â€œWoolworthâ€™s is no more,â€ said a headline I spotted in a newspaper. I did not quite grasp what it meant â€“ that apostrophe s seemed misplaced â€“ so I ruminated, as I do whenever I encounter something perplexing. My usual method is to stare out of the window awaiting enlightenment, so that is what I did. I felt it would have been of immense help if the view from my window was of a hillside with a lot of sheep on it, but I am afraid to say that all I could see was the perimeter fence of a derelict shopping precinct. Had I been able to see some sheep I could have grabbed a pair of binoculars and examined closely the fleeces of the sheep, assuming they were unsheared, to ascertain why their wool no longer had any worth. In the absence of any useful visual prompt, I was forced to rely upon the cerebral activity buzzing within the confines of my skull â€“ a skull, I should add, that has won plaudits from a number of highly competent phrenologists. Dr Bramblegack described it as â€œimpeccably cranial, with lovely dentsâ€.
After gazing at the collapsing retail hub for a few hours, I reached some preliminary conclusions about wool having no worth. I shall present them to you now, with the proviso that you keep them under your hat until I give the all clear. There is no pressing reason for secrecy, but I find it adds a frisson of excitement to the daily round. For example, when I pop out to buy a pint of milk or a packet of surprisingly delicious vegan pork-style scrapings, I will sometimes pretend that I have been sent on a mission by SMERSH, and loiter outside the shop muttering into a concealed walkie-talkie for an hour or so.
My first provisional conclusion is that wool has gone bad, or become contaminated in some way, and is therefore to be shunned on health grounds. It follows from this that sheep are carriers of bad wool, and must be culled. Few save for the bloodthirsty would willingly slaughter innumerable sheep, so quarantine may be preferred to a cull, if a secure area of sufficient acreage can be found. Helicopters could hover over the site, ensuring no sheep made a run for it after bounding over the barbed wire fence.
My second provisional conclusion is that wool has lost its worth due to a glut. This would not be the first wool glut in history, but perhaps the most severe one. The best way to address the glut is to identify new uses for wool, to stimulate demand. Coupled with an authoritarian approach, the surplus wool would soon get used up. So, step one is to issue a decree that anyone not making conspicuous daily use of the new wool-based products, such as woolly satnav, woolly catnip, woolly bubblebath and woolly fireworks, would be shot on sight.
My third provisional conclusion is a simple one. Wool has had its time, and that time has passed, and we must stride onward to a bright new utopia under the benevolent gaze of the Great Helmswoman, be she Hazel Blears or, at a push, AgnethaÂ FÃ¤ltskog.
Although I would not wish to prod you towards one or other of my conclusions, it ought to be noted that this piece was typed entirely with a â€œwoolboardâ€, a thrilling new computer-style keyboard made out of one hundred percent uncontaminated wool.