Sorry, could you repeat that?
I have read a few of these and I can see you are an original thinker and a talented humourous writer.
Hats off to you.
I assumed you decided to post them as you did as a showcase and weren’t particularly interested in comments. But then I saw your ‘join-date’ coincided with the ‘post-date’ and now I’m not sure. So I jogged your elbow.
Would you do it the same way again?
I have not been around WF for a while and I'm catching up. If this has been covered elsewhere etc.etc.
Q: I have read a few of these and I can see you are an original thinker and a talented humorous writer. Hats off to you.
C: Thank you.
Q: I assumed you decided to post them as you did as a showcase and weren’t particularly interested in comments. But then I saw your ‘join-date’ coincided with the ‘post-date’ and now I’m not sure. So I jogged your elbow.
C: Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. It’s just that in this thread nobody seemed to feel inclined to give it, in spite of its obvious ongoing popularity – revealed by the viewing figure.
Q: Would you do it the same way again?
C: Do you mean if I newly joined the forum, would I present Madazine in the same way? If so, the answer is yes. I felt that was the best way of joining the various items into one single format, i.e. as a magazine with the title ‘Madazine’.
Q: I have not been around WF for a while and I'm catching up. If this has been covered elsewhere etc.etc
C: I don’t think it has. Welcome in our midst again.
Another success for a tireless searcher, Trixie Larkspur, who found the item presented below on her own desk. She used the folded manuscript as a bookmark during a gallant effort to get through ‘War And Peace’. Ever-persistent Trixie had managed a creditable score of seven hundred and forty-odd pages before being overcome by Tolstoy fatigue. Editor
IMPARTING THE SPIN
As so much has been said about government departments putting their own slants on various matters, it was decided recently that the public should be offered a way of evaluating objectively what is said by politicians. How could this be done? In view of the prevailing high level of mistrust, a feeling emerged that a universally respected observer should be engaged. Perhaps nobody fills that role to perfection, but few would argue against the appointment of Sir Bertram Utterside, sometimes described as Britain’s Logician Laureate. The renowned nit-picker was given the job and his recommendation is given below:
I regret to say that my work on other and more substantial matters was interrupted by the request to deal with this commonplace one. However, I have given it the thought it deserves. There is no point in my going on at length, as the solution is obvious. We are dealing here with the question of political leaders purveying their ideas. Well, they have their axes to grind, but how are we to interpret what we hear?
It is clear that politicians are a necessary evil. An advanced society should not need them, as its members would be aware of their rights and responsibilities. For the time being, our country, like all others, needs people to look after the shop while most citizens go about their business.
We must think of the offices of prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer, foreign secretary and home secretary as the most influential ones, exercising control over lesser lights. Defence, education and health are bottomless pits, into which the whole national budget could be thrown, perhaps without significant improvement to the results produced. Clearly, they must be restrained by more senior departments.
At the highest levels, let us take the job of home secretary. The incumbent is on a hiding to nothing, being no more able to pander to the ‘string ’em up’ lobby than to the high-minded liberal one. Such sympathy as I have with our leaders goes in no small part to the holder of this office.
With regard to the position of foreign secretary, it has been said that diplomats are people sent abroad to lie for their countries. If this is so, the head of foreign affairs must function as the chief dissimulator. Small wonder that the person concerned often seems to act like a cat on hot bricks, executing a delicate tap-dance around the truth.
The chancellor of the exchequer always has much to answer for. Whoever is in that position often recycles figures in ways that can be made to demonstrate almost anything, for example that we somehow manage to remain a global titan, active everywhere abroad while simultaneously achieving great improvements in our own public services. All this without any increase in taxes as a proportion of our gross domestic product. Some trick!
I will not dwell on the duties of the prime minister, who has to pull everything together and speak about whatever is topical. This is an onerous position, demanding that the holder has a view on each one of a vast range of subjects. And no allowance is made by the public for lack of awareness of anything on the PM’s part. The masses do not permit ignorance in those they believe should be omniscient.
What we need is a department charged with the duty of assessing the pronouncements emanating from other offices of state, in much the same way as I once suggested that auditors should be rated by an independent agency. My proposal is that we set up a Ministry of Credibility, the remit of its chief being to rank other ministers as to the soundness of their statements. The scale would be on the star basis, ranging from five for top performers to one for the duffers. Obviously this new body would be detached from political parties, not changing with their fluctuating fortunes. The credibility minister would have the job for a long period and would need to have unimpeachable credentials with regard to impartiality. It is not for me to suggest who might best fill the role for the first time.
Though the new ministry might well have the information it needed to bestow its ratings on those actually in office at any given time, the awarding of stars would be on a retrospective basis. The idea here is to encourage ministers to be as candid as possible while in parliament. They would then be sure of recognition of their good work, after the event, for example when they treat us to their memoirs – price £16.99 in hardback. A former holder of high office receiving a five-star accolade would be sure of peddling a large number of copies, while a one-star performer could hardly expect anything but a resounding failure.
To anyone who feels that I have been a little harsh on politicians, let me say that I am profoundly glad that we have people willing to enter parliament. Some of them get saddled with tasks that most of us wouldn’t take on. Who would like to weigh the merits of, say, selling a vast quantity of arms to a dodgy foreign country against not doing so, the second option putting thousands of people here out of work? And what about the financial mess we are all in? The politicos may have allowed that to happen but they didn’t cause it, and it is small wonder that they have trouble dealing with it. The only people who might know how to get us out of this pickle are the money-jugglers who got us into it, and even if they do know, they won’t tell us, will they? I have no more to say on this subject.
If you have enjoyed Madazine, perhaps you would like to try my latest offering, Pondhopper, starting with Footwear, the first of twenty adventures of a Briton working as a private eye in the USA. If that sounds good to you, please follow the link below:
Last edited by Courtjester; 07-15-2012 at 06:25 PM.
If you have enjoyed Madazine, you might care to know that the first item of another aspect of my work has just appeared on a different forum. This is a story entitled ‘Banking On It’ and is the first of what I hope will be a series called 'Sunset Stories'. If you like the sound of this, please click on the link below:
Last edited by Courtjester; 07-23-2012 at 02:12 PM.
Some readers may recall that our reporter, Trixie Larkspur, recently recovered three articles originally intended for inclusion in Madazine but mislaid here. The indefatigable Trixie says she has unearthed several more pieces. The little minx won’t tell me how many she has found and she insists on handing them over one at a time. As she has them under lock and key somewhere, I shall have to accept her conditions. She has just presented me with the first item and it is given below. Editor
A MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER
It was a big day for the town’s chess club. All but one of the forty-seven members were present, together with about twenty interested people from the general public, including a reporter from the local newspaper. The great attraction was to be a simultaneous exhibition given by the grandmaster Leonid Gronik, paying his first visit to Britain and fresh from his triumph in taking first place in a major tournament on the Continent.
Ten of the club’s best players were ready to do battle with the great man. The tables had been set up in two facing rows of five, separated by a wide aisle to allow Gronik to move from game to game. As usual in such events, he was to play white against all opponents. In accordance with common practice, the use of chess clocks had been rejected. Everyone knew that the master would set a brisk pace and his opponents were expected to react in a timely manner. Play was scheduled to start at 2.00 p.m. Gronik arrived at the last minute. He was a commanding presence, six-foot-two and hefty, with a mop of black hair and hypnotic eyes of the same colour. Most of those present expected that he would stick to his preferred queen’s pawn openings, but he surprised them by varying his approach, making king’s pawn starts in the even-numbered games.
Casualties were not long in coming and by the end of the first hour, four of the locals had resigned, all having made early blunders from which they had no chance of recovering. Others offered slightly sterner resistance, but none survived far into the second hour and the last one capitulated at 3.25.
Almost total silence had reigned during the games. As soon as the last one ended, spirited conversations began. At a sign from club president Jackman, a group of hotel staff members entered the room and unveiled a buffet-style afternoon tea. The president circulated, keen to chat with as many of the non-members as possible. In doing this, he encountered a middle-aged man of medium height, with close-cropped hair the colour of iron filings and a sallow complexion, perhaps, Jackman thought, indicative of much time spent indoors. It was with this man that the president had a startling talk. On being asked what he thought of the proceedings, the man replied that Gronik had taken too long to dispose of several of his opponents, having missed a number of opportunities to make shorter work of them. “That’s quite a statement,” said Jackman. “Would you have done better?”
The man nodded. “Yes, I would. I noted that the average length of those games was nearly thirty-two moves. If Gronik had seized every chance he was given, that figure would have been well under thirty moves.”
“Remarkable,” the president replied. “So, if you were to take on the same opposition, you would produce a more emphatic result than our stellar visitor, right?” “I believe so.”
Jackman was a quick thinker. He asked the man to stay where he was for a little while, then bustled away. Twenty minutes later he was back. He had spoken with every one of the grandmaster’s vanquished opponents. “Right,” he said to the stranger, “you can have your chance. It’s only quarter past four and the tables are still in place. All of those ten players are prepared to try again. If you’re willing, we’ll start in twenty minutes. By the way, what is your name?”
