Inspired by the following Decamot items: Camelot, christmas tree, clown, cow, handbag, juggernaut, mariner, match, microphone, moccasin
“President JF Kennedy has gone down in history as one of America’s most popular and successful presidents although he was a philanderer with a string of conquests behind him including the screen goddess Marylin Monroe. Feted by the press he became the most glamorous politician of his age; a flawed individual but one who paved the way for ‘younger’ politicians to emerge in the future from Pierre Trudeau in Canada, who later begat his son Justin, to Tony Blair in the UK.” Professor Berwick paused to take a sip of water before continuing the introduction to his lecture. He adjusted the lectern microphone but, before he could launch himself into his favourite subject, he was interrupted by a voice from the back row of the auditorium.
“What makes you say he was “flawed”?”
The Professor was not expecting such an early interruption although he thought he recognised the voice. He was half way through opening his mouth to reply when the voice spoke again
“Kennedy, Trudeau and Blair were all Catholics – is that why you say they were flawed?”
PB, as he was known to his admirers, sensed he might have a real trouble maker on his hands this time but decided the best way to deal with the heckler was to stay cool and match the questioner’s overtly provocative style with ultra-controlled rational responses.
He knew he could ill afford to lose the goodwill of an audience who frequently supported the underdog if they felt the speaker was making his interlocutor out to be a clown. It never ceased to astound him how people envied pure intellect.
“I am not sure that having any faith automatically renders you flawed, but I would be pleased to debate your philosophical point at the end of my lecture, perhaps during the open Q&A session, if you feel that strongly about the phrase”
The voice was clearly unimpressed with the answer. He refused to be floored by a platitude especially a non- sequitur. He wanted the debate to take place right there and then.
“You can’t cast aspersions on dead politician’s characters without having the facts to back up your cowardly insinuations so why describe somebody as “flawed” unless you are prepared to defend the assertion with some hard evidence?”
“But Tony Blair isn’t dead” Professor Berwick replied with a patronising smile on his lips whilst thinking to himself
“15 love to me”
“But he’s not in the room to defend himself, is he?” said the voice “So he might just as well be dead”
“Bugger, 15 all!” popped to PB’s mind …
“And if he was, what do you think he would say?” asked PB with a deft superbly controlled crisply delivered verbal backhand.”
“That’ll put him on the back foot he thought … 30 – 15 to me!”
“Never criticize anyone unless you have worn his moccasins for a week is what he would say” came the reply
“Sod it … 30 all!” he thought as he recognised the old Sioux Indian quotation. ”Trust him to get a persecuted minority of native Americans on his side!” Perspiration was beginning to appear on Professor Berwick’s brow as he realised that he had underestimated his opponent. He needed to recover the initiative quickly and get on with his lecture. He was aware that the crowd was not impressed with either of them.
His return under pressure was hard for neutral observers to fathom. Let us just say that It was not the intellectual juggernaut that he needed to crush his opponent.
“If you insist on playing top level tennis wearing only moccasins you can’t expect to win anything. You might as well swap your racquet for a handbag”
The passing shot from the Voice was swift and decisive
“I disagree! It was practically a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of a Lady Bracknell or a Margaret Thatcher - they seemed to cope quite well”
The effect on Professor Berwick was immediate and devastating. He felt like the ancient mariner – he was all at sea and desperate to rid himself of the albatross of his own intellect. The crowd in front of him was expressing their displeasure with ever more crude noises. Oh, how he longed to be in the purple passage of his dissertation where he compared JFK’s entourage to King Arthur’s Camelot. How Kennedy’s life was like a gift laden Christmas Tree weighed down by the expectations of his family yet financed by the Mafia. How Jack Ruby had done us all a favour by obscuring Lee Harvey Oswald’s true motive when he gunned him down in public.
How dare this lone small voice; this loquacious little upstart; this intellectual pygmy leave him, the obviously superior effervescent orator of undisputed repute sounding like a flatulent cow!
Well, he argued with impeccable rationale, desperate times called for desperate measures if he was ever to take this particular game to advantage. If he was to be humiliated in public for having the temerity to call the mighty JFK a flawed Catholic, he would exercise his inalienable right; guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
He reached underneath the lectern and withdrew a 6.5×52mm Mannlicher- Carcano Model 91/38 infantry rifle, the very model used by Kennedy’s assassinator, and pointed it at the section of the audience from whence he had heard the voice.
“True talent will never be silenced!” he screamed as he pulled the trigger. “Game set and match to me!”
He was met with a blinding flash of cordite which blew him backwards into the middle of the stage where he lay spread-eagled on his back unconscious.
“Wake up Berwick!”
Dr Sybil Johnson slapped her client gently but firmly on the right cheek and snapped her fingers.
“How are you feeling Peter, refreshed or relieved or a bit of both?”
“Bloody exhausted would be nearer to it” he replied rubbing his eyes as he tried to focus on his psychiatrist’s face to sharper effect. “I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy”
“That’s good” replied Dr Johnson.
“It means you made a real effort to confront your demons. Had you come round from the trance full of beans and raring to put the world to rights I would have considered the treatment a failure. Another ten sessions and I think you will be well on the way to a complete cure. I look forward to seeing you both next month - we accept all credit cards except American Express”