The war of the words

'"Mangled history, slapstick, pathos, inspired lying, jeering..." If that is not a true description of Parliament, then I am a banana'
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The Independent Online

I have recently received many letters from readers about the impending war against Iraq, and would like to print a few of them today...

I have recently received many letters from readers about the impending war against Iraq, and would like to print a few of them today...

From Major-General Sir Tom Peartree

Sir, We keep hearing that before a war on Iraq commences, we must have a full debate in Parliament.

Now, we all know that Parliament is full of people who have never run anything in their lives, and are now in charge of running the country – no wonder the railways do not work – but, by the same token, is it not also full of people who have never fought a war in their lives? Why do we entrust the declaration of war to people who could not get a squad of six men together to arrest a drunk driver?

The Labour MPs who form the Parliamentary majority have about as much experience of war as the England cricket team. I wouldn't ask either of them for an expert opinion on anything to do with war. (Or cricket either, come to that.) The whole thing is becoming a pantomime.

Yours, etc

From Mr Barnard Manning (no relation)

Sir, I must object in the strongest possible terms to the previous letter-writer, when he contemptuously describes the goings on in Parliament as a "pantomime". We at the British Pantomime Heritage Trust take the history of pantomime very seriously, as it reflects the eclectic character of our nation so well. Its blend of mangled history, slapstick, pathos, inspired lying, music, cross-dressing and audience jeering is a wonderful art- istic creation of which any nation should be proud. To use the word pantomime as an insult is farcical.

Yours, etc

From Mrs Kathy Wordley

Sir, I was nodding in agreement with the last letter until I came to his final amazing statement. How can a champion of pantomime attack anything as "farcical"? If there is one other theatrical achievement of which the British can be proud it is the art of farce, which is comedy raised almost to the level of ballet. Please do NOT use "farce" as a condemnation.

By the way, Mr Manning (no relation) says Parliament should not be described as pantomime as pantomime is a blend of "mangled history, slapstick, pathos, inspired lying, jeering" etc. If that is not a true description of Parliament, then I am a banana.

Yours, etc

From Señor Diego de Fortubal de Garcia de Salida de Entrada etc

Sir, As the secretary of the Banana Secretariat, it is my painful duty yet again to spring to the defence of this unjustly treated fruit.

Of all fruits it is the most beneficial to man for energy, and yet it is the most insulted. "Then I am a banana!" said Mr Hislop. "You are bananas!" says everyone. "They are a banana republic!" says everyone else. And think of the banana skin and all those jokes. Why does no one say "You are pineapples"? Or "Then I am a passion fruit"? The whole thing makes me, as you English say, as sick as a parrot.

Yours, etc

From Mrs Edith Crumly

Sir, We at the Parrot Defence League – but I am sure I do not have to spell out my objections to the previous writer. The parrot is one of the healthiest and hardiest of all birds. He would have to be, to withstand the treatment meted out to him by cruel and heartless humans. It is not parrots who are sick, it is their thoughtless owners. I do not give a fig for them.

Yours, etc

From Sir Digby Loftus, Chairman Fruit Board

Sir, So it's open season on figs again, is it? Why is it always figs that get it in the neck (when it isn't bananas, with deference to my old friend Diego)? "I couldn't give a fig", people always say. But they should! It is the most thoughtful, delicious present you can give anyone. Always give figs. You will not go far wrong.

Yours, etc

From Mrs Betty Jones

Sir, May I protest vehemently against the use of the expression "to welsh on someone", which is a direct slur on the entire Welsh nation? I realise that nobody has actually used the expression. I also realise that I may leave myself open to charges of the Welsh being over-sensitive about things, and even occasionally having a chip on our shoulder. And it may be fair to say that we do go on and on about things sometimes. However...

Miles Kington writes: I am afraid that's all we have space for today on the war against Iraq. But do keep writing in to me!