“I am willing, and the name’s Simpson.”
Jackman announced the unexpected supplementary event, which caused much excitement.
Simpson was as good as his word. By 5.40 he had disposed of all the locals. On average, they lasted just under twenty-seven moves.
Gronik had stayed to watch the extraordinary performance. He was about to leave when the president, having had another brainwave, asked him to wait a few minutes. Everyone wanted to speak to Simpson, but all made way for Jackman, who took the amazing guest’s arm and sought a relatively quiet spot to speak with him. “Truly astonishing, sir,” said the president. We should all have heard of a man who can play as you can, but none of us has. What is your tournament record, if I may ask?”
“No record,” was the answer. I’ve never played in a tournament.”
“What about man to man matches then?”
“I haven’t played any of them, either.”
The president shook his head. “Astounding. So how did you learn to play?”
“I was in prison for a long time. The warden took an interest in me and at one point he lent me a chess computer. I was supposed to give it back, but he died. Nobody asked for the thing, so I kept it.”
“This gets weirder as it goes on,” said Jackman. “Have you ever played against another person at all?”
“Well, look, I’ve had an idea. I just put it to Gronik and he’s happy with it. There’s still plenty of evening left, so I’m suggesting the two of you have a game, on the same fairly informal basis that you’ve both played against our members. It might mean a delayed dinner for all of us, but how about it?”
For a moment, Simpson seemed uncertain, then he agreed.
The two gladiators started their game at 6.45. It was a fiasco. From the beginning, Simpson was fidgeting and sweating. He made three big mistakes in his first fifteen moves, the last one catastrophic, causing him to concede the game upon Gronik’s prompt and crushing response. Play ended well before eight o’clock
The anticlimax was not all that emerged from the clash. It so happened that one of the spectators was a bookmaker. When the two titans were matched, he had scuttled around, taking bets left, right and centre, most of them on Simpson. After that dismal performance, there were those who thought that something fishy was going on. A group of suspicious attendees accosted the president, asking him to look into the matter. He took Simpson aside. “How do you account for what just happened?” he said. “I mean, forgive my forthrightness, but you played like a beginner.”
Simpson gave a rueful smile. “I should have mentioned this,” he answered, “but I got carried away. When the prison warder lent me that chess computer, he said he’d lost the handbook that came with it. I knew how to make the moves, but had no idea about the subtleties. I worked them out as I went along. The thing is these machines are usually set so that the owners play white unless they decide otherwise. Without instructions, I didn’t realise it was possible to switch colours. So when we tossed that coin and Gronik got the white pieces, I knew what was coming. You see, all my one-sided practice made me a wizard with white, but I’m useless with black.”
* * *
Happy Easter to everyone from the Madazine Team:
Will Rider-Hawes, Editor
Tom Bola, Sub-editor
Trixie Larkspur, Reporter
Meya Culper, Proof-reader
Phyllis Tyne, Typesetter
Bella Donner, PR Officer
Rick O’Shea, General Admin
Sherry Tipple, Cleaner
Axel Griess, Occasional Contributor
* * *
Our roving reporter Trixie Larkspur has handed to me another of the items she recovered recently, after we had lost sight of them for some time. We have dubbed them ‘Trixie’s Treasure Trove’. The one she has just released is given below. Editor
THE REVEREND SPEAKS
And now, without further ado, I would like to introduce our main speaker for today, the Reverend Bernard Railing, who I believe is better known to some parishioners as the Railing Reverend. Take it away, Bernie.
Thank you, Canon Fodd . . . er . . . Hodder. I had heard that you can always be relied on for a snappy intro. Good morning everyone. It surprises me to think that although I have long been a resident of our fair community, I have never before addressed you here. I know that you have often heard from within these walls and others like them, speeches laden with words of fire and brimstone. You will not get that from me. Instead, you will hear a message of comfort. My theme is thanksgiving – and not of the kind most often expressed in this place. I am thinking of how much we owe to so many groups who have been instrumental in making our much-admired society what it is today. Let me mention some of them.
We give thanks to the politicians, reckless spendthrifts on the left and frothing misanthropes on the right, for in the fullness of time they shall meet in the middle and all shall be well. We are particularly grateful that their deeds do not match their words, for if they were ever to succeed in that respect, our leaders would always be doing something and we would never have a moment’s peace. I think it was Will Rogers who said that we should be thankful that we are not getting all the government we are paying for. We are vastly indebted to the foremost statespeople, past and present, who have exalted patriotism and persuaded their populations that foreigners are a devious lot and not to be trusted an inch. Without such cautions, ordinary folk of various countries might have mingled more freely in times gone by, and possibly have become friendly. Perish the thought!
