Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: The Merchants of Menace or The Great Brain Robbery

7 comments
The University of Auckland - the ratings have fallen, we're not as high as we once were. Photo / Peter Meecham
The University of Auckland - the ratings have fallen, we're not as high as we once were. Photo / Peter Meecham

Mutu monsters migrants - news item

NZ universities' ratings fall - news item

Shakespeare out of schools - news item

Scene 1
(In a Shakespearian tragedy)

Two scholars are gathered in a foreign field, wishing they were abed in England but, instead, obliged to to take up arms against a sea of troubles.

Bard 1
A hearse, a hearse, my kingdom in a hearse!

Bard 2
What ague besets thee, sire? A scholar's mange doth furrow deep thy brow. But to what end?

Bard 1
Aye, there's the rub. For ending art we both. At least in Outer Roa, where only bureaucrats know best. Untimely torn from the students' womb are we by tosspots vile. So they can inflict advertising copy, second-rate short stories and toxic rap song lyrics upon their unformed charges.

Cloistered secure, in offices crafty hidden, they slyly cast their putrid spells full safe from sanction or rebuke. Meddlers they be and dogmatists all, snide idealogues, hot courting mediocrity. Give them a child till it is seven and these sly dogs see only empty vassals to be filled as they see fit. Verily, would I smite them thrice upon the conk for doing as they hath.

Bard 2
Then come, sir, let us go. And stand not upon the order of our going. We must hie us hence to these septic isles, this blasted realm, and right the wrong harsh dealt our treasury of words. Is this an NCEA I see before me? God's pox, 'tis a blighted thing without us!

Exeunt omnes

Scene 2
(Outside Auckland University. The Bards approach)

Local Scholar
What blight through yonder winter breaks? Who wouldst my tarnished tower assault? Bename yourselves and state what brings you hence. Tis not my industry, I'll vouch. Three papers hath I writ this year, each stating plain, yea, loud and clear, how being culturally sensitive to everybody will eliminate school bullying once and for all, yet still, gadzooks, my ratings fall. Which poisoned chalice wouldst thou serve me now?

Bard 1
Why, none, dull scholar, prosaic clod. We both, bards each yet each both bards denied, have other earth to till and other plants, by weeds near killed, to rescue from the pen's sly sword.

Bard 2
He means we're here to save Shakespeare, eh?

Local Scholar
Then off shouldst you bugger, forthwith, forsooth. I care not a fig for your crusade. I have other wrongs to right, odd bodkins. Has the news not smote thine ancient ears? This hamlet been downgraded! Our ratings have fallen! We're not as high as once we were ...

Bard 1
Ahhh! The wowsers' Kronic banning, I'll be bound.

Bard 2
(Aside) There be a jape for groundlings found!

Local Scholar
Nay, stay your repartee and hear me out. Our universities are doomed. The gurgler beckons. In its foul maelstrom will we spin, with our reputations fireblighted as an apple's. And worse, our funding to the jugular cut!

(There is a shriek from a nearby casement. It is McMutu, stalking the battlements of her own delusion)

McMutu
Not mine, shonky honky. My bias be rewarded. And ever thus. I am as immune from criticism as I am impervious to reason. The further we fall, the higher I shall rise. Only when we are truly third rate, will my intellect finally shine.

Bard 1
Gadzooks, who's that?

Local Scholar
Fie, 'tis the wild McMutu, endlessly washing blood she's never shed from her tiny hand.

McMutu
(To the Bards)
Out, out, damned swots. Lay off, Macduffers, Get thee to a nonery, which is what the whole world is, in my most jaundiced view. And I will have none of it, lest it mar the purity of my prejudice.

Bard 2
Here is bigotry enshrined and stupidity gained tenure.

McMutu
(Angry)
Guards! Bring them to my chamber. I wouldst suck the marrow from these bones of contention and give them a piece of my mind.

Bard 1
Zounds! There won't be much left!

Scene 3
(Inside McMutu's isolated chamber. The Bards tremble before their nemesis)

McMutu
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ebbs out my petty pique from day to day. But today, the slings and arrows of my outrageous thoughts tune to you and your arrival, unbehest, upon my fortress shore. I'll have you gone, post haste, pale knaves, since no proud pigment shades thy pallid skin.

Bard 1
That's it, toff Prof? No matter that we're here for truth and beauty, art and thought.

McMutu
Mere piffle, knaves! The measure of a man is not the contents of his soul. Skin is all. There ist no else. On race alone I base my case. No migrants white will I approve. They will bring views supremist. On this, unproven, I insist. Not as a peasant, but an academic, less marked by thought than by polemic. And thus I stand with bigots bold. It is your colour I do scold!

Bard 1
Come, fair o'fellow, let us leave. This cry of hue doth make me grieve. They sanction this yet ban the bard. Alas! What consternation. This scholar's dungheap small, I fear, is near beyond salvation.

- NZ Herald

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