One of Those Things
by Mary Jackson (January 2011)
Systematic sexual abuse of underage girls, such as that recently uncovered in the North of England, is one of those things. The cause is devilishly tricky to pin down, but New English Review’s intrepid reporter Robert Probert is on the case. Probert (Probe) has obtained a rare “twenty questions” interview with Sheffield imam, Takiyyeh al Ketman (Tak). Let’s see how he gets on.
Probe: So what kind of person rapes and pimps young girls?
Tak: Youths. It’s a youth thing.
Probe: But they pass the girls to their uncles.
Tak: It’s a Sheffield thing. Poverty. Alienation. That kind of thing.
Probe: So you’re blaming Sheffield?
Tak: Not just Sheffield. It’s a Leeds thing. And a Bradford thing.
Probe: So it’s a Yorkshire thing? Like the Brontës?
Tak: It’s a Manchester thing.
It’s an Oldham thing.
It’s a Rochdale thing.
Probe: Like Gracie Fields? A Lancashire thing?
Tak: It’s a Derby thing.
Probe: A Midlands thing, then, like Middlemarch? Or Shakespeare?
Tak: Oh, and Luton.
Probe: A Bedfordshire thing, like John Bunyan?
Probe: Or Alastair Cook?
Tak: As in “Letter From America, the Great Satan”?
Probe: No, as in cricket. The Ashes. Let me do the questions. Cricket, then. As in Imran Khan?
Tak: You’re getting warmer.
Probe: Talking of warmer, we beat Australia. They’re easy to beat.
Tak: And easy meat. Uncovered meat. Ooops.
Probe: It’s an Australian thing too? Like Sidney Opera House?
Tak: More Oprah than opera. You’re getting colder. Try a different tack.
Probe: It’s not native, then. It’s imported?
Tak: Correct. It’s an Asian thing.
Probe: Like Confucius?
Tak: Like, confusing.
Probe: Asian like the Kama Sutra?
Tak: And Persian
Probe: Like Omar Khayyám?
Tak: More like Omar Khyam
Tak: And Arab
Probe: Like Aladdin
Tak: More like a lass in.
Probe: With djinn?
Tak: And vodka. And mobile phones. And money. Spending money to make money.
Probe: Ah, so it’s a profit thing?
Tak: Yes, all right, I’ll let you have it. It’s a Prophet thing.
In next week’s One of Those Things, Probert interviews Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury on Christianity and the Big Picture: “It’s a human thing and a divine thing, but if it’s not your thing, do your own thing.”
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