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And they lived politically correctly ever after

Jul 25, 2014 6:00 AM

IN THE interest of social harmony and to soothe ruffled feathers over the children's story And Tango Makes Three being labelled as unsavoury toddler literature, we have come up with a compromise. The following is a politically correct fairy tale which we hope will not offend anyone, except perhaps fascist regimes.

"Once upon a time, there lived a chinstrap penguin named Roy, who was forcibly removed from his natural habitat in Antarctica and sent to a faraway land called Central Park, to satisfy a fascist regime's desire to watch wild animals live in an artificially controlled environment.

While not particularly happy living in captivity, Roy decided to make the most of it by picking up some fascist regime habits like skating on ice (which seemed to delight the small-sized fascists who came to watch), nibbling hotdog buns those same small fascists would throw at him secretly, and watching TV through the window of the quarters of the prison officer (whose name was Mr Zookeeper).

When it came time to ballot for property, Roy noticed that all the other penguins in the colony had split up into male-and-female couples and applied for their individual nests. When it was Roy's turn, there was no one left except Silo, a nervous-looking penguin who had voluntarily jumped on the captor's truck in Antarctica as he was on the run from loan sharks over his gambling debts. Roy was not the kind to judge other penguins, so he agreed to be flatmates - partly because Silo said he still had a bit of money that he had hidden from the loan sharks.

That interested Roy because he was by then addicted to the TV show Downton Abbey, which he watched on Mr Zookeeper's TV. But craning his neck all the time was tiring; what he really wanted was his own TV, and Silo agreed to help him finance it.

In ways that would be too difficult to explain to the lay reader as to how the two penguins managed to buy a TV set, suffice to say that they did, and were very excited when the vendor told them the TV would be delivered the next day "between 2pm and 6pm, and someone must be at home to take delivery".

The problem was that, being penguins, they had no concept of time. So they settled down to wait. When it got too tiring to stand for hours (not that they knew it was hours), Roy noticed the other penguins sitting on some white round object that looked quite comfortable. So he fashioned something similar out of a rock and pebbles and sat down. Indeed, it was rather comfortable and he and Silo took turns sitting as they waited for the TV delivery man.

And waited. And waited. They did not dare leave the nest in case he came, so Roy and Silo took turns to go out and find food. They noticed that Mr Zookeeper looked at them curiously once in a while, but they did not dare to tell him of their purchase. As they waited, they noticed that the white round things other penguins sat on hatched into little chicks.

Silo began to complain. "When is the TV man coming? At the rate we're waiting, we'll be hatching eggs too!"

What they didn't know was that Mr Zookeeper - who came from a broken home and was indoctrinated on fascist propaganda such as How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men - had planned a little surprise for them. One morning, Roy and Silo awoke to find an egg in their nest.

Silo was flabbergasted: "Are you sure you ordered a TV?" This got Roy looking somewhat perplexed, if not horrified at the possibility that the shop would not give them a refund. As they looked around helplessly, unsure what to do, other penguins surrounded them and showered them with good wishes and gifts of penguin jewellery and ang pow - which Silo promised to deposit into a savings account for the chick's education.

"We might be able to afford fibre broadband with this," whispered Roy.

Later that day, however, Silo came back after his turn to find food, acting strangely. Roy studied his face closely, and then it dawned on him. "You didn't. You said you'd kicked your gambling habit! What did you bet on? Oh no, not the World Cup?"

Silo sighed heavily. "I hope Germany wins," he muttered sadly. "I just bet all the kid's savings on it . . ."

Well, you know the drill about how all fairy tales end. Silo won a ton of money and split the proceeds with Roy. Silo bought a condo and moved in with a female penguin named Scrappy. Roy bought himself a home theatre system with fibre broadband AND Apple TV. Tango the chick grew up, flew the coop and found work in a Singapore ad agency that creates media campaigns against social ills like problem gambling.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End."