Anorak

Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 40

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

Brought To Book

‘“I WAS in a pub and I was looking up at their bookshelf, which had the Good Food Guide, the Good Hotel Guide and the Good Pub Guide on it, and suddenly I had a flash, so I got cracking on it.”

And after that, there’s the chimney to sweep

The words of Derek Humphrey, as revealed by the Guardian, who on a visit to Britain from his home in Eugene, Oregon, saw the future through the bottom of a glass while reviewing a bookshelf.

And the product of his cathartic moment is ‘The Good Euthanasia Guide 2004’, or the “good dying” guide, as the paper has it.

And since it pays to be ready for the Grim Reaper’s scythe, the Guardian has had peek at the book’s forward.

“Don’t bother to acquire this book if you are a person who believes that a religious deity is in sole charge of your life and dying,” he writes, so deterring all new Labour voters and George Bush supporters from purchasing his worthy tome.

And it is a worthwhile read, do not doubt that. You see, all books are valid things, even ‘Yes, Please, Thanks’, the latest work from the pen of Penny Palmano, now profiled in the Times.

That the book was first entitled ‘How To Behave In Public’ will give many of you a clue that Ms Palmano’s work is about raising your kiddies the right way. Making them grateful.

“I am not a family therapist, child psychologist, nursery schoolteacher or qualified ‘child’ anything,” says she. But Penny is a mother of three, which is qualification enough, as far as she and her publisher are concerned.

And make that a mother who wants to be proud of her polite children. “Giving up your seat on the bus, helping a mother with a pushchair are small acts of kindness,” says Penny – both gestures that might make her life easier.

We daresay that other small acts of kindness involve Jake and Chloe cooking the dinner, tidying the lounge and servicing mummy’s 4×4 until it runs like baby Armani’s nose.

But even if such books are not for you, Estelle Morris, the Culture Minister, has been spotted by the Independent at the Hay Festival of books looking at some other volumes.

Sorry, make those “ideas”, because reading is no longer about taking time to immerse yourself into another’s world. No, it’s a way of creating “incredibly useful” festivals – “because we all need a place to think and exchange ideas and ideals,” says Morris.

“Politicians in the media can talk to millions,” says Morris in the Indy (a paper read by many less than millions), but they don’t generally get people talking back at them. They’re not used to listening.”

In other words, politicians are not a bit unlike like Penny Palmano’s children, and should be seen and not heard…’

Posted: 1st, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Building The Future

‘THE drive to make good Britons of us all does not begin and end with the likes of Penny Palmano’s guide to childrearing and citizenship ceremonies.

‘On the count of three, press the button…’

The programme stretches far further than that, and now, as the Guardian reports, it includes the bad being retrained in the ways of the good.

What Barbara Woodhouse once did for dogs, David Blunkett wants to do for people, as he tells the paper how he plans to deal with “neighbours from hell”.

As it stands, the only way to deal with somebody up for eviction for anti-social behaviour is to rehouse them “so someone else gets a neighbour from hell”.

But his plan is to make social lepers earn the “right to be rehoused and be put back in the community”.

And he’ll do this by way of a compulsory rehabilitation programme, in which the unwanted will have to prove they are worthy of living among the decent.

The programme will include modules in parenting skills, financial management and anger management.

And those earmarked for the course (which is sure to end in a GCSE in Neighbourly Studies) will be housed in a secure council block with others like them.

Social workers will be on tap to provide family support, round-the-clock counselling and any assistance the prisoners, sorry, lucky few need to become better people.

Should they fail, then the entire block will be locked up and detonated by a team of explosive experts.

It might be harsh, but it’s the only language some people understand…’

Posted: 1st, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Natural Order

‘SOME may argue that culling the poor and anti-social is just a part of the evolutionary process.

Page refused to jump through hoops – or do a forward role

Were Charles Darwin alive today, he might approve, perhaps even push the plunger on a sink housing estate and watch the zeta-males and females leave the circle of life in so much ash.

Others will argue that all life is precious, even it does smoke 60-a-day, drink cans of extra strong larger and defecate though your letterbox.

It’s what members of Petra would call ‘Creation versus Evolution’, which is what the group wrote on a banner at the Brimscombe jamboree, Gloucestershire.

By way of background, the Telegraph tells its readers that Petra believes all human life can be traced back to Adam and Eve and that dinosaurs roamed the earth alongside men about 6,000 years ago.

Valid ideas to discuss with Estelle Morris at the Hay Festival, perhaps, but as far as Nick Page, host of BBC2’s Escape to the Country programme, is concerned, far from suited to a village do.

So, though due to appear as the guest speaker, Page, having seen the Petra banner, made his excuses to the event’s organiser, Liz Peters, and left.

Page’s note read: “Liz, apologies, but due to the religious propagandist overtones of the fete I will be unable to assist.”

And this mystified Ms Peters, who wracked her brains to think of what Page saw wrong in the show.

“The only thing any of us could think of was a puppet show in the arena called ‘Hand Stands for Jesus’,” says she.

