December 0002

A Competition, Depravity And Corruption in a Can, Dieter, Gitte & Peter, The Music of the Spheres.


Here’s a piece of prose. All you need to do is to identify the language, and provide a translation, and you may win a BIG PRIZE. The editor’s decision is final.

Zhevi previm ta lobostono, ef ka popopolipso. Safa din nozhitd, safa bin lozhitd, safa cin! Ko brozhdine?Sapestiz. Dispotd ka stindem ti spozhpso. Vap, ef vo, ekkamini ta sopd. Splana ef primtd be vabtsin, stendit ri fand nevi zhevi.



Bought a tin of alphabet soup recently? You’ll find the manufacturers no longer include the letter “C” to discourage children from spelling out certain rude words. What the little blighters are doing to get round this problem is to cut a little bit out of the letter “O”. It just goes to show how you need to keep a careful eye on your offspring all the time. Since they usually use spoons for this job, maybe you should provide a knife and fork only.



Such is the length and strength of the tentacles of the Ropkind Scharf Organization, that it can obtain interviews with the movers and shakers who are normally completely invisible to the general public. One such group is Dieter Gitte Peter Associates, who do much to mould the world you inhabit, and yet are probably completely unknown to you. Ropkind Scharf himself went to a secret location in an agreeable part of the tropics to conduct and interview with them.


 Scharf: I think we should start of by giving the readers some background. As I understand it, you’re an outgrowth of the PR industry, and describe yourself as News Management Consultants. Is that right?

Dieter: It is, but I think you need to stress that our role is essentially creative. Also, I’ll be answering on behalf of all three of us, as we share precisely the same opinions on everything.

S. Strange room this. White carpet, white walls, white ceiling, no windows, very comfortable white leather furniture.

Yes, we like people to be unsure where they’re sitting. There are windows, but they’re a bit difficult to see. You have no idea how much trouble we had getting a precise match on the shade of white on every item in the room. Also, completely even lighting isn’t easy to achieve. You don’t know where the door is, do you?

S. No. Do you want to give the readers a description of what you do?

D. Basically, we’re scriptwriters. A bit like Bernard Matthews (

Bernard Matthews is a provincial UK junk food magnate, famous for his turkey farms and turkey by-products)

S. Can you explain that a little more?

D. Mmm. What Bernard Matthew does is he sells you the right to eat, for example, a Turkey Twizzler. This isn’t food, of course, but a simulacrum of food. It’s a much more modern concept. You can buy all the licences to eat Turkey Twizzlers you want – the more the better in fact. And he actually provides the Twizzler itself along with the licence, which helps get around piracy problems. These things aren’t very nutritious, but they are highly addictive, so you get a lot more satisfaction, plus, and this is the clever bit, the control stays firmly in Mr. Matthews hands. That old thing about the customer being king has been completely reversed. As I said, you can get no end of Turkey Twizzlers. What you don’t get, ever, under any circumstances, is to see the inside of one of his factories. Your job is to consume the product. How it’s made is absolutely none of your business. We do something like that, but with the news, or Impacting Cultural Discourse, as we put it.

S. Ahh. And in more concrete terms?

D. We write the scripts for the top news stories. For example, in the last few years, the world’s press and media have been full of things about the Beckhams. They don’t exist, of course, but you probably suspected that. They’re quite important, as we did a full scale job on them. We’ve got a team of actors, who are responsible for their public appearances. If you look at USVictoria’s nose, you can see it’s a little bigger than that of EuroVictoria’s. All the stories you hear about them, they all come from our laboratory.

S. Was Lady Diana another of yours?

D. Yes, but we didn’t use actors much. Most of the time it was just dummies, and half the time, a cardboard cut out was enough. We had a lot of fun writing the scripts though.

S. And Madonna?

D. Madonna’s real, but she’s a very shy, modest and retiring lady. She needed a public persona to deflect attention.

S. That’s enough for now. Can I come back another time?

D. Of course.

Indeed, I was back the very next day:

Scharf: This is really interesting. Where do you come from.

Gitte: I’m the spokesperson for all of us today. As it happens, we are German, Danish and British respectively. We’ve erased anything more specific than that, and don’t have surnames any more.

S. I don’t understand why you go to so much trouble. Why don’t you just report what happens in the world?

G. Oh, this is a question about history. Look, this is what the media used to try to do. Of course it never achieved it. Journalists always used to invent stories, they’d concentrate on some things, ignore others, and tell them from very particular points of view.

S. And what you do is a systematization of that?

G. Not exactly. What you need to understand is that the news is a commercial product. We can obtain much more consistency and reliability if it’s processed. Also, there’s the question of control.

S. You mean you want to control the listeners and viewers.

G. Again, not exactly. As you know, we’re not the only people in this business, so that’s not the issue at the moment. What we want to do is to control the product.

S. So you’re not interested in opinions then?

G. Oh, we most certainly are, but they’re those of the people who use our services. Since there’s quite a few of them, and several organizations servicing them, these vary a bit. What we do find though, and this is interesting, is that this combination of interests creates a quality of its own.

S. You mean your business creates its own culture?

G. Yes, so we aren’t completely independent. These things create their own momentum. And we haven’t been able to eliminate autonomy of real events.

S. The autonomy of real events?

G. Yes. Imagine a big earthquake in Venezuela, and one in New York. The first, we can ignore, or package as entertainment, but the second, that imposes itself on us to some extent. It has big objective consequences, and our technology isn’t developed enough to overcome those completely yet.

S. Is that how you see yourselves? As providers of entertainment?

G. Obviously. What action are you going to take on the basis of what you hear? None, of course. So whatever we’re providing can’t be information, so it must be entertainment. But there is a bit more. As you know, we humans are programmed to act, but, as you’ve seen, we lack the factual stimulus to base any such action on. We can provide that sense of direction which you wouldn’t otherwise have. Think of it as being a little like the msg in your food.

S. This has been so interesting. I’ll be back.



Dear Doctor Scharf, have you ever wondered what the music of the spheres sounds like? I certainly have, frequently and at length, and am still no wiser. Be that as it may, perhaps you or your readers can tell me?

Enid Kroll, Walvis Bay (until May, then Wrangel Island, birdwatching).


I’ve never listened to The Spheres myself, but then I’ve rather lost touch with today’s music. Anybody out there got any idea?


I think you’re missing the point Dr. Scharf. Enid meant the celestial spheres, I think. To me, they sound like a glass harmonica. But better

Charlie Fuller, Epsom.


I think that if you put all the beautiful sounds in nature together, waterfalls, breezes, birdsong, the wind in the leaves, surf breaking, and mixed them all up, you’d get them music of the spheres.

Torquil Rosenblum.


What’s the matter with you people? I hear the spheres all the time, and I tell you, it’s driving me crazy. It doesn’t even sound nice!

Hector O’Neill, Head Keeper, Elephant House, London Zoo, Regent’s Park.


You know how it is when you’re going out with a girl who’s quite a lot younger than you are, and she complains to her mother going on and on about something or other you did? Well, that continuous wingeing noise, for me, is the closest you can get to the music of the spheres.

Gavin Vollman, ARAMCO, Lusaka.


Of course you’ve got it, Gavin! Well done!

Torquil Rosenblum


I agree. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.

Hector O’Neill.