Hello, and why not? My name is Rufus Bassett, Minister with Special Responsibility for the Combustive Ignition of Superfluous Canines. Or, as the press are fond of calling me, the Dog Exploder.
Since the Government announced that henceforth dog ownership should be limited to one animal per household, there has been a great deal of concern over the methods by which the excess doggage is disposed of.
My job, as minister of the crown charged with the great honour of overseeing the project, is twofold. Firstly it is my responsibility to ensure that the methods employed are the most humane and efficient that our limited budget can reasonably afford.
Secondly, and by no means penultimately, I am to provide information and reassurance to the millions of anxious owners whose pets are awaiting detonation. This latter duty I shall now discharge by answering the following frequently asked questions.
Okay. So, I'm still not too certain what this is all about? Apparently it's been decided that I'm only allowed to own one dog?
That's right. The Superfluous Canines Act came into law last month as a result of a widely held belief that one dog is enough for anyone. Any households with more than this will have the excess explosively removed.
You're going to blow up my dogs?
Not all of them - that would be barbaric. No, you're allowed to keep one. But the others... well... boom!
That's a bit harsh. Where does the government get off, going round exploding people's pets?
The Government is committed to promoting family values and building a fairer, more wholesome society. One of the ways we have decided to do this is by blowing up family pets. We are starting with dogs, and cats will be phased in over the next few years. By the end of the decade canaries will become fair game and your goldfish will be regularly depth-charged. After that it gets really nasty.
I don't see how this creates a more wholesome society. Any society that goes around exploding innocent pets seems far from wholesome.
It might seem like that at first, which is why we're fighting to get the message across about the benefits of blowing up your dog. We're currently preparing a series of press and TV adverts that will explain the whole situation calmly and reassuringly. We were hoping they would be fronted by the popular 70s glam rocker Noddy Holder, but I gather he's reacted rather coldly to the idea. Pity - we were going to call him 'Noddy Holder the Dog Exploder'.
Well, I'm still not sure but...all right. Thing is, I've got six dogs. Would I have to make the decision about which one is saved, because I'm not sure I could make a call like that?
I know, it's difficult, isn't it? It's like trying to choose between your children - thankfully we don't have to do that! At least, not until the Child Dissection Act comes into force next year. You can choose which dog to keep if you like. Alternatively, our operatives can make the decision for you, based on a scientifically formulated system of potluck.
Scientifically formulated, you say? Well, that's good to know. So, the actual 'exploding' part - how is it done? Some sort of complex technical process, yes?
Something like that. Basically, our highly trained operative will insert a stick of dynamite into a convenient orifice, light the fuse and whoosh! It can be quite an impressive spectacle when it's done properly.
That's nice. Does it hurt?
And please don't say, "Not if you stand well back." Nobody's going to be impressed by a corny old gag like that. I mean, does it hurt the dog?
Ah, now... Put it this way: once the fuse is lit the animal won't really have time to register anything more than mild surprise.
I suppose that's probably for the best. Look, I don't want to be difficult but can you just explain to me once more why all this is necessary? At the risk of sounding a bit dim, I don't see how the violent disassembly of people's pets is the business of government.
Look, it's perfectly simple. The business of government is anything that promotes family values and is of benefit to the country. The decision to blow up family pets is not one that was taken lightly. You're not happy with it and, if I'm honest, I'm not happy with it either, but these are difficult times and a strong government will not baulk when it comes to taking tough decisions.
Yes, yes, I appreciate that. But my dogs seem to be the innocent parties in all this. Sampson growled at a paper boy yesterday afternoon, and Fifi has been known to widdle up the postman's leg, but I fail to see how that makes them enemies of the state.
I see why you're anxious, but -
You see, I'm quite a doggy person. So is my wife. We see our dogs as very much part of our family. Now you're telling me that in order to promote 'family values' you need to splatter significant chunks of our particular family around the immediate neighbourhood. I have to say, I find it quite disturbing that you people appear entirely uninterested in tackling real problems like unemployment and the economy, and prefer instead to fritter away our taxes dreaming up ridiculous schemes to tackle problems that don't exist, in areas that don't concern you.
Yes, now -
I mean, really. When I voted in the last election I don't recall it being mentioned in any of the parties' manifestos that it would become necessary to start wantonly exploding dogs for no good reason. When candidates came knocking on my door, a good many of them spoke volumes about their support for the health service. A fair few talked earnestly about the need to restore the economy to a stable footing. None of them, not one, ever told me that they would blow up my dogs. It's madness.
Absolutely. And, you know, I can only agree with you. To be honest, I personally never really understood the arguments for it. I have to tell you that it has affected me just as much as anyone. I used to have three pedigree bitches myself, until the detonation squad arrived last Tuesday. Now all I've got left is one very nervous Jack Russell terrier with shellshock. But what can you do? You know... Good of the Country... Family Values... all that. We've just got to grit our teeth and bear it. So... you know... sorry.
Well, that's that then. Nothing to be done. I don't suppose you'd consider blowing up my wife's guinea pig instead, would you?
It was worth a try.