“Admiral, I’ve been asked to invite you to choose which of your arms you would prefer to cut off”

Ahh come in my dear chap. Firstly Admiral I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work, bravery and sacrifices you have made in service of your country. All my colleagues in Parliament would like to say how proud we are of you and all those serving in our wonderful armed forces. I’m sure you’ll have heard by now, but due to the terrible financial mess left by my predecessor we’ve been forced to make some efficiencies. We spent a whole week conducting a very careful analysis and an in-depth review and here on the back of this cigarette packet is our new national strategy for defence.

In order to streamline ourselves a little, I’ve been asked to invite you to choose which of your arms you would prefer to cut off. I know it maybe a little painful in the short-term but I’m sure you agree we have to do this for the long-term good.

I am aware that one of my predecessors cut off your lower leg a few years back and promised you that would be the last round of cuts but, given the global economic climate, we really have no choice. We are all making cutbacks you know, my goodness I’ve even had to start paying the rent on my second home! I really must emphasise that the choice of which arm I cut off is entirely up to you, remember it’s your choice which arm you prioritise, not mine – this government always listens to sound military advice.

I do realise this sort of thing can put a bit of a dampener on your morale but we must focus on the positives… By losing an arm think of the weight it will save, it will make you far more agile, responsive and light on your feet, er.. sorry I mean foot. The marvellous ‘can do attitude’ of the Royal Navy will see you through I’m sure, after all missing body parts never did Nelson any harm.

(Phone rings) Hello… yes of course, absolutely… right away (Puts phone down) that was my boss, the accountant, he says he has found a few errors on one of his spreadsheets and it’s making things look unbalanced. So we’re going to have to lop off a couple of your toes as well I’m afraid. It’s only minor and you do get to keep your other 3 really good toes.

(A large gorilla knocks on the door an enters the room menacingly). Ah yes this is Barney, I’m sure you’ve met before, he runs the giant global corporation that has a monopoly on our defence manufacturing and I have to share an office with him. What’s that Barney?.. You would like the shirts off our backs… of course. Admiral, I’m sure you understand we mustn’t upset Barney, he can cause a lot of trouble if he gets angry. Rest assured he doesn’t dictate policy in any way but he is such a source of wisdom for us when making hard choices. Now Admiral your shirt please…

You’ll also be pleased to hear I’ve decided to give some of your things to those fine chaps down the hall, your brothers in arms in light blue. Now I don’t want to hear any protest, after all, we are all on the same team you know. I have to confess do find them very persuasive and their company so much more refined than you silly old fashioned sailors.

I know we’re both looking forward to doing this all again soon. I can promise you all these adjustments will be very gentle and you will hardly feel a thing, in fact, I really doubt the public will notice at all. Keep your chin up and remember if you’re a good boy, don’t make a fuss and if the economy bounces back, which I’m sure it will, then there is a chance we could avoid such unpleasantness. We may even be able to return one of your children that I took from you.

Now if you would be kind enough to sit still and keep quiet while I go and sharpen my axe…