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UK PUBLIC HEALTH & POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HEARINGS

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Blog by Richard Heagy

The setting is a barge at Docklands near Canary Wharf in London, rocking gently in the River Thames as it waits for a tug boat to be hooked up. Something like a worn, prefabricated structure sits on the barge, which was previously used as a venue for a small theatre company—SUMMER THEATRE ON THE THAMES. The structure is filled with about forty persons of various description, age and ethnicity, some looking serious and others agitated. Today hearings will be held on the subject of political correctness. There is a difference of opinion as to which committee of Parliament should receive the report of these hearings. The choices are: (1) The Committee on Public Health and Diseases, or (2) The Committee on Universities and Free Speech.

Persons in attendance include a student union representatives, one reporter, a few students and members of the public; they are seated in rows of wooden folding chairs from a previous era. At one end, the front for purposes of this temporary forum is a long table that resembles a slab of wood resting on two sawhorses. Behind it are two chairs for representatives of the Parliamentary Committees concerned and an empty chair in the centre for the Chairman. At one end is an additional chair for the Clerk. On the wall behind the table is a hastily attached portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a gold frame. There is a loud clunk, accompanied by a jolt as the barge connects to the tug boat and starts moving slowly along the Thames. The Clerk enters, followed by the Chairman, who heads for the chair in the centre. They are both wearing black suits, the Chairman dressed for court except for his wig.

CLERK: All rise … except Jeremy Corbyn.

CHAIRMAN: I don’t think he is here.

(Everyone, except Jeremy Corbyn, who is not present anyway, stands)

CHAIRMAN: That’s not necessary. Please be seated.

MP BIDDLECOMBE:  It’s about time we got started. I was beginning to get seasick just sitting here, rocking back and forth. It doesn’t pay to be on time.

REPORTER (standing): I have a question.

CLERK:  Questions will be taken in due course, when permitted by the Chairman.

REPORTER:  I just want to know why this hearing is being held in the middle of the River Thames.

CLERK:  I am not privy to that information.

LORD STRONG:  We wanted to limit the number of persons in attendance to minimise costs.

REPORTER: Looks like you are trying to keep out demonstrators.

LORD STRONG:  Not at all.

CLERK:  Sounds like a good idea to me.

REPORTER:  I wasn’t addressing you.

(There is a murmur in the audience and the CHAIRMAN bangs a gavel several times)

REPORTER:  Another thing, these seats are uncomfortable.

LORD STRONG (to REPORTER): If you are unhappy, hard cheese—you are free to leave.

REPORTER:  How can I leave? We are in the middle of a river.

CLERK: What’s that got to do with it? You can walk the plank.

REPORTER: I have never been so insulted.

CLERK:  Hard to believe.

CHAIRMAN (to CLERK):  Kindly apologise to the REPORTER.

CLERK:  I apologise, as the barge has no plank, but we do have life vests and large inner tubes from lorries.

LORD STRONG (to REPORTER):  Well, are you staying or leaving?

(The REPORTER sits in his uncomfortable chair)

CHAIRMAN (to CLERK):  Proceed.

CLERK:  Today’s hearing is about whether political correctness unreasonably restricts free speech.

LORD STRONG:  You mean suffocating free speech.

CHAIRMAN:  You may express your viewpoint later.

MP BIDDLECOME:  Seems to me that the first order of business is which of two Committees of Parliament should receive our findings. One view is that political correctness is an infringement of free speech and stifles ideas so the Committee on Universities and Free Speech is the correct one. The other view is that political correctness is a rapidly spreading disease which should be regulated by the Public Health and Disease Services.

STUDENT (standing): I object because you failed to give a ‘trigger warning’.

MP BIDDLECOME: What are you talking about?

STUDENT (shaking nervously): You know, a trigger warning, that you are going to mention something that I might find offensive or make me feel uncomfortable.

LORD STRONG: What kind of codswallop is that?

MP BIDDLECOME: It’s some kind of political correctness twaddle from the States that unfortunately has been endorsed by a majority of universities in the UK.

CHAIRMAN (to STUDENT): What was said that upset you?

STUDENT: The word ‘disease.’

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): Haven’t you ever been sick?

STUDENT: I am also sensitive to that word.

MP BIDDLECOME: The word disease is no doubt going to be repeated many times. As a matter of fact, we are going to discuss whether or not political correctness is a disease. Why don’t you just cover your ears?

STUDENT: If I cover both ears I cannot take notes.

MP BIDDLECOME: We all have problems, but they probably don’t teach you that at university nowadays—just about retreating to safe spaces—where you can cuddle-up far away from the big, bad world.

LORD STRONG: I read that these some of these safe spaces have cookies, stuffed animals, calming music, pillows, colouring books, games and toys—even Playdough.

MP BIDDLECOME: Another asinine idea that seems to have drifted over here from the States.

STUDENT: I again object to not being given a trigger warning.

CHAIRMAN: It’s a little too late for that, and we are not obligated to do so in any event.

STUDENT: Then, I insist on being provided with a safe space while the current topic is discussed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Your bargaining position is not very good – out in the middle of the river.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): I believe that is the only solution we can offer, unless you want to swim.

CHAIRMAN: I’m afraid that option is not available. It’s illegal for anyone to swim in the Thames without prior permission from the Port of London Authority, at least between Crossness in east London and Putney Bridge in south-west London.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT): I assume that you have a mobile phone. Would you like to call the Port of London Authority for permission?

STUDENT: Of course not.

MP BIDDLECOME (to STUDENT): I think we may be able to accommodate you. Why don’t you wait in the men’s toilet until we finish. If you put the seat down it shouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than the chairs out here. The space is not very big, but there’s a small window you can open if the smell is too much for you.

LORD STRONG: Of course, if someone knocks on the door you will have to let them in to piss or take a crap, maybe for a minute or two, or possibly longer. You never know.

STUDENT: I am used to a much more comfortable safe space than you are offering me. I will definitely report this to the National Union of Students.

LORD STRONG: You can report it to the Sun or the Daily Express as far as I’m concerned.

STUDENT: Those are some of the newspapers banned at my university.

LORD STRONG: More evidence of political correctness stifling free speech. Universities are supposed to be about learning, free exchanges of ideas and debates. They are turning into day care centres.

MP BIDDLECOME: I am sure there are some other students in the audience. Do any of you have a teddy bear that you can loan the STUDENT to keep him company in the toilet and help relieve his emotional stress?

(A female GRADUATE STUDENT comes forward and hands her teddy bear to the STUDENT who holds it tightly)

GRADUATE STUDENT: I only have one more term to finish my PhD; I never would have made it this far without my Teddy.

(The GRADUATE STUDENT pats Teddy on the head, then the STUDENT, and returns to her seat in the back)

MP BIDDLECOME: Very nice gesture.

GRADUATE STUDENT (to STUDENT): Oh, don’t leave the window open all the way; I don’t want Teddy to come down with anything.

LORD STRONG: I don’t know if there is any toilet paper in the loo. Take your notepad with you, just in case.

(The STUDENT reluctantly walks over to the toilet, opens the door and pulls on the light switch string once, then again and again. After being advised of the problem, MP BIDDLECOME yells over to the STUDENT that the barge hasn’t been used for several months and no one remembered to replace the light bulbs. The STUDENT puts the seat down, opens the window and closes the door)

CHAIRMAN: Getting back to business, the choice of Committee will be deferred. I don’t think that we can properly decide the most appropriate Committee until all of the issues have been discussed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Agreed. May I make an opening statement?

CHAIRMAN: Proceed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Ladies and Gentlemen.

REPORTER (interrupting): You can’t say that any more.

MP BIDDLECOME: Why not?

REPORTER: The TfL has issued a new prohibition against saying ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ on public transport.

LORD STRONG: Bollocks. It reinforces the need to hold these hearings.

MP BIDDLECOME: In addition to being the dumbest thing I ever heard, we are not on public transport.

LORD STRONG: Furthermore, the TfL has no jurisdiction over these Parliamentary hearings.

CHAIRMAN: That is correct.

MP BIDDLECOME (to the CHAIRMAN): May I continue?

CHAIRMAN: Proceed.

MP BIDDLECOME: Ladies and gentlemen … excluding a certain member of the press … I wish to emphasise the importance of today’s hearings. Professors have been ostracised and speakers prohibited from appearing on university campuses in increasing numbers for trying to present points of view that do not agree with University officials or more often the objections of student unions. Newspapers, books, songs and words are banned and students are expelled based on mere allegations that their views are controversial. Emotion now governs over reason, with universities quickly caving into the latest moaning of ultra-liberal students coddled from birth. Maoist conformity is enforced with student codes of conduct and student unions dictate the establishment of safe spaces furnished with the most coddling amenities.

LORD STRONG: These restrictive policies and actions are not limited to on-campus activities or speech, but extend to extra-curricular student political and social activities. Students and university staff are encouraged to report what other students or professors say on Twitter. This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany where each block of apartments had a Block Warden whose duties included spying on fellow citizens and reporting them to the government about any unfavourable comments about the regime. Even friends, neighbours and family members reported each other to the Gestapo. If this trend continues, the only thing missing will be the brown shirts and jackboots.

MP BIDDLECOME: I have with me a copy of the 2017 Free Speech University Rankings, a spiked project that analysed campus censorship on 115 UK universities. It found that 63.5% of them actively censor speech and 30.5% stifle speech through excessive regulation, based on the policies of the universities and students’ unions.

CHAIRMAN: I can see that the Committee on Universities and Free Speech is the proper committee to receive our report of this hearing.

MP BIDDLECOME: Maybe so, but political correctness may also equally be viewed as a rapidly spreading disease, which unchecked will impede the minds of students and destroy their ability to think and reason. The well-known comedian George Carlin once said that political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners, but I prefer to say that political correctness is merely a euphemism for censorship. Some of the tactics and policies are nothing less that mind control. This is a matter to be regulated by the Public Health and Disease Services.

LORD STRONG: Another aspect concerning public health and the spread of disease recently occurred at Strathclyde University after cleaning staff complained about encountering poo in bins and showers, as well as finding used toilet paper where it shouldn’t be. A memo sent out to the University’s multicultural population stating that although different countries have different practices, the accepted practice in the UK was to use the WC, was disowned by the University after it received a substantial backlash from students who were offended.

MINORITY STUDENT (standing, in a loud voice): Damn right; it was insulting. I come from a country where several hundred million people take a shit outdoors everyday—helps fertilise the crops too.

MP BIDDLECOME: I think that you will find the UK quite green as a result of frequent rain, rather than people shitting outdoors everywhere.

MINORITY STUDENT: You won’t even find the words toilet paper in our language, or the dictionary for that matter.

MP BIDDLECOME: You might do your fellow students a favour by inventing such a translation in your country’s language.

LORD STRONG: Be that as it may, you have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle when you live in a foreign country. For example, you cannot graduate from a UK university if you cannot write or speak English. Furthermore, hygiene and sanitation are matters of public concern that prevent the spread of disease.

MP BIDDLECOME: I believe that Strathclyde University is in the process of reaching a compromise with its cleaning staff, which has resulted in the following proposed policy:

Effective immediately all staff and students are free to piss or take a crap anywhere on university premises. In order to respect certain cultures, men will be allowed to shit in the university swimming pool only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—women may relieve themselves in the pool on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The pool will necessarily be closed on Sundays for extensive cleaning.

CHAIRMAN: I think our report is equally important to the Public Health and Disease Services, but because of the corrupting effect that political correctness has on poisoning the minds of students rather than poo at Strathclyde University, although that is a serious health matter.

LORD STRONG: There is a much bigger health problem than poo at Strathclyde University

CLERK: Especially if you step in it.

CHAIRMAN: You need not state the obvious.

CLERK: It’s even worse when you slip on it. You could end up stinking up the inside of an ambulance.

MP BIDDLECOME: You sound like you are speaking from personal experience.

CLERK: As a matter of fact ….

CHAIRMAN: I’m sure that it’s an interesting story, but some other time, if you please.

LORD STRONG: As I was about to say, we need to be concerned about the mental health of students. Apparently many of these mollycoddled students are truly distressed at hearing anything the least bit contrary to their views. This may result in psychological problems with long-term effects.

MP BIDDLECOME: That is certainly something for the Public Health and Disease Services to consider. Even the words free speech or democracy will throw some hypersensitive students into a tizzy.

CHAIRMAN: Another negative aspect of political correctness is rewriting history, something that authoritarian regimes the world over have done repeatedly.

LORD STRONG: Or erasing history, such as the protests to remove the statute of Cecil Rhodes at the entrance of the Rhodes Building at Oriel College, Oxford. Some African student started a big brouhaha to remove the statute after helping himself to the benefits of a Rhodes scholarship.

MP BIDDLECOME: Biting the hand that feeds you—kind of like modern day cannibalism.

LORD STRONG: Interesting analogy, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. It does seem quite hypocritical though.

MP BIDDLECOME: What is their point that the money to build Oriel College was stolen from Africa in the first place? Should we tear down the Rhodes Building and ship the stones and bricks to South Africa? They could build a mausoleum celebrating the death of free speech.

LORD STRONG: Maybe the scholarship money should be repaid to Oriel College by the offended recipients and then sent on to South Africa.

CHAIRMAN: Let’s move on. In this age of conformity and snowflake insanity another danger is the well-entrenched practice to dis-invite or prohibit speakers from appearing on university campuses, including men and women who are well-respected in their profession, if any overly sensitive student or group of campus censors protests that they would be uncomfortable, although speakers promoting anarchy are not. Others who do make it on campus are shouted down at the slightest improper comment.

LORD STRONG: As political correctness sweeps across university campuses in the States and the UK, students are constantly being brainwashed and bullied. It’s not only speech but behaviour that is being regulated by the political correctness brigade. Professors are being bullied online by students who are easily offended by opposing views. This is criminal but you are not going to get any convictions.

CHAIRMAN: I think we have finished talking about disease and sickness. Maybe we should advise the snowflake that he can come back now.

(The CLERK, after being directed by the CHAIRMAN, goes over to the men’s toilet and knocks on the door. The door opens and the STUDENT comes out holding his notebook in one hand and the Teddy Bear in the other. The GRADUATE STUDENT rushes over to reclaim Teddy. She wrinkles her nose, sniffs Teddy)

STUDENT: I’m sorry but we had an accident. When I reached up to close the window I slipped and Teddy fell into the toilet. There wasn’t any water in it but it does stink a bit.

