The committee want to know about Vorg and Shirna’s ‘ritual’.
Shirna tries to explain. “We’re entertainers.” She does a little dance. “Understand?”
Pletrac regards her, his face blank.
“No,” he says.
Vorg jumps in.
“Our purpose is to amuse, simply to amuse… nothing serious, nothing political.”
Who is he talking to? The committee? The BBC? Us?
In any case, the commitee retire – scandalised – into secret session.
“Amusement is prohibited,” gabbles Kailk in cold panic, “it’s purposeless.”
“Zarb is considering lifting that restriction,” says Pletrac. Zarb is their leader. “The latest thinking is that the latest outbreak of violence among the functionaries is caused by lack of amusement.”
The ‘functionaries’ are their slaves. (Sadly, they are portrayed as rudimentary and stupid.)
The committee members are caught between two possible choices, both of them extremely attractive to any ruling class: stop the ‘functionaries’ thinking about anything but their function, or amuse the ‘functionaries’ and thus keep their mind off the fact that they are slaves.
So it turns out that amusement is pretty serious and political after all.
Meanwhile, inside Vorg’s silly, apolitical machine, white English imperialists complain about the idleness of the “madrasis”.
“Won’t have ’em on the plantation,” says Major Daley.