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The morally instructive determinings of PROFESSOR THAUMUS PHAMBLEMELL
Is it acceptable?
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: I have a child, which I believe is called Neville. Scarcely a moment passes in which it is not engaged in wasteful frivolity, or emitting a noise of the most unsettling description. The child is greatly in need of discipline, but its nanny is some kind of nannying socialist, preferring to pander to its whims for "companionship" and "food"; and my wife died while giving birth and is therefore of no help at all. Is it acceptable to spank an unruly child?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: No, sir! No, - it is not acceptable. Strike the child, sir; the child must be struck; - strike it with the fire-shovel to imbue in it both DISCIPLINE and a FEARFUL RESPECT of the power of coal, God's mystical flame-rock that is the THUNDERING HEART of Britain's industries. The nanny may be reported to the police, or flung into the cellar, as you see fit.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: I am a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a result of having continuously to deal with quaint and amusing governing bodies while endeavouring to enhance Britain's interests across the many parts of the globe, my health is suffering; I am afflicted with brain-fever and rapidly approaching nervous collapse. Furthermore, because of my charges' impudent refusal to adopt Greenwich Mean Time, my illogical working hours mean I am deprived of the company of my family to the extent that I am only reasonably sure that I have one. Is it acceptable that my duties to guide these quaint and amusing foreigners should weaken my body and spirit, and isolate me from my loved ones?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: Certainly not. Clear your desk. Send gunboats.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: Following exhaustive consideration of our tentacly strategem, my colleagues and I were discommoded by the foxing of our invasion of the BRITON'S PLANET through our entire army dropping dead of the common cold. Is it acceptable that a meddlesome microbe be responsible for defeating a well-thought-out scheme?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: Yes.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: I am The Phantom Hansom Cab Passenger, and each night I am driven around town in my seemingly ordinary The Phantom Hansom Cab dispensing justice and aiding the defenceless. Things have not quite worked out as I anticipated; the number of defenceless who think to hail a seemingly ordinary hansom cab, or who coincidentally stagger towards one following a pummelling attack or ghastly revelation by an unwholesome uncle, is, alas, alarmingly low. Furthermore, the cab costs are quite disgraceful, and some nights I must scuff around impatiently in the shadows while the cabby is away attending to a fare or consuming some type of pie. I am minded to improve my business by a series of notices in respectable news-papers informing the defenceless between which streets they may find me in their hour of need. Is it acceptable to advertise oneself in this manner?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: Good God, sir, no: such behaviour is to be crushed contemptuously. It is the vulgarian who advertises, sir; the VULGARIAN AND THE TRADES-MAN. Any cabby will be pleased, sir, to accept a shilling-piece to nudge against pedestrians while travelling at horse-whipp'd speed; and by this means and a few well-chosen kickings as you wait otherwise uselessly in alley-ways you can CREATE A DEMAND for your fine and noble services. I am despatching a pamphlet.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: Some little time ago, while defending my position with cogent argument in a dispute concerning a game of chance, I shot and killed the Duke of Exeter, his mother and the local rector, no more than two or three dinner-guests, a gentleman who asked me directions on the way home, and everyone in my house; and, some days later, an Inspector and several police officers who confronted me at a railway station, and an inspector. Since that time, I have been blackballed by my clubs, and sent to Coventry by friends and business partners, some of whom I have also subsequently shot and killed. It seems that my only recourse is to start a new life in a far-off land of savages, like Coventry. Is it acceptable for society to ostracise those of us who succumb to a string of single moments of weakened madness?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: Yes, sir, my emphasis on yessing; it is quite acceptable for your circle to behave in this manner. We most of us have in our time, sir, shot a peer during a card game; it is all in the MANLY ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE of an evening's distracting-entertainment, and as much a part of the VIGOROUS FOLLY OF SWEET YOUTH as knocking away a police-man's hat and fathering negligently. It is your INDISCRETION, sir, which undoes you: by all means exercise your harmless hobby, but maintain discretion at every turn; there is NO SHAME in beating and killing a man, it is why God has given us the servant-classes. Once you have grasped this point and made some APPROPRIATE GESTURE OF APOLOGY such as purchasing a mill, society will forgive you as our own MR J CHRIST has taught.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: For my "gap year" between being sent down from university and inheriting my father's fortune, I took an educational trip around the world, broadening my mind and learning much about the foreigner's culture, such as how it is almost impossible to find a decent weskit anywhere east of Purley. Near the end of my journey I stopped for a few days in a land of sensational exoticism - I forget its name, but you would scarce believe their idea of fashionable trouserings. Visiting a temple to soak up local colour, it occurred to me that the bejewelled trinkets and valuable statuary displayed about could be far better employed increasing Britain's stock of orphanages, or reducing our national baccarat debt. Accordingly I had my servant open fire with a heavy revolver while I swept everything into a carpet-bag. Even though I left in fair exchange for these unappreciated baubles a series of amply illustrated improving treatises explaining in clutterless language how the thoughtlessly clad foreigners' quaint and amusing beliefs were quite wrong, representatives of the country have ill-temperedly pursued me back to the BRITON'S BRITAIN; and, indeed, only last night slew my servant in a manner most hideous, necessitating my drawing my own bath. Is it acceptable that a gentleman should be persecuted in this manner by the godless heathen?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: It is not acceptable, sir; and I have found by the invention of the packet-steamer that such occurrences are becoming discommodingly commonplace. Your course of action is obvious, sir; when these heathens broach your study, fix them imperiously with a glance and send your new servant for the nearest constable-bobby. A swift cuffing about the head will soon bring home the nonsense of their position, and I dare say you can anticipate an official apology from their ambassador.
A CORRESPONDENT WRITES: I am secretly arranging a pleasant afternoon's picnic in a sunny meadow with A Gentleman. I am unable to secure cucumbers on account of a death in a family. Is it acceptable to substitute a cucumber with a love-apple?

PROFESSOR PHAMBLEMELL REPLIES: I was under the impression I had told you never to write to me at my place of work.
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