(The GRADUATE STUDENT, wearing a T-shirt which says ‘Peace & Love’ slapped the STUDENT in the face and returned to her seat. The shocked STUDENT turns to go back inside the toilet, reconsiders and takes a different seat on the end of a row of mostly empty chairs)

MP BIDDLECOME: We should discuss is the obsession with ‘cultural appropriation’ by students and capitulating universities.

LORD STRONG: What the bloody hell is that?

MP BIDDLECOME: In a nutshell it’s moaners from other countries who complain that food served by UK colleges misrepresents their culture. Pembroke College, Cambridge recently came under attack by students complaining that it was serving culturally insensitive food.

LORD STRONG: No doubt started in the States.

MP BIDDLECOME: Yes, started by the student Stasi in the States condemning the action of someone from one culture who borrows from the culture of another.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: This is a serious problem—serving a fake dish called Jamaican Stew. It doesn’t even have the right ingredients-beef and mangos.

UNIVERSITY COOK (to CARIBBEAN STUDENT): Can you list the ingredients in my Jamaican Stew or give me a complete recipe of an authentic Jamaican Stew?

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Not off of the top of my head, but I know when it tastes right.

UNIVERSITY COOK: Have you ever spent more than ten minutes in a kitchen or cooked any Jamaican food of any kind?

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Course not, my Mom does the cooking.

UNIVERSITY COOK: So you have no clue how to make Jamaican Stew. Let me tell you something, there is not one official recipe for it. When you go back to Jamaica, visit ten different restaurants or ten different family homes and you will find that each one makes Jamaican Stew a bit differently even though most of the ingredients are the same.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: Who says I’m going back?

CLERK: Sounds like a good idea to me.

UNIVERSITY COOK: I got online to search for recipes for Jamaican Stew and found dozens of recipes for ‘authentic Jamaican Stew’ and the one that I selected just happened to use beef and mangos. We try to make food for students more interesting by providing a variety of dishes from around the world.

CARIBBEAN STUDENT: That’s not the way I see it.

UNIVERSITY COOK: You don’t have to eat what we serve. You could bring your own sandwiches, but you probably don’t even know how to make one. Many students ate our Jamaican Stew and everyone seemed to like it, except for a few moaners who are too lazy to furnish us with a more authentic recipe.

LORD STRONG: It’s about bringing cultures together, not appropriating cultures. Only a fool would think that all of these recipes from around the world were 100% authentic in all cases, especially in a university café or food hall.

CHAIRMAN: In a way it’s like puffery—making things sound better by using fancy words to sell real property, used automobiles or vacations—such as the best pizza in Shoreditch. Most consumers do not take these exaggerated statements seriously.

MP BIDDLECOME: There was an article recently in one of the liberal newspapers by some bore claiming that barbeque is a form of cultural power and that by eating it you are insulting Africans.

LORD STRONG: Bollocks. What does this clown want the government to do—close down all restaurants serving foods from other countries? No more Chinese, French, Italian, Greek, Japanese or Indian restaurants or pizza parlours? In addition to the stupidity of so-called cultural appropriation, look how many jobs would be lost and small businesses closed down because of a few easily offended bozos.

MP BIDDLECOME: There is at least one Chinese restaurant in almost every city in the world. Should all of them be closed down except for the ones in China? They are run by Chinese owners, and many of the dishes have been westernised to suit customer taste.

LORD STRONG: I would be hard pressed to find that cultural appropriation, and certainly not racist.

CHAIRMAN: This cultural appropriation nonsense extends to much more than food. One student union at the University of East Anglia stopped a restaurant from handing out Sombreros to students. A university in Canada even banned yoga classes because it considered them cultural appropriation.

LORD STRONG: Looks like it is better to be politically correct than healthy in Canada, not that I would ever go there.

MP BIDDLECOME: Racism is used blatantly as justification for political correctness. The latest example of this insanity comes from Oxford University. The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit recently lectured students in a newsletter that if they avoided eye contact when speaking to another person they were guilty of the crimes of subtle racism and racial micro-aggression, no doubt felonies worthy of incarceration in the Tower of London.

STUDENT UNION REP: You are not taking cultural appropriation seriously, especially as it concerns food, which affects minority students more than other types of appropriation.

MP BIDDLECOME: What university does your student union represent?

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m not required to answer that.

LORD STRONG: Afraid of your own shadow are you?

(Suddenly there was a commotion in the back of the room. A young GIRL WITH GLASSES screamed as something jumped out of her backpack, which had been sitting on the floor beside her chair. It was a small white rabbit intent on not being caught and returned to the backpack. The rabbit ran back and forth, then up to the front and was cornered under the table)

MP BIDDLECOME: This is outrageous. What is a rabbit doing here?

GIRL WITH GLASSES: It’s my comfort animal. I take him everywhere.

(She finally scooped up the rabbit and held it close to her body)

LORD STRONG: I hope your rabbit is not going to poop on the floor. We have to return the barge in the same condition. Did you bring a plastic bag—just in case?

(The GIRL WITH GLASSES did not answer, just spoke quietly to her rabbit and returned to her seat, still holding the rabbit instead of returning it to the backpack. A few of those nearby went over to see the cute little rabbit. The CHAIRMAN banged his gavel several times)

CHAIRMAN: Please return to your seats. We have serious matters to discuss.

MP BIDDLECOME: I believe the STUDENT UNION REP was about to say something.

STUDENT UNION REP: Definitely. You need to take cultural appropriation more seriously because many students are truly offended, especially about misrepresenting their native food.

LORD STRONG: Do you have any suggestions as to what we should do, or just complaints?

STUDENT UNION REP: You could start by banning culturally offensive food from university cafés and food halls.

LORD STRONG: How should we define culturally offensive food?

STUDENT UNION REP: Food from other cultures that isn’t authentic.

LORD STRONG: How should authentic be defined—recipes with 100% proper ingredients or 90% or 85%? How low should the bar be?

STUDENT UNION REP: You’re making this complicated.

LORD STRONG: Not at all. It was your idea, but it cannot be enforced without basic definitions. This requires thinking and making decisions, something you may not be familiar with. Food can’t be outlawed merely because of a few complaints.

MP BIDDLECOME: The university cooks also have rights. They are entitled to know with certainty what the rules are. Recipes would have to be compiled, probably from online searches, ingredients listed and compared to come up with an acceptable percentage.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT UNION REP): I know that you have a problem with answering questions, but I will ask one anyway. Do you only care about the ingredients if food is identified as being from a particular culture?

STUDENT UNION REP: I don’t understand the question.

LORD STRONG: To make things as easy as humanly possible, let’s try some examples. Would you object if Jamaican Stew based on your Mom’s recipe were merely described as ‘Today’s Special’ without disclosing the country of origin. Try to focus on the question. It is not based on failing to give your Mom credit, but on the question of cultural appropriation.

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m not sure; that’s a tough one.

LORD STRONG: Let’s try another one. How about pizza not made the way it is made in Italy being described as ‘Italian Pizza?’

STUDENT UNION REP: Not acceptable.

LORD STRONG: What about a westernized version of ‘Chop Suey’ prepared by a Chinese chef with his own recipe?

STUDENT UNION REP: That doesn’t make it authentic Chinese food.

LORD STRONG: Fair enough.

MP BIDDLECOME: I don’t know that I agree. If the Chop Suey is not described as an authentic Chinese dish, how is it cultural appropriation?

CHAIRMAN: I find it hard to call a westernized version of Chop Suey cultural appropriation if it is served in a restaurant in Chinatown that serves mostly authentic Chinese food.

MP BIDDLECOME: Seems to me that any determination of culturally insensitive food, if we were to agree to such a classification, should be based on the particular name used to describe the dish and the percentage of authentic ingredients, irrespective of the nationality of the cook.

STUDENT UNION REP: So, are you actually going to do something?

CHAIRMAN: The hearings will adjourn for fifteen minutes while the Committee decides what recommendations to include in its report.

(The three Committee members step outside for a breath of fresh air and a smoke, deliberate for several minutes, and return to their seats)

CHAIRMAN: The Committee has decided what to include in its report. There are many issues about free speech, censorship, mental health, and the primary purposes of universities that must seriously be considered. Because the issues cannot be totally isolated from each other, our report will be submitted to both committees of Parliament—the Committee on Universities and Free Speech and the Public Health and Disease Services.

STUDENT UNION REP: What about cultural appropriation.

LORD STRONG: It will be discussed in general with reference to food, conduct and other aspects. There will be no specific recommendations except with respect to so-called cultural appropriation of foods from other cultures. In addition to the perceived complaints from sensitive students, this raises the issue of possible false labelling or advertising under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

MP BIDDLECOME: Those regulations apply to business-to-consumer transactions. I’m not sure they apply to universities or colleges.

LORD STRONG: Even so, who owns or manages cafés or food halls on or near campuses might be relevant.

CHAIRMAN: Our report will also be sent to the Office of Fair Trade. They can decide who their regulations apply to and if there are any violations.

CLERK: Your report should also recommend prohibiting any of those crazy recipes from California.

MP BIDDLECOME: Thank you for your input, but are you again speaking from personal experience?

CHAIRMAN: Let’s move on and finish this hearing.

STUDENT UNION REP: I didn’t hear anything about what specific actions you are going to take to prevent cultural misappropriation of food from other cultures.

LORD STRONG: If you would be more patient, probably not your greatest strength, you will find out. The only action that we are going to take is to report the issues discussed here today and our recommendations, which will be forwarded to the appropriate Committees of Parliament and government authorities for consideration.

STUDENT UNION REP: So, when will your new rules to prohibit cultural appropriation take effect?

LORD STRONG (to MP BIDDLECOME): Did I say anything about this Committee issuing any rules?

MP BIDDLECOME: No—only recommendations, not rules.

CLERK: I didn’t hear anything about rules either—only recommendations.

LORD STRONG: Thank you once again for your input.

STUDENT UNION REP: I’m still waiting for details.

MP BIDDLECOME: Wait no longer. The following is a tentative list of our recommendations, subject to review before we submit our written report. The proposed restrictions are to apply to cafés, restaurants, food halls, pizza parlours and takeaway establishments that are located on any accredited university or college or within ten kilometres, whether or not owned or leased by them or others and irrespective of the nationality of the cook.

LORD STRONG (to STUDENT UNION REP): I’m sure that we can count on you to measure distances for compliance.

CLERK: I assume that distance would be as the crow flies.

LORD STRONG: You assume correctly.

MP BIDDLECOME: If I may continue, preferably without further interruption, I will list a few foods that we recommend as possible prohibited foods, those not likely to be considered culturally authentic – Belgian waffles, Chop Suey, French toast, Greek salad, Hungarian goulash, Irish stew, Pizza, Schnitzel, Swedish meatballs, Swiss steak and Tandoori chicken.

CHINESE STUDENT: You can’t do that. My parents own a small Chinese restaurant bordering my college and I work there part-time to help pay off my tuition loans.

STUDENT UNION REP: You didn’t list BBQ.

GRADUATE STUDENT: You can’t prohibit my favourite food.

STUDENT UNION REP: The student union will decide for you which foods should be banned as culturally insensitive.

GRADUATE STUDENT: You are an arrogant jackass as well as a fascist.

STUDENT: How am I going to stay alive without hot pizza in the afternoon and cold pizza leftovers in the morning? I’m feeling insecure already.

MP BIDDLECOME (to LORD STRONG): Sounds like some backlash to political correctness and Maoist conformity.

LORD STRONG: A nice sound indeed.

MP BIDDLECOME: And about time.

CHAIRMAN (banging his gavel): This hearing is adjourned.

(Everyone is jolted as the barge bumps into the dock from where the journey started. The rabbit jumps from the arms of the GIRL WITH GLASSES and the chase begins anew)

THE END

Sketch

President Strangelove: or How to Win Friends and Influence Elections

Published by:

Blog by Edward Sherman

The Oval office: President Trump, on his knees, before a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Trump: Dear Abraham, how do I unite this house divided? When so few believe I’m doing a good job … and the rest think I’m doing a terrific one?

(A female aid enters the room and gingerly “ahems” to get his attention)

Presidential Aid: Mr. President, Vladimir Putin is on the phone.

Trump (picks up the phone and places his hand over the mouthpiece): Thank you … and you’re fired.

Trump: Vladimir, how are you?

Putin: Fine, my friend. I just wanted to congratulate you on your inauguration.

Trump: It was a terrific inauguration. The greatest since Lincoln’s. Big crowd; bigger than Obama’s.

Putin: Yes, aerial photographs can be deceiving. For instance, how many people were in the port-a-johns at the moment the pictures were snapped?

Trump: Thousands, I bet. Americans spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Part of my “Make America Great Again” campaign is to reduce that. Those are productive hours being wasted.

Putin: You will make America great again …

Trump: On the other hand, I did come up with some terrific campaign ideas on the can. For instance, I decided on the Muslim ban after I ate a bad kabob.

Putin: You do see all sides. You’re very reasonable.

Trump: Nobody is more reasonable. Certainly not Obama bin Laden.

Putin: Anyway, I want to assure you, we had nothing to do with your victory. I agree with your assessment, the hacking was probably done by someone else; it very well could have been, as you say, “some fat guy living in his mother’s basement.”

Trump: Or the Chinese.

Putin: Or the Chinese.

Trump: Or a fat Chinese guy, living in his mother’s basement.

Putin: But it was not us. I want to assure you.

Trump: Vladimir, I believe you. And I’m someone that cannot be played. I’m too smart.

Putin: Believe me; we in Russia know just how smart you are. And, unlike the rest of Europe, we appreciate it.

Trump: And I appreciate you. The rest of Europe can kiss my ass, and Merkel’s a six at best.

Putin:  I wish your corrupt media could see how well we get along; that Russia and the U.S. can be the best of friends. Your interests are our interests.

Trump: I’ve been saying it all along – The media is corrupt. And what’s wrong with being friends with Russia?

Putin: Nothing!  We should be enemies?

Trump: We should?

Putin: No, I was just being sarcastic; like old Jewish people from your Miami speak sometimes.

Trump: Right, Jews do speak like that. I get you.

Putin: Of course you get it. Nothing gets past you. But the press will say, “He’ll manipulate Trump.” I say, “Impossible! Trump is far more clever than me”.

Trump: And so am I!

Putin: Uh, right. And I love your ideas. For instance, parading your military through the streets; nothing like a grand spectacle to get the respect of the rest of the world.

Trump: Yes, a show of American might through the streets of Washington that reverberates throughout the world. And I’ll make Mexico pay for it!

Putin: A terrific idea. So good that we were thinking we might, in a much inferior way of course, do the same; parade our modest tanks and little missile launchers through the streets of Estonia and Latvia. I think it would inspire the people there to show their love of Mother Russia. After all, they really are Russian at heart. Of course, NATO isn’t into such displays of grandeur. And Obama didn’t think it …

Trump: That damn Kenyan! He’s no longer president! I am! Don’t you worry, Vladimir, I’ll handle NATO.

Putin: That’s great, Mr. President.

Trump: Please, call me Mr. President.

Putin: And I also love your idea of reducing, yet expanding, your nuclear arsenal. It’s a complex yet brilliant idea.

Trump: Most presidents do one or the other. How many can say they’ve done both?

Putin: Just you.

Trump: Just me. Military parades, nuclear expansion and don’t forget waterboarding. No one will ever question the erection of Donald Trump again.

Putin: The what?

Trump: I said, no one will ever question the election of Donald Trump again.

Putin: Yes, we’ve elected the right man. I’m using the royal “We”, of course.

Trump: Of course. Hmm … maybe it is time America had a King …

Putin: Oh, and don’t you worry about that whole dossier thing. I’m going to make that go away.

(Silence)

Trump:  Personally, I don’t recall doing anything wrong when I was last in Russia. I remember waking up early to jog, breaking ground on a terrific new building, judging a beauty pageant, defeating your grandmaster at chess and calling it a day – I may have saved a baby from a burning building and gotten a cat out of a tree also. But that’s neither here nor there – However, making that dossier go away is probably the politically sound thing to do. Who should we have killed?

Putin: Well, I don’t think that is necessary … yet. I was thinking more along the lines of, as you like to say in America, “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine”.

Trump: Frankly, my son-in-law gave me a long wooden stick for that; the end is shaped like fingers …

Putin: Maybe I was not speaking clearly. What I meant is, you, after all, are the man who wrote, The Art of the Deal

Trump: You’re damn right I wrote it. I wrote every word of it, despite what that Schwartz is saying. Maybe he helped with some punctuation; you know, threw him a bone, because I’m pro-Israel – You know my son-in-law is a Jew. So how can they say I’m anti-Semitic?

Putin: I really don’t know.

Trump: And neither do they. Nobody knows what’s in a man’s heart – except my doctor; he says mine is clogged with fat and cholesterol and I should have been dead years ago. But I showed him, a good diet and a pact with the Devil later and I’m still here.

Putin: You certainly are. And it is intimidating for me to try and make a deal with a master dealmaker. After all, who am I but a simple former KGB agent who has only dealt with highly trained and educated assassins in the past. You, sir, are in another league.

Trump: A terrific league. So what falsehoods are in this dossier?

Putin: It does have a slightly different take on your stay here. Of course, the security camera tapes can be misleading; for instance, it appears you were not actually playing chess with a grandmaster.

Trump: No? Then what, pray-tell, was I doing? Who was I dominating with my guile and genius, then?

Putin: It appears you were playing tic-tac-toe with a chicken.

Trump: I still won, right?

Putin: Well, no. But it was a narrow defeat to a highly skilled opponent.

Trump:  I want that chicken killed! But first get him to admit the game was rigged. Can you water board a chicken?

Putin: Well, we deep fry them, so … But it’s really not the more salacious details that may cause you trouble. It’s the thought that you may have borrowed money from Russian mobsters that may be more troubling than having a couple prostitutes pee on each other or being outwitted by a chicken.

Trump: What kind of world do we live in? They had to go to the bathroom. I’m used to the bladders of American women. Who am I to make them hold it?

Putin: Look, I’m on your side. If it were up to me I’d split the planet down the middle, rename it planet “Trumputin”, and call it a day.

Trump: You’ve done your homework, haven’t you, Vladimir? That’s always been a modest goal of mine.

Putin: That’s what I think of your integrity, my friend.

Trump: From the time my father gave me that small loan of a bil-million dollars to start a business, I thought, I want to change the world, starting with the name. I didn’t want to be just another all-talk billionaire. The Trump name has always stood for quality: steaks, universities, why not planets? That way when the aliens land here they will know it’s a quality planet.  Face it, Mars is a disaster. Venusians are living in hell. But when they see the lights of planet Trumputin, they will know they’re on a winning planet.

Putin: Okay … In light of all that, I do feel we can make a deal that will be beneficial to both you, me and our countries.

Trump: In that order or it’s a deal breaker.

Putin: You drive a hard bargain, but I agree. You’ve worn me down.

Trump: What did you have in mind?

Putin: You know how neighbors will often exchange keys for the safety of each other?

Trump: You want to swap wives?

Putin: No, not quite. Well maybe, but not now. What I was thinking …

(Cut To – Press Secretary, Sean Spicer’s news conference in progress)

Spicer (pointing to a member of the Press Corp): Yes?

Press Corp: Did the President speak with Vladimir Putin and if so what did they talk about?

Spicer: Yes he did and nothing that went horribly wrong. Yes?

Press Corp: Are you trying not to tell us something?

Spicer: I think you press members need to stop jumping to conclusions.

Press Corp: Then why are you sweating profusely?

Spicer: That’s your opinion.

Press Corp: I think that’s a fact. Is there something you’re trying not to tell us?

Spicer: Like what?

Press Corp: Like how did the President’s conversation with Vladimir Putin go?

Spicer: It went.

Press Corp: You’ve gone pale.

Spicer: That’s not a question.

Press Corp: Can you tell us what they discussed?

Spicer: You know … this and that.

Press Corp: Can you tell us anything about the exchange?

Spicer: We did not exchange nuclear codes with Russia.

Press Corp: What?

Spicer: Did I say that out loud?

Press Corp: Did the President exchange nuclear codes with Putin?

Spicer: Look, we were going to have a cyber-security team working around the clock to re-set those codes anyway.

Press Corp: So it’s true?

Spicer: It was a joke, between a couple of buddies, locker room banter. I mean, Putin’s codes were: URADUM@ss.

Press Corp: Did Trump give away our real codes?

Spicer: Define real.

Press Corp: The ones that work.

Spicer: Then, yes.

Press Corp: Dear God! He may have killed us all. How can you continue to lie for this man? How naive can you continue to pretend to be?

Spicer: Kellyanne! Steve!

(Spicer steps from behind the podium and slips into a Japanese kimono. He is joined by Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. They, too, are dressed in Japanese kimonos)

Spicer: One, two, three. (Music starts …)

(Spicer, Conway and Bannon start dancing with choppy little steps, while holding folding fans in front of their faces. They lower the fans and begin to sing … )

Three little aides from school are we.
Pert as a school-girl well can be.
Filled to the brim with girlish glee.
Three little aides from school.

(A loud boom; lights flicker; dust falls from the ceiling)

Everything is a source of fun.

(Another boom)

Nobody’s safe for we care for none.

(Chunks of ceiling fall)

Life is a joke that’s just begun.

(Screams, as people run for cover)

Three little aides from school.
Three little aides from school …

(A GIGANTIC BOOM!)

THE END?

EDITOR’s NOTE

The above blog is a work of fiction. It is SATIRE, not “FAKE NEWS”

Please read our DISCLAIMER page if you are confused

 

Satire Sketch

ALL ABOARD – Last Bus to Canada

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

(The hallway of the office building is lined on both sides with folding chairs as far as the eye can see; not one seat is empty as the occupants nervously await their turn. A desk has been placed at the end of the hallway, occupied by the bored RECEPTIONIST who is nevertheless busy at work—polishing her nails)

RECEPTIONIST:  Next—number 293.

(Number 293 approaches the RECEPTIONIST, hands her a card with the number on it)

RECEPTIONIST:  You can go in now, Mr. Smith.

ALAN SMITHEE:  My name is Smithee, not Smith.

RECEPTIONIST:  Whatever.

(ALAN SMITHEE opens the door and enters a room with a large wooden desk decorated with an overflowing in-box stacked with applications. Behind it sits a friendly well-fed man in his sixties, wearing a dark pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and solid yellow necktie. He adjusts his cuff links as he motions for ALAN SMITHEE to sit in the chair in front of the desk)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I can only give you ten minutes.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I have been waiting for over two hours.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I am sorry about that Mr. Smith, but we have 4,000 positions to fill.

ALAN SMITHEE:  It’s Smithee, not Smith.

CHIEF OF STAFF: Name sounds familiar—Alan Smithee—can’t quite place it. Have we met before?

ALAN SMITHEE:  No.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I know I’ve heard that name before.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Many years ago, Hollywood directors who wanted to avoid being named as the director of a film they were unhappy with used a pseudonym, which most often was ‘Alan Smithee.’

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Oh, so you are a movie director?

ALAN SMITHEE:  No.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Then it’s your real name?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Not at all. I just want to remain anonymous.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Anonymous! How can we hire you if we don’t know your name?

ALAN SMITHEE:  I am not here about a job. I have a plan to get the President-elect off to a good start.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Why don’t you send it to me in writing and I will have someone take a look at it.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF writes an email address on the back of a business card and hands it to ALAN SMITHEE)

ALAN SMITHEE:  I can’t do that, I want to remain anonymous.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, then, I don’t think I can help you.

ALAN SMITHEE:  It’s a question of helping the President-elect, not me. I have a plan to make a goodwill gesture to those who did not vote for the President-elect, unite the country and start rebuilding the infrastructure immediately, all in one step.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  It sounds very noble, but I don’t have time right now to listen to something that involved.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I can explain it very quickly—you said you would give me ten minutes.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF looks at his watch and nods affirmatively)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  OK, you have five more minutes.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Thank you, you won’t be sorry.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Let’s hear it.

ALAN SMITHEE:  First, California did not vote for the President-elect, so a goodwill gesture would be to start rebuilding the infrastructure in Southern California.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Why there?

ALAN SMITHEE:  That’s where Hollywood is.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m sure that must make sense, but the reasoning escapes me for the moment.

ALAN SMITHEE:  That is because the Hollywood community is quite depressed about the election results. Several psychologists and therapists have reported that many of their clients, who are always under extreme pressure anyway, are sinking into depression. That may indirectly cause the population to become depressed and negative.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I don’t see the connection.

ALAN SMITHEE:  These are the people who produce our motion pictures and TV shows, constantly being watched by millions, especially with streaming these days.  What would the mood be if they were suddenly faced with watching only sombre, depressing movies and TV shows?

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I see your point.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Good.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  But how is starting to rebuild the infrastructure in Southern California going to help?

ALAN SMITHEE:  You start by rebuilding the highways from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Vancouver?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Well, of course you would stop at the US border.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Obviously.

ALAN SMITHEE:  You might even repair a few bridges along the way, and make detours here and there to avoid any ‘Christmas tree’ for sale signs when you go through the wooded areas of Oregon and Washington.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You are talking about a project that spans California, Oregon and Washington. How is all of this going to raise the mood in Hollywood?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Many of them threatened to move to Canada if their candidate lost.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  If they do, they will fly.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Not at all. They can be shamed into not flying in their private jets or driving in their gas guzzling Hummers.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Hmm.

ALAN SMITHEE:  The government can offer free transportation on Greyhound buses, praising how these passengers are helping the environment by not using their private planes.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Are these people used to riding the bus?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Musicians often tour the country on luxury buses; movie stars stay on location in luxury trailers. The Greyhound buses can be spruced up to add some luxury and they will be travelling on new highways.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Even so, it would be a very long ride.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I have a solution for that.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF looks sceptical, but remains interested)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m listening.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Local employment can be increased by building comfortable rest stops along the way, maybe spaced two or three hours apart. They could be decorated with posters from Hollywood films and directors’ chairs, with the latest editions of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter available. Perhaps offer fresh mountain spring water and vegan appetisers free of charge.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m not convinced yet. We’re still talking about a long ride for a bunch of depressed people in a small space.

ALAN SMITHEE:  You haven’t heard the best part yet.

CHIEF OF STAFF: Tell me.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Each rest stop will have a specially designed room, with soft music, comfortable chairs and a long leather couch.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  What’s the couch for?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Each rest stop will be manned by a free psychiatrist or analyst—more employment.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  That’s fine, but it will slow down the trip if too many of them need a consultation at a particular stop.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I don’t think that will be a problem because the rest stops will not be placed that far apart.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Anything else?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Yes. Each rest stop will have a drive-through window for those who prefer driving their own car instead of taking the bus.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You seem to have thought of everything.

ALAN SMITHEE:  The only problem is if too many of them try to move to Canada.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You mean the cost might escalate.

ALAN SMITHEE:  No, Canada might build a wall.

 THE END

All aboard. Last bus to Canada.

      All aboard

Satire Sketch

BREXIT – Cameron thank you dinner for Obama

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

The UK Prime Minister and the US President sit at a table in the far corner of a small upscale restaurant in Mayfair on a quiet street in London; nearby, but out of sight are several secret service agents and security guards. The WAITER approaches the table and asks what they would like to drink.

CAMERON: Whiskey.

OBAMA: Beer.

WAITER: I am sorry sir, but we no longer serve beer. Perhaps you would like something from the bar or maybe a glass of wine.

OBAMA: Wine will be fine.

CAMERON: I will have wine also; cancel the whiskey.

WAITER: Very good, sir, I will send over the sommelier.

(OBAMA and CAMERON listen to the sommelier’s suggestions and finally agree on one)

OBAMA: I brought you a present.

CAMERON: How nice. I hope it did not cost too much.

OBAMA: Not at all, but it is one of your favourites; at least that is what I saw on TV.

(OBAMA hands a nicely wrapped box to CAMERON, who holds up the box and shakes it. Something inside makes a noise and the contents shift a bit)

OBAMA: You will never guess what it is; might as well just open it.

CAMERON: You are right.

OBAMA: I am always right. It comes with being a Harvard law professor; no one questions you until you go into politics.

(CAMERON carefully tears off the wrapping and opens the box; then pulls out the gift—a tube of Pringles)

OBAMA (smiling): They are Paprika Pringles.

CAMERON: How did you know I liked these?

OBAMA: There was a video of you on the internet; you were on a budget flight eating Paprika Pringles.

