Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 40

Broadsheets Category

Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers

The Exterminator

‘AS we grow older, we have one childhood dream after another cruelly shattered.

‘Kids have got no respect these days…my back’s killing me…the TV’s gone right off…’

We realise that since our local drugs dealer can’t get hold of EPO or THG, our chances of being an Olympic athlete are almost nil.

Our GCSE in media studies will not get us a job as a trainee astronaut at NASA. And ballerinas are rarely if ever a size 16, however graceful.

And today the Telegraph delivers another kick in the guts of our youths as it picks up a can opener and takes a peek inside a Dalek.

The BBC’s new Dr Who series has been attracting attention because of its indecision about whether to include the Daleks or not.

First they were out. Then they were in. Then they out again. And now, we read that if they are to be in, 77-year-old actor John Scott is ready to reprise his famous role.

Yes, actor! The Daleks were not real!

While we weep from this latest shock, that heartless swine Scott shatters one illusion after another.

“There was no special technique to make the move,” says he. “You just trampled around and they glided about on three caster wheels – a bit like supermarket trolley…

“I would frequently topple over and I would be left screaming, ‘Get me out of this thing”.

Surely he means, “Ex…ter…min…ate!”.

“Over the years, I don’t think they have dated that much,” Scott continues.

“I don’t think it will be long before we see kids running around in the streets pretending to be Daleks once again.”

Well, think again, Scott. You’ve just destroyed their fun. What nipper wants to pretend to be a 77-year-old jobbing actor in a painted eggshell suit?

Better to stick at playing at cowboys, kids – at least that way you might get to become something, like ruler of the free world…’

Posted: 10th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Starting Guns

‘THE British Olympic shooting team’s abilities to shoot a bullet into a pinhead-sized target with unerring accuracy should mean that security concerns at this summer’s games are at a minimum.

‘Look out, Tony – he’s got a javelin!’

Only the most suicidal terrorist would dare approach British Olympians, among whom are any number of crack shots with gun or bow and arrow?

Add to the shooters the javelin throwers, judo exponents, wrestlers, fencers and ankle-smashing hockey players…and team GB looks more than capable of handling itself in a fight.

But the Greeks are a cautious bunch and the Times reports that they have given permission for British security agents to be armed during the Athens games.

The Greeks have waived a law that forbids foreign personnel from carrying weapons, and now security staff protecting the British, American and Israeli squads will carry live ammunition.

The British Olympic team has a massive special security squad of 130 Scotland Yard staff, but the paper understands that, unlike the Americans, these cops will not be providing close armed protection for athletes, but just for visiting dignitaries.

While the American track team jostles for position on the starting line with sunglass-wearing agents talking into their sleeves, the British cops will be sitting in the stands protecting the likes of Tony Blair.

And do not doubt that dear Tony will be in Athens. If there’s one thing Tony knows, it is how to have a cracking holiday.

Indeed, since his scramble to the top of the political ladder, the Independent says Tony has taken 18 trips where he and his family have “enjoyed the hospitality of well-connected friends who do not expect to be paid for hosting the package-tour-shy occupants of No.10”.

And that’s a shame since the Indy also reports that while Tony is enjoying another freebie in Athens – in between staying at Cliff Richard’s place in Barbados and Silvio Berlusconi’s villa in Sardinia – British travel agents are in the doldrums.

With just three days to go before the big off, only 3 million of the original 5.3 million tickets for the Games have been sold.

The rest – the ‘unsold’ – have been taken up by the Blairs and their entourage, cops on a busman’s holiday and terrorists eager to say, “I was there”.’

Posted: 10th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Olympic Training

‘AS you disembark from your delayed, over-priced jam-packed, sweaty train and race down the platform to finally breast the ticket barrier, your mind will be on the Olympics.

Our Terry gets ready to vault the gap

And you’ll think how unfair it is that such sports as “Seat Judo”, “Baggage Hurdling” and “Briefcase Fencing” are not part of the Olympic dream, three elements of a truly modern triathlon.

If only they were, Britain would once more be a land of champions, and Terry Drone aboard the 7:35 from Newbury to Paddington would be a household name.

And Mr Drone – or Sir Terry OBE, as he will be known – can live the dream if he lobbies hard.

The Guardian reports that the Rail Passengers’ Council is to establish a new call centre in Manchester to process the queries and complaints from Mr Drone and people like him.

Under the initiative, called Passenger Voices, the new centre will give commuters the chance to say what they think about the dreadful trains, leaves on the line and Britain’s Olympic effort.

Indeed, we are at liberty to speak about pretty much anything we like.

And that’s because not all that many people actually complain to the RPC, preferring to address their grievances directly to the train operators.

