Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 74

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

Spin Out

‘HOW you respond to the following statement could see you propelled into a career in Government, possibly as Tony Blair’s speechwriter and unofficial deputy.

For whom the Campbell tolls

The Independent says that Charles Clarke, the bat-eared Education Secretary, has denied that the standards of national tests for 11-year-olds are being lowered in the face of evidence that the pass mark on this year’s English test has fallen from 49 per cent to 44 per cent.

Do you say ”Ooer, that sounds a bit ‘dodgy”’, a word favoured by the Conservatives, and throw your hands in the air?

Or do you say, as Clarke says, ”the QCA (the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) would never lower standards, we would never lower standards; it’s absolutely the wrong way to go”?

If your response is more in line with the first than the last, take a deep breath and prepare for many years in opposition, cheering on Iain Duncan Smith.

If you chose the second of the two routes, you should put together a CV and send it to the Labour Party head office, marked for the attention of outgoing communications chief Alastair Campbell.

It seems, at least according to the Telegraph, that the man who can teach Shane Warne a thing or two about spin is thinking of resigning his post before the next election.

The man himself says that such talk is ”wishful thinking” by his critics, and reports of his political demise are premature.

But the paper says that quitting is very much on Campbell’s mind.

A source is on hand to say how the spin-doctor has become ”semi-detached” from Tony; their relationship is not as close as it once was.

This, of course, might be another new Labour spin, a story designed to separate Tony from the allegations that he is all about style over substance. Or it could be true.

One thing is for sure, though, and that is a pass in level 4 key stage 2 tests is just as hard to achieve as it ever was.

Posted: 23rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment


‘TO some spin of our own. We have learnt from the Telegraph that when George Bush takes a mid-morning nap, he is not lying down on the job – he’s recharging his razor-sharp mind.

My fellow somnambulists…

The paper says that psychologists at Harvard University have found that a 60-90 minute siesta can be as refreshing as an eight-hour long kip.

The keen-eyed among you will have spotted the caveat that you have to be awake for at least one part of the day to appreciate the benefits of so much sleep.

Which suggests that the world had best watch out when Dubya awakens from his catatonic slumber.

In the Guardian, the scientists seem to back Bush’s policy of sleep, sleep and more sleep, arguing that napping adds to the benefits of sleep.

When the leader of the free world does snap out of it, he could be as refreshed and nimble of mind as that other great fan of the mid-morning nap, Albert Einstein.

And like the great scientist, Bush knows a thing about relativity and large bombs…

Posted: 23rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

A Dead Heat

‘AFTER years of bra-burning and running out in front of speeding racehorses in the pursuit of sexual equality, women are set to surpass men in the last great bastion of chauvinistic disparity: women are all set to die younger than their spouses.

Germaine was looking forward to a stress-induced heart-attack as much as the next man

The Times say that by the end of this century men are likely to be outliving women.

Thanks to a more stressful lifestyle, women will able to offer up the phrase ”Oh, me heart…it’s…gone” as they collapse to the office floor.

Women’s libbers should celebrate as the facts are reeled off.

Step One To Equality: The Times says that, whereas in 1940 twice as many men smoked as women, there are now as many female smokers as their are male.

Step Two: Martin Baker, editor of The Journal, a leading insurance publication, says: ”Women at work are women at risk: equality in the job market is a killer.”

Step Three: The uptake of the ladette culture, with the associated drinking and carousing, is cutting short a woman’s lifespan.

According to studies made by Action On Addiction, females’ alcohol intake has doubled in the past 20 years.

These are great days for women’s lib. And as soon as they can go into full front-line battle and get prostrate cancer like those piggish men, the sooner we can all have the same miserable end to miserable lives.

Posted: 23rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Hogwarts And All

‘MILLIONS of kids and adults who should know better will start queuing up tonight to get their hands on a copy of the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.

”Bend over, Potter…”

And, according to the woman who wrote it, the Harry they will encounter will not be the nerd of the first four books but a very angry teenager going through puberty.

”I just think it is a very confusing time,” JK Rowling says in an interview with the Times.

”Yes, he’s very confused in a boy way. He doesn’t understand how girls’ minds work.”

In a BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman last night, Rowling also revealed that the boy wizard has his first snog in the book.

