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Chatty meets Professor Pantsdown

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A recent gathering of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee was attended by our man in Westminster, Sir Charles ‘Chatty’ Chatterton MP. Here he gives TCW Defending Freedom his report . . .

INEXPLICABLY, I have found myself on the House’s Science and Technology Committee.

I have to say I was very surprised to be asked to become a member. My secretary, Catherine, caters for my technological needs and I have always had an aversion to matters scientific. I think this began when I saw my grandfather, the seventh baronet, stagger into the orangery after blowing off his lower right arm. He had been experimenting with home-made explosive devices to deter poachers who had plundered the estate’s pheasants, and had obviously underestimated the volatility of his compound. To my grandfather’s credit he never complained about his loss and to make the best of what was left of the severed limb he ordered a rather impressive engraved teak stump from Gillow’s, Lancaster’s esteemed furniture makers. The wooden prosthetic now adorns the hallway at Tittleham Hall and may be used as a hat stand.

It was that unfortunate incident as much as anything which persuaded me to leave the study of alchemy and the search for the philosopher’s stone to the boffins. That wise decision allowed me to concentrate on a classical education which involved splendid times studying matters of interest in the galleries and villas of Rome, Athens and Florence.

I must confess, the purpose of the committee is something of a mystery to me. We sit there doing our best to feign attention whilst someone with an ill-fitting suit and bulging eyes witters on about some research or other known only to them and a handful of like-minded grant seekers. 

The committee chairman is a failed ex-minister by the name of Greg Clark. He has a saturnine, owl-like demeanour. With a degree in the dismal pseudo-science of economics, his countenance comes as no surprise. I posit that he probably knows as much about phlogiston and miasma as do I.

Other members include a pretty young socialist called Zara Raison or Sultana, I forget which it is, whom I initially mistook for a visiting sixth-former, and Rebecca Long Covid or Bailey, a Corbyn type with the look of a petulant librarian who has swallowed a wasp. The only member who pretends to know what is going on is one of ours called Clarkson. He has all the hallmarks of one of the nerdy drones beloved of Central Office. There are eight others on the committee, none of whom I would care to have next to me in the trenches.

At our most recent meeting, I was startled to learn that the expert witness was none other than the ubiquitous Professor Pantsdown, Neil Ferguson. He had been invited to talk about something called ‘Reproducibility and Research Integrity’. I suggested to the chairman that there must have been some mistake, and it was the equivalent of the Sanhedrin asking Herod to give them advice about baby-sitting, or Help the Aged asking Harold Shipman for  recommendations about care for the elderly. Apparently, despite his lamentable record, someone in the department thinks highly of Ferguson and his prognostications emanating from his dabbling many years ago with a Sinclair ZX81 or one of those Amstrad gizmos. 

After an hour of unbelievable statistics and unbearable tosh, he was followed by an equally obtuse American, Hiram Paddlesteamer III, Professor in Gender Discombobulation and White Supremacy at the KFC Colonel Sanders University in Cripple Creek, Colorado. What he talked about is anyone’s guess and I could sense the irritation in the chairman’s voice when he asked the speaker to explain what he meant by ‘paradigms of incongruity in the parallelograms of diversity are far away but close at hand in images of elsewhere’. The professor’s performance reminded me that Colorado has legalised the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

As the morning dragged on I could see that the Scottish Nationalist harridan opposite me had the same longing as me to seek refuge in Annie’s Bar. Eventually, our synchronised table tapping, combined with non-verbal pleadings and coordinated yawning, impelled our chairman to curtail the proceedings.

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John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is the co-author of Steam Dreams and other interesting stories. He has generously donated his vaccine to the people of France. John is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood.

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