Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 75

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

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

Quality Street

‘HEARING Prince Eddie call out from the deepest recesses of a Welsh cave that he won’t move until the tourists come back is one sign of our changing times.

Open-plan living area, with bedroom on mezzanine floor…

(It is also something of a deathknell to our benighted tourist industry.)

Another is that villages and towns are no longer older versions of Poundbury in Dorset, the site of Prince Charles’ vision of the ideal rural community.

They are thrusting, new-builds, with galley kitchens built on a mezzanine level.

It’s the style of housing that the Times says if set to replace the old Victorian back-to-back housing in Langworthy, Salford.

This means little to most readers until the paper reveals that the homes scheduled for development are seen four times a week in the opening credits to Coronation Street, TV’s longest-running soap opera.

While we can only thrill to a new-look Corrie, we wonder what such a redevelopment means for TV in general.

Is Terry Wogan to get a facelift? And who wants to underpin Vanessa Feltz? The diggers are looking nervous…

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

A Bunch Of Blix

‘EVEN at the apogee of hostilities, George W Bush, a man with a loose, soapy grip on language, resisted the chance to call Saddam Hussein names.

Don’t let the bastards get you down, Hans

Sure he was evil, but, then, who isn’t compared to God-fearing George?

He never called Saddam a berk, a pratt or a dolt. He never shoved his tongue into the space between his bottom lip and chin and gurned.

But now Hans Blix has changed political protocol. In conversation with the Guardian, the UN chief weapons inspector has used the word ”bastard” to describe they ”who spread things around” and ”who planted nasty things in the media”.

Of course, had the unnamed ”they” planted a few weapons of mass destruction in the pages of the Beano, Hans would have achieved what many hawks in the US believed was his goal.

Instead Blix complains that he was smeared by the Bush administration and was wrongly branded a ”homosexual” in Baghdad.

But that’s nothing a bushy moustache can’t fix… ‘

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

Paying The Penalty

‘LIKE the results of a football penalty shoot-out, the Times lists with crosses and ticks the failure and success of each of Gordon Brown’s five economic tests for euro acceptance.

As Gordon drones on, Tony stares up at whence he came

The score is four to one in favour of the crosses, although the Independent puts the score much closer at 2-1 to the ”nos” and has referred two tests to the Russian linesman.

With the result in limbo, the Telegraph (”The euro tests”), Times (”euro verdict”), and Guardian (”Britain and the euro”) bombard us with separate pull-out reports on the match of the century.

Only the Telegraph bothers to punctuate the welter of words with a cartoon. With a nod to Waiting For Godot, Samuel Beckett’s play about the pointlessness of life, Gordon and Tony are located, appropriately enough, in the woods.

”That passed the time,” says Gordon. ”It would have passed in any case…” replies Tony.

At least the Independent keeps an eye out for what’s happening abroad, and as promised we bring you another story from life overseas.

A mosquito that can carry the lethal West Nile virus has been spotted living in an illegal colony close to the Scottish village of Menstrie, Clackmannanshire.

Already over 40 Brits have been bitten by the nasty wee beasties, which are believed to have arrived from Europe…”in a lorry”.

They are also believed to have arrived with no euros.

Posted: 10th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

What A Doughnut

‘SCHOOLED in EastEnders English, most of would rather not be called a ”doughnut”.

More of a Polo than a doughnut

But the Guardian says it’s the word on everyone’s lips ”in the land of spies”.

Famous for leaving briefcases full of documents at Paddington Station, doughnut might be an apt description for a member of our intelligence service personnel.

But it is the building rather than the person that has a hole in the centre. The Doughnut is the new multi-million pound headquarters of GCHQ, the Government’s electronic eavesdropping centre.

And being the secret institution that it is, the Guardian was invited to tour the premises before it is ”sealed” off to outsiders later this month.

And what a fine construction – acres of steel and glass, enclosing a large open space, ”the size of 17 football pitches”.

Workers within will be invited to kick ideas around, if not footballs, sharing a ”common desktop” and an open plan space ”designed to make staff talk to their colleagues”.

Which will mean that the chatter picked up by the men and women in shiny suits will entirely be of their own making.

Posted: 10th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Watch Wiv Muvver

‘GREAT news for those who think children should be seen and not heard.

Nick Cotton – a good role model for children?

The Times has noticed a survey by the Broadcasting Standards Commission and notes that children are watching up to two-and-a-half hours of television a day.

The even better news is that just 30 minutes of that is children’s programming, with the rest dedicated to shows intended for an adult audience.

