Friday, 8 April 2016
I have been intrigued this week on hearing of the work of Harvard professor Michael Puett, who for some years has delivered a class in ethical reasoning based on texts such as Confucius’s Analects, the Mencius, and the Daodejing, urging them to put the ancient teachings into daily practice. His lectures aim to allow students to figure out how to be good human beings, how to create a good society and how to have a flourishing life. One who needs such guidance right now is David Cameron, but lacking the time to undergo such ground-up remodelling he ought, at least, to read Dale Carnegie’s seminal work ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ – he is, after all, in the business of selling.
Right now he is trying every trick in the book to flog the seedy, second-hand package that is the European Union to a few million people who really don’t want to be his friends at all; if he can influence them enough to say yes to the whole sorry deal it is strongly believed he will be rewarded in the afterlife. I say afterlife because few now believe, win or lose, that he has much of a future in British government after the forthcoming EU Referendum. But Samantha and the kids need not worry, Brussels will provide.
Imagine, if you will, the day after a vote to remain in this Woolworths of world organisations, the bargain basement of bureaucratic tat, the Ratner’s of ratification, when Cameron and his cronies are called to an audience with Jean-Claude Juncker to collect their pieces of silver. The European Commission, never one to uncomplicated simple things has, as is its wont, come up with a remuneration formula based on factors entirely unrelated to the matter in hand. Dish face and Co. are to be paid €1,000 for every centimetre measured in a straight line between any two points on their body.
First to present himself for payment is the lanky turncoat Eurosceptic Philip Hammond who is well pleased to find that at six-feet two he can request to be paid by height. Standing exactly 188 cm tall he collects 188,000 Euros simply for changing his mind and betraying his principles. He knows he can look forward to a gold-plated life of Kinnocking, having achieved nothing else in his political life but to turn his back on the country of his birth.
Next up is the rather more diminutive Theresa May, another turncoat but nevertheless now a beloved comrade of the Mother Europa. Lacking Hammond’s vertical inches she thinks hard for a moment. ‘Between any two points’ is the criterion, so she lies down, strikes the pose of a starfish and asks to be measured from the tip of the outstretched fingers of her right hand to the pointed big toe of her Louboutin-clad left foot. She grins as 215cm is measured and duly collects €215,000 for her back-stabbing.
Finally, it is David Cameron’s turn and he calmly requests that his measurement be made from the tip of his penis to his testicles. The others are surprised; although he is known in Westminster as a massive cock, they hardly took that literally. Or maybe he was seeking only modest compensation for his efforts – he probably has a mountain of cash stashed offshore? Either way, a doctor was summoned to take the measurement and Cameron duly dropped his trousers around his ankles.
The doctor donned his latex gloves, took out the tape measure and dropped to his knees. He gently pulled Cameron’s underpants down and gasped. “But, Mr Prime Minister, where are your balls?” Cameron shifted uneasily, cleared his throat and said, “In Berlin. Mrs Merkel has them in a jar.”