There was a conference going on in the south of the city, and the Prime Minister, the Cheshire Fat Cat, and his cronies were busy creating jobs.
The conference was a large one, but they were all crowded together in one corner of it: ‘No room! No room for the unemployed!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. ‘There’s PLENTY of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the conference hall.
‘Here, have a job,’ the Prime Minister said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round, but there was no work. ‘I can’t find a job,’ she remarked.
‘There aren’t any,’ said the Prime Minister. ‘I’m cutting back public jobs, and my cheshire fat cat colleague here is cutting jobs from his company’.
‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer me one,’ said Alice angrily.
‘It wasn’t very civil of you to come without being invited,’ said the Prime Minister.
‘I didn’t know it was YOUR conference, it’s got space for a great many more, ‘said Alice; ‘and how can you be busy making jobs when you’re cutting them?’
‘You look unproductive,’ said the Fat Cat. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
‘You should learn not to make personal remarks,’ Alice said with some severity; ‘it’s very rude,and besides which, I’m a very hard worker!’
The Fat Cat opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID was, ‘Why is a job like a cycle-way?’
‘Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alice. ‘I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.â€”I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.
‘Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the Prime Minister.
‘Exactly so,’ said Alice.
‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the Prime Minister went on.
‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at leastâ€”at least I mean what I sayâ€”that’s the same thing, you know.’
‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Fat Cat. ‘You might just as well say that “I save the jobs I cut” is the same thing as “I cut the jobs I save”!’
‘You might just as well say,’ added the Prime Minister, ‘that “A Prime Minister makes a great merchant banker” is the same thing as “A merchant banker makes a great Prime Minister”!’
‘You might just as well say,’ added one the cronies, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, ‘that “nine days of work every two weeks” is the same thing as “two weeks of work every nine days”!’
The crony was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Prime Minister, he woke up again with a little shriek, and went on: ‘â€”which is the same thing as – isn’t it the same thing as four days of work every week?’
‘Really, now you ask me,’ said Alice, very much confused, ‘I don’t thinkâ€”’
‘Then you shouldn’t talk,’ said the Prime Minister.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the crony fell asleep instantly, and none of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, the Prime Minister was simulating riding a bike on the back of the Fat Cat.
Hat tip: Lewis Caroll