snakes and ladders

Tom, award-winning fashion student, and Will, a literary agent, were concerned about each other's choice of career and so decided to interview one another to put their respective minds at rest:

Will: What do you think of spectacles?

Tom: Well I have a pair of - [rudely interrupted]

Will: The trick of really dressing to inspire fear is to suspend the tone of your 'clobber' precisely on the cusp, which separates irony and sincerity. The spectacles that are fashionable at the moment are designed to intimidate business rivals. Their chunky frames are offset with deeply unsleek Dame Edna corner-twiddles which dare your colleagues and acquaintances to react with anything other than awed complicity.

Tom: My brother told me that they are used to spear hors d'oeuvres such as pineapple and cheese. What do you look for in a pair of trousers?

Will: Two legs, a fly and enough pockets to hold all the conkers I'll ever need. Can they be any length?

Tom: I am not sure. The leg hair on my leg conveniently stops growing at a line which to wear trousers beyond that line would be a social faux pas. Is there trouble at the top of the Waterstones hierarchy?

Will: [voice almost drowned in canned laughter] Yes. You seem tired. Troubled. Is it Catherine?

Tom: Yes. Her face is painted unnecessarily on the insides of my eyelids.

Will: Unnecessarily?

Tom: Yes, she occupies my conscious thoughts even when I am knocked unconscious. It seems that the letters I have been sending her have not been received. I suspected the postman but I remembered in my eager haste to post them, I didn't use a post box like I usually do but instead just forced them roughly into the first appropriately sized crack I saw.

Will: That could have been a mistake. Speaking of postal 'problems', I was wondering if you have ever accidentally posted you [tuna fish] sandwich and eaten you letter? You can stay on our couch tonight. Careful though; it is very comfortable. Last time my uncle stayed on that couch, he refused to get up in the morning. We had to get a new couch eventually, but the spirit of the old couch remained. Hey - my dad was wondering what you look for in a fashion model?

Tom: Oh - how is your dad?

Will: He's fine. Busy. I think I have left the oven on. Do you want a game of Boggle?

Tom: No I was recently scarred for life -

Will: You got a tattoo?

Snakes and Ladders board

Tom: No, scarred emotionally. I can't touch board games anymore. It all happened the other day when my sister innocently asked if I wanted a game of Snakes and Ladders. Here is a photocopy of the board. As I was waiting to roll a six, I realised that the game many of us grew up with as a basis for determining right and wrong was fraught with contradictions. The ladders insist that "good things come to those who wait", or "what goes around comes around", but surely "virtue is its own reward"?

Will: The pictures are out of date. When did you last see a boy running after a pig only to be beaten by an old man with a stick. That's corporal punishment.

Tom: You're missing the point. At the end of the day, Snakes and Ladders is giving snakes a bad name.

Will: But ladders a good name. If you carefully study the board you'll notice that planting flowers gets you from square 24 to square 87, 'goodness' value of 63 points - an action attaining the highest possible merit. Riding a bike with no hands, on the other hand, demotes a player from square 84 to 28, which is a 'sin' factor of 56 - implied to be most unethical feat any child could do. Landing on square 78 gets you straight to square 100, which we can only assume to be Nirvana or Heaven. All the girl has to do is give a balloon to a child with grit in his eye.

Tom: It's no wonder so many children of this day and age have no rigid moral values, and who are confused so readily by a snakeskin ladder.