We are delighted to announce that following the, to us, very unwelcome decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, Cairn Research has just held a referendum of its own. Unlike the marginal result of that national referendum, the result of ours was an overwhelming decision to declare our independence from that former nation, so that we can apply to join the EU as an independent State. You can read more about this very exciting development here.
At Cairn we’ve always appreciated being part of the European Union, so of course it was a huge disappointment to us that an albeit small majority of the UK have decided otherwise. It has then of course been a huge national embarrassment to discover that there were no plans for how to deal with such an eventuality, and which has led to the principal exponents of both sides of the argument promptly resigning, leaving others to clear up the unholy mess. Time and time again in life, we find its main hallmark is that “you just can’t make it up”, but this one has broken entirely new ground.
So how can we at Cairn move forward though all this uncertainty? We are fortunate indeed in being financially independent, and we have every intention of remaining so, but could we perhaps take the concept a little further? Our ownership includes land as well as the business, so we are potentially entirely self-sufficient. So, if the UK can leave the EU based on a referendum of possibly questionable legality, then why can’t WE vote to leave the UK? This tongue-in-cheek (or is it?) concept has actually been very helpful for us in cutting through all the current uncertainty. Since we are so very much our own masters, we have correspondingly more freedom of action than many other companies, so let’s act as if we are fully independent and just get on with it! We’re sure we’ll be able to stay hooked into the EU one way or another, even if it means setting up an overseas office, but it would certainly be handier to do that from here. Meanwhile it’s a nice opportunity to have a bit of fun with who we are, what we do and how we do it. And if some of what we say below isn’t entirely truthful, it is in fact as nothing compared with the misinformation that was flying around during the referendum campaign, so sit back, enjoy and…
WELCOME TO THE INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC OF CAIRNLAND!
GEOGRAPHY AND POPULATION
Cairnland is a small but prosperous enclave in the southeastern corner of the former United Kingdom, previously known as School Farm, and amounting to some 70 acres
(28.3 hectares). Most of the land is farmed, being a mixture of arable and orchard, but with some also set aside for wildlife, although not all of this is for Cairn employees. The population of Cairnland, if defined as the number within our borders during normal working hours, is around 30 or so, thus representing a density of about one per hectare (or 100 per square kilometre), so in principle we are easily self-sustaining in respect of growing our own food. Since the rest of the former UK (population density around 260 per square kilometre) has to import nearly half its food, we suspect this potential self-sufficiency may prove very much to our advantage one day.
Cereal is an important food source in Cairnland, although it is usually consumed in a fermented liquid form, and of course the same applies to the apples from the orchard. Although Cairnland has its own water source in the form of a chalk spring, stream and two ponds, conservation is the name of the day, so the substantial liquid waste from this diet is of course personally and directly recycled onto the land for irrigation purposes. Further irrigation is carried out by Cairnland’s sizeable canine population, and they also provide copious quantities of nitrogenous fertiliser. Although ownership of one or (preferably) more dogs is not a prerequisite for Cairnland citizenship, it is nevertheless very much encouraged, and nonowners are regularly mocked. There is also a sizeable duck and chicken population, which keeps us well supplied with fresh eggs unless the crows get at them first. The rabbit population is beyond counting, and their rate of population rise is itself rising exponentially.
Cairnland is of course also the headquarters of Cairn Research. This is a highly unusual company by the old British standards, as it actually makes things, which it sells at a profit, so conferring yet further self-sufficiency on our fledging nation. Please see the section on international trade for further details.
And no republic is complete without its Presidential Palace, even though ours does look rather suspiciously like a big old farmhouse. At least it and the Company buildings aren’t all falling down any more, which they pretty much were when we first settled this previously wild and neglected territory that nobody else seemed to want at the time.
The traditional national costume in Cairnland is jeans and teeshirts, which can be as skinny as you like. However, bulkier male citizens are permitted to wear loose-fitting collared shirts if they wish. Dresses and high heels are also permitted, although they are rarely worn by either sex. Shorts may also be worn in the summer months, and it’s perfectly acceptable for them to finish above the ankle, although many citizens are apparently unaware of this. However, jackets, ties and especially suits, are all strictly forbidden. While visitors in such attire are sometimes allowed into Cairnland, they are subject to constant surveillance to ensure that they leave as soon as their business here is done. The motto for such people here is “Any fool can wear a suit, and most of them do” (look, the people who got us into this referendum mess all wore suits, so what more proof do you need here?). In Cairnland, wearing “smart” clothes is not an acceptable substitute for being good at what you do. However, we are also aware that some visitors may be required to dress in this way by their employers, in which case to our eyes a suit may merely be a sign of enslavement rather than incompetence, so we do try to make the right judgement calls here. However, it can sometimes be a sign of both, and such people are disposed of as humanely as possible in order to spare them further unnecessary suffering.
Every nation needs to have a flag, and Cairnland is no exception. The background colour is white, with our trapezoidal Cairn logo centrally placed in blue. The twelve stars that symbolise our affinity towards, and hopefully future membership of, the European Union, are arranged around this in red. A picture of it may well appear here in due course. Actually we think this is a sufficiently fun idea that we’ll probably get a real flag made up to go outside our premises!
Our inhabitants speak a wide range of languages, including French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Glaswegian, although not necessarily in a form recognised by natives of those lands. However, the locally spoken language is Cairnish. This is a pidgin language, loosely derived from a very debased form of Estuary English, but with other influences of largely unknown origin, although some may have come from Faversham’s neighbouring town of Sittingbourne, where for example its inhabitants pronounce that name as Si’bor. This process of syllabic reduction has continued still further in Cairnish, where most words consist of just four letters. They are usually interspersed with a variety of grunting sounds, which some linguists have mistaken to be conferring additional shades of meaning, as modal particles do in German for example, whereas further analysis has in fact shown them just to be grunting sounds. A subsidiary role for courtship and territorial display purposes has nevertheless been postulated by some, and cannot be entirely ruled out.
While such a simple language may be adequate for basic communication, it is of course not so suitable for the conveying of more advanced concepts such as “high speed multiwavelength superresolution fluorescence imaging system”. For such purposes the verbal form of the language must be supplemented visually by a range of hand and upper body movements. Some of these are quite animated, and may even involve a degree of physical contact. This may appear somewhat disconcerting to the casual observer, and even more so to anyone with a good working knowledge of the language. The need for such a supplement makes ordinary telephone calls well-nigh impossible, so most communication with the outside world is via Skype video links. Even so, the remaining linguistic difficulties mean that a Skype conversation typically takes several hours to complete. (There are no prizes for identifying the one true statement in this paragraph.)
The written form of the language is similarly compromised. Again while loosely based on English, there is an apparently random variation in spelling, grammar and syntax, which can make the meaning surprisingly ambiguous. In customer communications in particular, this can make it quite difficult to interpret who has promised to to do what for whom, when and for how much. Some observers have postulated that this might actually be deliberate, so the subject may well be worthy of further investigation, but it is best not to speculate further here.
CURRENCY AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
The basic unit of exchange is the Cairn. Until Cairnland achieves full independence from the UK, its value is fixed at par with respect to the Pound Sterling. While for reasons of international prestige we would have favoured a link to a stronger currency, we do nevertheless welcome the clear export benefits of being tied to one that is declining. From the way things are going in the remaining part of the UK, we expect further substantial falls in the months and years to come, so we are correspondingly optimistic for the further growth of our international sales, as our nice products become ever cheaper for everyone else . We hope that our future international growth will at least compensate for the inevitable reduction in UK-based science and engineering activities consequent on that country’s decision to leave the EU. Let Cairnland become the new base for such activities on these shores!
So, we’re sure that Cairnland will do just fine, but we do nevertheless have a social conscience in respect of some of our former compatriots, so we hope we can play our own part in the international community, to help some deserving people get through some potentially difficult times in our neighbouring territory. Some people should be able to get by unaided – for example, London City workers will have exciting new employment opportunities in the bars and restaurants of Europe’s new financial centres of Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam – but scientists in particular aren’t going to be so lucky. They may need our help! Perhaps a group of international businesses could club together to do something here? By way of illustration, the profit on the sale of a relatively simple item such as a filter or an LED should be sufficient to keep a research student in food for a week, whereas a complete system sale could help buy lunch for a university administrator (dessert not included). Is something like this (well, the first part anyway) worth considering? Cairnland is also happy to give advice on the best use of any remaining UK research funds. One suggestion is that because much of the space in London’s new Crick Institute will no longer be needed, it could be converted into luxury apartments for purchase by foreign investors (they wouldn’t count as immigrants as they never live in the places they buy), and the proceeds used to develop a more modest site further out – we understand that one in the Mill Hill area may be available, for example. Worth a thought, perhaps? Our advisers are always happy to help on all such matters!
