britain continues to uphold the high moral standards she has maintained for decades in e.g. her administration of Iraq, as a founding member of the League of Nations; consult relevant histories) Officials have been tasked with summarising options and data which would not normally fall under the Chancellor’s remit with a view to restoring national income to usable levels. Possible projects already under review vary widely in both potential size and complexity. One idea put forward is said to be that ‘Britain should ‘harvest’ those living in the country without a legal right to do so.’ At present they are simply held in a detention centre and deported as quickly as possible to whatever destination seems practicable, but an alternative scheme would see them required to work on public projects or such other tasks as are deemed suitable. Under this generous reform they would be allowed to reside much longer in the UK, staying in their detention centre as long as needed to work off the costs of their living expenses in the UK together with a sum to make good the inevitable deterioration of the centre itself during their occupation of it, plus the costs of their transport to the country deemed to be their home as well as the cost of their initial capture. (Any reference to these sums as ransom money would of course be a criminal offence.)
Britain is already a well-known tourist destination and, there too, many opportunities are waiting to be seized. Foreign visitors are often attracted by the chance to view historic sites with their own eyes, and often willing to pay handsomely to participate in re-enactments of historic events. More than twenty groups are already calling for government support for activities in this field. Herewith merely the identifying titles of the first five such applications currently being circulated:
Working 19th century telegraph office; working 18th century prison (Newgate)(model); working 17th century bawdy house; 17th century execution of Guy Fawkes (simulated and with plastic body double, no participant injured in enactment); working 18th century lunatic asylum.
(Editor: That one caught my eye for personal reasons. The promoters called it the new Bedlam project and I suspect it may have very good prospects of getting government support since they suggest reopening one of the former mental hospitals – very fine buildings some of them – and charging visitors hefty fees for staying there with real patients, so it’s bound to offer yet another way to cut back on social benefits. Charmed, though, to see that the dear old Warneford is still in business. Visits almost completely useless from the point of view of therapy but wandering through the beautiful grounds was less stressful than wandering by the hour in strange patterns round the College’s front quad to the entertainment of some of the more boorish of fellow undergraduates, and certainly better than experiencing the electrochemical manipulations darkly alleged (perhaps quite falsely?) to go on at Littlemore.) (But perhaps that’s enough of Part I; time now perhaps to pass on to the second part.)
Our Yuletide Quiz (prepared in collaboration with Berthold Featherstonehaugh-Cheems and Montgomery Skew)
Q1 Had none of her supporters gesticulating noisily in the media about Theresa’s ‘triumph’ in Brussels ever noticed that ‘sufficient progress’ was never properly defined?
It clearly did not mean complete agreement on all points, and nothing like that came out of Brussels on the 8th, yet Juncker allowed the shift to phase 2. Evidently therefore it depended on the EU throughout, and the EU’s decision might just as well have been made weeks before (and possibly had been). So why leave it to a theatrical flurry of night flights in the last week? Anything to do with pulling a ball of wool across the floor to tease a kitten?
Q2 Which government department’s handbook of ‘Guidance for authorised visitors’ contains the following extract?
‘If one of the inmates experiences a loss of self-control during the exercise period despite the sedative tablets, and attempts to stab those around him with a sharpened kitchen knife, there is no need for visitors to be alarmed. Calm will instantly be restored with a couple of tranquillising rounds fired by one of the supervisory snipers.’
Q3 You are the ruler of a modern oligarchical state. Given the wide availability of firearms in your country you are constantly worried by the fear of assassination, and therefore attempt to rule with some moderation and reasonable economic success (your state is not signed up to the IMF), as well as arranging many carefully staged photo-ops. When an important programme runs into difficulty you are faced with a choice: either announce the policy is failing and will be reversed, or continue with the programme while lying to your subjects that success is clearly visible on the horizon. Which choice will be less damaging (a) for you, and (b) for the population?
(Editor: surely we should have had a supplementary question here, namely ‘What is the probability of any national leader ever adopting the first option?’)
Q4 (Ed: I asked our patroness to disallow this question on the grounds that it is not properly connected to the premiss. I was overruled.)
It is well-known that the average university lecture on Kant’s philosophy (as recorded in the MIT 2007 Survey of effectiveness of painful stimuli in retention of verbal material in first-year undergraduates) scored 2.38% on the Heftig-Schnurrbart Lästigkeit Index of boredom. Three outstanding performers on the British football managers scene scored between 7% and 11.5% in recent interviews. Nevertheless they are all far below the rating of a European golf tournament’s final round this autumn which official observers on an unannounced visit from the Mental Health Observation Society scored at 83%
Can you explain why anyone ever agrees to pay to watch two or more men using wooden or metal sticks to knock small white balls into holes in the grass?
Q5 Did Theresa May, alone and unaided, come to the belief that she and Davis were so much cleverer than European politicians, that they would be able to bamboozle the EU with ease? Or did someone with a rare gift for misjudgment (perhaps someone linked to her ‘strong and stable’ election sampaign?) tell her that once she’d had an amicable lunch on the Monday and declared a triumph, then the Irish and any other objectors – notably the DUP – could be fobbed off with a charitable smile and told it was a fait accompli?
Q6 It is well-known that the best place to hide guilt is very often the broad daylight of a public square. Supposing then that those who rule a country (i.e. the rich and well-connected who concern themselves with that country – obviously elections don’t have much to do with it) decided to extend their control over the population by inserting unsuspected and undetected subliminal propaganda for those rulers into the apparently meaningless muzak that pollutes most public spaces in most cities, how would things look different from the way they look today? Could have been at it for years, I’d say Indeed, now think….
(Please get some good technicians analysing some random samples a.s.a.p.)