Thursday, 21 August 2008

GCSE Results Hailed as 'Worst Ever'

Britain’s teenagers are still crying their little eyes out after yesterday’s shock announcement that the GCSE pass rate had fallen dramatically to 0.0%.

Schools minister Andy Adonis explained that, as the pass rate rose inexorably year by year toward 100%, something clearly had to be done or the general public might start to think that the figures might be slightly suspect.

“We therefore took the decision to reset the benchmark to zero this year,” he explained. “At the current rate of increase we wouldn’t get back into the high 90s for about 300 years or so, giving us plenty of scope for dramatic improvements in the pass rate over the next couple of years. It’s tough on this year’s students, of course - but let’s face it, they’re so thick half of them couldn’t identify a percentage even if it bit a chunk out of them.”

A red-eyed Stacey Hobbs of King Edward the Potato School took time out from her non-stop bawling fit to wail: “I worked everso, everso hard for my GCSEs - harder than anyone else ever in history, which I sort of dropped last year and took Drama Studies instead. My teachers predicted me eighteen A* grades, and instead I got a piece of paper in the post this morning saying. ‘Ha ha! You suck. Signed, the Joint Council for Qualifications.’”

Mr Adonis said that next year’s results may well show an amazing 50% improvement - which would be the best ever recorded - just in time for a general election. When somebody with an ‘O’ level pointed out to him that 50% of zero was still zero, the minister launched into a shocking tirade of foul-mouthed abuse against the old, discredited system of rote learning and abstract mathematical formulae that had nothing to do with ordinary people’s aspirations in the 21st century. He then offered to write a brief paragraph, or draw a picture, explaining how he felt.

Brown Inspires Afghan Hell-Hole Troops To Emulate To Olympic Heroes

In an impromptu drop-in visit to Afghanistan on his way to what promises to be a truly awesome party in Beijing, Gordon Brown has won the hearts and minds of his hard-pressed forces, praising them for being as brave as Britain’s Olympic medal-winners.

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade based at Camp Bastion fought to hold back unsoldierly tears of adulation for their leader as the Prime Minister told them: “This week we are celebrating the Olympics where we have had great successes. But this week I also believe our Olympic athletes and everybody else in our country will remember that you have shown exactly the same courage, professionalism and dedication. Hullo, is that a news camera? Well, fancy that. I have no idea how the media managed to find out about this top-secret visit. Gosh, is that the time? Must dash, or I’ll miss the first course.”

As Mr Brown was whisked away, escorted by squadrons of strike fighters and assault helicopters, hard-bitten troopers applauded his death-defying five-minute photo-opportunity.

“Next time I’m out patrolling the lawless, mine-strewn badlands of Helmand province in my paper-thin Land Rover, with my cardboard body armour and a half-decent pair of boots I had to pay for myself, Gordon Brown’s stirring words will inspire me to be as courageous and professional as our do-or-die yachties pottering heroically about in the pollution-infested Chinese waters, risking life and limb in their colourful little dinghies,” said a grizzled sergeant who had served in both Gulf Wars, Northern Ireland and the Balkans.

Another veteran with two tours in the Middle East under his belt expressed the hope that, should his feet be blown off by an improvised pipe bomb, he might find within himself the same stoic endurance in the face of unimaginable suffering as Paula Radcliffe showed when she limped into 23rd place clutching her gammy hip.

Meanwhile, the PM told the press that he would be having stern words about human rights with China’s leaders, between mouthfuls, at the gala dinner he would shortly be attending.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Gary Glitter World Tour Unlikely To End Soon, Or Indeed Ever

Disgraced paedophile, erstwhile pop icon and human pinball Gary Glitter is reported to be hurtling ahead with his whistle-stop world tour, after being shot out of his Vietnamese prison by a giant spring.

Glitter – real name Paul Sadd – used to be known for dressing up in tinfoil and strutting about bellowing tedious catchphrases over a monotonous 4/4 beat, before achieving greater fame as a pitiful old perv. Following his release from prison after inviting various youngsters to be in his gang, he was put on a plane to Thailand, where he should have been fired onto a plane to Britain to autograph the sex offenders’ register and meet enthusiastic crowds desperate to touch him with a variety of blunt objects. However, the wizened 64-year-old star became unexpectedly stuck behind a VIP lounge instead. A few kicks to the table set warning lights flashing before the table cleared itself automatically, flicking Glitter into an impromptu comeback tour of the world’s airport lounges.

Having scored no points at all for lighting up the letters H-E-A-R-T A-T-T-A-C-K, Glitter narrowly avoided rolling down towards Britain at the bottom of the table, bouncing instead onto a passing jet bound for Hong Kong.

Arriving in the former British colony, the goatee-sporting lecher was greeted by Chinese officials singing his famous hit, “We Don’t Love You, Love”. He promptly diagnosed himself as suffering from trapped wind and was knocked sideways by a pop-up flipper, sending the airport checkout gate spinning wildly and flicking him down a hole leading to destinations unknown.

As play continued, the destination lights on the table were still flashing randomly between Belgium, Austria, Vatican City, Saudi Arabia and Arctic Adventure, with the possibility of a multiball release which would see up to a dozen shiny Gary Glitters released into play, bouncing off the scenery and each other in an uncontrollable flurry of chrome.

Waiting patiently behind the flippers at the bottom of the table, however, was Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

“I don’t care how many Gary Glitters are in play,” she said grimly. “Bring them on. I’m busy scribbling out as many restrictive regulations as I can think of, ready to put into my soon-to-be-announced Gary Glitter Act. He’s going to hit an almighty great stopper when he finally rolls down here. Then it’s game over.”

It's Enough To Make Your Heart Go Sad

Glaswegians are celebrating in their usual fashion after it was announced that their home has been named a United Nations City of Music. The honour is bestowed by the UN’s cultural body, Unesco.

“We embrace the award on behalf of our talented musicians and composers, whose names temporarily escape me,” said Lord Provost Bob Winter. “I am confident this can only boost our musical ambitions and encourage and nurture future musical talent. Travis have already set the benchmark, as I believe they were briefly famous as far afield as Stirling and Dundee.”

Glasgow’s marketing officials let go of their bottles of Buckfast Wine for long enough to put together the winning 50-page bid in June. The document listed 127 musical events a week - including light-hearted community taunting at football matches, dozens of pubs with jukeboxes or karaoke nights, several homeless buskers and Wee Billy Bampot warbling The Celtic Song while having a widdle on his way home from the Thistle every Saturday night.

The prestigious title was officially presented by Unesco director-general Koichiro Matsuuro in a ceremony in Glasgow. Mr Matsuuro was then ceremonially presented with his teeth after an unscheduled display of Glaswegian martial arts by Mad Jimmy McTavish of that ilk.

Are You The Next Carol Vorderman? You Poor Sod

With the imminent departure of Carol Vorderman from long-running schedule-filler Countdown looming, after producers dared to offer her only ten times what she was worth instead of the usual hundred, Channel Four has announced the search for a replacement.

Applicants must ideally have two legs, two arms and a head, be able to name all the letters of the alphabet on sight, have at least one working ear and be able to scrawl simple sums on a whiteboard as they are barked into their earpiece by a control room assistant while pretending they worked it out all by themselves. The ability to simper pathetically at the interminable barrage of lame comments made by the presenter would also be desirable, said Channel 4’s Head of Daytime, Helen Warner, but was not essential as training would be given.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Put That Traffic Cone Down, Dear, And Go To Your Room

Britain’s universities are to allow pushy parents to act as agents for their children, directly handling admissions decisions and negotiations – and, increasingly, they are being allowed to take part in their children’s interviews.

The so-called phenomenon of ‘helicopter parents’ is on the increase, according to Frank Furedi, professional rent-a-quote academic and professor of sociology at the University of Kent.

“All universities now have to take the parent factor into account. On university open days you can see more parents attending than children,” he said. “There is a powerful sense of infantilism, where parents can’t let go.”

Professor Furedi warned that universities were in danger of becoming “schools for biologically mature children” if parental interference continued to increase.

These over-involved parents reflect the rise of consumerism in universities, explained Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Lancaster University Management School. “These horrific control freaks are paying more, so they think they can demand more,” he said.

The Nev Filter tried asking some prospective students what they thought of having their parents trailing their every move at university.

“Let me handle this, love,” said one mother whose son we rang. “Damien is very glad that his father and I care enough about his future happiness to wake him up in the morning, drive him to lectures, sit in, ask questions, do his coursework, take his exams, veto his choice of friends, tell him when he’s had enough fun for one evening and vet his potential girlfriends. Of course, we would be failing in our duty as loving, responsible parents if, when the time comes, we didn’t attend his job interviews, go to work with him, find him a suitable wife, go with them on their honeymoon, and tell him when – and how - to have children when we feel it’s the right time.”

