Old Mr. Capitalism
A Short Story
Poor old Mr. Capitalism. He was in a very bad way indeed. Pains all over his body, from head to toe. He put on his hat and coat and decided yet again to see his doctor.
Poor old Mr. Capitalism. He could hardly walk, dragging his feet along as though each step were his last, and causing many a sympathetic eye to glance knowingly in his direction. After all, he had been around a very long time. Too long, he had heard some say—sometimes discreetly, sometimes openly for all to hear.
“Not you again, Mr. Capitalism,” the doctor shrieked, and rose from behind his desk to help the wheezing old man into a chair.
“I’m afraid so, doctor,” Mr. Capitalism sighed. “I’ve been having those same old pains again. All over me they are. I just can’t get rid of them.”
“Take a breath and tell me all about the,,” the doctor said. So poor old Mr. Capitalism gathered as much strength as he could muster and poured forth his troubles.
“Well, to start with,” he began, “I’ve got those Conservative pains in my . . . you know, doctor . . . “
“Yes, that’s right. I’ve tried everything. Exercise, hot flannel, the lot, but they’re always there—as though they sort of like me the way I am, old and decrepit. It’s hard to explain really. All I can say is that they’re nothing but a pain in the . . . the . . . “
“Ar . . . posteria?”
“Yes, that’s right. Then there’s those Labour pains I get in my stomach. If I wasn’t a man I’d swear it was . . . They double me up at times. It’s a queer sensation. I get the feeling they’re trying to change my basic metabolism—you don’t mind me saying that, do you? trying to change the way I walk and things like that. Yet fundamentally they’re just the same as the Conservative pains in my . . . my . . . “
“Go on,” urged the doctor impatiently, getting a little tired of the same old complaints. “What else is the matter with you?”
“Well there’s this other pain, the one in my neck. You called it the Liberal pain, I think. I get it when I’m undecided, you know, like when I can’t make up my mind. It’s as though it doesn’t quite know whether it wants to be a Conservative pain or a Labour one, if you can see what I’m driving at? Then there’s the same old CP ailment, those red rashes that keep appearing at odd places on the surface of my body.”
“You’ve been sleeping under the bed again, haven’t you?” the doctor said chastisingly. “What have I told you about the little bugs that dwell under mattresses and on bedroom carpets?”
“I know, doctor, but sometimes I get to thinking that perhaps if I sleep that way my other pains will disappear and I’ll only have to worry about the rashes.”
“Rubbish. I’ve told you before that they’re really no different, and will give you exactly the same suffering.”
“I know,” old Mr. Capitalism acceded with a groan. “But I’ve tried everything else, haven’t I? I took those reform pills you gave me but the relief only lasted for a very short while. It hardly seemed worthwhile taking them. Then there was the anti-inflation medicine and the wage-policy drug. Even the TUC capsules didn’t make a scrap of difference. I don’t know what’s going to become of me, doctor. What kind of future has a man in my position got to look forward to?”
He left, and the doctor shook his head. “Poor old fellow, he’s not long for this world.” He rang the bell and asked: “Where’s my next patient, nurse?”
“There aren’t any,” she said.
“No patients! Nobody ill! What’s happened?” said the doctor.
“A new crowd moved into the neighbourhood today”, said the nurse. “They say they don’t need any pills or potions, and they’ve got a big van waiting to—”she whispered in his ear.
“Bury Mr. Capitalism! He’s not dead yet.”
“As good as,” said the nurse.” I’m thinking of helping them actually. They’re re-naming their house ‘Socialism’.”
“I’ll come with you,” said the doctor. “Old Mr. Capitalism was as much as I could stand.”