Reporter Barred For Asking ‘The Boss’ Awkward Questions
Letter from Llanaber
...Global politics seen through life in this strange tiny village in West Wales...
I have been barred from asking the boss of the parish council here in Llanaber, Mrs. Dorothy ‘Binky’ Trim, any questions! This is not only unfair but most inconvenient. In my job as Parish Foreign Secretary and Anti-Corruption & Nepotism Tsar I frequently need to ask my esteemed leader challenging and searching questions.
For instance, sometimes she likes a cup of tea in the morning, and sometimes she prefers coffee. Also, does she want a Rich Tea biscuit or a Jammy-Dodger with her elevenses? Let me bring you up to speed with the circumstances of how this came about.
As you may recall, I write and circulate the daily village newsletter. It’s packed with fascinating articles and insightful comment such as ‘the parish Foreign Secretary has been barred from asking the parish boss, Mrs. Trim, any questions.’
One of my responsibilities with the newsletter is to interview a member of the parish council staff every month for a ‘puff piece’ about his or her likes and dislikes, their hobbies, what they think of life in the village and their proposals on how to reconcile the Arabs and the Jews.
The member of staff to be interviewed is selected at random by Mrs. T herself. She does this by pulling a name from a hat she keeps in her office. I have never had access to the hat or the names written on the bits of paper in the hat, but Mrs. Trim herself has been the lucky staff member for the last ten goes.
This, in and of itself, is probably at the heart of my getting barred.
Why? (I hear you ask).
I simply ran out of ‘puff’ questions. There are only so many different ways to ask Mrs. Trim what she’s having for supper, and whether her husband Leonard’s haemorrhoids are still giving him jip.
So, at our last ‘interview’ I sat silently on the ewes milking stool in front of her desk at a loss for a question to ask.
She leaned over the desk and barked down at me after about ten minute’s silence, “Well!? Aren’t you going to ask me something?”
“I’m stuck,” I said meekly.
“Take a risk, you spineless pile of dottle,” she bellowed, “Take me to the edge of the truth! Challenge me to think on my feet.”
“Okay,” I said, and took a deep breath, “Here goes.”
I looked my esteemed leader squarely in the eye and asked her the following searching question:
“Your private lawyer and erstwhile confidante Solly Weinstein (no relation) is singing his head off to the village top-cop (Robert ‘Robbie the Bobbie’ Muller) that he has a secret recording of you planning to give a bung to two male ‘escorts,’ ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Wanger’ to keep their gob’s shut about them bonking you during the 2016 election, and playing the golden shower game in a Rufflotian hotel bedroom on the bed once occupied by the previous council leader, Billy-Boy Bobbityboo, and about you bunging a wad of cash to the ‘exotic’ male stripper and sausage hiding expert, Spanky Dambuster, and being in hock to the Rufflotians who are blackmailing you into breaking up the village defence alliance, TARTS (Together Against Rufflotian Territory Stealing), and into turning a blind eye to the illegal ‘annexing’ by Putin Lotzadosh of the treacherous quicksand ridden hole where we keep the ‘out of datecoders’ from the village (Bogbourne), and for fiddling the judicial appointment of your blubby-hubby, Leonard, (now Lord Justice Arbuthnot Trim), and generally being an all-round corrupt dottle-bag and Putin’s puppet, and claiming you’re six feet six inches when you’re only six feet five and a half…”
I was out of breath.
I was exhausted.
There! It was done!
I had asked all of the begging questions of my esteemed leader in one long inquisitional blurt.
I leaned back on the ewes milking stool and toppled over backwards (it doesn’t have a back support).
I picked myself up and stood facing Mrs. Trim, my pad and stubby pencil poised at the ready for her reply.
She glared pure hate at me.
She did not reply.
Instead she blew down the speaking tube on her desk. In the distance I heard a faint whistling noise.
Moments later Mrs. Trim’s office door crashed open. There stood the head of village homeland security and anti-space invader boss, Mateo the Knife, his silver onesie sparkling in the foglight from the window.
Mrs. Trim pointed at me.
“This tosspot has asked an ‘inappropriate’ question about my height. He has ‘shouted’ it repeatedly and refused to leave at the conclusion of this press event despite being repeatedly asked to do so.”
Moments later I was physically manhandled out of the building and thrown into the street, this despite my box of sandwiches and my cycle clips still being in my desk drawer.
“You are not welcome to participate in the next event,” Mateo whispered threateningly in my ear, “But any other journalist from your newsletter could attend.”
Mateo then turned on his heels and went back inside the parish office building leaving me face down on the sidewalk. I stood up and brushed myself off. I was physically intact but my dignity was badly bruised.
It was too early to go home and share my woes with my darling wife, Brenda. She would still be on our allotment sexing the chickens. Instead I went across the road to the local restaurant, ‘Trevor the Trot’s Trattoria.’ For reasons I won’t go into now, I have a lifetime’s entitlement to a daily ‘free go’ on his all you can eat spaghetti buffet (it’s just spaghetti).
I walked through the restaurant front doors and nodded my greetings to Trevor as I picked up one of his 3” wide dinner plates for the buffet. There was only one other diner in his restaurant. I recognised him immediately. It was Hymie Finklestein, a Druid and the editor of the Druidellau weekly gardening magazine, ‘Thyme.’ He gave me a friendly wave then beckoned me over to join him at his table. This I did.
Moments later I had recounted to him in full my recent experiences with the parish council leader, and that I had subsequently been ‘barred’ from asking her any further question. At the conclusion of my tale he dropped his plastic combined fork and spoon and stared at me, mouth agape, half-chewed spaghetti clearly visible to the world like the washing in a front loader.
“Stay there,” he said to me as he abruptly stood up, “I need to make a call.”
He walked over to Trevor and asked if he could use his telephone (Trevor actually has one!).
A minute later and Hymie was back at the table.
“It’s all sorted,” he said, winking at me, “Let’s tuck in, shall we?”
I was just finishing my eighteenth plate of spaghetti (you can’t fit much onto a 3” plate so you have to keep going back to the buffet to get a decent meal) when the restaurant door was flung open. There framed in the doorway was my esteemed leader, Mrs. Trim.
“You! Short-arse!” she barked across the room, pointing at me, “Back to work NOW!”
I was befuddled.
Not that long ago I had been turfed unceremoniously from the council building. What had happened in the intervening time?
It was later that day when I was doing Mrs. T’s filing that I came across a hard copy of an email that opened my eyes and lifted the perpetual fog of bewilderment I had on the day’s events.
It was an email from the boss of the Druids, Benjy Yahoo, to Mrs. Trim, sent at about the time Hymie made his mysterious phone call. I reproduce the email verbatim for you below:
‘To: Binky Trim
From: Benjy Yahoo
Subject: The punitive barring of a member of the press just for asking ‘awkward’ questions.
We strongly condemn the parish council's misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after he asked questions you did not like. We stand in strong solidarity with your little butt-lizard for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press. In Druidellau we support the prerogative of all reporters to do their jobs without fear of reprisal from lanky despots like you.
Binky, cut it out!
The fog lifted. The intervention of the powerful Druid tribe had ‘saved my bacon.’
Once again I felt that the press was free to shine its disinfecting light into the dark corners of power, unfettered and showing neither fear nor favor.
For the record, Mrs. Trim is only six feet five and a half. I’ve seen her medical charts!
There! The truth is at last out!
That’s it for now.
Photo by Michael Vadon || CC-BY-SA-4.0 International