Friday, 10 October 2008

Financially-Embarrassed Public Bodies Announce Emergency Austerity Measures

The government is still refusing to guarantee corporate investments in Iceland’s failed banks, despite up to 74 local authorities having merrily thrown up to £1bn of hard-pressed council down the Icelandic financial toilet without bothering to listen to any of the numerous and increasingly-strident warnings of the last few months.

Many police authorities, fire brigades, hospital trusts and charities are also coming to regret their decisions to blow their funds at the Iceland casino, rather than spending them on providing services to the public.

As heads of finance departments across Britain scratched their heads trying to come up with a plausible excuse to feed their committees, desperate measures are being taken to plug the gaping black hole in public finances.

Residential homes
IN: Adopt-a-granny lottery
OUT: Schools
IN: Coin-operated pay-as-you-learn pub quiz machine
OUT: Council housing
IN: The legendary Nicholas van Hoogstraten
OUT: Local park
IN: Massive luxury high-rise apartment complex

Police Authorities
Police officers
IN: Vigilante justice
OUT: Motorway patrols
IN: Motorway signs saying: ‘Be a good chap and keep your speed down’
OUT: Speed cameras
IN: UK becomes world’s largest racetrack

Fire Services
Fire engines
IN: Bucket of sand for hire in every town

Accident & Emergency Unit
IN: Box of plasters
OUT: Geriatric wards
IN: Australian DIY euthanasia advisor
OUT: Doctors, nurses, therapists
IN: Self-appointed holistic healer with wandering hands and degree in mumbo-jumbology from University of PO Box 12400, Alaska

Helping the needy
IN: Helping the trustees get around personal liability regulations

Not at risk, however, are the jobs and bonuses of hundreds of overpaid finance officers who thought it was clever to have a flutter with other people’s money.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Brown Puts You, Me, All of Us Up As Stake in Shit-or-Bust Gamble

Everybody in Britain has been put on the table by prime minister Gordon Brown as part of a daring £500bn bet on the major banks.

The scheme, which aims to boost confidence by injecting money into the moribund UK financial sector, makes £25bn available to the banks as capital loans, with another £25bn offered in exchange for preference shares, £200bn for short-term loans and £250bn in commercial loan guarantees.

These billions are in addition to the unspecified billions the government has already offered to wealthy investors and carefree councils who threw money at failed Icelandic banks after being lured by implausibly-generous interest rates.

To get some idea of the scale of Mr Brown’s generosity toward his good friends, the banks, the entire UK public spending budget for 2008/09 is £618bn.

“There’s £111bn - that’s the NHS,” said the beaming PM, casually tossing Britain’s healthcare system into the pot. “And education - that’s another £82bn. There’s the Royal Navy. That must be worth something, surely?”

If the gamble pays off, confidence in the banking sector will be restored, the banks will resume playing Monopoly with each other’s money and Britain will only face a decade or so of painfully slow growth. If it fails, however, every last one of us will belong, body and soul, to whoever comes along and buys the collapsing banks - probably either Roman Abramovitch, Thaksin Shinawatra or JK Rowling - and will be made to dance for their entertainment or clean their toilets with a toothbrush.

Uncritical Dr Who Fans Queue Up To See Another Tedious Shakespeare Play

Millions of Dr Who fans with nothing better to do will be descending on Stratford-upon-Avon for the next few weeks to drool over David Tennent reciting his lines on stage in an Royal Shakespeare Company production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a flimsy attempt at romantic comedy by the world’s most overrated playwright.

The show - which is about three lords struggling to keep a three-year vow of celibacy, but might as well be about the inside of a ping-pong ball for all the uncritical anorak brigade know or care - is a complete sell-out. And the tickets have all been bought, too.

“I’m hoping the Cybermen get at least a walk-on part,” said one fan. “We know they acquired time-travel technology back in the Colin Baker era, so it’s distinctly possible you know.”

Other rubber monsters tipped to create renaissance-themed mayhem for the scruffy Time Lord include Sontarans, Ice Warriors, Sea Devils, a giant Krynoid plant, the Meddling Monk, a mutant pantomime horse and of course the ever-present bloody Daleks, who seem to follow Tennant around like puppies.

“Next year, we hope to bring the bard’s work to an even wider audience by presenting a run of classic plays showcasing the unbounded dramatic talents of the Chuckle Brothers,” announced an RSC spokesman.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Britain Declares War on Iceland

As the Icelandic government nationalised another bank in a desperate measure to save the tiny country from imminent bankruptcy, Gordon Brown today declared war on the beleaguered island state.

The prime minister is hoping that his last-ditch attempt to secure its assets - if it has any - will protect the estimated £3bn invested by greedy Britons in Icelandic banks whose interest rates looked, and indeed proved to be, too good to be true.

“I have dispatched a task force to the North Atlantic on a mission to occupy this dangerous rogue state, which I am sure will prove to have been solely responsible for all of the world’s present troubles,” he told reporters as he emerged from an emergency COBRA briefing. Our elite force will tie up in Reykjavík’s historic harbour in the Old Town district, walk straight past the customs officer and seize the historic, psychologically-important Gaukur á Stöng bar before taking the strategic heights of the revolving Perlan restaurant, situated on top of the city’s water tanks with commanding views of the surrounding landscape.

“From there an armed patrol will set out to capture the hated tyrant, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson - which shouldn’t be difficult, as his residence is in the middle of nowhere and if you ring on the doorbell and he’s up, he answers it himself.”

“We shall also topple his statues, if there are any,” he added. “Otherwise we could always drive over to the airport and push the Jet Egg sculpture over. That ought to show the puffin-munching bastard who’s in charge.”

Mr Brown then handed the war briefing over to commanding officer - and sole member - of the invasion force, Alistair Darling.

“I’m ready to take on anything,” explained the confident chancellor. “I’m pretty handy with the old four-by-two, so any saga-spouting fanatic who stands in my way had better look out.

"Once I have seized the reins of power of Iceland, I shall have total economic control of the lucrative salmon-fishing permit and hand-knitted sweater industries. I am sure that if I look hard enough I will find documentary evidence that Iceland was planning to use its weapon of mass destruction - the Hekla volcano - to spread a toxic sulphurous cloud across Europe, and then we can put the evil Grímsson on trial and hang him from the nearest tree. If we can find one.”

When asked by reporters if perhaps the British government could just follow Iceland’s example and nationalise all the banks, Mr Darling rushed off hastily, saying he had to launch his rowing-boat before the tide went out, or the Russians or Swedes might get there first.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Russia Buys Bankrupt Island Nation Nobody Has Heard Of

Iceland, a country nobody has ever heard of, has been bought by Russia after its entire banking-based economy collapsed.

The small, volcanic island - situated on the edge of the Arctic Circle, halfway between New York and Moscow - was settled by itinerant Vikings in 874 AD, and then completely forgotten by the whole world until quirky pop sensation Björk started yelping like a dog having its bollocks repeatedly slammed in a door.

In the 90s Iceland recklessly abandoned strips of salted cod as its units of currency and adopted the share instead, basing its entire economy on the charmingly naïve premise that the worldwide trading boom could not possibly end.

This morning, however, Icelanders woke up to find that they and their entire country were worth absolutely nothing whatsoever. The Russians quickly moved in with an offer to buy the whole country for 50 roubles, which was gratefully accepted by an emergency meeting of the Althing on the dingy, rain-swept Thingvellir plain.

“We put big missile here, here and here,” smiled new owner Vladimir Putin as he studied a map of Iceland. “What is this, please? Does this say ‘Keflavík U.S. Navy Airbase‘? I do not think so, somehow. Deliver eviction notice immediately. You still want new cold war, Mr Bush? I think maybe, hmm, not so sure now, yes?”

BBC Guilty of ‘Fawning’ on Paxman, Claim Royals

The royal family have courted media controversy by saying that the BBC fawns on Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, claiming that the corporation is unsure whether to ‘celebrate’ or report big Paxo events.

“While the BBC does report Paxman’s outbursts pretty straightforwardly, as it should, there is still a fawning taste, a fawning sense to the tone of voice it adopts when dealing with the heir to Robin Day and his opinionated rants,” said Prince Charles.

