Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 79

Broadsheets Category

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

Same Old Tory

‘ONE job that will no doubt forever be filled mostly be men is that of Tory MP. They may be a dying species but, even after a year of modernisation, it is good to see that XY chromosome is still the dominant force in the Conservative party.

”And I say to you, that I too am agrieved that white, middle class men still take all the top jobs”

The Guardian turns the spotlight on the 29 candidates chosen so far to contest the next General Election. And what an attractive bunch they are.

Voters of Eastleigh, you can once again enjoy the wit and repartee of Conor Burns, whose put-downs to hecklers include calling students ”spastics” and a woman demonstrator ”a hunchback”.

Colchester, prepare to welcome back Kevin Bentley, famous only for getting thrown out of the town’s Hippodrome club for wearing a suit.

Residents of Gloucester, you are invited once again to reject Paul James, whose 15 minutes of fame occurred when it was discovered that he had paid an asylum seeker £5 an hour to work in his garden, while calling for all asylum seekers to be locked up.

If you have noticed that the three candidates above are all men, don’t fret – there are actually six female candidates. If you suspected that the three candidates are all white, your suspicions are well founded – there is not a single member of an ethnic minority among the 29 selected so far.

In a time of dizzying social and cultural change, thank God you can rely on the Tory Party.

Posted: 16th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Licence To Cheat

‘THE Tory party was traditionally the party of law and order until a young shadow home secretary by the name of Anthony Linton Blair stole the mantle with his famous ”tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” mantra.

”If you don’t all pay the licence fee in full by noon tomorrow, the BBC will renew its contract with Vanessa Feltz. You have been warned”

What would Tony (as he prefers to be known) Blair make, then, of the story on the front page of the Telegraph that reveals that in many areas of the country fines for watching TV without a licence are actually less than the licence fee itself.

In Wiltshire, TV viewers seeking to dodge the £112 fee are hit with an average fine of £198, while in Cumbria fee-dodgers only have to cough up £63.

”Many of those fined simply carry on watching TV without a licence,” explains the paper about a policy that even a member of the magistrates’ association national council admits is ”ludicrous”.

Time for the Tories to steal back their mantle with public executions for licence fee dodgers – not only an effective deterrent but, when filmed and broadcast just before National Lottery Extra, great entertainment for us law-abiding citizens.

Posted: 16th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Fully Booked

‘THERE’S nothing new about writers in residence. Is there a football club, police station or merchant bank in the land that doesn’t have its own poet, artist or storyteller?

”I wandered lonely as a cloud, Until I came upon the Savoy…”

But can there be a more agreeable gig than the one that Fay Weldon has just landed?

The Times reports that the veteran novelist will be living for the next three months in a £290-a-night room at the Savoy. Here she will dispense bon mots for the delectation of the guests at the occasional literary dinner, but the hotel does not expect her to do any actual writing.

Not surprisingly, Weldon finds this arrangement very much to her liking.

”I would rather be writer-in-residence at the Savoy than writer-in-residence at a university,” she says. ”My friends who do that have tiny little concrete rooms. They look out through bars at a desolate on to a desperate campus.”

Look through bars? Are you sure it’s a university you’re thinking of, Fay?

But wait, there’s more… As though living in concrete cells weren’t bad enough, Fay’s unfortunate friends also have to ”teach and help writers” – and, as Fay cruelly points out, ”it’s very hard work”.

Weldon hit the headlines recently when her novel The Bulgari Connection was sponsored by the famous jewellery company, but there is no question of the Savoy expecting similar plugs.

Well, maybe just a suggestion. ”She doesn’t have to mention us at all,” says Pat Carter, the Savoy’s head of PR, in the Telegraph. ”Though you never know, some of the history of the hotel might just rub off on her.”

Funnily enough, Fay seems to agree. ”I often mention Claridges in my books and have often stayed there,” she comments waspishly. ”I can see that it wouldn’t be too wicked to change Claridges to the Savoy just once.”

Posted: 13th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Dog Days

‘GIANT posters have sprung up all over Paris, depicting two pieces of excrement, one large and one small.

Artistic Impression: 5.9

But what does it mean? Is it an ecological protest? Or perhaps a typically acid statement about Bully Bush and Little Tony?

