Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why I am in favour of gay marriage

Among the many joys of the passing years are the colourful and imaginative additions one suddenly finds on one’s annual medical. Up to the age of 39 it’s all innocent fun – “look this way”, “cough”, “are you remembering to wear a condom?” nudge nudge wink wink, and so on: on the whole still very similar to when they’d make you run around the gym in your underwear at Primary School.

And then you hit 40.

All at once a very long and scary list of intrusive tests appears, apparently brainstormed by world-class sadists in the Violent Wing at Broadmoor and then rigorously ranked for high Pain and Humiliation quotients. One is required to fast. There are needles. There are smears. There are more needles. You are no longer allowed to keep the underwear on. And now it’s the car park, not the gym.

Above all, there’s the prostate exam. My doctor is a personable young black woman who has learnt to channel several centuries of racial tension via her index finger, summoning unbelievable killing force into that humble digit like a kung fu master. I wouldn’t mind so much except for her accompanying cry of “Virgin no more!”, which I felt was frankly unnecessary.

And yet, amid strange sparkly lights and the dizzying musical ringing in the ears, I have an epiphany, if it’s possible to have an epiphany when one’s eyes are quite so tightly shut. If gay men are prepared to put up with similar or worse voluntarily, for love, who are we to deny them a wedding band? Surely no greater proof of devotion can be asked or offered. Skip the bans and break out the confetti, I say. They’ve earnt it.

Not lesbians, tho’. They have it too easy already…

A gay marriage, yesterday. Fair play to them.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Even in Brighton, waving your didgeridoo at a policeman is a criminal offence.

A sad day for aboriginal culture, as one of their sacred icons is shamefully abused.

The didgeridoo has not been considered an offensive weapon since Rolf Harris ended his reign of terror twenty years ago. Unfortunately a troubled young man in Hove has dragged its name back into the mire with a noisy yet ineffective rampage in that sleepy seaside Sodom.

Ryan Jones, 23, bricklayer by trade, apparently took exception to a remark his flatmate made about an ex-girlfriend of his. Inspired by the vast quantity of alcohol he had consumed in one of Britain’s new all-day drinking establishments, he decided to resolve their dispute by:
- Chasing his flatmate around the flat with the didgeridoo, offering violence
- Falling over, gashing his head
- Removing his shirt
- Attempting to smash all the windows in the flat with his didgeridoo, resulting in 0 (zero) broken windows and 1 (one) severely scratched didgeridoo, and finally
- Waving the didgeridoo at attending police officers with the words “I'll f***ing have you and any copper who dares to come in”

Unfazed by the Antipodean WMD bouncing musically yet harmlessly off of their helmets, Hove’s finest promptly applied a brief burst of tear gas and led their hacking, wheezing prey off to the station for the traditional tumble down the stairs on the way to the cells. There’s a George Cross or two on the cards for those gallant constables, unless I miss my guess.

“The Australian aboriginal didgeridoo is one of the oldest musical instruments known to man” notes the Telegraph, apropos of nothing. We are at a loss to say what inspired this non sequitur, unless it was to imply that this was the first time anyone had thought to brandish it as a club. No-one who has ever heard a didgeridoo in action will give houseroom to this theory for a second. Exposure to even trace amounts of didgeridoodery can have devastating long-term psychological impacts. I give you Germaine Greer, just as an example.

Experts believe this to be the worst outbreak of obscure-musical-instrument-related violence since a man with a crumhorn went berserk in Paddington Station last year, knocking over two piles of unwanted Metro freesheets and startling a pigeon. Tony Blair yesterday announced primary legislation to outlaw the private possession of didgeridoos, sackbutts, crumhorns, and dulcimers as of January 1st 2007.

Didgeridoos, yesterday. Just some of the many hundreds turned in during the last amnesty.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

How to rip off art properly

After David Cerny’s shamelessly derivative attempt recently, those noble souls at sickcomic.com show us how it’s done. I’m sure Magritte would have approved.

I particularly like the tag line, which poses a neat conundrum for those knucklehead fundamentalists trying to work out whether they should be offended or not. The more time they spend wrestling with the resulting ice-cream headaches, the less time they have for butchering hostages. There’s just no down side so far as I can see.