”Harry goes through absolute hell every time he returns to school,” the Telegraph hears her say. ”So I thought that a bit of snogging would alleviate matters.”

The identity of the person with whom Harry has a relationship is a closely guarded secret but, this being an English boarding school, we can only assume that it is some spotty Hogwarts prefect.

However, readers might have to wait until the sixth book before we see Harry develop his heroin habit and the seventh book before he is seen working as a rent boy on the streets of Glasgow.

Posted: 20th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Frocks Off

‘GAY wizards are one thing, gay bishops another – and the row over the appointment of the openly gay Bishop Of Reading rumbles on.

Harry gets the first train out of Lagos

The Times talks of open warfare between the liberals and conservatives on the issue, with up to 15 bishops preparing an open letter in support of Dr Jeffrey John.

”The statement,” says the Times, ”is intended as a gesture of support for Dr John as well as for the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev Richard Harries who appointed him.”

But the Guardian thinks the split goes a lot further than a letter-writing competition, warning that it may spark a worldwide schism.

So says Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of the 17.5 million-strong church in Nigeria, who has declared homosexuality an abomination.

”We claim we are Bible-loving Christians,” said the frock-wearing Archbishop Akinola.

”We cannot be seen to be doing things clearly outside the boundaries allowable in the Bible.”

We imagine the Archbishop therefore supports other Biblical laws such as the death penalty for anyone that curseth his father or mother and the ostracism of anyone who sees their sister or mother naked.

And as for Harry Potter, he is doubly damned.

As it says in Leviticus 20 v27: ”A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones, their blood shall be upon them.”

Posted: 20th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Too Shy, Shy

‘AS if parents didn’t have enough to worry about after being told that their child’s success in education and in its later career is dependent on how much it grows in its first year.

Who said shy people develop into fruitcakes?

Now they learn (courtesy of the Independent) that if little Kylie or Osama is a bit shy as a toddler, then they will almost certainly be a fruit loop when they get older.

An inhibited temperament – marked by features such as shyness, caution or withdrawal – tended to stay with someone for life and was linked with hyperactivity in a region of the brain known as the ”seat of fear”.

It may sound like the title of the next Harry Potter book, but in fact it means that they are at greater risk of developing serious mental disturbances later in life.

Shyness could also explain another Independent story – that A-level pupils are to learn the skill of answering back.

From our hazy recollections of school, answering back to teachers never used to be something that was encouraged, let alone needed to be taught.

But a new A-level in critical thinking will change all that, with sample questions such as: ”Is that a cigarette in your hand, Potter?”

A) ”Nope.” B) ”I’m just holding it for Mr Gryffindor.” C) ”So what if it is.” D) ”Depends what you mean by cigarette, sir.” ‘

Posted: 20th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Bashing The Bishop

‘IT may be harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, but for gay men to be welcomed to Paradise the camel would have to slalom through a whole crochet set.

”Bitch! Her dress is nicer than mine…”

More evidence to that effect in this morning’s Times, which reports that the Church of England has been thrown into turmoil by the Bishop of Reading’s admission that he is still in a relationship with his gay partner of 27 years.

The paper says the Church moved closer to schism with Dr Jeffrey John’s admission and his refusal either to end the relationship or to step down.

”Conservative evangelicals said that, if he refused to go, the Church would split,” says the Times.

Dr John insists the relationship is platonic, but says he supports blessings for same-sex couples and wants an end to celibacy for the gay clergy.

After 27 years, one could hardly blame him – but nine diocesan bishops do and have written an open letter protesting about his appointment.

”Sexual intercourse, within the lifelong relationship of marriage, is the sign and beautiful expression of that union,” they say.

”Intercourse outside marriage undermines the power of that sign.”

Heaven, it appears, is going to be a very empty place – full of poor, ugly people and very thin camels.

Posted: 19th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Les Gros Francais

‘AND now for some really good news – the French are getting fatter.

The French synchronised swimming squad

The average French person has gained two pounds in the past three years and almost four pounds since 1997.

So, they’re not a nation of porkers yet, but at least they’re moving in the right direction at last.

For years, adults in the developed world have been getting fatter. Some, like the Americans, are now so fat they are all about to burst.