While many, including us, would pay good money to see such a show, Page was not buying into it.

“But we’ve got a Christian fundamentalist prime minister,” says he, “sending hundreds of people to their death every week and I couldn’t believe people were promoting these sorts of ideas – at a village fete of all places.”

Although to us it sounds like the perfect place to engage in such a dialogue.

“First Brimscombe, then Basra”, as they say in the evolving environs of Gloucestershire…’

Posted: 1st, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Making A Scene

‘WITH Posh gone, Hamza on the point of going and our joint campaign with the UK Independence Party to get Kilroy-Silk to Brussels progressing nicely, Britain may yet be yanked from the yolk of terror.

‘The plot’s got more twists and turns than a Paris tunnel’ – Anorak

But news of Paul Burrell’s imminent departure to pastures new has been widely exaggerated, and the Telegraph learns that the rock-like former butler is still among us.

In fact, anyone who wants to can go and see and hear the man himself in the flesh making his claims about Diana, Princess of Wales, on the West End stage.

For one night only, The Rock will appear at the 2,100-seat Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to tell all…again.

The show, entitled Paul Burrell: In His Own Words, will see the discreet and caring former butler tell anyone with the readies about what it was like working for Saint Diana of Nichols.

During the chat, he’ll talk about the good times (his book) the bad times (his book), and how it was that he came to be so very close to his employer, or so he claims.

And, what’s more, for an encore he will reveal “a few minor revelations” about life among the blue bloods.

That’s a thrill, but placed in the shade by the other news that after the 45-minute chat he will take questions from the public for an hour.

In preparation for his, please submit your questions to the usual address. But to get the ball rolling, here’s ours: “Mr Burrell, Rock, if we lend you our battered, white Fiat Uno will you drive off into the distance for good?”’

Posted: 28th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sweet Charity

‘”HIYA!” ‘Oh, er, yes, hello.’

‘Spare some change for a cup of tea for a tribe in the Amazon, guv?’

“Got a moment to save a child from certain death?”

‘Er, well I was just going to get a sandwich, and…’

It’s now too late. You have answered her, and now you are hers. The smiley, happy, chirpy do-gooder (albeit one paid for the job) has snared another victim.

And there is no use running, because she’s not alone. She’s part of a pack of like-minded coves stationed in a street near you, determined to making you hand over some cash to farmers in Peru.

But no more. The Times says that these chuggers (charity muggers) are facing legislation that will put the brakes on their blocking tactics.

As part of a drive to reform charity rules, fundraisers will be required to hold a licence to beg and be subject to a two-stage test.

Firstly, they will have to prove their collectors are “fit and proper persons”. Secondly, they will need to pass a “capacity” test to endure that no other similar collections are taking place at the same time in the same place.

This will stop the assault courses approach to charity work that forces workers and shoppers to dodge the human bollards in those coloured bibs that step into the path.

Although, for many in this obese land, this is the only exercise we get…’

Posted: 28th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sling Yer Hook

‘JUST how do you become a “freelance consultant to terrorism groups worldwide”?

‘If you’re name’s not down, you’re not coming in’

That’s what the United States claims Abu Hamza, the hook-handed, one-eyed, purple people eater is.

As such, the Times reports that yesterday the 47-year-old Egyptian-born militant was arrested at his London home after Americans formerly sought his extradition on 11 terrorism charges.

Well, it appears that to become an alleged freelancer specialising in matters of terror, you need to have a list of aliases.

So, as well as seeking the removal of Abu Hamza, aka Dr Hook, aka The Hook, the US, as the Times reports, also brought charges against, “Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, aka Abu Hamza, aka Abu Hamza al-Masri, aka Mustafa Kamel, aka Mostafa Kamel, aka Kamel Mostafa”.

Chances remain high that US Assistant Attorney General, Christopher A Wray is still reading out the list of names Hamza also goes under.

Indeed, the latest report suggests Wray has just reached “aka Leslie Grantham”, that other infamous “aka Captain Hook”.

Secondly, in order to move in the shadowy world of terrorism, allegedly, you need a pair of dark glasses – or you Mustafa pair, as is the fashion. And Hamza can be seen sporting some suitably moody shades on the cover of the Guardian.

It’s a strong look, and one that enables him to change from being the suspected brains behind such terrorists activities as hostage taking and conspiring to provide goods and services to the dreaded Taliban into the guise of a “rebel cleric”.

And let’s face it, it’s far easier to fear and despise an extremist with a hook in place of a hand, one eye and a neat line in fire and brimstone than it is to dislike a rebel.

At least it is until you learn, as the Telegraph does, that the third element in being an alleged freelance terror fixer is to have a tendency towards arrogance, smugness and, perhaps even violence.

We read that when Hamza first came to Britain he worked in a Soho nightclub – on the door.

This puts something of the tin lid on the entire deal.

We now realise that if martyrs are going to get into paradise, they’ll have to pass though the hallowed gates in groups of no more than five at a time and not dressed in trainers.

