Madazine - Page 11


Page 11 of 19 FirstFirst ... 345678910111213141516171819 LastLast
Results 101 to 110 of 189

Thread: Madazine

  1. #101
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    YOURS WRATHFULLY

    We give below a letter received here a day or two ago, together with my responding note, which will presumably be read by our correspondent. Editor

    For the attention of Mr W. Rider-Hawes, Editor of Madazine

    Dear Sir,

    Having tried unsuccessfully to get my views published by any one of the quality newspapers or periodicals, I am reduced to contacting you, more in hope than expectation that my comments will reach at least a few readers. No doubt some of them will share my exasperation at the fact that so much has gone wrong in Britain. I give below some examples:

    • We have quangos and regulatory bodies headed by people who avoid responsibility by asserting that they cannot comment on individual cases. The obvious reason is that they were put in place on the 'jobs for boys' basis and never had any intention of being taken to task in respect of their supposed duties.

    • What is amiss with our education system? Why are we repeatedly found at or near the bottom of the table of broadly comparable countries when it comes to literacy and numeracy? And why are we permitting vast numbers of people to study totally pointless subjects at our universities? No wonder so many of them can’t find work.

    • Why are we allowing apparently unlimited net immigration at the same time as our indigenous people are breeding like rabbits, with the result that we are now close to having standing room only in the land? This is intolerable and something should be done about it.

    • We are often told by our politicians that we are among the richest countries in the world. This is rubbish. Our national debt is already sky high and is increasing by leaps and bounds, thanks to the government’s failure to get the promised grip on our annual deficit. And why is it that this ‘rich’ country of ours seems to exist in a state of permanent crisis? During the last week I have heard that the National Health Service is on its last legs, that the lights are likely to go out very soon and that virtually every other country in Europe has, in terms of daily consumption, at least twenty times as much gas in stock as we have.

    • Clearly the less well informed among us are being misled – and not only by politicos. The media play their part. I will not go into what is heaped upon us by television and newspapers. Radio alone will illustrate my point. The broadcasters concerned tolerate very sloppy standards. In the last couple of weeks I have heard a plethora of grammatical, syntactical and statistical errors while listening to what is widely regarded as a flagship radio station.

    • Radio transmissions are also responsible for a great deal of illness in the land. Why? Because they are constantly talking about diseases. If one were to listen to the station I referred to above for a day, one would hear the most dreaded medical conditions mentioned time and again. I maintain that listening to Radio X can seriously damage one’s health.

    • Why, in this supposedly enlightened age, are we choking in traffic? When trying to get around my hometown on foot, I cannot cross the narrowest alley without having to wait for at least one car to drive into or out of it. We should be getting masses of people onto the existing railway system instead of contemplating an absurdly expensive high-speed line which will benefit only a handful of expense-account junketers.

    • Still on the subject of walking, I recently decided to take my daily stroll in a small woodland glade near my home. It took me only three weeks to abandon the minor pleasure of that outing. Why? Because I tired of the need to take with me a shopping bag which I filled with litter each day. Incidentally, many of my other walks are ruined by people bawling into mobile phones.

    • The last item above brings me to noise in general. Why do so many people seem to revel in it? For example, some of my neighbours have visitors who leave late at night, spend about ten minutes shouting their goodbyes, then add to the cacophony by tooting car horns as they finally depart. And why do people insist on making such a din with their car doors? If one puts any door of almost any vehicle within an inch or two of closing then presses it gently, it shuts with a click. So why the proprietorial slam that seems to state ‘this is my car’, as though the owner has some reason to be proud of possessing what millions of other people have?

    The points I have raised here do not cover everything I have in mind with respect to what is amiss in our country, but I am conscious of the need to be brief.

    In conclusion let me say that if I were able to take charge of our affairs for a while, I believe they would be conducted in a more orderly and efficient way.

    Yours truly,

    Abimelech Jones


    Editor’s note. Well, Abimelech, or as I have already come to think of you ‘Bimi’, you must have a very large chest because you’re getting a lot off it. I haven’t seen or heard such a barrage of complaints since a day in 1947 when I pinched my sister’s skipping rope to get in some practice for a boxing bout. So nice of you to put us on your list of possible outlets for your bile, though we seem to be quite a way from the top. Well, we are nothing if not eclectic here at Madazine, so as you see, we are airing your social critique.

    I note that you addressed your letter to me personally but did not ask for my response. You are going to get it anyway. Look, Bimbo – hope you don’t mind the further familiarity – most of us know what’s wrong with the world in general and our benighted land in particular. However, we are short of people with ideas for putting things right, and you don’t offer many proposals. That’s hardly constructive. Incidentally, your broadside omits some of our institutions. You don’t mention the legal professions or the police service. Looks like sloppy work, Bim.

    My wife rates me highly as a moaner, but I consider myself merely a talented amateur, whereas you are clearly a consummate professional. I note that your last paragraph seems to indicate your desire to take control of our country. This suggests to me that your forename is appropriate, as I seem to recall that the original Abimelech was a power-hungry lad.

    We have discussed your letter here and have concluded that you need something to lighten your life. With this in mind, we have had a whip-round and are sending you a parcel. It contains a smoked carp, a roast grouse, a packet of whinger biscuits, a roll of whine gums, a bottle of gripe water and a little flask of herbal medicine for your apoplexy. Calm down, Bimmers. Editor

    * * *

    Last edited by Courtjester; December 16th, 2018 at 01:48 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  2. #102
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    FIGURING IT OUT

    Monday morning:

    Bob: Welcome, Jane and John. You’re the latest recruits to our sales team and I just need to say a few words to you before you start, which you’ll do in about ten minutes. You'll spend your first four days out in the country. Your two areas are near enough identical in size and numbers of potential customers. Friday is your day for operating in town, where you’re likely to make more calls than on any other day, but your success rate will probably be relatively low because the townies are fairly resistant to salespeople. As you know, we have only one product, the Goodypak, and owing to production problems, we must for the time being limit sales to one per customer.

    Each week we give a prize to our most successful newcomer, so on this occasion that will obviously go to one of you. You need to know that the main criterion is not the number of calls you make, but the rate of conversion to sales. The reason is that you get generous travel expenses, so as far as we’re concerned, the less motoring you do, the better. For example, four weeks ago we had two fellows in contention. One made only fifty calls in the week, but he got thirty sales. His rival made ninety calls and thirty-four sales. The first chap got the prize because he'd clocked up barely half the mileage that the second one did. That’s all I have to say. Now, off you go. We’ll meet here again after you finish work on Thursday.

    Thursday evening:

    Bob. Hello, Jane and John. Nice to see you. Now, we have a most interesting situation here. You’ve each recorded sixty calls and twenty-eight sales. Good work. As you’re running neck and neck I’m really looking forward to what you achieve tomorrow. We’ll get together when you’ve finished your day’s work. Good luck.

    Friday evening:

    Bob: Here we are again, Jane and John. You’ve got through your first week and both of you have performed well. You’ll remember that you were level-pegging when we met yesterday and I now have to deal with your figures for today. John, you made thirty-six calls and got four sales. Jane, you made twenty-seven calls and got only one sale. So, the prize must go to you, John. Step forward and –

    Jane: Hang on a minute, Bob. You said on Monday that the main criterion was the conversion rate from calls to sales. Now, I admit that John and I were level yesterday evening and that he did better than me today. But that’s not the point. If you add his thirty-six calls and four sales today to his earlier score, you get ninety-six calls and thirty-two sales, which amounts to exactly one sale per three calls. If you add my twenty-seven calls and one sale today to my previous score, you get eighty-seven calls and twenty-nine sales, which also works out at precisely one sale per three calls, so there’s nothing in it.

    Bob: That can’t be right. Wait a moment . . . Oh, it is right. Well, that’s baffling. Seems ridiculous but there we are. Funny things, statistics. Well, we don’t have anything in the rules about overall sales, so although John’s were slightly higher, I’ll divide the prize equally between you.

    Jane: I still think it should go to me.

    Bob: Why?

    Jane: Well, you said on Monday that you liked us to keep travel to a minimum, on account of the expenses. You also pointed out that John and I had areas of the same size, with the same customer potentials. We compared notes just before this meeting. If you look at our two itineraries, you’ll see that I planned mine quite carefully, whereas John criss-crossed his tracks a number of times, so I drove three hundred and fifteen miles and he did four hundred and eighty-seven. I’ve cost you far less for my travel, made nearly as many sales as John has and equalled his conversion rate. I think I’ve been the more effective worker.

