Friday, 4 July 2008

Coulthard: 'I'm Retiring From F1, Which I'm Still In'

The world of motor racing was shocked yesterday to hear David Coulthard announce that he will be retiring from Formula One at the end of the season.

“Is he still in it?” said the current focus of British hopes, Lewis Hamilton. “Really? I thought he left years ago.”

Coulthard - at 93, the oldest driver in Formula One - began racing with E.R.A. in the days when cars had an engine at the front and were painted British Racing Green, apart from the ones that weren’t British.

“But they all had the engine at the front, you know,” pointed out the doddering, square-headed Scot. “I tell you, you had to watch those banked curves – if you weren’t careful, you’d go flying into the air at 150mph, and end up with the steering wheel sticking out of your lung. Can I have a cup of Horlicks now? I’m very tired.”

Although his trademark technique of tiptoeing cautiously around the track occasionally paid unexpected dividends, Coulthard’s career was generally blighted by other drivers managing not to drive into the scenery, collide with each other, run out of fuel or forget there was a race on that weekend.

“I’ve been very happy with whatever third-rate bunch of losers it is I’m driving for this season,” said Coulthard, “And I’ll be continuing my involvement as a consultant, giving them the benefit of my years of experience.”

“We are very grateful to David for whatever it is he does for us,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. “Obviously we would have preferred a driver who didn’t just trundle along like he was out for a Sunday drive, but he was all we could afford after most of the budget went on paint for the cars. He will be welcome in our pit area for years to come - so we can point him out to a new generation of younger drivers and say, ‘Pull your socks up, lad - you don’t want to end up like that, do you?’”

Computer Game Tycoons Seek Cheat Code For Government Subsidy

Industry leaders are blaming the government for the decline of UK games studios, with calls for state funding to come to their rescue.

The trade bodies point to Canada’s buoyant industry, which grew from nothing ten years ago to become the third largest in the world, thanks to government aid. A 15% fall in the number of science graduates has also led to a skills shortage, which needs to be addressed urgently.

“Although 60% of the British public regularly play computer and console games, half of them think little people live inside their screen.” said Alex Cobol, a lead character animator specialising in walking arsenals with large breasts, “So while there’s no shortage of nerds out there drooling over animated, gun-toting amazons, there’s a shortage of programmers with the necessary skills to make those pneumatic bodies move realistically when they waste a busload of schoolkids with a grenade launcher. It’s a really rewarding job, because I get paid to see Lara Croft naked. Then again, I did spend my entire teenage years in a darkened bedroom learning fourth-generation computer languages instead of thinking about girls, and that’s a sacrifice few seem willing to make.”

In an industry always looking for fresh ideas - or at least new ways of tarting up stale ideas with better graphics - the shortage of new blood is likely to have devastating long-term effects.

“What we need,” said Mr Cobol, “Is for the government to give us a huge sum of money to develop an exciting new generation of games which combine dystopian ultraviolence with an interactive plastic guitar. And really large breasts. Otherwise our industry could become a dead man walking. Hey, that’s a good idea for a game! Zombies with fantastic charlies.”

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Terrory Farcwit Duped By Colombian Army

French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages are today celebrating their freedom after their rebel captors were duped into putting them aboard an army helicopter.

Soldiers pretending to be from a private waste management company strolled into the FARC rebels’ jungle hideout and said they had come for the rubbish, swiftly winning the confidence of the hardened terrorists by casually making mildly-disparaging remarks about President Alvaro Uribe. When the local rebel commander - known as Cesar - mentioned that his heroic freedom fighters had been saddled with a bunch of old hostages years ago, the infiltrators said they’d be happy to take them off their hands.

The soldiers explained that their helicopter was in fact a new type of bin lorry with a very efficient extractor fan on top, for dispersing the awful stench of rubbish. After loading the hostages into the back of the helicopter, they asked Cesar if he would like to come with them to a flash-mob event they’d heard about on Facebook. He was promptly overpowered, and spent the flight to Bogota being ridiculed by his former captives.

“FARC? More like farce,” laughed Ms Betancourt, wiping away tears of mirth. “Cesar must be the thickest terrorist in the world. Compared to him, the guy who blew his own face off with a firework in a restaurant toilet looks like a criminal mastermind. But what can you expect from a man whose chosen nom de guerre is a brand of dog food?”

Three contract workers for the US Defense Department who were among the hostages were swiftly flown to San Antonio, Texas, where it is expected that they will be extensively debriefed by Pentagon officials keen to learn how the new Colombian military tactic of ‘being clever’ works.

Britain's Future Defence All At Sea

The Ministry of Defence is signing contracts for two new giant aircraft carriers, amid criticism from some defence experts that the expense of the vessels will seriously affect Britain’s defence capability for years to come.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales – at 280m, the length of three football pitches - are budgeted at £4bn, and already cuts have had to be made in other areas to offset their cost. The Navy has slashed its Type 45 destroyer procurement plans from eight ships to six, leading strategists to question whether enough vessels will remain to escort the carriers when they enter service. There are also question marks over the F-35 joint strike fighters for which the carriers have been designed - including doubts on their suitability for carrier operations, expressed last year in a US Navy briefing document, which highlighted the limited range and payload of the vertically-landing F-35B.

MoD officials denied rumours that any cost overruns might lead to the disbandment of the Army and RAF.

“What, a defence project go over budget?” laughed Sgt. Oddball, a procurement spokesman. “That can’t possibly happen, man. We’ve got positive vibes about these babies."

Critics, however, point out that the last HMS Queen Elizabeth was ignominiously crippled in Alexandra harbour by a couple of Italian frogmen, while the previous Prince of Wales was swiftly sunk by torpedo bombers while on a fool’s errand to single-handedly save the British Empire from the Japanese.

“They’re great names for a couple of pubs, I’m sure, “said a retired Jimmy the One. “But perhaps not the most auspicious names in the annals of naval warfare.”

Defence chiefs are believed to have drawn up plans to offset the cost of the project, including renting them out for weddings, parties and warehouse raves, and making one carrier the permanent home of Portsmouth Football Club.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Anglican Church Swings Both Ways

The Anglican Communion is facing dual threats of schism, with one splinter group of 1,300 clergy threatening to leave over the issue of female bishops, and another 300 conservative bishops and archbishops refusing to recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury’s authority.

The latter group, which is proposing an alternative leadership of five African and one South American cleric, is critical of what it sees as declining standards in the West, particularly over homosexuality.

“If we look at the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t find a single word about men’s bottoms,” said one of the breakaway bishops. “God’s message is clear: woman and man were created to complement each other in all things. The only acceptable relationship in the eyes of Our Lord is one of mutual respect and equality between men and women. When God had created Adam, did He then create Gok Wan to give him a makeover? No, He didn’t. He created Eve - and she was responsible for the catering, which remains to this day an important part of the Anglican ministry. Would you like a cup of tea?”

A spokesman for those clergy threatening to resign over the ordination of women said: “The Gospels are quite clear on the subordinate status of women. Our Lord’s ministry was spent in the exclusive company of twelve like-minded men. He had no time for women in His life at all. As far as God is concerned, in a very real sense a woman’s place is in the congregation, arranging the flowers and having a girly crush on the vicar.”

The two ecclesiastical spokesmen then squared off against each other and a brutal fist-fight developed, in which several mitres were seriously damaged and one bishop was taken to hospital to have his crozier surgically removed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, meanwhile, had no comment to make as he was busy ministering to the spiritual needs of the lesbian sado-masochistic dominatrix community in his Lambeth Palace dungeon.

Pull The Other One

MPs on the Commons Health Committee have delivered a scathing attack on the government’s reforms of NHS dental treatment, claiming that policies supposedly meant to improve the service have actually made matters worse.

Whereas dentists were previously paid for each item of treatment provided, since 2006 they have been receiving an annual income based on generic UDAs, or Units of Dental Activity. The committee says that this has led to an increase in simple treatments like extractions, while more complex and demanding work – such as dentures and bridge work - has fallen by 57%.

“Duh gubbermump ib repompabw fwa pwagic umb empirewy aboidabw wecking ub duh nation’s bentw healpth,” said a dribbling spokesman.

Amstrad Launches Cheap Imitation Retirement

Sir Alan Sugar has announced that he is stepping down as chairman of Amstrad, although he says he will retain involvement in his other business interests.

“Anything Bill Gates can do, I can do,” said the surly, hatchet-faced star of TV’s The Apprentice. “And cheaper, too. For example, I won’t be wasting money on unnecessary frills like a charitable foundation to solve the problems facing the world.”

Industry experts agree that Sir Alan’s retirement may look superficially similar to his rival’s, but fear it will probably turn out to be shoddy and featureless.

In the light of the current spate of retirements by wealthy leaders who built up personality cults identifying themselves with their respective organisations in the public mind, while neglecting to provide people with reliable products that actually met their needs - and who seem happy to undermine their successors by continuing to work behind the scenes - we asked Tony Blair for a comment. He said he was too busy to reply, however, as he was enjoying his retirement pastimes of sorting out the Middle East, advising the world’s money men, developing faith-based solutions to the world’s problems and laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Automatics Anonymous (Part 1)

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes have attacked the granting of anonymity to all 44 Metropolitan Police officers who requested it for the forthcoming inquest into his death.

At a pre-inquest hearing in Southwark, coroner Sir Michael Wright QC said that many of the officers have continued to take part in covert operations, and if they were identified it could put their families at risk. He added that the rest of the officers, who presumably were no longer taking part in covert operations – perhaps because their colleagues didn’t feel safe working with an inept bunch of gung-ho, trigger-happy Rambos – would have felt a bit left out if they were not included in the blanket anonymity, and he didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

A spokesman for the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign said the decision “goes against the spirit of an open, transparent investigation.”

The family are unhappy that no individual officer has taken responsibility for the shooting of the Brazilian electrician, and have said they believe the inquest, due to take place in September, may throw fresh light on how he met his death.

“Not if we can help it, matey,” commented a spokesman, who refused to give his identity, or indeed to confirm whether he was a member of the Metropolitan, or any other, police force.

Automatics Anonymous (Part 2)

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has promised punishment for the soldier who accidentally shot 17 members of the public at a military display on Saturday.

The soldier is understood to have mistakenly loaded a magazine containing live ammunition into his assault rifle, before opening fire in the mock hostage-release operation at the base near Carcassonne.

Prosecutors have said they would press for a charge of causing unintentional harm when he appears before judges today.

“This might seem a rather mild way of referring to emptying an automatic weapon into the general public,” admitted Mr Sarkozy, “But hey - at least we aren’t just doing him for a breach of health and safety rules.”

Does Smoking Drive You Mad?

From today, patients will no longer be permitted to smoke in the buildings or grounds of mental hospitals. The Department of Health says the ban goes “towards ending an unacceptable health inequality”.

MIND’s policy director, Sophie Corlett, says that mental inpatients are the only people not allowed to smoke inside – or indeed outside – their living quarters. The charity has called for more help and support for those who want to quit smoking. It has, however, been strangely silent about those who might not.

The government was keen to point out that inpatients had restricted rights, and besides the general perception among the public was that they were a bunch of raving lunatics who spent every waking minute devising new ways in which to slaughter the first person they caught sight of.

“OK, it’s possible that there might be one or two patients who have been sectioned because they are so utterly depressed that they keep trying to kill themselves,” admitted a junior health minister. “These people might, perhaps, not be in altogether the best frame of mind to cope with the withdrawal symptoms associated with suddenly giving up smoking. But it’s for their own good, and they’ll thank us for it one day. What these people really need is a damned good slap, anyway. Why don’t they just pull themselves together?”

The department also took the opportunity to unveil its exciting new techniques in the treatment of mental patients - such as inviting the paying public in on Sundays to laugh at the loonies, spinning them in a giant box for hours until they lose consciousness, blasting them twice daily with high-pressure water hoses, forcing them into a chemically-induced coma for a month, and banging a metal spike into their heads to release the evil spirits.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Retire To A Safe Distance

One in three Britons is unable to save anything for when they retire, according to research carried out by insurers Scottish Widows.

40% of the 6,381 people surveyed said they felt they were better off five years ago, while the reality was that only 51% were actually saving enough to provide an adequate income following their retirement, according to the report – which found that those most likely to be setting enough aside were men in the public sector over the age of 50 who earned between £30,000 and £50,000.

Thirtysomething men in the private sector earning over £50,000 wept with the realisation that they were heading for an old age of penury.

“Perhaps I’ll cancel the order for the Bugatti after all,” said one City futures trader. “Or I’ll never be able to afford the harbour fees in Monaco in forty years’ time. God knows where I might end up otherwise – moored in Brighton Marina, or worse.”

Women, the low-paid, and people who work for giant impersonal corporations said they were not too worried about not being able to pay for a life of cosiness in their twilight years.

“The way this country’s going, by the time I’m old enough to retire I won’t be old enough to retire,” said a shelf-stacker in Tesco.

A spokesman for Gordon Brown agreed, saying that it was unlikely that anyone in the country would manage to retire before being drafted to the trenches of the Middle East, knifed by drug-crazed toddlers, eaten from the inside out by a giant mutant superbug at the local supersurgery, crushed by a rapidly-advancing glacier, drowned by rising sea levels, deported for smoking or accidentally shot by the police for being fat in a public place.

A Good Year for Brown, and I Believe in Pixies, Says Health Minister

Gordon Brown has had a “good year” as Prime Minister, according to Health Secretary Alan Johnson.

“In terms of what he is achieving, in very difficult circumstances, I think it has been a good year,” said Mr Johnson. “I have had extensive consultations with Prince Caspian, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Santa Claus and the Sugar Plum Fairy, and we all agree. I would also like to add that the NHS is in safe hands, Britian is well equipped to ride out the global recession and petrol has never been cheaper. Is it time for my injection yet, nurse?”

Mr Johnson’s views were not, however, echoed by other senior Labour figures.

“I say! This Brown’s a silly arse, isn’t he?” Lord Charles Levy, the aristocratic dummy told his ventriloquist, Tony Blair.

Sir Gerry Robinson, who gave £70,000 to the party from 2001 to 2005, joined the debate by announcing that he would no longer be giving money to the party. “I’ve got my K now, so what’s the point?” he said.

What Price Life?

The man who put his entire life up for sale on eBay has no regrets after the auction was won by a bid of £200,000.

Ian Usher, originally from Darlington, said he decided to sell his home in Perth, Australia - along with his car, his job in a rug shop and an introduction to his friends - because they all reminded him of his ex-wife.

Expert valuers, however, pointed out that the price was exceptional, and warned other Britons against following Mr Usher’s example.

“Even the most avid collector wouldn’t give two brass farthings for the life of the average Brit,” said a spokesman for Sotheby’s. “However, this fellow had the good sense to leave the country six years ago, which has added greatly to the value of his life.”

Mr Usher said he was looking forward to sorting out the sale, and added that he would use the proceeds to go travelling.

“I want to see the world,” he said. “Apart from Britain, of course.”