Anorak News | One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

by | 24th, October 2005

‘AS if Mondays weren’t depressing enough, the papers added to the downbeat mood by screaming that lots of birds and lots of people were going to die from bird flu.

“BIRD FLU WILL HIT BRITAIN AND KILL 50,000,” promised the front page of the Mail. It was the chief medial officer’s “chilling prediction”.

Sir Liam Donaldson said it was “inevitable” that infected birds will arrive in the UK and the deadly virus will, as the Mail put it, start “jumping from person to person”.

“We can’t make this pandemic go away, it’s a natural phenomenon,” said Donaldson. “What we can do is limit the impact.”

But surely we can do more than that? We saw off Sars, anthrax and mad cow disease, so why not this flu? On Thursday the Sun said that like some microbe-sized Hitler the bug had already begun its “deadly march” across Europe. It had just been spotted south of Moscow.

The Sun was running around like Lance-Corporal Jones from TV’s Dad’s Army. “Don’t panic!” it squawked. By the time the infected birds arrive next winter the Government will have had an entire year to get the vaccine ready.

It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine – unless you read the Mirror, which was doing a passable impression of Jones’s old mucker Private Frazer. We were all “doomed!”

“It’s winter 2006,” wrote the Mirror, “and everyone is scared… thousands have died… schools are closed… the streets are deserted… planes are grounded… as pandemic savages Britain.”

The paper went on to talk of “makeshift cemeteries” to deal with the rising toll of the dead. Children will become malnourished as animal produce – turkey twizzlers, chicken nuggets and kebabs – are banned.

“The country is under something akin to martial law” and “all large gatherings have been banned by Government order.”

Reading that lot you’d imagine Tony Blair billing and cooing at this bedroom window and blowing on a duck whistle to get the birds here pronto. Who needs Jamie Oliver to improve our children’s diet and ID cards to control the masses when an infected goose can do both jobs in one go?

By Wednesday, the dystopian vision of tomorrow meant Britain had been left with little choice other than to declare war on the birds.

Flu had become the new terror – a truth emphasised by the Express’s news that sniffer dogs at Heathrow Airport were being used to pick up the scent of birds, eggs and feathers in travellers’ bags.

Chris Pratt, the Products of Animal Origin Manager for Customs at Heathrow, said: “The risk is minimal, but what we’ve been asked to look out for specifically is dead or live birds, feathers and eggs. We’re looking for these things being imported in personal luggage.”

Fair enough. A holidaymaker might be flying in from Istanbul in possession of an egg bap, but does anyone really pack a dead chicken in with their socks?

Are the men and women who pose the security questions at the check-in desks now asking if travellers have packed their bags themselves and if anyone gave them a live parrot to carry, or, worse still, a dead one?

You really couldn’t be too careful. This was war. Perhaps we should launch a counter offensive? Send for the marines! Make ready the nuclear warheads! Call President Bush! We’re under attack! And if Bush refuses to help, tell him the birds have got beards and Iranian passports.

It was all so hard to know what to believe. And on Tuesday we read in the Mail that Posh and Day-vid Beckham were suing the News Of The World Paper for libel.

As the Mail delighted in explaining in a piece that began on its front page (“Posh defends her ‘happy’ marriage”), Los Beckhams were challenging the allegation that they “cynically” presented a false image to the world at large in order to protect “Brand Beckham”.

In court, Posh will maintain that the NOTW got it wrong when it claimed she had called Day-vid an “Essex yob” and said their marriage was in trouble.

She and Dayve are happy. They are happy, happy, happy. So happy are they that anyone who says otherwise will be taken to court. That’s how happy they are. Got it!

And they were a darn sign happier than Ken Clarke who, as Wednesday’s Telegraph explained, had come last in the Tory leadership contest.

Meanwhile, Davie Cameron was marching on – his bandwagon powered by the 15-minute address he’d given to the party faithful at the Tory conference in Blackpool.

By Friday – after Liam Fox has been voted out of the leadership contest – Cameron was in a head to head contest with David Davis.

And looking at the agonists’ heads, there can be only one winner. Cameron’s got nice hair. You can’t miss it. It goes everywhere he goes. It sits on top of his head like a glossy crown. (Davis is grey.)

And do not doubt its power. As the Times reported: “A slick coiffure puts one candidate head and shoulders above his rivals.”

We might not know much about Cameron’s policies, or his drugs history, but we know a nice shiny head of hair when we see one.

So vote Cameron for a brighter future and better hair – and if you want a return to the more interesting times of Tory politics, when oily-haired Kenneth Baker, Francis Pym and Cecil Parkinson were in charge…’

Posted: 24th, October 2005 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink