If I have a fatal flaw in my character it is an inability to pass by a piece of paper with words on it. I have to read it - even when the print is upside down.
Consequently, I misread a missive the other day and thought that a new ministry had been created: the Ministry of Advice.
The mind boggles (well, it would boggle if it knew how. Boggle is a variation of Bogle, I find, and an archaic version of Bogey. A bogey is a mischievous spirit, which may explain the loss of innumerable golf balls.)
Anyway, one wonders what the Ministry of Advice would advise on, since the Department of Internal Affairs seems to be the place to get answers to legislative matters. Might the MOA, for instance, replace those agony columns in magazines?
"Dear MOA, my boyfriend says my zits drive him crazy. He says he can't make up his mind which to squeeze first, them or me. What should I do?" Signed, Helpless and Confused.
"Dear Helpless and Confused, we must first point out that no one in this nation should consider themselves helpless and confused. The sense of purpose and direction of this nation's leadership is such that it has taken the people from the doldrums of international debt to recovery in a matter of a decade, and now all citizens can be proud that they are part of a movement which will raise the level of opportunity, finance and welfare far above that experienced in any period since this country was colonised.
"Therefore, since his country cannot be classified as beyond help, no individual member of the nation can be classed as helpless. Confusion we find is a matter for the Ministry of Health, however, and we have referred the relevant section of your letter to them.
"Boyfriend under the terms of the Act (section 205, paragraph 9a) is not only a relationship of degree that cannot make claims having no foundation in fact, it is a relationship that is not yet a relationship, as 'boyfriend' has no legal or legislative status. Therefore you are no obliged to take this person's statement as being in any way true for yourself. We would suggest you get a second opinion, one that will hold valid in a court of law.
"Furthermore, we can find no mention in parliamentary proceedings to indicate that minute growths on the skin can cause any kind of delirium, dementia, derangement, lunacy, mania, or state of unsound mind. This would incline us to the conclusion that the 'zits' are not responsible for the state of your boyfriend's sanity, and we have thoughtfully passed on your letter to the Ministry of Women's Affairs, which is well able to deal with inaccuracies of thought, counterfactual opinions and specious solecisms by members of male sex.
"It is our opinion that many persons in this country are in a state of indecision, and this in spite of the consistently straight-as-an-arrow approach to leadership our beloved leaders take. We admit some bewilderment therefore when you say that your male associate is unable to make up his mind regarding a certain process of compression.
"From where we sit, at this point in time, with all things being equal, and considering all options, we believe that an undeviating procedure is the prerequisite in this particular case. Your acquaintance of the masculine gender should take pen and paper and, sitting at a desk, write out an order of attack.
"Depending on the number of skin eruptions involved, he may have to work out at which point of the facial features he is going to begin. Only when he has dispensed with each outbreak, will he find it sensible to pass onto the next stage - embracing your person. However, stage one of the plan may take some time. We do not suggest you fret unnecessarily until it is completed.
"We have enclosed a large number of Government-produced pamphlets showing how to occupy yourself during such a time. We hope these, and the advice contained above, will assist you with your request.
This was originally published on a now defunct site, Triond.