The Queen suggested that the BBC had not known how to handle the presenter’s comments on the death of comfortable underpants in January.

“It was unclear whether the BBC was announcing this as a piece of news, or in its capacity as fawner-in-chief, really,” she said, “And it really got its knickers in a twist.”

“Ho ho ho,” she added, “That’s rather good, isn‘t it?”

“Look at what he said about a women’s mafia running the BBC,” said Prince Philip. “If I said that, I’d have been held up to public ridicule on the BBC Breakfast. But no, Paxman got off with barely a voice raised in protest, apart from that fit young Frostrup filly - crikey, I wouldn‘t say no to some of that, would you? And can you imagine the furore if I‘d dared to say I thought that that old Burns cove’s maudlin old couplets were ‘sentimental doggerel‘? I’d have been strung up by the goolies by rabid howling jocks, Duke of Edinburgh or not.”

“If one had called the licence fee an outdated tax on owning a television, like Paxman did last year at the Edinburgh Festival, one can bet one’s arse one wouldn’t see any more of one’s crappy documentaries about one’s relatives on the box,” pointed out Prince Edward. “But Paxman can bite the hand that feeds him whenever he feels like it and he’s still there on Newsnight, asking the same bloody question fifty times or whatever it was. It‘s a bit pathetic, really.”

“Surely it must be time for Britain to have a national debate on the relevence of Jeremy Paxman in the 21st century, yah?” said Prince Andrew, before jetting off on another skiing holiday.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Entire Global Financial System Put To Sleep

As UK share prices took their worst ever dive on Monday - becoming officially worth less than the recycling value of the paper on which they were printed - the entire financial system on which the world depends was taken outside and shot by a vet to put it out of its misery.

Tearful bankers were consoled by grim-faced heads of state as their beloved economic model was lovingly buried in a garden in Zurich.

“Now is not the time to think about replacing monetary systems as a means of conducting transactions,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown, cradling the head of the sobbing governor of the Bank of England in his lap. “These banking chiefs are very upset right now, and the first priority of the world’s governments must be to cheer them up. When the financiers are laughing and smiling again, maybe then we’ll talk about replacing our much-loved financial networks.”

“Our money’s gone to heaven now,” a red-eyed US president George W Bush told his tearful Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that the world’s business leaders are trying to work out some means of preventing the entire world from grinding to a catastrophic halt in the next few hours by holding a crisis meeting in a secret tropical paradise, possibly involving an unprecedented consumption of alcohol.

‘What’s All The Fuss About?’ Asks Met’s Death-Squad Chief

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who was in charge of the Metropolitan Police squad that blasted innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes apart, has told the inquest into his death that her officers did nothing “wrong or unreasonable”.

“Mr de Menezes was a victim of terrible and extraordinary circumstances,” she said. “It was unfortunate for him that he came from a country where people have darker complexions than the average Londoner, and especially unfortunate that he was not wearing a big sign saying ‘I am not a terrorist’. Also unfortunate was his highly-suspicious act of getting on public transport, which immediately attracted the attention of our highly-trained surveillance officers. Most unfortunate of all, however, was his decision to run like fuck when he saw a gun-waving death squad making a bee-line straight for him.”

“Basically, it was all his own stupid fault,” she added. “So can we stop this charade of pretending that we care about some dead bloody foreigner and get back to making the streets of London safe for decent people who look like Anglo-Saxons?”

When asked how she felt when she heard that her officers had killed the wrong man, Ms Dick admitted that she felt ‘terrible’.

“It was a terrible thing to happen,” she told the coroner‘s court, producing an onion from her pocket. “I immediately realised that I’d have to face a load of stupid questions for years afterwards.”

World’s Cuter Animals Now Facing Annihilation

A quarter of the world’s mammals are facing extinction, according to the Red List of Threatened Species, the first assessment of their status in a decade. The biggest danger comes from habitat loss, mostly deforestation.

Many of the species under threat are very cute and cuddly, said the list’s authors, and it would be a tragedy if lovable creatures such as orang-utans with their comical old-man faces and big-eyed seals were to vanish from the face of the earth forever.