As such, each call to the centre – which will be run by the suitably-named Ashley Grumble at a cost of £700,000 of taxpayers’ money each year – will absorb £100 of public funds.

That’s a lot of cash for a phone call – but far better value when seen as part of Britain’s Olympic programme.

And if it leads to gold medals, it represents nothing less than a bargain…’

Posted: 10th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Flights Of Fancy

‘IF you’ve got a picture of Gordon Brown on your computer, now might be the best time to delete it – the security forces frown upon such things.

Terrorist Target magazine’s Mr August

Muhammed Naeem Noor Khan must wish that he hadn’t found the Chancellor so fiendishly attractive and instead downloaded a photo of Anthea Turner or Osama bin Laden for his screen saver.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the Guardian reports that at the time of Khan’s arrest in Lahore, Pakistan, last month he did indeed have a photo of the Chancellor on his PC.

What he was doing with such a snapshot on his computer is open to debate. But we can make a safe guess that it was being used for something less than wholesome.

It was seized by the US authorities along with 51 discs, on which are contained such things as photos of public and private heliports, helicopter controls, helicopter doors and helicopter cockpits.

It could be that Khan and his gang were using the helicopters to cover up their deeply sensual appreciation of Mr Brown – employing the helicopter shots in much the same way that a copy of Aviation Monthly can be wrapped around a top-shelf title.

Or it could all point to something yet more terrible. But if it does, the Independent says that David Blunkett is not telling.

The Home Secretary’s reluctance to tell us more about Khan’s computers and the 12 suspects who were recently arrested in the UK – and are currently being questioned about their possible links to terror – seems odd to the Conservatives.

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, says: “For the Government to suggest they cannot tell us about the security risks or the level of terrorist threats without giving the public confidential information is pure rubbish.”

Not so, says Blunkett, who penned his response to such accusations in yesterday’s Observer.

In it, Blunkett writes how he has not said more because speaking would only be feeding the media in “a slack news period”.

“Is that really the job of a senior cabinet minister in charge of counter-terrorism?” he asks. “To feed the media? To increase concern? To have something to say, whatever it is, to satisfy the insatiable desire to hear somebody say something?“

Before we can all really consider his article, he tells us the answer: “Of course not. This is arrant nonsense.”

So let’s not worry – no news is good news. And read in the Times that when Tony Blair arrives in Italy from Barbados next week, he’ll be jetting into a country “in the grip of near hysteria”.

Apparently, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade, a group linked to al-Qaeda, have warned that they will unleash “unimaginable hell” on Italy unless Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi withdraws Italy’s 3,000 troops from Iraq by August 15 – the date of the Ferragosto festival.

Perhaps if this vile threat is made horribly real, Blunkett will then tell us more. Only, the danger is that his bulletin will be buried on a day when the papers are to busy to notice.’

Posted: 9th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Thirty Years Of Hurt

‘IF the Government don’t want to talk about terror, perhaps they’d like to discuss the trains.

The Virgin Rocket

And there are things to talk about. Take the Independent’s story that, after many billions of pounds spent updating the west coast main line, the new trains running along the gleaming tracks will go no faster than the old ones did 30 years ago.

The Indy has conducted some analysis and discovered that the new “tilting trains” will be shiny, new and from September 27 this year able to complete the London to Glasgow run in four hours 39 minutes – a full one minute quicker than trains managed 15 years ago!

Here at last is the 21st century rail service this country was been craving.

However, not everything is so rosy and, while the quickest London to Birmingham service will take one hour 21 minutes, other services on the same route will take one hour 35 minutes – the same as they took in 1967.

These new Virgin “pendolino” trains will travel so fast they will actually make passenger believe they are travelling through time.

As the Guardian says, passengers should not be alarmed if they believe the new trains begin to look like 1970s British Rail locomotives.

This is because they are – a fault on the new trains means the toilets don’t work; and, while they are being repaired, Virgin’s customers will be treated to a 1970s theme trip.

So sit back and relax as the train takes the stain – and know that “we’re getting there”…slowly.’

Posted: 9th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

The God Squad

‘CAN Delia Smith do for wafers what she did for the boiled egg?

‘Hands up who wants wafers’

We ask this important question in light of the Telegraph’s news of Delia’s latest recipe for success.

Having taught the nation how to turn on the oven, how to open the oven and also the news that an oven can get “hot”, the country’s favourite cook now wants us to pray.

Smith, who along with her husband is a majority shareholder at Norwich City FC, wants to mark the team’s arrival in the Premier League by following their opening match against Crystal Palace with a Roman Catholic mass.