We give thanks to the bankers, for their tireless efforts have satisfied so many of our material requirements. Through the exertions of those in the financial sector, we have, among other things, been able to continue selling our houses to each other at ever-higher prices until recently. That is no small achievement, since it fosters within us a sense of wellbeing. There are those who say that as a result of this phenomenon we are buried under a mountain of debt. But is this not a question of attitude? One might argue that rather than considering our position from under that mountain, we should think of ourselves as seeing the world from its summit, with the magnificent vista such a vantage point offers. Is that not a better way to view the matter? We need only preserve our equanimity to see the merit of this perspective.
We give thanks to the economists, for they remind us that we are negotiating treacherous waters. We are grateful also that every expert in this field is cautious enough to predict all imaginable outcomes, thus ensuring that one or other forecast is likely to be right, whatever happens. I recall hearing somewhere that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. That is clearly not so, for taken collectively – and sometimes even individually – they reach all possible conclusions. I would rather accept the other well-known remark, to the effect that if all economists were laid end to end, nobody would be in the least surprised.
We give thanks to the rating agencies, whose combination of assiduousness and wizardry led those in charge of monetary affairs to accept that bundles of sub-prime mortgages were first-class securities, almost as good as gold. Without the assurances given by the agencies, we might have thought of the bonds as well-nigh worthless. How sad that would have been. And how beneficial it is to us that these rating people have long been able to do their work unhampered by a credible supervisory body to rate them. I think of the Romans who two thousand years ago pondered on the question of who should guard the guards.
We give thanks to the lawyers, whose serpentine casuistry enables us to resolve our differences by resorting to convoluted legal procedures, rather than dealing with them by the barbarously primitive method which we used to call common sense, but which, thanks to litigation, is no longer necessary. Were we not foolish to trust each other for so long, when we could have availed ourselves of more sophisticated channels?
We give thanks to those engaged in sport, especially the professionals, for they give us joy in more than one way. We marvel not only at their prowess but also their peripheral antics, such as shouting, swearing, grunting, spitting, tantrums, biting of opponents and various kinds of cheating. In the last month or so, I have heard of impropriety in association football, cycling, athletics, horse racing and even cricket. I am also appalled by the continuing stories about people who take drugs to enhance their performances. This whole area has reached the position at which I feel it appropriate to make a suggestion. I propose that in each field of sporting endeavour there should be two strands of competition, one for those who play by the traditional rules and one for the dishonest types. I even envisage that when a season ends in whatever field, the champions of the two strands should have decisive encounters to see which method prevails.
We give thanks to the journalists, for whom good news is no news. Without their unflagging efforts to acquaint us with every detail of every mishap and misdeed throughout the world, we might find ourselves dwelling upon the fact that probably ninety-nine percent of us usually go about our daily business quietly and uneventfully. Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we would be happier not allowing ourselves to be distracted by the many sensational and salacious occurrences presented to us by the media.
We give thanks to the broadcasters, whose daily quota of syntactical and grammatical gaffes offers us so much entertainment. Without their contribution to our lives, we would be deprived of a great deal laughter. Only yesterday I heard a presenter, speaking of a task on which he had been engaged, say that he had made an effort to attempt to try and do the job. While no lexicologist, I would say that, at least in the case I have cited, the words effort, attempt and try should be regarded as synonymous. Perhaps the fellow had been struggling to swallow a thesaurus. I also wondered why one would try and do something. Surely one tries to do it.
We give thanks to a large number of those in my own line of work, for verily many representatives of the clergy – I hope I may exclude myself here – have sought and still seek to keep us close to the straight and narrow path by constantly reminding us for centuries of how evil we are. Were it not for this continual castigation, some of us might well have felt that we were not too bad. That just wouldn’t do, would it? I am reminded of the observation that puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be having fun.
We in our town give thanks to the tourists, for we live in a seaside resort and are largely dependent upon these worthy people for our wellbeing. However, I am sure that we would appreciate the day-trippers bearing with them coin of the realm for procurement of their sustenance while among us, instead of bringing their own food and drink.
I could go on, my friends, but I begin to suspect that you have heard enough for the moment. I am also aware that we have reached the time of day at which most of our splendid hostelries are beginning to open their doors, and I can offer you no wiser counsel than to follow my example, for I shall proceed to the nearest tavern and take unto myself a sinful skinful. Make haste!
* * *
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)