    Bob: Good argument, Jane. I have to admit that you’ve floored me on two counts. I’ll give you the prize and I have to say I think you’ll go far in this organisation. Sorry, John. Close but no cigar, as they say.
    * * *

    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 01:21 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  3. #103
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    THERE IT WAS, GONE

    The letter below was among the items temporarily lost and recently recovered. As it is undated, we don’t know exactly how long it's been hanging around. We hope that the writer is still a Madazine reader and will digest the response, which was written by our occasional contributor, Axel Griess. Among his many talents he is, when not inebriated, a competent astrophysicist. Here we go:

    To the editor of Madazine

    Dear Sir,

    I feel you might be interested to learn of an astonishing experience I have had. My reason for contacting your organ rather than any other is that I have had much pleasure from reading Madazine. Not only that but my astounding adventure was made possible by my conflating two things I found in your pages, namely certain technical aspects of the work of Professor Jopp and a comment made by the galactonaut, Dweedles. The former inspired me to produce a spaceship able to achieve Earth escape velocity with minimum effort, while the latter steered me towards the concept of tachyons, which until my exploit were regarded as only theoretical particles, moving at exclusively superluminary speeds.

    Working with a range of simple everyday materials, I constructed a spaceship which I call the Tachycraft. I launched the vessel in secret and quickly got away from the Earth’s gravitational pull. After adroitly adjusting my controls, I found to my gratification that I was in the tachyonic world, where I discovered that one can travel any speed one likes, so long as it is faster than light. There is no need to resort to the spacewarps so beloved of science-fiction writers.

    My objective was to visit a star I had spotted in a galaxy 5 billion* light-years from us. I calculated that this body was about six times as massive as the Sun. I got to my destination in what seemed like no time but was astonished to note that the star I sought wasn’t there, nor was the rest of the galaxy in which I had first seen it. I returned to the Earth very disappointed.

    I am not prepared to divulge any technical details, either about the Tachycraft or my navigational methods, but I do feel that the world needs to know that our so-called cosmologists are clearly wrong in telling us where celestial bodies are located. It is high time for these supposed experts to return to their drawing boards and make greater efforts to get their figures right, in order to avoid more pointless journeys like the one I undertook. I feel that publication of this letter in Madazine might be helpful to other pioneers in the field of space travel.

    Yours sincerely,

    Hanno Magellan

    * Please note that in the interests of wide understanding, I am employing this term in its currently most widely used sense, meaning one thousand million. I do not approve of this, but accept that I am now in a minority. I believe the point has been touched on elsewhere in Madazine.


    Response from Axel Griess: Oh, dear, what are we to say to you, Hanno? Well, quite a bit. First, your clearly contrived identity gives the game away. I remember that Hanno made an epic trip along the coast of Africa about two thousand four hundred years ago, and most of us know about the great Magellan voyage. Having tried to deceive us with an obviously spurious name, you then give us a tale full of holes.

    First, there is no evidence that tachyons exist. They are found only in the fevered imagination of some fantasists. If such particles were real, I’m sure they would not have, as claimed in your letter, a seemingly infinite range of speeds beyond that of light. I think your Tachycraft is inappropriately named and I would rather think of it as the Tacky Craft.

    Second, neither I nor anyone else will believe that you picked out a single star so far away. Even with the best equipment, you would have had a hard time trying to observe anything smaller than a whole galaxy at that distance. But let us suppose for argument’s sake that you defied all known technology and did what you claim to have done. You say the star in question was six times as massive as the Sun. Well, didn’t that give you a clue as to the futility of the preposterous journey you had in mind? It should have.

    If an object of six times the Sun’s mass emitted light five billion years ago, it would have burned out far in the past, so you wouldn’t have found it. Also, a star of that kind would, in coming to the end of its life, have collapsed and become a black hole. In that case, had you reached its location, it would have gobbled you up – which would have spared the rest of us your load of bunkum.

    Finally, you appear to have completely failed to take into account the expansion of the Universe. By the time you got to the spot where you say the star was situated, it would have moved billions of light-years further from us, so you wouldn’t have found it anyway.

    Hanno, or whatever your real name is, if you wish to perpetrate the hoax of the century, you will need to pay attention to details. However, I suggest you abandon any ideas you have about exploits in outer space and attempt something relatively unambitious, such as a totally unaided flight from a very tall building. AG

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; May 26th, 2015 at 01:41 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  4. #104
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    HOME IMPROVEMENTS

    Harold: Hello.

