Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 76

Broadsheets Category

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

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

Blow-By-Blow Account

‘TONY Blair obviously does not lie, but not all his friends are so poorly acquainted with noble and ancient art.

”Is that a cigar in your pocket, Mr President, or are you just pleased to see me?”

President Clinton was as likely to tell a porkie as he was to undo his zipper in front of one.

And who should know better than his wife Hilary, who describes what happened when her husband finally owned up about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

”I could hardly breathe,” she says. ”Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?”’

”I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea’.”

Hilary’s account, which is contained in her forthcoming memoirs, Living History, is reproduced in this morning’s Telegraph after the Associated Press somehow got hold of a copy.

Given that the secrecy surrounding the book was almost on a par with the new Harry Potter adventure, there was amazement in media circles at the AP coup.

”The American news agency is not the obvious first port of call for an opportunistic printer wanting to make a fast buck from a stolen manuscript hot off the press,” says the Telegraph.

Publisher Simon & Schuster paid £5m for the rights to the book and ”the leak will certainly deflate the carefully orchestrated publicity campaign”.

Somehow, however, it seems fitting that there should be such a leak for a book by the wife of such an incontinent president.

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

Imaginary Enemies

‘THE best form of defence is attack and the best target for attack is one which can’t defend itself.

”I don’t even know a Mr Higgins”

Thus, Hilary Clinton blamed a shadowy right-wing conspiracy for the attacks on her husband while he was in the White House.

And this morning senior ministers are blaming ”rogue elements within the intelligence services” for using the row over weapons of mass destruction to undermine the Government.

The Times says the claims, which echo the allegations that MI5 tried to destabilise the Harold Wilson government in the 1960s and 1970s, are part of a concerted counter-attack against charges that Tony Blair exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

Leader of the Commons John Reid said opponents of the Government had been receiving uncorroborated briefings by potentially rogue elements of the security services.

”I find it difficult to grasp why this should be believed against the word of the British Prime Minister and the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee,” he told the Times.

”This is getting ridiculous. We have not found WMD yet, but we have not found Saddam Hussein – and everyone knows he existed.”

Or do we? Consider – he is a nondescript Middle Eastern-looking man with a moustache.

He has several doubles to excuse the fact that his appearance seems to change from one day to the next.

He sleeps in different houses every day so no-one can ever find him.

And he appeared on the international scene just at the time Tom Selleck was looking for work after the final series of Magnum PI.

Makes you wonder…

Posted: 4th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

My Life As A Table

‘HOW ironic it is that Tony Blair cannot persuade us of the existence of weapons of mass destruction when scientists say we can be persuaded to feel like a table.

Fears were growing over Geri Halliwell’s weight

The Telegraph explains a bizarre experiment in which a person cannot see their own hand but can see a rubber hand placed next to them on a table.

When both hands are simultaneously tapped and stroked in sequence, the subject has the illusion that the sensation comes from the hand that it can see – i.e. the rubber hand.

Fair enough, but scientists in the US have gone further and simply tapped and stroked the table instead of the rubber hand.

”To our astonishment, subjects often reported sensations arising from the table surface, despite the fact that it bears no visual resemblance to a hand,” they said.

The Telegraph says scientists believe the findings will help shed light on body image disorders like anorexia nervosa.

The point presumably being that anorexics tend to feel like flat-pack tables…

Posted: 4th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

This Is God Calling

‘IF the evidence for Saddam Hussein’s existence is sketchy, what about the evidence for the existence of God?

”Yeah, I know you’re the way, the truth and the light, but how do I get to Camberwell?”

A burning bush a few thousand years ago and a flash of light on the road to Damascus would hardly stand up to much examination in court.

Small wonder, you might think, that fewer and fewer young people are going to church to worship a bearded man who none of them have ever seen.

But enough about Jeremy Beadle – a church in Wales has decided it’s not the message that’s wrong, but how the message is delivered.

And so, according to the Independent, it has launched a national text-message service that send words of Biblical wisdom to your mobile.