In addition to the standard public holidays, there are four notable events in the Cairnland calendar. The first of these is the summer barbecue, although the Cairnland climate means that the concept of “summer” has to be defined rather loosely. It is nevertheless an occasion for much feasting and drinking. The traditional highlight is a large pig roast, which everyone has always found to be particularly succulent, with correspondingly many questions as to its provenance. Unfortunately however, a few busybody types in the surrounding territory have recently tried to link this event to some unexplained disappearances around that time of year, so to quell such vicious rumours, this year’s celebration was restricted to more standard barbecue fare. Everyone just loved the sausages though, and we should have got away with it just as long as nobody has thought to DNA test them.
Later in the summer is the “Gentlemen’s Day Out”, where Cairnland’s menfolk venture out into that surrounding territory for another day of feasting, but in this case mainly drinking, in the form of a circular tour of an ambitiously large number of hostelries. To give some sense of moderation for the usual health reasons, everyone is encouraged to stay below two units for the day. However these are Cairn units, which are superior to the more traditional unit measure as they take people’s size into account, which surely has to be important. It’s also a very simple and straightforward scale to apply, as one unit is given directly by your body weight. In spite of this restraint, by mid afternoon things can be getting pretty feisty though, and the only reason why all the young virgins in the vicinity aren’t cowering in fear behind the heavily locked and barred doors of their primitive hovels is of course that there aren’t any (not clear if you’re referring to the virgins or the doors here – ed.)
Next up is the “Christmas Lunch”, which takes place in early December. Although described as lunch, and indeed it does start at lunchtime, it continues right through the evening until closing time, when by tradition our President is the last man standing. However, that doesn’t mean he is still awake, even if he is still vertical (he has even been rumoured to have once fallen asleep while dancing). But before then, much time will have been spent on the giving of presents that are intended to be as embarrassing to the receiver as possible, the playing of games, and of course on various drinking competitions, in which some small proportion of each glass may get accidentally swallowed.
But the one event that everyone dreads is the “Christmas Dinner”, as there they are forced to listen to the President’s Speech. This is an excruciating experience for all concerned, as the President always labours under the misapprehension that his speeches are somehow funny, whereas anyone who has had the misfortune to sit through one can most emphatically attest to the contrary. However, it is of course vital for everyone’s continuing survival that they appear to be amused in all the right places, so many hours are spent in the preceding days and weeks in preparation for this important event. People take turns to describe some terrible possibility or other (such as that this year’s speech will be even longer than usual), to which everyone else does their best to respond with apparently spontaneous laughter. It isn’t easy. However, since it’s already such a painful experience in any case, the Christmas Dinner is also used to help give a sense of false security to our neighbours, as it is always held somewhere on their territory. Although jackets and ties are still banned (see the section on National Costume), some effort is nevertheless usually made to appear just a little more “normal”. Tattoos, bitemarks and drillholes (we don’t just do piercings here in Cairnland) are discreetly covered, as much of the woad is scrubbed away as possible, and beards are trimmed to an above-belt level. Some of us may even have washed!
BECOME A CITIZEN OF CAIRNLAND!
Are you of above average weight? Do you have a below-average amount of head hair? Do you aggressively drive a white van? Does your favourite newspaper have more pictures than words? Do you think that all immigrants both steal others’ jobs and take unemployment benefit at the same time? If so, then Cairnland is unlikely to be for you, but on the other hand you do have the rest of the former UK now. Please do take care of it, as we kind of liked the old place! However, for anyone who feels they might fit in better here, then do please bear us in mind, as we can offer visitor visas and sometimes even citizenships to sufficiently like-minded people. For becoming a full citizen, fitting of the control collar is a simple operation carried out under local anaesthetic. You will then be granted access to our hidden underground bunker, with its monorail system, rocket launchpad, and massive brewery. Sworn to secrecy, you will then be informed of Cairnland’s true purpose, which is of course to (hang on a moment, sorry I forgot that was meant to be secret, yes of course I’ll stop straight away!).