    Muriel: Hello. Is that you, Harold?

    Harold: Of course it is.

    Muriel: I just wanted to know.

    Harold: You phone me at this time every day, Muriel. Anyway, what’s new?

    Muriel: I had a visitor this morning and I need your advice about what he said.

    Harold: Fire away.

    Muriel: Well, he offered to do a lot of work on my house at no cost to me.

    Harold: Sounds too good to be true, Muriel. What does he want to do?

    Muriel: He says he’d start with cavity wall double glazing.

    Harold: What? I’ve never heard of anybody putting double glazing into a wall cavity.

    Muriel: He claims it’s a new system that works by injecting glass and PVC into the wall then, as he put it, reconfiguring the mix in situ.

    Harold: Astonishing. What else does he have in mind?

    Muriel: He suggested coating my windows with expanded polystyrene.

    Harold: Muriel, if he does that, you won’t be able to see anything outside.

    Muriel: I can’t see much now. I’m almost eighty-four and my eyes have been failing for years.

    Harold: I don’t believe this. Is that all?

    Muriel: No. He wants to insulate my loft.

    Harold: I hardly dare ask this, but how?

    Muriel: He intends to put a six-inch layer of concrete on top of the joists.

    Harold: But that will come . . . oh, never mind. Tell me that’s the lot.

    Muriel: No. There’s one more point. He wants to supply me with solar panels.

    Harold: They won’t do you much good. You live in an inside back-to-back row house and the only bit of roof you have faces north. There’s very little sense in having solar panels up there.

    Muriel: Oh, he doesn’t want to put them on the roof. He says the best place is my cellar.

    Harold: And did he explain how the Sun is going to shine down there?

    Muriel: I’m leaving that to him. He seems quite sure he can do what he has in mind.

    Harold: So, to sum it up, he proposes to inject double glazing into your cavity wall, cover your windows with expanded polystyrene, lay six inches of concrete on top of your wooden loft joists and fit solar panels in your cellar. Have I got everything right?

    Muriel: Yes.

    Harold: And there’s no charge for this work?

    Muriel: No. He says it’s done through government subsidies. All he wants from me is five hundred pounds for the survey, which he’ll do this evening if I want to go ahead. There’s just one small thing. He says he’s in the process of changing his banking affairs, so it would simplify matters for him if I'd pay in cash before he leaves, about ten o’clock tonight.

    Harold: Do you have five hundred pounds in the house?

    Muriel: Yes. Now, would you say I should let this man do the work?

    Harold: Muriel, you already have secondary double glazing, which is old but good enough, so reject the idea of having your windows coated. Now, as a retired builder I can tell you that it took many years for the industry to perfect cavity walls, so I don’t see why anyone would want to have them filled. Therefore, say no to that one. As for the proposed loft job, six inches of concrete would fall straight through your bedroom ceiling and probably the living room one as well. You’d most likely be squashed as flat as a pancake, so I’d refuse that too. And I’ve already covered the solar panel thing.

    Muriel: So you’re saying I shouldn’t have any of these things done?

    Harold: I am.

    Muriel: All right. I’ll take your advice. I suppose he’ll be disappointed, and he seems such a charming young man and so confident.

    Harold: When you say charming, I think you mean ingratiating, although I’d rather think of him as smarmy. And as for his being confident, the word itself gives you a clue. He’s a confidence trickster, Muriel. As for the five hundred pounds, I think you should lock it up somewhere safe – before this chap gets back.

    Muriel: I’ll do that. Thank you, Harold. I’ll call you again tomorrow.

    * * *



    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  5. #105
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    GETTING RIGHT DOWN TO IT

    A startling new project has begun in the north of England. It is the brainchild of Kevin Spout, who invited Madazine’s occasional science contributor, Axel Griess, to examine progress in the undertaking. “This will change the world for all of us,” says the enthusiastic Mr Spout. The site is the back garden of a small house in a suburb of Sheffield, where Kevin (43) lives with his wife and two children.

    So far, the only thing to be seen is a square of freshly turned soil, in the middle of which is a hole, one inch in diameter. “This is my second go,” said Kevin. “I had to abort the first attempt when I hit a water main shortly after I started work. I sealed the puncture with parcel tape, which I think will hold – not that it matters much because the water people lose a lot through leaks anyway.”

    Kevin explained that his new hole had reached a depth of eight feet, after a week of drilling. He then revealed the extent of his ambition, saying that he intends to bore down to the Earth’s centre. He expressed surprise that what he has in mind is not obvious to most of us. “I’ve done my research,” he says. “People who’ve studied these things reckon that our planet has a huge core of solid iron, surrounded by an outer layer of the same stuff in molten state. Now, it stands to reason that this is because such a weighty metal has worked its way down by gravity. What I realised is that iron is not the only thing that’s got there. Obviously, even denser elements must have plunged right to the middle.”

    Asked to expand, Kevin chuckled. “It’s plain enough,” he said. “I’m going to get right through the iron and locate the really heavy substances. I mean gold, platinum, uranium, osmium and so on.” He went on gleefully: “Talk about the mother lode. My results will make that Klondike affair seem like somebody finding a penny in the street.”

    Pressed for further information, Kevin said that when he gets to his goal, he will extract the valuable metals by a process he has devised. He will not publicise the details but says that the method is somewhat like fracking. His timetable is flexible, though he hopes to be producing on a commercial basis in the very near future.

    Some interest has been shown by three US entrepreneurs, Hank Wellcap, Bob Gusher and Tom Derrick, all with long experience in the oil exploration business. “I guess you can put me down for a couple of dollars,” says Gusher, by which he doubtless means two million. Wellcap also seems willing to put a toe into the water. “I’ll need to speak with my partner, Jack Rigg,” he says, “but I reckon he’ll go along with me for a buck or two.”

    Not everyone is convinced. The Spouts’ next-door neighbour, Alice Neutron (94) hopes to sell her house and move away before, as she puts it: “Kevin blights the area with his silly idea.” She may be too late to up stakes.

    Eminent Swiss geologist Heinz Bienz – yes, he gets a lot of ribbing from his anglophone colleagues – is worried. “I fear the worst,” he groans. “This man has no idea what he is facing. He appears to have immense faith in his tungsten drill, but I would remind him of two things. First, this metal melts at about 3,400 degrees Celsius, whereas it is estimated that the temperature at the Earth’s core is between 4,000 and 7,000 degrees, so Mr Spout’s equipment could not reach his target. However, that is irrelevant because the second thing is that the pressure down there is well over three million times the level at the planet’s surface, so even if the apparatus were the most robust ever devised by human ingenuity, it would be crushed long before getting a chance to liquefy.”

    London-based engineer Horace Mandrill agrees and adds: “Apart from everything else, I am horrified by the thought that if he were to succeed, Spout might well haul up a less desirable heavy element. I refer to plutonium. Should he somehow release a pound or two of that into the atmosphere, it would be goodbye to Britain? I shudder to think of what other lethal cocktails he might spew over us if by some freak chance he were to succeed. Incidentally, at a rate of eight feet a week, it would take him nearly two years to drill through a mile – and it is 3,963 times that distance to the Earth’s centre. This fellow should be locked up in a very secure place.”

    Reaction from leading Australian mineralogist Bruce Spruce was dismissive and scathing. Interviewed at his home, a converted lighthouse near Alice Springs – don’t ask – he vented his bile. “When I heard what this Pom is up to, I could hardly contain my indifference,” he sneered. “Boring is a word that makes me think of either holes or yawns. In the case of Spout’s effort it’s the latter. This caper is about as interesting as a koala's armpit. The poor daffydil hasn't a chance. I won't dignify his scheme with a detailed appraisal. Just wake me up after he's bungled it.”

    The ebullient Kevin is undismayed by these observations. He retorts: “Like another man who said recently that he was inspired to a great adventure by reading Madazine’s accounts of the great Professor Jopp’s work, I got my impetus from the exploits of the Green Giant from Norway. I shall be as triumphant as he has been in his enterprises.”

    Our reporter advises caution. “Keep your heads down,” he says. “As sure as my name is Axel Griess, something will go wrong here.”

    * * *

    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  6. #106
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    IF IT AIN’T BROKE . . .