Proven virgins, however, are free before 10pm.’

Posted: 28th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Fat Of The Land

‘“IF Johnny has five lard bars, two family sized packets of lard flavoured crisps and seven cans of carbonated lard with the tangy zest of guava, how many years does he have to live?”

‘What pies, miss?’

That’s a sample question taken from next year’s GCSE in fat sciences. And the answer from a multiple-choice list of alternatives is “c – depressingly few”. What’s more, little Johnny will die before his parents.

A report into the obesity epidemic by the Commons Health Select Committee, and seen by the Guardian, says that should current trends in weight gain continue, fat will soon kill more of us than tobacco.

“Should the gloomier scenarios relating to obesity turn out to be true, the sight of amputees will become more familiar in the streets of Britain,” warns the report.

It goes onto say that there will also be more blind people and a huge demand for kidney dialysis.

“Indeed, this will be the first generation where children die before their parents as a consequence of obesity.”

The Times has some more “HEAVY FACTS”, chiefly that 20% of adults are obese; 92% of young people eat too much fat; 25% of children in England and Wales are overweight; and only 32% of people get enough exercise, the figure falling to 28% in the North-East.

One way the report says we can combat this fattening up is, as the Times says, with the introduction of an annual “fat test”.

All schoolchildren will have their body mass index (BMI) calculated and the ratings sent to their parents.

A handy grid, in which height is plotted against weight, enables each reader to see what their BMI is.

But however valid, surely the last thing children need is yet another new exam, especially since the old ones are so tried and tested.

If the little loves can slide up and down the chimney with ease, then they are thin enough – and if they can’t, after a few weeks wedged up the flume, they soon will be…’

Posted: 27th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Art Attack

‘FIRST up, a big hearty thanks to all of you who sent in vomit and socks.

Saved for the nation

Our installation is progressing nicely, and we’ll be exhibiting our collective work ‘Vomit In Sock’ all over the steps of the Saatchi Gallery later today.

It’s a shoo-in for the Turner Prize, and will ably fill the void left by the destruction of so many fine modern works of art yesterday.

But the Telegraph says that a far worse disaster was narrowly averted. It was luck, fate, call it what you will that caused works by Tracy Emin to be removed from the now decimated Momart warehouse shortly before the fire.

A spokesman for Emin says that the artist with the gift for turning ordinary objects into ordinary dirty objects removed her stuff from the warehouse recently, thinking the items would be safer in her London studio.

It’s not for us to cast aspersions, but with so much of the competition now out of the way, Emin’s portfolio could be very much in demand, and worth a lot more than it was pre-fire.

So while the cops look for suspects, the Independent hears from the great women herself. And she’s philosophical about things.

“I’m upset,” says Tray, “I’m also upset about those people whose wedding got bombed last week [in Iraq], and people being dug out from under 400ft of mud in the Dominican Republic…the news is bad at the moment.”

It’s good to see that Emin is maintaining a sense of perspective, bracketing her loss of “tent and hut” with those other man-made and natural disasters.

Other artists also tell the Indy what they think. Jake Chapman holds God responsible for the act of destruction (everyone’s a critic), and Dexter Dalwood clasps his hands and says: “It is a tragedy but we can’t bring the works back, and it would have been far worse if a child had died.”

What, worse than losing a few of what Tracy Emin calls her “friends”? Surely not…’

Posted: 27th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Kilroy Goes There

‘WE are pleased to say that Robert Kilroy-Silk’s campaign to relocate to Brussels is gathering pace.

Boat for Kilroy

The Telegraph followed the perma-tanned champion of ordinary, decent people to Northampton yesterday, where he pressed flesh and even autographed the hand of one of his many young fans.

He also took time to speak to a frail, 85-year-old D-Day veteran. Kilroy asked him if he was going to the 60th anniversary celebrations.

No, said the old soldier, the memories were too awful. “You should go,” replied Kilroy, his finger on the pulse of popular opinion. “It might be the last thing you do.”

It might. Although the vet may like to hang around until June 10 and vote for Kilroy in the European elections before popping off.

And what he’d be making his mark against is made clear earlier in the paper, where the Telegraph says how Ceredigion county council in Wales has adopted an EU ruling with gusto.

From now on, butchers in the locale are banned from giving bones to dog owners, and, most likely, owners of tigers, hyenas, children and all manner of family pets.

Under the EU’s Animal By-products Regulations ruling, which came into force last year, “the practice of supplying domestic animals with bones, meat trimmings etc, must be discontinued”.

This is thin edge of a very obese wedge. Europe must be stopped.

But the UK Independence Party cannot succeed with just Kilroy, however energetic, surprisingly youthful and attractive he is for a man of his age.

The cause needs others. So come on Vanessa Feltz, Anthea Turner, Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, Victoria Beckham (if you’re still here), Princess Michael of Kent, Neil and Christine Hamilton, Richard Madeley, Carol Smillie and Kerry McPadding, it’s time to get on the campaign trail.

