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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dear Tony...

Mr Larkin having left his mobile phone at the office, the Editor is deprived of her usual entertainment for the evening and may – wonder of wonders – be available to her employer for the purposes of taking dictation.

For some time, Lady Bracknell has been intending to bring to the attention of her loyal readers the existence of this section of the 10 Downing St website. Citizens of the United Kingdom may utilise the site to importune the Prime Minister with petitions on any subject about which they feel impassioned. Whilst many of the petitions deal with entirely worthy subjects of considerable national import, others present living proof that the British reputation for eccentricity is well-earned.

For the most part, the more entertaining petitions are those which have the fewest signatories, although Tim Ireland’s petition that Mr Blair stand on his head and juggle ice-cream is a shining exception to that rule. Generally speaking, though, the greatest entertainment can be had by subverting the natural presentation of the site and browsing from the smallest petitions to the largest, or allowing the last to be first. Here at the tail end is where one can find petitions submitted by persons who, whilst clearly enthusiastic, have sometimes failed to think through the ramifications of their fondly-held ideals.

Sometimes statistics of anonymous provenance are quoted as in this instance: Lady Bracknell would like to see proof that twenty six persons a year meet their untimely ends as the result of trying to open a package containing scissors with a knife. She also suspects that there are few, if any, households who, having struggled for years in an impoverished scissor-free existence, suddenly make the plunge (so to speak) and invest in a pair. At a conservative estimate, Bracknell Towers is home to at least seven pairs of scissors. In any event, what does death by inadvertent knife thrust have to do with the title of the petition? (Not that this is an inherently bad idea, of course. Modern forms of packaging are indeed a menace. But it does demonstrate the damage one can do to the credibility of one’s petition if one does not think it through.)

Some are barely comprehensible: Lady Bracknell offers a small prize to any reader who can confidently assure her that he or she has understood what it is that this gentleman is demanding.

Some may not be entirely serious. Others contain spelling errors which render them unintentionally humorous.

This is the sort of petition which greatly appeals to Lady Bracknell.

However, Lady Bracknell reserves her highest accolade for the twelve year old boy who wants children to be permitted to keep elephants as pets in converted sheds. She is only disappointed to see that the author's name is not Wilf.

(On a more serious note, the list of petitions contains several to which disabled persons - or, at least, those who are UK citizens - may wish to add their support. Lady Bracknell is confident that her readers are more than capable of devising suitable search terms should they not wish to plough through screen after screen of irrelevancies.)


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