The Curmudgeon


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sinking Beneath the Azure Main

The Ministry for War and the Colonies, whose new U-boat project is named Astute in much the same spirit as one of America's early efforts to take the Cold War into space was christened Friendship, is experiencing some small difficulty in disposing of some outdated peacekeeping equipment. For the past eleven years, the Ministry has been trying to find ways of dismantling fifteen decommissioned nuclear submarines and storing their radioactive waste; and, as is the way of Ministries, has set up an acronym to look into the matter. The acronym's remit was to "look into what plans would be acceptable to the public", provided the public was prepared to accept low-level radiation, the involvement of the sort of private enterprise which has made our civilian nuclear industry the dread and envy of the world, the re-sale of contaminated material on the open market and the usual absence of any meaningful consultation about where the poisonous hulks would be taken apart and their more durable components preserved for future generations to marvel at. Eventually, the Ministry for War and the Colonies was moved to solve the problem in the usual way of New New Labour ministries, by employing the scientific acumen and social responsibility of a PR company. The PR company carried out a study which concluded that the services of two advisers from Lancaster University's Centre for the Study of Environmental Change were no longer required. According to a spokesbeing, the Ministry "reviewed membership of this MoD-funded group in order to ensure value for money," by bringing in a public-relations company, doubtless at no more expense to the taxpayer than strictly necessary. "In the area of communications, work was being duplicated", as one would expect when environmental experts are employed, "and the appropriate action was taken to reduce staff numbers". In Standard English, the Ministry obediently fired the environmental experts, and re-branded the acronym so as to brighten its initiativity. As a result, eight more consultants are considering a further and, from the Ministry's point of view, involuntary reduction in staff numbers. Perhaps the Ministry's aim, if it has one, is to ensure that by the time the whole business is settled the submarines will no longer be radioactive.


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