What is the difference between a sardine and a politician?
Such was the challenging question that was presented as the title of this month’s lecture in the series “Contemporary Issues in Direct Marketing” by Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw. The session was housed as always in the main lecture theatre at the Toppled Bollard, on the borders of Northamptonshire and the wild Rutland archipelago, and it drew a significant crowd.
One could tell from the level of studied debate before Dr McGraw took to the podium that even if not every member of the audience was agog prior to the start of the lecture, they were pretty well “gog” with just the “a” needing to be added. And the addition “a” was what Dr B quickly gave the crowd.
For as it turned out the answer to the question posed by the good doctor in the title of his speech was simple. Both politicians and sardines spend their times with their mouths open, he said, but the sardine speaks more sense. There was much nodding of heads in the audience at this point.
“Thus,” Dr B continued, “I think we can learn a lot from the sardine. They are, as we know stuffed unceremoniously into cans, and here it is that we should appreciate a subtle point. Because if only we treated our politicians in the same way, that surely would lead to a mass improvement for our society.”
There was much murmuring in agreement as well as a certain level of foot stamping.
Regaining our attention Dr Billy added, “However there is another important point,” and at this the audience went utterly quiet. No one makes a sound when the Head of the Psychology Department at the University College of the North Circular Road is making an “important point”.
“Sardines live to be 15 years old at most.” Silence in the room. “If we forced our politicians to retire at the age of 15, we could ensure that their entire politicking career is spent in school.
“That would mean that the people who are best trained to deal with troublesome oiks and annoying know-it-alls – by which of course I mean teachers – would be able to deal with politicians at the same time. And we wouldn’t need any more cans.”
At first there was silence as we thought about this, but then gradually the idea took hold. Teachers are thoroughly used to dealing with people who think they know a lot but don’t – so giving them the politicians to handle would solve all our problems (no more politicians) and hardly be noticeable to the teachers (just a few more troublesome ne’er-do-wells in each class).
“And think of the money we would save,” the Doctor added. “The politicians, being under age, would be forced to live with their parents, whom the state could fine if their political offspring don’t go to school, and they’d have to take their vacations during the school hols.” (Much cheering). “We could give the funds saved to the NHS.” (Foot stamping).
“Meanwhile, since the politicos would now be living with their parents, all their second and third homes could be used for social housing.” (Wild cheering and foot stamping).
“In English lessons the set book would be John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row,” (a little cheering because not everyone quite got the point that Steinbeck’s classic is based in a sardine factory) “while Oscar Wilde would be lionised for having had a son who ran a sardine-tasting club in 1930s London.” (Shouts of “Jolly good!” from many thinking it was a joke, whereas this point, like the one about Cannery Row, was actually true.)
Thus there was much applause, both from those who understood the references and those who didn’t but who didn’t want to appear ignorant among the elite of the borderlands.
The policy of all politicians having to be under the age of 16 and therefore attend school is now established. And thus was concluded another fine and productive evening at the Bollard.
PS: For reasons that I have never understood my colleagues prefer it if I don’t speak to potential customers of schools.co.uk and so, if you do have an enquiry about our work beyond the field of sardines, please do call 01604 880 927 where Stephen will be on han