STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN—At this year’s Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, held according to long tradition on the 10th of December in Stockholm, Sweden, a rapt audience heard speeches extolling the Nobel Laureates and their work, representing outstanding advances in academic, scientific and cultural spheres. Following this, His Majesty the King of Sweden conferred upon each Laureate the coveted diploma and a medal.
One couple who were not celebrating on the night were Doug and Mavis Smith of Dunedin, New Zealand, whose son Johnny has missed out on the coveted prize now for 10 years running. The Confounding Variable secured an exclusive interview with the distressed couple.
“It’s a terrible blow,” said Mrs Smith from her country homestead on the outskirts of picturesque Dunedin. “He’s always been a good boy – and a bright one, at that. He’s always talked about getting a Nobel Prize, and it was like an arrow to my heart, and my husband’s heart, wasn’t it Doug? To both our hearts – like a kind of double arrow, really, like a kind of Cupid’s arrow only much sadder – when we found out there was no prize for Johnny this year,” she said, breaking into peculiar hiccup-sobs under the sheer weight of disappointment at this year’s list of prize-winners.
Johnny Smith, already the recipient of the inaugural Staff Encouragement Award in his role as a librarian’s assistant at the Dunedin Public Library and a well-known collector of numerous species of lice and ticks that plague the local sheep, was manning tick traps at an unknown location and unavailable for comment.
According to sources in the local community, Smith has been running a science interest group on Friday nights in the library for about 12 years, with a number of tick-related issues on local farms being partially resolved as a result of these sessions. In the past 3 years Johnny has authored a regular column in Dunedin’s The Star entitled “Dear Mr. Smith”, in which he answers difficult questions from farmers about lice and ticks, discusses local by-laws, and offers relationship tips.
“Johnny really helped me last year with our sheep dipping, and some overdue library books,” admitted Hemi, a former Friday night science-group member. Fred Grice, who recently acquired the local fish-‘n’-chips restaurant, also gave his endorsement: “‘E’s a top bloke, and bloody smart if you ask me. Persuaded a tick out of me dog once, just by making this weird sound over and over. At it for three days and nights, ’e was. Me and the missus have moved on from the sheep business now though – bloody ticks.”
Mr and Mrs Smith had been petitioning “The Nobel Prize People, care of Sweden” by handwritten letter for 10 years concerning their son. But on visiting neighbours for a cuppa and catching the highlights of this year’s ceremony on YouTube, they began to suspect Johnny’s work on sheep-based arachnids had fallen through the cracks of the Nobel categories.
The couple say they intend to refocus their efforts in the coming year on having Johnny nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – raising their sights above his uncanny ability to identify all nine species of ticks in his collection even if you mix them up first. They have already amassed newspaper clippings from The Star substantiating their son’s peace-making achievements in the local sheep population.
This year the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.
“How many sheep do you think President Santos has saved from torment this year?” asked an indignant Mrs Smith. “There’s something wrong with the whole system if they pass up my Johnny’s extraordinary tick work for some Colombian!” she shouted before breaking down once again.
The Confounding Variable also thoroughly missed out again this year, despite a vacuous case for nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature – a case local psychoanalyst Sigrid Fraud has offered to treat in a work of performance art at the Tuvalu Gallery of Modern Art, adjoining the fake whale-people installation in the only wing that saw completion before the Ministry of Arts ran out of money in the late 1970s.