• In the classic 'Blackadder Goes Forth' series, Captain Blackadder – desperate to avoid almost certain death by being sent over the top – telephones General Haig, his commander, to call in a favour in the forlorn hope his life might be saved.
The general listens to his argument and he tells him to put his underpants on his head, stick two pencils up his nose and utter the word 'wibble'. This, poor Blackadder was assured, would see him declared insane and invalided out of the army.
Blackadder, knowing his situation to be hopeless in the face of such official insanity, goes with his comrades to a needless end as cannon fodder.
I recently had a coffee with a government TD, a good guy let it be said, and we had a debate as to who would be sent over the top in the Budget.
He expressed a sincerely held view that the old age pension ought not be touched, the dole ought not to be cut and Croke Park should not be interfered with. All laudable views, but I asked if we exclude these groups, who is left? He didn't want to say, but I knew: the middle class, that's who. Wibble, wibble.
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