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The House  

1) Green Energy - How to not use it
2) Railways - History and Future
3) A Silly Story
4) Cinderella
5) Croess
6) The House
7) How to Control Your Government
8) After Expenses: Is it time to abolish the House of Commons?
9) Say "Yes" to the EU
10) Dihydrogen Monoxide - An Appeal
11) The Train Operator's Guide to Getting Students Drunk in a Brewery
12) The Well
Department of Comment, Satire & Tripe

This is a satire. Sorry.

Once upon a time there was a house. It was a large, solid house, inhabited by some tired conservatives (who ran the place), some socialists (who didn't like the lady the conservatives had running the place), some liberals (who stood on the sidelines and bickered) and a group of old men, whose fathers and grandfathers had all lived in this house and who spent much of their time saying little and dozing peacefully.

The house had a large kitchen with three ovens which were always overcrowded with people wanting to cook things in them and a reading room which had been re-done in the 1950s and was looking a little shabby. It had tired carpets and a couple of Rembrandts hanging on the wall, with a cabinet which used to contain the family silver until the conservatives sold it to pay for something. There was also a large back garden which grew potatoes and cabbages and carrots and a few cows and pigs and chickens (although an agreement with some neighbouring houses meant that production was kept as low as possible so that there was nothing left over). In the middle of the back garden was a fine summer house, almost as old as the main building, containing an impressive Tudor reading room which one of the old men ran.

The lady the conservatives had running the place eventually went a bit mad and so she was bundled off to join the old men and replaced with a grey man who never really came to any decisions, although he did set up a system whereby if anyone found any garden implements lying around the place they could ask him to put them away until they were needed. In practice the gardener felt that this was a bit difficult and so nothing much changed. Meanwhile the socialists and the conservatives agreed that they would try to make the house's value match that of a much newer house owned by some Germans down the road, except it turned out that the British house wasn't in a fit state for this, and all the effort made to tidy it up instead revealed the cracks and led to the place nearly falling down. The socialists blamed the conservatives. Then the cows in the garden went a bit mad and the vet insisted on shooting them. The socialists blamed the conservatives. Then the conservatives started going to bed with one another and with other people who they'd found around the place, which didn't really go down very well with anyone and obtained disapproving tuts from the old men. Then one of the garden sheds fell into the river and the socialists blamed the conservatives. Eventually the conservatives sold the Rembrandts and tried to use the money to pay for a new oven, but the socialists wouldn't hear of it, and continued blaming the conservatives for the state of the house even when it was being rebuilt. So the conservatives handed over to the socialists, and most of them left the house to make a new life elsewhere.

The socialists quickly made sweeping changes. The old men were thrown out and replaced with a group of people who had paid one of the main groups of residents to live in the house. The oven rota had involved people putting their name on it for the next time it would be available when they wanted it; the list now reached six months in advance. Putting your name down for any time more than 24 hours away was banned. The reading room was examined at length with several alterations being made before it was decided to strip it out and start again; meanwhile the socialists paid the old man who ran the summer house so that their children could study there. A list of all the rights and freedoms which other houses on the road had agreed were worth having was enforced around the house and all rights and freedoms not on that list were taken away. Despite promising to buy the Rembrandts and the family silver back, the socialists decided to sell the house's old gold as well, and employed lots of bankers and consultants to tell them how best to do things. These people were allowed to live in the house for free. Also free to come was anyone who felt that their previous house wasn't good enough and treated them too harshly. Most of these people settled down and worked in the increasingly crowded house, although a few insisted on causing trouble. Meanwhile the animals in the garden got foot-and-mouth, so the socialists shot them and began borrowing money to pay for the improvements to the ovens. Two of the ovens had their grills removed while the third had the stove plated over. A consultant was employed to tell people how to use the ovens, while an accountant was engaged to see how savings could be made on oven provision. One of the people who had bought one of the Rembrandts from the conservatives found themselves in money problems, so the socialists began telling them how to look after the Rembrandt and letting them borrow money on their behalf, while assuring everyone that they hadn't actually reclaimed the Rembrandt, as though this was a bad thing.

Meanwhile the American house three streets away was having some trouble with some people who were attacking their postbox. Unfortunately these people lived in the same house as the man who owned the local petrol station, so the Americans attacked another house and asked the socialists to help. Despite the fact that the house was large and rambling with many hidden corridors and rooms and had been attacked by several people before without success the socialists were delighted to assist - it made them look big. They also joined in with another house which was alleged to have big vicious dogs for mass destruction, but it rapidly turned out that they were merely a mirage in the desert. What the owner did have was an unlicensed abbatoir, and so he was executed for not complying with the relevant regulations.

At this stage it came as a great shock to the socialists when they realised that their piggy-bank was empty. Having failed to blame the conservatives, they tried blaming the Americans. The conservatives blamed the socialists for spending so much on the ovens. When the house was raided and one of the conservatives arrested, the conservatives blamed the socialists. The socialists were willing to talk to the French and the Germans, but the conservatives wouldn't hear of it. Meanwhile the socialists decided to refill the piggy bank by spending more money, pointing out that all the other houses in the street were spending money and adding that if it hadn't been for them the whole estate would have collapsed. The subsequent retraction was missed, because the conservatives were laughing too much, although they eventually calmed down enough to point out that the other houses in the street had got their money out of their piggy bank.

The conservatives finally got their act together enough to wrest control of the house back from the socialists (with the help of some liberally-minded friends). The liberally-minded inhabitants are now taking the flack for everything that the conservatives do. It appears that the house will survive but several bits are having to be lopped off so that the conservatives can refill the piggy bank with the savings. Particularly annoying for the conservatives is that several years ago they decided to join a credit union on the street corner which now wants them to help pay for emergency repairs to several nearby collapsing houses.

Fortunately arrangements have been made to fulfill the dying promise of the socialists - to reframe the Rembrandt which they are still assuring everyone that they don't really own. It is looking rather like the Rembrandt is taking them to the cleaners rather than vice versa.

Last modified 14/03/11

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