Well, I'm not really qualified to discuss this, and that last question in particular has defeated the best philosophers for thousands of years, so I referred it to my neighbour Colonel Syme. Although the 'Colonel' bit appears to be a courtesy title he extends to himself, he does seem to have seen some military service and knocked about the world in his time and has strong opinions on many things. At the very least, he has a fine speaking voice.
Q: Colonel Syme. Why can't people just live in peace?
A: Foreigners. All wars are started by foreigners. And in somewhere like India and Pakistan, or the Middle East, where you have two different lots of foreigners fighting each other, obviously things are going to get very complicated, as it's difficult to know which sort of foreigner is the most uncouth. In the case of India and Pakistan, for example, they appear to be fighting over a cashmere sweater. I think it was a very nice one, and someone rubbed chutney on it, and there you go. This sort of thing never happened under the British Empire.
Q: Do you think the conflict could go nuclear?
A: Very possible. Cashmere sweaters are hard to come by in foreign lands.
Q: On the other hand, Russia and the west had nuclear weapons for fifty years and we managed not to use them.
A: Yes, but these are foreigners. Dusky foreigners. Very excitable, very little regard for human life. Things could get bloody. In the event of a nuclear strike on India 8 million people could die in a day, twice that if the missile hit a train. The situation is worsened in that, while India has nuclear shelters, all the places in them are reserved for sacred cows.
Q: Yeah. What's the deal with that cow thing?
A: I don't know. But it can be fun to take advantage of. In my younger days me and my friend Timpkins used to roam around India in a pantomime cow costume getting away with murder. We would amble into restaurants and graze food off patrons' plates, light cigarettes and blow smoke in peoples' faces. Jump on women, and ride through shops on a motor bicycle, and no-one could stop us because we were a cow. It can't last in my opinion. One day the people of India will rise up against the cows, who are tyrants. In the countryside gangs of them roam wild inflicting terrible depredations, kidnapping, burning, looting, holding whole villages to ransom. There would be a cow prime minister, but they are content with being the power behind the throne.
Q: Okay. If we could turn now to the aspect of -
A: Wait. There is more you should know about the cows. In India, if a cow comes up to you and stand on your foot or kicks your child or rummages through your shopping trolley, you say 'Thankyou' and cross to the other side of the street and pray it ends there. They are disgusting. These are not like English cows, they are feral cows, except they are completely pampered and deferred to by everyone. If a cow wants to get into bed with you, you have to let it. They are behind most organized crime. Often they will kidnap a human child and raise it as a cow, with disastrous consequences. Released back into the community, these cow-children roam the streets lowing and demoralizing everyone. 'Who will save us from the cows,' the people cry. In Utter Pradesh there is rumoured to be a fabled city of the cows where they stash all their ill-gotten gains. Many have gone mad searching for it. So the question is: do the cows want war? And I think the answer has to be yes, as they see the next stage in their evolution as becoming a race of radioactive super-cows, fifty feet tall and firing clots of rock-hard cream from their udders, hunting down the few remaining humans. This is what we have to fear.
Q: Oh. Well. That's...
A: I can tell you are not interested in the cow question. You will regret that one day.
Q: If we could turn now to the Middle East.
A: Indeed. There too we see the phenomenon of a great number of different kinds of foreigners packed into a very small space, worshipping barbarous gods and jabbering at each other loudly. And of course the problem is made worse in that Jerusalem is a holy ground for three great religions, the Jewish, the Balsamic, and those ones who worship that bint with eight breasts.
Q: Eight arms, I think, Colonel Syme.
A: Really? Pity.
Q: And I think that's in India.
A: Well there you go then, you have proved my point.
Q: Do you think the conflict could turn into all-out war?
A: Quite possibly. I am watching the situation with grave attention.
Q: No you're not, you're watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
A: I require you to go away now.
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