Last time I checked, the artist was still alive. Still, I shouldn’t start any long books if I were him…

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fear this, and tremblingly obey…

Further to Google’s recent capitulation, more high-tech leaders are identified as having made their own pacts with the ChiCom devil.

Microsoft, Skype, News Corporation, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, and Nortel Networks join Google in the dock. At least Yahoo didn’t attempt to airbrush its own name from the list. If it was a secret policeman it would be up for an award by now, having recently helped bag its second journalist. The upshot is that the US Government and many dedicated democracy activists are spending taxes and the donations of ordinary Americans to break spyware and firewalls built and maintained by American companies.

Some of these captains of digital industry argue before Congress that they have no choice if they are to have access to the Chinese market. They also point out that if they don’t respect Chinese law, the Chinese are less likely to respect those laws around copyright and patents upon which technology companies rely.

Copyright and patent protection vs 20 years in a gulag. If our business and political leaders can’t see the difference then we the people had better keep a tight grip on our constitution as well as our wallets. If we can’t sell nukes or anthrax or advanced satellite gear to the ChiComs, why are the technology companies allowed to sell them the weapon of ignorance? The Soviet Bloc eventually collapsed from within, and it was knowledge of the free world that slew the beast, not the M-1 Abrams.

China is a pre-Judaeo-Christian dictatorship where politics and business operate in a state of nature and only might is right. The West, on the other hand, is largely post-Judaeo-Christian now, and our cultural norms are increasingly detached from their ancient moorings. Leave a ship unmoored and it will drift with the tide – no prizes for guessing which way it’s flowing at the moment.

Obviously we can’t rely on CEOs or politicians to show the integrity and self-restraint of a snapping turtle. The Chinese government certainly won’t. As long as that’s true, technology can’t fix the problem. But as culture is the real root cause here, perhaps that’s where we need to focus. There are somewhere between 55 and 90 million Christians in China, Catholic and Protestant, and more every day. And God knows we need them to hold their government to account before our own sells us down the river. You want to safeguard democracy and freedom of speech? Find a mission to China and donate.

Some saviours of Western civilization, yesterday.

Friday, February 24, 2006

O Canada, true patriot love in all thy wives command

Le Monde this weekend turns its attention to that hotbed of depravity, Canada, and its travails with its fringe population of polygamists.

For a moment one clings to the vain hope that this is might be just a matter of our old friends the Mormons, but no. Proving once again that they are firmly attached to the butt-end of the world’s moral compass, Muslim “community leaders” have leapt into the fray on the side of abuse and oppression.

Authorities in Utah and British Columbia have invested a lot of effort recently in a successful assault on those Mormon fundamentalists who plant their shacks in isolated communities in order to prey on their little girls undisturbed. A crackdown on the illegal cross-border traffic in adolescent “wives” has freed a number of youngsters and put some abusers behind bars. But their efforts are being undermined at the federal level by the Great Dominion’s very own brand of left-liberal November Criminals in Ottowa, who have called for polygamy to be legalised on multicultural grounds.

Would those people be taking the same stand if it were just the Mormons who were doing it? I think we all know the answer. One wonders what it is about such idiots that renders them incapable of joining the intellectual dots in their own arguments. There is no position so despicable or indefensible that the left will not assume it as long as there’s an angry Islamist prepared to put it on a banner and wave it at them. What next? Separate sharia courts? Oh, wait – they already tried that

Just put some hijabs on, girls, and we’ll be fine.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Update - Worst President (pre 1992)

Well, this was not the most competitive Prezzie™, but it was I think the best argued. As I expected, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the nominations, but the winner shows that we’re not all ahistorical celebrity-obsessed clowns on this blog. This strikes me as a dangerous precedent, so tomorrow we’ll return to the usual topical trivia and we can stick our brains back in neutral.

Anyway, results in the traditional reverse order…
McKinley (1)
LBJ (1)
JFK (1)
Wilson (1)
Nixon (2)
And our runaway winner, representing twenty years of feckless Democrat-led drift into Civil War:
James Buchanan (3)

Good for him. A world-beating performance, I’m sure we all agree. Top historians certainly do – they have just voted his paralysis in the face of looming secession the #1 presidential mistake ever made. By extension, we are all top historians now, so go get yourselves a tweed jacket and a pipe and report back here in time for the evening “tutorial” with the hot hippie chick in your freshman class.

I toyed with the idea of ending with a Most Obscure President award, but Harrison and Fillmore have already been given an airing in previous Prezzies, which would make this one rather redundant. I personally looked forward to filing Martin van Buren under this category too, if only as a libation to Davey Crockett’s noble shade. But in any case the category itself presents problems on logical grounds, in that any President that any of us publicly-schooled savages has actually heard of is by definition automatically disqualified.

So instead we’ll unleash all that pent-up Clinton and Bush phobia that we’ve been struggling to restrain all week. Time was the defining personality question was: Elvis man or a Beatles man? Now it’s Clinton joke or Bush joke. Let’s hear your favourite Bush or Clinton story, preferably cleaned up for our family audience…

Just to get you started, here’s that traditional stand-by: you have Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Stalin in your sights but only two bullets in your gun – what do you do, hotshot? What do you do?


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Prezzies™ III - Worst President (pre 1992)

Now we get to the money shots. Nominations are open for worst president (pre 1992). Don’t forget – W and his predecessor are not eligible for nomination, but for all those who can’t contain their venom I have something lined up tomorrow.

Meanwhile, fire off your votes for Worst of the Rest. Of course, it’ll be a Democrat – I mean, duuuuh – but the question is, which Democrat? And that’s a toughie, given how awful they all were, with the honourable exception of Harry S Truman.

OK, OK, you can suggest Republicans too, if you must. I just hope the NSA isn’t reading this…

FDR swears in that paladin of public service, Joseph Kennedy, as ambassador to Great Britain in 1938. Yes, FDR is tempting, but is he really the worst? After all, there’s always JFK. You decide…

Update - Best President (pre 1900) results

The nominations for best president (pre 1900) are finally closed. It was a tightly packed field, and just a single vote was enough to carry the day. In reverse order, the results are…

Honourable mention: John Quincy Adams
John Adams (1)
James Garfield (1)
William Henry Harrison (1)
Thomas Jefferson (1)
George Washington (1)
And scraping home by a nose…
Abraham Lincoln (2)

Well, the people have spoken. Honest Abe’s achievements are undeniable, but I also have some sympathy for William Henry Harrison, on the compelling grounds that “that president governs best who governs least”. By dropping dead after a month he achieved that if nothing else. That said, for myself I will stick with George Washington, if for no other reason than that, like the original Cincinnatus, he served his time and retired as promised, voluntarily reliquishing power after two terms. It was an unparalleled act of republican virtue for the time, and an example which every subsequent President felt honour-bound to emulate until that arrogant little squit FDR.

Speaking of FDR – nominations will open anon for the coveted and long-awaited title of Worst President, coming up next…

Cincinnatus, yesterday. Like Washington, he was obviously far too plebeian for FDR to learn anything from. I mean, the man actually worked for a living, you know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Prezzies™ II - Best President (pre 1900)

Continuing our prestigious Prezzie™ awards in honour of Presidents’ Day, this time we’re requesting nominations for best president pre-1900. Your entries and reasons in the comments, please – results tomorrow.

I know this relentless focus on the positive is wearing, but keep the faith. If we can just get this one out of the way then we can move on to the juicy “worst president” award…

Few people realise that, in addition to winning the Civil War and abolishing slavery, Abraham Lincoln was also an accomplished ventriloquist…

Update - Best President (1900 - 1992) results

The nominations for best president (1900-1992) have been flooding in! What a warm-hearted and charitable bunch you are. But every poll must close, so it’s time for the results. In reverse order, they are [drum roll please]…

Honourable mention, with several runner-up nominations, Herbert Hoover
Teddy Roosevelt (1)
John F Kennedy (1)
Richard M Nixon (1)
Ronald Reagan (1)
Harry S Truman (1)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (2)
Jimmy Carter (2)
And our runaway winner is…
Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge (4)

It’s impossible not to approve such well-deserved if belated recognition for such a great man. But, impressive as Cal’s score is, I’m afraid I am not dissuaded from my own view. For me there can only be one winner in this category. Step forward Harry S Truman – loyal, incorruptible in a deeply corrupt system, a failure most of his life who only became a Senator at 50, dropped the A-Bomb on Japan, and saved Europe (and so America too) with the Marshall Plan. Few more ordinary and decent men have ever achieved such high office, nor done so much good with it. God bless you, Harry!

