Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers
‘NO SNIGGERING at the back, please. This is serious. The Telegraph tells of the perilous future facing an important erotic artefact from Roman times.
The artefact in question is a risqué ceramic plate from the rare school of bawdy Renaissance art. Its historical significance is up there with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
To the untrained – or very naïve – eye, the plate shows a face in profile with an earring and a hair-ribbon. But look closer, and you will see that, as the paper puts it, ‘the picture is made up entirely of phalluses’. And you don’t have to take their word for it: there’s a helpful colour picture to prove it.
And that’s not all. Follow the cryptic clue to read the inscription ‘as a Jew’ (ie, left to right as in Hebrew) and you will find that it reads: ‘Every man looks at me as if I was a head of dicks.’ Shocking but true.
‘It is both erotic and a joke,’ says Tim Wilson, keeper of Western art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The museum is attempting to raise £250,000 to keep the smutty platter in this country.
And who can disagree that Francesco Urbini’s plate should stay in its spiritual home – the land of legendary seaside postcard artist Donald McGill and other distinguished exponents of erotic art?
Aesthetes from John O’Groats to Land’s End will be wringing their sweaty palms as they await its fate.
”ARCHER appeal dismissed within minutes,’ announces the Times. ‘Judges take 110 minutes to reject Archer appeal on perjury conviction,’ says the Guardian.
|With Jeffrey out of the way, the Mary Archer appreciation club smell an opportunity|
And the Guardian’s accuracy brings to mind a boxing match (or an Audley Harrison bout) in which one protagonist is dispatched comfortably within the first round. The report must then be padded out with plenty of detail, and peripheral details dwelt upon.
Three Appeal Judges ruled against the best-selling author and Tory statesman Jeffrey Archer, and decided that his four-year prison sentence for perjury and perverting the course of justice must stand.
More worryingly for Archer, this means that he must pay the Daily Star £500,000 in damages, which, with costs and interests adds up to about £2.9 million. That’s a lot of novels, you know.
The impact upon the Archer family was immediately apparent. The Telegraph reports that Jeffrey waived his right to attend. But his fragrant wife Mary was there, with her two sons, and when the decision was announced, she ‘blinked, but otherwise remained inscrutable’. She then ‘stayed calmly in her seat’ while security staff arranged for her to leave through the judges’ corridor.
And as she squeezed past the waiting judges, they sighed with delight. ‘Has she not beauty?’ said one. ‘Has she not fragrance?’ said another. ‘Who would want rubber-insulated sex with a common prostitute?’ said a third. There was silence, as they looked at one another, then hopped in a taxi together.
‘ALL hail and tidings glad be with you as his immortal majesty the King of Bahrain welcomes you to read his sensational new column in the Independent.
|‘Life is, how do you say it, a beach’|
Also syndicated in the Times, exciting new writer Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa tells the news like it is, challenging the old ways in his indomitable style.
Or rather his ghost writers do, taking an entire page to applaud the King’s work in championing democracy in the Gulf, creating improved conditions for the Gulf’s women and saying how he thinks Jade is more lovely that an eagle flying into the setting sun, and she WILL win Big Brother.
The King is in Britain for just a few days, and we should try and do more to make him feel at home, and copying the French has never looked so appealing.
The Guardian sees les Francais cover an area of Paris beneath tonnes of sand, thus moulding the city’s first beach resort, Paris-Plage.
A dip in the nearby River Seine might turn the Sheik’s robes an odd shade of green, but he could surely feel right at home among the rolling Parisian dunes, the 80 palm trees, beach huts, bars and boules pitches.
The oasis of sand is the brainchild of Jean-Christophe Choblet, Paris city hall’s ‘creator of events’.
And he plans more. Next year, the beach will come with two swimming pools, some floating scenery and an area reserved for Les Touristes Anglais – a large pen containing a space for 70-a-side football matches, synchronised German baiting and kiosks selling edible Pastisse-sun-cream-jelly.
‘Luv-er-ly,’ as they will soon be saying in Paris.
‘AS Parisians burn, Scots simmer. From the dry side of a pac-a-mac, Scotland’s beaches are every bit as welcoming as the rolling sands of Bahrain or Paris, yet oddly the Scots still fail to seduce holidaymakers to their shores.
|Angus was ostracised by the group after it was discovered he was wearing boxers|
And it may have something to do with the language they employ. Despite the best efforts of the likes of Robbie Burns and Rab C Nesbitt, the Scottish dialect is going down the shunky.
