Quotedfrom “Bargepole” (Michael Bywater) in Punch magazine, 19th June1991:



y domains areextensive and little normally disturbs the silence save the drip of brackishwater or the touching screams of the small amphibians which my man, Kington,selects as my partners for the night. We are well supplied with green friends,so loneliness is not a problem and I am normally content to pass my timewithout human company. In the dry season, when the amphibians shrivel andnature is harsh, I used to fret bur now all I have to do is go to the Whitley Bridgegarage, near Pontefract, where there is a round-the-clock maggot machine.

Peoplewho argue against technology will surely be converted by this marvelous exampleof man's ingenuity. No more hanging around outside some horrid back-street shopin the wind-whipped dawn, waiting for the proprietor to rise from his enseamédbed and start dishing up the maggots, One simply leaps into the helicopter,checks one's trousers for the necessary loose change and heads for WhitleyBridge.

Thejourney is quick and the time passes easily in deciding which maggots to have.There are red ones, at £1.20 the tin; bronze ones, at £1.20 the tin; orfluorescent pink, at £1.20 the tin. For purists, there are white maggots, at£1.20 the tin. and for the indecisive, £1.20 will buy a tin of mixed maggots.

Themaggot machine, modestly, says 'Fishing Bait" and 'Bag it with Mag-It'.But the Mag-It people underestimate their service, which can eliminate many oflife's problems: night starvation, bedtime loneliness, designing women,croaking in the dark.

Hungry?Never mind trudging in the rain to the 7-Eleven for a delicious, hand-microwaved, EEC-approved Cornish-type pasty; simply ring the bell and in comesKington, immaculately-dressed, his Japanese transistor (as always) pressed tohis ear, with a tin of best bronze ready-opened on a Benares brassware tray.Lonely in the dark? A tin of fluorescent pinks emptied into a Marigoldwashing-up glove will solace even the longest nights, easily-visible even bythe thin. weedy glow from the ancestral Wombles nite-lite. Women in printfrocks hanging around and talking wistfully about babies? A tin of pallid.moist whites, like little executives, scattered around the legs of her chair,or around the legs of her self, or perhaps even placed in the toes of her KurtGeiger pumps as she sleeps the sleep of the smug, will have her running fromthe premises yelping 'Ugh! Ugh! I have never seen anything so disgusting in mylife!' And, of course, a tinful of plump reds, stored in a warm room andallowed to hatch, will keep at bay the croaking of rejected amphibia as theyhonk and blart for alimony, affection and food,

Bur, of course,you won't take advantage of the Mag-It, will you? Oh, there may be somefeeble-minded characters who, having never even thought of maggots before,will, now that they are available, be creeping out of bed at three in themorning, pulling their trousers over their wincyette pyjamas, and pedalling offto Pontefract in the sleet. There, they will hang around importuning passers-byfor change until they have enough for a fix of maggots: and, having them, willnot know what to do with them. (This is the English way: disproportionatedesire followed at once by incomprehension and neglect. That is why we likesheds so much. We need somewhere to keep all the things that we desperatelywanted until we got them.)



he rest of youwill take comfort from knowing that the Mag-It is there but will you go toWhitley Bridge? Will you shell out a measly £1.20? Will you give gaily-wrappedtins of maggots to your friends for Christmas? Will you buggery. What you willdo is sit there, maggotless, vaguely aware of how maggots might alter your lifebut doing nothing about it, until one day some smirking cheat from the NationalWestminster Bank, making sure that people don't make the same mistakes his oldman did, forecloses on the Mag-It man and the Mag-It of Whitley Bridge is takenaway.

Thenyou will raise merry hell, of course. You will write to your  MP. You will! sit on the lavatorynodding in petulant agreement at Gavin Stamp's diatribe in the Spectator, You will talk about it atdinner parries with Jenny, Wobbler, Lucinda and old Dogbreath who's riding outthe recession rather well!.

Howdo I know? Because you’ve done it before. You believed all the lies the bankstold you in the Eighties, and now you are moaning about the recession. Youbought your electricity shares and your water shares and now you moan about thebills. You voted for Mrs. Thatcher and now you moan that you are having toremove your own gangrenous leg on the kitchen table. You paid through the snouton champagne and bresaola, and now you moan that the restaurants can’t survivenow you’re skint. You complained about the old telephone boxes which youcouldn't get into and then couldn't get out again, suffocating in the stench ofurine, and then complained when Telecom replaced them. You fell for all thatPeter Mayle bullshit and now moan that Provence is being spoiled.

Thesilence of my domains has been disturbed this week by people telephoning me toask foolish questions about the 150th anniversary of this organ, 'Will it survive?' they ask;'What is wrong with it?' and 'Do you hate the editor?' Dolts. Of course I hatethe editor, Every columnist hates his editor. It is part of the contract. As tothe other questions, why do they immediately make me think of the likely fateof the wonderful Mag-It?