Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lord Bonkers' Diary: At the first hint of an asteroid

A second day with Rutland's most celebrated fictional peer.

Last week, in my capacity as under-secretary at the Department for Outer Space, I travelled to a top secret location on the border between Shropshire and Montgomeryshire. There, amongst the spoil heaps of the Victorian lead-mining, a strange erection hoved into view.

Like all ministers in the Coalition government, I have had to wield my surgeon’s scalpel in order to comply with the dictates of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Many of these cuts have been achieved by doing away with the sort of Labour nonsense we all familiar with: missions to suppress vice on Alpha Centauri, public education campaigns against sexism on Venus and so forth. I was also minded to do away with the warning signs about horse chestnut trees in the Crab Nebula until I discovered that they are so named because they can gallop at speed across rough country and are capable of giving a nasty bite if you let them sneak up behind you.

Other cuts I have made with a heavy heart. The British space programme, for instance, is no more and I am painfully aware this will lead to redundancies at Woomera. However, I am proud that I have been able to uphold the pledge made by so many Liberal Democrat candidates at the last election by continuing to train a full complement of British space cadets (a course of action enthusiastically urged upon me by our own Liberal Youth – when they are hiking through forests singing “I Love to Go A-Wandering” or sitting around camp fires). I realise they may be disappointed that there will be no spacecraft for them to crew, but feel that if they take up my suggested alternative – trampolining lessons – with sufficient vim and vigour then this need not prove an insuperable barrier to their career ambitions.

There was one spending item that I was determined not to cut and it was this that I travelled to the Welsh border to inspect. It is a model spacecraft. By this I do not mean the sort of model that the best sort of schoolboy spends his evening gluing together. No, I mean a rocket, crewed by fashion models and piloted by our own Lembit Öpik, which will be dispatched at the first hint of an asteroid that has the intention of colliding with Earth. (I am not exactly clear what Lembit will do when he reaches it, but I have every confidence in his ability to Use His Initiative).

There are those in the London chapter of the Liberal Democrats who are urging me to send him off on the thing this very afternoon. As a responsible minister, however, I am determined not to launch it until it is needed.

Earlier this week

Autumn has come to Rutland

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