This week: we ride with the Wackiest Racers of them all as we speed towards the 2015 United Kingdom General Election
But first (just like the adverts that would have proceeded Wacky Races on US TV), a reminder that Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is now FREE on most Amazon sites, Google Play globally, most iTunes (Apple) sites around the world, Smashwords (including FlipKart) and all Bookbaby outlets (including Oyster, txtr and E-Sentral). See my Availability in your country page for more details. If you cannot find it free, email me: email@example.com
UK General Election Wacky Races – Episode 1
We are at the starting line and Ed Millipede, in his Millipedobile, is looking for a fast way though the three big players so that he doesn’t get squashed.
This week, he has been doing his best, to impede the cross-team talks about self-regulation during the coming season of races. The Big 3 want to decide the rules for each race before the start of each round but Ed’s having none of it. By claiming that there was a step at the entrance to the meeting tent, which he simply couldn’t climb in time, he effectively vetoed the new rule making system.
David Caravan, true to form, has lit up his Lightning Caravan Camel with a pack of special label-less Marlboro cigarettes, totally outside the rules of course, but that camel sure does move! He has ruled out a newcomer to the Races, Alex Salmon from that wee Scotland country, a fish who can swim faster than a barracuda, simply because Alex wants to have a say in rule making within the UK. Home rule eh, David?
Meanwhile, Nigel Mirage is having trouble getting his French Dassault Mirage fighter, rebuilt as a jet-car, anywhere near the starting line after first mistakenly calling the French mechanics frogs – don’t know how he could make that mistake – and then apparently vanishing into thin air just when he should have been putting on his suit! Shame his lovely secretary… and wife… Kirsten, a former German, wasn’t around to pour the gaseous Mirage into his suit. Without it, he is just hot air! But then again, with French ancestry himself, it’s hard to see anything real about Mirage at all!
And finally, the smallest of the Big 3, Nick Pleb comes to the starting line! Nick has been trying so hard to convince us that his Plebmobile is really nothing more than a Ford Escort, that he forgot to put a supercharged engine in the…beast… But he did manage to get loud exhaust pipes, leaving him with a mouse that roars! Rather like him, really. We hope that Nick doesn’t get mistaken for one of his own mechanics at a pit-stop and lose the race because it’s not him in the car at the finish!
It looks like the Wacky Races are going to be Wackier than every before folks! So tune in soon for more escapades of the Dastardly Dudes, as they race towards the final finishing line in Westminster.
Please comment with your suggestion for another Racer in Wacky Races and why. The best comment will win a mention in the last of my Wacky Races before the Election.
What would a Politics lesson from Aristotle for Cameron, Miliband, Farage and Clegg be like?
Picture the scene; Aristotle, Athens’ great teacher of philosophy, from which politics was an offshoot, is late to teach his four new students and rushes into an annex of the Parthenon, out of breath. Farage is, as usual, sipping Egyptian beer and expounding on the virtues of the lusty maid he bedded the night before:
(If you are living in a democracy outside the UK, substitute Cameron for any republican candidate, Clegg for a liberal, Miliband for a socialist and Farage for any nationalist.)
“Farage!” Aristotle bellows. “Shut up boy! Now, it says here, on my contract with your guardians, that I am to compile an end-of-year report for you all before the end of today. To help me do this, you will each debate whether the actions of the 300 Spartans in the pass of Thermopylae was a success, and I don’t simply mean in strategic terms. In half an hour, you will each take the floor to put your point for four minutes and then there will be open discussion for thirty minutes. Go!”
Cameron, wearing a fetching, sky-blue, Romanesque toga, smiles at the simplicity of the problem. Every student of Athens knew the story; Greece was being invaded by 100,000 Persian soldiers and had no time to assemble an army. King Leonidas of Sparta took his own 300 personal bodyguards to defend a narrow pass at Thermopylae. Spartans were renowned for never surrendering and they fought until all 300 were dead but they bought Athens the time it needed to arm itself. Cameron thinks it was a resounding success.
Miliband frowns. He can see that the action was successful in military terms but, to the families of the soldiers who died, it must have felt like an unmitigated disaster. He is torn.
Farage, wearing the traditional toga of the aristocracy, picks up his beer, which he had strategically hidden behind a rock, and looks towards the Aegean to consider his response.‘Of course the deaths were hard, but that is War,’ he tells himself. ‘One simply has to accept harsh realities.’
Clegg mills about, gravitating like a wayward pendulum, alternatively between Cameron and Miliband, hoping that he will overhear their ruminations. He has rolled his yellow toga up to his armpits, to signal that he is a man of the people.
The presentations are to begin. Aristotle asks for a volunteer to go first. Cameron is on his feet, knowing that first impressions count and that, even if he has a weak argument, going first will give him credit from the others for his courage.
“Thermopylae was a complete success,” Cameron announces. “It gave Athens time to respond and the families of those, brave, 300 men, were honoured and raised to the level of nobility whereas before they had simply been of the fighting class. In military, strategic and sociological terms, it was a success!” He beams in self-satisfaction and offers the floor to Clegg, who is on his feet.
Until now, Clegg wasn’t quite sure what his stance would be. But he has seen a chink in Cameron’s armour and he means to exploit it.
“I would have to put the success as about 80%,” he begins. “Militarily, it gave Athens time, yes, and of course, to the families, it was tragic, simply tragic. But in the long-term, it undermined the strength of Sparta. Later, at Sphacteria, the Spartans finally had to surrender to Athens rather than be completely annihilated. Their resolve to never surrender had been undermined by Thermopylae, thus signalling the downfall of a great nation.”
The other three contestants nodded, signalling that they hadn’t thought of Clegg’s angle at all.
Farage takes the floor, looking somewhat hesitant, but then he smiles broadly. “Thermopylae was a resounding and complete success. 100%, no doubt about it. Who can deny that for the lives of the average Spartans, freedom had been bought? They could go on farming their crops safely and drinking a nice pint of Egyptian ale, or local wine if they preferred, in peace. Men die in War and that is a fact. Every soldier knows this and they are prepared to pay the consequences. After all, who wants foreign invaders to run the show?” He looks pleased with himself and sits down.
Miliband takes the floor. He is the least certain of the four.
“I would ask you to look at Thermopylae from the perspective of a young woman, the wife of one of the 300 brave men who fought in defense of Sparta. She has a young son and a younger daughter to look after. There is no welfare state. She also has no primary healthcare and she is suffering from malnutrition, pregnant with her third child. She comes home from the fields, where she has been working among the slaves, simply because she has no choice. A runner tells her that her husband has died but that Sparta is safe!
“Does she rejoice? Can she rejoice? Will promotion to the nobility come soon enough to save her and her unborn baby? The answer to all these is a resounding, ‘No!’”
The other three contestants look fearfully at Miliband, knowing that he only has to add something like, “To three quarters of the population, the women, children and old folk, who had lost a loved one, it was not a success,” but he doesn’t say it. They breathe a sigh of relief.
Aristotle takes to the floor. He looks at Miliband, wearing a rather dapper red toga, and smiles indulgently. Aristotle thinks, ‘If only Miliband had Cameron’s killer instinct. I never thought about the slaves before. Perhaps I have to think again.’ He looks at Cameron briefly and looks away. ‘If only Cameron had one drop of compassion in his soul.’ He looks at Clegg and shakes his head. ‘If only Clegg had a single idea of his own and could stand up for it.’ Finally, his eyes light on Farage. ‘If only,’ he thinks, ‘Farage knew what it was like to be discriminated against.’
“Now,” Aristotle announces, “I would like to introduce you to the fifth member who will be joining us for the debate. She is the great, great, great granddaughter of one of the men who fought at Thermopylae.”
A woman, dressed in slave’s rags, enters the annex and Aristotle bids her sit among the four students. Cameron looks nervously at her clothes.
“I have listened to each of your speeches,” the woman announces. “To David, I would say that you are wrong; many of the soldiers’ families were not ennobled. Mine wasn’t because we were considered third-generation immigrants. To Nick, I would say your point is an interesting one but you denigrate my ancestor’s achievement. To Nigel, I would say that you are ignorant of many basic facts of life. Finally, to Ed I would say that you are a nice man but you should stay out of politics.”
The open debate begins but nobody has anything to say. Farage tries desperately to think of something to mitigate his blunders but can think of nothing. Clegg keeps his mouth clamped closed because he knows he has insulted the woman. Cameron wants to argue but now he is not sure of the text books his father bought off the back of a wagon. Miliband is the only one to say anything at all to the woman. He takes her hand and says, “I am very sorry.”
If you had been Aristotle, how would you have marked each of them?