Reading between the 650 lines, this means that children who would otherwise be getting pregnant, joyriding or smashing up the bus stops are choosing to burn their retinas instead.

But let’s not get the champagne corks out just yet, as the report also says that the most popular show among the ankle-biting fraternity is EastEnders.

Which means that although they’re indoors, the little loves are probably planning to sleep with their siblings or murder their parents. But, no matter, it’s only telly…

Posted: 10th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Five Go Mad

”’COME on in,” says the German. ”It’ll be all right. Pierre is already here.” But John Bull waits for the creepy music to end and the audience to tell him what to do.

Test 1: If it sounds like fudge, smells like fudge, it is probably fudge

”Don’t do it,” say most of the Tories from the right. ”Don’t follow the Germans and the French. Are you mad?!” ”Don’t be scared,” say the europhiles on the left. ”Go for it!”

So which way to jump? It’s a tough decision, but, thankfully, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are there to cast the decisive votes.

”Yes,” says Gordon, ”but not yet.” And so John Bull waits. The Independent then hears Brown step up to the euro gates and address the French and Germans within. ”You go on ahead, we’ll catch up later – if we feel like it.”

The Independent, though, is struggling to believe its ears. The paper remembers on its front page how, in July 2000, the Prime Minister predicted the meeting of the famous five tests and the Government recommendation that we the people take up the euro.

But we all know that the driving forces behind the five tests have radically altered. For instance, there’s the one about the, er, you know thingamebob in Test 3: The Pepsi Daz Challenge. Or is that Test Four.

Whatever it is, the Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, tells the Times that the Chancellor’s five tests were one of the ”most elaborate, time-consuming smoke-screens in history”.

No chance, says a restive Chancellor Brown, the man who’s set to announce his ‘definitely maybe’ verdict to a packed Commons this afternoon.

Warming up for that, the Times hears him launch into a long speech about the importance of trust. ”Trust in Governments depends on you being able to make the right decision and to show people you are working in their interests,” he blusters.

Or making no decision at all, as is the case here.

Posted: 9th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Strike Bound

‘JUST by way of a memo about the probity of our European cousins, the Guardian says that the European Central Bank is thinking about tagging big euro notes with electronic chips to combat a six-fold increase in fraud.

”Was it not a Frenchman who said ‘All for one and one for out’?”

If you like that story, each day we’ll try to bring you another tale of life on the continental shelf.

But if you think the story of forged notes is a loaded story, weighted for the europhobes, we’ll even it up with the Times’ lead story on how Unison, the country’s biggest union, is thinking about adopting a typical French custom.

The union, it seems, it looking to the creation of a permanent ”strike fund”, taking up a ”continental tactic” intended to bypass laws which ban secondary action.

What this means is that the union can call on co-ordinated industrial action. If staff in one sector – say, teaching – want to walk out, then their brothers and sisters in local government and health care can come out in sympathy.

It’s what the French call Les Grandes Vacances. And with a bit of luck, it’ll be here soon. Roll on the endless summer…

Posted: 9th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

What’s Up, Doc?

‘PHYSICIANS are being urged to heal their English. The Times reports that the NHS is spending thousands of pounds each year instructing health workers to write better patient notes.

”I am sorry to tell you that you are dead”

The paper says that badly written notes are part of the growing problem of patient claims for compensation.

Over the past three years, claims have risen by £100 million, and many of them, according to NHS Trusts, would not have been successful had the doctors and nurses written proper notes.

For our knowledge, the paper lists a few of the choice mistakes that have been made.

”In one instance, a worker at an emergency ward told a woman’s children that their mother was dead.

”DOA” had been written on her notes. Dead on arrival? No. Date of admission. She was fine.

Another patient was incensed at being called a ”son of a bitch”. The SOB on her notes turned her red with rage.

Which was a shame since she suffered from Shortness Of Breath (see notes).

And so it goes on.

But the remedy is surely for all notes to be written by Gordon Brown and his team.

After a series of confusing tests, patients will be advised to sit tight, not to worry and to see what happens.

And then die.

Posted: 9th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

The Mish Mash Man

‘WHEN judge Mr Justice Lewison looked at the court list and saw his next case was The Ant’ill Mob v The Heartless Crew, he probably thought he was caught up in an episode of The Wacky Races.

The Heartless Crew lusted after Penelope Pitstop

That is, of course, if he knew what the Wacky Races was – which it’s a fair bet he didn’t.

But that would certainly have been preferable to the reality, which was a court case between two rival rap bands over whether a remix of an Ant’ill Mob song was derogatory.

Andrew Alcee, who wrote the song Burnin’ (which went on to top the garage charts in 2001), complained that lyrics laid over the top of his original tune by The Heartless Crew referred to drugs and violence.

And thus Mr Justice Lewison was called upon to judge the meaning of such phrases as ”shizzle my nizzle”, ”the mish mash man” and ”string dem up”.

It was, the judge admitted, a ”faintly surreal experience”, ruling that although the lyrics were written in a form of English, they were ”for practical purposes a foreign language”.

The Telegraph was in court to see the judge eventually rule in favour of The Heartless Crew.

He said there was no evidence that any of the phrases referred to drugs.

”Shizzle my nizzle” is, the paper helpfully points out, a bastardisation of ”sheezy mah neezy”, itself a bastardisation of ”for sure mah nigga”, a bastardisation of ”I concur with you wholeheartedly, my African-American brother”.

As for ”string dem up”, there was nothing unrespectable about expressing this as an opinion.

After all, it’s heard every morning at the breakfast table of Telegraph readers…

Posted: 6th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Muck And Brass

‘YOU sometimes wonder what doctors and dentists have to do to get themselves struck off.

Gareth failed to spot that we had switched cans

For instance, you would think taking out the wrong teeth would be a pretty serious mistake for a dentist, particularly when the schoolboy victim was a budding euphonium player.

The mistake ended Ben Oliver’s dream of becoming a professional musician because the resultant gaps in his mouth made it difficult for him to play the right notes.

He still plays in a brass band as a hobby, but works professionally as a mechanic (where, ironically, the gaps have helped him produce that whistling sound so beloved of his profession on first examination of a faulty car).

But according to the Telegraph, the dentist responsible for the mistake, Eugen Durr, received only an admonishment from the General Dental Council for his error.

Another musical career wrecked in the same paper, which reports on how auctioneer Andrew Grant was ordered to pay £24,000 compensation after a violinist lost part of his finger when an antique gun he was examining went off in his hand.

Bad things, they say, come in threes. Let’s hope we don’t read tomorrow that Gareth Gates’ singing career has been ruined after he drank a pint of bleach…

Posted: 6th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Old Bill Meets Uncle Sam

‘GIVEN the American police’s philosophy of ‘shoot first, don’t bother to ask questions later’, it was only a matter of time before we started recruiting from the other side of the Atlantic.

Rodney King was a great fan of US-style no tolerance policing

As part of David Blunkett’s plan to make himself the most unpopular Home Secretary since, er, Jack Straw, he is proposing that foreign police chiefs could be invited to become chief constables in Britain.

”Among the countries being looked at for recruitment,” says the Times, ”are the United States – reforms in New York, which led to better crime-fighting and management, have already been adopted in Britain – and Scandinavian nations.”

But the plan will meet with fierce opposition, says the paper.

Dr Ruth Henig, chairman of the Association Of Police Authorities, says that she would be surprised if someone from a Scandinavian country would have the experience to run a big rural force in Britain.

But what of the Yanks? Zero tolerance is likely to prove a two-way street…

Posted: 6th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Muddying The Water

‘JUDGING by the picture on the front page of the Times, it’s not only hotel guests who fill their suitcases with ”freebies”.

Saddam’s caber-tossing squad were ready to go at 45 minutes notice

President Bush sits in a garden in Jordan with the prime ministers of Israel and Palestine and a bottle of Evian on the table in front of him.

Is it a coincidence that this is the very same French spa town where he had attended the G8 conference earlier this week?

Possibly, but that doesn’t explain why Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas are drinking water from bottles with Arabic writing.

Nothing in the Middle East is simple and we can offer no answers – but closer to home we can tell you that Bush’s great chum, Tony Blair, is under fire for a lot more than raiding the hotel mini-bar.

Former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Lord Healey, tells the Independent that the Prime Minister should resign if no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq.

He also called for a full judicial inquiry into claims that Downing Street encouraged the intelligence agencies to exaggerate Iraq’s readiness to launch a chemical or biological attack.

But the current deputy leader of the Labour Party, John Prescott, angrily backed Blair.

”This is about the integrity of the party,” he told loyalists. ”The Prime Minister does not lie.”

Unsurprisingly, it is the anti-war papers which are leading the attack on the Government, with the Independent the most voluble critic.

The Guardian is again impressed by Blair’s performance under fire, making Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith look ”out of his league” and berating his critics ”almost Thatcher-style”.

But it says that should not detract from bigger issues.

”If intelligence was perverted to make the case for an otherwise illegal war, then we need to know about it,” it says.

Yes – but who do we trust to tell us about it?

Posted: 5th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment