Recently, and against my better judgement, I attended a seminar on Cost/Efficiency Analysis. It was free, though the programs cost $5, which was ridiculous because they were essentially coloured bits of A5 paper, with print on one side. Perhaps that was some subtle point on behalf of the seminar organisers. I cast my eye down the list of speakers, some were unknowns, some I'd heard speak before. One of them was Dr T G Sorrows; anyone who has met him, or heard him speak, or been in the same room as him knows that the 'Dr' is purely honorific, and in all likelihood is stolen from someone who has done real work. On the program, Sorrows' smiling mug stared up at me, next to a brief (very brief) list of his accomplishments.

For the first hour or so, I sat there taking idle notes, and listening every so often when someone had an interesting point that tied in with game theory or the suchlike.

Then it was Dr Sorrows' turn. I was glancing alternately between the placard with his face on it, and the podium. But he didn't show. Instead, a small man with brown hair took the throne. Perhaps I was the only one who noticed, perhaps I was the only one who cared, for I sat upright and wondered what had happened. In a rich voice, the man at the podium launched slowly into a prepared speech. It wasn't on c/e analysis, but a eulogy. I was dumbfounded at first, and probably sat their gawking. Into the second stanza (I use that word, becuase it sounded like poetry to me), I began writing down what he had said.

The full version of the eulogy (how I came by it will be explained later) is thus:

corporate eulogy (anon.)

If we knew him less, 'twas not his fault nor ours,
but the fault of his shadow, his darkness,
the only person there to comfort him in smaller, lonelier hours.
If we knew him more, 'twas through his actions,
when he span upon the ballroom floor, at work, at play,
in his well-worn manner of renown.
Yet if we knew him at all, 'twas by his cellphone number,
for there was his guardian angel, keeping vigil by his side.
A man of dazzlement, and man of illusion, and above all a man of numbers.

Where we, changed now without him, can take solace,
is in the afterthought that his death was beyond our compassions.
There are those who knew him better than I who will say that
if we had worked him harder, (hence let him play more),
then where his liver has now failed him
would be a heart, a muscle ten times stronger;
where now lies a broken body would be Samson and his mane.

From his vices, and they number few (but deadly),
we can take the reminder that drinking
to the end is not a pastime, but a life's game.
He was beyond us in so many ways,
and in thirty years, at least, we will look back
to see where his livelihood stopped and his ills began.
But he was also a part of us, and in just as many ways;
he would confound us in the manner that we would confound him.

So from his grave will issue a darker light,
a lighter dark,
as though his epitaph would illuminate the graveyard,
and our marketplace, for many years to come:

'The buck stopped here.'

At this point, who should enter the room but Dr Sorrows himself; I had guessed by now (and I hope you have too!) that the eulogy was not for him, or anyone at all, but took its place as satire. Sorrows and the seminar organisers set upon him at once (turn of phrase, there is no such thing as a violent economist :). The microphones were turned off, and the man, who had previously had the attention of all in the room, was dragged away quietly, and without a fight.

If there was more to be said, we shall not know it; but I think he said enough. Dr Sorrows, after trying to gain his composure, set about his speech. What happened next was marvellous. I wish I had been the first, but I was not. Slowly, someone near the front stood, and walked out. A moment later, the person next to them did the same. Then another, in a different part of the room. Then a few more, from here a there.

I quietly packed away my things, and, trying not to smile too much, did the same.

As more and more people came out, it emerged that others had taken down copies of the eulogy. Someone had been on the ball from the beginning, and got most of the first words. Hence now it arrives here in its edited, formatted, but hopefully faithful form.

Who was he? I don't know. Will I see him again? Probably not. I'll just have to put up with the ugly mug of Dr T G Sorrows in all but these quieter moments.

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