The paper offers the opinion that it might be better to conduct a service along the lines of the last rites, given Norwich’s slim chances of surviving their first season in football’s top league.

But having taught us how to boil an egg, Delia might just be successful in turning football grounds into genuine places of worship.

“I am very much hoping that it is very well attended. I am hoping very much that many supporters and staff feel able to attend…If it is well attended, we might be able to have it two of three times a season.”

And why not go further and merge some of football’s elements into the ways of the Church.

So stand up if you hate the ways of the Devil.

“We’re on the march with Jesus’ army, we’re all going to Heaven not Hell, and we’ll really shake ‘em up when we sup the communion cup, ‘cos Jesus is the greatest name of all.”

Amen to that.’

Posted: 9th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Fashion Victims

‘“SHOULD you have been eavesdropping on a group of British men five years ago, you might have heard an analysis of a football game, a discussion of how much they drunk the night before, and then more of the football talk,” says the Guardian.

Brown is the new gay

“Cast an ear towards their conversation today and they are more likely to be discussing the merits of Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Comme des Garcons and Armani.”

Indeed, we talk of little else here in Anorak Towers.

And the general consensus is…Paul Smith won’t cut it in the Premiership, Helmut Lang is a great signing for Crystal Palace, Comme des Garcons’ last album was shit and Armani is a stupid name for a girl.

And, if you want a decent pair of trousers, don’t look further than Anorak Eazy-Slax, the one-size-fits-all choice of discerning men of all ages.

But sadly British men don’t know quality tailoring when they see it and are spunking away more money than ever on expensive clothes made by foreign johnnies.

(Although Anorak Eazy-Slax are hand-stitched by seven-year-olds in Bangladesh, the design – and the brand – are British through and through.)

The Guardian reports that more British men are now buying designer clothes than British women, with 49% admitting to having bought designer gear in the past year.

“It’s definitely true that men are becoming more effeminate,” says Mintel consumer analyst Jenny (formerly John) Catlin, “and the gap is narrowing.

“There is a general move away from that negative stereotype of men not caring about the way they look and smell.”

It is a trend that is yet to reach Anorak Towers, sadly, where some members of staff have taken full advantage of Eazy-Slax’s Eazy-Wipe technology and not changed their clothes for years.

However, the British man spends only £45 a year on personal grooming products – way behind the poncy Frogs who shell out £68 a year each trying to look good.

For those of you who are metrosexually challenged, the Guardian’s deputy fashion editor Hadley Freeman helpfully provides a list this season’s hottest looks.

And we are delighted to report that the menswear mantra this season is “retro” – the fashion industry’s way of saying it has run out of ideas.

Specifically, 1950s (with V-necked cashmere jumpers like the one Darren wears on Bewitched) and 1920s (with loose suit trousers and golfing jumpers all the rage).

We also hear that homosexuality is very in – or gay is the new black, as the fashion types like to say.’

Posted: 6th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Sex Is ‘In’ Again

‘IF you read the papers, you could only conclude that the sex-mad Brits are bonking morning, noon and night.

‘Fancy a shag?’

Hell, a couple of years over here have thawed even the England football manager’s icy Viking veins and he can barely look at a woman these days without luring her into his bed.

But it turns out that, while Sven’s bedroom may be more packed than an England substitutes’ bench during a friendly match, most of our sex lives are about as exciting as, well, the action on the pitch during an England friendly match.

The Guardian reports on a survey by Prima magazine that suggests married women today are having less sex than their grandmothers did.

Indeed, many are having less sex than their grandmothers even now, but we all knew those old people’s homes were dens of vice.

However, Prima claims that women in the 1950s had sex on average twice a week, while two-thirds of women today complain they are too tired to manage that much.

In fact, the message seems to be that, if people want to maintain a healthy sex life, they should not get married.

Four out of five couples are sleeping together by the fifth date, but as soon as they have walked up the aisle together the passion dies down.

The good news, however, for women is that, if the 1950s are back in fashion, so is sex.

The only problem is that they’ve got to try to fancy the idiot in the brown YSL trousers, Mulberry printed shirt and pointed Helmut Lang brogues…’

Posted: 6th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Sun Seekers

‘SO much for the Guardian’s attempt to portray us all as urban sophisticates, discussing the latest German designers over our skinny lattes.

Shell got a First in Sun Tanning & Strap Line Management

It turns out that we’re more insular than ever we were, with a dramatic slump in the number of British students studying in Europe.

According to the Telegraph, numbers have fallen by a third in the past decade, mirroring a similar fall in the number of people studying foreign languages.

British students prefer to study somewhere hot where the locals speak English, with students favouring America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

‘These four countries have one thing in common – they are Anglophone,’ says the report commissioned by the Department for Education.

‘Britons are attracted to exchange campuses in California, Florida, New Orleans and Australia. The climactic factor is all too evident.’

But what’s the point of going somewhere cold and landlocked when you’re studying for a BA in Surfing or an MSc in Sun Tanning..?’

Posted: 6th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Idiotic Equations

‘IF there is one story that is even more common than a poll on Dumb Britain, it is the bogus mathematical equation.

‘Agh! And there isn’t even any bubble bath!’

Or, as the Guardian says, ‘the latest attempt by the scientific community to offer algebraic explanations for the seemingly inexplicable’.

Proving that academics are never happier than when prostituting themselves for money, mathematicians at King’s College, London, have been commissioned by Sky Movies to come up with a formula for the ultimate horror film.

For what it’s worth, the equation contains 11 variables – escalating music (es), the unknown (u), chase scenes (cs), the sense of being trapped (t), shock (s), true life (tl), fantasy (f), a small number of characters (a), an isolated setting (fs), the lights off (dr) and gore (x).

And the scariness of a film can be measured thus: (es + u + cs + t) squared + s +(tl + f)/2 + (a + dr + fs)/n + sin x -1.

By this token, The Shining is the scariest film of all time, although a home video of Vanessa Feltz in the bath comes a pretty close second.

Earlier this year, the Guardian reminds us, scientists came up with a formula for perfect happiness: P + (5 x E) + (3 x H).

And Anorak boffins have been working for some time on their own formula for the perfect scientific formula: B + O + L + L + O + C + K + S.’

Posted: 5th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Dumb Britain

‘ANOTHER week, another poll showing just how thick we Brits really are.

Sir Francis Drake

According to the Independent, almost half of all 16 to 34-year-olds in the BBC poll did not know who led the English fleet against the Spanish armada in 1588.

One in five 16 to 24-year-olds thought it was Christopher Columbus, while one in 20 opted for Gandalf, the wizard from Lord Of The Rings.

Asked what battle the Orangemen in Northern Ireland commemorate when they march on July 12, 15% of the same age group said Helm’s Deep, the battle at the end of The Two Towers.

Predictably, the paper says the news has been greeted with dismay by campaigners for a return to a more traditional history syllabus.

‘Some of the results are really surprising,’ said Peter Furtado, editor of History Today.

Surprising perhaps if you were never 18 yourself and seriously think that most teenagers will give an honest answer to a pollster.’

Posted: 5th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Focus Group

‘THE good news is that the IT team are back at their desks in Anorak Towers this morning.

‘And this is what the posties look like in Spain’

We still don’t know the reason for yesterday’s no-show – they muttered something about all catching the MyDoom virus and then started laughing uncontrollably among themselves.

But we suspect their reappearance has something to do with the new incentives Old Mr Anorak has introduced to encourage us to work even harder for his enrichment.

Generously, he has announced that employees who don’t miss a day’s work between now and next Christmas will be in line for a series of rewards.

Unfortunately, these rewards are not as generous as those on offer from Royal Mail, which is offering a similar scheme to try to cut absenteeism.

The Times reports that at any one time 10,000 postal workers are unfit for work – almost 6% of its total workforce of 170,000.

On average, Royal Mail workers are off sick for 12 days a year, compared with the national average of seven – costing the company an estimated £300m a year.

And in a bid to cut this figure, the company will enter the names of any employee who manages to clock up a clean attendance record for six months in a prize draw.

Thirty-four winners will drive away in a Ford Focus, while 68 runners-up will win holiday vouchers worth £2,000.

The carrot approach favoured by Royal Mail is, says the paper, is sharp contrast to other companies.

Tesco, for instance, has said it will no longer automatically pay staff for the first three days of any illness.

And it is a lot more generous than the scheme on offer here at Anorak Towers, where the rewards include not getting the sack and, er, not getting the sack.’

Posted: 5th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Tantrum Tamer

‘THERE’S no point kids throwing tantrums just because Dad has given them a good wupping at kick-boxing or bare-knuckle fighting.

‘Okay, Grace. What’s Pi to 40 decimal places?’

They need to put in more hours in the gym, so that as soon as Dad walks in from work he gets put on the floor by a left jab and right uppercut combination.

Save the tantrums for Mum, especially when she’s struggling her way round the supermarket.

But the Times has news that the supermarket tantrum may soon be a thing of the past.

Tesco is working to perfect a trolley called the Tantrum Tamer, which will have an electronic screen attached to play DVDs, CDs and educational games to kids seated at the back.

A prototype should be in shops within a month.

