Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Burning Issue....

It was a burning issue. Everyone was talking about it - the heads on the telly, the disembodied but clever sounding voices on the radio - everyone. When I went down to the Co-op for a pint of milk and twenty fags, every pair of chatty old ladies were holding forth on the subject - loudly so the world might know their opinions. When, eventually, I made it to that familiar perch at the left hand end of the bar, the pub chatter (what little is left since the puritans and nannying fussbuckets set about the boozer) was all about this dreadful event. What do do, whose fault it was, whether hanging should be brought back to deal with it and even if drawing or quartering might be a worthwhile enhancement to this fitting end.  And everyone agreed - it was a terrible thing. The men and women responsible were vile, the spawn of Beelzebub, future denizens of hell's torment. Even me - contrary, cussed old me - agreed. Had there ever been an issue blessed with such universal agreement?

But then. Then I heard it. A voice from down the bar - a voice of disagreement. A stunned silence fell onto the audience - pints, small glasses of scotch, red wine schooners and tumblers of rum and coke were placed quietly on bars, tables and windowsills. We listened to the voice:

"I don't know what the fuss is all about. We're all on the take, fiddling and claiming things we shouldn't have. When I worked at Smalltrees, every rep and every buyer had a slush fund - we got our house carpeted and our kitchens furnished off the back of it all. Can't see what the problem is myself. There's much more important things we should bother about."

A hushed moment followed as we looked around for the brave soul who would respond - put this sinner back on the path to righteousness. A voice was heard:

"Er, Steve? Can I have a pint, a vodka and orange, and a packet of pork scratchings."

The spell was broken. The burning issue was extinguished.

...and we went back to talking about football, road directions and the weather.


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