Hello, Hello, They're Back Again

A pilot scheme involving facial recognition devices was launched yesterday at Manchester Airport by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, as part of efforts to improve security and avoid congestion.

The experimental system – involving a camera on a long stalk, set on a sort of turret mounted on a conical, bronze-coloured mobile base unit decorated with columns of gold domes, which sported a sink-plunger and a strange device apparently made out of coat-hangers – was ceremonially switched on by the Home Secretary, who said: “The UK has one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to keep it that way.”

When activated, the security system scanned the Home Secretary’s face, matching it against electronically-stored biometric images. The top-mounted lights then flashed as it announced that she had been identified as an enemy of the Daleks, and exterminated her.

The menacing facial-recognition unit then turned its attention to the hordes of terrified, fleeing onlookers.

“Where is Gary Glitter?” it demanded. “Bring him to me at once! He is the leader! He is the leader of an unstoppable Dalek army of terror and destruction! He is.”

Driverless Economy Trundles Down Slope, Remains Upright, Amuses Bystanders

Gordon Brown was reported to be embarrassed but hugely relieved yesterday, after the economy rolled down a steep slope when he accidentally left the handbrake off.

People watched in amazement as the economy bounced wildly, but remained obstinately upright during its out-of-control journey down the steep slope before settling into a mire at the very bottom.

Recovery crews were called and the muddy, but apparently intact, economy was ignominiously hauled out of the morass just in time to prevent it from sinking without trace.

“I feel a bit of a fool,” admitted the hapless Mr Brown. “I’ve always been very careful with the British economy, but I was briefly distracted when something shiny and golden on the horizon caught my eye, and my stupid momentary inattention could have spelt disaster. Still, it looks all right to me.”

One eyewitness, however, was not so sure. “Although there was no superficial damage, I dread to think what it’s like underneath,” he said doubtfully.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Cameron To Do To Society What Thatcher Did For Economy (Four Letters, Beginning With F)

David Cameron has revealed that he hopes to do for society what Margaret Thatcher did for the economy.

In a new book by political heavyweight reporter Dylan the Rabbit, editor of GQ magazine, the Tory leader said: “I’m going to be as radical a social reformer as Mrs Thatcher was an economic reformer, and radical social reform is what this country needs right now. In many ways that’s more difficult and complicated to do, but it’s no less an ambition, no less a task, and at heart it’s dealing with the issues of family breakdown, welfare dependency, failing schools, crime and the problems that we see in too many of our communities.”

As millions of avid readers eagerly turned the page to discover exactly how Mr Cameron was going to create order out of chaos, however, they were surprised to find him talking about the importance of effective decision-making and how he would now be leading a Conservative minority government, had Gordon Brown had called an election last autumn.

“I thought the printers must have accidentally missed a chunk out,” said one disappointed reader, “But I checked the page numbers and no, that’s how it was written.”

When the Nev Filter pressed him to explain precisely how he planned to create his modern utopia, Mr Cameron went to some length to explain how a man in a white van once tried to push him into the path of an oncoming car while riding his bike.

Finally we rang Margaret Thatcher for enlightenment, and she suggested that perhaps what her successor had in mind was selling the public off to the highest bidder, like she did with British Telecom and all the other public utilities.

Meanwhile, the government poured scorn on Mr Cameron’s proclamation.

“A serious look at his policies reveals an approach which is at best confused and at worst would be deeply damaging for our economy,” said Treasury Secretary Yvette Cooper. “You can tell how seriously we take David Cameron’s visions by the fact that it’s been left to me to criticise them.”

Pakistan Looks Forward to Five Minutes of Corruption-Free Democracy, Possibly Ten

President Pervez Musharraf resigned yesterday, in the face of threats by the opposition-led government of Pakistan to have him formally impeached.

Rejecting the charges of abuse of power, the former general who seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999 said he was resigning in the interests of the country, which in this case coincided nicely with the interests of himself.

He is widely expected to be replaced by one of the leaders of the opposing coalition. Pakistanis were said to be looking forward with optimism to a new era of democracy - perhaps led by Asif Ali Zardari, who spent several years in prison charged with fraud and corruption, and whose chief qualification to lead the Pakistan People’s Party is that his corrupt wife Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of its corrupt founder; or possibly by Nawaz Sharif, whose previous, corrupt leadership of the country was so successful that the population positively welcomed the seizure of power by a military dictator.