But throughout it all, the French have always managed to stay slim and trim – and have been only too happy to look down their Gallic noses at us as a result.

However, the Independent reports that a new study confirms that almost 10% of the French population is obese and, if the trend continues, by 2020 that will rise to 20% – the same proportion as predicted in the United States.

Of course, the two countries have slightly different definitions of obese.

In France, it is a slight movement upwards on the bathroom scales; in the United States it is a large movement downwards on a roadside weighbridge. ‘

Posted: 19th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Fiddling The Cards

‘WE all know that Tony Blair may have played a bit fast and loose with the truth over Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

A marked card?

But can we be sure the Americans aren’t doing so with the ”pack of cards” they issued of Iraq’s 55 most wanted?

Yesterday, they claim to have arrested their highest card yet when they picked up Saddam Hussein’s chief bodyguard, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti.

The Telegraph says the capture of the Ace Of Diamonds is an indication that the net could be closing in on the Ace Of Spades himself, Saddam Hussein.

”The Lieutenant General seldom left his leader’s side, and American officials expressed hopes that they could soon have Saddam in their sights,” it says.

But can we be sure the man said currently to under CIA interrogation is Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti?

The picture of him in the Telegraph comes from the card issued by the US military command and looks suspiciously like Peter Sellers, while the picture in the Guardian is a spitting image of a young John Cleese.

And if we look again at yesterday’s Times, which featured the 31 ”cards” in US hands, we see things are not quite as they seem.

For instance, Watban Ibrahim Hassan Al-Tikriti, the five of spades, is surely none other than Michael Caine.

Joe Pesci plays Muhammad Mahdi Al-Kalih, Burt Reynolds takes the role of Latif Nusayyif Jasim Al-Dulaymi and Robert Duvall appears as Muhammad Hamza Zubaydi.

And as for the queen of clubs, four of clubs and four of hearts, they are almost certainly one and the same person (played by John Inman).

They at least, we suppose, will come in useful in a game of snap.

Posted: 19th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Play Your Cards Right

‘IF Clare Short believed that Tony Blair deliberately misled the British public over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, how is it she was happy to remain a member of his government?

Clare Short’s bombshell fails to explode

Robin Cook at least had the integrity to resign on the eve of war, but Short surely sacrificed whatever shred of credibility she had when she clung onto her job.

So, her appearance yesterday alongside Cook before a committee of MPs investigating the lead-up to war with Iraq was hardly the nuclear bomb under this Government that it could have been.

Indeed, the anti-war Independent and Guardian are the only papers that lead with the testimonies of the two former Cabinet ministers.

The pro-war Times and the Telegraph are much more concerned about where we are now rather than how we got here.

The former suggests that Britain is pressing America to do deals with some of the 31 top Iraqi prisoners that are in custody, offering possible freedom in exchange for information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein and his fabled WMDs.

Ironically, the US administration has so far rejected the appeals of its closest ally, saying there are legal obstacles in the way.

”US authorities have been happy to offer plea bargains to some of America’s most notorious criminals,” the Times points out, ”but apparently draw the line at members of a regime they have denounced as evil.”

Another regime the White House has denounced as evil is Iran and in recent days it has been turning up the heat on the mullahs in Tehran.

But to the US bad cop, Britain is pressing the EU to act as good cop, offering Iran a two-month ultimatum to comply with demands to halt its nuclear programme and support for terrorists.

Britain, the Telegraph says, is trying to avoid a similar rift between America and Europe to the one over the war with Iraq.

”A short, sharp shock now, reasonably early, might act as a salutary warning to the Iranians that, as we must listen to them, they must take our concerns seriously,” a Foreign Office message says.

And if they don’t, we’ll make up a few concerns for them to take seriously.

Posted: 18th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Prince In Print

‘THE Government started it all with the publication of its annual report, which unsurprisingly concludes every year that it is doing a damn fine job.

Prince Charles threw himself into his charity work from a young age

Now, Prince Charles is getting in on the act, publishing a 12-page glossy brochure, which will be sent to MPs, detailing his charity work.

It discloses, says the Telegraph, that the Prince Of Wales must raise more than £70m a year to support the 13 charities he has established.

And that, as a quick calculation tells us, means flogging an awful lot of jewel-encrusted dhows.