W2LB (or Words To Live By – for anyone over the age of 17) gives subscribers a thrice-weekly spiritual boost with a specially chosen verse from the Bible.

The word of the Lord costs 25p a pop (of which 4p goes to charity).

However, for our beloved Prime Minister, a keen Christian himself, we at Anorak are happy to provide this service gratis.

And today’s verse is… Jesus wept.

Posted: 4th, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

A Muck Sweat

‘WAS it just a coincidence that the air conditioning failed as Tony Blair was answering accusations that he fabricated evidence to strengthen the case for war against Iraq?

Is the writing on the wall for Tony?

Or could it be that his host and leader of the anti-war lobby, Jacques Chirac, had pulled the plug so he could watch his erstwhile friend sweat literally as well as metaphorically?

Certainly, the Prime Minister ”appeared uncomfortable in the extreme” – according to the Independent – as he issued his strongest denial yet that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein had been exaggerated.

And his frustration boiled over as he launched an unprecedented attack on Clare Short, whom he branded a liar, and rejected calls for an independent inquiry.

With a similar inquiry already under way in the US and one in the pipeline in Australia, the Guardian says Blair’s position is both wrong and foolish.

”The Blair government should not be out of step with its Iraq war allies,” it says, ”never mind out of step with its own supporters and backbenchers.”

Just how out of step it is with its own backbenchers is suggested by the comment from Malcolm Savidge, MP for Aberdeen North, who believes the issue ”is more serious than Watergate”.

Mr Blair has challenged his opponents to produce evidence of wrong-doing, just as they had challenged him to produce evidence of Saddam’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

But his position has been undermined, says the Telegraph, by the US Senate’s decision to hold joint hearings in public into the intelligence warnings.

Senator John Warner, Republican chairman of the armed services committee, explained: ”People are challenging the credibility of the use of this intelligence, and its use by the President, the secretaries of state and defence, the CIA director and others.”

If that seems a good enough reason to hold a full inquiry in the United States, why is it not a good enough reason over here?

Because Tony has given us his word that he hasn’t done anything wrong – and, as we said yesterday, that’s good enough for us…

Posted: 3rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Get Well Soon

‘FOR a while now, we at Anorak have been advocating a new solution to the problems in the NHS – reducing the number of diseases.

Best get private health cover, Lisa

For instance, thousands of beds would be freed up every winter by the simple expedient of reclassifying ‘flu.

But we are pleased to see Labour have been even more innovative, with a report in today’s Times suggesting that patients will have to sign contracts with their doctors.

Initially, the paper says, these will apply to overweight people and to heavy smokers, who will have to promise to go on a diet or give up the cigarettes in return for treatment.

”Those who failed to keep their side of the bargain or kept missing appointments would be denied free care,” it says.

The Times suggests that the proposals come ”amid growing concern about the strain on the health service from avoidable illnesses”.

But it is surely only a matter of time before the arrangement is extended to other categories of people.

For instance, the lame will be forced to walk to see their GP, the blind will be forced to play a game of 501 (double in) and the deaf will be asked to guess the intro.

And very soon we will all have signed contracts with our doctors promising not to be ill.

A work of genius – Alan Milburn, we salute you…

Posted: 3rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

The Pub With No Beer

‘WITH hospitals full of the terminally healthy, we turn our attention to the British pub.

”Fuck me! This place is dead”

And we read this morning in the Telegraph that swearing is the latest thing to be banned from the boozer.

JD Wetherspoon, which operates 600 pubs, is considering printing a warning on menus and beer mats asking punters to keep their language clean.

It follows a complaint from two customers, who said they found swearing embarrassing when they visited their local in Ruislip with friends.

The Rev Ian Gregory, founder of the Campaign For Courtesy, said he welcomed such a move but thought it would be impossible to enforce.

He suggests a ban in certain pubs, similar to the partial no-smoking policy adopted in Wetherspoon pubs.

A good idea, but why stop there? Are we alone in finding the smell of beer on our breath after a night out in the pub slightly off-putting?

A ban on beer in pubs (or, at least, certain areas of pubs) would do the trick nicely…

Posted: 3rd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Chemical Tony

‘SO far they have eluded teams of UN weapons inspectors and the might of the US military, but Tony Blair assures us that he has proof of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

‘I’m Tony – fly me’

With 44% of the population believing they were misled about the threat and ex-ministers attacking the Prime Minister over the war, Tony is in no doubt.

‘We are going to assemble that evidence and present it properly to people,’ he tells the Telegraph.

As we speak, aides are scouring the Internet looking for decade-old GCSE essays from which to crib the ‘evidence’ required.

If Blair is only suggesting he has proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, then of course we all know that he did.

Whether he had them in the run-up to war – and whether they were therefore a justifiable casus belli – is another matter altogether.

Clare Short, the former international development secretary, claims not only that Tony Blair misled the country into war, but that he lied to the Cabinet.

The Guardian says that she is accusing the PM of making a secret pact with President George Bush to go to war.

Another former Cabinet minister, Robin Cook, said the Government had made ‘a monumental blunder’ and demanded an independent inquiry – a call echoed by the Tories.

But, the Guardian says, ‘an increasingly exasperated’ Blair has swept aside calls for an inquiry.

He categorically assures us that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even if we never find them.

And that should be good enough for all of us…

Posted: 2nd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Heir Today, King Tomorrow?

‘WHAT is Prince Charles for? What does he do? Good questions and ones which Prince Charles is endeavouring to answer.

”Do one’s two shots carry?”

The Times says the heir to the throne is to write his own job description and publish a brochure on the role of the heir.

He will say, apparently, that his duty is to support the monarch, to act as an ambassador for the country and to do work for charity.

”The Prince, who has irritated ministers by writing to them about topical issues, may also state that it is his duty to tell the powerful what the ordinary person is thinking,” says the paper.

The Prince, by nature of his background and his lifestyle, is of course uniquely placed to represent the views of the ordinary person.

Their main worries in life are, it seems, being kinder to organic vegetables, being less kind to modern architecture…and trying to work out how to squeeze out their own toothpaste.

Posted: 2nd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Slumming It

‘IF the heir to the throne cannot represent the sufferings of ordinary people to the Government, how else can it be done? Through a theme park, of course.

Queues for the rides were mercifully short

The Independent reports on a model shanty town being built in the US state of Georgia – based on some of the planet’s worst in Africa, Asia and Central America”.

But its job is not accommodate the poorest of the poor, but to educate the richest of the rich.

Habitat For Humanity, a non-profit group behind the idea, hopes that it will attract 70,000 visitors a year, despite having none of the rides of traditional theme parks.

Instead, children will get to make bricks and tiles in mock squalor and discover what it is like to live in a scorpion-infested shack.

And then go home and stuff their faces with McDonalds.

Posted: 2nd, June 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Into Africa

‘IF only Prince William had continued to study the module in Middle East studies, we would now surely be one giant step closer to achieving peace in that troubled region.

Wills – the epitome of cool

Sadly, he dropped it. But, as the Times reports, his degree in Art History has taught him plenty about social anthropology, moral philosophy and geography.He’s a well-rounded lad is Britain’s future king – he knows who is he, what he is and where he is.

And in an interview with the Press Association, reproduced in today’s papers, we get to hear that he’s now turning his flick-knife brain to learning Swahili, what the Times calls the lingua franca of East Africa.

”It’s an odd language to learn,” says Wills in the Telegraph, ”but I wanted to do something that was very specialised.” Although being a young Prince is far from routine.

But before he can be pressed further he’s off and running. Over three large photographs the Telegraph shows the man who will be king carrying a rugby ball, kicking a rugby ball and then putting his socks back on ”after a dash through the sea”.

Such is the praise helped upon him by the Telegraph that the paper’s writer must have been agog that the Prince even bothered to take his socks off and didn’t simple skip over the waves like a messianic pebble.

But if William is anything, he is grounded. We hear in the Guardian that the prince was a little homesick when he started life at St Andrew’s University, Edinburgh.