Not at all: the truth lies closer to home. The poster refers to the city’s legendary quantities of merde du chien.

”It is an old joke that Parisians know little about the architecture of their city because they walk along, eyes fixed on the pavement to avoid treading in the excrement.”

Well, so the Telegraph claims. And so, it seems do the French authorities. They have made numerous attempts to deal with the problem, including teams of scooters armed with vacuum cleaners.

Previous posters showed disabled people walking helplessly towards piles of the stuff, and the excrement is said to cause 650 accidents a year as people slip up on it.

Yet the paper concludes that Parisians ”would rather tiptoe along filthy pavements than clean up after their dogs”. Or lift a finger to help the guardians of the free world.

Posted: 13th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Suspicious Minds

‘FIRST the Soham detective, then Tony Blair. With practically every leading figure in British society now under investigation for unsavoury practices of one sort or another, the forces of investigation are stretched to the limit (a practice which will itself soon be illegal).

”Anyone going to vet me?”

The problem is at its most extreme in our schools, where hundreds of thousands of teachers are having their chequered pasts scrutinised by teams of suspicious investigators.

Or rather, by teams of investigators with suspicions. Now the Telegraph tells us that older children who act as voluntary helpers in schools are to be vetted too, thanks to new strict rules.

And the backlog is worse than ever, with literally millions of them waiting to be checked. And this will of course necessitate more vetters. And who will vet them?

Posted: 13th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

First Family Of Comedy

‘WHEN the made-for-TV movie of the Bush clan is produced, it will have us rolling in our armchairs, before falling on the floor and choking on our snacks.

”Have you heard the one about the three chads?”

Aside from the Pretzel President (Bill Murray), and George Senior’s (Steve Martin) hilarious barf over at a state dinner in Tokyo in 1992, the show will be stolen by the antics of Jeb Bush (Jim Carrey).

Jeb is the Governor of Florida, a state where hanging chads, pregnant chads and all manner of dangerous stationery allowed his brother to become the leader of the free world.

And now Jeb’s back doing what he does best, masterfully orchestrating yet more brilliant political satire.

The Guardian reports from the Sunshine State, where Governor Bush has declared a state of emergency.

The hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination for governor between Janet Reno and Bill McBride turned into farce when hundreds of voters were unable to vote because of machinery breakdowns and other problems.

And with the vote so close – Ms Reno commands 46 per cent of the vote to McBride’s 42 per cent – a recount might have to be ordered.

And once more the Bush clan will have turned an everyday event into a case of high drama, high tension and low, low comedy.

Posted: 12th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Bird Brains

‘WHEN war does come, whose side will you be on? Will you be a sly pig, able to tell bare-snouted porkies? Or will you be a chicken, blessed with a gift for copying those higher in the pecking order?

”Four A-levels and a degree from Oxford and I still can’t get a job”

It’s a big question, and one that might need answering should research carried out by Mike Mendl of the University of Bristol find that animals are not as dumb as they like to make out.

Speaking in the Times, Mr Mendl says that in studies pigs have displayed enough nous to indicate a ”theory of mind”, able to reason and solve puzzles.

In the Guardian, we learn that chickens can learn from each other, which is a lesson to us all. And news that should send a cold chill down the spine of the hawkish George Bush and his lapdog, Tony Blair.

Posted: 12th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

New York Story

‘TODAY is the day after the day when one year ago hell broke loose in New York. And the papers have replaced yesterday’s pictures of survivors and the killed with shots of their grieving relatives.

Public Enemy No.2

Page after page, the papers watch moments of private prayer, photographing mourners at Ground Zero and relatives of the British victims as they paid tribute to the dead in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Not being able to find the words to frame the tragedy, the papers choose instead to speak at great length. But other news does puncture the front-page balloon of despair.

The Telegraph talks of changes to laws on hunting foxes; the Times says that Tony Blair’s initiative to cut down street crime is failing; and the Guardian says that George Bush is to address the General Assembly of the United Nations today to say how and why he wants to hunt down Saddam Hussein.

It seems no coincidence that what news there is beyond the New York story should be concerned with hunting down the enemy, whether it be a fox, a mugger or a despotic leader.

But the Guardian’s story requires the most attention because what George Bush says could trigger a new wave of war.