The supermarket giant began the project after a survey found that 84% of parents said they’d like help keeping their kids busy while they were doing the shopping.

At the moment, Tesco recommends parents play things like I Spy or maths games with their kids to keep them amused.

‘Okay, little Jack, see if you can work out 1,567 x 5,209 before dad?”

Posted: 4th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Competitive Dads

‘IF you wonder why kids today grow up to be softer than a mink’s inner thigh, don’t just look to blame the bearded Sixties revivalists who run our schools.

‘Okay, son. First one to the other side gets an ice-cream’

Non-competitive group activities may have taken the place of competitive sport, but news in the Telegraph suggests that the problems start closer to home.

According to a survey of 1,000 youngsters, kids would much rather play with their mother, siblings or friends than with their father.

In fact, dads only just come above grandparents in the popularity list and it’s not just because they lack imagination or are not sure how to play kids’ games.

The main complaint from kids is that their dads are too competitive and ‘play to win’.

Well, welcome to the real world, juniors. It’s dog eat dog out here – and the sooner you get used to it the better.

That’s why Anorak salutes dads like Andy Hibberd, who tells the Telegraph: ‘There’s no point in playing unless you are playing to win.’

And the unnamed father-of-two, who says: ‘It is better my children learn to lose with someone who cares for them.’

Quite right. And if Mr Hibberd has been the undisputed arm-wrestling champion in his own home for as long as he can remember, then don’t hold that against him.

It’s high time six-year-old Charles Hibberd and his five-year-old brother Jonathan shaped up…’

Posted: 4th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Old News

‘WE are assured that the reason the IT department has not turned up for work at Anorak Towers this morning is nothing to do with the terror raids across Britain last night.

Who’s going to fix our computers now?

The fact that they would turn up to work in ‘Kill The Infidel’ T-shirts and spend most of their time throwing paper planes across the office was just their particular sense of humour.

But 13 people will not be turning up to work today after police swooped in a series of co-ordinated raids across the country.

According to the Times, up to 70 officers sealed off streets in Kensal Green, while police in forensic science outfits were seen searching a house on Harrow Road.

And two others were arrested at Blackburn as they drove their gold Mercedes (coincidentally the Anorak company car) down Preston Old Road.

It is unclear whether the arrests are connected with the heightened alert in the United States, which follows the discovery of detailed terror plans on the computer of captured al Qaeda suspect Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan.

If they are, however, they as likely to relate to operations planned for World War II as they are to the Islamist terrorist threat.

It turns out that cynicism at the motives of the White House in issuing the terror alert was fully justified with news that the ‘new’ intelligence is actually four years old.

The Independent says the information on which the state of alert in the United States was raised to orange actually pre-dated the September 11 2001 attacks.

And it quotes a senior law enforcement official who told the Washington Post: ‘There is nothing right now that we’re hearing that is new. Why did we go to this level? I still don’t know that.’

However, the Bush administration insists the decision to upgrade the security alert was not politically motivated.

‘I don’t want anyone to disabuse themselves of the seriousness of this information,’ Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said, ‘simply because there are some reports that much of it is dated.’

In particular, we advise people living in the Normandy area of France to be extra vigilant in the days and weeks to come.

News is that a massive armada of ships is heading your way…’

Posted: 4th, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Taking A Break

”HAVE a break, have a KitKat.’ Advice a lot of us would give to President Bush, who hopefully could be looking at an enforced holiday come next year.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for a President

But it’s advice that manufacturers Nestle Rowntree are withdrawing after 47 years, after sales in what used to be Britain’s top-selling confectionery slumped.

Instead, customers are to be urged to ‘Make the most of your break’ – a marketing makeover to be backed by a £5m television advertising campaign.

The company says the change is a response to shifting work patterns rather than falling sales.

‘The new slogan is acknowledging that a break is less formalised,’ a company spokesman tells the Independent, ‘but, even if it is for five minutes, you can maximise your enjoyment with a KitKat.’

Marketers were split over whether the new slogan would make any difference to flagging sales.

One said that we already eat far too much chocolate – about eight kilos a year per person – and all medical advice was to reduce that amount.

Another said that the old slogan was over-recognised and doing something a bit different was a smart move.

As it is, 47 KitKats are still consumed every second and it has remained one of the country’s favourite sweets since it was endorsed by President Bush’s hero, Winston Churchill, as a cheap and healthy form of nourishment during the war.

Reason enough, you would think, for Dubya to stick one in his mouth and see whether he has any more success with that than he had with the pretzel.’

Posted: 3rd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Terror Plot?

‘IT is an indication of just how low the public’s trust in politicians has sunk that we can believe a full-scale terror alert is just a ruse to boost the President’s poll figures.

Britain’s counter terrorist unit counts down the minutes until lunch

But President Bush has done more than any other politician to earn this mistrust from the moment he ‘stole’ the 2000 US presidential election.

His stated belief that Iraq is in some way connected with the 9/11 attacks flew in the face not only of common sense but of all empirical evidence.

And his insistence (matched only by that of Tony Blair) that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq long after it became clear that there weren’t only helped to undermine the whole credibility of the war.

But it is not just fanciful members of the public – the kind who still believe the moon landing was staged in a remote part of the Arizona desert – who are sceptical about Bush’s motives in raising America’s state of alert to orange (high).

‘A Nation In Danger. Or A President In Peril?’ asks the Independent’s front-page headline.

And Howard Dean, former Democratic presidential candidate, told CNN that it was impossible to know how real the alert was.

‘I am concerned,’ he said, ‘that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism.’

The alert comes after plans to launch attacks on America and Britain were discovered on a laptop computer belonging to an al-Qaeda suspect captured in Pakistan.

The Times says US companies in the City of London and elsewhere have been advised to tighten security, although no specific threat has been made against any company in the UK.

The United States remains al Qaeda’s prime target, with an attack expected in the run-up to November’s presidential election.

But what is hard to fathom is why an attack is generally seen as beneficial to President Bush’s re-election chances.

For the country to be attacked once under a president’s watch may be a misfortune; to be attacked a second time looks like carelessness.’

Posted: 3rd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Quack Troops

‘LET’S face it – who can really be bothered to train as a proper doctor?

‘Sir Cliff, we’re ready for you now!’

It takes something like six years just to qualify as a junior doctor, at which time you spend 23 out of every 24 hours trying to keep alive patients that your colleagues have spent the previous 23 out of 24 hours trying to kill.

No, being a doctor is far too stressful, especially when you can become an alternative therapist with no training, no late nights and no professional body to tell you what to do.

No wonder the Times says there are some 40,000 ‘complimentary therapists’ operating in Britain, with a quarter of the population believed to seek their services every year.

But, according to Edzard Ernst, the country’s only professor of complimentary medicine, many of these people – shock, horror – are doing more harm than good.

For instance, a study of 32 of the most popular alternative therapy websites for cancer sufferers found that many were hastening the deaths of their patients.

And none of the treatments, which include things like shark cartilage, coffee enemas and mistletoe extracts, have been shown definitively to have a beneficial effect.

‘Not everything that is natural is risk-free,’ Professor Ernst tells the Times. ‘People should use their common sense and think twice about the motives of these websites.

‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

NONSENSE! Anorak’s ‘Peter Panacea’ TM (made from Sir Cliff Richard’s sperm, kangaroo droppings and a secret ingredient) not only cures all known forms of cancer, but can reverse the signs of aging.

Simply send your life savings (plus £4.50 P&P) to us at the usual address. Allow 28 years for delivery.’

Posted: 3rd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Hookers For Bush

‘OBVIOUSLY Dr Liam Fox is a fine, upstanding man – and we cast no aspersions when we mention that he is still a bachelor at the age of 43.

‘Ah! Doctor Fox, I presume’

The only thing keeping him up past 10pm at the Republican Convention, we’re sure, will be the cut and thrust of political argument with his American colleagues.

But we trust the same will not be said of all the visitors to the New York convention.

The Independent reports that escort agencies, strip bars and other establishments catering for the discerning man have declared last week’s Democratic Convention in Boston a big bust.

The agency Convention Cuties said the level of business had been ‘a disappointment’.

In a presidential race where every vote is likely to count, can John Kerry afford to alienate hookers in this way?

We trust George Bush’s supporters will not be so gung-ho about the XXX vote and will spend the week dipping their wick for Dubya.’

Posted: 2nd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Fox Hunt

‘WHEN politicians disappear for their summer holidays, they are not all lucky enough to be guests of Sir Cliff Richard at his Bahamas home.

‘There must be a Tory round here somewhere’

Some travel around France together sharing a bed because they, er, can’t afford to get a twin room.

Others, like Tory party co-chairman Dr Liam Fox, go further afield, scouring the world in a desperate attempt to drum up a few votes.

The Times says Dr Fox has spent the first fortnight of the summer recess in Hong Kong and Dubai trying to revive a volunteer organisation called Conservatives Abroad.

He is off to South Africa this week and later in the month will visit the United States, where he will attend the Republican Convention.

‘With Michael Howard’s fortunes faltering in the opinion polls,’ the paper says, ‘the Conservatives have decided to invest in thousands of air miles for Dr Fox in the belief that Britons overseas are much more likely to vote Tory than any other party.’

A similar tactic, albeit aided and abetted by an electoral fraud, worked for the Republicans in the 2000 US Presidential election.

What it basically boils down to, however, is this – the only people daft enough to vote for Michael Howard are those who don’t know him and wouldn’t have to suffer his policies even if by any miracle he were elected.’

Posted: 2nd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Ball Skills

‘THERE are predictable howls of derision this morning at the news that Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College is offering a degree course in Football Studies.

Dr Faria Alam, guest lecherer at Buckinghamshire Chilterns

But less of the laughter – organisers insist this is a serious academic discipline that investigates the inner workings of a multi-billion pound industry.

And the Times explains that, as well as spending a week with the Finnish FA, students signing up for a course in International Football Management will have to spend most weekends watching Wycombe Wanderers.

That is a fate that even the most die-hard Wycombe Wanderers fans wouldn’t wish on anyone.

However, courses in National Football Administration are likely to prove more popular – modules include Shafting Your Employees (Part 1: Literally, Part 2: Metaphorically), Shooting Yourself In The Foot and (for only the very brightest students) Organising A Piss-Up In A Brewery.

But how employable will those who graduate from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College with a BA (Hons) in Football Studies (Roasting) be?

Not very, according to a study published this week which says that job applicants are now having to demonstrate qualities to employers that ‘in a previous life may have resulted in canonisation’.

It is no longer knowledge or technical skills that secures a good job, says the Telegraph, but ‘personal capital’ – the ability to communicate, persuade, network etc.

Successful applicants need to ‘look good and sound right’; they should be ‘charismatic’; and will probably need to have been to an elite university.

The study, by Philip Brown (professor of social sciences at Carfdiff) and Anthony Hesketh (lecturer in management at Lancaster), divides candidates into purists and players.

Purists ‘have not woken up to the realities of labour market competition’ and believe that if they are good enough, they will get a good job.

Players, on the other hand, deliberately build up their CV by undertaking voluntary work, for instance or becoming debating society chairman.

They practise taking psychometric tests, take part in simulated group exercises and read books on how to answer difficult interview questions.

‘You don’t deliberately lie,’ the authors say, ‘but you’re economical with the truth. You don’t be yourself – you glorify things a bit.’

And you can explain why watching Wycombe Wanderers every weekend makes you a suitable candidate for a job in international football management…’

Posted: 2nd, August 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Boiling With Rage

‘FORGET the real IRA, Hamas and al-Qaeda, a new terrorist force has arrived on these shores. The Lobster Liberation Front is among us.

‘I’m coming after you!’

The Guardian says that the LLF (not to be confused with the Popular Front For The Liberation Of Lobsters) is claming responsibility for an attack on Chapman’s Pool, Dorset.

The paper has a picture of lobster fisherman/murderer Jonathan Lander standing by one the pots smashed by the nefarious and shadowy LLF.

The damage wrought by the LLF will cost £10,000 to repair – and there will be more attacks.

A notice posted on the Internet, and reproduced by the Telegraph, declares: ‘The war against the lobster industry has begun.

‘We will attack anywhere, at any time. Pots will be smashed, boats sunk, and sealife liberated. We are ready, are you?’

The simple answer is that we weren’t, but now we are.

We’ve taken the chance to fortify Anorak Towers with vats of boiling water, pairs of crackers and sprigs of fresh parsley.

If any lobster tries to get in, we’ll boil it alive!’

Posted: 30th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Full Board

‘AFTER hearing of the Church of England’s monetary worries, we humbly suggest that it no longer relies on donations but charges a fixed entry fee on the door.

‘Hooray! We’ve got the honeymoon suite’

Seats at the back of the building will cost less than the front pews.

The elderly organists will be replaced by jukebox-style hymn machines, which will strike up the chords to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and other favourites with the help of a £2 coin.

Anyone wishing to earn a nod from the vicar and enter Heaven will be required to pay an upfront rental fee.

Space at God’s right hand is at a premium and a seat will only be guaranteed to those paying the full £500-a-year fee, with a discount of 10% if the Day of Judgement occurs in the first five years after death.

It’s much the same already in the prison system the Independent reports that two men wrongly jailed for the infamous murder of newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater in 1978 have been charged rent.

The pragmatic Court of Appeal has ruled that cousins Michael and Vincent Hickey, who each spent 18 years in prison, have to forfeit a quarter of loss-of-earnings compensation for the ‘free food and accommodation’ they received inside.