”I went home and talked to my father during the holidays,” he said, ”and throughout that time debated about whether to come back – not seriously debating it – but it did cross my mind.”

Of course, he was never really on his own, not with Uncle Eddie’s camera crew relaying his every movement back to the palace.

Posted: 30th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Had Their Chips

”’EDUCATION, education, education” was such a hit at the polls that it’s a real wonder Tony Blair hasn’t repeated his famous mantra more often.

”It’s an email from sir. He says that he’s living in a shed in Fife”

One reason he doesn’t might be because education is in a mess. The Independent uses its front page to tell readers how almost 1,500 teachers and support staff have just been issued with their marching orders.

It seems that a lack of funds and falling numbers of pupils, which a BBC report produced in the Guardian says accounts for around 700 of the redundancies, are swelling the ranks of the unemployed.

The Times says that, in all, 379 professional full-time teachers have been given the boot simply because their schools lack the cash to keep them on.

But the Government is not in power for no reason (really it’s not) and the Times underscores the redundancy notice with news that the number of pupils expelled from schools increased by 4% on the previous year.

What are now called ”permanent exclusions” accounted for the classroom careers of 9,540 children in 2001-2002. There is, though, still some way to go before the 1996-97 peak of 12,668 expulsions.

Which means that taking the figure of 379 sacked educators, there is one unemployed teacher to every 25 or so pupils. Which, we can all agree, is a marvellous thing.

Posted: 30th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Art Attack

‘BLESSEDLY, this country still produces some great artists and art. And if you like painting with elephant poo and seeing dirty knickers in bed, then the Turner Prize is a must.

Claire – if ever an artist so rare

To the Culture Minister, Kim Howells, as the Independent reminds us, the prize is a study in ”cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit”.

Looking at some of the works on show, we wait with baited breath for Mr Howell’s appraisal of this year’s contest.

Meanwhile, the Guardian takes us through the shortlist, spotting Dinos and Jake Chapman’s McDonald’s munching statues, Willie Doherty’s videos of people running, running, running, and Anya Gallaccio’s organic sculptures.

But the one who will surely hog the limelight in the coming days is Grayson Perry, whose multimedia art takes second place to the fact that he’s also a transvestite called Claire.

Who will win? Place your bets…now. But our money’s on Ms Short.

Posted: 30th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Know Your Bananas

‘IF Tony Blair thinks answering questions on Iraq is fraught with danger, he should try a few of the questions posed in the Times.

Oxbridge candidate does a bit of revision

”What effect on the whole of society does someone crashing into a lamppost have?” Another? ”Is the Eurovison Song Contest an example of living nationalism?”

And, though not strictly a question, but nonetheless a statement designed to invite a response: ”Tell me about a banana.”

These are some of the questions that candidates to Oxford and Cambridge universities have had tossed at them during interview for entry.

The Telegraph also sees the questions, which came to light in a survey of 1,000 Oxbridge applicants conducted by Oxbridge Application, a firm that trains wannabe students to get into their college of choice.

John Uffindell, the company’s founder, explains: ”By doing research on what these questions are, we hope to equip the candidate with answers to questions that may come up.”

Sadly, he forgets to give the answers to the aforesaid three puzzlers.

However, in conference with Donald Rumsfeld, we have studied the problems and can reveal the answers to be, in no particular order, ”No”, ”Yes”, and ”I don’t know”.

Posted: 29th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Blues In The Red

‘MORE proof that the Conservatives’ glory days are over comes with the Times’ front-page story that the Tories are no longer a ”viable” business.

Not a viable leader of not a viable party

The paper reports that independent auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, have told the Tory party that there is not enough income to guarantee the party’s survival.

After the last General Election, there was a surplus of £1.1 million in the Conservatives’ jam jar. However, the situation has darkened and the party is now just under £9m in debt.

And when you’re the team in blue, being in the red is no good thing.

”It is worrying,” says one unnamed senior Tory. ”The auditors have raised us the fear that we are no longer a going concern because spending outstrips income.”

