Anorak News | Panic Stations

Panic Stations

by | 27th, February 2006

‘OLD sitcom writers never die, they just go and work at the Mail.

It was hard not to smile as the Mail used its front page on Monday to scream: “DON’T PANIC.” It was dear old Lance-Corporal Jones, the hysteric from Dad’s Army.

Jones knew that bird flu was on our doorsteps, pecking at the silver lids on our British pintas. He was manically running about the place telling us to remain calm.

Problem was “We’re all doomed”. “Bird flu at our door,” said the Mail’s Private Frazer. “Hotlines swamped. But Minister says: We’re prepared. (Now isn’t that what they said about foot-and-mouth?”)

The minister making the news was John Reid, the defence secretary. He noted that two dead birds had been taken away for tests in northern France. And he had heard that scientists were investigating the deaths of swans found in Suffolk, Hampshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Fowl play had not been ruled out (the Mail, we should be working together, call me).

Crikey! Things were looking grim. Perhaps it would have been best just to leave the country. Permission to speak, sirs and madams, we asked. Would you mind if we were excused? We had to see a man about a birddog.

Only, there was no escape. Facts were facts. Even disgraced, discredited and jailed historian David Irving would be hard pressed to argue with the truth that birds killed by avian flu had been found on the Continent.

(Although if Irving did say there was bird flu close by, chances are only loons, the Iranian regime, die-hard Nazis and idiots would believe him.)

Bird flu did not need Irving. What bird flu needed was a celebrity face.

MRSA had Lesley Ash. Breast cancer had Kylie Minogue. Even lowly acne had Cameron Diaz. I could have gone on. But at no point would we have encountered the celebrity face of avian flu. Until last Wednesday.

All hail Oprah Winfrey. Speaking in the National Enquirer, the maven of the talk shows was telling her people “It’s going to happen”. Bird flu will sweep across the US.

“I feel hopeless,” said Oprah. “If that virus mutates into a contagious human flu, no one on the planet will be safe.” Not Oprah. Not Paula Abdul. Not even Dr Phil.

Oprah called for her Government to prepare for the worst. She said that when it came to being vaccinated against the disease “I’m getting mine now”.

Which was some news – as the Mail said in its bird flu “Q&A”, no true human vaccine existed. Perhaps Oprah plans to inoculate herself with Nobilis, the only vaccine that’s approved for use on poultry?

Whatever she wants, Oprah will have to bone up on avian flu if she is to become its celebrity spokesperson.

Meanwhile the birds were busing being, well, birds. And on Thursday we read the joyous news that Kyala and Oscar Penguin had given birth to Toga II, the sibling of Toga I, the stolen bird that now resides in your chest freezer.

Of course, if penguin a la mode was not your thing, we were minded to try something meatier.

On Thursday we read the Star’s news that cannibal killer Armin Meiwes wanted to “only eat beautiful people”.

German-born Meiwes is facing a retrial in Frankfurt for killing and then eating a man he met on the Internet.

In 2004, “evil” and “hungry” Meiwes was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years’ choky for the manslaughter of one Bernd Brandes. The pair had met on the Internet and after the usual chit-chat they met up for a dinner date – in which Brandes agreed to be dinner.

And with Brandes been and digested, Meiwes had drawn up a menu of people he’d like to eat. And top of the list was…Robbie Williams.

Jail sure had given Meiwes a healthy appetite, because Robbie was only the appetiser. After the singer, Meiwes wanted to tuck into Liam Gallagher, Barry Manilow and Hugh Grant (a man not averse to being gobbled by strangers).

No mention was made of recipes (ideas to the usual address). But with a diet rich in meat, we urged Meiwes to take care and balance his diet with fruit – like Apple Paltrow-Martin, Peaches Geldof and Halle Berry.

But at least Meiwes is a good cook. Well, he is German. As the Guardian told us on Friday, Germany had performed very well in a competition held by the World Association of Cooks Societies, and staged at a salubrious college of further education in Colwyn Bay, Wales.

The Germans had won a gold medal. And the Welsh had won the top prize, too. Sadly, the French did not do that well.

The Guardian said the French had been expected to do very well. Billed as the “Thierry Henris” of the cooking world, the French would dazzle. They’d score for fun. They’d wink at the cameras and try and flog you a nippy hatchback car. You’d buy one. And they’d win.

Only they did not. And one judge was not so sure they will take kindly to losing. Said he: ‘I just hope it doesn’t mean they take offence and drop out again.”

Of course, such is the nature of the awards industry that the French are free to set up their own league and create prizes that only they can win.

Well, if it works for the Baftas, the Brits and the Oscars, why not for the Foodies?’

Posted: 27th, February 2006 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink