Category Archives: Humour

Scomo banks on denial

PM:     Did you do it?

MINISTER 1:     No I did not!

PM:     Atta boy, but there’s room for improvement. Let’s try again.

Do you do it?

MINISTER 1:     I definitely did not.

PM:     Only definitely? Can’t you do better than that?

MINISTER [taking a deep breath]:     I absolutely, categorically deny I had anything to do with it.

PM:     That’s more like it! Take a break and we’ll polish it later.

MINISTER 1:     Um, sorry PM, what was I denying?

PM:     Come on, I explained it all in Cabinet! I want blanket denials from every minister. We’re bound to need them so I’m stockpiling.

MINISTER [smiles broadly]:     You’re a thinker Scotty. That’s why we made you PM.

PM:     Send in the next one, will you?

MINSTER 1:     Sure thing.

PM:     Right. Did you do it?

MINISTER 2:     I am offended to the core that you could even ask that question. Never in a month of Sundays would I ever contemplate action so vile in spirit and horrendous in application that it would leave decent people everywhere shuddering with revulsion. If you persist with that malicious line of enquiry I will not hesitate to be very upset to the point that I might cry.

PM [laughs]:     You’ve been practicing! Great work, though you might need to look at the word count. A bit long for a 30 second grab.

Send in the next one will you?

MINISTER 2:     You got it, El Scotto Supremo.

PM:     Okay, you know the drill. I explained it before.

MINISTER 3:    Did you now?

PM:     Yes, I did. Oh, bugger, you got me. I answered in the affirmative.

MINISTER 3:     I didn’t mean to embarrass you PM, just to show that we can all slip up.

PM:     I know, I know, a good lesson too. Forgot my own rule: always deny until it’s certain the media are all at the pub.

MINISTER 3:    Or move to hypotheticals. “You have just asked me if I assaulted that woman. I have never responded to hypotheticals and don’t intend to start now.”

PM:     Yeah, that’s a great line. We can thank Christian for that one. He’s the gold standard.

MINISTER 3:    Just one thing though. What will we do about Julie Bishop?

PM:      That flirtatious sow. You saw what she said? That we should actually know the substance of allegations before we deny them. Outrageous, pedantic nonsense. It’ll undermine our whole system of open government.

MINISTER 3:     That’s what happens when you get the wrong lawyers in Parliament.

PM:     Or the wrong women.

 

 

Post-Brexit: “leave us be!” Queen demands

Buckingham Palace has announced that the Queen has restored the ancient law of lèse-majesté to the United Kingdom.

The law makes it an offence, punishable by up to 145 years in jail, “to publicly criticise, mock, make derogatory remarks, or otherwise offend the sensibilities of any member of the royal family, including Her Majesty’s corgis”.

There will be a one-week grace period during which anyone who accidentally says anything unkind about the monarchy or the corgis will merely be cautioned and banned for life from watching Premier League football.

LM training sessions are being rolled out across the country in conjunction with the Covid-19 vaccination program.

A Palace spokesperson explained the background to the restored law and Her Majesty’s thinking:

  • As the United Kingdom enters a new era of friendlessness it is vital to show those Euro[expletives deleted] that no longer can they get away with constant cheap pot-shots and high-speed car chases through Parisian tunnels involving the British royals, their assorted hangers on and, of course, the royal corgis.
  • With Philip is on his last legs, the Queen is all too conscious of the many unkind things that may soon be said about him. She has said many of them herself already.

“I know he often comes across as a bigot and a misogynist who makes a habit out of stupid, offensive remarks,” the Queen observed. “I well remember the time he said to the President of Nigeria, splendidly dressed in traditional robes, ‘You look like you’re ready for bed!’ It was so hard not to laugh but I tell you this: Philip was never so insensitive that he made a joke about the royal corgis.”

  • How hurtful it was for Her Majesty when recently she overheard her grandchildren guffawing at a joke told by one of them:

Prince Charles was driving around his mother’s estate when accidently he ran over her favourite corgi. He alighted from his Range Rover and sat down, totally distraught, knowing the Queen would go ballistic. Then he noticed a lamp half-buried in the ground. He carefully dug it out and rubbed it clean. Instantly a genie appeared. “You have freed me at last,” the genie cried, “I shall grant you one wish”. Charles pointed to the mangled animal, “I don’t suppose you could fix Mummy’s dog,” he asked. “Sorry, no can do,” the genie replied, “even my magical powers have their limits.” Charles thought for a moment, then reached into his pocket and took out two photographs, one of Diana, the other of Camilla. He stared at the photo of Camilla and said, “I know it’s a big ask but could you possibly make this one as beautiful as her?” He held up the picture of Diana. The genie thought hard for a moment and replied, “Let’s have another look at that dog”.

  • Her Majesty has noted that Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn is an ardent fan of lèse-majesté. His country recently sentenced a public servant who had criticised the monarchy to 43 years in jail.

