Thursday, 27 March 2008

Backup Systems Promise End To Heathrow Chaos

BAA officials, facing an outcry over cancelled flights, luggage delays and massive queues on the first day of business at Heathrow’s new T5 terminal, have announced drastic measures in an attempt to create order out of chaos.

Brand-new computer systems have been taken offline, and tried-and-tested manual methods have been put in place.

“Passengers can now look forward to walking out onto the apron after being individually weighed, with their luggage travelling beside them on a hand trolley, and have the satisfaction of watching it being loaded into their Dakota as they are helped aboard by paratroops,” said a spokesman. “Once aboard, they will know that their bags are travelling with them on the same plane, as they will be sitting on them all of the way.”

To ease congestion, BAA has also reopened Croydon Airport in South London, hastily evicting the industrial estate’s tenants from the former airfield and bulldozing the units flat. The first arrival - a giant diesel-powered Junkers from Berlin Templehof - touched down on schedule, and the crew and passengers amused themselves by watching a biplane of Imperial Airways lumbering into the air on the first leg of its seven-day journey carrying civil servants to the colonies.

Flying boats have also been hastily gathered from the four corners of the world to open a new facility at Southampton - although passengers may find the in-flight accommodation somewhat spartan, as many of the aircraft are fire-fighting water-bombers. BAA stressed that they would not, however, have to suffer the indignity of being scooped from the sea in a high-speed pass – although if the passenger backlog did not diminish quickly, that may be an option worth considering.

“We are also proud to announce the imminent reopening of our airship terminal at Cardington,” added the spokesman, “Which we hope will take place tomorrow, as soon as we have located the scattered bits of the dismantled R100, bolted them back together and filled the envelopes with hydrogen. We would like to remind travellers that the R100 is the one that didn’t crash into a hillside, killing every crewman and passenger in a raging inferno; and point out that, in this instance, the smoking ban will be enforced with unbelievable rigour.”

Mugabe's Doctor Joke Mystifies African Tragicomedy Fans

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, facing the toughest election in his 28-year presidency – i.e. one with opponents daring to stand – has come up with the novel campaign tactic of giving out free cars to 450 doctors at government hospitals.

“Our health sector operated in a regional and international context that was free of the illegal sanctions which weigh us down today,” said the veteran international pariah. “But then I came along. Now look at the state of it.”

Zimbabwe’s doctors and nurses – at least, those who have not already fled the country in exasperation – have been on strike demanding more pay; although, with inflation running at 100,000%, any pay award would almost certainly be worthless before the ink was dry.

Mr Mugabe further promised that the doctors would receive houses within two years, and petrol for their new cars in fifteen. His electoral largesse has also extended to handing out farm machinery to his ex-guerilla army, whose mismanagement of the lands he seized from white Zimbabwean farmers has largely contributed to the collapse of the country’s economy and food supply; and donating fleets of buses, in which his heavily-armed thugs can travel with ease from polling station to polling station on March 29th, encouraging floating voters to support Mr Mugabe - or end up floating down the nearest river.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

You Sarkozy Git

Top French comedian and President, Nicholas Sarkastik’s first UK tour continues to win over audiences wherever he appears. So far the charismatic smooth-talker’s act has brought down the house three times – the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the House of Windsor.

“Without your Parliament,” the flannel-wearing stand-up said to a howling audience of peers and MPs, “Parliamentary democracy would never have existed in this shape anywhere in the world. And, indeed, it doesn’t exist in this shape anywhere else in the world. When your politicians wrote constitutions for half of Europe after the war, they gave us proportional representation - in fact they gave us so much, there wasn’t any left over for you!”

He went on to add that his country would never forget what Britain did to France in two world wars, saying that petty arguments were a French national pastime too, and the French Navy probably had too many ships anyway.

“It’s the way I tell ‘em,” he added.

Later, at a packed Windsor Palace gig, Mr Sarkastik told the Queen that “France and Britain have never been so close, if you know what I mean – whoops, keep your hands to yourself, Missus!”

Tata For Now

Unions at Jaguar and Land Rover have welcomed the announcement from Indian corporate giant Tata that there would not be any “significant changes” to the terms of employment of the 16,000 staff on completion of the car-makers’ sale.

The $2.3bn deal was concluded yesterday, leaving Ford with roughly 40% of the money they originally paid for the two companies.

The unions are said to prefer the car plants to be sold to Tata, rather than left to the tender mercies of asset-strippers.

“We are confident that Jaguar and Land Rover are in safe hands with Tata,” they said in a press release. “Although this company and its subsidiaries have a somewhat dubious history at home of bringing in cheaply-paid contract workers at the Jamshedpur steel plant, union-busting at the Telco plant in Pune, laying off nearly half of their steel workers between 1994 and 2006, poisoning the environment in the Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park, dumping mountains of boiler ash in the town of Jugsalai, and signing a deal selling hardware and vehicles to the military junta in Burma, we are nevertheless utterly convinced that they will treat their new British employees favourably - perhaps out of gratitude to the Empire, which kindly made them agents for shipping vast quantities of opium to China in Victorian times.”

Blair Force One Shot Down in Flames

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has scrapped plans for “Blair Force One” - originally announced by his predecessor - to buy a pair of private jets for himself and the Royal Family to use.

Citing the rising costs of buying and operating commercial aircraft, the written statement from the Department of Transport said that the scheme would now cover just one small plane for the Royals, with the exact choice to be decided by them.

In contrast to Tony Blair, Mr Brown has fostered a frugal, prudent image, and claims to travel around the UK by train whenever possible.

Some commentators have suggested that this announcement is part of the government’s overall strategy to reduce overcrowding on the railways, predicting that commuters will flock to alternative forms of transport where they will run less risk of being stuck for hours with the grumpy, scowling Prime Minister on their travels.

Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace said it was considering various options for its new acquisition. The Queen was said to favour a shiny new Tiger Moth, while Prince Charles wanted a balloon to harness his abundant natural supply of hot air. Rumours that Prince Harry had set his heart on a Stuka were, however, categorically denied by stony-faced Palace officials.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Ex(-First Lady), Lies and Videotape

Hillary Clinton has come under fire for claiming that she came under fire. The Democratic presidential nomination candidate said that, when she was First Lady, she had landed in Bosnia in 1996 in the midst of sniper fire. Journalists searched their archives – otherwise known as YouTube - and soon uncovered footage of her stepping calmly from the plane, smiling and waving as she walked across the tarmac to shake hands with the country’s acting president, and greeting an eight-year-old child.

However, her campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson later claimed that Mrs Clinton merely “mis-spoke” about the incident.

Opponent Barack Obama’s campaign group said that the story “joins a growing list of instances in which Senator Clinton has exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policy-making.”

Mrs Clinton, however, responded by claiming that her pants were under attack, and had been ruthlessly set on fire by her political enemies.

Act Globally, Think Locally

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched Labour’s local election campaign by promising that he will increase spending on policing.

"The priorities of Britain's families who play by the rules are our priorities,” he said. "People need to see their policemen and women in their communities to feel safer, so this government has ensured that every community in England will have its own dedicated neighbourhood police team patrolling the streets, contactable by mobile phone, and in touch with local people."

Tories, Liberal Democrats and other political parties welcomed Mr Brown’s speech, saying that since he was promising these things from central government in Westminster, then presumably it wouldn’t matter if people voted Labour councillors out of office at a local level.

“Thanks, Gordon,” said Leader of the Opposition David Cameron, “Please feel free to make all the announcements you like.”

Downing Street aides and local Labour Party activists were said to be struggling to remove the Prime Minister’s foot from his mouth before allowing him near any more microphones.

If I Die On The Russian Front...

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ conference in Manchester have vowed to put an end to what they call “misleading propaganda” from the armed forces on school visits.

The Ministry of Defence expressed surprise at teachers’ claims that its personnel were using sophisticated techniques to create a “marketised version” of army life, saying: “We don’t know any sofristic – spiffsticated – yeah, that. All our lads do is go in and say, ‘Oi, thicky! Want to earn minimum wage stacking shelves, or get paid loads to play wiv a gun and stuff?’”

Delegate Leanne Trotsky, however, told the conference that it was “prob’ly a war crime or something that these hired killers can burst into the classroom and threaten kids with a career with prospects, without telling them the ugly truth, i.e. that they will have all their arms and legs and heads and stuff blown off, get paraded on Iranian TV in a naff polyester suit, then drop napalm clusters on innocent Afghan babies from 30 million feet.”

The teachers’ representatives voted to back staff who resisted armed forces recruitment visits, presumably by barricading themselves in the staff room with molotov cocktails.

Later, the conference heard that teachers were ill-equipped to deal with indiscipline from unruly pupils, such as orchestrated coughing.

“It’s like a war zone in the classroom these days,” complained a hard-pressed delegate. “They ought to send the army in to sort them out.”

Monday, 24 March 2008

Put That Bloody Light Out

The Olympic flame continues its six-day journey through Greece, despite continuing protest efforts to disrupt its journey.

Yesterday’s lighting ceremony was marked by the unfurling of a banner highlighting host nation China’s crackdown on demonstrators in Tibet and neighbouring provinces. The protesters were quickly arrested by Greek police.

The demonstrators are angry that the route of the Olympic torch runs through occupied Tibet amid record levels of Chinese security, claiming that this makes a mockery of the spirit of the Olympics. Some observers, however, said that Beijing Games chief Liu Qi did that yesterday at the ceremony when he said: “The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world", apparently without a trace of irony.

Since leaving the Temple of Hera, the flame has so far successfully escaped the protesters’ traps - including phoney diversion signs leading to a rickety bridge, a grand piano suspended from a cable strung across a gorge, a fake tunnel painted on a rock face and being chased by a Tibetan monk on rocket-powered Acme roller skates.

Never Coming Down

A KLM pilot has spoken out after his airliner missed its destination, Hyderabad, and took its 243 passengers on an unscheduled tour of India instead.

The flight had been scheduled to land at the brand-new Shamsabad airport, but the pilot instead asked to land at the decommissioned old airport. When air traffic controllers refused, he flew on to New Delhi, where he was also denied permission to land, eventually bringing his plane down at Mumbai.

“It’s not my fault,” said the unnamed pilot. “All I do is load the data into the computer, put the in-flight movie into the DVD player, give occasional weather updates to passengers and help the co-pilot with his sudoku puzzles. Because of this disturbing error I actually had to fly the plane, which isn’t in my contract. I’m talking to my union rep.”

Ten Years' Hard Labour

Viagra, the impotence drug, is celebrating its tenth birthday this month, makers Pfizer Laboratories announced.

The blue pill was originally developed for cardiovascular treatment. Once the media got hold of stories about its main side-effect, though, it became an answer to the prayers of randy old goats all over the world - and the bane of their partners’ lives, as they had been hoping for an end to all that mucking about in bed, and looking forward to reading a few decent books at long last.

Viagra also holds the title of World’s Most Irritating Medical Advance, as it is estimated that 99.9999% of all spam relates to either dodgy supplies, fake copies or bizarre homeopathic alternatives. It is estimated that every man and woman on the planet has now received over a million offers from improbably-named senders offering them help with their John Thomas, whether they have one or not.

One overworked Internet Service Provider helpdesk worker said, “Next time Pfizer accidentally come up with a sex aid, do the world a favour and shut up about it, will you?”

Obriena Calls For Catholic Jihad

Audio experts in the UK are still studying a recording, said to contain the voice of Cardinal Obriena bin-Ranten, in which the fugitive Scottish Catholic leader apparently called on the faithful to engage in a holy jihad against stem-cell research.

The Cardinal, who continues to evade capture by hiding out in the remote, lawless mountains of the Scottish Highlands, said that “the forces of Satan and all his little wizards” were attempting nothing less than the blasphemous creation of a two-headed mockery of Christ, with fins, and that it was the duty of every godfearing Catholic to walk into their local doctor’s surgery and kill the evil Frankenstein within by exploding in a ill-informed outburst of scientific ignorance.

“Twisted Nazi paedophile scientists want to take unfertilised, good Catholic DNA and inject it into eggs from the crawling serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden,” says the Cardinal’s message. “Do you want to give birth to an abomination with compound eyes, which feeds by injecting venom into its mother, turning her insides into organic soup, and deposits its hungry, hellish spawn in her paralysed body? I urge all true Catholic believers to switch off their brains, and put and end to the evil heresy of medicine once and for all. Particularly Catholic MPs, who should have the moral courage to disobey the undemocratic dictates of their party whip, and obey me instead. In nomine patri, filii et spiritus sanctus, amen.”

However, in an Easter sermon to the Daily Telegraph, TV’s Lord ‘Dubya’ Winston poured scorn on the fugitive Cardinal’s latest message, saying: "His lies are hilarious. They are quite funny, but just a tad misleading - and I'm afraid that when the Church, for good motives, talks out of its arse, it brings discredit upon itself. I have huge respect for the Catholic Church, which does great good somewhere, probably - but it will be destroying its probity with overblown statements of this kind. Even now our coalition of freakish genetic mutants is making a final surge to corner the discredited terrorist leader Obriena in his squalid grotto and bring him to justice."

Atheist commander Richard Dawkins was not available for comment, and was said to be heading north on the Euston train with a bazooka, looking rather angry.

Something For The Fag-End

Plans to force cigarette sales under the counter are being considered by the government, in an attempt to cut smoking and discourage children from taking up the habit.

The proposals include the removal of cigarettes from shop displays, and the elimination of vending machines, but easing restrictions on the sale of nicotine replacements.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: “It is a well-known fact that the only reason children smoke is that they see a wall of deadly cigarette packets behind the newsagent every time they buy a nice, healthy bar of cocoa-flavoured fat or a life-adding bottle of dilute phosphoric acid. Their innocent minds are subtly bombarded by these gaily-coloured packets with their hip, cool catchphrases such as ‘Smoking kills’, ‘Tobacco makes your unborn child grow up hating you’ and ‘People will laugh and point at you when you smoke’ - and before they know it they are addicted, with raddled lungs, toxic breath and cancer of the entire body. They’re lucky if they don’t dissolve in a reeking puddle of tar on the spot. Smokers are sick, child-murdering drug dealers, and it is the duty of every right-thinking person to hunt the perverts down and string them up immediately.”

Twitching Lottery scratchcard addicts, meanwhile, have expressed some concerns about the plans, fearing that, if every smoker in the queue has to ask what brands are in stock, each transaction is likely to take most of the day.

Smokers’ groups have also poured scorn on the scheme, saying: “What next? Is this grim, sour-faced old bag going to claim that the merest sight of an adult with a cigarette makes children instantly addicted? Why not just ban all smoking in the streets and the home, Ms Hitlerolo, and introduce a shoot-to-kill policy while you’re at it?”

They were then interrupted by a five-minute coughing fit.

“Good idea,” said Mrs Primarolo. “Let me write that down.”