I had to cancel this week\’s blog, because it was going to be about Russia. With the weeping and wailing over the most recent economic figures, please see my blog of 3rd January \”The Prognosticators and the Previous Favourite Minister\” for the real lowdown.
Once upon a time (and a very good time it was) there were some farmers who found a grove of money trees. At first they just exchanged the fruit of the money trees for things they needed – although you couldn\’t eat them, the fruits were very pretty. Some were gold and some were silver and everyone liked to play with them.
After a while you could just go into the marketplace with some moneytree fruit and buy things. It was great so they called it money and got on with it. Generations passed.
The people who owned the money trees got the name of bankers because they dug big banks of earth around their orchards to stop anyone getting in to steal their money. Kings did, of course. They had armies and cannon and so on.
However, the bankers knew that you didn\’t need a lot to make a money tree grow but it wouldn\’t be a good idea to tell anyone else. It was also very important to control how many money trees there were and how much fruit you used because for some strange reason, the more money you had in a kingdom the less you could buy with it.
Often the King would decide that he would look after the money trees and the bankers would have to do what he said because he had the cannon.
This always ended badly. Kings just couldn\’t be trusted with money trees because they always harvested too much money, gave too much away, had wars, decreed that the leaves were just as good and the kingdom would end up awash with money that you couldn\’t actually buy anything with.
The bankers felt they were the ones who understood about money trees and they did their best to keep the King out of their orchards.
Alas, sometimes life got a bit tricky. For instance, one time a lot of the bankers were caught out by the fertiliser sold to them by a nice young shepherd. It certainly lifted the moneytree yields at first (from which the bankers, as was their wont, naturally took a large percentage for all their hard work). Unfortunately, the next thing was that the fertiliser poisoned the trees.
After several particularly large moneytrees had crashed down causing a lot of damage to the other moneytrees in the orchards, the bankers found themselves looking at the business end of one of the King\’s cannon.
\”I\’m taking over to stop any more money trees going down,\” said the King\’s Favourite Minister.
He and his minions had a plan. They shored up the sick moneytrees by taking great wagonloads of money and heaping it up around the poorly-looking and bare moneytrees.
\”Where did you get all this?\” asked one of the chief bankers.
\”Oh we\’ve just collected up a lot of the money floating around the market, taxes and so on,\” said the King\’s FM, \”The peasants don\’t need it that much. Why?\”
\”What about our bonuses? We\’ve got to have them or people will think we\’re not clever or tough.\”
\”You\’re not,\” said the King\’s FM, \”You\’re bankers.\”
\”Yes well, if we don\’t get our bonuses we\’ll go off and look after the moneytrees somewhere else and nobody else knows how to do it as well as us.\”
The King\’s FM shrugged,\”I don\’t care…\”
One of the bankers who had been at school with the FM took him out for a pint and the whole thing was sorted.
The bankers could scoop up as much money they could carry away from the piles and piles of it still shoring up the sick money trees. They had half an hour to do it in. Naturally all the bankers arrived for work on the important day carrying big rucksacks and dungarees with huge pockets and massive hats. The piles of money around the poisoned money trees were so huge, they were sure nobody would notice as they staggered away with their bonuses.
Unfortunately, the peasants who were earning a lot less than the bankers could imagine and many of whom had gone bust, were waiting for them outside the money orchards. The bankers couldn\’t run fast because of all the money they were carrying. And the peasants seemed upset about something but none of the bankers could work out why or what the problem was before they were all lynched and left swinging from their very own moneytrees.
From: email@example.com To: all Deleterious Impulse Encouragement Facilitators
Hi – to all you great tempters out there!
I\’m Twistchip, your new Senior Facilitator, Deleterious Impulse Encouragement Team, North West Europe. I\’ll be taking over this section from dear old Suckhose who will be retiring to the Fifth Circle and maybe doing a little uranium-moving to keep fit. Way to go, Suckhose!
Now our amazing CEO, Sir Beelzebub Mammon has personally tasked me with lowering our game and making sure our negativity goes to the right place – that\’s to our human customers, guys, not ourselves! We need to be positive and take every opportunity to adversely influence and just generally do that Deleterious Impulse Encouragement thing at every opportunity! There\’s no room for sitting back and putting our hooves up!! Not in today\’s Pandemonium – or, as we are going to be calling it now, today\’s Differently Energied Non-Material Entity Unity Initiative.
Also we are dumping some other outmoded vocabulary. Frinstance, we\’re not going to be calling each other \’tempter\’ or \’devil\’ thank you very much. Those words are simply no longer Theologically Correct.
Maybe Deleterious Impulse Encouragement Operative is a bit of a mouthful – but hey, we have fangs (or, as we\’ll now be calling them, Positively Angled Canine Mastication Tools). Nor should we refer to our human customers as \’suckers\’ or \’food\’. That is disrespectful and worse still, might give the game away while we are leading them in a non-judgemental and non-anxiety-provoking way so we can eventually benefit from absorbing their biological energy fields. We also have a much lower aim.
As CEO Sir Beelzebub Mammon said in a recent speech to all we Division Heads:
\”The next hundred Earth years will be crucial. As the human animals listen to our advice, they will consume more and more irreplaceable fossil fuels, release more and more carbon dioxide and destroy more and more of their own biosphere in ways that are hilariously wrong-headed. We can all take credit for this wonderful opportunity – though of course, most of it belongs to our star Chairman Lord Satan.
\”However, as always, the Competition will be sneaking around trying to rescue the disgusting little hybrids. There is nothing to worry about there as we have managed to persuade most of the Competition\’s genuine human followers that good people are passive, so most of them will wring their hands, worry, cut back on petrol use and even engage in some very funny hobbies like knitting with plastic bags. They will not take any useful action, you can be sure of that.
\”The ones who call themselves followers of the Competition but are actually ours, will continue to bomb, rant and hate in a most entertaining and satisfactory way.
\”Meanwhile our mission will simply be to encourage all the humans\’ fear, greed and stupidity so that they will soon wipe themselves out in the extinction event we have tentatively labelled \”The Big Banquet of 2040.\”
\”Remember, the uglier, more depleted and polluted we can encourage the human hybrids to make their planet, the easier it will be to get them down here. The more we can get them to exchange beauty, forests, fertile seas and their relationships with each other for that wonderfully meaningless symbol of desire, Money, the quicker we can eat them.
\”So this is the last push. Pretty soon we\’ll have seen off the Competition and we will rule the humans\’ uglified and poisoned world.
\”To that thrilling prospect, let us lower our glasses and toast the Future!\”
© Sir Beelzebub Mammon, CEO Hell Incorporated.
Way to go, Sir Beelzebub, that powerful and passionate speech is an aspiration to us all!!
I\’ll be in touch explaining how best to ultimise human negativity and pro-actively prepare them for absorption.
All the worst
Ms Twistchip (B.A. Hons.)
Combined DIE Teams
North West Europe Division
This email is the exclusive confidential property of Hell Inc. If you have received it in error, burn before reading.
[Note: I\’m afraid I am not at liberty to explain how I hacked this information from the Undernet. Serious apologies to C. S. Lewis.]
Once upon a time (and a very good time it was) the King\’s Favourite Minister decided he wanted some information about the future.
\”Call up the augurs, the haruspexes and the fortunetellers,\” he commanded awfully, \”And the astrologers and astronomers and the economists and then…\”
\”Not the astronomers,\” said the Fool, gently.
\”And why not?\”
\”They can\’t foretell the future,\” explained the Fool, \”Only the past. And not a lot of that either.\”
\”Oh.\” The King\’s FM looked disapproving, \”Are they the ones who have carelessly lost 96% of the universe?\”
\”No sir, those are the physicists.\”
\”Well I don\’t want to talk to either of that lot of loonies anyway. I want to know what\’s going to happen in the coming year and I don\’t want any shillyshallying or argument about it, understand? And no silly graphs either, you can tell the economists. Just clear plain predictions that turn out to be true.\”
The Littlest Bureaucrat took a breath to say something, but caught the eye of the Fool in time. The word went out and the predictors and the prognosticators went to work. In a short time their various predictions were brought to the King\’s Favourite Minister and, very inconveniently, he read them.
