On mar­gin

Finweek English Edition - - PIKER -

Did any­one tell you about the day when Tony Blair was vis­it­ing a pri­mary school in Eng­land, and was taken into the room of a class dis­cussing words and their mean­ings? The teacher asked Blair whether he would care to lead a dis­cus­sion on the word “tragedy”, so he asked the class to give him an ex­am­ple.

A lit­tle boy stood up, and said, “If my best friend, who lives on a farm, was play­ing in the field, and a trac­tor ran over him, and killed him, that would be a tragedy.”

“No,” said Blair, “that wouldn’t be a tragedy; that would be an ac­ci­dent.”

A lit­tle girl raised her hand: “If the school bus had 50 boys and girls in it, and it drove over a cliff, killing ev­ery­one in­side, that would be a tragedy.”

“I’m afraid not,” ex­plained Blair. “That is what we would call a great loss.”

The room went silent. No child vol­un­teered.

Blair’s eyes searched the room. “Can no one here give me an ex­am­ple of a tragedy?”

At the back of the room, a lit­tle hand went up, and a quiet voice said, “If a plane car­ry­ing you and Mr Brown was struck by friendly fire and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy.”

“Mag­nif­i­cent!” ex­claimed Blair. “That’s right! And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?”

“Well,” said the quiet voice, “it has to be a tragedy, be­cause it cer­tainly wouldn’t be a great loss, and it prob­a­bly wouldn’t be an ac­ci­dent.”

In brief

I kissed a girl in the club and she said: “Oh my good­ness, you’ve been smok­ing. It’s just like lick­ing an ash­tray!”

“You non-smok­ers have some funny habits,” I replied. Af­ter an al­ter­ca­tion with my boss, I de­cided to leave my job at the he­lium fac­tory.

I refuse to be spo­ken to in that tone of voice. Fidel Cas­tro was a cigar-smok­ing, re­pres­sive leader who hated free speech and a free press.

Don­ald Trump, in com­par­i­son, doesn’t smoke.

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