We’d vote in our droves to send you lot to Brussels. Come on, your country needs you…’

Posted: 27th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ayatolla Bush

‘DON’T be too surprised if when the Iraqi people vote for their leader next January, George Bush wins by a landslide.

Ayatollah Sistani prepares himself for defeat

A glitch in the American-made voting machines will mean that Ayatollah Sistani, the Shia leader, a man the Independent calls “the most powerful Iraqi politician”, will appear as G. Bush on some voting slips.

But it might work out for the best – at least this way, Bush will be able to press ahead with his five-point plan for a newer and freer Iraq not from the position of an invading tyrant but as the country’s democratically elected leader.

And that’s the bright and rosy future Bush put forward in a speech at the US Army War College.

“I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power,” says Bush, reinforcing the notion that the Iraq campaign is part of the universal war on terror.

“I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history and find their own way.”

As George also says: ”Iraqis are proud people who resent foreign control on their affairs, just as we would.”

No arguing with that last point, even if the final part appears to be a little dig at our own beloved leader, the yapping Tony Blair.

The Telegraph says that having been accused by the Opposition and members so of his own party of blindly going along with whatever the Bush administration dictates, yesterday Tony tried to create some light between himself and the US President.

The paper hears Blair say that a new Iraqi government should be allowed to veto military action by the coalition forces. Any operations against insurgents should be carried out only with the Iraqi government’s consent.

Only this way will there be a “real and genuine” transfer of sovereignty on the June 30 deadline, says Tony.

This sounds terribly fair, until you realise, as US Secretary of State Colin Powell does, that it would effectively mean Iraqis controlling the US-led forces.

And anyone who can’t spot the flaw with that idea must be stupid. Or with stupid…’

Posted: 26th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


A New Political Dynasty

‘BEFORE Iraq becomes the land of the free and the home of the brave in early 2005, just over one in five of us will embrace democracy and vote for our representatives in the European parliament on June 30.

‘We’d never go to war over oil,’ say Kilroy-Silk and Collins

That’s the percentage turnout the Guardian estimates will decide which politicos will go to Brussels and exercise the UK’s veto on hedgehog flavoured crisps, bendy bananas and whatever else it is that MEPs do.

And if you need any further inducement to vote, the Independent says that while making your mark at your local village hall, you might bump into Joan Collins, the newest patron of the UK Independence Party.

She’ll be voting in the European Elections for Britain to be out of Europe and withdraw from the European Union.

“I do feel that my country – I am English – is losing a lot of what I grew up with,” says Joan, who tells the Times that she has never actually voted before because she’s never been in her beloved England at the right time.

“I feel we are eroding ourselves to Brussels,” she adds.

That does sound painful, and it’s a pain Joan and her fellow UKIP supporters want to stop.

So alongside a picture of Joan walking with UKIP candidate Robert Kilroy-Silk (vote for him and he goes to Brussels – so vote!) is a list of some UKIP manifesto pledges.

And in among the party’s promises to abolish VAT and council tax, to strengthen border controls and make sunbeds free at the point of entry is the vow “to do whatever is necessary to reduce crime and criminality to the levels of the 1950s”.

Which as many historians would note, was a period that came after a big pan-European war in the 1940s.

So if the UKIP get in, watch out…’

Posted: 26th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Flaming Terrible

‘WHEN we read in the Telegraph that a fire has destroyed millions of pounds worth of art, we are dismayed.

Don’t be afraid to use a one-man tent – anything will be of help

But our pain is only short-lived because the fire has not consumed the National Gallery. Turner’s ‘Ulysses deriding Polyphemus – Homer’s Odyssey’ and Titian’s ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ are as evocative of the human spirit today as they were yesterday.

Art restorers will not be required to grind powders and mix inks to produce palettes from the time of Leonardo da Vinci, piecing together his ‘Virgin on The Rocks’ millimetre by millimetre.

No, the works lost to the nation when a fire gutted the Momart warehouse were mainly those by those Young British Artists.

The paper is right when it says that a “great chunk of British art history is turned to ashes”, but it need not be the end.

And you can help make things as they were.

Dig out your old tent and daub on it the name of ‘Everyone I Ever Slept With’, then sign the door flaps Tracy Emin, attach a £40,000 price tag and send it to Maurice Saatchi.

Then pop along to your local toy store, buy loads of Subbuteo referee figures, paint SS armbands on them and tell Jake and Dinos Chapman that their vision of Hell is resorted.

Also feared lost is Anorak’s entry into last years Turner Prize, the sensational and challenging ‘Vomit In Sock’.

We fear that this too has now been lost to the nation, but if anyone out there has a sock and is feeling a bit bilious in the face of so much devastation, they can send their clothing and the contents of their stomach to the usual address.

And if you can toss in a dead fish, so much the better…’

Posted: 26th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Shiite Intelligence

‘THE world is a very complicated place for men who can’t watch TV and chew pretzels at the same time – at least not without losing consciousness at the sheer complexity of the task.

‘Now, polar bears come from which part of Poland?’