What George Bush says is so often the stuff of comedy. Only this could be the blackest comedy yet.

Posted: 12th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Fungus And The Bogeyman

‘IT has become a truism that September 11th 2001 was the day the world changed forever. It is one the papers are happy to trot out again this morning, with the Telegraph advertising its special supplement looking at ”the year in which the course of history changed”.

Tony plays trump card in bid to win support for war with Iraq

But for some people the change has been more obvious than for others. Take Iraqi scientist Adil Nadeer, who tells the Telegraph: ”I used to have an American wife…now I have two Iraqi wives.”

We leave it to others to determine whether that is a good swap, but merely report the observation of one of Nadeer’s colleagues. ”These mushrooms, they give him lots of energy,” he said, winking broadly.

The mushrooms in question are being grown at the Tuweitha nuclear facility, 15 miles from Baghdad. And that is just about the only thing that is being developed there, according to the Iraqis who branded our beloved leader Tony Blair ”an absolute liar” for suggesting otherwise.

”It is a ridiculous and pathetic excuse to unleash aggression against the Iraqi people,” Kamal Muhammed tells the Telegraph. Whether British MPs will agree or not is debatable, but they will at least get the chance to debate the issue of military action against Iraq.

The Independent says Blair is likely to recall Parliament for a couple of days next week to examine the ”long-awaited” dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein. But who needs a dossier when the Iraqis are happy to condemn themselves?

Back to Tuweitha and Faiz Albayrakdar takes journalists to a shed ”where Iraq has allegedly resumed research for the production of nuclear material”. It is, says Mr Albayrakdar, now used for experiments on mice and rabbits.

If Britain was undecided before, this will surely make up people’s minds. Gassing your own population with chemical weapons is one thing, but making bunny rabbits chain-smoke their way through packets of B&H is quite another.

Posted: 11th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Silent Night

‘CAN we claim credit for spotting the first ‘Christmas is cancelled’ story of the year – a whopping 15 weeks before turkey time?

”Dear Little Jimmy. Since your pathetic showing in the carol service, I am sending you no presents this year or the next. Yours, Santa”

Organisers of a school carol contest in North Shields have been warned off the idea because educationalists fear that the losers will be so traumatised by the experience that they will have a miserable Christmas.

”They frowned on the idea and told me a competition was unfair because someone always has to lose,” Maggie Richardson, president of the local chamber of trade, told the Times. ”I’m not taking their advice about this – it’s political correctness gone too far.” Not mad, you understand, just too far.

Mrs Richardson is planning to arrange a baby brawling contest in the town square instead.

Posted: 11th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Egging Them On

‘IAN Huntley drew a crowd that many Division 3 football teams would be happy with on his first appearance in court yesterday to answer charges that he murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

”Well, it is a nice day out for the kiddies. And much better value than Legoland”

If it is sometimes hard to understand the motivation of people who are happy to give up their Tuesday nights to follow Exeter City against Scunthorpe, just what kind of person turns out on a Tuesday morning to throw eggs at a police van?

People like 12-year-old Lisia Harvey, who was waving a placard urging ”Bring back hanging now” and ”And eye for an eye, a life for a life and who explains to the Guardian: ”The girls didn’t get a chance to speak, and I wanted to be here to speak for them.”

People like 26-year-old Marie Bland, who waited outside court for hours with her two-year-old daughter Gemma and who told the Times: ”I know the police asked us to stay away, but I felt I had to come to show support for the girls’ parents.”

We are sure this is just what the poor girls’ parents want – not to mention the dozens of police officers who could have spent the afternoon trying to prevent crime rather than looking after a bunch of lunatics.

Posted: 11th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Can’t Cope

‘EVERY day brings news of a new and more esoteric trauma suffered by a hapless member of the British public. And, sure as night follows day, there will be a lawyer at hand to help the healing process with a nice little compensation payout.

”God bless the lawyers, for they are good…”

Yesterday we had an epileptic coughing up £3,500 to a woman who had been upset by the sight of his fit. Today we have the sorry case of Pollyanna Molloy.

Unlike her famous fictional namesake, Pollyanna does not seem to be blessed by boundless optimism. In fact, she always seems to look on the dark side of life. The Telegraph reports that the she is suing Lincoln Cathedral for the ”mental anguish” she has suffered by being passed over for an honour for senior choristers.