The Times reports that to the consternation of some Scots MPs, signs at the new Scottish Parliament will be written in the received English dialect.
All signs at the building in Holyrood, Edinburgh, are to be printed in English, Gaelic and Braille.
Oot go ‘Nae waey oot’, ‘Dinna blether please’, and ‘Debaitin chaumber’ and in come ‘exit’, ‘silence please’ and ‘debating chamber’.
Irene McGugan, a SNP MSP, says the move is in breach of the European agreement on minority languages.
‘Scots is one of Scotland’s indigenous languages and is entitled to equal rights, alongside Gaelic and English,’ she says.
She wished the visiting Sheikh well (‘May yer lums reek lang and weil’), revealed her plans for the rest of the day (‘Am gonna redup noo an’gaw fera bevy’) and gave the Times’ journalist in Scotland, the wonderfully named Shirley English, a lesson in Scottish affection.
‘HAS anyone noticed that there are lots of foreigners in the world today? Over in Greece, there are thousands, while in China and India there are positively millions of them.
|NHS unveils its requirements for a modern nurse|
And sometimes, as in the instance of King Kolomist Sheikh Hamad, they come to Blighty to work.
The Telegraph spots a few such arrivals in the operating theatre at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals, London.
It also spots Mr David Nunn, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, performing an operation that, allegedly, required more instruments.
So, as the story goes, Mr Nunn turned to his team and asked for some help. ‘I was met with a selection of bemused reactions,’ he says.
And as a result of his actions his superiors have accused him of racism and threatened him with disciplinary action.
For his part, Mr Dunn tosses in something about ‘political correctness’ before praising the nurses’ skills, if not grasp of English.
A spokeswoman for the nurses said: ‘Geesa stoockie for the swally in the gutties’. And we’re reet behind her on that.
‘MINUS 44. It’s nothing to be proud of, is it? In fact, as scores go, it’s pathetic. Yet that’s the score awarded to British tourists in a poll of the world’s tourist operator.
|The scourge of Europe’s beaches|
Brits came bottom, behind Israelis, who managed only a paltry minus six. But most galling of all, is the action at the top end of the chart, where the Germans are sitting ugly with an astonishing plus 41. Americans come second with 32.
This really puts Britain’s achievement into perspective. The Telegraph quotes the survey as describing us as ‘the least wanted visitors in the world’. And we all know what happens when you tell people they’re not wanted.
We are rude, tight-fisted and make no effort to speak foreign languages. The Irish and Danes were also regarded as badly behaved, but couldn’t compete with the Brits across a wide range of negative characteristics.
‘A little effort goes a long way in a foreign country,’ said Dermot Haplin, managing director of Expedia travel agents, who conducted the survey. Indeed it does. The message is clear: anyone wishing to challenge the British are going to have to pull their fingers out – and wave them rudely in the face of their foreign hosts.
‘THE TIMES continues to plough its own distinctive furrow, and reserves space on its front page for a curious report of the impending journey of Ian Thorpe, aka ‘The Thorpedo’, from Australia to Germany, en route to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
|Team GB gets ready to make a splash|
The 19-year-old swimming champion will not be wearing the usual uniform of sporting teams on tour: blazers with crests, or logo-strewn leisurewear. Instead, he will resemble some kind of comic-book super-hero, clad in ‘humidi-flyer’ mask, ‘jet-skin decompression pants’ and white stockings.
This outfit is designed to prevent dehydration, aid circulation and discourage deep-vein thrombosis. The entire swimming squad will be wearing this outlandish attire as part of a typically single-minded attempt by the Aussies to sweep the board in the world’s 27th-most-important tournament. The assorted Duckling Club members representing Great Britain will be watching with trepidation.
The outfits are the work of the Australian Institute of Sport and are intended to combat the detrimental effects of long-haul flights. But there are other advantages too. Those jet-skin decompression pants should come in handy if anyone decides to have a crack at former Test cricketer David Boon’s record 50-plus tinnies on the flight to the 1989 Ashes series.
