The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Wit, wisdom and a season of scrivenings

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The Independent Online
WHILE readers of this particular newspaper may have been 'making merry' (dread words]) o'er these past few days, with their free-range turkeys and 'environmentally friendly' trimmings (I jest]), it has been the most hectic of times for the likes of Arnold, W.

Ever since Monday last, editors of our most prestigious national newspapers have been interrupting the festivities chez Arnold in order to plague me for a few well-chosen words for their leader pages. In their wisdom, they decided that I was just the chap to express his inimitable views on the case of the young tearaway sent gallivanting around the sun-soaked sands of the Kalahari by Gloucestershire County Council, only to abscond with an expensive vehicle, the moment his luxury private jet hit the private runway.

Might I, in this season of good cheer, offer our growing (I jest]) band of Independent on Sunday readers this timely - and entirely free - digest of my scrivenings on the aforesaid matter? With the help of this cut-out-and-keep guide, I trust that your Sunday luncheons (turkey soup, I fancy) will be enlivened by informed debate on this most important of issues.

On Tuesday, the Daily Mail was delighted to run my closely argued 'Chop his legs off' under my regular Mail byline 'by Professor Wallace Arnold, expert in criminology'. In it, I suggested that young offenders should, under highly skilled medical supervision, have either one (1) or two (2) legs removed - depending, of course, on the severity of the offence. Nevertheless, I tempered this opinion with a word of warning for those hardliners who might wish to impose this punishment on every type of petty criminal. 'But we must be forever on our guard,' my article ended, 'against the scrounger in our society, the loafer who steals or drink-drives solely so as to have his legs chopped off - and thus earn himself a princely disability allowance'.

On Wednesday, the London Evening Standard was proud to print my exclusive article 'The Benefits of a Good Old-Fashioned Clip Around the Lug 'Ole'. Much of this was devoted to some particularly fine gems of Arnoldian autobiography. 'When I was a lad in shorts and blazer, with pea-shooter in my pocket and mud on my knees,' I wrote, 'I would often be given a clip around the ear by the local bobby - and more often than not a sound spanking on the BTM. In return, the cheery bobby would reward me with a tasty red apple and a shiny new sixpence,

telling me to meet him behind the barn at the same time next week. This in turn taught me the value of commerce - a lesson I have never forgotten.' Excellent]

And so to Thursday, the day my hard-hitting piece, 'I Agree with Michael Winner says Renowned Writer Wallace Arnold', appeared in the Daily Express. 'Rather than making our criminal justice system a junior branch of the Thomas Cook Benevolent Fund (]]]),' I quipped, 'might there not be more common sense in awarding the joyrider, the petty thief and the drug addict with a bullet through the head - plus a pretty hefty fine?' I am delighted to say that a record number of Daily Express readers agreed with these sentiments - and the Express has accordingly offered me their coveted post of Religious Affairs Adviser.

On Friday, that most doughty of journals, the Spectator, ran a quietly amusing and highly civilised piece by yours truly in which I wittily argued that 'the infamously peckish wild animals that haunt the wilds of Africa' might be 'transported direct to the Bryn Melyn centre, there to sink their teeth into the aptly named director Mr Brendan McNutt and those of his star pupils with sufficient flesh unravaged by an excess of cannabis and Grip-Fix'. Capital]

Finally, yesterday I 'sounded off' on the very same subject in the Daily Telegraph, asking the witty question: 'Instead of sending light-fingered teenagers on luxury cruises to exotic climes, might it not be just as effective to force them to the National Theatre, there to watch a season of plays by Messrs Brenton, Hare and Beckett? After such a strong dose of aversion therapy, it would, I would hazard, be many a long moon before they were to offend once more]'

All in all, a busy if profitable week for Arnold - and a fitting tribute, once again, to the richness and diversity of the British press, for every single one of these articles was that little bit different in the way that only Arnold knows how.

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