The 13-year-old schoolgirl says she is ”utterly devastated” by the decision to allow a younger, less experienced girl to lead processions in the nave while wearing a special cape known as a ”cope”.

One can sympathise with Molloy’s disappointment, were it not for the fact that her reverse-Pollyanna syndrome means that she will now get her day in court – with the approval of her parents, who surely would have been better employed sympathising with her and encouraging her to put the disappointment behind her.

”I don’t see why the cathedral should get away with it,” says angry dad Michael Molloy. We recommend that he read and reflect upon the words of William Cowper: ”God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.”

Posted: 10th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

His Amisn’t True

‘MARTIN AMIS is a very clever man. So clever, in fact, that he knows everything. But surely that’s impossible, you are thinking. After all, nobody knows everything – except God, of course.

Another session with Uncle Joe gives Leon a cracking headache

Well think again, because Martin Amis really does know everything. He has just published a book that has exposed Stalin as a tyrant supported and abetted by Leon Trotsky and his followers – men and women who until now have always been assumed to be Stalin’s mortal enemies.

In order to do this, Amis eschewed the traditional tools of the historian, such as so-called ”facts”, and relied instead on his own enormous brain, which generates enough ideas to make all external phenomena redundant.

Now Amis has turned his attention to Aberdeen, which he describes as the ”epicentre of gloom” and ”one of the darkest places imaginable” (which is just as well, given that he freely admits to never having visited the place).

The Independent points out that he made his remarks ”from the comfort of a north London studio” (as if that had anything to do with it) and quotes all sorts of chippy residents of the gloomy epicentre.

”He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” says John Hepburn, who is described as an office worker. ”I think his books are complete rubbish, even though I haven’t read any. But then I don’t need to because Mr Amis has shown that you don’t need to experience something to pass judgement on it.” Quite so.

Posted: 10th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Unhealthy Developments

‘YESTERDAY we reported that ungrateful asylum seekers were turning their noses up at baked beans donated by Christians in Gloucester. Perhaps somebody made the mistake of telling them that this distinctive combination of beans, sugar and tomato flavouring was healthy.

”I’m ready for afters now, grandma”

This, apparently, is a fatal mistake when feeding a fussy eater. The trick, you see, is to make them believe the exact opposite.

In among the doom and gloom about Iraq, the front page of the Times optimistically tells ”How children can learn to love broccoli”. Jane Wardle of University College London believes that a few simple rules will make children like any kind of food.

The trick is to give the kiddies a taste of everything when they are small, then tell them that foie gras, caviar, champagne, fine cheeses, and prime cuts of meat are healthy. Then warn them that baked beans, off-cuts and tap water are bad for you, thus guaranteeing their allegiance to the ”cheap and cheerful” segments of the food chain. Voila – a cheap, low-maintenance kiddie.

Well, it worked for us when our parents tried it. In fact, Professor Wardle’s system is slightly different. The idea is that you get them to eat genuinely healthy food by the simple expedient of not using the ”h” word at all. The little critters fall for it every time it seems.

As the Proverbs say: give us an asylum seeker’s child for the first seven years, and after we’ve fed him beans for 2,555 days and nights, then you can do what you like with him.

Posted: 10th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot

‘I BELONG to Glasgae… da da dee da dee… Well, actually we don’t belong to Glasgow at all, but if we did, we’re sure that we would think fondly of the auld place as we lay in a London gutter after a night celebrating Scotland’s plucky point against the Faroe Islands.

Painting a happy picture of life in the Gorbals

And in the morning, as we enjoyed our first tipple of the day in the company of other like-minded folk with red noses and old suits, our thoughts might once again return to the Gorbals tenements of our youth.

Then, pint of heavy and whisky chaser in hand, we will stumble into the nearest internet café and log onto, which receives 70,000 hits a month – roughly the same number that Gorbals residents receive from one another in the course of their daily lives.

The website offers memorabilia such as street signs (Accident and Emergency), paintings (popular street murals entitled ”No Pope in this town” and ”FTQ”) and even rubble from demolished buildings (”It wasn’t much, but it was home”).

