Friday, 8 August 2008

08.08.08 State

The few remaining members of the human race with a natural resistance to sport were said to still be laughing now, after hearing this morning’s widely-reported announcement that an estimated four billion people would be watching the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games today.

“With an estimated global population of just under 6.7bn, that would mean that six out of every ten people on Earth are currently glued to their TV screens watching a load of athletes poncing about in a queue,” said the solitary BBC reporter who was left behind to man the Television Centre newsroom for a fortnight. “Of course they are. Nobody’s working, or sleeping, or struggling to eke out a marginal existence in some godforsaken corner of the earth, are they? Welcome to the world of media hype, ladies and gentlemen - I’m afraid it’s going to be like this for the next couple of weeks.”

Combatants on all sides, in conflicts all over the world, lay down their weapons and gathered together around the nearest TV screen or mobile phone to stare slack-jawed at the tacky spectacle of gaudy medal-chasers prancing around the Beijing stadium.

Meanwhile, forty million drooling, Olympic-addicted viewers in the UK said they were rabidly looking forward to a relentless 24-hour diet of sheepdog trials, fly fishing, deep-sea diving, street brawling, cheese rolling, worm charming, tiddlywinks, World of Warcraft and countless other non-events where British competitors might be in with a passing chance of earning a gong of some kind, or at least not trip over their shoelaces.

The few people who find themselves totally unmoved by the $40bn extravaganza are said to be planning a small get-together, deep in a cave on some remote island.

Later, on their way back to their respective countries after the opening ceremony, the world’s politicians will no doubt be looking forward to two weeks in which they could cheerfully throw disabled people into wood-chippers, and nobody would know or care.

Wothca Langauge

Kenny Who?, an obscure criminology lecturer from a university you’ve never heard of, unless you live next door to it, is struggling to cope with his new-found status of Most Popular Man in England, after suggesting that spelling mistakes should be accepted as legitimate variant spellings.

Semi-literate hordes swarmed into Quick Bucks University and carried the mild-mannered lecturer shoulder-high to Downing Street, demanding that he be made Prime Minister immediately.

“I’m not thick or anything, gosh crikey, no,” said one media studies postgraduate. “In fact, I reckon I’ve probably got some kind of dyslexia, yeah? But one that’s really hard to diagnose. And just think of all those poor foreigners - some of them are struggling with English as a second, third or even fourth language.”

“Who do them language fascists think they are, trying to force their Nazi rules onto people with their so-called dictionaries?” screamed a junior doctor. “If I wants to spell ‘trousers’ with a W, why the hell shouldn’t I? It’s a free country innit!”

“Language is all about like expression, yeah?” smiled a senior outplacement advisor. “How can you say what it is to be like you, right, when you’re struggling to remember whether it’s the third person singular or plural of a verb what takes an ‘s’? English is the stupidest, complicatedest, most hardest language ever. I reckon they ought to make this bloke king or something.”

A passing public schoolmaster, however, spoke up in defence of the English language.

“English has the simplest of verb structures, the most rudimentary participles, and its nouns are non-gender specific,” he said. “Really, anyone who thinks it’s a difficult language should try Latin.”

He was immediately seized by the baying crowd and strung up from the gates of Downing Street, next to an Icelander who had said much the same about his native tongue.

Police appealed for the crowd to disperse - and eventually succeeded when they announced that a spelling test would be held in five minutes, which might include words like ‘gauge’, ‘chieftain’ and ‘surprisingly’. Everyone in the crowd went ‘duh?’ and shuffled away with their knuckles dragging along the ground.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Britain Screams Like A Girl As Terrifying Ant Invades Hospital Ward

The entire urban population of Britain has taken to the hills, following the discovery yesterday by the Conservative Party that the nation’s hospitals are festering cesspits teeming with bubonic plague, the Black Death, typhoid, lassa fever, terminal acne, poltergeists, dropsy and ague.

Data obtained by the Tories under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Britain’s hospitals were literally crawling with verminous potential disease-carriers such as mice, cockroaches, fleas, flying ants, wasps and patients. NHS Trusts, they revealed, had called out pest controllers 20,000 times in the last two years.

On hearing the news, terrified patients across the country ripped out their drips and heart monitors and staggered and crawled as fast as they could from the death-factory wards. People living near the hospitals promptly fled for their lives from the growing swarms of doomed plague carriers, and small rural villages swiftly organised armed roadblocks to prevent the infected townies from bringing disease and death to their tranquil hamlets.

The NHS is downplaying the risk, however. A consultant radiologist whom we captured with a net on a long stick pointed out that nobody in Britain had ever actually died of ants.

“Oh for God’s sake - on average, you’re never more than six feet from a rat anyway,” he shouted up from the bottom of the well we flung him down, just to be on the safe side. “Would you have preferred it if we hadn’t called in pest control? It’s called cleaning, you ignorant peasants - perhaps you should try it yourselves sometime. The only real vermin problem we have is every Saturday night on A&E.”

We then shot the raving madman and covered his raddled corpse with quicklime, just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, CCTV footage showed frightening pictures of a solitary wasp staggering erratically around a deserted operating theatre, before dropping to the floor stone dead – probably another helpless victim of the deadly Sleeping Sickness brought in by a moth, or something.

Scraping the Bottom

Buckingham Palace has firmly denied newspaper reports that the Duke of Edinburgh has prostate cancer, and criticised the story as “a serious breach of Prince Philip’s privacy’.

The rumour, which began in the Evening Standard, claimed that the 87-year-old Duke was diagnosed with cancer in April, when he was briefly hospitalised with a chest infection.

The Palace has taken the unusual step of releasing photos of Prince Philip’s wrinkly bum to the world’s press, although it was not clear if these were submitted as medical evidence or just a comment from the Duke.

“Prince Philip is alive and well, playing with his toy boats at Cowes and talking through his arse as usual,” said a royal spokesman.

Bono Talks Shite

U2 guitarist The Edge owns several colours, according to the band’s singer, St Bono.

Claiming his fellow band-member was U2’s resident genius in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bono explained: “The Edge finds some new colours for the spectrum of rock. Colours he now owns. Owning a colour, wow. Imagine owning the colour yellow, like Van Gogh. Edge owns, well I’m not exactly sure what colours they are… indigo or violet or crimson?”

The holy man of rock then slid serenely to the floor in a religious state of ecstasy.

Artists worried about possible legal action overwhelmed the Patent Office, where harassed officials were busy checking the records in an attempt to discover precisely which colours were created by the hat-wearing guitarist.

“So far, we have managed to rule out black,” said a spokesman. “So charcoal sketches are OK, then. And yellow is in the clear, as any patent filed by Vincent Van Gogh would have expired long ago. So far, it’s safe to say you can paint bees, wasps and hazard warnings without having to worry about receiving a threatening letter from U2’s solicitors.”

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Star In A Reasonably Trashed Car

The Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman was due to leave hospital today after undergoing surgery to repair damage he sustained in a serious car crash near his home in Mississippi, in which he broke his arm and elbow, and damaged nerves in his shoulder.

Freeman spent much of yesterday chatting, joking and asking doctors why his arm hurt so much.

“In the E.R. he was asking for a variety of guns so he could try to pick them up,” said a hospital spokesman. “We tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen. In the end one of the orderlies went out to his car, unlocked the glovebox and brought in his Colt .357. We unloaded it first, of course – after all, this is a hospital. Mr Freeman managed to wrap three fingers round the handgrip, but when he tried to lift the piece his hand went into spasm and he was screaming in agony. We keep telling him about this concept of pain, and indeed about real life, but he seemed to be having difficulty grasping the idea that people don’t generally leap out of a car that’s rolled several times at high speed with a Magnum in each hand and start sprinting down the freeway, rolling across the hoods of the oncoming traffic as they go.”

When he was being prepared for surgery, Mr Freeman refused any form of anaesthetic, saying he lived life on a knife-edge and didn’t want anything to slow down his reactions.

“The head of surgery had to sneak up behind him and batter him senseless with a shoe, or you’d have heard the screams halfway across the state,” explained the spokesman.

Morgan Freeman’s agent said the 71-year-old star may well go underground after discharging himself from hospital, appearing unexpectedly in low-budget arthouse movies in his efforts to track down the sinister figures responsible for his ‘accident’.

Industry insiders believe the actor may have been on the verge of exposing a shadowy cabal of corrupt (or possibly psychopathic) stars at the very heart of the Hollywood system who are prepared to kill to cover up their activities, and have suggested that Shia leBoeuf – himself injured in a car crash a few days previously - may have been Freeman’s keen-but-naïve rookie sidekick.

If I'd Wanted Fries With That, I'd Have Fucking Asked

Fast-food chain McDonalds is bucking the credit crunch, as it announces plans to open 10 new outlets and recruit 4,000 more staff. The chain claims two million more customers a month are passing through its doors – albeit with increasing difficulty in some cases - compared to a year ago.

Although McDonalds puts the increase in numbers down to healthier food and redesigned restaurants, some critics argue that it is merely drawing customers away from more expensive restaurants. Meanwhile, the company’s ‘My McJob’ recruitment drive will try to sell potential recruits a rosy picture of career benefits and opportunities.

“Well, they appear to have sold me a small cardboard box of potato string and a bucket of ice with some Coke lurking in it,” said one newly budget-conscious diner, as he prepared to go down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend. “So I reckon they can sell just about anything.”

Beam Me Up, Scotty

The Canadian actor James Doohan’s last wish – to have his ashes launched into space – remains unfulfilled after a rocket operated by a firm offering ‘space burials’ exploded shortly after its launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

Doohan - famous for playing Scotty the engineer in the original Star Trek series – died in 2005. A previous attempt to send some of his remains into space was also a failure.

“Fortunately, as anyone who saw the movies knows, there is still plenty of James Doohan left over for future attempts,” said a spokesman for SpaceX.

Rocket scientists say they are trying to discover the reason for the Falcon 1’s malfunction, although preliminary indications are that the engines couldnae take it.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Northern Crock

Northern Rock, the nationalised mortgage lender whose financial difficulties triggered the credit crunch in the UK, has reported a loss of over £585m.

“We had it here a minute ago,” said a bank spokesman. “We thought it was in the cookie jar on the kitchen sideboard, but that’s empty. Somebody thought she’d seen it under an ornament on the mantelpiece, but we drew a blank there too. We’re currently checking under the mattress and down the back of the sofa, but to be honest it’s not looking good.”

Worried bank officials rang the Chancellor - Alistair Darling at the time of writing – who immediately offered to drive round to Newcastle and pop an envelope containing £3bn of taxpayers’ money through the bank’s letterbox to tide them over.

“Don’t worry, folks," he smiled, “There’s plenty more where that came from. This is nothing to worry about. It’s just like the other banks are doing with their share issues - except of course that their shareholders can choose whether or not to pour even more of their money into the black hole created by greedy financial speculators, and you can’t.”

Ron Silva, a banking analyst at Tower Group, suggested that the lender’s woes were far from over.

“The only people that are left holding mortgages at Northern Rock are really those that are unable to find alternative mortgage providers,” he said, “And they’re very high risk people, or Northerners as we call them in financial circles.”

Local journalists were upbeat, however.

“Things could be a lot worse,” pointed out Peter Montellier, deputy editor of the Journal, “7,000 people could be out of work.”

“I’d be quite happy to be out of work, actually,” said one overworked debt counsellor from the bank. “If we divvied up Darling’s latest bung, every one of us would have £428,714 in redundancy money, and we could all retire to Spain.”

Magnificent Men Not In Their Flying Machines

The Commons Defence Committee has reported serious shortcomings in the effectiveness of robot planes operated by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan, caused by a shortage of skilled operators.

The Ministry of Defence bought three ‘Reaper’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - or UAVs - from the US, and also operates the less powerful Hermes 450 and Desert Hawk types. Critics say the MoD was slow to recognise the potential of robot aircraft, which are meant to detect insurgent forces, snipers and roadside bombs.

“We are facing a 48% shortfall in operator numbers,” admitted an Army spokesman. “Our training scheme hit unforeseen delays when someone lost the disc for Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 3 – although, to be honest, the performance envelope of the Reaper doesn’t quite match that of a Spitfire Mark 9, and the trainee operators were getting shot down by Messerschmitt 262s way before they could get to grips with the finer points of flying under bridges and shooting up flak trains. To the best of our knowledge, al-Qaeda does not currently possess Nazi jet fighter technology, so the accuracy of the simulation was questionable. We have been forced back onto Combat Flight Simulator 2 instead - which, with its Japanese suicide bomber attacks, bears a little more resemblance to the situation on the ground. Except, of course, in the simulation they’re not on the ground. Looking on the bright side, though, if the various terrorist factions start using hang-gliders, we’re ready for them.”

