[Scene: Felapton Towers the week before Christmas. The sketchy room (formerly the drawing-room but now less well-illustrated)]
Camestros: So let’s go through this again.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Sure, sure.
Camestros: So there’s this city and nearly everybody thinks it is great.
Timothy: Like Bristol?
Camestros: I…I don’t know. I’ve never been to Bristol.
Timothy: People talk like pirates in Bristol.
Camestros: Well…OK…let’s go with that then. It’s called “Omelas” and it is like a really excellent version of Bristol.
Timothy: Great! Well, that was a great story. Could have done with more action but at least it was wholesome and positive and featured pirates.
Camestros:…but there’s a twist…
Timothy: Oh no! I should have seen that coming! There’s always a twist!
Camestros: So everything that is wonderful about Omelas is dependent on one thing…
Timothy: Is it Talk Like a Pirate Day?
Timothy: Is it that they break everybody’s legs?
Camestros: What? No. Why would you say that?
Timothy: Because you can’t make an Omelas without breaking legs.
Timothy:…I should have saved that for the punchline.
Camestros: The secret of the city is a tiny room in which a single child is kept in misery and darkness.
Timothy: And the kid powers the city? Is there like a hamster wheel thing with a dynamo?
Camestros: No. It’s more figurative than that.
Timothy: Well that’s good because if they wanted to power a dynamo they’d be better using a professional cyclist.
Camestros: The exact mechanism as to why they keep the kid in this room isn’t explained.
Timothy: The story just skips over that bit for the rest of the story?
Camestros: No, that’s about it.
Timothy: I still don’t get it.
Camestros: Well the city seems great but it all is based on a deeply immoral act. It’s about whether a citizen can live with the knowledge of this secret and still be happy in the city.
Timothy: Why wouldn’t they?
Camestros: Because it is all based on keeping a child locked up!
Timothy: I don’t really like children.
Camestros: OK, OK but imagine that instead of a child it was a cat.
Timothy: Good plan.
Timothy: ABSOLUTELY! If you brought another cat in this house, I’d want it locked up in the cellar so it wouldn’t go anywhere NEAR my stuff. Particularly if it was one of those tortoiseshell cats. I can’t abide them. Is it a cat or is it a tortoise! Is it some weird hybrid reptile cat? Cam, Cam, do they call them landturtleshell cats in America?
Camestros: OK, let me see if I can navigate around your anti-empathy shield. What if it wasn’t a kid they keep in a room but it was a cat AND that cat was YOU.
Timothy: WOAHHHHH!!!! Hold on.
Camestros: Now do you get it?
Timothy: That would be awful.
Timothy: Imagine me being a tortoiseshell cat!
Camestros: No, you’d just be a regular whatever-you-are cat.
Timothy: Oh, well that’s OK then.
Camestros: But you are locked in a room in misery and darkness.
Timothy: I’d get out through the cat-flap.
Camestros: THERE ISN’T A CAT FLAP.
Camestros: Now do you get it?
Timothy: Absolutely. This city would be great but nobody gets any rest because I’m complaining so loud that people have to keep coming down to the brig to let me out and they are “Arr me hearties. We should have put in a cat flap on the brig door to let the cat out.”
Camestros: The room is soundproof. It doesn’t matter how much you whine, they can’t hear you.
Timothy: OK but I’d dig a tunnel and on my way out I’d stumble across some buried treasure. I’d use the treasure to disguise myself as an aristocat and return to the city under a new name. Then I’d use my newfound wealth to enact my revenge against those who wronged me – particularly Greg.
Camestros: Who is Greg?
Timothy: You can’t make it in Omelas without breaking Gregs.
Camestros: OK I’m just going to walk away from this sketch now.