Iran, Iraq…neighbours separated by a single consonant. North Korea, South Korea…neighbours separated by three consonants (D, M and Z). Ireland and Iceland, Zambia and Gambia, Holland and The Netherlands…

And don’t even get us started on all the ‘stans’.

How’s a little Texan boy with only the most tenuous of grasps on his own language to work out which one he’s supposed to be bombing today?

So let’s not be too surprised by reports in this morning’s Guardian that Iran duped the CIA and White House into invading Iraq.

The paper says an urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into claims that Tehran used the hawks in the Pentagon and White House to topple a hostile neighbour and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

Apparently, the CIA has hard evidence that Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and a former Pentagon favourite, and his intelligence chief Karim Habib passed US secrets to Iran.

Iran also used Chalabi and the INC to pass bogus intelligence back to the US to encourage the administration to invade.

‘It’s pretty clear,’ said one intelligence source, ‘that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ And without choking once.

And Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the US State Department, said Iran had run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history.

‘It persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy,’ he said.

If the US people want to dispose of their greatest enemy, the solution is somewhat simpler – they need only punch a hole through the correct piece of paper in November.

Such is the staggering incompetence of this US administration that even a conservative paper like the Telegraph is counting the days until Bush retires to his ranch permanently.

Writing in the paper, historian Niall Ferguson puts forward a persuasive argument that America is suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger’s sufferers, we are told, ‘cannot deal effectively with the social world in which we are all, perforce, obliged to live…

‘They do not understand how or why people tick, and invariably offend or alienate friends or acquaintances with their uninhibited and direct ways of interacting.

‘In other words, they do not understand the subtleties of normal social interaction – that intuitive appreciation we have of knowing just how far to push things.

‘People with Asperger’s trample unwittingly on others’ social sensibilities without embarrassment.’

And nor can they watch TV and chew pretzels at the same time…’

Posted: 25th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Coming Of Age

‘AT the age of 21, most British women will have been pregnant at least three times, while most British men will be on the run from the Child Support Agency.

Baby A

Male or female, they will be taking a degree in media studies at the University Of North East Cleveland, hoping for a job presenting T4 on Channel 4 but with only the realistic prospect of a job at the checkout of the local Asda.

And they will have already appeared on at least two reality shows and still be nursing a grudge against that nasty Simon Cowell.

What they’re not doing – unless they’re a High Court judge or live in the Forest Of Dean – is wearing nappies and suckling on their mother’s breast.

This morning’s Guardian reports on the case of the baby boy who was born two years ago from 21-year-old sperm, frozen as the father was facing treatment for testicular cancer.

The paper says the case, reported in the Human Reproduction journal, offers hope to thousands of young people who may lose their fertility through chemotherapy.

‘We believe this is the longest period of sperm cryo-preservation resulting in a live birth so far reported in the scientific literature,’ said fertility consultant Elizabeth Pease.

Despite his advanced age, the baby boy, whose identity has not been revealed, is much like his peers.

The only difference is said to be a worrying tendency to wear make-up, his hair in a quiff and his jacket collar up.’

Posted: 25th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ties That Are A Bind

‘THERE were plenty of the famous ‘egg and bacon’ ties on display at Lord’s yesterday as MCC members watched England beat New Zealand in the first Test of the summer.

‘And the scarf’s an absolute killer, Doctor’

We dare say that some of these ties were to be found round the necks of certain members of the medical profession.

But we hope that none of them were called immediately from this cricketing stage to the operating theatre, not only because they would have missed a fine finale but also for their patients’ safety.

A report in this morning’s Times says that egg and bacon is the least of the problems on doctors’ ties – in fact, they have been identified as a breeding ground for potentially lethal infections.

In a study in New York, it was found that almost half of the ties worn by medical staff carried bacteria – and doctors were eight times more likely to have disease-causing pathogens on their ties than non-medical workers.

The British Medical Association agrees.

‘Ties are a hygiene concern because they hang down and can touch patients and they are infrequently washed,’ it says. ‘We feel that doctors should not be obliged to wear ties.’

Or maybe we should insist doctors wear bowties – or maybe a fetching cravat – instead…’

Posted: 25th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Blue Sky Thinking

‘IT is worth remembering that had Lucy Pinder not decided to bunk off work last August and spend the day on the beach, the world would be a very different place.

Lucy put the FF into a DAY OFF

If nothing else, there would be one more student at King Alfred’s College in Bournemouth and two fewer indentations in the sand on Bournemouth beach.

Maybe it is the hope of following in Lucy’s footsteps that will persuade so many workers to throw a sickie today; maybe it is just the lure of a suntan.

But, according to the Independent, good weather is responsible for large rise in absenteeism with many employees taking ‘unwarranted’ long weekends.

The CBI’s annual absence survey shows that 176 million working days were lost last year – a rise of 10 million on the year before – at a cost to employees of £11.6bn.

And 78% of the more than 500 companies that took part in the survey suspect that staff add unauthorised days to their weekends by calling in sick on Fridays and Mondays.

Presumably, the other 22% knew that staff wagged on those days (or were not in the office when the qustion was asked).

‘Firms understand that the majority of absence is due to genuine minor sickness,’ CBI’s deputy director general John Cridland said when we caught up with him on Blackpool beach.

‘But absence is a serious and expensive concern that is on the increase.’

Public sector workers are the most likely to take a day off sick, averaging 8.9 days on the beach a year compared with 6.9 days in the private sector.

Employees of big companies are also more prone to wag, with workers in organisations of more than 5,000 employees taking 10.2 days off a year compared with just 4.2 days in companies with fewer than 50 staff.

At Anorak Towers, we are pleased to report that absenteeism last year was again 0.

(The last member of staff at Anorak to take a sick day was Mr Shaikh in March 1996 – and it later turned out that he had in fact died over the course of the weekend.)

Interviewed in his penthouse office, old Mr Anorak himself attributed this record to ‘a happy and healthy working environment’.

And to team-building exercises that have since been borrowed by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison…’

Posted: 24th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


School’s Out

‘NOT every workplace shares Anorak’s hard-line attitude to absenteeism.

Class 6b’s double biology class

But while the CBI and employers are trying to crack the whip and prevent staff from bunking off work, the Government is being pulled in the other direction.

An influential thinktank will this week recommend to ministers that schoolchildren should be taken on weekly safaris or expeditions – to the funfair to study trigonometry, for instance, or to the airport arrivals lounge for a different take on geography.

According to the Guardian, the proposals (put forward in a joint report by Demos and charity Green Alliance) are an attempt to reverse the serious decline in school trips.

The report paints a picture of children ‘frightened by many things adults take in their stride, from busy traffic to news bulletins about terrorism’.

Taking them out of their classroom and into the ‘real’ world would be of great benefit, enabling them to gain a greater understanding of the world around them.

And what better preparation for adult life could there be than abandoning the stuffy classroom at the first sign of sunshine and heading straight for the beach…to learn about, er, the human anatomy, of course.’

Posted: 24th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Exam Bored

‘FOR children these days, school is just one test after another.

‘He’s trying to make eye contact with you, Sorene’

‘What ride was your favourite at the funfair?’ ‘Who had the better tan – people returning from Ibiza or Lanzarote?’ ‘Draw a full-scale picture of Lucy Pinder’s breasts…’

But the same is true for teachers, who have to sit for hour after hour invigilating these tests.

So how do the teachers beat the boredom?

The answer, according to the Telegraph, appears to be by playing games, often poking fun at their unsuspecting students.

One game, for instance, is called Ugly, in which the invigilator stands next to the ugliest person in the room until he or she makes eye contact.

Then there is Good Kid, Bad Kid in which an invigilator selects a pupil from his or her class on the exam attendance grid and the other has to guess which category they fall into just by looking at them.

Another favourite is Chicken in which one invigilator deliberately walks between the desks towards an advancing colleague until one takes evasive action.

Finally, there is Where Is Everyone? in which the invigilator looks round the empty exam room and has to try to guess on which beach all his or her students are lying…’

Posted: 24th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Body Of Evidence

‘“SMILE and the world smiles with you” should make a fitting epitaph for Tony Blair’s political career.

‘How do I look, Gordon?’ ‘You Loch Fyne, Tony’

And it would have been a truism had it not been for one dour Scot standing behind him yesterday – oh, and a few thousand Iraqis.

But let’s just concentrate on the Scot, as the Times does, the ambitious Gordon Brown, the man who apparently wants the Prime Minster’s job so much that he’s prepared to share a car journey and a meal with John Prescott to get it.

But the paper is of the mind that Tony and Gordon share a secret.

And Susan Marchant-Haycox, an expert in body language, says she has identified key features which show that the two men are “poles apart, politically and personally”.

Now, we are not yet experts ourselves, but anyone who has seen that Blair grin and the Brown gulp cannot be of a mind that the men are two of a kind.

But politically estranged? Well, that’s another story, and one the Times thinks is worthy of its front page.

Marchant–Haycox looks at the shot of the pair, taken at a joint appearance intended to promote Labour’s economic record in Government before the June 10 European elections, and notes how Brown’s mouth is shielded behind his hand.

“Touching your face means you are disguising something,” says Marchant-Haycox. “It is as if he is laughing behind his hand.”

She then looks at Blair. “Mr Blair’s stiff posture and fixed smile show he is not happy and has a lot of inner tension.” Blair has a “jaunty stance that is hiding something”.

Her thoughtful, scientific conclusion is that Brown and Blair are “sneaky”.

It’s all deeply fascinating stuff, and we’ve taken a few pointers from Marchant–Haycox, and after a 10–minute workshop in body language, we’ve looked afresh at a few more of today’s news photos.

And the stand-out picture is in the Independent, where “specialist” US servicewomen Sabrina Harman is pictured alongside the corpse of a dead Iraqi detainee (name not given).

