Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Morgan the Vulture - A Fairy tale in many, many parts

Once upon a time there was a vulture called Morgan - and a very happy vulture he was. You see, Morgan used to spend all his time gliding over the plains looking for dead bodies. Oh how he loved those dead bodies! He even loved the not-quite-so-dead bodies, not to mention the weak and the vulnerable ones. In fact he basically loved easy meat, did Morgan. Which meant, any meat he could lay his beak on with the minimum of effort

What a wonderful life it was! Morgan loved nothing more than to survey the plain in the early evening when the sun was going down. This was a good time to find a dehydrating gazelle, exhausted and soon to expire. And as soon as the animal began twitching and its expression went vacant, he'd swoop down and fill his fat, greedy, bloated guts with the tainted flesh of the dying creature.

Sweet! No exertion involved, no complications. He often thought how stupid the King of the Beasts was. He knew that lions, just like all the other big cats, had to go through much labour to fill their proud tummies. They had to expend so much effort, so much industry. Whereas Morgan simply dealt with the remains. And what rich pickings those remains provided.

But one day Morgan noticed that many of his fellow vultures were becoming sick and weak. The first stage, he noticed, was coughing and spluttering. Then the vultures lost the ability to take off and fly. Then they started vomiting and going very, very, deathly pale.

Morgan thought there must be some really dodgy flesh knocking about the plain. Because, boys and girls, some flesh is too purulent, too rotten, too toxic even for vultures. And so it came to pass that the other vultures started dropping like flies - like very big fucking flies, I'll warrant you.

But Morgan was okey-dokey. You see, he was a wily old bird and he avoided the really stinking, oozing, festering flesh. He stayed fit and well fed. And he carried on much as he had before.

But there's something else you should know about Morgan: he was also a very imaginitive, a very creative birdie. And he hit upon an idea: There was so much vulture meat now knocking around on account of the plague and what-not, that he thought "I could do a nice little sideline in flogging it, I could."

And so he went about the plain and said to the lions and the tigers and the panthers and the cheetahs and the leopards and the crocodiles and the hyenas and the... anyway, you get the message... He said to them, "Hey, dude, wanna know the deal? Even a vulture can provide you a meal."

And you know what? All these majestic animals, even the big, cool cats, they all said yes, because times were tough on the plain what with global warming and the fucked up balance of the ecosystem and they went and bought every ounce of vulture meat that Morgan had.

Boy-o-boy-o-boy-o-boy! What a nice little earner this was for the wily vulture. He was making a mint (which was not what his vulture flesh smelt like, I can tell you). But times were good for him all of a sudden. And who would have thought it after all that nasty old vulture pestilence that had occurred so recently.

And none of the animals knew what he was getting up to and how he was getting so rich.They just could not see how it was possible when the economy of the plain was so totally fucked up and chaotic and twisted and when even the King of the Beasts was having a really shit time.

But, in chapter two, boys and girls, we'll find out what happened next to Morgan and his vulture way of life, and how it was that all the other animals turned a blind eye to everything that Morgan did.

(to be continued...)

I am not a number

David Cameron and William Hague are discussing the pitch for their “people-empowerment” agenda. They want a popular frame of reference that'll get across the idea that individual citizens can make a difference. The remake of the cult sixties series "The Prisoner" is about to appear on television. Could it offer an avenue worth exploring?

Hague: Of course the line that everyone remembers is, I am not a number.

Cameron: (Laughs) I am not a number. Yes. Love it.

Hague: Classic line. Has resonance even today David, does it not?

Cameron: It does. Everyone knows what it means

Hague: ... People quoting it on television

Cameron: That might be to do with the remake, of course.

Hague: Possibly.

Cameron: (Smiles) You're not a number, are you, William?

Hague: Me, David? No, most definitely not. I am most definitely not a number.

Cameron: Me neither, William. One thing Eton taught one was that one is not a number.

Hague: And even with my state education, I can quite categorically say that one is not a number either.

Cameron: You did do your thing, your speech, didn't you? You know, party conference back in 1976, as a wee nipper. Some might say that you were already a career politician back then. The party hierarchy already had your, er, number, if you like

Hague: (Chuckles) Very funny, David. But in all earnestness, I would say that my appearance at conference back then would actually prove that I was an individual - even as a wee nipper, as you so appositely put it

Cameron: In a tweed jacket was it not?

Hague: Well, yes, David. But that just shows once again how much of an individual I was. No one in my school would have been caught dead wearing a tweed jacket back then. One would have been the laughing stock.

Cameron: I'm sure one would, William.

Hague: Anyway, we're straying from the point if you don't mind my saying.

Cameron: Of course. Your point...

Hague: Which is that this government under Gordon Brown treats people as numbers. This lot, they eat sleep and dream numbers, statistics, numerical analysis.

Cameron: Not wrong there.

Hague: So, this is what we need to be getting across, in my view. We could even test out the campaign slogan perhaps: "I am not a number."

Cameron: "You are not a number?"

Hague: No, I just said, Dave. I am not a num...

Cameron: No, I meant as a slogan.

Hague: Oh, I see. Yes. You mean, we say in our presentation, "You are not a number."

Cameron:  Exactly. That's what we say: "You are not a number."

Hague: Although, we do have to be careful there. We can't TELL people that they are not numbers. Telling people that kind of thing is what Gordon and his lot would do. You know: You are NOT a number. I'm telling YOU. YOU are NOT a number!

Cameron: Fair point. Mind you, just imagine what a nerve it would be for Gordon Brown to quote from "The Prisoner", what with his record on civil rights. Remember Damian Green, for example? Not to mention databases, ID cards, 48 days detention etc etc.

Hague: It would indeed take some chutzpah were he to do that David. But I wouldn't put it past him.

Cameron: No, you're right. I wouldn't either... Well, maybe we ought to start using this quote pronto, before he has the chance to get it out.

Hague: Good idea. We'll get it out before he does. Then he'll look stupid if he starts telling people that they're not a number, after we have already told people they're not a number.

Cameron: Or that they are not numbers, to, you know, use the grammatical...

Hague: Yes, I'll correct myself, if I may... That they are not numbers.

Cameron: Anyway at least that means we'll steal a march on him, if he does think of making any references to "The Prisoner" when the remake launches, whenever that is.

Hague: I'll talk to Pickles about it immediately. See how he might want to play it.

Cameron: Good man, William. I really reckon that this could pay dividends.

Hague: Indeed it could, David.

(The two sit back and reflect for a couple of moments)

Cameron: Of course... You know, one thing worries me though, William.

Hague: What's that?

Cameron: It's the fact that we are all, in a certain sense, prisoners nowadays. Politicians included.

Hague: Yes, David?

Cameron: Yes, we're all having to play the same game.... the same consensus game. It's the fight for the same old middle ground, the fight for the same old hearts and minds - for which New Labour originally fought... We're all prisoners now. We can't do anything in politics anymore without it having some kind of popular... some kind of middle of the road frame of reference.

Hague: Very true, David. And you have to ask yourself: Why is that? Who started it all?

Cameron: Well, I suppose it was, I don't know, we politicians who started it all?

Hague: Exactly, David. It was down to politicians in the first place, I do believe, that one, that one and all are... are? is? (Looks confused)

Cameron: Are, William. It's are!

Hague: Yes, that one and all are effectively numbers nowadays.