Friday, 21 March 2008

Did Christ Die For Our Sins? You Bet

Changes in the UK’s gambling laws mean that gamblers can have a flutter on Good Friday for the first time since high-street betting was legalised in 1961. Bookies are now free to open every day of the year except for Christmas Day - and while no horses are running in Britain today, overseas events and greyhound racing are likely to be popular bets.

Church leaders have, however, criticised the move, and are urging people not to bet on the day of Christ’s Passion and his death on the cross in expiation of our sins.

However, the bookmakers argue that, in today’s secularised society, people should be free to make up their own minds on how to waste their money, adding that their Easter operations would be sensitive and tactful.

Christians are being offered odds of 1500-1 on the Second Coming, 250-1 on the Apocalypse or 15-1 on the Pope inadvertently giving a Nazi salute in his traditional Easter address. Extra-confident and zealous believers can also bet on whether they will be among the 5,000 Elect taken into heaven in the Rapture.

As well as the option of paying tax on their stake or their winnings, gamblers can likewise choose to pay an additional tithe supporting the ecclesiastical mission of the holy church - although it is not clear whether any of the established churches will accept filthy lucre tainted with the blood of Christ from sinning bookies.

In what some observers see as an attempt to tackle the forces of Mammon on their home ground, one vicar in St Austell is offering his flock 100-1 on the wrath of God being visited upon the local William Hill branch, perhaps in the form of a thunderbolt or a plague of boils.

Hands Up If You Owned A BBC Computer - No, Didn't Think So

The Computer Conservation Society has reunited the twerps responsible for the goddamned BBC microcomputer, as part of goddamned ill-considered celebrations to mark the goddamned launch of the goddamned thing, which took place 26 goddamned years ago.

The goddamned BBC computer was the result of a search by the goddamned government and the goddamned BBC to find a computer that could be used by schools and families to teach the new science of computing to a generation of pupils and their parents.

Unfortunately, what they chose was a goddamned overpriced, beige doorstop from goddamned second-raters Acorn, who hastily cobbled together some sort of goddamned prototype in five days which used the wrong goddamned processor, the wrong goddamned programming language and the wrong goddamned operating system, resulting in a generation of schoolchildren who knew how to use a goddamned computer that didn’t exist anywhere outside their classrooms, then having to unlearn the goddamned BBC-specific rubbish they had been taught and find out how real computers actually worked.

“It’s a typically British success story,” said the organisers. “This goddamned thing cost schools a fortune to buy in the first place, and another fortune to replace when they eventually cottoned onto the fact that it was a goddamned blind alley that impeded computer literacy in the UK for years. They might as well have bought Spectrums at a quarter of the price - at least that used a recognisable version of BASIC, not goddmaned Pascal with line numbers, and had decent games. But with the BBC a small number of people made a lot of money in return for very little effort, and isn’t that the very essence of modern goddamned Britain in a goddamned nutshell?”

Twits: Please Sir, Can We Have Some More?

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, is reported to have told Britain’s five big banks that he is sympathetic to their appeals for financial help.

So far the Bank of England has thrown £11bn into the stricken UK money markets, in an attempt to stave off a recession caused by the banks’ enthusiasm for throwing all their funds away on obvious and spectacularly bad risks.

Now the banks would like changes in the rules so they can back up their emergency borrowings with a wider range of collateral, such as the worthless mortgages they lost all their money on in the first place.

Mr King has so far been reluctant to agree to the proposal. However, he was reportedly alarmed by Wednesday’s raid on Halifax Bank of Scotland - said to have been deliberately engineered by a group of rogue traders spreading false rumours - as the story could give people the completely wrong impression that the entire financial system upon which the Western world depends is utterly at the mercy of a gang of morally-bankrupt chancers who would gleefully sell their own daughters if they saw a quick few bob in it.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

That All-Purpose Apology In Full

In the light of the massive £550,000 libel settlement paid out by Express Newspapers for publishing a complete load, falsely suggesting that the McCanns might have bumped off their own daughter, the Nev Filter would like to take this opportunity to prostrate itself in abject abasement, in the earnest hope of avoiding a similar fate on any number of fronts.