    The topic of subsidiarity has become so hot that the decision was taken to commission an authoritative report on this sometimes controversial subject. Who would be capable of tackling such a difficult theme? None other than Sir Bertram Utterside, former professor of social studies at one of the UK’s most prestigious seats of learning, and recently dubbed the country’s Thinker-in-Chief. Fortunately he was available, so he cleared the decks and gave the task his full attention, reporting as follows:

    This silly little matter is not worth much of my time, but dealing with it brings in some of the folding stuff, which is always welcome. I am almost tempted to present my conclusions without explaining the reasoning, much in the way that Sherlock Holmes initially offered his solutions. However, I recall that he did divulge his trains of thought, at least to Watson, so it would be remiss of me to deprive readers of similar courtesy.

    It has taken a long time for our world to coalesce into the array of nation states we have today. Most of them are fairly stable, so it is interesting to note that there is in some quarters a desire to tamper with the present position. Doing this may have limited justification in a few cases, but there is no convincing argument for widespread upheaval, and I shall now indicate why that is so.

    Subsidiarity, most often encountered in its political application, is a fancy way of expressing devolution, i.e. some affairs controlled centrally, others regionally. This has been much discussed, especially in the European Union. It is sometimes invoked by those who see the prospect of being big fish in small ponds. I would advise everyone to exercise caution when listening to these people because it is likely that if they reach positions of leadership, their practice will be in inverse proportion to their earlier preaching. In short, beware of dictatorial ambitions.

    Let me go through this matter of ever-greater devolution. It will start with countries being split, the main consequence being that the resulting components will have, even in total, less influence in the world than the original entity had, i.e., the sum of the subsequent parts will amount to less than the previous whole. This is clearly contrary to common sense and is a very unsatisfactory outcome.

    The next step would be splintering of the successor bodies, let us say to about the size of UK counties. Local bigwigs won’t stop there. The process would descend to cities and towns, then to areas no larger than the current British council wards, finally going down to single streets and in some cases large individual properties, such as mine. I will not divulge where that is, as I don't wish to be besieged by admirers. Finally, every house, street, ward, town, city, county or whatever region would have its own prime minister, finance minister, etc. These people would have impressive titles, but no influence in the wider world. They may well be nominally similar to Pooh-Bah – The Lord High Everything Else in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado – but they might have a hard time matching that gentleman’s power.

    Another development of the fragmenting might be that people in certain streets would emerge as more aggressive than those in neighbouring ones. It does not stretch the imagination to envisage the bellicose types preying on gentler folk, motivating the victims to band together to resist unwelcome attention. This idea would spread, leading to areas the size of whole wards making common cause against ruffians. Then it would go further, encompassing towns and cities. There could be only one logical culmination to this process. In the interests of security and of having a voice in the world, the once-devolved mini-states would form unions, taking us back to where we were before the dismantling began.

    It has been noted many times throughout history that humankind has a tendency to make the right choices – after trying all the wrong ones. Need we experience this yet again? I think not. My conclusion is that subsidiarity is all very well, provided that it is it properly understood and implemented. By this I mean that decisions should be taken at appropriate levels – big ones by the authorities best placed to deal with them. And what are those bodies? The nation states we now have, of course.

    I recommend that we leave things largely as they are, rather than take our administrations to pieces then rebuild them in what would most likely be ‘new improved versions’. We all know what that means. Many years ago, a perspicacious American fellow remarked: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I suggest that our current position is not in need of repair by indiscriminate decentralisation. Though not totally happy about having choices made for me by a government far from my home, I am not foolish enough to think that my own options would invariably be better than those selected on my behalf, and I am glad to be relieved of the necessity to make up my mind about an endless list of issues. That is all.



    * * *
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  7. #107
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

    Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beeeep.

    It’s ten o’clock here on BBC Radio 4. Well, it’s ten o’clock everywhere else in the UK too, so why we inform you several times a day that we’re in line with the rest of the country, I don't know. Maybe it’s an attempt to boost the popularity of our station. Whatever the reason, this is the news, read by me, Ronald Futterworth. And here’s another thing. It’s a mystery to me why our masters at the Beeb insist that we newsreaders tell you who we are. I mean, you don’t really care, do you? You know that we’re merely announcers, continuity people, humble toilers. We just do as we’re told and take our pay. Anyway, here we go:

    There was violence in the Middle East today. What a surprise. I can hardly remember the last time there wasn’t some mayhem going on in that part of the world. Bombings, shootings, rockets. They don’t learn, do they? However, we Europeans are hardly in a position to look down our noses at anybody, right? In the last century we caused the two greatest wars of all time, so we’d be best advised to refrain from lecturing other people about their shenanigans.

