Difficile est satiram scribere
The magnificent grotesques It is breathtakingly strange that well-educated members of the élite over in the UK, secure in their mutual assurances of sanity and intelligence, do not notice a towering inconsistency between on the one hand their assertions that Brexit ‘must proceed’ because ‘the people’ of their country voted to leave the EU (actually about one in three of the adult electorate) and on the other hand their own insistence that the terms of leaving should be decided not by the people (which ‘would tie the government’s hands’) but by the few dozen individuals who sit around the cabinet table in Downing Street (or more exactly by a minority among those individuals, who believe that firm governance means carrying on with policies which looked as if they might have been worth a punt two or three years ago, despite mountainous evidence to the contrary now crowding the horizon).
The Cassandra File Did crews in the sea-battles of earlier centuries who saw fire-ships bearing down on them simply go ‘tsk!’ and carry on with routine tasks? The first of these two pieces is, verbatim, an extract from Obiter Ficta (isbn 974-85468-0-2) first published in 2004:
‘It is absurd to expect commercial companies to act ethically. The essence of their nature is to make profits…if anyone is to tie a few ethical balls and chains onto them – as they certainly should – then that is to be done by governments, and if the latter keep mum…that is because they, the government, want to evade ethical responsibility… Why however do those who at least grasp that businesses, as such, exist to make money, persist in putting this as ‘serving the interests of their shareholders’ when manifestly it is nothing of the sort? The interests served are naturally those of the directors and the managers of the firm.’
The second piece is, verbatim, extracted from Private Eye of 6 April 2018:
‘Profits rise, so do bonuses. Losses arise, but bonuses are still paid…The short-term interests of senior managers/employees increasingly trump those of the shareholder owners…Deutsche Bank lost €735m last year, yet its bonus pool quadrupled to €2.2bn. Dividends paid totalled just €227m.’
Rigor mentis Two constant features distinguishing the English from other European peoples for centuries have been their readiness to devise systems of rules for all aspects of national and domestic life, together with an unfailing capacity to apply them illogically, inequitably, and unjustly. In 1478 Thomas of Credianton (today’s Crediton) wrote ‘This folk hath wondrous crafte in the devising of all manner of rules and a marvellous wit in waylaying the good that they might do.’ Which other European land could have set out a written code of conduct for the nation’s ruler, duly signed by him, as early as 1215? The same almost instinctive urge to establish rules and constraints persists to the present day throughout the population, as in the provisions which rule that state officials have the right to raid private homes for – among other instances (and I assure readers I am not making these up) – a search for foreign bees, a survey of the seal population, and checking to discover whether offences related to stage hypnotism have been committed. It has long been suspected that this strange national urge to regulate has some elusive basis in a malfunction of the metabolic system, possibly resulting from an ancient DNA mutation and the term rigor mentis has been adopted to name it. However, very recently there have been certain indications that rigor mentis may in fact be a contagious ailment. Incidents that seem hard to explain in other ways have occurred in other countries. For example, Le Monde reported that on 14th June of this year a force of 20 officials including police descended on the harbour front market at Marseille, interviewing and in one case temporarily detaining fishmongers there (one of whom had his entire stock seized) who were charged with not having on their stalls a display giving the name of the fish they had for sale – in Latin.
As the deadlines loom and the cryogenic-preservation-lines are checked to see if they are still fit for purpose, rumours are circulating of a brilliant solution to the Irish border conundrum, provisionally to be made public after one further cabinet meeting to settle the principal issue (i.e. presentation). ‘In a spirit of friendly compromise to ensure the best possible outcome for all concerned’ the UK government is to confirm that it will neither set up nor request any frontier posts along the border, thus allowing completely frictionless trade in the island. As a generous additional measure the prime minister is to arrange for the UK Border Agency to establish ‘Traveller Assistance Posts’ at all crossing points, at which a wide range of services will be provided, many at low or minimal costs, including high quality restaurant facilities, free internet connexions, traffic updates and advice on safe routes taking into account predicted weather conditions (recommended), insurance for onward travel (obligatory), and free vehicle checks (compulsory for safety reasons),
Lost and found (Editor’s report)
Our island has a mini-auditorium, little used except by Kevin who thinks he plays the harmonica and occasionally ‘jams’ there with anyone else who shares that opinion and has some sort of instrument they can bring along to join in. But it’s quiet normally and I sometimes go in there to work. Last week I found an A4 sheet on the floor with the typed text copied out below, starting with stage direction to ‘Pete’ (who I happen to know is actually Selenia Gove-Grimsdyke); clearly linked to a scheme got up by two of our island’s three political activists, namely putting on a TEDium talk-show next month to celebrate World Political Analysis Day. My kind-hearted nature makes me feel they ought to be discouraged, by force if necessary. The text, as mistyped:
[Pete, speaking from lecturn, stage left. under spotlight. Spotlight: Govrenment reform]
“To help out on missunderstanding, in our performance tonight this phrase does not mean improvments in the goverment of your country, which-ever that maybe…..”
[At this point enter Votebot from trapdoor (Jeremy disguise as robot), stage centre: Votebot makes black power salute for soldarity then orates, voice like robot, very loud] : Just get real, you halfwits! Think! Why do govrenments exist! They are there to propetuate the interest of those in power. True! keep thinking!! Do govenments ever have elctions which would really change things? When their not sure about there 100% control over the poppulation under them – See! they call it, ‘their people’ even though UN has ruled for abolition of slavery – then they pick and choose and invent ‘policies’ and ‘promises’ to see which combo gives them best guaranty they will stay on top. One example out of millions all over our planet: that old London crap called ‘we will build more houses for the people to live in’, comes out in its wheel-chair every election since they invented prefabs in the 1945. How often you get a real change when they have an election? (About once a centery some goverment gets it wrong, like Najib Razak who right now wondering what hit him). Goes without saying of course, I am speaking about real changes of government, not the sort of Blairite crap which promises you a different group got in but in actual factessentials leaves a priveleged click – a click which it turns out has just the same kind of gangs congratulating them selves and giving themselves bonusses for leading the companies where the poor bleading workers do all the work over the edge of the cliff but the bosses get off alright into theyre holiday homes in the Bahmmas, should be called the Obahmmas, and sometimes the actual same people, with their wives and kids and cronies they play tenis with and eat posh dinners with and old Sir Tom Cobbley and all, and they still run the show with their chums and squeeze all the juisce and money they can get out of the neolibberal set-up which gives all the perques to themselves and their mates, just like the fuedal system worked beautifully for your average baron while the villains slaved away in the mud trying to make enuogh mud for themselves and theyre familie to live on.
[Votebot now at mega volume, striding electronicaly across stage like a poncey self-obsesed CEO, beating cyberchest, and flashes of light from cyber skeleton (if Julien at the Palais électrique really can
(end of sheet)
Regular posting scheduled for 16 July