Compare and contrast:
1. Wart meets Archimedes (The Sword in the Stone):
Merlyn took off his pointed hat when he came into this chamber, because it was too high for the roof, and immediately there was a scamper in one of the dark corners and a flap of soft wings, and a tawny owl sitting on the black skull—cap which protected the top of his head.
‘Oh, what a lovely owl!’ cried the Wart.
But when he went up to it and held out his hand, the owl grew half as tall again, stood up as stiff as a poker, closed its eyes so that there was only the smallest slit to peep through – as you are in the habit of doing when told to shut your eyes at hide—and—seek – and said in a doubtful voice:
‘There is no owl.’
Then it shut its eyes entirely and looked the other way.
‘It is only a boy,’ said Merlyn.
‘There is no boy,’ said the owl hopefully, without turning round.
2. Rafael Behr (a.k.a. “Contributor Namy”) in today’s Guardian:
The heckles in the House of Commons can be as revealing as the speeches. When the prime minister was taking questions about her Brexit plans on Monday, Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, asked about the no-deal scenario – whether the UK would “jump off the cliff”. At which point a male voice, dripping with derision, chimed in: “There is no cliff!”
Behr’s article is worth the trip, for illuminating us on the desiderata of the Tory head-bangers:
Interrogate the Brexit no-dealers on detail and they concede that their plan hinges on a doctrine of pain for gain. They advocate the abandonment of tariffs, inviting the world’s exporters to flood Britain with their wares. Thus would a beacon of free trade be lit on Albion’s shores, inspiring others to repent of their protectionist tendencies. This might bring cheap produce to supermarket shelves (consumer gain) but sabotage UK farmers, who would be undercut by an influx of American and Antipodean meat (producer pain).
Manufacturers would suffer too, but that is an intended consequence of opening the doors to invigorating winds of competition. The whole point is to sweep away inefficiency and blow down zombie businesses while fanning the flames of innovation. In this model, the UK economy is a vast pre-Thatcher coalfield that refuses to accept its obsolescence and must be made to confront it by force. If the timid will not jump into the future, they must be pushed.
Sadly that would take down the Irish economy with that of the UK. In the small matter of €1.3 billion of Irish exports to the UK each month, a fair chunk is essential chemicals and pharmaceuticals.