Anorak News | Fowl Play

Fowl Play

by | 20th, February 2006

‘AFTER those images of Muhammad, the world awoke on Monday to see the face of another religious figure.

And – for shame – the years had not been overly kind to Jesus Christ, the leader of worldwide Christianity.

And there he was. We learnt that that he lived in Italy. He had assisted hair, not much height and a neat line in little shiny shoes. He laboured under the name Silvio Berlusconi.

At the start of his campaign to remain as Italy’s secular leader in April’s general election, Berlusconi outlined his manifesto to become its spiritual leader, too.

‘I am the Jesus Christ of politics,’ he said. ‘I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”

But while Berlusconi was dying for our sins (see hair), there was more trouble for our boys in the Middle East.

Last year’s news of what went on in initiation ceremonies at a military base in Taunton surprised few.

What we heard and saw on video was all too believable. Indeed, it sounded like the sort of thing that many young Britons did for a laugh on holiday, and we agreed that it was nothing to be proud of.

If the lads were prepared to strap foam mats to their arms and dance around like demented chicken as, naked and drunk, an NCO, dressed as a schoolgirl, encouraged them to kick each other in the head, what would they get up to when in a real battle zone?

Were they being toughened up to receive punishment or being given a crash course in how to dish it out?

Mindful of those images, we avidly read news of another video of our servicemen behaving badly.

There they were – eight British soldiers assaulting four unarmed Iraqi youths, with a truly sadistic commentary provided by the man with the video. (The Independent heard the lunatic with the camera shouting: ‘Oh yes! Oh yes! You’re gonna get it. Yes, naughty little boys. You little fuckers, you little fuckers. Die. Ha Ha.’)

It was all pretty revolting. But some were not convinced. They wanted the thing put in perspective. Did you see the riot before the defenceless boys were dragged off and beaten up?

For a nation that gets its kicks from laughing at video tapes of people diving headfirst into empty swimming pools and getting their tongues caught up in ceiling fans, perhaps we were being awfully prudish about the latest home video from Iraq.

But while the Ministry of Defence’s police were interviewing Corporal Martin Webster about his directing – and sending his efforts in to You’ve Been Framed for a £250 bonanza – we heard news of more senseless violence. Step forward Dick Cheney.

Sad to say the Vice President of the United States did not capture on video the moment when he mistook 78-year-old lawyer Henry Whittington for a Texan quail (everything’s bigger in Texas). So there was no £250 for him.

And while Whittington fought for his life in hospital, the health of everyone in Britain suddenly got a whole lot better.

“Britain gives up smoking,” said the Times’s front-page headline. And we wondered if we had all, like some North Korean Army display team, acted as one?

Feeling refreshed, clean and so very righteous, we read that the Commons had voted to ban smoking from all pubs, clubs and workplaces from next year.

Ms Hewitt, the odourless Health Secretary, told the paper that smoking was to be banned in “virtually every enclosed public place and workplace”.

Serve food or don’t serve food, the ban on smoking in pubs will hold just the same. Even if all the members and staff at your private club smoke like camp fires, the ban will hold.

That was the good news. Now for the bad news: the fags won’t get us but the birds will. On Thursday we heard that as many as 15,000 swans infected with the H5N1 virus are scattered throughout Europe.

But the Government had a cunning plan. Should an infected wild bird be found, swan or otherwise, the authorities will set up a one-mile exclusion zone around it.

The aim is to protect poultry from infection. Inside the zone, poultry movement will be halted. And, strangely, poultry and pigs within the zone will be tested for the virus.

Pigs. Why pigs? Do pigs fly? There were no pictures of an airborn pig coughing and spluttering as it winged its way over the Channel, and we can only imagine it to be so.

In which case, look out – especially when walking beneath trees and cranes where a pig might be nesting.

But on Friday we learnt that things might not be so bad. The Channel might yet widen. The barrier that keeps them out could grow.

As the Times showed with the aid of a double-page picture, by the next millennium “disastrous climate change” will have drowned vast swathes of this fair land.

The Fens and large areas of the East Midlands will be submerged. In 3006, London will be twinned with Atlantis. And over on the Continent, the Netherlands will be best viewed by submarine.

Good news. But is the climate changing too slowly to save us from killer swans? If so, what can we do speed things up. Burn more fossil fuels? We’re on it. Bar-B-Q more chicken? Watch the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs do their worst.

The time to act is now. Before it’s too late…’

Posted: 20th, February 2006 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink