Thursday, 26 November 2020

Wise US officialdom

Updated: March 12, 2011 2:32 pm

India That Is Bharat

SATIRICUS has been feeling somewhat guilty for the last some days. He has been thinking…. Is it just to write just about dogs when, by the grace of God, every dog has his day—on which he can chase a cat? Obviously not. For what could a dog have done had there been no cat to chase? Clearly the dog’s life would have remained unfulfilled. So Satiricus can no longer ignore the distinguished services rendered by the cat community.

                The most illustrious of these is the recently-reported selection of a cat as a juror in a US court. It so happened in Boston that after Anna Esposito put her cat Tabby’s name in the ‘pets’ section of a census form Tabby received an official summons for jury duty in a case. The astounded Anna, looking for a get-out clause (or should it be claws?) wrote back, saying Tabby was “unable to speak and understand English”. And what did the officials in turn write back? They turned down the excuse and have ordered Tabby to be present in court sometime next month. And of course they were faithfully following the rules and regulations while doing so, for according to a US judicial website, “jurors are not expected to speak perfect English”. See? American officialdom is wise enough to know that Tabby may not have learnt perfect English at a university, but they reasonably expect that Tabby’s imperfect English should meet the ends of justice, For, after all, is not justice more important than grammar? Unfortunately, owner Anna was not sensible enough to see it that way. The flummoxed female said, “When they ask him ‘guilty or not’, what’s he supposed to say—miaow?”

                Oh, well, Satiricus is sure the learned American judge deciding the case will know whether that ‘miaow’ meant yes or no. More importantly, although Satiricus does not know the details of this case, he would not be surprised to learn that if the case needs a cat as a juror, the criminal in the dock must be a mouse. And in that case this particular juror will surely vote ‘guilty’—guilty on all four counts:

  1. The said defendant is guilty of hatching a nefarious plot to bell every cat in the neighbourhood. 2. He is a member of a notorious gang of thieves who recently broke into a house and stole a large amount of a certain valuable called cheese. 3. Having come to understand from the internet that curiosity killed the cat, this murderous mouse deliberately left curious clues of his conspiracy in the way of the cat. 4. The defendant mouse is a member of an international terrorist organization in league with oh-so-secular India’s Hindu terrorist mice.

Feline factotum

Now, if an American cat can be a juror, why cannot a British cat be a security officer in the Government of Great Britain? It can, and it was. Satiricus recalls that a few years ago a cat named Peter was employed by the British government on a regular monthly salary of some Shillings to be on duty at Whitehall, the London building housing government offices, for protecting official files from marauding mice nibbling away at them. When it became too old for the job it was actually pensioned off, though Satiricus does not now remember how much pension it drew and for how long.

Anyway it appears the British government still values the security skill of cats so much that even their prime minister acknowledged it. For now news comes from London that Prime Minister Cameron has a new recruit to his staff at 10 Downing Street—a cat called Larry, invited from a Dogs and Cats Home to join the PM’s household after a rodent was spotted on the steps of that famous front door.

Of course the appointment was made on merit, for adequate security at the Prime Minister’s house was vital for the government’s security—especially in view of the fact that it was Britain’s first-ever coalition government. So the CEO of the Dogs and Cats Home had to duly certify that “Larry showed a very strong predatory drive, and enjoyed playing with a toy mouse”. This behavior, she said, “convinced the staff (at 10, Downing Street) that he’ll be up for the job of ratting.”

For Satiricus Larry is a living example of second thoughts being wiser thoughts. For just a month ago the British government had declared that there were no plans to bring in a new cat, but a few days ago the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that Cameron had “certainly been persuaded that it was a good idea”. Larry’s selection-cum-appointment was reportedly made by the PM and his children. A very right procedure, Satiricus must say. For it is a truth universally acknowledged that there can be no better judge of a cat’s qualifications than a child. So now Satiricus is satisfied that Cameron’s coalition can comfortably continue without calamities cracks.

However, with the Brits known as fastidious sticklers for rules and regulations, procedures and precedents, it is strange that no salary has been announced for this feline factotum for the PM. Can even the Prime Minister employ somebody but not pay him or her or it a regular salary, complete with periodic increments? Maybe Larry negotiated special terms and conditions of his employment, in which he agreed to forgo the daily wage of a bowl of milk in lieu of the assured supply of a mouse each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Finally, a curious thought : Now that UK is rapidly becoming U-Islamic-K, what can the British Prime Minister do if , one fine morning, without bothering to put in his papers, “Sau sau choohẻ khaay kẻ Larry billi chali Haaj ko”?

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