SATS Results Don't Add Up

Provisional SATS results published today show a further small rise in England’s primary school attainments in English and maths, but a row has broken out with teachers claiming that problems with the quality of marking cast doubt on the figures.

“If it takes one thousand markers five weeks to accurately mark all the test results,” asked one head teacher, “What percentage of the papers will actually be marked in eight weeks, if the number of markers is only five hundred?”

Schools Secretary Ed Balls claimed the answer was 99%. His parents have been urged to enrol him in remedial classes over the summer.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Internet Blamed For 'Slash Mob' Craze

Social networking websites are being blamed for a spate of gruesome killings around the world, according to Interpol.

The latest so-called ‘slash mob’ incident took place on the quiet Greek island of Santorini, when Athanassios Arvanitis, a 31-year-old cook, beheaded his girlfriend and walked around his village brandishing her severed head. He then knifed a policeman, stole a police car and injured two motorcyclists before he was finally arrested.

Other seemingly random acts of carnage in the last week included Vince Weiguang Li, who beheaded a fellow-passenger on a bus in Canada; British teenager Cara Burke, dismembered by her drug-dealer boyfriend in Brazil; and Tony Blair ripping Gordon Brown apart in a memo leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

Police are focusing their inquiries on social networking sites such as Facebook, particularly the so-called ‘slash mob’ phenomenon in which participants are invited to bizarre, spontaneous public events.

“We don’t actually have anything to link any such sites to these murders,” said DCI Slaughter, Scotland Yard’s leading murder investigator. “But we know the public need to kid themselves that we have at least some idea of what the hell’s going on, and that the media are suckers for stories about Facebook. So my message to anyone living abroad, travelling on a bus or living with a partner who has access to a kitchen, and who might be worried about suddenly finding themselves hacked apart for no readily apparent reason, is simple: unplug the computer and set fire to it immediately - your life may yet be spared.”

Detectives are trawling the internet in a desperate race against time to find out when and where the next gruesome event is scheduled to take place. Unofficial sources say they are concentrating their efforts on a shady, underground group calling itself ‘The Labour Party’.

“All we know at the moment is that huge numbers of these people are walking round smiling innocently, but concealing extremely sharp knives,” said DCI Slaughter. “Their target could be a random holidaymaker, for all we know.”

Antigua Murders: Scotland Yard Invited to Frame Barry George

The Antiguan Prime Minister has appealed for help from Scotland Yard to catch the killers who shot honeymoon couple Catherine and Ben Mullany.

Despite questioning several suspects, local police admit they are no nearer to identifying the perpetrators of the shooting.

Detectives from Scotland Yard have flown out to the Caribbean island, and are busy searching for a suitable harmless nutter to frame up on the flimsiest of evidence.

“We reckon Barry George probably did it,” said DCI Slaughter of the Metropolitan Police. “He claims he was at the Old Bailey at the time, proving himself entirely innocent of the murder of Jill Dando - but we reckon rubbing an old bullet against his jacket ought to do the trick.”

Conservatives Discover Root Of All Evil

Conservative shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove is being hailed by leading sociologists as a genius for his discovery of the root cause of all of society’s wrongs, as he claimed that lads’ mags such as Nuts and Zoo are the cause of relationship breakdowns and fatherless children.

“We should ask those who make profits out of reveling in, or encouraging, selfish irresponsibility among young men what they think they’re doing,” said Mr Gove, in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research. “The contrast with the work done by women’s magazines, and their publishers, to address their readers in a mature and responsible fashion, is striking.”

IPC, the irresponsible publishers of Nuts, issued a tear-stained apology for creating a generation of selfish, gratification-seeking sex maniacs, and said they would seek urgent talks with IPC, the sensible publishers of Marie Claire, to see what they could learn from its responsible, mature articles such as ‘See The Risqué Eva Mendes TV Ad That The US Has Banned’.