ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties No. 25 beastism

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Beastism (bee-sti-zum) n unnatural interest in, or perception of, people or things as beasts when they are, in fact, merely pussy cats; morbid or unnatural belief in the unbelievable (from the Parisienne novelist Felix d'Mythical Be'ast, who first described the phenomenon).

Bodmin beastism n a rarefied form of morbid condition prevalent in the South-west regions of the British Isles. Sufferers imagine that their neighbourhood is being stalked, literally, by giant panthers. Liberal doses of sceptism laced with ridicule and scorn have little effect on the condition. Recent innovations in treatment include applications of taxpayers' money and Agriculture Ministry reports to confirm that "beasts" are in fact pussy cats. All attempts at treatment have proved unsuccessful with those affected. Seasonal outbreaks are reported in media newsrooms during traditional holiday periods.

Lincoln sexbeastism n still more arcane belief in sexual wrongdoing by Deans of the Church of England. Obsessive/compulsive desire to drag senior ministers through the workings of the consistory court. (The Very Rev Brandon Jackson was recently tested for genetic similarity to Clergius Sexbeastus but found, on examination, to be a pussy cat.)

Tory leadership stalking beastism n a rare and rarefied form of the Beastoid Delusion. First sign in sufferers is unfortunate dress sense and unasked- for attendance at press conferences (see Gormanism and Marlowism). Best example of contemporary stalking beastism - John Redwood, now resident in an area of central London known colloquially as the "backbenches" where he leads his followers in the "Stalk" chant: "pounds 5bn-tax-cuts-now-please". Claimed sightings of the rare and extremely ferocious Stalking Beast Michaelus Heseltinus have cropped up intermittently over the past 15 years, but with little supporting evidence. Only living example of Michaelus currently on show in the spacious Deputy-Prime-Minister game reserve.

By-election beastism n psychologists and zoologists are studying this relatively recent phenomenon in the Littleborough & Saddleworth region of the UK. Scholars of the subject are unsure about a newly discovered creature known as the PhilWoolas (fill-wul-ass). Despite months of research, they are unable to determine whether this beast is in fact a clean-living, Anglican, trades union communications guru and Labour Party candidatepuss or an NUS radical legalise-cannabis-now one-time flourbomberbeast. Preliminary and unpublished research suggests, however, that it will turn out to be a Blairite pussy cat. Beastwatchers in the area have been delighted by confirmed sightings of the extremely ferocious Spinmandelson (qv).