The Iraqi (eyes taped up; body packed in ice) lies to one side of Harman, who can be seen leaning over him and giving the thumbs up sign to camera.

Having studied the shot, we can say that Harman has absolutely nothing to hide and possesses a smile that suggests a good dental health regime, as well as a large dose of nastiness bordering on evil.

The man is not her chum and his stiff posture and lack of eye contact show that he is ill at ease in Harman’s company.

Of course, there might be a simpler explanation, one based on another kind of language – the Iraqi doesn’t get the joke, while Brown, Blair and Harman have heard President Bush’s views on the Middle East.’

Posted: 21st, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Summer Holiday

‘IS it spring?

‘It’s the wrong kind of sun. It’s beach sun, not work sun’

Stuck in this disused coal shaft, we at Anorak Towers have no idea when one season moves into the next, and rely on a calendar of convenience.

For instance, we know when winter arrives because our hands freeze to the keyboard and good Mr Youngman gives us all a satsuma (to share).

And we know when summer arrives because the railway workers go out on strike.

And, according to the Telegraph, summer could arrive as early as the first week of June – although, what with this being a railway issue, summer might not arrive at all or reach here around October time.

Summer could even be cancelled, unless members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union thrash out a deal with their employers at Network Rail.

The first nationwide rail strike for 10 years (the Tube’s strike is an annual event, like the first swallow of spring), will be averted if Network Rail raises wages, offers earnings-linked pensions to new recruits and – get this – extends free and cheap travel to all employees, says the Guardian.

Yes folks, summer may yet be saved as long as the railway workers are allowed to stand for nothing alongside the commuters waiting for the 6:40 service from Berwick, East Sussex, to London.

We say let them have it. Making the staff drink their medicine should teach them.

Indeed, it proved too much for Simon Taylor, a disgruntled commuter, profiled in the Telegraph.

While waiting for the aforesaid service, Taylor was told over the PA system that the train would not be stopping at the station today.

So Taylor decided he’d make it stop, as it had been scheduled to do, and walked back to his car, got in and drove it onto a nearby level crossing.

Which self-confessed “staggeringly stupid“ act caused him to make a stop at the High Court and, after an admission of guilt, suffer a possible two-year delay in prison.

As for the train, well, it was delayed for six minutes, which as Health and Safety ruling 4 sub-section 42a clearly states is “horribly early and puts the lives of unsuspecting railway workers in peril”.

A strike has been called for. And just as soon as the weather heats up a bit, there’ll be one…’

Posted: 21st, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ask A Silly Question

‘THE Government wants to put an end to two things that may or may not be linked.

‘Was the war in Iraq a) a good idea, b) a bad idea or c) no idea?’

Firstly, the Telegraph says how the Government wants to stop firms offering prize competitions which ask the audience to answer a stupidly simple question via a premium rate phone number.

Take GMTV’s recent offer for a two-week family holiday in Spain plus £500 in spending money for answering the poser: ”Which of these is a traditional Spanish dish? a – Paella; b – Pizza; c – Goulash?”

The correct answer is, apparently, “a – Paella”, although many Brits will have scratched their bonces and wondered why the options “vodka jelly”, “lager” and “puke” were not given.

And this leads us onto the Government’s second policy-of-the-day, namely the drive to curtail binge drinking, something the Guardian hears Tony Blair say is in danger of becoming “the new British disease”.

Blair wants flexible opening hours in licensed premises, which he thinks will attract a “better mix of people” in town and city centres at the weekend.

It’ll also stop people sitting at home watching Richard & Judy and using up their life’s savings answering expensive questions like: “Who will be Prime Minister in November?”, “Why did Britain go to war in Iraq” and “How many oysters make up a plot?”’

Posted: 21st, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Flour Power

‘WHEN we heard that Ron Davis had interrupted Prime Minister’s Questions Time by throwing something, we shuddered.

‘Badger at 4 o’clock!’

Ever the pal of the dumb and beastly, we feared the former Welsh Secretary had lobbed a naked badger into the political throng.

But we were wrong. The Ron Davis who yesterday caused a commotion in the Commons is, as the Telegraph reveals, a divorced father fighting for the right to see his children after a five-year struggle.

He’d even spoken with Tony Blair once before in a broadcasted telephone call when the PM held his Big Conversation on London’s LBC radio.

Back then, Davis put his complaint to Blair, who replied: “I’d just like to have a closer look myself on how the courts are supposed to approach it now [equal rights for fathers] and write to you about it.”

But no satisfactory letter ever came, and Davis duly decided on a course of action that would see him and one Guy Harrison lob two flour-filled condoms at the PM.

The Times describes how the first missile fired by the fathers from the Commons’ Public Gallery at Tony Blair disintegrated in mid-flight.

The second shot, as the Telegraph illustrates with a helpful graphic, came from fully 40ft away and at an awkward angle.

It dipped, swerved and arched its way to Blair. And…a hit! Poof! An explosion of purple flour cascaded down Tony’s back.

