Angular moralization

I was examinated the other day. It was all going dandily when suddenly I realised that I needed to use a protractor, one of those semi-circular rulers used for measuring angles. And I didn’t have a protractor. In fairness, I hadn’t expected to need one, because I’m big enough and ugly enough to do those magical things with numbers and stuff without needing a protractor. But I needed one. Three marks depended on it.

“Oh, balls,” I thought. “How can I measure this angle? I suppose I could guess – looks about There’s only one thing for it – I’m going to wind up failing this examination, all because of a fucking protractor.”

Then I was struck down by a strike of genius. (Being a genius, this often happens to me.) I waved my hand in the air in order to gain the attention of one of the stern people who wander around during these events, and I gained the attention of one of them. She scuttled over to me, wobbling, an enormous unhealthy-looking woman who looks older than she probably is. I asked her for a protractor. She wobbled back and gave me one.

Fantastic. I measured my angle, and finished being examinated, and it was all brilliant. I knew I had nailed it. Fucking brilliant, as usual1.

Then it was time to leave. Nobody came to snatch the protractor back from me. “Hey,” I thought to myself, with a sly grin, “I could nick this protractor! It could be mine, for free!”

As you can imagine, I was terribly excited by this notion. I’m not normally a rebel. The closest I get to rebelliousness is using the made-up word “examinated” instead of the proper “examined”. “Examined” is what The Man wants me to say, but I’m pulling down my trousers and pants and showing two fingers to The Man. The Man, Schme Schman.

I noticed a chap nearby. He appeared to have borrowed a protractor too. He had gathered up all of his mathematical equipment and left the protractor on his desk. What a shining example of a good person. Bet he donates money to charity and smiles at people.

Of course, I had been busy doing 27.5% of my mathematics qualification to notice him borrowing a protractor. It may well have been a protractor which he bought with his own hard-earned cash. He could have been donating his piece of stationery to the education system, as a little thank-you.

I was overcome by a sense of moral duty. This was a protractor that had been paid for by the taxpayer. Sure, protractors cost only around fifty pence each or so, but if everyone nicked protractors the bills would add up. If just 800 rebellious teenagers like me each stole a fifty pee protractor, Ed Balls would be footing a bill for 40,000 pence.

As you may have guessed from my inability to convert the 40,000 pee figure into pounds – I’d obviously need a protractor to do that – I chickened out. I left the protractor on the table, following the other bloke’s example.

This is a highly pertinent anecdote. These days, people are all, “oh, these MPs are all very naughty people and I’m going to vote for a bunch of stupid racist fascists with garish poorly-designed promotional materials because these professional MPs are all greedy fat cats.” We’re in a state of furore. Expensesgate, or moatgate, or overpriced wrought iron gate, or whatever you want to call it.

And the complainants have a point. But if you reckon that, placed in them politicians’ shoes, you’d buy a toilet seat and claim for a Twix if the rules said it was OK and everyone else was doing it. If say you wouldn’t, then you’re either lying or a better person than me. And it’s obviously the former, because nobody is better than me.

Whatever. I’m allowed to complain, because I didn’t steal the protractor. And you know what? I’m jolly well pissed off because now I’m going to have to pay for one.

1 Or “as usually”, if you speak that type of English, although it does – perhaps unreasonably – rather annoy me when the “ly” suffix is affixed on the end. It sounds wrong, but maybe I’m just used to people saying the wrong thing. I think both ways are acceptable, it’s just variations in different versions of the lanugage – I’m a filthy xylophone. Or is it “xenophobe”? No, it must be “xylophone” – xenophobes are those musical instruments, right?