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Our Society was overflowing with feelings of human kindness, a situation which thoroughly surprised everyone, including our enemies and their friends. In the end, so we surmised, all of our friends were also our enemies anyway. The debate did not take long to conclude, because of this following dicktum: The President said so, and we obey his commands, especially when asked to hand him the ‘properties for sale’ section of the local paper. Our livelihoods and our necks depend on it.

This time, the President was in one of his more giddy moods. He ordered us to visit a sick person. We understand your doubts here, dear reader, but we were not after a free show of the kind one can see on the pier in Blackpool (it is our deepest wish to actually visit these pleasure grounds some time). No cynical wagging of the finger (‘look, look, a cripple’) here (concerning cripples, we usually like them, except when they are bald, bearded and can’t calculate any odds).

There were plenty of sick people out there, so we decided to draw straws. The process was heavily biased towards farmer Bertram’s granny, because she was the person nearest to the straw used for our calculations. Although she was known to be in good health, we didn’t hold this against her. After all, she might start suffering from gout in the time it takes to pluck a cat’s whiskers.

On our way to the farm house, a lively debate ensued: what gift would be appropriate for this occasion? Various options were open to us, but most were not. Dismissed were the following: 1. a cat’s whiskers (they are not suited for people with gout); 2. a plastic bag (however, we were assured this item would be highly sought-after in a few years time); 3. three rotten eggs and an apple core (too aromatic and too dry, in that order); 4. five mistaken identities (belonging to The Intern, whose 'tasks' includes 'grooming' undergraduates (he is self-employed). His favourite pick-up lines involves him acting like a Frenchman from the Saumur region. Obviously he has never been there); 5. a stinking Havisock's sock (the kind drenched in cheap red wine, aged with the help of a machine); 6. music (as a Society we are strictly non-musical);

We concede that most of these items had been retrieved from a local bin. The Secretary simply woke up this morning after attending his biweekly, nightly course in waste management and decided to wreak havoc upon the bin’s contents (with abandon). He is a cradle-robber of the worst kind (he actually sleeps in a cot).

The Belgian brought grapes, as is custom in his country. He wouldn’t stop extolling their virtues, including the fact that they can be used to manufacture an alcoholic drink he generically called ‘cider’; he claims his business partner set up a grape-orchard to this end. He invested all of his money in this enterprise).

Upon arrival, the patient was frankly blushing like a ripe apple, but we thought nothing of it. The Intern insisted on inspecting the bedpan, but this request was denied. Our new acquaintance served us some rather rank tea, lukewarm and smelling of urineum. It occurred to us that Granny didn’t know us at all and seemed surprised with our visit. She was also seen dialing the number of the local police station. Her prescience baffled us really, but we thought she was just being kind, as the coppers know us well and regularly give us free rides, room and board at their station.

However, things got off on the wrong footage as one of us (no need to go into details as to his identity) picked up a forlorn-looking handbag and legged it out of the pantry. Without much ado, we all simply followed his lead, naturally, like deer in a rut, although one of us had the clarity of mind to pick up last weekend’s newspaper, which would certainly please our President. The Belgian’s investment in the grapes would pay itself back, if the starting-up costs are disregarded (the judge referred to it as ‘bail’. How funny the business world and its lingo are these days).