Together with the coroner’s report on the death of the hamster
On 25 February 2011 at 17:30 the good ship GUT sank without warning. The corpse of the hamster, whose efforts on the wheel had kept the ship afloat for more than ten years*, was found amongst the wreckage. It seems that all souls, other than the hamster, survived, although many were shocked and according to the by now somewhat discombobulated coastguard, were ‘a bit sweary’.
* Probably hamsters, plural, although we will use the term ‘hamster’ throughout to denote both the specific hamster now deceased and all the hamsters who were ever on the wheel.
The majority of these accusations have been made by survivors. Where they have been made by onlookers and other parties, this is clearly indicated.
Accusation 1: Signage
Survivors have objected to a sign left up by the Guardian for GUTers which they claim read: It is with great regret that, after a period of review, we must announce our decision to leave the work experience boy in charge of the hamster. We may have failed to tell him not to touch the RED BUTTON. Or, we did tell him and he couldn’t resist temptation. We may never know and we’re not going to tell you even if we do find out.
The Ministry finds no evidence that this is actually what the sign said and contends that survivors may have made parts of it up.
Accusation 2: No sirens sounded as the ship went down
It is the contention of GUTers that the Guardian had, over a period of years, allowed the GUT to deteriorate into a state of disrepair. Such was the state of the ship that, apparently, no alarms were sounded before the ship sank. Their concern is that the suddenness of the loss caused great distress and risked life and limb. If GUT had been properly maintained, either the alarms would have worked, or the ship would have stayed afloat.
We find that whilst it is true that there were no alarms, it is the business of the ship’s owners the extent to which, and indeed even if, they maintain their ship. It was made entirely clear that passengers travelled at their own risk. Despite the argument of many that they had problems disembarking even when they wanted to, the Ministry contends that they actually could have left at any time before the sinking.
In line with big society protocols, lifeboats have been provided not by the ship’s owners, but by citizens keen to get involved. The Ministry would like to take this opportunity to thank the owners and those citizens for showing that big society can and indeed does work. It is entirely in keeping with Cameron’s rescue efforts in Libya and therefore an acceptable policy.
Accusation 3: It was MI5
Rumours abound as to the exact cause of death of the hamster. Some people, both survivors and onlookers, appear to be convinced that MI5 were involved and that they may have used a poison-tipped umbrella.
However, we find that this is highly unlikely. It has emerged that many users of the Guardian’s other facilities, principally CiF, had been unaware of the existence of GUT. When asked to join in search and rescue efforts, many were heard to remark ‘Wow – you had another boat out there – how come we didn’t know? Is that its picture – aw, it looks cute’. We therefore believe that British intelligence would be unlikely to have located GUT and still less likely to have found the hamster or its wheel. We may in fact be seeking out exactly what camouflage methods the Guardian used, given that a ship so popular with its passengers managed to avoid radar detection for so long.
Accusation 4: It was Zoe Williams
GUTers contend that “journalist” Zoe Williams, to whom they refer as ‘Woe’ for the state they allege she induces in readers, did wilfully and maliciously strangle the hamster. She was motivated to do so, they claim, after years of abuse from the talkboards’ denizens. GUTers frequently argued that the only possible use for her articles was as an aid to teach students how not to write.
The ministry contends that, to borrow a phrase, Ms Williams has better things to do with her time and was in no way, shape or form involved in any of the incidents discussed here.
Accusation 5: A team of crack managers stabbed the hamster
We find the accusation that outraged managers, unable to crowbar their staff away from GUT, sought out and stabbed the hamster in an effort to increase staff productivity, to be utterly without foundation. We find that all managers are capable of managing their staff properly, motivate them beautifully and at every opportunity, encourage productivity over mind-numbing, pointless and tedious activity. Good managers would, therefore, have no reason to fear the hamster.
Indeed the coroner finds that the hamster died of natural causes** and was not attacked by anybody at any time. Rather, it was protected and nurtured by the Guardian. Indeed, on questioning it was found that at least one staff member knew where its food was kept.
**Well drowning is fairly natural.
Accusation 6: Guardian staff have been patronising and unhelpful
GUTers have in particular objected to the Guardian’s thanks to them for “inventing social networking”. They also expressed somewhat robust views on Monday 28th February on a blog provided for them by the newspaper.
We at the Ministry find that GUTers have no cause to object, since the facilities were provided for free by the Guardian. However we feel that we should warn the GUT’s owners that survivors intend to sue the newspaper. A member of their staff, Meg Pickard, remarked to GUTers ‘thanks for being part of it for so long, and making it what it was: a much-loved community on the world’s best news site’. 316 people are now threatening to sue for damages on the grounds that the notion that the Guardian is somewhere in the world’s top ten news sites is laughable. It appears that most of the damages sought are for the cleaning of keyboards and monitors. Something to do with “coffee and interfacing and not in a good way”.
Accusation 7: Concerning the Guardian’s lack of choice and the way in which it has treated a community
Passengers have repeatedly and vociferously spoken out against the Guardian’s claims that as the ship’s owners they would not wish to treat a community in this way and that they had no choice in the matter. In essence GUTers appear to be arguing that there is always a choice, although sometimes that choice is between risking a beating by standing up for what is right, or standing by whilst somebody else takes the flak instead.
Passengers feel that British society does not know what to do with intelligent, inquiring and outspoken people and prefers to shut them up rather than listen to what they have to say and act on it sensibly. Intelligence is ridiculed, disparaged and discredited when it should be nurtured and admired. Instead we laud a vacuous culture of celebrity that relies on ambition and hides its ruthlessness under a shimmering and spectral visage. They argue that the good ship GUT was a refuge for them and that by allowing it to fall into disrepair and then to sink, the Guardian, the one British newspaper that you might think would provide them with a home, showed its true allegiance and simply followed the money.
The Ministry finds all this to be utterly untrue. Getting beaten up yourself is never a valid choice, it is the kind of Have A Go Heroism that the police are always warning us against. Prolonged research reveals that Edmund Burke never actually said that in order for evil to happen it is only necessary that the good do nothing. We find that the Guardian is proud to allow intelligent free speech on its internet site and points out to survivors that moderators will be happy to see passengers on Comment is Free where they can discuss journalists’ blogs.
Flotsam and Jetsam
Search and rescue have found some curious objects. To wit: a frozen sausage; HER DAD; your mum; your mum again; your mum again, this time in a coke can; a strangely irate hamster, no, hang on, there’s a kiwi fruit there, no wonder it was irate; several rather bedraggled sockpuppets; 10,000 Hitlers with a note saying ‘Dear Alan, you are worse than’; an Alanis Morrisette CD; some spoons; a set of red traffic lights; a few cyclopaths; one washing machine, on fire; one fridge, ditto; someone’s leg which appears to have fallen off, perhaps they should have called their doctor; my mate, deceased; some intense hysterical, sorry historical, discussions; a copy of the King James Bible; enough fish puns for a bunch of shipwrecked survivors to live on for months; an acute dissection of the Middle East crisis; a bunch of trolls and loonies who really should have been dumped at sea with only the fish puns for company but instead have been left locked in a room together chanting IP IP IP; some aeroplane wings, goodness, I wonder where they came from, should we let someone know?
Further along the shore were found: the digested remnants of a blue pill and some rather crusty tissues; a bloody good barrister, only slight wet; a defunct ceiling fan with what appear to be items of lingerie attached; a sign reading ‘beware comfrot level low, for special occasions only’; a twitching pair of jazz hands; a small and bewildered wol; several lemons; Genoa; India; a route map to the Free Republic, though oddly no escape plan; the lyrics to ‘I’m a van banger and I’m OK’; popcorn; deckchairs; an entire McVities factory of biscuits; collections of (()) and //\\ .
There were several books, including The Grammar Nazi’s Guide to Pedantry; Belming into the Void: A Beginner’s Guide; Latin Made More Hideously Complex Than Ever Before; Recipes That Do Not Include Wet Stuff; Advanced Techniques in How to go BAM and Hints and Tips on Finding Babysitters Whilst in Portugal.
Rumours abound of strange animal sightings in the hours immediately after the sinking. In particular it is thought that a monkseal may have attempted to rescue some survivors. We are less sure about reports of kittens riding ashore on the backs of penguins, but then to be frank the world no longer makes sense to us, so perhaps it is true after all.
There were also found: a stab map; a collection of hammers; a handbag that had seen better days and appears to have been mistaken for a latrine; a periodic table of the elements shower curtain; several pots of whitewash, oh no, hang on, those are ours; some oddly-coloured starfish of a type not usually found in these waters; a board game apparently called Clifton Cluedo; a tape measure that may or may not have been near Ian McKellan; several mooncups; mind bleach; and finally some rather oddly assorted and very lost people.