“Today we have buried dictatorship forever,” said Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Gilani optimistically. “But watch this space for updates on that.”

'We're Not Sexist,' Australia's New Men Tell Gorgeous, Pouting Sheilas

The mayor of the remote Australian mining community of Mount Isa has come under fire for urging ugly women to move to the town, where men outnumber women five to one.

Councillor Gary Asmus said that Mayor John Moloney’s words were an insult to the men of Mount Isa, and that he was “returning us to the Dark Ages and making the guys that live in this town seem like sex-hungry starved men that will pounce upon the first girl that they see walking down the street. Of course, everyone knows that Australians - and outback miners in particular - are world-renowned for their enlightened, modern attitude to equality and respect.”

He was then barged aside by the town’s army of single men.

“Strewth, I’m so desperate I’d marry anything that didn’t have hair down its back,” pleaded Andy Larrikin, who drives the mine’s aircraft carrier-sized truck. “Even the mayor is beginning to look strangely attractive. God help me.”

“I saw a woman once,” reminisced retired drill operator Ned Drongo. “She was a funny shape, all covered in bumps. But like most Mount Isans I eventually found domestic harmony with my pet wombat, Sally.”

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Brown Seeks Olympic Gold

Gordon Brown has sent his congratulations to Britain’s athletes for their medal success in the Beijing Olympics.

In a letter to team GB, the Prime Minister called their 17-medal weekend haul “a superb and unprecedented achievement”.

“You may be too young to remember that, in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity, I flogged off half of Britain’s gold reserves at knock-down prices between 1999 and 2001,” he went on. “Since then, we’ve had to pay for a couple of wars, prop up Northern Rock and throw huge wads of cash at various consultants, train companies and IT contractors – and, what with the price of everything nowadays, the spare cash tin’s looking pretty empty. Sorry to bother you - and I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t desperate – but when you return home in triumph clutching your gold medals, could you just spare a few for the Treasury? They’d make all the difference – I’m about to be made homeless, mate. You haven’t got any more, have you? I couldn’t be really cheeky, could I, and have the bronze and silver ones too? Bless you.”

Several Olympic medallists coughed and looked the other way, while others muttered that Mr Brown would probably just pop straight round to Tbilisi and waste the money on vodka.

Bigfoot Strikes Again...

Experts remain sceptical of the claims of a pair of American hikers that they have discovered the body of the legendary ‘Bigmouth’ in the backwoods of northern Georgia.

Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claim that the body, which they have stored in a freezer, is the mortal remains of the famous ape-like creature of popular myth. Despite widespread US media coverage, however, experts were queueing up to pour cold water on the pair’s story.

“I think the pictures cast grave doubts on their claim,” said Jeffery Meldrum, professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University. “It just looks like a costume with some fake guts thrown on for effect. In that respect, it does indeed resemble ‘Bigmouth’ – or President George W Bush, as he is also known. However, the real President Bush is alive and well and loping round the White House even as we speak, eating a banana.”

Spin Doctors Downplay Outbreak of Socialism

Spin doctors are working frantically to limit the spread of a contagious disease which has broken out at the Department of Health.

The public were urged not to panic, after Health Minister Ivan Lewis wrote an article in the Sunday Times suggesting that high earners could be taxed more in order to help the country through the present economic slowdown.

“Ivan Lewis is a very sick man, and is presenting some of the classic symptoms of full-blown socialism,” admitted a leading spin doctor. “We thought we’d eradicated this pestilence forever in 1992, when we put a bank manager in charge of the Labour Party. However, there is no cause for public consternation. We have moved swiftly to isolate Mr Lewis from the rest of the government, and we are confident that we have stopped the infection before it could spread any further. It seems that he has been incubating a resistant strain of the socialism virus which, if unchecked, is likely to cause a particularly virulent reaction in the Daily Mail.”

A spokesman for Mr Lewis claimed that he had only advocated taxing the rich to ease the pain of the middle classes in their terrible struggle to keep their 4x4s topped up.

“Mr Lewis is merely suffering from a mild fear of losing his seat at the next election,” he said, “If he can be shut away for that, then you might as well lock up the whole of the Parliamentary Labour Party.”