    The House of Commons was even more raucous than usual today. Insofar as it was possible to understand anything amid the bawling, the main subject was our economy. The government claims to be steering us into sunlit uplands, while the opposition says we’re so deep in the mire that we’ll never get out of it without a change of administration. If I may paraphrase a comment made long ago, the more one listens to politicians, the more one feels that each party is worse than all the others. If you want my opinion, we’ll never extricate ourselves from this mess, no matter who holds the reins. The slanging match was largely devoted to how much red ink we’ve accrued. Well, I can tell you that. Think of our national debt as Mount Everest and consider that we’re adding a Matterhorn-sized chunk to it every year. We’re a nation of credit junkies. It makes me sick.

    Now to business news. It seems that another of our most prestigious companies is about to be gobbled up by some slavering foreign predator in another hostile takeover. So, we appear to be selling off a bit more of the family silver, eh? It’s amazing that we have any left. If there’s much more of this, we shan’t own the clothes we stand up in. It’s a tragedy if you ask me – but you won’t, will you? And why should you? After all, I’m a non-entity. I . . . oh, there goes my mobile phone. Back with you in a jiffy. . . Here I am again. Sorry about that. I swear I'll deposit this wretched instrument in the Thames one of these days. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, I understand that the boss of the firm that’s about to disappear will pocket a barrowful of loot as compensation for his skill in running the concern into the ground before it’s peddled off. He did the same with his previous company. What a character! He’s a self-made man who worships his creator.

    The main UK stock market went up quite a bit today. As a casino, it puts anything in Las Vegas into the shade, doesn’t it? And don’t get me going about the currency exchange thing. That’s even worse. Most of the wheeler-dealing in that field has nothing to do with genuine demand for foreign money. Talk about snouts in the trough – and they’re all as bent as hairpins. But enough of that.

    I suppose you’d like to hear something about sport. First, football. What a farce that is. A bunch of overpaid louts kicking and biting each other and spitting all over the pitches. It’s disgusting. Well, there are no UK teams left in any competition of significance, so I won’t dwell on that activity. For the fancypants types among you there’s a big tennis tournament going on. I forget where it’s taking place but here again, all our people have been knocked out, so let’s not detain ourselves with that. There’s also a cricket test match in progress. I’ve mislaid the score, but never mind. I mean, you’d hardly call that a sport, would you? I see it more as a mildly competitive ballet, in which the participants find any excuse they can to waste time and do as little as they can get away with.

    Now, since this is what is often called the silly season, we at Broadcasting House usually sign off with some trivial filler. We drop that when there’s anything interesting going on, especially something nasty. It would be exciting to finish by reporting one or two juicy disasters, but having scoured the world for such items, we’ve drawn a blank, so I’ll end with one of those daft things about a fire brigade rescuing a cat from a tree, this time in the Midlands. Sadly, our army of reporters can’t come up with anything better. Ah, well, that’s my lot for today, and a good thing too. To be frank with you, I’ve been reading out all kinds of twaddle here with a sober voice and a straight face for over fifteen years and there’s a limit to what a chap will tolerate. I can’t take any more, do you hear? I’ve had enough, enough –


    “This is the producer of Radio 4 news broadcasting. Please accept my apologies for what you have just heard. I’m afraid Mr Futterworth is unwell. The next full, authentic news bulletin will be read at midnight by another member of our staff.”

    Off microphone: “Hey, you in the white coats. Get that man out of here.”

    * * *
    Last edited by Courtjester; December 19th, 2018 at 02:20 PM.
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  8. #108
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    THE REFERENCE

    From: Parkwood Brickworks
    Old Lane
    Lower Otterby
    20 August

    To: Smith & Company
    12 New Street
    Upper Otterby

    For the attention of Ms Hortense Topplewell

    Dear Ms Topplewell

    Thank you for your letter of 18 August, in which you request a reference for Paul Drooplock, who I understand has applied to you for a position as a night watchman/security officer.

