I watched a programme on TV this evening about "rough science" - a group of relatively engaging scientists are marooned on an island somewhere warm and given tasks to do, like inventing a way to silver a mirror using only virgin's piss, charcoal and humming-bird spit, or making gunpowder from bats' poo and lipstick. It's all pretty pointless but mildly entertaining. One is supposed to be impressed that they can actually do it, but the impression only lasts until you realise that there wouldn't be much of a television programme left if you set them tasks they couldn't manage.
Of course they have to slip in the usual cautionary message. They aren't quite so crass as to say "now, kids, don't try this at home". They do it more subtly, for instance by having the obligatory and ever-enthusiastic TV presenter say "Wow, this must be really dangerous stuff ...". The scientist must be hard-pressed not to reply "yes, one tiny drop could vapourise the whole of Solihull, raise the levels of the oceans by seventeen metres and cause cancer of the brain in the entire world wombat population, which is why I'm squatting over an open fire on a desert island, holding an old enamel basin and whisking the mixture with my shaving-brush".
This prompted me to wonder - exactly why is this sort of warning obligatory? Do the TV producers actually sit round a table at Broadcasting House, nod their heads sagely and say "Of course, we need to protect the over-enthusiastic amateur from his urge to duplicate this experiment in the garden shed"? Do they b*gg*ry.
Is it perhaps because they may come in for some criticism when two spotty nerds in Year 10 blow themselves up because they heard it was really cool to mix weedkiller with minced Mars-bars, roll it into a spliff and light up round the back of the gym? No, it isn't.
The reason they include these warnings is to ward off the earnest letter-writers who complain "… this programme was totally irresponsible. You are encouraging people to engage in highly dangerous experimentation which could easily result in injury, blindness or even death".
I imagine the people who write these letters are the same ones who decry Ellen MacArthur's round-the-world record because she might have got into difficulties and needed rescuing, or demand that every spectacular beauty-spot round our coasts be ringed with spectacular fencing and beautiful notices saying "Danger! Cliffs!" (we know they're cliffs. We can see they're cliffs. We know if you fall off a cliff you'll be killed. We know. Shut up! We know!). They're the ones who demanded (and got) one of our local swimming-ponds closed and drained because, after perhaps a hundred years of innocent enjoyment for residents and holiday-makers, one chap hurt himself. They're the ones who closed down the Princess Diana ridiculous fountain thing because people were too thick to realise that wet stone is slippery. They're the ones who demand that nobody should smoke in the local pub because they might want to go in there (if you don't like us smoking, you don't have to go to the pub. Stay at home. You can feel just as self-righteous there).
These people (and finally I'm reaching my point, in case you wondered …) are STUPID. They are so stupid that they're afraid they won't be able to stop themselves diving off cliffs, falling over in Asda because it's been raining and the floor is wet, head-butting the Diana Memorial or accidentally and absent-mindedly wandering into a smoky public bar without realising. What's worse is that they assume that everyone else is as stupid as they are, which is why they put so much effort into trying to make this a world fit for stupid people to live in.
Now LOOK, stupid people. Unlike you, the rest of us are NOT stupid! We tend not to fall off cliffs because we can work out that when the grass stops and there isn't anywhere to put your feet, there might be a tendency to fall. We know that water makes things slippery. We are sufficiently in charge of our lives not to breathe other people's smoke if we don't want to. We have learned by experience to watch where we put our feet, we know that if you walk under a ladder you may get a pot of paint on your head, and we know to duck under low doorways. Anyone who can't manage this sort of thing is stupid. Like you.
Many thousands of years ago, if you were too stupid to recognise a cliff, you fell off it and died. The other people in your tribe didn't care. The conversation round the camp fire that evening would go …
"Grunt. Where Grandad?"
"Grunt. Tut. Another mammoth cutlet?"
These days if you fall over a cliff they send a damn great helicopter after you at a cost of who-knows-how-many squillion pounds, and then make a television documentary about it. If you slip in a puddle in Asda you sue them and get £5,000 compensation.
This is wrong. If you're stupid enough to slip over in Asda you should be put out in the carpark and left to die. In the Stone Age you'd only lie there in agony until the next sabre-toothed tiger chanced along. I suppose these days it would be a 4x4 driven by a woman who's late for her Pilates class. Same difference, really.
You see, thousands of years ago they had a law called "The Survival of the Fittest". It meant that if you were slow or stupid or blind or lame, you didn't live so long - though if you weren't stupid you could probably find a way round being slow or blind or lame, by becoming a seer or a sea-cook or something, so really it was stupidity that held the key. If you were stupid, you died. These days we cherish our inadequacies. People who would in the past have been left out on the hillside at birth, are now "differently abled" and entitled to do all the things everyone else does, even if they can't. Can't get your wheelchair up the footbridge at the station, sir? No problem - just take legal action and force the railway company into bankruptcy by the cost of a daily fifty-mile taxi trip to get you to the other side of the line via the nearest level-crossing which happens to be in the next county.
And before anyone starts bleating about being unfair or discriminatory, let me point out that I myself am a victim of gross discrimination. My dearest wish has always been to play cricket for England. I have never been selected. Why? I am not a very good cricketer, true, but why should that make a difference? Why should I be barred from representing my country through a mere accident of talent? It's my country, it's my game, it's my life and I have a right to be treated the same as everyone else regardless of my handicap. I'm not a crap cricketer, I'm simply "differently-cricketed".
I am, of course, being satirical. You had realised that, hadn't you? I don't really want to play cricket for England. I'd prefer Australia - more chance of winning, and better-looking birds. But this thing about stupid people who write letters is really serious. I kid you not - they are amongst us now, completely undetected. They are indistinguishable from real people (provided there are no cliffs around, of course, and it isn't raining). Their strength is growing. They are organised. They will soon be poised to strike.
We must act now. Stupid people must be identified, rounded up, and slaughtered, before it's too late. Before they breed.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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