”Many use the site to link up with former neighbours and friends and reminisce about the old days,” says Nicola Rossiter, who runs the charity that set up the site.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, the Independent helpfully names such former residents as barrister Lady Kennedy, tea magnate Thomas Lipton, architect Alexander ”Greek” Thompson and Alan Pinkerton, founder of ”the famous detective agency”.

Of course, not all of these famous sons and daughters are still alive, so reminiscing may not be a viable option.

But Rossiter says that many people simply want a souvenir – ”even towels from the old corporation wash house and baths”.

That’s not a request for a souvenir, Nicola that’s a cry for help.

And when you’re sending the towels down to London, perhaps you could throw in a few bars of soap while you’re at it.

Posted: 9th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

The Winds Of Change

‘AS long as he has his beer and whisky, the average Scotsman isn’t too choosy when it comes to solids. A passing pigeon or a discarded bag of chips will do him nicely.

Asylum seekers complained the caviar wasn’t beluga

But others are more picky. Asylum seekers, for example. The Times reports that these ungrateful interlopers are so disgusted by British staples such as baked beans, that the Diocese of Gloucester has asked worshipers at 400 churches to refrain from donating them at harvest festivals.

”Although baked beans are our national dish and we enjoy them at least three times a week, to most people from abroad they are a strange phenomenon,” says Canon Adrian Slade. ”A tin of peas or ham would be more welcome.”

Whether Muslims would appreciate ham, tinned or otherwise, is a theological question that will doubtless be debated elsewhere, but we must in any case take issue with the basic gastronomic thrust of this statement.

Here at Anorak, we can categorically state that we do not eat baked beans three times a week – in fact, we never touch them.

On the rare occasions that we open a tin (for the cat), it will contain foie gras, or possibly tuna. Perhaps the asylum seekers would find this more agreeable.

Meanwhile, local councillors are queuing up to criticise the church.

Brian Calway (Tory) thinks the asylum seekers should be grateful for anything they are given. Peter Clark (Labour) thinks people ”give out of kindness of heart and what they can afford”.

”They are being very presumptuous,” he said, before excusing himself and settling down to his favourite dinner: tinned ham, tinned peas, baked beans and gravy.

In the distance, a moaning sound could clearly be heard coming from the disused air force base, as 200 asylum seekers trooped disconsolately into the dinner hall.

Posted: 9th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Passe

”’MADE early, drunk early, pissed early – paid early.”

Not the kind of slogan you would immediately associate with one of the world’s most famous wines, we think you’ll agree. But that is the local saying in Beaujolais.

”It’ll make a decent paint stripper”

The local wine has never been regarded by the French (and readers of Anorak) as anything other than a liquid with which to quench one’s thirst.

But for some reason, vulgar Brits decided that there was some kudos attached to getting their hands on the first bottles of the new vintage, and the marvellous ”Beaujoulais run” began, with all kinds of wonderful characters setting off for France in vintage cars and hot air balloons.

It was all good business for the local producers, of course, and signs appeared in supermarkets saying ”Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!”

Now those days are over. Tastes have changed and the Telegraph reports that 13 million unsold bottles of the stuff have been turned to vinegar or pure alcohol.

The problem is obviously the fussy asylum seekers, who refuse to touch the stuff.

Unless the Scots can be persuaded to forgo the delights of their traditional tipple, there seems little future for this once-famous region.

Posted: 9th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Vlad All Over

‘IT’S not easy being the wife of a head of state, you know. Especially in Russia, where Lyudmila Putin, wife of the President, is using the good offices of the Times of London in order to detail her complaints. Vladimir, it transpires, is a male chauvinist, and something of a picky eater too.

”Stop your whining, woman. You’re lucky. In England they make their wives sit here on their own”

”He is extremely difficult to cook for and will refuse to eat a dish if he does not like the slightest thing in it,” grumbles the ungrateful first lady. ”He never praises me and that has totally put me off cooking.”

This uncompromising attitude is the consequence of Putin’s two golden rules: ”A woman must do everything at home” and ”You should not praise a woman, otherwise it will spoil her”.

Formal equality under the old regime meant that women worked all day, then worked all night in the home, and it seems that this firm-but-fair system survives to this day. The post-war feminist movement made no impact on the East, and there is little sign of it today.

In her husband’s favour, Mrs Putin admits that he is an excellent father to their two teenage daughters, neither of whom were available for comment, due to domestic commitments.