    Mr Drooplock joined this company on 6 May and left us two weeks ago. He was employed first as a shot-firer in our quarry and later as a general labourer. His first day here was marked by the collapse of our production office. He had called there to speak with the yard foreman, who was not there at the time. While waiting for him, Mr Drooplock lit a pipe – he was unaware that smoking is not allowed here. Regrettably, he did this while standing over a bowl containing several machine parts which the foreman had immersed in petrol for the purpose of removing grime. Burning tobacco fell into the bowl, causing a fierce blaze. Mr Drooplock rushed from the office, emerging unscathed. The building was wrecked. However, it was old and scheduled for replacement, so we merely expedited our plans.

    Two weeks after the accident described above, Mr Drooplock was taking a short cut to the quarry by way of our kibbler shed, where large clods of clay are reduced to small pieces. On that day we had run out of dynamite and Mr Drooplock’s senior colleague had given him permission to use his initiative. He absented himself for an hour and returned with a basinful of nitro-glycerine. On entering the shed he tripped over a shovel and inadvertently deposited the basin onto a conveyor belt, which shook considerably as it passed over rollers. As you may know, the substance Mr Drooplock was carrying is notoriously unstable. It exploded, demolishing the structure and severely damaging the kibbling machine. Once again Mr Drooplock was able to hurry from the scene and escape without injury. Happily, the kibbler operator had left the building to take a tea break at the time, so he was also unhurt.

    Immediately after the mishap with the nitro-glycerine, we transferred Mr Drooplock to general yard work. Two weeks later he had occasion to call at the milling house, where the kibbled clay is crushed to powder, which is later stamped into raw bricks. Unfortunately, during Mr Drooplock’s visit, the miller had a fit of hiccups. He pointed to his back, indicating the need for a firm pat, which he was unable to administer himself. Mr Drooplock obliged, with considerable vigour. This resulted in the miller rolling over the guard rail and meeting his death under the two six-ton grinding wheels. We concluded that Mr Drooplock had been doing his best to help his workmate and that he was not to blame for what happened.

    A month later there was a further occurrence. We operate the traditional way by placing unfired bricks in kiln chambers. This is done manually by setters, who work in pairs. When a chamber is full, its mouth is closed with finished bricks, whereupon firing is done by coal, shovelled in from above. Shortly after one of the chambers in our number two kiln had been sealed, someone noticed that a setter was missing. It was assumed that he had left for home, and no further thought was given to the matter until the following morning, when he did not report for work. As he lived alone, we were unable to establish what had happened to him. We became concerned, opened the chamber and found that the poor fellow had been immured and had perished in the heat. It was rumoured that shortly before he bricked up the chamber, Mr Drooplock had been involved in an argument with the deceased employee. However, this was hearsay and nobody was prepared to testify to it.

    Apart from his being present at the scene of each of the four above-mentioned incidents, Mr Drooplock’s three-month spell of employment with us was largely uneventful. On the whole, he did the work assigned to him to the best of his satisfaction.

    We hope that the above information will be helpful to you.

    Yours sincerely

    Artemius Poskin
    Personnel Manager

    P.S. As you have invited Mr Drooplock for an interview, perhaps you would do us a small favour by asking him if he knows what became of twelve sticks of gelignite which vanished from here on the day he left us.

    * * *

    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

  9. #109
    I may sound old fashioned, but I wish this was on actual paper (very thin tree pulp - barbaric, I know). I loved reading it - brilliant fun. I love how you Brits use the English language, it's almost as though it were your native tongue, but I hate reading long works on the computer. I will have to return from time to time to keep topped up on your droll and seemingly effortless humor. It is quite funny - laugh out loud funny - so thank you.

  10. #110
    Honoured/Sadly Missed Courtjester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2,202
    Dear offtrack,

    I'm delighted to learn that you've been enjoying Madazine. Perhaps you will get some further nourishment from 'Solomon Had It Easier', 'Pondhopper' and 'Man In Debt'. I was very amused by your 'as though it were your native tongue' comment. A lovely touch.

    If you really want hard copy, you are welcome to download anything you like, free of charge, from my website, http://www.courtjester.uk.com/. Incidentally, much of my favourite humour has come from west of the Atlantic. For most of my seventy-seven years, I have been particularly enthralled by the work of Damon Runyon.

    Best wishes, Cj
    [CENTER][B][I][SIZE=3][FONT=times new roman]Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    [/FONT][/SIZE][/I][/B][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman]O:)[/FONT][/I][/B]
    [SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE]
    [/CENTER]

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.