Harry S Truman, yesterday. We shall not see his like again…

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Prezzies™ I - Best President (1900 - 1992)

It’s Presidents’ Day here in the States, when we remember the diverse crew of white guys who’ve clawed their way to the Oval Office over the last two hundred odd years by going to the President’ Day Sales and buying a new barbecue.

What better way to honour their memory than to invoke the spirit of democracy, and have everyone vote on some outrageously slanted and unscientific questions. And so I am proud to introduce The Prezzies™, whereby we subject the forty one US chief executives up until 1992 to the same kind of dispassionate and considered analysis as Celebrity Big Brother.

Anyone who picked up on the 1992 cut-off will have guessed the one ground rule upon which I am sadly forced to insist for the sake of harmony in our little online community: The current President and his immediate predecessor are not eligible for nomination in any category. This is partly because insufficient time has been allowed for posterity to do its work on either of them, but more importantly the temptation to be lazy and stick with cheap-shot topicality would be overwhelming, and that would stifle our undoubted creativity. If we could just stay in our comfort zones, who would ever think to mention how Grover Cleveland started a war to distract attention from one of his sex scandals, or how Ulysses S Grant was accused of shamelessly derailing investigations into his alleged property scams.

Come to think of it, that was actually Clinton both times. But that just proves my point, and I’m sure we all agree that the principle is a sound one.

So let’s start with a real soft-n-easy under-arm pitch: Best President (1900 - 1992). I know it breaks the habit of a lifetime to ask you cynical creatures to think positively for a change, but I’m sure it’ll do you good.

Nominations and reasons in the comments, please – results tomorrow assuming anyone bothers to vote…

Teddy Roosevelt, yesterday. Will he get his due this time, or will his slimy cousin steal the limelight yet again?

Norwegian Blue

Somalia is now the piracy capital of the world. As Africa’s premier failed state, it is also a hotbed of endangered species smuggling. Including parrots. Coincidence? I don’t think so…

When will the world take a stand against these feathered Moriarties?

Can you spot the sneaky Svengali on the shoulder pad?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Niemoller Redux

First they came for the fox hunters
and I did not speak out
for I was not a fox hunter

Then they came for the woman reading the names of dead soldiers in Whitehall
and I did not speak out
'cos she looked like a bit of a hippy really

Then they came for the Brazilian electricians
and I did not speak out
'cos they were still waving those fucking guns around

And then they skipped all the raghead terrorists, psychotic imams, gun-toting yardies, ankle-tagged hoodies and Deputy Prime Ministers who 'forget' to pay their Council Tax
and came straight to me
and said “Put that bloody fag out
don't you know there's a war on?"

And I thought
“Blow this for a game of soldiers”
And moved to North Carolina

Plenty of room over here still, guys…

Some enemies of the State, yesterday.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Career Day II

For all my good intentions, work intervenes, and I arrive only five minutes before the scheduled 2pm kick-off. I hurry in disconsolately, sure of being the last and visibly the least prepared, to be tucked away in a corner, an embarrassment to all. However, when I enter the cafeteria a total absence of parents lies everywhere like a fall of snow – I am the only one there, alone with the ghosts of a thousand corn-dog lunches past.

I commandeer a table reassuringly close to the emergency exit, and wait.

Others trail in slowly. By quarter past two there are six of us. My nemesis, Christopher’s fireman dad, is not among them. He is undoubtedly carrying singed yet still photogenic toddlers out of raging infernos even as we speak, and I salute him for it.