Not only that, but Prince Charles is patron or president of another 350 organisations, to which he devotes time.

No wonder he doesn’t have the energy to squeeze out his own toothpaste before he goes to bed at night.

MPs will no doubt take the brochure away with them on the summer holidays, but they shouldn’t feel downcast when they have finished it.

We are promised that this just the first episode of a trilogy, with future brochures focussing on the Prince’s role as heir to the throne and how he spends his £10m Duchy Of Cornwall income.

It is fair to say they are as eagerly awaited as the final two Harry Potter books.

Posted: 18th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Marriage Costs

‘THEY say marriage is the triumph of hope over expectation – but sometimes you think the hope borders on the irrational.

”Until Camilla us do part…”

The cost of the average wedding in the UK now runs at something like £12,000.

And this morning we learn that the resultant divorce is even more expensive – at about £13,000.

The Guardian says more than a third of couples have to sell their homes to finance the process, with 41% of couples withdrawing about £6,250 each from their bank accounts.

And it doesn’t even matter if the split was amicable, according to the research by Norwich Union, with almost all saying it made no difference to the final bill.

And don’t think that once you’re past the seven-year itch, things are all plain sailing as the Times reports on how pensioners are now getting the 40-year itch.

”Bored with their marriages, but still in reasonable health, the over-60s are dumping their partners and stepping back on the dating circuit,” it says.

Something that really doesn’t bear thinking about… ‘

Posted: 18th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Small Mercies

‘IT is hard to know from reading the papers this morning which country is in greater chaos at the moment – Iraq or Britain.

The train on Platform 3 is the 08.16, calling at all stations to Baghdad

While the Telegraph leads on a British accusation that the post-war rebuilding of Iraq is in chaos, the Independent focuses on problems closer to home.

It labels transport ”Labour’s most spectacular failure” – an impressive achievement given the competition – and says the system is pretty well at crisis point.

Rail passengers face ”inflation-busting fare increases” and ”cuts in mainline services”, while the reliability of services remains – at best – static.

”Despite a massive increase in investment, train services are still deteriorating,” the paper says.

Some 19.5% of trains were late in the first three months of the year compared with 19.1% in the first three months of 2002, and complaints were up 8% on the year.

As for congestion on the roads, motorists face a 25% increase in traffic over the next seven years, unless congestion charging is brought in.

All of which should make the decision for Iraqi refugees on whether to return to their homeland that much easier.

However, a look at the Telegraph might make them think twice.

A senior British official in Baghdad tells the paper the US-led reconstruction effort is in chaos and suffering from a complete lack of strategic direction.

”This is the single most chaotic organisation I have ever worked for,” he says – and, given his pedigree, you can imagine just how bad that is.

The Telegraph says Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, has just 600 men to run a country the size of France in which the civil infrastructure is on the point of collapse.

Some April salaries have not been paid, the electricity supply is unreliable and resentment is growing at the coalition’s failures.

But, it could be worse, as a quick look at the Guardian front page confirms.

It could be Africa, where Washington’s determination to find a new source of oil is leading to an oil rush in the sub-Saharan part of the continent.

And that in turn ”threatens to launch a fresh cycle of conflict, corruption and environmental degradation in the region”, says the paper.

Suddenly, having to wait an extra 10 minutes for the 18.52 to Tunbridge doesn’t seem that bad after all…

Posted: 17th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Brand New Labour

‘IT says a lot for the Tory party that among Labour’s failures of the past few years, it remains a more unpopular alternative government.

”It appears the Government has got no spine!”

If Iain Duncan Smith stood against Paul Bremer in Iraq, you suspect he could still contrive to lose.

But the Times has at last spotted some green shoots of recovery for the beleaguered party, with Labour’s lead in the opinion polls cut to just 4%.

Most of the Tories’ gains are apparently among women and middle-class professionals and managers.

This has prompted the Prime Minister to attempt a re-launch of his second-term agenda, warning his party and union critics that a failure to reform could let in the Tories.

”Our task is to prepare Britain for the future,” he will say. ”In the public services, that means combining equity with choice.”

For example, you will soon be able to choose to travel by train or by car in the knowledge that both will be equally slow and equally expensive.

Posted: 17th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Parking Problems

‘AN amnesiac motorist has racked up £1,800 in parking fines over the past couple of years because he keeps on forgetting where he’s parked his car.

”Damn. Now I’ve forgotten what colour it is”

Or so claims 56-year-old Robert Mottram, who has suffered from chronic memory loss since a brain haemorrhage in 1987.

And he is asking Sefton council to grant him immunity from further fines because of his condition.

”I get very annoyed with myself when I can’t find the car,” he tells the Telegraph.

”Sometimes it will take me hours wandering around before I manage to spot it. It’s very frustrating.”

Mr Mottram, from Southport, says he has tried making a note of where he parked the car, but then forgets that he has written the note.

We would suggest that he watches the film Memento to see how it’s done, but he would of course forget Guy Pearce’s solution as soon as he had seen it.

Sefton council have so far rejected Mr Mottram’s request – and with good reason. If Mr Mottram’s memory is so bad, how does he remember getting all these parking tickets in the first place?

Posted: 17th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

The Hard Cell

‘IF only the Government set itself more realistic targets, it could credibly award itself full marks when it performs its annual review.

Prison calls offer the last word in en suite toilets

For instance, it should forget about trying to get half the population to go into higher education and announce instead that it intends to lock them up.

Never mind aiming for record rates of literacy and numeracy, it has already achieved record deaths in custody, record numbers of assaults in prison and record numbers of escapes.

As other public services struggle to cope, the Prison Service is a beacon of excellence, serving more and more customers every week without even spending money on increased capacity.

If only hospital wards adopted the same policy as prison cells – ”There’s always room for one more” – no patient would be refused entry for lack of a bed.

Not only that, but as the News Of The World showed at the weekend, the Prison Service is a generous employer, providing jobs to anyone with a couple of bogus references.

This morning, the Guardian celebrates the fact that on Friday the prison population hit a new record of 73,379 and is rising by 150 people a week.

A leaked weekly operations report shows also that the number of security incidents is up 50% from the late 1990s, including seven deaths in the first week of June alone.

Harry Fletcher, of the probation officers’ union Napo, tells the paper: ”This is clearly linked to overcrowding and the ability of staff to cope.

”I fear for those working inside prisons. The number of assaults on staff is unacceptable.”

Never mind – the Government will just set a new target for assaults on staff and suddenly the figures will look very acceptable.

Posted: 16th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

We Don’t Want No Education

‘IN a bid to boost the number of people going into teaching, the Government is slowly removing all the burdensome duties the poor pedagogues have to perform.

Since the teachers left and the pupils were all expelled, the school’s been running like clockwork

Under a new contract agreed between the Department For Education and the unions, teachers can refuse to carry out 24 administrative tasks, to be done instead by support staff.

These include collecting dinner money, photocopying and putting up children’s classroom displays. A 25th task – invigilating exams – will go next year.

Schools minister David Milliband tells the Independent: ”There are real gains for teachers and support staff.”

The support staff gain lots of extra responsibilities and the teachers gain lots of extra free time.

Indeed, it is hoped that by 2008, 50% of teachers will have been relieved of their arduous teaching duties altogether.

And by 2012 most teachers will never have to set foot inside a classroom again.’

Posted: 16th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Tea Junction

‘THE British response to any manner of tragedy or disaster has traditionally been a stiff upper lip and a nice cup of tea.

Add vodka and Red Bull to taste

So, should we deduce from news in the Telegraph that we are no longer the world’s most enthusiastic tea drinkers that, in the words of Harold MacMillan, we’ve never had it so good?

That is certainly the explanation Alastair Campbell will be spinning for a decline in the number of tea bags we buy a year from 279 million lb five years ago to only 251 million lb today.

It is a drop that has allowed Turkey to overtake us as the kings and queens of the cuppa.

Another explanation is the sudden – and inexplicable – popularity of herbal teas, with sales of fruit infusions up 50% in the same time span.

Consumer analyst John Band tells the Telegraph that fruit teas, which were once looked upon as New Age, have now acquired mainstream credibility.

”It’s about image,” he says. ”A stereotypical fruit tea drinker is now perceived as ‘stable’, ‘modern’ and ‘with it’.”