But why worry? With the ship going down with all hands, best resign yourself to fate and drink up the last of the good stuff. Chin-chin.

Posted: 29th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Donald, Where’s Your Weapons?

‘IN the end, after months of political wrangling and accusations, the only weapons of mass destruction so far seen in Iraq were those sent tumbling from American warplanes and fired by the joint American and British fleet in the Gulf.

A two-headed monster

We still await the discovery of those ominous weapons of mass destruction, the tools of Saddam Hussein’s trade in butchery and terror that gave the war so much of its legitimacy.

And the news is that they may never be found. The Independent has heard from Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, who was asked where the weapons are.

”It is…possible that they [Iraq] decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict and I don’t know the answer,” came the thin reply.

To the paper, the case for war has been ”blown apart”. It’s a view shared by some politicians who speak to the Telegraph. Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP for Islington, no less, says that an attempt might now be made to try President Bush and Tony Blair for embarking on an ”illegal” conflict.

Robin Cook, the gnomish vanity case is quick to push out his little chest, contort his body, pat himself on the back and say how his decision to quit the Cabinet in protest over the Iraq situation has been vindicated.

Sadly Cook is the last one to realise what a largely irrelevant figure he has become, and the Guardian leads instead with Blair’s postwar tour of Iraq, which starts today.

Speaking from his plane, the PM is in bullish mood. ”I have said throughout and I repeat I have absolutely no doubt about the existence of weapons of mass destruction.”

He then lightly fingered his man bag, through which the words ”Super Soaker Spud Gun” could be plainly seen.

Posted: 29th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Gang Of 4×4

‘IT’S an oddity that the type of mums who buy organic food and bemoan the greedy farmers who inject chickens with growth hormones spend so much of the lives pretending to be farmers.

Now comes with armour-plating as standard

It’s the dreaded 4×4 factor, the habit of women of a certain disposition to patrol cities and town centres in massive cars that shield their little loves from the horrors of life.

(The Telegraph reports that in the US, the sports utility vehicles are accused of killing three times as many people as cars.)

And now they are under attack from the Liberal Democrats’ Environment spokesman, Norman Baker. The MP of Lewes, East Sussex, is heard in the Independent lambasting the so-called ”Chelsea tractors”.

”There are real questions whether or not someone needs a two-and-a-half-ton, 22-gallon vehicle to nip to Tesco or take the kids to school,” says he.

The man then gets a little technical, asking drivers of those highly-waxed farm machines to note their vehicles’ ”weight, the higher centre of gravity and handling characteristics”.

In the cars’ defence, the Guardian asks a few women in Barbour jackets and boots, they who negotiate the urban jungle, to give their opinion.

Winding down windows and speaking through gritted bullbars, big car lovers tells us how nothing else will deal with those mountainous suburban hills and how ”this is my fortress for me and my kids”.

And like all good fortresses it comes with hot oil, a little prince or princess inside and a megalomaniac in charge.

Posted: 28th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Pole Dancing

‘REAL trail-blazing adventurers have no time for 4x4s or even people carriers, preferring to cut their swathe to glory with a pair of skis on their feet, a husky burger in their stomach and a knapsack on their back.

One explorer looks pretty much the same as another

The Times duly reintroduces the world to Pen Hadow, who has become the first person to travel solo and unsupported from northern Canada to the geographic North Pole, and make it back alive – eventually.

It took eight days to rescue the man the Times describes as looking like a cross between Howard Hughes and Barry Gibb, meaning he had been away for 75 days in all.

And having not spoken much to another human being in that time, Hadow is in full gush move.

”The truth is that this expedition has never really been about me,” he says, ”it’s been about what my endeavour can do for people around me.”

His ”endeavours”, as he modestly calls his trek, certainly had an effect on the Canadian rescuers who spent much of the past week looking for him.

But the Times cares not for any criticism, preferring to salute the man as genuine British hero.

We hear of his ”unshowy knowledge of the history of our polar past”, his ”intrepid spirit”, and above all things we twice hear of his ”dark, handsome, articulate Old Harrovian” credentials.