Among those who have made it are a nurse, a dentist, a psychiatrist, an insurance salesman who obviously has an impressively tin ear for kindergartner attention spans, a depressed-looking Japanese woman with some flowerpots, and a hotel manager. This last is very keen indeed. She has a hundred bulging give-away goodie bags that her minimum-wage staff probably spent an entire shift packing last night, and a laptop with a slide show. “I love my job” she tells me with a glassy smile. And it’s not like I had walked over to talk to her, either – I was still arranging my stuff several yards away. The psychiatrist next to her gives her a sharp glance and surreptitiously moves elsewhere.

Puffing through the doors at this point comes another hobbyist - an amateur astronomer, judging by his telescope and intricate orrery. He sets up on the table that the shrink has just vacated, between me and Norman Bates’ sister. He has a wart. On his chin. Just off-centre, on the jawline.

He finishes his preparations and wanders over to me. It’s a big wart. We chat about kids and hobbies briefly. There are hairs on the wart. As we talk I keep my eyes rooted to his by sheer force of will. Wart wart warty wart wartly wart wart. The primary school teacher that I once was is jumping up and down in my hindbrain waving all sorts of red flags. I move my stall slightly closer to his so I can overhear.

He is pacing a little, practicing his delivery. He has his opening line all ready. “How would you like to go to outer space without ever leaving your room?” he intones, all broad grin and sweeping arms.

At half past the teachers start bringing the kids in. As there are only seven parents, the groups are bigger than planned – 12 to 24 kids to entertain for ten minutes at a time. I launch into my spiel about hand-colouring, types of paper and watermarks, leather bindings, how the maps show the different shapes of the USA over time, and so on. This is met with general incomprehension, tho’ everyone seemed to like holding the books that were published “when George Washington was President”.

Most of the questions concern my foreign accent and tombstone teeth.

I rate my performance as a solid B-. The dentist is a big hit, with his plastic skull. So is the hotelophile, tho’ only because she has made the schoolboy error of handing out the goodies first, and everyone is too busy rooting through their bags to pay her tedious drivel any attention. Every bag includes a little rubber ball, and already some of them are reaching alarming speeds and altitudes as the kids make their own entertainment.

Over on Planet Astronomy, meanwhile, all is not well. A consistent pattern is emerging. “How would you like to go to outer space without ever leaving your room?” says the astronomer. A forest of hands goes up. He picks a child, who promptly asks “What’s that thing on your chin?” “It’s called a melanoma” he says patiently. “What’s a melonny?” “Why’s it on your chin?” “What does it do?” “Does it do tricks?”. One studious child even asks him to spell “melanoma”. The grin is fading and sweat begins to bead his forehead. The third group, sadly, includes a girl called Melanie, who promptly bursts into tears, so he gives up and calls it a wart. This opens a whole new line of thought among his audience. “Are you a witch?”

At this point my son’s class arrives before me, so I have to give them my full attention. I pull out all the stops, have my son hold up some of the maps to share the glory, and climax with la pièce de la résistance, a five hundred year old hand-coloured map of Venice. So it is some time before I can turn back to my unhappy neighbour. He is sitting wild-eyed by his orrery, shirt visibly drenched in perspiration, as the kids chase their balls under the table or try to poke the wart with their pencils.

He cuts short his fruitless attempt at discourse and goes straight to the demonstration - everyone gets a turn with the telescope. The kids huddle around it, heads together, and after some whispering they abruptly turn and train it on his chin. He visibly toys with the idea of intervention, but instead slumps back into his chair and lets them get on with it. At which point one of the hotel freak’s balls enters stage left, ricochets off his forehead and knocks over his orrery, sending planets and moons skittering across the floor.

And so proceedings draw to their disorderly close.

The kids are led out, except for our own, who have the reward of going home with us. I help the star-gazer gather his scattered satellites. He gives me a wan smile. His little girl is also there, handing over Mars and Pluto. She gives him a big hug and kiss. “You were the best, daddy!” They leave hand in hand.

My son watches them go, then loyally whispers “You were the best, really.” At home, obviously incredulous, my wife asks him what was so good about my presentation. “I got to go home with daddy afterwards.”

A mellony yesterday. No finer form of entertainment exists for the enquiring minds of today’s youngsters.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Career Day I

A small storm cloud has hung on my personal horizon for a week now, and it is at last about to break.

