The Sketch: Matching the answer to the question is anyone's guess

Click to follow
The Independent Online

If this is the answer, what's the question? (It's an old game.) "Dr Livingstone I Presume." The punctuation gives it away. Answer at the bottom. It is a tricky little conundrum. Very difficult to guess. However, it is impossible to guess what the question might have been to any answer produced in Foreign Office questions.

There are many very important questions that foreigners pose, but they all get the same answer. "Lack of progress is in nobody's interests and all stakeholders are working as hard as possible to broaden the consensus we have achieved but it would be wrong to draw general conclusions from initial successes but the important thing is that we deliver on the objectives we have set out."

That's the answer, here are the questions. Are we going to blow Iran to buggery? Will we ever be able to leave Iraq? What are we actually go to do about Darfur or Nepal? Is the European Constitution dead or alive? Aren't we completely wasting our time in Afghanistan in the same way that all Western powers have for the past 200 years and have we learnt nothing from history?

The use of the bodies of executed Chinese "to harvest organs" was brought up by Harry Cohen; it gave Geoff Hoon a fit of the giggles while that squat little fellow Ian McCartney yabbered unintelligibly on. It's impossible to understand the man; he talks like someone eating noisily.

Someone else pointed out that the exhibitions in London of flayed and dissected corpses almost certainly display the remains of some of these Chinese executions. This made the front bench squirm and giggle even more. I don't think there's anything to say about that.

Norman Baker is up to something. On Monday, he asked a question of Des the Defence, about David Kelly (the WMD scientist found dead in the woods). Dr Kelly had filed a report about the vaunted mobile weapons laboratories (all rubbish, he told the US), and two days later Bush declared: "We have found the weapons of mass destruction". Yesterday, Baker asked about the use of "extra-judicial killings" by the CIA. He got the answer (see above). But his questions have a family resemblance. Are they by any chance related?

Claire Curtis-Thomas introduced her Bill to restrict the conditions of sale for porn-style magazines. She seems to have asked permission from the Speaker's office to reveal some of the content of these magazines, but was refused. Is the House of Commons like a suburban breakfast room? I thought it was the highest court in the land? But here we are, giggling at the thought of corpses and refusing even to listen to pertinent evidence if it's too unpleasant.

Answer: The question that produces the answer is: "What is your full name, Dr Presume?"

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

Comments