We would like to clarify the following points:

The Airbus A380 is not a fuel-guzzling insult to the entire planet; will not be restricted to a small number of airports willing to spend hundreds of millions upgrading their facilities to handle it; and will most assuredly not cause a media frenzy of unprecedented proportions if one should one day drop out of the sky and kill an unprecedented number of hapless travellers.

The Ministry of Defence does not waste vast sums of taxpayers’ money on equipment designed to fight a war that ended nearly 20 years ago; regards the safety and long-term welfare of its troops as its paramount duty; and is very keen to have any of its rare failings exposed to the harshest public scrutiny on order that it may humbly learn from its mistakes and ensure that they are never repeated.

The Metropolitan Police did not execute an innocent Brazilian electrician by emptying their guns into his head in full view in a busy public space; and were certainly not so badly supervised that they nearly shot a separate team of their own officers, who were certainly not holding him down at the time.

The poor and disadvantaged are not easy targets for government ministers eager to compete for the tender affections of the writers of the Daily Mail leader columns. They are, of course, all feckless, workshy loafers who hurtle around in brand-new BMWs, live in palatial 14-bedroomed council houses and whose only source of back pain comes from staggering out of the Jobcentre hauling suitcases full of benefits which are gaily flung at them by smiling, solicitous officials from the ever-bountiful Department for Work and Pensions.

We at the Nev Filter apologise unreservedly for our cynical – and, it goes without saying, utterly unfounded – lies and misrepresentations, which we sorrowfully admit were made for the sole purpose of fomenting mayhem, anarchy and bloody revolution on the streets of Britain by whipping up the notorious rent-a-mob expatriates of the Canary Islands into an unstoppable army of murderous, howling lunatics. Sorry.

2008: A Space Filler

Tributes continue to pour in, following the untimely death of science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke yesterday.

Clarke - who cleverly predicted communication satellites, supercomputers, space shuttles, word counts, noise cancelling devices, in fact just about everything more technically advanced than a stick - died in his beloved adopted home, the permanent civil-war zone Sri Lanka, after an enormous black slab fell on him from out of the depths of space.

“Without Arthur C Clarke, intelligent computers like me would never have ERROR 403,” said a visibly-distressed Dell Laptop.

“If only we had listened to Arthur C Clarke, and designed the space shuttle to be a pointy silver thing with fins and an all-British crew,” declared NASA, “We would probably be colonising the sun by now, instead of plugging our leaky deathtraps with gaffer tape and chewing gum.”

The US President hailed the writer as a visionary and a genius. “Thanks to Alfred Dubya Clarke’s discovery of alien military satellites in orbit around planet America, I can press a button and send nuclear cruise death to anyone I like,” he claimed. “Say, fellas, shouldn’t I send missiles to the people I don’t like? Gee - I need the bathroom.”

Mr Clarke’s last words before being crushed by the huge dark monolith were: “My God, it’s full of stars.”

Immediately afterwards, the awesome block of darkness burst into a cheesy psychedelic explosion of colour, and from it stepped Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra, who – acting as spokesman for the group – announced that they were the intergalactic ambassadors for an alien race of super-intelligent creatures, who wished to reveal the fabulous secret of the universe to the only human being intelligent enough to use it to usher humanity into an eternal golden age of peace and understanding - the world’s leading scientific oracle, Mr Arthur C Clarke.

“Where is he?” asked Sinatra. “He must be round here some place – hey, boys, I just stepped in something…”

“Oh,” he added. “Er… I guess we’ll just be leaving, then.”

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Nation Stunned By Death of Fish Finger Hero

Captain Birdseye has died, and a nation mourns the loss of one of its greatest naval heroes.

The jovial character served a family of four with distinction from 1967 to his retirement in1998, when he was replaced by an unconvincing impostor.

