Or,
Laugh Now, But One Day We’ll Still Be In Charge

(Homage to Cloudo, where e’er he be)

Whilst sitting in my suite of offices in the John Mac building one brisk autumnal afternoon, I noted a commotion in University Avenue below. One particularly impertinent surge of noise masquerading as so-called music almost caused me to spill me sherry over the vice chancellor as I jumped up in agitation to ascertain the source of the ruckus.

Damned if it wasn’t those Johnnies-and-Jennies from the SSSP… the Scruffy So-and-So’s mob from the QM, the lefties’ lefties union! I was heartened to see some uniformed fellows retaining order and ensuring only a small number of the unwashed were allowed to congregate, so instead of ringing my man to hand me my rifle I turned back to the room and bemoaned my lot to the VC.

“Lord, John, it’s just so tragic,” I said. “They play this God-awful tub-thumping racket, drop paper everywhere and all right-thinking people ignore them – why do they bother? What, furthermore, might one >do about them?”

“Matthew,” quoth the VC, “Matthew, I sympathise. I do. But it’s the same shebang as when I was a fresher. If it’s not some towelheads or whoever our minority of the week is supposed to be, it’s ban the bomb, or dolphins, or what have you.” He scratched his nose pensively. “Ban the bomb – your father’s doing far too well off the current sitch to allow that one to happen!” We laughed and drained our sherries with a raised salute.
“No, no, Matty, don’t get mad. Get typing.” He gestured towards the desk whereon sat my laptop.

“I say, cracking plan!”
I sloshed out another pair of large QC’s and sat down to it.
“Batter on, old man” I chirped back over my right shoulder.
“You see, Mattie,” he said, stepping behind and administering a massage as I tapped speculatively. “It works like this. We’re all complicit in this system, some of us have an easier time enjoying the perks of it. We sit in here, drink sherry and count beans. They will stand outside and protest, about the unfairness of it all. Nil carbohydrate and all that though! All you have to do is bait ’em, through whatever medium y’fancy. Everyone goes home happy.”
He dug his thumbs in, warming to the theme. “There’s the GU Guardian, obviously, the, the old gogglebox, the radio… In fact, I’ll rustle up a few grand, why not knock out a glossy mag with a few artfully shot underwear photos of some of those stick thin bints you squire infrequently down at the Beer Bar and take it from there? Y’see, it’s all planned…” John released my shoulders and wandered to the window, sherry glass back in hand, to regard the sorry gathering chanting the while below. He gestured with his glass, holding the stem and proffering a pinkie. “He’ll be lecturing here in six years time… she’ll be an MP… he’ll be a leading figure in Friends of the Earth.” He turned. “And you’ll be Editor of The Telegraph. So take this,” he threw me a thin dog-eared volume. I scanned the title – Fulminating with confidence – as he nestled in his rocker with a satisfied grin.

I riffled through the tome excitedly. “ ‘Use alliterative phrases to simplify an opponent’s arguments without engaging with the actual details; for example, ‘revolutionary rhetoric’’ – marvellous! “Prolier-than thou”, oh delightful! … This is superb, listen, “Try and include tautologous polysyllabic insults and amplified invective as a variant on the alliterative sentence. One such phrase might be ‘homogenised monoglot,’.” I turned to the VC with a rapt smile on my face. “ Spiffing! It’s the only style guide one will ever need!”
“Oh, a word to the wise, though, Mattie: today it’s best to assume a more ‘street’ vernacular. A few swearies’ll do. Throw them off the scent with a bit of anti-middle class sentiment. You could use the phrase ‘grossly distended caricature’ and no-one will notice the wearily clichéd nature of your own prose. Isn’t it clever?” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Here, here, I’ve got it… why not invent some ghastly little ‘ned’ character, they’re the hot tabloid topic, eh? Scribble some bosh ‘in persona’, like that “Trainspotters” writer, Irvine Callar is it…? You’ll get the kudos, a patina of anti-establishment credibility because you’re deftly criticising complacencies inherent in the institutions you are also fully enjoying the benefits of, like all satirists, locked in symbiosis with the object of your critique… seriously,” he caught my alarmed expression and laughed reassuringly, “Seriously, no one will care. You might even get a Student Press Award for it! All looks good on the CV, of course…” he tailed off, looking round the room and sipping sherry with a relaxed, almost beatific expression.

I typed feverishly, reaching over to ring the bell to get my man up to close the now dwindling sounds of dissent outside the window out.

“I think I’ll get a blurry photo taken of me looking moody in a football outfit and Burberry hat.”
“Very contemporary. Like a, a mobile phone advert perhaps? You could commission a graffiti campaign, some stencils from a chum up at the School of Art, maybe? Doing well, Matthew.”
We clinked glasses in delight.
“Doing well. ‘Via veritas vita,’ m’boy!”
“Chin chin!”

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