Porridge doesn’t some cheap, so the Hickeys will have to pay around £60,000 each, roughly £60 for every week they were behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

To us and, perhaps, to the Church of England, this seems entirely fair – the Hickeys should consider themselves fortunate that they are not being charged backdated TV licence fees and 50p for every frame they played on the prison’s pool table.

But Mark Leech, editor of The Prison Handbook, is amazed.

‘It has to be the sickest of all sick jokes,’ says he. ‘Can you imagine Terry Waite getting a bill for the living expenses he saved during his five years wrongly held in the Lebanon?’

Yes, we can – although where the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy would have got the money for his bed and board from is a moot point in clerical circles.’

Posted: 30th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Church Fate

‘SUCH is the state of the Church of England’s finances that it can no longer get by on the usual collection plate haul of a few old buttons, a washer and a ring-pull from a can of super-strength lager.

‘And what am I bid for a year’s membership of Heaven?’

The Times says that the CoE needs money if it is to thrive – it has deficits of millions of pounds.

But there are paths to salvation.

Sponsorship of the vicar’s cassock is one idea, with the cleric wearing an outfit by George at Asda or Gap. His dog collar could perhaps carry the Bonio or Pedigree Chum brand marks.

However, as advertising rates are dependent on the number of eyeballs seeing these adverts, the Church’s ever-shrinking congregation will severely hit revenues earned in this way.

The clearer way forward is for they who come to pray to give more.

For instance, Ely is facing a shortfall in giving of £445,000. Things are so bad in godless Bristol that the Church is planning to cut staffing levels and ‘lose’ 20 stipendiary clergy over the next five years.

But the meanest bunch of churchgoers seem to be in Lichfield, where monetary donations from parishioners have fallen £2m short of what has been needed since 1997.

What these people need is a reminder from the pulpit that it’s almost impossible for a rich man or woman (the Church is all embracing in fiscal matters) to enter Heaven’s gates and that, unless they give until their fingers bleed, the tight-fisted will rot in hell for all eternity, for it is written.

The vicars could turn their services into auctions, offering guaranteed places in Heaven and a Pearly Gates key fob to those offering the highest bid.

However, we should note, as the Times does, that the Church is somewhat to blame for its own palsied state.

The current troubles have been exacerbated by the £800m bath the Church Commission took in the 1980s when the bottom fell out of the property market.

However, the Church will also have benefited from the recent boom in this sector and surely need only sell off a few of its buildings to save itself.

So, to get the ball rolling, what are we bid for Lambeth Palace? Do we hear ten pounds from the back, or have you just come in to keep warm?’

Posted: 30th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Bed And Boardroom

‘TODAY we learn that Trojans, ants and two million of us suffer from a condition now officially called “work lust”.

‘I have a need for Provigil’

Despite the obvious mental link, the Independent, in reporting on the study by a body called Work Foundation, makes no mention of fancying our secretary or the new office boy.

This is a story about how there are about 2.4 million “workophiles” in Britain who prefer the office to home.

So hard-working are these people – who typically work a 60-hour week – that researchers looking at them were impelled to up their own work rate and so labelled this new group not once but twice.

They might also have branded this workaholic group “journalists”, because members of that noble profession have been skipping long lunches to produce more stories about working hard.

So, adding to the Indy’s story is the Guardian’s front-page report, which says that the Ministry of Defence has just taken delivery of more than 24,000 Provigil pills.

On hearing such news, our eyebrows pop and refuse to go down for a week as the paper tells us how this wonder drug can keep soldiers awake for days.

Suddenly, those proposed cuts to the armed forces don’t look so bad – with Provigil, one squaddie can do the work of three. Take enough and when junior asks his battle-hardened dad what he did in the war, papa can place his hand on his heart and offer the simple and truthful reply: “Everything, son. I did everything.”

But let’s not rest even for a second, because those hacks at the Times have been toiling through the night to tell us about a signalling molecule called Interleukin-6 (IL-6).

A team of scientists at the University of Cape Town have located IL-6, the protein that tells the brain to feel tired.

Paula Robson-Ansley, who led the research, sees this chemical trigger as a “distress flare that says the body’s in trouble, so slow down”.

But no sooner has it been discovered than the Times reports that Robson-Ansley and other scientists are looking into ways of blocking nature’s own clocking-off mechanism.

If they are successful, you’ll soon be able to wave a frantic goodbye to those old-fashioned ways of staying awake, like getting stuck into work or lacing your morning pint of Red Bull with a handful of Provigil pills.

You’ll just block your IL-6 and do away with all feelings of lethargy.

Which could one day mean that we get to live the 24-hour life we crave – working 120-hour weeks, sleeping for only two hours a month and dying at age 15 with our eyes very wide open…’

Posted: 29th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment