Guidelines on mad government disease

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The Independent Online
At the Government's request, scientists have been meeting over the weekend to work out beef guidelines. We have obtained a transcript of part of the proceedings and here it is...

Chairman: Well, better get things going, I suppose. As you know, we are all here to get the Government out of a hole. Any thoughts on how we can do this ? Jim?

Jim: I'd like to ask WHY we should help get the Government out of a hole. I don't see why we should rally round to help a government that has been so anti-science and anti-science education.

Chairman: Nor do I, but this isn't really a good time to make this point. If we help them now, they are more likely to help us in the future. And all we've been asked to do this weekend is decide what guidelines should be issued on the place of British beef in children's menus. Yes, Sidney?

Sidney: I think the word "menu" is misguided when it comes to children. "Menu" suggests exercising choice, taste, discretion. Children do none of these things. When they go into a place like a McDonald's restaurant they know exactly what they want already. Menu doesn't come into it. The word is wrong.

Jim: I think the word "restaurant" is wrong for McDonald's as well. A restaurant conjures up certain images of ambiance, of comfort, of tradition...

Chairman: Look! PLEASE! Can we ... Yes, Margaret ?

Margaret: I think it's quite monstrous in the first place that the Government should expect scientists to come up with guidelines over a weekend. Science doesn't work like that.

Chairman: Yes, but we're not here to act as scientists. We're here to save the Government's bacon.

Donald: Bacon? What bacon? I thought it was beef we had to...

Chairman: Never mind, Sir Donald. You go back to sleep while we...

Margaret: Nor can I see what good these guidelines are going to do. Nobody obeys guidelines. There are guidelines to stop cows with BSE getting into the food chain, but we all know that they are getting in, because farmers know ways round it. There are guidelines to stop people smoking, because we know that cancer kills, but people don't stop smoking.

Jim: Actually, that's the thing that staggered me - this headlong, bovine rush to stop buying beef. There was never a mass stampede to give up cigarettes when they were found to be certain killers. The export of cigarettes to the continent has never been banned. So why all this fuss about beef?

Chairman: There's something symbolic about beef, I think. The beef of Old England. Nous sommes des rosbifs, etc, etc. That's why we like to call them beefburgers rather than hamburgers.

Margaret: I thought the reason for that was that they contained beef, not ham.

Donald: Do they contain beef? Good Lord. Those grey things in buns you get at burger joints? Have they got beef in? Good Lord.

Jim: Give McDonald's their due, they have done their bit by promoting chicken up the menu.

Margaret: What's so good about chicken? Most chickens these days are inflated balloon of chemicals, poor things.

Chairman: To be quite honest, I haven't eaten chicken or beef for years. I gave up meat the day they printed that revolting photograph of John Selwyn Gummer stuffing hamburgers down his poor child's throat.

Donald: Why did he do that?

Chairman: To prove that beef was safe.

Donald: So now Gummer will have to resign, I suppose.

Chairman: Don't be an idiot, Sir Donald. Nobody in this Government ever resigns. They've got Mad Survival Disease.

Margaret: I've got an idea! Why don't we summon the Gummer child in and see if it has gone mad meanwhile.

Chairman: That's not very scientific, Margaret. Even if the child were mad, it might be from some other factor.

Sidney: Like inheriting it from John Selwyn.

Jim: Know what I think? I think the Government was mad in the first place to permit our farmers to feed this rendered sheep meat to cows. Chairman: Right, if I can sum up the guidelines so far. We recommend the Government to ban McDonald's from using the word "restaurant". We recommend that more research be done on the Gummer family. And we recommend that the Government be taken out and shot

Donald: Seems fair. Can we go home now?

Chairman: No.

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