Posted: 6th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

A Squirrel’s Tale

‘RETIRED engineer David Griffith and his wife Heulwen were looking out at the garden of their home in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, when they saw a gang of squirrels burrowing away into their lovely lawn.

”Ruddy grey squirrels. Come over her, steal OUR nuts, dig up OUR truffles…”

”They had been nibbling at something,” remembers Mr Griffith, who went out to investigate. But whereas most people would have discovered some old nuts or a tennis ball, Griffith was pleasantly surprised to unearth a summer truffle (Tuber aestivum, since you ask).

Truffles fetch up to £400 in France, but the Griffiths prefers to consume them themselves. ”I believe the squirrels smell the scent just like a pig or a dog,” he tells the Telegraph. ”We use the truffles for cooking grated on to scrambled eggs, or with potato cakes.”

The next day, the family dog discovered crude oil under the birdbath. Which was nice.

Posted: 6th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

A Burning Issue

‘LOOK at that woman over there. Disgraceful isn’t it? Shouldn’t be allowed! Look at her, holding her baby the wrong way round! Let’s kill her! Come on! KILL HER! BURN HER!…

”Who needs hands?”

Come on, what’s the matter with you lot? Don’t you read the Telegraph? Haven’t you heard the news? Normal women cradle babies in the left arm, and witches, psychos and other disreputable types hold them in the right.

Of course, the paper doesn’t use those actual words. It says that in Sweden, right-cradling mothers are said to take longer to bond with their children and be more prone to psychological problems.

”But there might be a simpler explanation,” it cautions. ”Apparently many women who hold their babies to the right when they are being photographed do so to encourage the baby’s attentiveness.”

We offer a different interpretation. Women who hold babies the wrong way round are left-handed, and thus, as ancient tradition has it, by definition witches. And women who are frequently photographed with their babies are celebrities. Ergo, celebrities are brides of the Lucifer.

All together now: Burn that celebrity witch! Burn that celebrity witch!!…

Posted: 6th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

More Posse-Footing

”’WE is roundin’ up a posse to git that varmint outta town,” says the leader of an armed band of predominately white American avengers.

”Hey, Dick, is this my happy face or my grumpy face?”

”As Win-stone Church-hill once said, ‘Let’s fight those bitches”’. (”Yeeha!”) ”Arm yerselves and be men of valour.” (”Yahoo!”) ”This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning of the end of the end.”

It’s rousing stuff, and when it comes to the matter of Saddam Hussain, George Dubya Bush (for it is he) grows ever more loquacious.

To mutilate some more Churchillian rhetoric, the USA might well be the linchpin of the English-speaking world, but in the throat of that country’s 43rd President, the pin resembles that pulled from a ready-to-explode grenade.

The Times and Guardian have pictures of the moment Bush met congressional leaders to talk of war with I-raq, but the Independent has excerpts of what was said.

And it was a lesson in language as the President added two new words to the political lexicon. Bush said that Hussain had ”stiffed” and ”crawfished” the international community.

For those not versed in Lone Star English, stiffed is, as you might have guessed, to cheat someone, to take them for a sucker. And perish the thought that anyone would do that to a man who nearly kills himself with a pretzel.

The crawfish part is a nice touch and, according to the papers, means to ”retreat from a position, to back out, to fail to stick to a statement made”.

Good stuff, and a twist on the language of Bush’s one remaining ally, Tony Blair, whose ”polenta-ing” (mashing together grains of ideas to form an insipid, barely constructed gloop) is the dish of the day in the UK.

Posted: 5th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Morris And The Minors

‘BUT what would war mean for the inhabitants of this island? Would our transport system crumble? Would our hospitals be unable to cope with the numbers of ill patients?

”Tony Blair’s behind you…”

Would our farmland become poisoned with the fall-our from millions of diseased animals? Perhaps. But for now the biggest threat is to the nation’s schoolchildren.

Having been kept off school while the Criminal Records Bureau checked their teachers’ records, the same schoolchildren are now heading back to class with many of their teachers as yet unapproved.

As the Telegraph reports, teachers are now allowed to teach at the ”discretion” of the head teachers.

The Government’s too swift reaction to the threat of paedophiles in our schools means that some teachers have been checked and some have not.

