Investigative Carol-ism

( 1994 Quentin Bristow)

[Somewhere in the English-speaking world]

Good morning Madam and Happy New Year to you. Yes, this is the Ministry of Central Integrated Investigative Services, what can I do for you?....Oh yes, I remember the case. I am afraid we did send you rather a lot of forms....you have no idea why you have received them? Well now let me just confirm one or two things, you are the person with vocal communicative skills who conveyed some information via the medium of the singing voice on the radio just before Christmas?....Yes I thought so, very well executed indeed I must say, you must surely have taken a government training course....you didn't? Well be that as it may, we have received complaints from several government departments in connection with a particular information segment that you..er..ah..um...conveyed. Sorry? ...that you what?... sang... ah yes, you are a singer.....no....no....really, no offence was intended Madam, I am sure that is what you are to the general taxpayer, but here at the Ministry of Central Integrated Investigative Services we have categorised singing as "Se-QU-Ential Excitation of the Larynx." or SQUEEL, (Huh..uh..uh..uh..I am sure you will excuse a little departmental humour Madam).

Now then, the information sequence of interest to us in the song that you, er, sang, relates to your admission of having received a considerable quantity of gifts over a period of twelve days from a person whom you describe as "Truelove". We are most anxious to contact this Truelove person as soon as possible to help us with our enquiries....you say that you have not received any gifts?....but Madam, the radio show in question was taped by several different government agencies and they provide irrefutable evidence that not only did you receive a large number of gifts in the subject time period from the aforementioned Truelove person, but that you described each of the gifts that you received in considerable detail, even including a record of the number of the day on which each one arrived.....Of course we live in a democracy Madam and I take strong exception to the epithet "cloak and dagger tactics".....what do I think that democracy means? Well it means that you have the right to broadcast almost anything you want, and we have the right to record almost anything you say.....Harassment? Certainly not Madam, our POLIREC Directorate has given us specific guidelines on the question of harassment....POLIREC? Oh that means "Political Rectitude"....you suggest we should change the name to what?....I beg your pardon Madam, I never thought a lady would stoop to such vulgarity. I must tell you that in our business the perception of some harassment is inevitable and POLIREC has indicated that any necessary harassment must be of the equal opportunity variety and must only be applied to invisible majorities.

I see that we understand each other better now so I will get down to the specifics of the complaints. The first one relates to the gift tax implications, the Income Tax Department has estimated the value of the gifts as being in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They want to know if the donor (the aforementioned Truelove person) was (in simplified terms so that you will not be confused) a common-law spouse; or a special-law spouse, also known as an uncommon-law spouse; or a common, special or uncommon-law parent, guardian; Father, Mother, brother, sister,(whether real, imaginary, and whether inlaws or outlaws, common, special or uncommon); a friend, enemy, or person of any other kind within or without the meaning of any act, statute or bylaw, passed by any authorised body of persons whatsoever having, or not having, appropriate jurisdiction related to all, any, or none of the above, notwithstanding anything and everything.

Mind-numbing bafflegab Madam? Oh come now, I can't see what is so difficult about some simple definitions, you should have read the actual text from the income tax act before it was simplified!....let them burn in hell fire? Really Madam, where would we be without guidelines in a democratic society....a damn sight better off you say?.. I am sorry Madam but our Mission Statement admonishes us never to become drawn into adversarial relationships with clients....Oh I'm sorry, but you're a client now Madam! whether you like it or not, and because we are so short staffed you probably will be for some time to come.

Your government is concerned for the welfare of all its citizens, which is why we are taking such an interest in your activities. But again, we are being distracted from our business....Yes Madam, several hundred thousand dollars is what I said....not at all impossible according to the Income Tax Department, let us look at the facts, these gifts arrived apparently (according to your own singing testimony) over a period of twelve days. The potentially valuable items according to the Income Tax Department were the gold rings. It seems that on the fifth of the twelve days, and on each day thereafter, you received five such rings from the Truelove person (among other items), which comes to a total of no less than forty gold rings. Now if the quality was good enough to be worth crowing, sorry, singing about, they were almost certainly all twenty four carat gold and therefore worth of the order of twenty thousand dollars....No, I am sorry Madam, but despite your outdated concepts of what constitutes a democratic society, it is very much our bloody business, I must remind you that we do have the power to search the premises where we have reason to believe the subject items are being concealed....I am sorry Madam, but appealing to your media friends, or the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury will simply add more negative points to your C.P.....you mean you haven't heard of the acronym C.P.? I find it difficult to believe that anyone in our open and democratic society has never heard of the Compliance-Profile.....No Madam of course this is not George Orwell's "Nineteen-Eighty-Four", this is nineteen ninety four and I assure you that we have come a long way in the last ten years. Our surveill...I mean, our survision techniques are infinitely more devastati...sophisticated than they were in nineteen eighty four.

Once again Madam I must proceed with the matter in hand. It seems that you now have quite a sizeable stock of poultry. For example according to our directorate responsible for enforcing the acts relating to ornithological species, the Truelove person gave you a total of twelve partridges, twenty two turtle doves, thirty cockerels, thirty six french hens, forty two geese capable of laying eggs, and forty two swans.....how the hell do we come up with that figure? Well Madam its really quite simple, on each of the twelve days, on your own admission, the Truelove person gave you everything that you had received on the previous day, plus one extra gift, which results in the enormous accumulation that we are interested in. Anyway you will be required to quarantine the french hens to comply with the livestock import regulations and if it is your intention to sell the goose eggs for profit you must register with the appropriate marketing board.

We come now to the most serious matter of all, the inclusion of living breathing people in the gifts. Again the totals indicate that you now have forty female farm employees; a personal drum and pipe band with no less than thirty drummers and thirty six pipers; and a corps de ballet of twenty two female and twelve male dancers (we assume that "leaping lords" can be classified as dancers, no matter what their pedigree). All of these people must be accorded basic human rights and there can be no question of actual ownership in the sense of a master-slave relationship, which the term "gift" seems to imply in this instance. Furthermore if any of the above persons are not citizens of this country, then they must not work for pay until they have landed immigrant status. It would also be advisable for the musicians to obtain union cards before undertaking any professional engagements. Finally our POLIREC directorate points out that on no account should the female farm employees be labelled as "milk maids", as this is a particularly nasty form of political incorrectness known as "gender stereotyping". POLIREC states that never in its long history has it had to deal with such an anachronistic and blatant case as this one.

There is a faction in our security directorate which is highly sceptical about the truth of your song story and they point to the cunning series of arithmetic progressions on which the gift-giving is based, as a possible code for sending messages to foreign agents. They are also very interested in talking to Truelove and will be contacting you in any event. Incidentally their scepticism is supported by the unanimous opinion of the specialists in the ornithological species directorate. They state that pear trees are an utterly unlikely habitat for partridges, which are a ground-nesting species. If on the other hand there is nothing more to this whole thing than deliberate, willful, mischievous capricious and malicious mis-representation, then our legal directorate will be in touch with you at some point.

Well Madam I think that about covers it. Oh yes, among all those forms you will find a Christmas card which comes to you with the compliments of the season and our Ministry, and expresses the sentiment that we all look forward to working with you for many years to come.

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