Friday, April 28, 2006

Jim Hopkins: Heroic Greens save the innocents from a fizzy peril

Everyone knows about Coca-Cola; the miracle beverage first discovered gushing from springs high in the Andes by starving pygmies desperate for sustenance after their epic voyage across the uncharted Southern Ocean in a fleet of fig leaf coracles.

And we all know how the rapacious conquistadors, greedy for gold, later destroyed the peaceful Pygmy Inca empire (to this day, no trace of their tiny stone cities has ever been found) and how all knowledge of their sacred libation was lost to a grieving world.

Until, as we all know, a dusty manuscript was discovered mouldering in a Peruvian museum, describing how to brew Quetza Quola (as it was known) thus inspiring some vile and unscrupulous dental entrepreneurs to synthesise the wondrous brew for the express purpose of rotting children's teeth.

But what we didn't know, until this week, was how to thwart this repulsive gang and prevent their rotting the molars and burgeoning the waistlines of our sugar-soaked youth.

Mercifully, the Greens have cracked it. While deemed unsuitable as coalition partners, they nevertheless remain an essential part of gummint; with special responsibility for ensuring that Tiger Woods gets stuck in traffic and eliminating those unspeakable nutritional perils that confront our young.

Accordingly, the real gummint (Helen, Winston, Peter and Jim) are giving the unreal gummint (Jeanette and the dowager Lady Kedgeree) $5 million of other people's money to compensate any gummint-funded schools that choose to remove any Toxi Cola vending machines on their premises, thus forfeiting the $3000 annual rental they receive from the hideous purveyors of this lethal concoction.

The brilliance of this is indubitable. In a country where people are already borrowing money hand over fist to make up for what they've lost through taxation, nothing could be more logical than hoovering another $5 mill out of their pockets.

Yet there will be people who believe the Greens have not gone far enough and should probably seek another fund to compensate schools who elect to ban pencils because their lead could poison young brains. And another fund to compensate schools which scrap computers because their electromagnetic radiations could cause madness, misogyny and terminal OOS.

Plus an additional fund to compensate schools which get rid of books because they cause myopia and astigmatism. Come to think of it, there should probably be a fund to compensate schools which decide to close down altogether in order to spare us all those ghastly accounts of boys' underachievement.

It's all very well sceptics saying, "Keep it up, lads. The system's so insufferably naff you shouldn't be succeeding anyway. Try life, it's a much better classroom!" But if our young stallions have already been gelded by Toxi Cola, pencils, computers, books, txt bullying and counselling, there's no way they'll benefit from any tuition in the larger world.

So our message to the remorselessly anxious Sue Kedgeree must be clear and unambiguous. "Press on, dear heart," we must say. "And cease not your heroic endeavours till you have negotiated a compensatory fund that will see the scourge of compulsory education, with all its attendant ills, abolished forever."

Until that great day dawns the Greens might consider putting their money where someone else's mouth is. Specifically, they use their $5 million to buy organic memory pills for anyone about to join, or rejoin, the Cabinet.

Young David Parker seems an ideal candidate for such medication. It was heartening to learn on Wednesday that the wee fellow had joined the lengthening line of important persons spared prosecution. But also disturbing to discover that he'd only ever pleaded guilty because he'd forgotten he had a note from the teacher, as it were, relieving him of the need to do what he'd already shamefacedly confessed he hadn't!

Having thus caused the gummint much unnecessary embarrassment, he should probably be left languishing absent-mindedly on the back benches for at least three weeks. Let's face it, a politician who hasn't got an alibi is deplorable but a politician who forgets he's got an alibi is utterly inexcusable!

It raises an interesting moral question for any unCola'd minds that have managed to sneak through to Philosophy 101: If someone repeatedly does something they know to be wrong only to discover (in the nick of time) that it wasn't actually wrong at all because the Official Alibee had said it wasn't, would that person still be: a) morally culpable since they believed the act was wrong, b) a dangerous amnesiac who's unlikely to remember his own roading policy, c) a Cabinet Minister.

The answer, of course, is "Yes" but that doesn't explain how such a dreadful memory lapse could occur. To answer that inexplicable mystery, we are entitled to conclude that the malign effects of Toxi Cola are equally evident in the corridors of power as they are in the classroom. And that the Greens would therefore be well advised to postpone their nutritional cleansing of our schools until they have put their own House in order.

Before doing anything else, they should use their richly deserved $5 million to purge parliament of any carbonated waters and pernicious confections that might rot the minds, ruin the physiques and destroy the prospects of unwitting youngsters like little Master Parker.

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