“Many people would see that as excessively harsh. I beg to differ. It’s a clear sign of royal magnanimity. The original sentence was 87 years, cut in half for no better reason than a guilty plea from the defendant. King Vajiralongkorn is the world’s richest monarch. His $40 billion fortune makes my $500 million look positively paltry. It would seem this lèse-majesté stuff offers real opportunity to boost the royal cash flow.”

  • That said, and ever attentive to her subject’s simple needs, the Queen has acknowledged the financial impact of lèse-majesté on satirists everywhere. She has created a special fund to assist them.

“They can laugh as much as they like, as long as they leave me and my retinue and, of course, the royal corgis, well out of it. And the best thing: the fund’s coming from withdrawals I’ve ordered from former Prince Harry’s expense account. That’ll teach the ungrateful little shit,” Her Majesty chortled before adding, “I’m sure Andrew will chip in too. He owes me big time for not locking him in the Tower and throwing away the keys.”

 

My Beethoven dilemma

I’ve written a satirical novel called Beethoven’s Tenth and the journey which saved the world. It’s about a small group of fictional characters with grudges against their authors. Led by Dr Watson, of Sherlock Holmes fame, they set out to publicise their grievances. This revolves around one of them, Johannes Kreisler, a brilliant eccentric created by the real composer, E T A Hoffman, finishing Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony. After a roller coaster ride it all ends triumphantly, with grudges resolved and, thanks to the new symphony, the world a much rosier, hopeful place. Beethoven, at least in spirit, has saved the day.

But have I perpetuated a terrible wrong? Not a single character in my novel considers that Beethoven’s music might embody the ‘racist, misogynist, patriarchal tradition’ that some claim has ‘colonised’ Western classical music. How could I possibly have missed the fact that Beethoven’s famous Ninth Symphony overflows ‘with male violence and female subordination, its narrative primarily based on phallic sexuality’? Why was I so blind to the ‘bisexual narrative’ and ‘Oedipal configurations’ lurking in Beethoven’s grand works?

Foolishly, I thought also that ‘masterful’ and ‘masterpiece’—derived from Latin and German—signalled skill and refinement. How embarrassing to discover that, according to some modern commentators, they are little more than codewords for slavery and sexism. I’m so relieved I don’t hold a Masters degree.

In my novel’s defence, I often spell out Beethoven’s name. The book’s dedication is to ‘Ludwig and Francesca’ (my partner). But that was more good luck than good management. Only now do I know that the mononym, Beethoven, is also a source of offence. I feel badly, then, about the title and the cover. Thank goodness I wasn’t writing a politically correct novel about Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Puccini. There’d be little space for the actual story.

From now on I’ll make sure it’s always William Shakespeare and Dante Alighieri. I’ll go only to art galleries who display names such as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali y Domenech, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and so on. I’m not sure how to handle Aristotle and Sophocles, who seem positively name deprived. By contrast, Jesus of Nazareth Son of God is both a mouthful and consciously gendered. I’ll need advice on that one.

I will try to make amends, though aspects of my novel may cause readers unease. Johannes Kreisler hero worships ‘the noble, the miraculous Ludwig van Beethoven’. So too does one of the villains. Influenced by hearing LVB’s Third, Fifth and Ninth Symphonies played over a jail intercom, he declares he loves the composer’s ‘string quarters’ (sic) more than he loves his mother.

And there’s not a single word in my book about LVB’s fractious relationship with his young relation, Karl. If I’d done my research I would have discovered a 1945 book, jointly authored by Richard and Editha Sterba, Beethoven and His Nephew: A Psychoanalytic Study of Their Relationship. It reportedly ‘marshalled evidence to prove that LVB was a repressed homosexual whose inability to reconcile conflicting male and female impulses deprived him of a secure ego and left him without tenderness, warmth or most other human qualities’.

Oh dear. Could that explain why LVB never married? Or maybe he was just too busy with his music. Perhaps he never found the right woman, or at least the woman who thought he was right for her. He certainly doesn’t seem to have lacked self-confidence, commenting to his long-term supporter, Prince Lichnowsky, that while there were thousands of princes there was only one Beethoven.

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, has noted that a pattern emerges among the women in LVB’s life: affection, friendship, respect, passion, though probably mostly platonic. His loves ‘were usually impossible or at least unlikely, often because the objects of Beethoven’s affection were women of noble birth or already married. As a result, what we would today call a “stable relationship” seems to have always remained just out of reach.’ Not a whole lot out of the ordinary there.

In a wonderful new book, Oxford academic Professor Laura Tunbridge suggests there were very human qualities both of light and dark in LVB. She paints him as brilliant, flawed, often irascible, shrewd if not wise about money, with a keen taste for good coffee and wine. (On his death bed he lamented that wine he had ordered had arrived ‘too late’.) I’ll have to consider carefully the future of Beethoven’s Tenth. I could take the easy way out and switch on the shredder. But a book burning during a fierce thunderstorm would be more to LVB’s style. Maybe I should just relax and let his extraordinary music wash over me. It’s worked pretty well for the past 50-plus years.