Today is “Career Day” for the kindergarten class at our local elementary school, where parents come in to talk about their work to groups of their kid’s classmates. This sort of thing is expected of parents over here, and by all accounts features a cast of thousands of ultra-competitive breeders. I would normally run considerable distance barefoot over broken glass to avoid that kind of exposure, but I am now committed - pinned like a butterfly to the board of my son’s expectations.

I dare say I’ll end up sat between the astronaut and the juggler.

I should have known better than to agree, but my wife trapped me with the ruthlessness innate to her gender by asking me in front of my adoring 5-year-old. It was a moment of weakness which I bitterly regret.

It turns out that they are going to fill the cavernous cafeteria with parents, and have groups of eight to ten kids visit each in turn, with a few minutes of exposition on the wonders of their work, followed by the sort of surreal questions that kindergartners specialise in. I am frantic at the thought of talking about my job even for five minutes straight, as possibly the only thing more boring than my work is hearing me talk it - a point first drawn to my attention by my wife, who has seen fit to revisit the topic at regular intervals throughout our married life. Inflicting this experience on these mere babes would be borderline abuse in my book.

At first I turn to scripture for inspiration – in this case the Book of Wodehouse – but alas my wife refuses point blank to drive me, forcing me to abandon my plan to turn up sozzled and wing it a la Gussie Fink-Nottle.

Thankfully, there is a get-out-of-gaol-free clause whereby instead of work one can talk about one’s hobbies. My boy’s teacher calls it the Lapdancer Clause, in honour of the type of job that might lead a parent to invoke it. I do not ask her what sort of “hobbies” she imagines the average lapdancer to have, as she is young and naïve, and I might unwittingly upset or arouse her. As she weighs in at about 200lbs, neither prospect appeals. In any case, although I am not a Lapdancer, I grasp the proffered straw gratefully.

While my legal hobbies are only slightly less boring than my work, I have one that at least gives the kids something to hold and feel, and about which I can talk with a fair facsimile of knowledge – antique books and maps. So I blow the dust off of a few of the less expensive 18th C maps, atlases and geographies.

As I pack my exhibits, my boy relates how he told his friend Christopher that I would be the best. “Is Christopher’s dad coming?” I ask. A shrug. “What does he do?” “He’s a fireman.”

The freak show starts at 2pm today…

Gussie Fink-Nottle, yesterday – patron saint of all school speechmakers.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tour de Londres

Excitement reigns at my local Post Office.

US postal workers are very different from their UK equivalents. Generally speaking, they won’t nick your mail, tho’ they might very well come after you with automatic weapons if you forget their Xmas Box. They also sport a surprisingly high percentage of lean, mean cyclists, due in large part to their long-time sponsorship of Lance Armstrong.

And so it is that, despite their well-earnt reputation for acts of unspeakable and irrational violence, I enter without fear today, for the route of the 2007 Tour de France has just been announced, and there shall be no other topic of conversation. However, I am surprised to find myself mobbed as I walk in, veteran posties tripping over their assault weapons in their haste to pick my brains, for it turns out that the race will for the first time start in England. After a 5 mile circuit of some of London’s most famous sites, the contestants will race 130 miles across Kent to Canterbury.

The posties quiz me about the London route. Is it hilly? Are there any steep curves? What language do they speak there? I choose to ignore the last, as in America it is considered slightly unpatriotic to be too well-informed re parts foreign, and in any case it’s been years since I heard anyone speaking English in central London.

The hand of some hidden humourist can be discerned in the London circuit, which begins with the Grand Départ at Trafalgar Square, and goes on to take in the Wellington Arch and Marlborough House - all landmarks celebrating British victories over the French. Coincidence? The French might be forgiven for doubting it, especially after their official delegation disembarks from the Eurostar cross-channel train at Waterloo Station.

One hopes they don’t take it too much to heart. After all, after so many centuries of conflict there is no 5 mile stretch of London without two or three such memorials. No doubt Paris would be equally full of such momentoes of victory over England, if only they’d ever beaten us.