But don’t worry, because the latest news from the Government is that children being sent home from school were at more risk on the streets than in a supervised class, even if sir is a lag formerly known a ‘Fingers’ Malloy.

But the best part is that played by Estelle Morris, the humanoid lettuce that passes itself off as the Secretary of State for Education.

Smiling out from the Independent’s front page, in a way that could invoke violent thoughts in the most ardent dove, readers are forced to return to the hawkish Telegraph to hear the woman speak.

She calls herself a ”customer” of the CRB, and a ”very dissatisfied customer” at that.

”I will be asking questions,” she adds.

As will we. Such as: how does something so simple as checking records turn into another utter shambles – or polenta, as Tony might have it.

Posted: 5th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Flat chance

‘IF Tony does want some good advice, he could do worse than turn away from his Cabinet and towards his new set of self-assembly wardrobes.

”Hmmm. We seem to have a couple of bits missing”

Thanks to the work of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, as reported in the Times, microchips imbedded in flat-pack furniture could help shoppers construct their new tables and shelves in the proper fashion.

Stavros Antifakos, who leads the team of scientists, hopes that in future an LED display built into the merchandise will say whether an item has been constructed correctly or not.

He also found that there were 44 ways to put together an Ikea PAX wardrobe, although only eight ways would make the piece stable.

Speaking to the Independent, a spokeswoman for the Scandinavian retailer says: ”That’s our best-seller. Our experts reckon it’s probably one of the easiest to put together.”

And a lot easier than assembling a coalition to fight terror.

Posted: 5th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Wurd Upp

”’MIS-TEEQ casts evil spell on youngsters,” warns the Guardian today. Mis-teeq? What’s that then? Presumably a case if the Grauniad living up to its formidable reputation for typos.

Wrong! It’s ”Tony Blair – he doesn’t care!”

But no, in this case it is the Guardian kettle that is calling the pot black, as it reports on a poll conducted by Mori at the behest of the Oxford University Press that purports to show how Britain is producing a nation of ”tabloid spellers”.

If so, surely this is cause for national rejoicing. Tabloid newspapers employ teams of sub-editors to ensure that copy is impeccable, and the Sun would certainly not tolerate the spelling mistakes and poor grammar that characterise the Guardian. But it’s the punning headline style, rather than the actual writing, that is under attack. This, coupled with the ubiquitous txt-mssg, is the future of our language it seems.

And if you are not of text-messaging age, and don’t read tabloid newspapers, then we should tell you that Mis-teeq is actually the correct spelling of a pop group’s name, rather than a phonetic stab in the dark.

The fact that 37 per cent of 10 to 12-year-olds chose Mis-teeq over mystique is no cause for alarm, although the 53 per cent who got neither spelling correct might well be.

Thirty years ago, there were complaints that the misspelt titles of Slade songs would have a disastrous impact on the nation’s youth. Now those same youths are themselves up in arms – every time they read the Guardian.

Posted: 4th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment

Signs Of The Times

‘HANDS UP anyone who knows what Washington Pride is… The in-house journal of US government staff? A mass-produced American sliced loaf? No, it’s a voluntary organisation in Washington New Town, Tyne and Wear, and the Independent reports that it’s at the forefront of a campaign to replace local road signs with text messages.

Ft mn wltm wmn 4 fn & gd tms

But before you groan and bury your heads in your hands, we should explain that in this case, the change is a return to traditional values. The new town’s road signs used numbers instead of names for each of the local districts – a system that has caused confusion and annoyance for visitors ever since.

Now, thanks to Washington Pride, the numbers are to be scrapped, and old-fashioned words brought back. Councillor Colin Galbraith hopes that the change will encourage more people to visit. Washington has a reputation as a social laboratory, having been the first British town to install cable TV, not to mention pioneering double glazing, central heating and pedestrian shopping areas.

Of course, the north-east also pioneered more recent developments such as wearing nylon football shirts 24/7, obsessive parochial patriotism (accompanied by mawkish Pavlovian ”greetin”’), and a host of other disagreeable alcohol-fuelled trends that have subsequently spread to the rest of the country.

Perhaps they should keep their numbers: the fewer impressionable visitors, the better.

Posted: 4th, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets | Comment