QUENTIN KELP - the Member of Parliament (MP) for the UK rural constituency of Krupton has followed me around for a long time.
I suppose Quentin is an acquaintance rather than a friend and I'm still not sure if I'd vote for him if I was living in Krupton. But he's a survivor. His "Uncensored Newsletters 2013-2014" were largely written for Spoof Magazine in 2012-2014 and then published in 2015 on Smashwords and as a paper-back (now out of print). I recently archived the book as I felt the politics were looking a bit dated and, anyway, Quent got what he'd always wanted - a referendum on UK membership of the EU and the result he wanted!
But you can't keep a good MP down for long and he's still writing occasional Newsletters to constituents, Here's one:
My city-dwelling colleagues in Parliament foolishly imagine our rural community consists of wealthy hereditary farmers with vast acres of woodland and fields and with farm hands living in tiny cottages surrounded by free-range chickens, mooing cows and thick mud. This is far from the case as you all know.
The “rural community” 2017 is a very motley crowd. There are the weekenders who arrive from the “The City” on Friday nights in 4x4s that block our lanes and bring with them jodhpur-clad daughters who ride horses that shit outside my front gate and wives or mistresses who turn up at my office dressed for a dinner party, stinking of perfume and complaining about country smells and crowing cockerels.
We have converted farm buildings that house IT consultants. We have destitute artists who paddle around the Co-Op in colourful Wellington boots and we have rows of ‘affordable houses’ with no parking spaces for the vast army of unmarried mothers on housing benefits whose boyfriends clutter our pavements with white vans.
Making sure everyone gets on is a never-ending challenge for your MP.
Take Clive, for instance, a one-time farmer who now gets paid by the Rural Payment Agency for “not rearing 100 pigs”. Clive emailed me wanting to know whether if he agreed “not to rear 300 pigs” he’d get three times more money. Good question, I thought. I’ll ask.
“While you’re at it, Quent,” Clive said, “Can you check whether Gloucester Old Spots or Saddlebacks would be the best type of pig not to rear. And also, check if I can go into the “not milking cows” business and the “set aside fields” business, which I understand involves leaning on a gate every morning watching the grass grow.”
Clive laughed in his Gloucestershire way. “And if they’re amenable I could always put some ‘virtual set aside fields’ on my website and even upload a virtual farmer to lean on a virtual gate.”
“I like challenges,” I told Clive and so my PA Anthea set up a meeting with a woman from DEFRA. to discuss it.
In my mind, I expected a middle-aged woman in a duffle coat and wellington boots, but what turned up was a cat walk model in a navy-blue suit and high heels carrying a briefcase and a lap top.
Anthea, of course, took one look, sniffed and went to her computer as I explained the matter, adding that I had the interests of a mixed community to cater for and hated disputes that the press got to hear about.
“Mmm, I see,” the female suit said. “Forging close links between areas of common concern often poses challenges which we deal with by providing frameworks of incentives and structures using goals and aspirations.”
As I scratched my head, she delved into her briefcase, emerged with a pile of glossy brochures and then continued: “DEFRA recognises the key economic drivers through its network of community champions and honest brokers. Our experience is that it is necessary to achieve alignments of perspective and we like to begin with strategic matches, marketing vehicles and pilots. Do you have any?”
“No, where might I find them?” I asked.
“Oh dear,” she sighed. “Then I suppose that before we start I’ll need to understand the core aims of your constituents so that we can establish a clear gateway. Are you able to demonstrate any interim packages and strategic links such as economic thermometers and health checks?”
“No,” I said.
“Well, I’m sorry,” she huffed. “But these are vital. We must be able to show evidence that your community has previous experience of co-ordinated approaches. Ideally these should have used cross-cutting themes and formal accords. Under the circumstances, I suggest we use workshop methods although we can recommend other practical tools.”
“No,” I said, feeling unusually drowsy.
“Mr Kelp. Please pay attention. I haven’t got all day. As I was trying to say, your constituent will need knowledge of multifunctional resources, focus groups and target-focussing seminars and form filling.”
“Yes,” I said. “I’d heard about the form filling.”
“Good. Progress at last. Is your constituent able to provide strong evidence of breeding a culture of collated work tasking dedicated to delivery stages as part of his business strategy?”
“He used to breed pigs,” I said. “Does that help?”
“Oh, we’re not talking pigs, Mr Kelp. We’re talking paper. He needs to be able to show experience of written appraisals measured against strategic goals using legislative framework and agreed methodologies approved in Brussels. My office will need proof that policy instruments and cumulative burdens have not been forgotten. We need evidence that essential milestones have been passed with measurable outputs shown here in column 19 on page 47. So, robust scrutiny will be required and this must come from independent consultants – approved by us of course. These consultants must also have been properly accredited and we are very careful about who we select. I can offer a list of approved consultants if necessary. These have already gone through our extensive approval scheme that is based on continuous look systems – CLS to you and me.”
“Ah,” I said in my rural Gloucestershire way. “So, which type of pig do you suggest? Gloucester Old Spots or Saddlebacks?”
Now and again, just to alleviate my natural seriousness, I try something quite different.
ARTHUR SMEDLEY GODLEY - wide boy and proprietor of Godley's Garden Gnomes and Godley Investments (also of Krupton) is a good example.
'God's Factory' is FREE on Smashwords at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457466
In this short story, Godley gives lessons on money-making to a strange but very quiet visitor.
Sitting in his white leather, executive chair behind his white desk, Godley pontificates about his success to the visitor who sits silently in rapt attention.
Godley can talk endlessly and knows all there is to know about opportunism and money making. It started, we learn, with swindling a boy out of his sausage at school lunch. Godley's knowledge has no limits and success is there for all to see from the Bentley parked outside the front door next to the sunflowers ("they have such big heads and rise above everything else") to the thick pile Chinese carpet - given in return for once helping a Chinese man find "a bit of flooze around Harrod's in Knightsbridge".
And Godley's business?
He runs Godley's Garden Gnomes from a rundown, old, red- brick factory but it's really the front for his main venture, Godley Investments. Godley is a loan shark with a couple of big boned salesmen and a trouble shooter - Titibola. "Six foot three, huge tits and a face like Joe Frazier."
And his mysterious visitor?
Well, he turns out to be someone claiming to be his Chief Executive out on a trouble shoot.
"You can't just take a company name without it being ratified - particularly one called Godley Investments. I already own the trade name, the brand name and the marketing and distribution rights. With your track record, I wouldn't even be willing to grant you a franchise."
We never find out whether Godley's frightening experience changes his ways but, like a short, twenty first century version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", he certainly learns a few lessons and perhaps others might as well.