\”Hang on,\” he said, \”These are the same as last year.\”
The Littlest Bureaucrat shook his head. He had warned them.
\”Indeed sir,\” said an economist with the oily look of his kind, \”We have conclusively proved that statistically, your best bet for a prediction is that what happened last year will happen again this year.\”
\”Really?\” said the King\’s FM, \”How sure are you?\”
\”What about the missing 10%?\”
The economist coughed as if the FM had vulgarly burped. \”Well, sir, I\’m afraid that\’s the irreducible element which is unpredictable. The… er… well, the technical term is… surprises, sir.\”
The King\’s FM could do quite a good withering look when he tried. \”Those,\” he said quietly and clearly, \”Are the bits I want to predict, understand?\”
\”Well we could if events conformed to the traditional bell curve, however we have recently begun to realise…\”
\”That they don\’t. Which makes things difficult.\”
The King\’s FM waved his arm and large people in black masks dragged the failed economists and astrologers away so they could learn what \’difficult\’ really meant.
\”Hang on,\” said the King\’s FM, who was good at detail, \”A couple of them haven\’t reported. Why not?\”
\”They\’re the haruspex and the augur, sir,\” said the Fool, \”They say they haven\’t caught the usual sacrificial victim yet, but they\’re working on it.\”
The Fool whispered in the King\’s Favourite Minister\’s ear. He looked both pleased and surprised. \”Really? Is that normal?\”
\”Oh yes sir, they insist.\”
Miggs James Miggs was a bit out of breath but very pleased with himself. After an impressive run across the moors, at the last moment, he\’d come up on the sacrifice\’s blind side and knocked him out. The large ungainly body was being hoisted onto the operating table right away, out in the open where the augur could do his job as well.
He gestured in annoyance at his henchmen who were supposed to be keeping back the unruly mob of bankers baying for the sacrifice\’s blood in the distance. They applied clubs and similar instruments of social control such as taxes and large bribes.
\”Right,\” said Miggs James Miggs 001 to the haruspex, a thin tight-lipped grey-whisped man in a green rubber apron, \”Off you go.\”
The haruspex took out a large cleaver and opened the sacrifice\’s belly to look at the liver. Meanwhile the augur got out his binoculars.
\”Two crows and a buzzard,\” he shouted, \”Approaching left to right… a good omen.\”
\”Blimey,\” said the haruspex, \”Talk about cirrhosis…\”
\”What?\” said the augur, counting under his breath, \”They usually have it.\”
The haruspex tutted. \”Lot of white spots, specially in the upper lobe.\”
\”Bad news before summer?\”
\”That\’s the one.\”
\”What about the gall bladder?\”
\”Symbolising the pamphlet writers? Swollen, ugly, full of bile.\”
\”Amazing what science can do. Eight SBJs flying right to left, that\’s a bad omen, gents.\”
\”Lower lobe, several wrinkles, a fatty deposit and more white spots. Looks like a shocker of a year, frankly.\”
\”Specially for him,\”
The Littlest Bureaucrat had arrived on a fast horse and was standing in the wind with his quill poised. \”Your predictions?\” he asked, \”Oh and the King\’s Favourite Minister doesn\’t like vagueness.\”
\”I\’d say the stock exchange will go up and then dive, the economy will totter for a bit and then dive and the pound will go tits up by the end of the year…\”
\”But then recover. Probably.\”
\”The FM isn\’t going to like…\”
\”Not my problem,\” said the haruspex, \”It\’s not up to me, it\’s up to him.\” He pointed at the bloody carcass of the previous King\’s Favourite Minister, which was being dismembered by the happy crowd of bankers. \”It\’s uncanny, you can tell him. Never fails. It\’s all in his predecessor\’s liver.\”
As the Littlest Bureaucrat rode off with the latest scientific predictions, Miggs James Miggs looked with new respect at the haruspex and the augur.
\”How do you get away with it?\” he asked.
The haruspex and augur exchanged looks. \”We just look at the evidence.\”
\”Yeah, but spots on a liver…\”
\”The worse things are going, the more the King\’s Favourite Minister drinks,\” said the augur. \”That\’s it. But don\’t tell anyone.\”
\”See you next time,\” said the haruspex jovially as he packed away his blades.