The Tour de France began in 1903, as a stunt by a newspaper founded to back the anti-Semitic campaign against Dreyfus. One cannot say why riding a bike all over the countryside was regarded as an impeccably anti-Semitic pursuit. Perhaps Jews have no sense of balance. Anyway, as an assault on international Zionism it is typically French, being admittedly mean-spirited and yet fundamentally ineffective. If only the Nazis had restricted themselves to similarly anodyne forms of direct action - a triathlon, perhaps, or even a quilting bee? But no, it’s always Panzers and Gas Chambers with the Germans. That’s their answer to everything.

Team Germany are disqualified from the 1914 Tour de France for bayonetting the Belgian participants, beginning a cycle of mutual recrimination that leads inexorably to WW I…

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Over the rainbow

Uproar in the virtual realms of role-playing-gamers, as a gay guild of gamers is threatened with deletion for advertising for like-minded members. Fortunately, sanity prevails and the administrators back off from this rather silly spat.

I give it about three months before the first Islamist guild pops up demanding their own gameserver environment where they can slaughter virtual gays and molest virtual nine-year-olds in madrassa-approved fashion. As long as it keeps them off the streets I say go for it.

More worrying for me is the thought of gay gamers. What the hell is the point of being gay if you’re going to spend all day inside with the drapes drawn? Gays are creative and outgoing and fun. No-one needs a gay nerd. Poor hygiene? Pasty skin? Unkempt appearance? Even – dare one say it – hairy balls? No no no – these are not the things for which we look to our GLBT community. Snap out of it, guys and gals and those travelling all points in between. Turn off the computer and go frolic in the real world.

I must admit that I have never played an RPG (which when I was a lad meant rocket propelled grenade) – so I might be missing something here. But I doubt it. And it all smacks of selfishness to me, abandoning the barricades of hum-drum reality which Anglicans like me are busy defending on their behalf.

We Anglicans embrace wholeheartedly the concept that homosexuals have a right to play prominent roles in modern society. But with rights come responsibilities, and we’re counting on the rainbow brigade to live up to theirs. For a start, if these digital Dorothies don’t put their PlayStations down soon, we’re going to run out of Bishops…

It’s fun to stay at the YYYY-M-C-A, it’s fun to stay at the YYYY-M-C-A-AY…

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Refusing to be eaten is “a gratuitous insult to shark culture”, say sharks.

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, is dead at 65.

Apparently he died from pulmonary fibrosis, and his passing was “peaceful”. No sharks are reported to have been involved. However, requests for comment from various shark “community leaders” were met with stony silence yesterday, so obviously time has not healed all wounds there.

A lot of red-tinged water has flowed under the pier since those long ago days of the shark fatwa against Mr Benchley for his unwarranted demonisation of their kind. Who can forget the sight of great whites fruitlessly trying to burn copies of Jaws in thirty feet of water? Or the ill-fated attempts of suicide hammerheads to commandeer speedboats and plough them into local marinas, foiled only by their lack of lungs, opposable thumbs, or even the most rudimentary sense of direction once out of water.

After thirty years spent living under police protection, no sink, bath or toilet bowl left unchecked, Mr Benchley’s departure might be assumed to mark the end of an ugly chapter in human-shark relations, but how much have we really changed? Despite the best efforts of brave multiculturalists like Fabien Cousteau, there are still too many of us for whom the word “shark” conjures only the dark and ugly stereotype of the vicious, insensate predator.

Isolated incidents of sharks incontinently ripping defenceless swimmers to pieces are blown up out of all proportion and used by unscrupulous demagogues to keep the old hatred alive. “To hear some people talk, you’d think that sharks killed and ate everyone they met” sighed one enlightened activist recently, brushing away a tear with his sole remaining limb. “In fact they only kill and eat the ones they can catch – but you never hear that on Fox News, oh no.”

Liberal groups have long campaigned for humans to leave the sharks in peace to enjoy their natural habitat. If people didn’t keep swimming around in the sea in so provocative a fashion, they argue, no-one wouldn’t get attacked. “It’s their own fault, you see? Bikinis, indeed! They’re asking for it dressed like that.”