“It’s going to be bloody difficult for cuddly toy manufacturers to make cockroaches attractive to the toddlers of the future,” warned Julia Marton-Lefevre, director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The good news, however, is that elephants - which small children everywhere agree have ‘funny noses’ - are marginally less close to utter extirpation than they used to be.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Machiavelli ‘Joined At The Hip’ to Brown

Peter Machiavelli, whose appointment as business secretary was the key surprise in Gordon Brown‘s cabinet reshuffle, has dismissed past tensions between himself and the prime minister.

“Of course there have been difficulties in our relationship,” he smiled. “But even in some of the darker moments, we were still able to talk very frankly to each other. And very honestly.”

Our reporter asked Mr Machiavelli exactly how frankly he had exchanged views with Mr Brown, on a scale from “Get a life, loser” to “You’re nothing but a soulless Scottish billy no-mates with a serious personality disorder who has about as much idea about running a sound, regulated economy as a weasel - and your grotesque, misshapen face would break if you ever attempted a genuine expression of human warmth, wouldn‘t it, you grim, pathetic gargoyle.”

After some thought, Mr Machiavelli said he was fairly certain that he had never described the prime minister’s personality disorder as “serious“.

We then asked Mr Brown how frankly he had spoken to Mr Machiavelli in the past, from a mild “You fraudulent, ideology-free poseur” to “How does it feel to have ruthlessly butchered the Labour party’s honourable tradition of deeply-held moral belief in the dignity of the working class on the altar of your greedy, heartless lust for power whilst shamelessly digging up the corpse of your own grandfather in a nakedly-misleading attempt to present yourself as the true heir of reforming post-war socialism, you scheming, manipulative little turd?”

“I think I said ‘creep’, actually,” said Mr Brown.

Mr Machiavelli stressed that “What’s important is what things are like now, and will be in the future. And from here on in, we’re joined at the hip. Not in a genital-touching way, of course, that would be too gross for words. But we do share a common arsehole - Tony Blair. Only joking, by the way. Very nice man.

“Incidentally, I did speak to Tony about the appointment before accepting it - he said it would be a no-brainer. And when I thought about it, you know, it made sense really. Let Gordon lose the next election - and then, in the aftermath, who‘s there saying, ‘Of course, if only I‘d been brought in earlier, none of this would have happened in the first place?’ That’s right, good old Mandy - always eager to serve, always willing to give 110% for the good of the country.

“The next Labour leader? Much too early to decide, and of course it‘s not for me to say. But look at the other candidates. Ed Balls? Decent chap, very media-friendly, sensible haircut - but not a name you‘d want to represent Britain at international conferences, is it? Harriet Harman - goes down well with the Guardian readers, of course, but a bit too strident for some. Tessa Jowell? Dodgy husband, scandal bound to emerge sooner rather than later, if you know what I mean. David Miliband? Scary robot man - need I say more?

“But perhaps someone new will rise up from the ranks as a possible leadership candidate? Maybe. I shall be watching. Very carefully. You have my absolute word on that.”

‘Obama Will Kill And Eat Your Children’ Says Republican Candidate

The gloves came off in the US Presidential contest this weekend, with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Impalin accusing Barack Obama of harbouring an insane desire to kill and eat the nation’s children.

“Let’s draw a line under this economy mumbo-jumbo, y’all,” she drawled. “We all know that Obama varmint loves terrorists, craps on Ol’ Glory every morning, worships heathen gods and wants to enslave all decent godfearin’ white folks. That’s part and parcel of bein’ a Democrat. But shoot - if he don’ wanna blow yore dear kids to kingdom come with a Uzi, rip out their little hearts an’ swaller ‘em down, then mah name’s not Vlad the Alaskan! An‘ that‘s God‘s own truth, ah swear, so help me if it ain‘t.”

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is due to go head-to-head in a second televised debate with Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Tuesday, in which commentators expect Senator Obama to focus on healthcare, tax credits and the economy and Senator McCain to link him with Malcolm X, Idi Amin and Osama Bin Laden.