surinenglish

Critical mass

You're sitting in the centre circle of a football pitch in a stadium filled with 70,000 people. There are giant screens all around the ground. In front of you is a table with 25 Rubik cubes on it. To your right, a bumptious, bald little man with a coloured flag watches over proceedings and, to your left, sits a group of ten or twelve people wearing t-shirts reading 'EXPERT'. The man with the flag speaks.

"Right, you have twelve hours to resolve these Rubik cubes; for each one not completed, terrible things will happen."

It's then that you realise you've never seen this design of cube, before - more colours than normal, more little cubes.

"I - I've never see..."

"Sshh - don't interrupt." He raises his tiddly flag. "Ready, steady, g ... oh, sorry, I forgot. We have to cover your hands in lard first." He applies the grease. "There we go, lovely. Sorry, about that, sir - it's in the rules. Now, ready, st... oh , silly me, forgot to mention something else. Occasionally, you might be beaten about the head with a rolling pin."

"Please," you protest, "this is insane. I can't..."

"Shhh! Now then - ready, steady...go!" A giant clock on a screen begins the countdown.

"The people in the 'EXPERT' t-shirts pipe up.

"Wipe the lard off your hands on the grass!"

"No, no, don't be stupid! He needs to cover his hands with the cuffs of his jumper. I read jumper/cuff studies at the University Of Somewhere-Or-Other."

As they bicker amongst themselves and you strain to manoeuvre the cubes, you notice that a large section of the crowd has turned on you.

"You halfwit! That's not the way to do it - listen to the experts!"

"You fool! What are you listening to the experts for? My mate Barry down the pub would do it much better."

Somehow you manage to resolve 14 of the 25 cubes in the allotted time. A decent effort; only some bad things will happen, then.

I'm afraid this scenario is, more or less, what world leaders have been faced with recently - an impossible, thankless task that not one of them has been able to do perfectly and some have done poorly. All have tried their best.

Meanwhile, the small of mind and smaller of heart have criticised relentlessly from their sofas, munching on packets of crisps, none with the wit or guile to be able to do any better themselves.

Now then, must dash - there's a chap painting his window frames next door and he hasn't got a clue. Suddenly, I feel a visceral need to let him know where he's going wrong.

Where did I put my crisps?