Friday, August 13, 2004

Speaking with forked tongue

Irony’s role in POSIWID is often overlooked. The irony of the four remaining giant rats alluded to below being able to do what they please since disciplining them risks reducing their number to three is clearly lost on our political masters. Irony-free zones are high-risk places, as Joe Heller pointed out, where lessons go unlearnt.

For one such lesson, defence minister Geoff Hoon, visited Iraq in June. This is how Private Eye reported MOD officials’ inquiries into how their minister’s visit was received on the ground.

Basra’s joint helicopter force publishes an in-house newsletter called The Forked Tongue, which claims to be published “in the heat of the Iraqi sun on recycled next-of-kin forms”. It said the visit: “…was lauded as a huge success for morale and a giant leap forward for political progress in Iraq. ‘Everyone thought the visit went exceptionally well,’ said Iraqi Information Minister Said Al Ali. On other pages: Pumas can lift more than Chinooks; the move to tented accommodation really is a good idea; and salmon live in trees and eat pencils.”

Back in Whitehall, the vice chief of defence staff, quite taken by this “useful indicator of morale” asked for a full set of copies of the magazine to be sent to him. The latest edition – complete with its front page scoop “massive alcoholic orgy at Iraq’s only permitted beer making factory cancelled due to organisational errors” – has duly been received.

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