Richard Branson didn’t write that letter

Another fake letter is doing the rounds in South Africa. This one is allegedly by Richard Branson (except it’s not) and it differs from the Trevor Mallach letter in that it appears that it was written as satire here, rather than just being attributed to an (apparently random) individual in a position of responsibility.

What is interesting is the way that the anti-EFF brigade have leapt upon this letter in much the same way as the anti-Zuma brigade leapt upon that Trevor Mallach letter. And once again, it doesn’t seem to matter to them that it’s not real – see this response on Facebook from the hysterically-named “Save The White People Of South Africa – STOP The Killing!” page (and then thoroughly wash your browser):


Yes, that’s “Thank you Chantel <smiley face>”, not “Oh no. We’ve used a misattributed letter. Richard Branson didn’t write this at all and we’ll fully acknowedge that we made a mistake and take it down immediately.”

Of course, that means that those arguing against the EFF’s policies in the future can triumphantly cite Richard as one of their team. Even though he had nothing to do with this “open letter”.

And there’s more of the same thing here:

…even if it’s a hoax, it’s absolutely hilarious and clever.

But I’m not sure that that partial disclaimer makes it OK to continue to portray the letter as Branson’s work, just because you can’t find the original source.

And then of course, there’s the disappointingly now-sloppy work of linkbaitastic

bran2 In which “thandi” says:

This is not breaking news, it is a few weeks old but oh my goodness it is good! This is an absolute gem, and definitely deserves a second read if you have read it before. Sir Richard Branson is just genius…Most people would respond with indignance – not him. His response is classic!

Ten out of ten on the hyperbole there. I almost wanted to read the whole thing again.

But… not.

We return to the words of Thabo Mbeki:

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Firstly, use your brain. What is the likelihood of Richard Branson actually having written this? Really?
That’s right, it’s pretty much nil. There should be alarm bells all over the place.

Next up, do your research. It’s really not rocket science. I used “Google” to find the original of this letter. 2oceansvibe relied on an unreferenced piece from The hysterical Afrikaners on Facebook apparently didn’t even bother give us a source for theirs.

And again. Stop attributing these words to someone just because of their name or position and the way that it fits your agenda. This letter isn’t being shared because of its content, but rather because of who “wrote” it; the convenient notion that someone big and powerful is kicking back at the renegade upstarts of the EFF.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that this won’t change a think. I know that 99% of the general land-owning population will continue accept that Richard Branson is their saviour who will fight the EFF until he dies has to sell his hotel, but if I can just reach that 1%, then my work here is done.

DISCLAIMER: This is a comment on the veracity of the letter in question and the intelligence and diligence of those sharing it, not a comment on the policies of the EFF or anything to do with a posh hotel in Franschhoek.

Death & Taxes

An oldie but a goodie.
A reply allegedly sent from the Inland Revenue (the UK tax people) to a presumably disgruntled Chris Addison and reproduced in full in his column in the Guardian.

The joy for me in this is imagining the original letter which is being replied to. It’s brilliantly written, whether it’s genuine or not.

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.
Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies” is at best a little ill-advised. In common with my own organisation it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin” or, come to that, a “sodding charity”. More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay  “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party”  yourself.  The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful,  are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles”  and  “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to,  for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:
1. The reason we don’t simply write  “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;
2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant,  the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime,  whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.
Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee
Customer Relations
Inland Revenue

Now – I’m off to email SARS.

Enough babies already!

I saw this letter in The Times earlier this week. It made me laugh.

I am a poor pensioner and taxpayer – I cannot afford to pay for your sexual urges.
The world and South Africa has enough people, please don’t be stupid and selfish and add more at my expense.

More people means more power stations are needed, more schools, more hospitals, more houses, more jobs (from where?), more dams, more roads, more prisons, more police, more global warming and so on, and I am expected to pay for all of this.

Think of me, yourselves, the rest of the world and the child before you make babies.

RL, by email

While RL’s plea may strike a chord with a number of  taxpayers, who (as in most other countries around the world) subsidise those “less fortunate” than themselves, I can’t see his/her message catching on. With 4.3 babies born per second worldwide, another 17.2 (ish) have arrived while you’ve been reading this sentence. Don’t tell RL – that sort of stat would kill him/her.

Of course, if RL was to pop his/her clogs, then it would – by RL’s reckoning, at least – be a good thing for the world. We’d need 0.00000001 less hospitals, 0.00000001 less power stations and dams. Schools would probably be unaffected, but there would be 1 whole house more. Which has got to be a step in the right direction. Unless you’re RL. 

However, if RL were to be cremated, that would add to global warming, so instead, we’d need more space in the local cemetery.  

Hmm. Swings and roundabouts. No – wait – that’s a playground, not a cemetery. But you know what I mean.

The problem with RL’s idea of thinking of him/her before submitting to your sexual urges is that, were one to think about a grumbling pensioner (like thinking of dead kittens or Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (remember her?)) while in the throes of passion, then the sexual urges would probably go away. Rapidly.

But then, maybe that’s RL’s plan.