Thursday, 17 April 2008

Builders Surprisingly Discovered To Be Dishonest, Conniving Cheats

The Office of Fair Trading has alleged that 112 construction companies in the UK have colluded to rig tenders for contracts, inflating their prices to the detriment of local authorities and other customers.

So far, 40 firms – including Carrillion and Balfour Beatty - have admitted price-fixing, and 37 have asked for leniency.

Balfour Beatty said that it had conducted a review of its practices, and neither promoted nor condoned anti-competitive behaviour. “We just did it, that’s all,” said a spokesman. “It’s like an addiction – we knew it was wrong and we often beat ourselves up about it, but we just couldn’t stop ourselves. Please don’t condemn us - or indeed fine us up to 10% of our turnover - for ripping off ordinary council taxpayers to fund our addiction. Have mercy on our huge performance-related bonuses.”

Carillion said that the OFT investigation only applied to its JM subsidiary, formerly Mowlem - and that the OFT had granted it leniency, ordering it to write out “I must not form cosy rip-off cartels with my so-called competitors” a thousand times.

The construction industry hopes the allegations will not tarnish the popular image of the friendly, honest, value-for-money builder.

An Authority on Cover-Ups (I)

Pope Benedict, former star of popular TV series The A-Team, has shocked American Catholics by taking time out from his busy US apologising tour to celebrate an open-air mass at a Washington DC stadium.

“I don’t know what to think,” said one disturbed worshipper. “The modern-day Catholic Church is all about repeatedly saying sorry for years of high-level child abuse cover-ups, and yet all of a sudden here we are back in the Middle Ages, worshipping our Lord God.”

Pope Benedict has already been reunited with the A-Team’s leader, the amiable, silver-haired mercenary leader George ‘Hannibal’ Bush. He will also have a hilarious meeting with the pitiful fool Mr G (Brown), who is visiting the States to help make ‘Hannibal’ Bush’s plan come together.

An Authority on Cover-Ups (II)

The Metropolitan Police Authority is denying allegations that it has shelved a report into the brutal public execution of innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menezes for political reasons.

Last November, members of the MPA decided to hold an investigation into the knock-on effects of the shooting. A spokesman said it was “gross misrepresentation” to claim the report has been delayed because it criticises Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, saying that the report’s non-appearance was entirely due to the “huge volumes” of “meticulous analysis” involved, and that it had definitely not just been a cynical PR stunt to make the authority look concerned at a time when the matter was higher up the news agenda.

The report is expected to be published in several months, years or geological epochs.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Every Little Helps Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco has reported an 11.8% increase in its annual profits - which rose to £2.85bn, despite fears of belt-tightening by consumers hit by mortgage rises, increases in fuel bills and the rising cost of food.

The retail behemoth said that rises in the cost of basic foodstuffs masked price cuts on non-food items, pointing out that while a loaf of bread may have skyrocketed from £89p to £1.15, on average the cost of a pink television had fallen by £2.

Experienced analysts were staggered to hear that Tesco had bucked the downward trend in the UK high street. Apparently nobody could possibly have foreseen that selling the necessities of life at ever-increasing prices could be a way to make money.

What Do You Think?

Media experts burst into tears of joy and hugged each other as the BBC announced that, as of next Monday, its news output would be revamped with new title sequences and graphics.

News programmes will also adopt a more rigid branding, with weekday bulletins renamed The BBS News at One, Six and Ten. BBC News 24 will become BBC News, and BBC World will be known as BBC World News.

“These fundamental changes will totally change the way current events are understood by our audiences,” said the BBC’s Head of Perception, Dave Flipchart. “It’s vitally important that people realise they’re watching the BBC, not some low-rent ITV pap. We will maximise the impact of our brand/consumer interface by having newsreaders shout ‘You’re watching the BBC!’ every ten seconds, in between saying ‘Hi Mark! - thanks Mark!’ to a work-experience trainee shivering outside a closed door and asking viewers to text or email their comments and photos. It’s cheaper than journalism.”

“You’re watching the BBC, peasants,” he added. “Tell us your half-assed, ill-informed thoughts, we could do with a laugh.”

Airlines to Merge, Airliners to Follow Suit

In a deal estimated to be worth £2.5bn, US rivals Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines have agreed to merge - creating the world’s largest carrier, which will be known as Delta.

Both airlines were under bankruptcy protection until last year, and the move has prompted speculation that other air operators may follow suit.

It is expected that by combining operations, the troubled industry will save on the huge costs of operating fleets of airliners over globe-spanning networks. Boeing are said to be looking into the possibility of nailing two airliners together to create giant biplanes.

Not to be outdone, rival manufacturer Airbus is to revive the long-abandoned glider-tug concept, with a troika of short-haul A320s hauling a huge, engineless A380 into the air with rocket assistance, releasing it halfway to its destination and allowing it to glide the rest of the way, coming to an abrupt halt on its giant skid and disgorging holidaymakers from its broken fuselage directly onto the holiday beaches.

Unions, however, are likely to oppose the planned merger. Holidaymakers might not be too keen, either.

Golden Brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he will not be diverted from making “the right long-term decisions” about Britain’s economy, even if they are “unpopular in the short term”.

The PM’s statement came as he emerged from a meeting with the heads of leading banks - in which they told him of their concerns about the crisis of confidence in the housing market, and he told them there was a choice of biscuits to go with their tea and coffee.

Mr Brown had suggested the banks might like to pass on the Bank of England’s interest rate cuts to their suffering customers. When asked how the bosses of Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide responded, Mr Brown looked pained and rubbed the back of his head tenderly.

“We had an interesting discussion about the long and short term,” he said. “The banks said they’ve been around for a couple of hundred years, while I’ve been around for eleven. So in the long term things, look fine and dandy for the banks. But in the short term, I’m toast.”

Oppression of Minorities - Never Again

The presidents of Poland and Israel have attended a moving ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, in which Jewish residents fought a futile battle against the Nazis who were trying to eradicate the Warsaw Ghetto - a small, overcrowded area sealed off from the rest of the world by walls and fences in which the Jews had been herded and left to fend for themselves as best they could, forgotten by the rest of the world.

In a moving speech, Polish president Lech Kaczynski said the world should remain vigilant in order to prevent a repeat of such horrors. Israeli president Shimon Peres said that the fighters represented the victory of humanity over bestiality. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas didn’t say anything, because nobody invited him.

Silly Fuels

The Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation came into force in the UK on Tuesday, requiring all petrols and diesel to contain at least 2% biofuel. The fuels are said by about 3 people to be a renewable, environmentally-sound alternative to fossil fuels, and by everybody else to be a dangerous drain on the world’s arable land which are largely responsible for the first global food shortages in decades.

“From now on,” said a government spokesman, “Motorists can look forward to filling up their 4x4s with fuel derived from crops like maize and corn, then moaning about the rising cost of their monthly shop at the supermarket.”

Strangely, nobody else in the media bothered to find out what poor people in the developing world thought of the new directive, so the Nev Filter chartered a private jet and flew halfway around the world to ask the question no-one else would ask.

“It doesn’t much matter to me whether my meagre crop gets eaten by fat Westerners or burned up in their big cars, really,” smiled a thin-looking Indonesian farmer whose name we didn’t quite catch. “Either way, my life is a constant struggle for survival. But I’m very pleased to hear that you’re saving the planet - I’ll think about that next time my children are doubled up by gnawing pangs of hunger.”

Rowling In It

Author JK Rowling has been in court in New York, claiming that an attempt to publish an unauthorised Harry Potter encyclopedia has “decimated” her creativity and left her unable to work on her next book.

“I’m trying not to cry,” said the multi-millionaire, dabbing her eyes with a pepper-laden handkerchief and wearing a fetching string of onions around her neck. “This book constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work.”

Rowling argues that Steve Vander Ark’s proposed reference guide - The Harry Potter Lexicon - would violate her copyright.

“Due to extensive prior use, I have the sole and exclusive world rights to the words ‘and the’,” said the writer, “And the title of this hell-spawned rip-off contains the word ‘the’. I’m sure that if you dare to open its blood-soaked pages, it won’t be long before you see an ‘and’ as well. What clearer proof could there be? I demand the death penalty. And don’t you dare say, ‘And the verdict of this court is…’ later, or I’ll see you reduced to crawling in the gutter, you evil, scheming villain, your honour.”

The case continues, despite rumours of the impending death of one of the major players.

Japanese Wailing

The Japanese whaling fleet is returning to port, after a disappointing season in which it missed its quota of 850 minke whales by 40%.

Japan’s fisheries agency blamed sabotage by environmental activists for the failure, claiming that 31 hunting days had been lost due to protests.

The whaling fleet also failed to catch a single fin whale, because none had been sighted. However, the agency spokesman claimed this as a success, saying, “Hopefully we have eradicated fin whale infestation from the world’s oceans forever. These pests have plagued mariners for centuries, chewing holes in ships’ wainscoting, crawling into their cupboards and eating all the ship’s biscuits, then leaving their ghastly droppings all over the decks.”

Brain May

Queen guitarist Brian May has been made chancellor of Littlewoods John Moores University, and has used his honorary appointment to criticise government cuts in science funding.

“Good evening Liverpool, howarya!” said the ageing rocker. “Science education funding in this country is a disgrace. I mean, look at me. As a penniless postgraduate student, I was forced to form a world-famous rock band, releasing platinum-selling album after platinum-selling album and touring for thirty gruelling years, just to fund my continued research into interplanetary dust. Now my application for vital funds to develop an interplanetary hoover has been cruelly rejected, with potentially devastating consequences for asthmatic astronauts.”

Queen are in the process of arranging a world tour to promote their first studio album in 13 years, with former Free frontman Paul Rodgers performing vocals. May added that a sequel to the musical ‘We Will Rock You’ is being planned, tentatively titled ‘A Night At The Musical’ or ‘Fat-Bottomed Wallets’.

“We need the cash,” said May, “Roger Taylor needs a hip replacement.”

“Don’t you all?” shouted a heckler, who was wrestled to the ground by a giant, sad-looking robot.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Everybody Loves a Parade

Gordon Brown is said to be drawing up plans to celebrate an Armed Forces Day, according to a letter seen by the Sunday Telegraph.

The Prime Minister is reported to be keen to allow the public to show their support and respect for the military, and in the letter to Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, said he was keen for football clubs to “play their part”.

“I can confirm that the PM would like to see some kind of big rally-type event in a gigantic stadium, with lots of military paraphernalia and ceremony, and the atmosphere charged with the enthusiastic cheers of huge crowds,” said a number 10 spokesman. “I’m told they used to do this kind of thing rather well in Germany years ago.”

An alternative suggestion would see a massive procession of military hardware once a year - perhaps early in May – taking place in central London, with the prime minister and leading members of the cabinet taking the salute.

Like the Murphys...

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has been attacked by rival Hillary Clinton’s camp, who claim his comments about working-class Americans – in which he called them “bitter” – were condescending.

“How dare Mr Obama make patronising, sweeping statements about the ordinary working members of society?” said Senator Clinton. “The typical American working-class person is a simple, cheery, hardworking soul who knows the value of a dollar and believes wholeheartedly in the American dream. And I should know - one of them parked my car for me only the other day.”

Doctor, Doctor, Can I Have a Little Wine?

The Royal College of Physicians has attacked pubs for selling wine in large glasses, saying that 175ml and 250ml measures are now commonplace.

“Let’s not mince words,” said RCP spokesman Dr Kiljoy. “These larger measures are directly responsible for most, if not all, alcohol-crazed assaults on medical staff in our booze-sodden Accident & Emergency units, and people all over the country are dropping stone dead in the streets from drinking too much wine.”

“As doctors, we are godlike geniuses and all other human beings are pathetic cretins who are simply too stupid to realise that a large glass contains more wine than a small one,” he continued. “As a result, these middle-aged, middle-class dummies knock back the equivalent of two measures instead of one, and the next thing you know they’re spoiling for a rumble with the coppers.”

In a token effort at balanced reporting, we asked a barman for his opinion. “Are you going to order or stand there all day gassing, mate?” he said. “There’s other people besides you waiting to be served.”

Congratulations, It's a Chav

Finally, for a brief moment the world stopped turning, battling paramilitaries and terrorists put down their weapons and hugged their enemies, and the bankers of the world shed a happy tear at the news that Kerry Katona has given birth again, raising her personal contribution to the overpopulation of the Earth by four.

The boy - who was born five weeks early - is to be named after Katona’s PR advisor Max Clifford, said Katona’s PR advisor Max Clifford.