Posted: 16th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Woor Alan

‘ALAN Milburn wrote himself a prescription yesterday, which ordered time off away from front-line politics and plenty of fun and games at home with his young family.

”I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

The now former Heath Secretary, a man the Guardian calls ”an outrider for Blairism”, put family before ”the vanity of office” (Times) and jumped ship.

But if Milburn is such a champion of the Blair political style, there exists the possibility that his decision to go is a nice spin on more politically motivated reasons.

Tony Blair is always keen for us to make our minds up on things, telling us how bright we all are – so, in the spirit of his cause, here’s some juicy bits from Milburn’s letter of resignation, as produced in the Telegraph.

Milburn talks about his desire to ”balance having a young family in the North East with the demands of being a Cabinet Minister”, something ”I know…you [Tony] understand”.

How Tony would indeed like to take Euan, Nicky and Leo to sit behind the goal at Newcastle United’s St James’s Park and cheer on the red and greens’ young Jackie Milburn (any relation?).

Milburn then talks about the ”enormous privilege” of working with Tony, ”a real honour to have served you as Prime Minister”, with ”your ”strength of leadership and sense of purpose”.

Like a true medical man, Milburn is sugaring the pill with an enormous dollop of syrup.

But we should look to the departure of Phil Williams, a man the Times call as leading member of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru.

Having told his wife he was off to an academic meeting in Cardiff, the poor man was sidetracked and ended up dying on the couch at the Touch of Class massage parlour.

Williams’ passing is a damning indictment on the NHS, which failed to save him or provide adequate complimentary therapies, and a comment on how prone to falsehood politicians can be.

But we can believe Mr Milburn. Can’t we..?

Posted: 13th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Supreme Justice

‘HAD the Prime Minister decided not to abolish the role of Lord Chancellor yesterday and replace the outgoing Lord Irvine of Lairg with a new face, the smart money was on the famous wallpaper getting the job.

”But who will feed and take care of the wallpaper?”

Reassuringly expensive, able to gloss over mistakes and the bare truth of things, and a good pal of Tony’s, the handmade wallpaper that sits proudly on what were Derry Irvine’s office walls has all the credentials for the job.

But it was not to be and the Independent says that Tony has abolished the 1,400-year-old office of the Lord Chancellor, replacing it and the Law Lords with an American-style Supreme Court.

One key benefit of this approach is that there will be an independent system for appointing judges, who as it stands are chosen by the Lord Chancellor.

It’s a change to the constitution that gets rid of arcane rites and introduces transparency and fairness.

And heading the cause, as the Guardian explains, will be Lord Falconer of Thornton, the new secretary of state for constitutional affairs.

That Falconer is a close pal of Tony’s, that he shared a flat with the PM in their student days is neither here nor there.

So let’s just relax and thank God – and/or Tony – that the dark days of cronyism and jobs for the boys are well and truly over…

Posted: 13th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Hals About That

‘AS Alan Milburn shows us, it’s time to tune in and drop out. And with no second invitation needed, that’s what Prince Harry is doing.

How many A-levels do you think you passed, Harry?

With a loud and joyous ”Yessssss!”, the Telegraph hears and watches Prince Harry finish his A-level exams and head off for a career in the Army.

A-levels in Geography and Art will make Harry a good solider, enabling him to keep a firm grip on his location and make him a dab hand at daubing mud and grass on his face.

But which regiment to choose? It’s not a choice he has to make yet, as the paper explains that before active service he’s off to the ”finishing school for kings” at Sandhurst.

And then there is the option of his taking a gap year. Rumours are that he’s off to Australia for some charity work – living with the colonials and helping them drain marshes, dig up weeds and generally make the place habitable.

What a guy!

Posted: 13th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Dog Gone Shame

‘LOSING a sister and a mother is careless, some would say, but losing a dog is refreshingly of the people.

Time for a Swift exit

The sad news is that the Queen has lost another member of her family – RIP Swift, you were a happy little chap, who knew only love.

That Swift has made an expedient exit to wherever corgis go when they die (the Clarence House organic vegetable patch is our bet) is our one hope.

But this dead dog story is made harder by the Telegraph’s news that wee Swift had been given to her Majesty by the dear old Queen Mum.