Captain Birdseye – Britain’s most-recognised naval commander after Captain Cook, the TV chef - distinguished himself by sailing his ship, crewed only by young fussy eaters, on a series of daring exploits. The first man to sail up Everest, the intrepid navigator, explorer and coiner of terrible puns also discovered America, was the first to sail around the world via the North and South Poles, routed the French at Trafalgar, discovered a lost civilisation 20,000 leagues beneath the sea, went over Niagara Falls in a barrel, swam back up them again, single-handedly evacuated the entire British Army from Dunkirk, sank the Bismarck, raised the Titanic, froze the Atlantic, and saved the whale.

Yet the white-bearded captain always remained a modest and humble enigma, concocting a delicious range of rectilinear seafood and delivering it personally to his juvenile ratings in their own mess - the filthy swines.

In later years he conducted his own robust defence against UN allegations regarding his employment of child sailors, saying: “Kids love the taste of my cod fish fingers. Arrr.”

Conflicting reports are still coming in about the manner of his passing. Some say he was hunted to extinction by merciless Spanish drift-net trawlers, while others suggest he was brutally flensed to death aboard a Japanese factory vessel. Some men say that he is not really dead at all - but will rise to Britain’s defence, in the hour of its greatest need, from his slumbers in the spawning-grounds of Avalon. Take your pick.

All Aboard With The Double Deckers

The world’s largest passenger plane, Thunderbus 2-380, touched down at Heathrow Airport this afternoon, marking the first commercial flight into the UK by the enormous white elephant.

The ridiculously oversized aircraft - which consumes an entire fossil rainforest on every journey, spews out clouds of exhaust gases and casts its lowering shadow over entire cities in its passing - flew in from Singapore carrying 471 selfish passengers. As it landed, gouging deep furrows in the runway tarmac, it was greeted by a water-wasting salute from airport fire tenders.

Thunderbus 2-380 contains such luxuries as a revolving restaurant, a bowling alley, an Olympic-sized swimming pool. a shopping mall, an 18-hole golf course, a rail network and a pod containing a small yellow submersible.

During the flight the captain, Virgil Tracy, told passengers: “It is an absolute pleasure to fly this plane, or so the computer tells me. It's smooth and it's quiet up here in the crew sauna, and you don't feel it is a really big plane, unless of course you suffer from vertigo and look down the stairwell.”

Possibly the most selfish passenger on a flight full of selfish passengers was male nurse Mark Spotter from Southampton, who flew out from Heathrow and spent just eight hours in Singapore - for the sole purpose of being one of its first passengers.

“Sod the planet,” said Mr Spotter, “I’ve got a commemorative certificate with my name on it, signed by the pilot. The tree-huggers can get stuffed. Now I’m off to work, and too bad if any patients die because of my extreme jetlag.”

You Can't Handle the Truth

Defence Secretary Des Browne has applied to the Royal Courts of Justice, seeking a gagging order to prevent coroners from criticising the Ministry of Defence.

The move follows the inquest into the death of Private Jason Smith, who died of heatstroke in Iraq in 2003, which concluded that his death was caused by “a serious failure to recognise and take appropriate steps to address the difficulty that he had in adjusting to the climate".

“We are worried that people might jump to the wrong conclusions and think that the MoD might be in some way responsible for the unfortunate deaths of these soldiers,” argued Mr Browne. “Whereas of course the MoD is, as always, completely irresponsible when carrying out its duty to ensure the safety of the cannon fodder – whoops, I mean personnel.”

Monday, 17 March 2008

Money Stops Making World Go Round

The financial world has been left reeling in the wake of the Bear Stearns bank sell-off, with huge numbers bouncing around out of control all over the global markets.

The FTSE 100 index fell 217.3 points on Monday to 5414.4, its lowest value for two years – a drop of 3.9% in a single day, wiping £51bn off the share value of leading British companies. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the US Federal Reserve cut the rate at which it lends to banks by 0.25% to 3.25%.

“Nobody knows what all these numbers mean,” said one City analyst. “They’re coming thick and fast, it’s too much to take in. My computer exploded, and the calculator is hiding in the back of the stationery cupboard and refuses to come out.”

In a desperate, but probably futile, attempt to stop global economic meltdown, the Bank of England pumped an extra £5bn into the frozen money markets, but the initiative simply added another huge number to the log-jam.

“We couldn’t just sit back and do nothing,” said an official, “And anyway, what difference does it make? By Friday money will have no meaning, and the entire world will be reduced to a nomadic, hunter-gatherer existence as civilisation collapses like a house of cards. It’s game over, my friend. My advice is to run your family up to Scotland and eke out a meagre existence in a remote, easily-defensible Highland valley.”

Rumours that the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 were flashing up on stock market screens all over the world were dismissed as “fanciful rubbish” by frightened Treasury officials late this morning, shortly before the sky turned purple.

The Wonderful World of Cheney

In a visit to Baghdad, US Vice-President Dick Cheney has hailed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a “successful endeavour”.

Speaking after handing a sealed envelope to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Mr Cheney said: "I was last in Baghdad 10 months ago and I sense, as a result of the progress that has been made since then, phenomenal changes in terms of the overall situation.”

One change since Mr Cheney’s last visit has been the deployment of an extra 30,000 American troops, in the hope of arresting the country’s headlong descent into civil war. As yet unchanged, however, are the estimated four million displaced citizens; and the problems faced by half the population trying to get clean water or medical treatment have not improved phenomenally either. The Vice-President was also unable to change the Iraqi government’s continued reluctance to pass a law sharing the country’s oil revenues.

Nevertheless, he remained upbeat, declaring that America had always achieved total success in all its endeavours. “We brought Serbia and Kosovo together as friends and neighbours,” he said. “We won the Vietnam War. We gave economic stability and an open democratic system of government to the Russians. We have completely eliminated the spectre of AIDS from Africa. We put the first man on Mars. And I tell you, we have been totally successful in making Iraq into a veritable oasis of tranquility.”

Unfortunately at this point his triumphant speech was brought to a premature close by a loud bang, as another suicide bomber blasted herself, and dozens of innocent bystanders, to shreds.

Lame Academy

The government has announced £5.5m in funding to promote dancing in UK schools.

"Ballet or ballroom, hip-hop or Highland, dance is something we're really good at in this country,” said Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, apparently in all seriousness. “It also combines physical activity, creativity and beauty in a way that appeals to all. So it's right and good that government support for the dance world should be put on a new footing. Footing – dance - geddit? Oh, please yourselves.”

Under the scheme, six advanced dance training centres will open by 2011, with specialist co-ordinators in schools to promote dance as an art form and a school sport.

“In no way have we stolen this idea from faddish TV shows,” said the minister, in response to the inevitable question. “And it is pure coincidence that a couple of weeks ago we announced plans to set up Dragons’ Den-style appraisals of pupils’ business ideas. We are also running a feasibility study, looking at putting an ice rink in every school - and I challenge the cynics to find a precedent for that on television.”

Some observers have suggested that an alternative inspiration may in fact have been the 1969 film, ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ - in which the idle rich amused themselves by watching destitute couples in depression-era America reduced to taking part in punishing dance marathons lasting for weeks, desperately hoping to win an insultingly low sum of money for being the last pair not to collapse from lack of sleep and exhaustion.

When the suggestion was put to him, Mr Burnham said he had never heard of the film but looked forward to watching it as soon as his aides could get hold of a copy.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Brush With The Law

Northampton police have confirmed that they are investigating Basil Brush, following a complaint about alleged racism received in February. The incident involved a sketch in which a gypsy character tried to sell the much-loved puppet some wooden pegs and lucky heather.

"This sort of thing happens quite regularly and we are fed up with making complaints about stereotypical comments about us in words that we find racist or offensive,” said Joseph Jones, vice-chairman of the Southern England Romany, Gypsy and Irish Traveller Network, comparing the children’s favourite to the Black and White Minstrel Show.

The wily, upper-class glove puppet was unrepentant, however and denied that the sketch defamed gypsies.

“Who else comes up to you selling sprigs of heather and pegs? An outreach worker from the garden centre?” he asked reporters.

“Boom, boom!” he added, before throwing his head back and laughing himself to silence.

When he recovered, Mr Brush said that, as a talking fox, he was himself a member of an endangered species and an ethnic minority - and after coming back from extinction once already, he was damned if some thieving bunch of pikeys was going to shut him up. At this point the police lost their patience and set their dogs on him. They then arrested themselves for breaching the foxhunting ban, but found there was no evidence that they were guilty of anything other than a breach of Health and Safety procedures and let themselves off with a caution, saying that “Lessons have been learned.”

Chinese Whispers

The Chinese government has denied unofficial estimates that up to 80 people have so far died in the continuing Tibetan protests. The claim was made yesterday by exiles and backed up by officials in India, amid spreading unrest in Tibet and Sichuan province, home to a large monastery.

“There is no trouble in Tibet, or anywhere else in China,” said the official Xinhua news agency, over pictures of the smouldering rubble that was once the city of Lhasa. “What happened is that a chip fat fire started accidentally. A small crowd of ethnic Tibetans gathered to watch their much-loved, heroic Chinese firefighters at work and, as an unfortunate result of the congestion in the streets, the fire unfortunately spread a little. The People’s Army was called out to clear a little space for the fire crews to work in, and some citizens were so happy to see their brave defenders on the streets that they fainted with delight, falling directly into the path of the oncoming army convoy. The soldiers were of course very upset by this tragic incident, not least because they find human remains very hard to scrape out of the tracks.”

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee said that they had no interest in the long suffering of the people of Tibet, as the pure ideals of sporting excellence should always rise above petty politics - and anyway there was a lot of money tied up in the Olympics, so they’d be silly to risk any of it over something as trivial as fifty years of repression towards a bunch of impoverished hermits living halfway up a mountain.

Warning: Reading This Article Can Seriously Damage Your Health

A Liverpool anti-smoking group with the backing of the city council has called for an ‘18’ certificate for all films in which smoking is depicted. The British Board of Film Censors has rejected the demands, saying that such a ban would be “heavy-handed”.

However, Mr Andy Jobsworth, chair-perchild of SmokeFree Liverpool and the city’s head of Public Protection and Paperclip Procurement, argued that “one or two – whoops, of course I mean one in two - children between 11 and 18 who witness smoking in movies actually experiment with – and therefore start – smoking themselves. Then, of course, they suffer a horrible, lingering death after callously murdering all their friends and relatives, as well as anyone they have ever met.”

Mr Jobsworth said that if the BBFC would not act, then Liverpool might use the licensing laws to ban films locally. He did not rule out pulling down TV transmitters to save children from the pernicious influence of Dot Cotton, removing lemonade shandy from supermarket shelves because it lures innocent children into inevitable alcoholism and horrible, lingering death, and banning kissing, which invariably results in teenage pregnancies. And horrible, lingering death.

“We are also banning the evil Radio 4,” screamed Mr Jobsworth from his rubber cell in the Town Hall basement. “I have incontrovertible evidence - from no less an authority than Wikipedia - that this irresponsible organisation shamelessly promotes reasoned discussion of topical issues, which can lead impressionable people to the fatal conclusion that thinking about things is an acceptable mode of behaviour that will somehow not lead to a horrible, lingering death.”

And They're Off - To A Standing Start

Motor Racing news: Lewis Perfect has been celebrating in style after winning the first of the 2008 Wacky Races season in Melbourne.

The race was full of excitement – no, really – with strong performances from the Red Bull Mob and Penelope Button, while the greatly-improved converticar from Professor Frank Pending showed potential.

Fernando Dastardly got up to his usual dirty tricks, attaching an anvil to the rear of Lewis Perfect’s Turbo Terrific - but he was subsequently disqualified by the stewards for carrying a non-regulation floppy-eared, snickering hound.