While politicians cleared the air by flapping papers and brushing down their suits (as the Indy’s Simon Carr explains, “That’s the way to beat anthrax”), and the sports minister called the England cricket selectors about a great new talent, people began to wonder how such a thing could have occurred.

The Times has the answer – if you want to gain access to the home of British power and lob purple powder, anthrax, sherbert dib-dabs or grenades at the PM, you just need to bid more than the next bearded man.

The paper says that the tickets to sit in the Public Gallery came from Baroness Goulding, who auctioned two front-row seats for PM’s Question Time, with proceeds going to one of the many causes she champions.

She says she thought Davis and Harrison were charity workers of a sort and that she even planned to round off their day by shouting them lunch in the House of Lords.

Events meant that they never got their meal – so there are now two seats in the upper chamber’s diner up for grabs.

And they’ll go to the person who gives the best answer to our tiebreaker.

In 12 words or under, complete the following sentence: “I’d like to toss a badger because…”’

Posted: 20th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sivits Your Life

‘IN what the Guardian calls an “Oprah Winfrey moment”, Jeremy Sivits became the first US soldier to stand trial for the revolting events in the Abu Ghraib jail.

‘And welcome to the Jerry Sivits Show…’

Despite the tears and remorse (“I’ve let everybody down. I love the army. I love the flag. All I wanted to be was a US soldier”), Sivits was given the maximum sentence permissible by US military law, and was jailed for one year and dishonourably discharged from the army.

It’d be fitting if that year-long incarceration took Sivits, the man who took the photos of Americans piling up prisoners into a naked human pyramid, to the Abu Ghraib jail, where he’d be cared for by some Iraqi prison guards.

But the American way is about justice, not revenge, isn’t it? And, as such, Sivits will need to hang around to testify against other soldiers implicated in the scandal.

Soldiers like Staff Sgt Ivan Frederick, who Sivits saw punching a prisoner hard in the chest; Cpl Charles Graner, who Sivits watched punch a captive in the temple; and the as yet unnamed woman jailer who scrawled the word “rapist” on an Iraqi’s leg.

And then there’s Lynndie England, the most easy-to-despise of all the disgraced soldiers, who, the Times hears Sivits say, “stomped” on the toes of prisoners, “commenting on the size of their penises” as she posed for those hellish pictures.

Taking a look at the protagonists, Sivits’ weeping confession might be akin to what passes for entertainment on the Oprah Winfrey show, but it’s all surely more Jerry Springer fodder.

Although, maybe not that highbrow…’

Posted: 20th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Cultural Cringe

‘WHAT we British have long suspected is now one step closer to being pronounced as true.

Australia has cultural icons of its own to be proud of

We talk not of George Bush having no brain, nor of Tony Blair being God’s representative on Earth, but that Australians are suffering from “self-imposed historical and cultural amnesia”.

The Telegraph hears Tony Abbott, the Australian health minister, tell an audience at Victoria’s Monash University, that the Australian attitude to Britain is like “teenagers blowing raspberries at their parents”.

While Australians love to portray themselves as pioneering individualists, they have, in reality, a lingering insecurity about being “an outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture on the edge of Asia”.

It is a topic that is bound to be up for discussion in every bar in London.

Thousands of “bar staff” can show the “Brits” (a term Abbott says is every bit as offensive as “Japs”) photos of the sun bursting through an ozone-free sky back home as they wax lyrical about bugs as big as your head and forest fires the size of Wales, all the while moaning about the British being this that and the other.

And Abbott wants it to stop. He wants Australians to stop whinging about the Poms.

Instead, Abbott wants Australians to celebrate their heritage and stop trying to prove that the British are a bunch “of stuck-up snobs”.

No matter whether we are better than them or not…’

Posted: 20th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Salad Dodger

‘IF John Prescott isn’t careful he may overindulge and so ruin his chances of capturing the heavyweight boxing gold for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

‘Get away, Prescott! They’re not on the menu’

Rarely has a politician been so associated with food. From scrambled eggs to oysters, Prezza is hungrier than a fleet of Jaguars.

Barely has he digested the meal from his date with Gordon Brown before the Guardian spots the Deputy PM at the Hoxton Apprentice restaurant, where he’s declining a plate of proffered grilled vegetables in favour of some Curry Dusted Fat Chips.

The venue, funded by the Government, Corporation of London and private enterprise, intends to give 48 unemployed people the chance to train as professional caterers each year.

And if that sounds familiar, it should – it’s based on Jamie’s Kitchen, the TV series is which Jamie Oliver performed the same trick with 15 such trainees.

That Jamie Oliver is now dictating Government policy should fill us with fear, dread and a creamy apple sauce, but we remind you that the generously-tongued chef is at least a step up from George Bush.

But what does Prezza make of it all? He tells the assembled diners, and the Times: ‘These young people have found out that a salad is about more than tomatoes and lettuce.’

What it is about we might never know because pukka John stopped short of telling us, although we cannot rule out a Prezza salad being about lashings of cheese, deep-fried Mars bars and some more of those chips in curry sauce.’

Posted: 19th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0