Death’s swinging scythe is mowing the halls of Buckingham Palace, as the paper heaps on more misery by reminding us that Swift’s departure comes just two years after Kelpie, leader of the Queen’s pack, passed on.

The Telegraph then shares the interesting fact that Kelpie was of a breed known as a dorgi – a type invented by the Queen when she crossed her corgi with Princess Margaret’s dachshund.

A part British, part German creature sounds not a little like Prince William.

Not that the lad is a dog, just a rare breed of gent.

Posted: 12th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Jocks A-Weigh

‘SCOTLAND The Brave was a phrase that never told the whole story. So today, at the Independent’s direction, we bring you Scotland The Fat.

Are you Scottish in disguise?

One in five Scottish adults is now officially classed as ”obese”. Scientists at Glasgow University also found that around 60 per cent of the Tartan Army are overweight.

This is good news for those who want Scotland to be rid of English involvement, as the fat line up in a modern version of Hadrian’s Wall, repelling intruders and caravaners with a gentle bounce back south.

But to the NHS it is bad news. The paper says that since health risks associated with being corpulent are increased, the problem is costing the Scottish NHS £171million a year.

And it is set to get worse. Predictions suggest that by 2040 around half the total British population will be obese. And the root of the fat is a bad diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

But the good news is that by losing just 10 per cent of weight, the health benefits will be marked.

And if you want something to do with the fat you’ve shed, how about using it to deep fry some Mars Bars. It’s what Scotland’s built up on.

Posted: 12th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Skeleton Service

‘WE wonder what our ancestors 160,000 years from now will make of us.

Scientists’ impression of the world’s first man

Chances are that if they are anything like us, they’ll find our bones and then stick them together like a three dimensional jigsaw.

That’s what an American-Ethiopian team of scientists has done to three skulls found in the region of Herto, Ethiopia. And the Times takes us though the jigsaw process.

You’ll need a strong adhesive – seek parental help and rubber gloves – six years of patience to clean, restore and date each and every fragment of head bone, and then the gentle caress of a frotter to assemble the finished orb.

But it will be worth the slog because once finished you can tell the world that you’ve pushed back the origins of the species by at least 30,000 years.

You can also say that the likelihood is high that anatomically modern human beings emerged first in Africa.

And if you’re really creative, you can mock up a picture of what the skull would have looked like wrapped in flesh and stuck atop a head.

And the result, as seen in the Guardian, carries more than a passing nod to Morgan Freeman – an actor who can say he is truly ahead of him time.

Posted: 12th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Auf Wiedersehen

”’IS this Lie-cester Square?” ”Where The Mousetrap?” ”Ya, Jan, zat plistic bobby’s helmit is really cool. I mist ‘ave one?”

”And how many palaces does the Royal Lego set come with?”

It’s the kind of language that hasn’t been heard in this country since Britain became as popular a tourist destination as a cold Sunday in Kabul.

So yesterday the same people who dream up National Sausage Week and National Walking Backwards Minute asked us to celebrate the inaugural National Tourism Day.

And that meant the Royal Family – ”one of Britain’s premier tourist attractions” (Independent) – were pressed into action.

What a fun day out was had by one and all. Mater and pater Windsor went to Legoland in, er, Windsor and looked at Lego models of things like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and life-sized Lego bust of their own heads.

The Telegraph looks on as the Legoland staff try to present Philip, who was 82 years old yesterday, with a ”Happy Birthday” badge.

The offer was waved away by a flunky, but the crowd could not be deterred from singing Happy Birthday as the couple boarded the ”kiddies’ train”.

Meanwhile, the Independent spots the Duke of York in the Drunken Duck Pub in the Lake District; the Princess Royal at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Hampshire; and Prince Charles pulling on a kilt and sampling Scotch malt in Edinburgh.

By now, you’re wondering like the rest of us what happened to the Wessexes. The Telegraph spots Sophie at Pennywell Farm, Devon, chatting to lambs.

But where is Eddie? Oh, the Independent’s caught sight of him taking in the delights of a caravan park in Brynich, Wales, and then disappearing down a hole at the National Caves Show at Brecon.

It’s just great to see them Royals doing their bit. And if their German and Greek kin can take a feather from their caps, the British tourist industry might yet be saved.

Posted: 11th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment