Question: Have you heard the latest news?

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At our recent meeting a member arrived and said that he was sorry he missed the last meeting but he had had trouble with a property he had bought and finished up in jail.

There was a general, but modest, feeling of concern, until he added that it was the worst game of Monopoly he had ever played. This was an example similar to the “Have you heard the latest news?” question that is often greeted with a certain amount of anticipation but is then revealed to be something resulting from either a vivid, or warped, but certainly mischievous, imagination.

We were asked if we had heard the news that Kim Jong-Un has said that he would drastically cut short anyone who criticises his haircut, and that North Korea had now developed a bomb that could destroy the whole world but leave North Korea untouched. An even more unlikely piece of news was that the host for our meetings was going to offer everyone two biscuits and proper coffee. Or had we heard that Jeremy Corbyn had been to a country where his Marxist principles would work. No we hadn’t, only to be told that it was called Cloud Cuckoo Land. Someone did remark that Mr Corbyn does go on a lot about Marx but has never ever mentioned Spencer.

Appearing to be serious, a member asked if we had heard the latest effort by the Government to protect free speech. English law protects free speech provided it is not abusive, threatening or insulting, likely to cause alarm, harassment, distress, anxiety or a breach of the peace. That it is not racist, indecent, grossly offensive or defamatory. That it doesn’t incite racial, sexual or religious hatred or glorify or incite terrorism. That it doesn’t contain obscenity, corrupt public morals, outrage public decency, breaks court restrictions or frighten the cat. Having considered how some groups of people are so easily offended and are encouraged to demonstrate their mortification, the Government have announced that they recommend that in future when you speak it would be better if no one could hear you, to avoid any possible problems.

Surprisingly there was little reaction to this news because most members said that they spoke to themselves a lot anyway and if there was anyone around they hardly ever listened. However alternative solutions were offered suggesting that we could learn ventriloquism, or start every sentence with “ Shakespeare, or Milton, or Einstein or Harry Stottle or Wayne Rooney once said…..” and then blame it on them.

When someone asked if we had heard that the Green Party had announced that the answer to the country’s environmental problems was to build 47 million new wind farms, slaughter all the cows and ban grouse shooting, there was little reaction because every one believed him.

We had heard the news that Nicola Sturgeon wants to give all the people of Scotland some money to ease the austerity and poverty that the Tory Government in London had given them. But we didn’t know that she expects the English to pay for it because we introduced midges into their country in1297 and should compensate them for it.

Yes, we had heard that the European Union was demanding 100 billion euros for the Brexit settlement but didn’t know that they were demanding an extra 50 million to cover the expenses of their negotiating officials in the Brexit talks.

But then, and quite suddenly, a member announced that he had decided enough was enough and he was going to stand as a candidate at the next election and, with our help, his party would be The Old Grumpies Party. There was a brief silence which was unusual because we have a member who believes there should be no silence longer than a millisecond. We knew the candidate had all the qualification needed for a Member of Parliament because he knew very little about anything, could speak for a long time without saying anything and was very good at claiming expenses.

The Chairman who had managed to stay awake all morning quickly announced that he was in favour and the next meeting would formulate the manifesto. The excitement is almost tangible.