‘TALKING of heavy drinking, Charles Kennedy is in the news today, as the recipient of a rare apology from Jeremy Paxman. The Independent reports that the grand inquisitor was adjudged to have overstepped the mark during a routine ‘Paxoing’ of the red-headed Liberal Democrat leader on Newsnight.
|Another stuffing from Paxo|
‘How much do you drink?’ asked Paxman, a trifle impertinently. ‘Moderately, socially, as well you know,’ replied Kennedy. ‘I’ll be the judge of that, ginger nut,’ interrupted Paxman, ‘I hear you put away at least a bottle of Teacher’s every night.’
At this point things deteriorated rapidly, as Paxo eventually got off the subject of drinking, and started to quiz the young supremo on his impending nuptials. ‘Why have you decided to get married?’ he asked. ‘Because I’m in love,’ replied Kennedy coolly. Red rag to a bull, that. Paxo was off again. ‘Where did you find her? A blind school?’ he sneered. ‘Bit of a dog is she?’
What followed was too distressing to repeat for a family audience. ‘I am sorry if any offence has been caused,’ said Paxman. ‘Maybe there was one question too many about drink.’ Nonsense. You stick to your guns, man. The public has a right to know. ‘
‘PASSING the buck is nothing new in government, as anyone with a passing interest in our current leaders will know. But the Daily Telegraph carries a story that surely trumps the feeble efforts of Jo Moore and her pals.
‘The Government is blaming Benny Hill, the comedian famous for his sketches involving scantily-clad girls, for its failure to cut teenage pregnancies,’ the story begins.
At which point one waits for the weasel words that show that the facts have been twisted for the sake of a delicious headline. But the weasel words don’t come. Indeed, the phrase ‘Benny Hill culture’ comes straight from the mouth of Cathy Hamlyn, the head of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit.
There’s no answer to that, so we won’t bother trying. Instead, we shall devote what little space remains to a curious paragraph tacked on the end of the report. According to his biography, Hill, who died in 1992, maintained a ‘firm distaste for intercourse’.
The paper offers no comment, but adds that his father sold condoms for a living. With Hill setting his cap against carnality, and his old dad in the prophylactic trade, it is hard – though enjoyable – to imagine a less likely scapegoat.
But rest assured, that won’t stop the government trying.
‘THE TIMES has long ploughed its own furrow when it comes to selecting its lead stories. It likes to give space to the arcane, the idiosyncratic, and, occasionally, the downright baffling.
|One of them is still a little woosie|
But it’s not for us to speculate on their reasons; we are simply here to report upon the news according to Wapping. And today, the former paper of record chooses to lament the fate of ‘Notorious caddie stuck in his bunker at 19th hole’.
The words ‘notorious caddie’ immediately narrows down the field to one name: Miles Byrne. He is the man whose fortunes took a sharp dip when he packed Ian Woosnam’s bag incorrectly, and included an illegal number of clubs – an error widely thought to have cost Woosie last year’s Open.
When he then overslept two weeks later during another tournament, it was the last straw for his long-suffering employer, and he was given a one-way ticket to Well, to the Boomerang pub in Bray, since you ask. That’s where he goes for his R’n’R, when he’s not earning a living as a labourer.
He occasionally interrupts his drinking to nip round to the bookies’. ‘Locals say he is going through a hard time,’ remarks the paper, a trifle unnecessarily. And that’s it.
Labourer drinks in public house and frequents local bookmakers – news wires will be buzzing all over the world.
‘CIVILISATION is continually being traced back to earlier and earlier periods of history, through the discovery of human-style skulls, early tools and metals, and all manner of pots, paintings and other artefacts.
|Scientists display new Mayan find|
But the Guardian carries news of the most extraordinary discovery yet. ‘Frothy chocolate ‘dates back to Mayans’,’ announces the headline, and the report goes on to say that crusty smears of hot chocolate have been discovered on the bottom of cooking pots in Colha in Belize.
The pots are dated as around 900 – 250 BC. This is clearly the earliest known example of what we now know as Terry and June culture – the agreeably refined rival to the ‘Benny Hill culture’ that co-existed alongside it in ancient times.
‘The discovery pushes back the use of chocolate as food by about 1,000 years,’ the paper concludes. All very impressive, but there’s more. The find also drives back the use of doilies, tartan shortbread tins and laminated hot drinks coasters by a staggering 2,873 years.
Warm salutations then to the agreeable Mayan people, whose solid domesticity has been proved right in the best way possible – by withstanding the ruthless march of so-called ‘progress’ and reaching its apogee in the leafy civilisation of mid-20th-century Surrey. ‘