The conclusion is that he’s hardly ”conventional”. Well, he’s certainly not chipped from the same block of ice as they who drive 4x4s to the freezer section at Iceland, but to the average explorer, he’s just another bushy beard in the crowd.

Posted: 28th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Skirting The Issue

‘FASHION is a serious business, especially for schoolgirls, who hanker for any opportunity to be like popstars and actresses.

Traci was having to rethink her outfit for school

But the Times reports that Anna Roxburgh, headmistress at Hamp Community School, a mixed-sex establishment in Bridgwater, Somerset, has taken exception to one item of clothing – she has banned thongs.

”The ban is in case they are seen by boys walking past the classroom or a male member of staff walks in the room,” says Mrs Roxburgh.

”Thongs may be a little revealing, particularly in the summer with girls wearing skirts.”

One solution would be to allow girls to wear trousers or shorts, thus maintaining their dignity in the face of leering boys and masters who just happen to look up their skirts.

But the real question is how the rule is to be administered. Will Mrs Roxburgh be lining up the gels each morning for a routine knicker check?

And what if one poor lass is caught in the forbidden thong? Will Mrs Roxburgh force her to remove the offending item?

Might be safer just to let things be, after all. Or expel all the boys.

Posted: 28th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Liver Damage

”I HOPE that common sense prevails.’

Ambulance gets parking ticket as it off-loads its liver

It is the quote of the day, as it is the quote of every day. And as usual it seems to be a forlorn hope.

The words appear on the cover of today’s Guardian and are attributed to John Durkin, Yorkshire regional secretary of the GMB union.

To put them in greater context they run: ‘This clearly was an emergency and we are in the business of saving lives, not trying to destroy them. I hope common sense prevails.’

The trigger for the plea came when ambulance driver Mike Ferguson was clocked driving at 104mph as he passed a police monitored speed trap.

It mattered not that he had blue lights ablaze, not that it was 3am and his cargo was a liver urgently needed for transplant; it only mattered that he was breaking the law, and that means a day out in court.

That Mr Ferguson should be in fear of losing his driving licence and thus his livelihood is down to Alison Kerr, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Lincolnshire, where the speeding ambulance was spotted.

She witters on about how this is a ‘difficult case’, how her service has considered all points ‘carefully’ and that the CPS believe the race to stitch a new organ into a living human body is ‘not a medical emergency’.

Back in the Guardian this is a cue for Labour MP David Hinchcliffe, who chairs the Commons select committee on health, to complain: ‘It’s like the police prosecuting the police for speeding in an emergency.’

Only if that were so, Mr Ferguson would be spared a court case by being offered the chance to take early retirement with full pension and no further questions asked.

Posted: 27th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Peak Practice

‘SOMEWHERE in one of those awful books that tell you what you must do before you hit 30, or die, – in between hang gliding over the Niagara Falls and streaking at Lord’s – is a page that commands ”Climb Everest”.

Our man takes a breather on Everest foothills

And since it’s nearing the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing’s ascent of the world’s highest peak, everyone’s at it.

The Telegraph leads today’s bulletin from the slopes of the Himalayas with news that a chap called Sherpa Lhakpa Gelu has just raced to the top in the record time of 10hr 56min.

His ride up the Everest Escalator comes just four days after the previous fastest ascent was claimed in 12hr 45mins, and in the same week as a 15-year-old girl played truant to become the youngest person to reach the top.

The Independent also watches the clamour to say ”I was there”, seeing Sibusio Vilane become the first black African to reach the summit, 70-year-old Yuichiro Miura become the oldest person to get to the top and our own Terry Jones become the fist man to reach the roof of the world while dressed as a Tellytubby.

Only one of those is untrue – but tomorrow the chances are they all will be reduced to history’s footnotes, their achievements surpassed by other, bigger, bolder and more stupid climbers.

Posted: 27th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Looking For Trouble

‘WHAT Ron Davies and John the lorry driver started, the Times continues, inviting us to take a long hard look at badgers.

Friends say Ron Davies was asking for Trouble

News is that just weeks after a badger ran amok, gnawing and slashing his way round Evesham, Worcestershire, another has turned on human kind.

”Dozens” of families in the Tredworth region of Gloucestershire are living in the thrall of a furious black and white beast known as Trouble.

”I’m scared to go out at night with that thing there, and so is my husband,” says local resident Marjorie Dennis.

And it seem she’s not alone, as the paper says that many residents in the rural town are too terrified to go at after dark, a time when badgers take over the streets.

Trouble is being hunted. But we must ask why it is that badgers are becoming more aggressive? What has trigged such a change in their behaviour?

Badger enthusiast Mr Davies is unavailable for comment, but it is widely believed that badgers mate for life. Take away their love and risk taking away their meaning.

Remember that – a badger is for life. And don’t go looking for Trouble.

Posted: 27th, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Controversial Figures

‘TO people who bought the Independent this morning, you should ask for your 55p back.

Tim – not so nice and dim

The paper has metamorphosed into The Actuary Weekly with a load of incomprehensible figures on its front page.

If a picture tells a thousand words, a load of jumbled-up figures (supposedly presenting ”Asylum – The Facts”) tell none.

Among these figures are the following: 40,000; 790; 1.98%; £200; 8th; 85,865; 32%; Iraq.

Okay, so the last one wasn’t a number, but by that stage we were getting a little queasy with all the digits arrayed in front of us.

And so to Iraq, where Colonel Tim Collins is probably wishing he didn’t give his troops the Shakespearian send-off for which he has been so praised.

The most famous British soldier since Captain Snort was in charge of Pippin Fort is now facing a second MoD investigation into the way he ran his regiment.

According to the Guardian, the inquiry will ”delve into how he commanded the regiment and probe allegations of a culture of bullying”.

Col Collins is already under investigation by the military police following allegations that he mistreated Iraqis in the recent war.

And the Times this morning interviews the headmaster whom Collins is supposed to have pistol-whipped.

The colonel, an Egyptian interpreter and about 10 British soldiers arrived at Ayoub Yousif Naser’s house one night early in the war.

”Suddenly, this officer took out his pistol and hit me on the back of the head,” he said.

”I was hit twice and I fell down. There was a lot of blood on my head. After he had hit me, I told him that I had guns.”

Mr Naser, who was a feared member of the Ba’ath Party, claims that Collins then dragged him outside, kicked him in the shins and later held a mock execution of him and his son.

He said that he was then treated for his wounds before Col Collins apologised for what he did.

”Of course it’s wrong for officers to do what he did,” he said. ”He should be punished.”

If true, says the Times, such conduct would breach the Army’s rules of engagement and the Geneva Conventions.

Shooting people, on the other hand, is perfectly all right.

Posted: 23rd, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Continui, Il Medico (Carry On, Doctor)

‘THE National Health Service is already staffed mainly by doctors and nurses brought in from abroad, but today we learn that most of the patients are foreigners as well.

”Welcome aboard the one-way flight to Easy Street…”

In fact, it won’t be long before the NHS gets renamed – the International Health Service.

The Telegraph claims that 95% of the all new cases of hepatitis B being treated by the NHS have arrived from abroad, while ”a quarter to a half of acute psychiatric beds in London are occupied by people who have no right to be there”.

What does it say on the Statue Of Liberty? ”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

On the door of the Department Of Health, the inscription reads: ”Give me your sick, your mad, your doctors and nurses, your hijackers…”

Given the mortality rate in British hospitals, the Telegraph should be glad it’s foreigners who are dying in them rather than Brits.

But the paper is too busy worrying that the country could become a ”soft touch” for hijackers after a gang of Afghanis who seized a plane three years ago were cleared by the Court Of Appeal.

The shadow transport secretary, a gentleman who also goes by the name of Tim Collins, emerged from anonymity to condemn the judgement.

”It is to be hoped the courts will end up sending a signal that Britain is not a soft touch for hijacking,” he said – before crawling back under whatever stone it was from which he had emerged.

Posted: 23rd, May 2003 | In: Broadsheets | Comment