William Donaldson's Week: Cheques please to Mr P Amin

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THE queues of insulted customers at Mr Amin's this week, trying to return their copies of the 2p Times and 3p Telegraph, may have been surprised to find themselves being served by Reena, the mad Alsatian.

That said, and if my postbag's anything to go by, the question on most of your minds is not how the Times and Telegraph dare charge as much but what the latest is in re myself and the little trollop who took me to the cleaners.

There's good news and bad. The situation was that, having obtained judgment, and urged on by Frankie Fraser's friend the lovely Marilyn, the Princess of Wales and Classy Cressida, I instructed Frank to restrain the little trollop's goods. Frank then repossessed the wrong flamingo pink Mitsubishi - the upshot being that the lot of us were up before the Bow Street beak.

Mr Alway got us off on a philosophical technicality - arguing, against Saul Kripke, that the statement 'Frankie Fraser is an offensive weapon' isn't tautologically true in the sense that a Frankie Fraser who wasn't an offensive weapon wouldn't be Frankie Fraser (ie, and with Quine, that properties apply necessarily not to objects in themselves but only under particular descriptions).

At which point, the little trollop retained solicitors, who, on the grounds that she hadn't received the original summons, sought to get the judgment overturned, adding that she had a complete answer to the claims made in the summons (which, confusingly, you may think, she hadn't received).

There seemed to be a contradiction here and one that my Uncle John (now retained in place of Frankie Fraser) would have no difficulty demonstrating when the matter came to court.

That's all very well, you may be thinking, but my Uncle John doesn't come cheap. Who's going to pick up the tab? Well, you are, frankly. Encouraged by my colleague Peter Pringle's news on Monday that everyone in America now runs his or her own private charity to defray their legal bills, I've set up a fighting fund and would ask you to send your cheques - payable to Mr P Amin - to Fulham News, 200 Fulham Road, London SW10.

Meanwhile, I've discovered how to make people sit still while I'm talking about American football. In future, I'll introduce them to Reena, the mad Alsatian, who will pin them to their chairs until I've finished.

The fact is, and as a consequence of my having given Reena all my Zimovane (the sleeping pill which, in double doses, causes short-term memory loss), I'm as sharp as a needle once again, at my desk by 8am, invoicing all and sundry in re meetings attended - not that I get to any meetings, since Reena is now suffering long-term memory loss, thinking she's a tart's chihuahua, and plonking herself on top of me.

Never mind. I decided on Wednesday to unload Reena on old Mrs Matthews who, at 96, has reached the age when she ought to have a revolting little lap-dog. Accordingly, I struggled downstairs with Reena and knocked on Mrs Matthews's door.

'Jumping Jesus, what's this?' said Mrs Matthews.

'This is Reena,' I said, whereupon Reena sat on top of her.

'Well get her off]' said Mrs Matthews.

'No chance,' I said. 'I'm here to talk about American football. How, against a play-fake . . . whereupon Reena got off Mrs Matthews and sat on top of me.

'That's better,' said Mrs Matthews. 'You'll be interested to hear that, following a philosophical howler in the Spectator, I've decided to support the Times in its loutish struggle with the Telegraph. This week, some languorous essayist, discussing whether Middlesex exists, states, quite fatuously, that this is a teaser for the Oxford philosophy school of J L Austin and A J Ayer.'

I groaned, as you must now be groaning. To blame the Telegraph for the sins of the Spectator seemed unfair (the latter, vis a vis the former, being merely the monkey, not the organ-grinder) and only a pedant like Mrs Matthews would expect philosophical rigour from either rag. Pinned as I was, there was nothing I could do, however.

'Sheer idiocy,' she said. 'Ayer was never much interested in linguistic philosophy, though he did praise Austin for his distinction between performative and constative utterances. Further, it's far from clear that either would have been interested in whether Middlesex exists, which is a question for the philosophy of social objects.'

I'd heard enough. Somehow I got myself out from under Reena, thereafter taking her to Mr Amin's in the Fulham Road, where she suddenly got her memory back, scattering the customers and replacing Mr Amin behind the counter.

'I'll be off now,' said Mr Amin.

'Where are you going?'

'To watch Middlesex play at Lord's,' he said. 'Here's one: does Middlesex exist? In my view, Middlesex was a logical construction out of individual people, just as a forest is a logical construction out of trees. If the trees are cut down and left lying on the ground, does the forest still exist? I'd say not. An ontological collectivist, however, would argue that . . .'

'Don't you start,' I said. 'How's my legal fighting fund?'

'Only pounds 3,857 collected so far.'

That won't pay for Uncle John. Kindly remit more generously.