CAMERON: How thoughtful.

OBAMA: Oh, I really cannot take all the credit, maybe most of it. You know how so many gifts are not what somebody wants at all. I had a White House intern do an internet search to find out what you really like—and here it is.

CAMERON: I do not know what to say, except thanks.

(He opens the tube, inhales, takes one out and tastes it)

CAMERON (to OBAMA): Would you like to try one?

(Before OBAMA can respond, a WAITER walks over to the table)

WAITER: Excuse me sir, I mean Prime Minister, but you may not bring food into the restaurant.

(The WAITER reaches out and takes the tube of Pringles from CAMERON, but unnoticed by either of them a SECRET SERVICE AGENT appears from nowhere, turns the WAITER round and butts him in the head. The tube falls on the table and the Pringles scatter on the floor)

OBAMA: I brought those all the way from Washington.

OBAMA (to SECRET SERVICE AGENT): Pick those up.

SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Yes, sir.

(The SECRET SERVICE AGENT squats, picks up the Pringles one by one, and blows the dirt off them before putting them back in the tube)

OBAMA: It is hard to get good help these days, even if you are the President of the United States.

(Blood drips from the forehead of the WAITER to his crisply starched white shirt as he holds his head in pain. The MAÎTRE D’ rushes over and helps the WAITER walk away)

CAMERON: Tell me about it.

(ANOTHER WAITER arrives to serve the drinks, followed by the MAÎTRE D’, who serves the starters in enclosed silver covers)

MAÎTRE D’: Compliments of the chef, in honour of the American President.

(He uncovers the dishes to reveal a surprise)

CAMERON: Looks like a tiny square hamburger to me.

OBAMA: It is a White Castle.

(He takes a bite and smiles at the MAÎTRE D’)

OBAMA (continuing): Please give my thanks to the chef.

(Dinner continues with a salad, bread with a plate of olive oil, followed by the main entre, all of which takes a few hours)

CAMERON: Had enough to eat?

OBAMA: It is probably enough to last all week. I should walk it off in Hyde Park in the morning, but my secret service agents will complain.

(As CAMERON and OBAMA are enjoying after dinner drinks, the WAITER returns to the table with several bandages on his forehead)

OBAMA: I am sorry about what happened. I was beginning to get worried—it took you so long.

WAITER: First, I called the nearest hospital emergency room and asked for an ambulance. When I described my injuries, they said it was not serious enough for an ambulance, and suggested that I take a taxi.

OBAMA: Looks like they fixed you up. Your socialised medicine is excellent, so I hear.

WAITER: Where did you hear that?

OBAMA: Uh …

WAITER: I waited in a large room full of tired and angry people, some coughing and sneezing, for four hours; no it was 3 hours and 48 minutes, as they must release you in 4 hours.

OBAMA: Well, anyway the exam must have been thorough.

WAITER: What exam? They dabbed my forehead with some stinging substance, slapped on three small bandages, and gave be two paracetamol—what you would call aspirin.

OBAMA: Again, I am very sorry about what happened. You should go home and get some rest.

(The WAITER nods and leaves)

CAMERON: I invited you here to express my appreciation for your support with the EU referendum, especially your recommendation that the United Kingdom stay in the European Union.

OBAMA: Remaining in the EU gives the UK more influence and is important for economic prosperity and security. It is most unfortunate that the Leave vote prevailed.

CAMERON: I should have never authorised the referendum. The Leave vote has been a shock to everyone, even the Leave supporters. The financial markets are in disarray and the pound is in the toilet.

(A tall stocky man with unruly blonde hair, much like a miniature haystack, approaches the table and pulls out a chair. He is BORIS JOHNSON, former Mayor of London and now a Member of Parliament)

BORIS (as he sits down): May I join you?

CAMERON: You already have.

OBAMA: I thought that the referendum was primarily about the economy and security, but it seems that immigration became a more significant factor as the vote neared.

BORIS: Maybe so, but substantial support for the Leave vote already existed for other important reasons. This is also about representative democracy. Unelected faceless EU civil servants impose endless rules, regulations and financial obligations on the UK. The press and the elite have neglected the obstacles the EU has created for business, especially small shopkeepers, as well as unduly interfering with the daily private lives of ordinary people with petty overregulation. The European Court of Justice overrules English laws and judges, something the US would never stand for, as evidenced by their refusing to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

CAMERON: I did negotiate with the EU and got them to agree to some changes in our favour.

BORIS (to CAMERON): I know you tried your best, but you really did not get much. The bloated EU bureaucracy is extremely inflexible from top to bottom, starting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He is so rigid that I would not be surprised if he could not even bend over to tie his shoelaces. The man has this ever-closer phobia and keeps pushing the EU down a one-way road to failure. What started as an economic union—with the European Economic Community in 1975—morphed into the European Union in 1993, a political union with an insatiable hunger for fiscal, diplomatic and unchecked legislative powers.

(Although OBAMA finished his dinner some time ago, a small piece of bread remains on the table. He picks it up and dips it in a small plate of olive oil)

BORIS (to OBAMA): It is much healthier to dip bread in olive oil than to smoother it with butter, do you not agree?

OBAMA: I believe everyone knows that.

BORIS: Dip away while you can. In 2014, the EU tried to ban the use of refillable bottles and dipping bowls of olive oil at restaurant tables. There was an unusual groundswell against the proposal across Europe by consumers and restaurant owners.  It was one of the very few times that the EU backed down and reversed one of its rules, never admitting it was wrong, but excusing itself by saying that the ban was not formulated so as to achieve wide support from the public, as if the EU has ever given a rat’s ass about public opinion. They always know better and want to impose their way of thinking by re-educating the public, a common trait of those in unelected positions. I would not be surprised if they tried something like this again; the UK will still be subject to EU regulations until they negotiate the terms of withdrawal from the EU.

ANOTHER WAITER (arrives out of nowhere, pushing a cart): Gentlemen, I have the pleasure of preparing Bananas Foster at your table.

(The cart contains a large skillet on an alcohol burner, brown sugar, butter, rum, banana liquor, and several bananas)

OBAMA: I have not eaten Bananas Foster for quite some time.

(An elderly man—the MINDER—with white hair, a face with more wrinkles than his tired ill-fitting soviet era brown suit, and a short military style haircut suddenly appears and pulls out a small tool—a digital angle finder, picks up a banana and measures its curvature or bend. He speaks with an East German accent)

MINDER (to ANOTHER WAITER): You will take these bananas back; their bend violates EU regulations.

(The MINDER puts the banana back on the cart and ANOTHER WAITER pushes the cart away)

CAMERON: I thought that the bend rules applied to cucumbers.

BORIS: Yes, but it is more complicated for cucumbers than bananas because there are two cucumber categories. Class I and Extra Class cucumbers allow a bend of 10mm per 10cm of length, whereas Class II cumbers can bend twice as much.

CAMERON: Wait a minute. I think the rule on bananas was modified in the UK a few years back.

MINDER: Nobody told me. I will have to fill out a report concerning this violation.

(He takes out a pad of forms and makes notations on the top one)

MINDER: Your names.

CAMERON: I am the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

MINDER: And I am the King of Bavaria.

BORIS: He really is the Prime Minister.

BORIS and OBAMA (to themselves): Not for long.

MINDER: And, I suppose you are the Mayor of London

(pause)

MINDER (continuing): For the pittance they pay me, I am not going to verify your names. I just need to write something in each blank on this form so none of the highly paid comrades in Brussels sends it back.

(He starts filling out the form and turns to OBAMA)

MINDER (to OBAMA): Don’t think I have forgotten about you. You look like a university professor. I’ll just write “professor”, since you gentlemen are playing games with me over your real names. They don’t matter because the guilty party subject to a fine is the restaurant.

OBAMA: That’s OK; I can get some Bananas Foster next time I am in New Orleans.

(OBAMA picks up a thin briefcase and pulls out a group of articles that mention Cameron and the EU referendum. He holds them out to CAMERON, but the MINDER grabs them and pulls off the large paperclip holding them together)

MINDER: What have we here?

BORIS: This does not look good.

OBAMA: The articles are not all negative.

BORIS: That is not the problem; it is the petty EU bureaucracy.

(The MINDER pulls out a small ruler and measures the length of the paper clip)

MINDER: Just as I suspected; this clip exceeds the allowable size under EU regulations.

(He bends the paperclip and it snaps in two)

MINDER: Oh, my, look at this. This clip appears to be made of materials that violate EU safety regulations. I’ll have to confiscate it and write another report.

(The Minder places the unclipped papers on the table, fills out another form and departs. Before he leaves, he clicks his heels together and raises his right arm in a Nazi salute)

MINDER: Sorry. Old habits are hard to break.

OBAMA: First it’s bananas; now it’s paper clips.

(He straightens the articles and hands them to CAMERON)

CAMERON: Thank you. I am sure I will find them interesting.

OBAMA: Who was that fellow?

BORIS: A minder.

OBAMA: Did you say a miner?

BORIS: No, a minder—one of those low-level officials assigned to follow you around if you visited Soviet controlled countries in the old days. They would stick to you like glue.

OBAMA: I thought that all went out with the end of the Cold War.

CAMERON: It is just something the EU is trying on a temporary basis.

BORIS: There is no such thing as temporary where the EU is concerned. They will make this so-called experiment permanent and expand it.

OBAMA: Why was that fellow measuring the bananas?

CAMERON: The EU wants to ensure that its rules and regulations are being followed. They have placed staff members in a few restaurants on a test basis to oversee compliance in the food service industry.

BORIS: Staff members, bloody hell. These are former minders from East Germany here to spy on us for the EU; a relic from the Cold War, straight out of Alexanderplatz central casting in Berlin. They are state employees who cannot be retrained for other jobs. An invasive program our Prime Minister has allowed into the UK.

CAMERON: I saw his resume—he comes with a recommendation, somewhat dated, from Erich Honecker.

BORIS: Wonderful fellow as far as apparatchiks go, especially known for organising the building of the Berlin Wall.

OBAMA (to himself): I wonder if Donald Trump has heard of him?

CAMERON: Don’t blame me; the UK has to follow the EU directives or they raise a big stink or take legal action.

BORIS (to OBAMA):  You probably thought the EU referendum was just about security and the economy.

OBAMA: Well yes. That is what first comes to mind.

BORIS: The problem that mostly affects the daily lives of UK citizens is the constant generation of new regulations, most of them quite petty.  Job security is sacred at the European Commission. It is almost impossible to be fired, but people still like to give the appearance of being busy.  I would not be surprised to find that they have classes to teach civil servants how to look busy when they have nothing to do.  More than 10,000 EU officials make more than our Prime Minister does.  The latest proposal, so I hear, is to offer an incentive system for lower-paid employees who submit three ideas each week for new things to regulate.

OBAMA: There is nothing wrong with big government, but I don’t know about that kind of incentive system.

OBAMA (to BORIS): You were a major supporter of the Leave campaign. What are their plans for carrying out the Brexit?

BORIS (ignoring the question): Do you own a dog?

OBAMA: Two.

BORIS: Well, you probably have the same rules as in the UK; you must carry a plastic bag and pick up after your dog makes a deposit.

OBAMA: Yes, but it is not a big inconvenience.

BORIS: You might have a problem with your dogs if you move to London after you leave the White House, at least until we are out of the EU.

OBAMA: I wasn’t planning to, but why is that?

BORIS: The EU regulators in their concern for the environment are going all out after plastic.

OBAMA: I see nothing wrong with that.

BORIS: They are considering banning the use of plastic bags for dog walkers.

OBAMA: Then, how are you going to clean up the dog deposits?

BORIS: Dog owners will have to train their dogs to sit on the pot to take a crap before they go for a walk. Quite an inconvenience for dog owners, but it will be good for business.

OBAMA: How is that?

BORIS: They already make special potty seats for small children and disabled persons. Now they will need to design special ones for dogs, and one size will not fit all. Even so, the solicitors will be concerned about liability if an owner uses the wrong size and a dog falls in and drowns, so more work for them. Potty manufacturers and the owners of pet stores will also benefit from increased sales.

(ANOTHER WAITER appears with the dessert menu and asks to take their orders)

OBAMA: I am not hungry anymore.

CAMERON: Me neither.

BORIS (to ANOTHER WAITER): Bring those bananas back. I’ll take them home and make my own Bananas Foster.

ANOTHER WAITER: I am sorry but the MINDER confiscated them.

BORIS: What is he going to do—send them with his report to Brussels?

ANOTHER WAITER: No. I saw him through the window, standing at the bus stop. He was eating the bananas.

THE END

Small banana X

Satire Sketch

Hitler’s Erasure – EU Article 17

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Blog by Richard Heagy

Someone long thought to be dead recently filed a complaint with the European Commission for violation of his human rights, in particular, the right to be forgotten and erasure of personal data no longer relevant pursuant to Article 17. They wondered if perhaps a relative or descendant filed the complaint. The European Commission, not burdened with budget restraints, dispatched one of its highly paid bureaucrats to the far ends of the globe to investigate the complaint, and in particular verify the identity of the complainant. After a flight from Brussels to Buenos Aires, followed by a lengthy train ride, and change of buses, the highly paid bureaucrat (unaccustomed to such uncomfortable travel accommodations) arrived at his fact-finding destination in Argentina.

BUS DRIVER: End of the line.

(The bus stops at the corner of a side street that abuts the town plaza and all depart, including a few chickens. The EU OFFICIAL is the last one off the bus. He holds a briefcase in one hand and with the other dusts off his jacket; then looks round as everyone seems to disappear. Small shops and cafés line the plaza, accompanied by a few kiosks or food stands here and there. Suddenly, what appears to be a taxi approaches, belching exhaust, and comes to a sudden halt)

DRIVER: Señor, at your service.

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Satire Sketch

A Pot to Piss In – an interview with Berne

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

BERNIE: Well, young man, I am very glad you came out to hear me today.

(He reaches out and shakes the YOUNG MAN’s hand)

YOUNG MAN: I didn’t have nothin’ else to do. All they got on TV right now is reruns.

BERNIE: Nevertheless, I am glad you came.

YOUNG MAN: Whatever!

(Looks at his watch)

BERNIE: You are not in a hurry to get back to work, are you?

YOUNG MAN: No. I got laid off at the factory

BERNIE (looking sympathetic): I am sorry to hear that.

YOUNG MAN: It was a crappy job anyway.

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