Works in the Herald 1935

Rather to the discredit of modern Bureaucracy, a leading article calls attention to recent protracted disputes and deadlocks between the Railways and the Harbor Trust, the Lands Office and a local reserve committee, the Metropolitan Board and another public body, besides endless bickering involving other State and Municipal departments.

I happened in Gosh on an ancient day,
In the land of Glugs far, far away
   Where the skies are green and the grass is pink
   And the citizens rarely troubl'd to think.
Each had a vote; they were proud of that;
But they left all else to the Bureaucrat.
   Still, of course, such folly never could be
   In a civilised land this year A.D.

A junior clerk in Department A
Sent a requisition in one day
   For a mousetrap to Department B.
   This came to the ears of Department C,
Whose head said, "Just a moment please.
You control the traps, but we the cheese."
   Then Department D chipped in in a trice
   And cried, "Checkmate!  We control the mice."

Then Departments E, F, G, H, I
Became involved, and the talk ran high,
   Till the Livestock Branch got dragged in, too,
   And the Vermin Board, and I don't know who
Besides, till the mousetrap matter grew
From a mild dispute 'mid a trifling few
   To a Public Question so immense
   That a tax was levied to meet expense.

Well, time rolled on, as it ever has rolled
And the junior clerk, now bald and old,
   Received a pink form one fine day
   Which said, "One trap, mouse.  Passed O.K."
But he answered, this impatient chap,
Grown peevish, too, "Keep your blinkin' trap!
   For a trap I made from an old jam tin
   Long since; and I caught my mouse therein."

So an issue rose of a different sort,
And they sued the clerk in the State High Court
   Which sat so long and talked such bosh
   That a fierce Dictator loomed in Gosh;
And he took one long, deep, shuddering breath
And condemned that junior clerk to death
   And then, when they sought the man, they found
   He had been some twelve years underground.

Such is the tale.  But, understand
It happened in Gosh -- a backward land
   Inhabited then by a race called Glugs,
   Free-born, with a vote, but mostly mugs
For, of course, such nonsense never could be
In a modern, model Democracy
   Like ours.  Things never could happen so.
   Absurd!... Or could they? ...Oh, I don't know.

Herald, 27 November 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-05