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Philosophers' Corner
by Roger Pattison

“You’re talking wubbish,” shouted Marl, from his position of intellectual eminence. Although but one of a line of similar soap boxes, Marl’s box was a good four inches taller. This put his head around six inches lower than his tallest competitor.

Whether due to a deficit in the legs department or some congenital fault of his head or box, would be a petty gripe.

“You’re a fine one to be criticising the educational system, mate. You can’t even spell” shouted his detractor, who, fortunately enough for Marl was amongst a crowd of far less interested members. The man’s dog in fact.

“And how might you have been drawn to that widdiculous conclusion?” yelled Marl at the top of his voice; the top of his voice, of course, still being six inches lower than anybody else’s.     

“Because, mate” screamed the heckler, “you introduced yourself as Marl Karx!”

“And what of it, you fool?” bellowed Marl.

“It says, in big red letters on your box, ‘Karl Marx’. So, by a process of elimination, you either
a) Can’t spell your own name; or,
b) You’ve nicked somebody else’s box.”

A small voice ‘ahem-d’ from the end of the line.

“What?” shrilled Marl through an apoplectic fit.

“What?” belted out the almost solo audience.

“Woof!” said the man’s dog, getting into the mood of the occasion.

“That’s my box, actually,” said the small voice.

“So your name is?” shouted the man with his dog.

“Barrington Fotheringay.”

“Wait a minute” said the bellicose Marl Karx, “it says Marl Karx on this box.”

“No, it doesn’t” said the audience.

“Well it doesn’t say ‘Bawington Fothewingay’” blistered Marl.

“How would you know? You can’t spell” yelled out the man.

“The box is not big enough to fit ‘Bawington Fothewingay’ on it” yelled Karx.

“Perhaps if you look at the back..?” came an apologetic suggestion. Marl Karx craned his neck.

“There is wather a long word on the back” noted Karx.

“Well there’s no point you looking at it then, is there?” observed the audience.

“I think it says ‘Sunnyways Soap’”. This subdued comment met a derisive broadside.

“Widiculous wubbish” shouted Karx.

“You’re telling me that I’ve been standing here all afternoon, supposedly broadening my mind, and none of you can read. I bet you can’t even add up.”

“It doesn’t matter for me” joined in a dog-collar. “I’m religion.”

“But you’ve got a book” said the bewildered man.

“Yes, but I don’t read it. It’s in Latin or somesuch.”

“But aren’t you supposed to know what it’s about?”

“Nobody else does. I can order a pizza during a service and nobody knows the difference.” He smiled benevolently. “Pepperoneus maximus extrem anchovus. That’s the important bit. The rest I make up.”

“So people are hoping for spiritual fulfilment from your pizza takeaway?”

“If it works, don’t knock it.”

The day was drawing to its world-weary close and soap boxes were sulking into oblivion.

The diminutive Marl Karx girded up his loins and prepared to go home for tea.

“You’re surely not going to leave it at that.” The man and his dog hadn’t moved.

“Well we found out whose box it was, what more do you want?”

“Whose box was it, then?” asked the man, intrigued.

“It belonged to ‘this way up’.”