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Another Place To Die

The International Writers Magazine

The Parable of the Square Egg
James Skinner

‘I’m tired of writing about politics, warfare, imbecile terrorists, do-gooders, pacifists and all other kinds of idiots spread across the world. I’ve given up reading the press, watching television and even searching through the web for an answer to today’s woes. I used to discuss my thoughts with the one an only sane person around, my wife, but even she has grown tired of the world’s stupidities. If anything, I’ve gone back to my childhood days and starting reading ‘Bambi’ again, written in 1929 by Felix Salten. I won’t tell you where I got if from as that would give away my date of birth! Waiting on the bookshelf is Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’. I can’t wait to start it. So; what next?

I began rummaging amongst old photograph albums and 35mm slides. God; that takes one back a few years! I found one that showed me drinking from a beer bottle on the Bolivian ‘Altiplano’ during the installation of a radio tower, another with King Juan Carlos of Spain when he visited Tehran in 1977 and yet another photo of President Ronald Reagan signed ‘To Jim Skinner’. I remember attending some Republican Convention during his second term campaign back in the 80’s. Why? I have no idea, except we all got a photo of the ‘Gipper’. I pulled out another dusty box in our attic and uncovered dozens of clips of newspaper cuttings of all kinds of adventures I had witnessed in the past. I even came across a copy of a ‘thesis’ I wrote way back in 1978 that would revolutionise the telephone system in the 3rd World. Would you believe it; I designed a system that would offer a telephone to every small community within 1 hour’s walking distance from the nearest booth. Two decades later, this is actually happening with the advent of mobile phones. I continued pulling out skeletons from the closet.

Then I found it.

About a decade and a half ago, I felt just as disgusted about the world as I do today. The reasons, however, were quite different. It was the days of privatisation of all that smelt of ‘Public Enterprise’. The war had started on laying hands to everything the taxpayer had contributed to build over the years such as railways, power stations, telephone systems and the like. Successive governments throughout Europe, boosted by the USA jumped on the bandwagon. I was naturally caught in the turmoil as I was still, as they say, ‘gainfully employed’ and in one of the service industries. It was also the first time I ventured into the world of writing stories. I thought at the time, that it was the best way to get things off my chest. So here goes. My voice of anger 15 years ago that still holds true today! It’s all about a fictitious egg industry.
"Once upon a time – notice the novice in me! – there was a country called Kurulandia where the Kurulu race inhabitants, a mixture of Shangri-La’s and Lilliputians lived peacefully and their only purpose in life was to foment the policies of simple intellectual incomprehension and generalised ignorance. (Author: pardon the amateurism so far and from now on!).

Among the many activities of the community was the provider of eggs that were supplied in a somewhat inefficient way by six semi-clucky hens in boring regularity but without any major problem other than the negative guaranteed income collected at the end of each month based on totally uncontrolled payments by the clients.

One fine day, a stranger arrived in town with the brilliant idea of constructing another chicken run to compete with our monopolistic farmer but offering eggs at a lower price and for cash on delivery. After a few months, our first provider had no other alternative but to reduce the price of his product and return to the business school to carry out an MBA program in order to understand the latest economic techniques in egg sales in order to survive in this new competitive world.

Life reverted back to normal and the people of Kurulandia were benefited by both suppliers in sufficient numbers so that the housewives could cook the product fried, boiled or poached, seven times a week.
Several years went by and one good autumn morning saw the appearance of a strange amount of scrap iron that would later turn into one enormous shed that for several weeks kept the country folk in suspense of a new invasion of foreigners.

It was on a Saturday, rather colder than normal that the mystery was resolved when an enormous truck rolled up before the entrance to the shed gates and on opening the back doors, out stepped an army of white chickens in perfect regimented file. Each had their identification number as if they were prisoners of war or of sorts. Our fine feather friends presented themselves each one in front of a specially designed recipient with two compartments. One had water and the other corn, whilst their back end was facing into another recipient, this one being common to all the birds. It did not take long for the concert to commence with this new chicken orchestra that in no time began to produce an infinite number of eggs en masse that would later be presented on offer to the population at a much reduced price to the previous ones.
Our two earlier poultry and competing friends were suddenly faced with the unexpected progress in the form of advanced technology and therefore had no other choice but to offer early retirement to their fluffy staff and shut up shop.

And there we have it. For several more years the mass producing factory was able to supply our eager housewives with products that could vary their daily menu, either sauté style, Spanish omelette or other exotic type egg dishes.

The story continues with the opening of a second egg-laying factory, but this time with little chicklets brought in from the third world and paid with lower wages. They only required an extra ration of corn on Sundays as a bonus scheme. Hence the factory began producing eggs at even a lower price than the original one. Competition once again surfaced in Kurulandia on an even larger scale of mass production. Our new businessmen embarked on aggressive campaigns to conquer the existing market. The eggs were presented in different wrappings, painted different colours, offers of three for one appeared every second week on the market. Although competition was fierce and the chickens were under a great deal of stress causing mental illness and other problems, the Kurulandians continued to benefit from this new world of consumerism embarking on even greater exotic dishes. The whole country was content. Unfortunately technology had surpassed reality and one good day the ultimate in egg production arrived on the scene.
Professor McCluck, President and CEO of the company Luxurious Eggs Inc., offered a full blown press conference to present the people of Kurulandia with the ultimate product on the market:
‘The Square Egg’
The factory was built and production began.
The original factories began to lose market share. Nobody wanted the oval egg anymore. They all wanted the new square egg. Soon, the first of the old factories shut down. The second tried with all kinds of methods and special offers to maintain the business but to no avail. The square egg had won over the hearts of Kurulandia.

This story unfortunately does not end here. It did not take long for a Chinese corporation to turn up with the construction of a new manufacturing plant of square eggs but this time controlled by computers and with specifications that could vary the size of the egg according to consumer wishes. The scene reverted back to the vicious circle of competitiveness ready to supply even more ridiculously exotic Kurulandian recipes of egg dishes. The curious element of this anecdote that occurred many years ago is that neither producer nor the consumer ever realised that the extract from the product, i.e. the egg, in all cases was the same.
In other words, it always consisted of one part yoke, one part white; the whole concoction sealed in a conveniently breakable shell!"

© James Skinner. February 2007.

Hope At Dawn
James G Skinner
In March 2003, María Teresa, a perfectly healthy Spanish sixty year old, was diagnosed by a leading orthopaedist, Doctor Domingo Rueda of Povisa Hospital in Vigo, with Spinal Stenosis, a disorder of the spinal duct caused by Primary Osteoarthritis.

The Goa File   Author: James G. Skinner
Paperback (pp: 395) ISBN: 978-81-8253-079-9
Availability: In Stock (Ships within 1 to 2 days)
Publisher:, Allahabad, India
Pub. Date: Jan 2007
James G. Skinner, as he is know to his friends in Vigo, Spain was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a retired telecommunications expert who has travelled the world over having worked for some of the greatest of todayıs conglomerates such as Cable & Wireless, US Sprint and British Telecom. Having lived in many different and disparate countries spread across several continents, his knowledge of and experience with people from different ethnic groups and social backgrounds is second to none. He is a regular writer ­ in Spanish ­ in the local papers of Galicia and is currently the Honorary British Consul in the region.

Read a Chapter extract of The Goa File here on Hackwriters



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