But now that the battle to shift the mantle of victimhood from insensitive swimmers to aggrieved sharks has been largely won, shark-rights activists have opened a new front in their war on discrimination. “Humans aren’t paddling around in our feeding grounds anymore, which is good, of course” explained Bruce, an 18-foot-long Great White spokes-shark for the Council for Shark Rights and Freedoms (Pacific). “But in the end all that means is that the imperialists have retreated to monopolise their own environment, ghettoising us by default. And that’s unacceptable.” The solution? “We want state-aided positive discrimination and mobility programmes to allow our community access to human habitats on land. A combination of welfare benefits and adapted go-karts will allow us to take our rightful place in society, making our traditional contribution in the fields of terror, merciless slaughter and savage targeting of the weak and defenceless. We have a right to live according to our own laws and culture, and you have a right to pay for it.”

A joint statement issued by Greenpeace, the Democratic National Committee and the UN High Commission for Human Rights yesterday was broadly supportive of the “Freeding Frenzy” Initiative, as it’s been dubbed by supporters. However, the NAACP has expressed concern about the lack of Great Black sharks in the higher echelons of the movement.

Bruce has invited the NAACP leadership to “stop by the beach tomorrow morning to discuss the issue over breakfast”.

CSRF activists bravely battling discrimination, yesterday. Jack Straw later issued an apology to all sharks on behalf of the swimmer’s family.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Their eyes are bigger than their bellies

Light begins to dawn as to why the news has been colonised by one whale story after another lately. There’s just too many of the damned things. And now we know who to blame.

The Japanese have suddenly and inexplicably gone off whale meat.

For a while Japan’s brave fleets continued to kill and butcher them with the single-minded purity of purpose so typical of their island race where bloodshed is involved, but eventually even these dedicated professionals cottoned on to the fact that there was no point killing more whales than anyone was prepared to buy.

Hence the oceans are full of Flipper's fat friends – so many that you can walk across the Channel dry-shod on the heaving mass of blubber, with the surplus ending up in the Thames, a menace to shipping.

Fortunately, the selfless public servants of the Japan Whaling Association are fighting a noble rearguard action with their new informational pamphlet “Delicious whales!”, to be distributed free to all households. The mind boggles to imagine how it might be illustrated, but I’m sure its arrival is eagerly anticipated by the whole family.

One can only hope that it works, and the Japs start reaching for the ketchup once again with their old-accustomed vigour. Only then will sanity return to both rivers and newsrooms around the world.

Go on – get it down yer neck, my son! Lovely…

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ars gratia arseholes

Long-suffering British art afficionados are of course all too familiar with the antics of pseudo-artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Hirst’s dismembered cows and Emin’s slapper-beds sell for absurd sums while genuine art gathers dust and contempt in equal measure. Typical of the genre is Hirst’s seminally trite and awful “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, the sole redeeming feature of which is that it put a shark permanently out of circulation.

Across the Channel, however, they’re still getting the hang of how to generate headlines and whopping commissions from such carefully contrived insolence. Struggling artist Mr David Cerny, a Czech gentleman, has brought to bear that perfect combination of German charm and Slavic finesse for which his nation is famed to create a shameless and bare-faced rip-off of Hirst’s “Physical Impossibility”, only with Saddam Hussein suspended in the formaldehyde in place of the shark. And so Europe’s art, like its politics and demographics, continues to circle the bowl.

Sadly, in his choice of theme Mr Cerny has revealed himself to be too obviously a rank amateur. The whole point of Brit Art is to gratuitously disgust and offend only those who are too civilized to shoot you six times and then hack your head off with a knife. It’s difficult to imagine what sort of reaction he could have been expecting. Why not just go the whole hog and make the figure in the tank Mohammed? Not enough room for all the wives?

Fortunately for him, however, he chose to offer this masterpiece for display in Belgium, whose leaders are famed for leading from the front in defence of Western Civilization, waving their traditional white battleflag. Predictably, they promptly pulled the plug on the exhibition on the grounds that children might see it, and not, for example, because they feared for their miserable chocolate-fattened hides.

Tasteless savages that they are, it simply didn’t occur to them throw it out on the grounds that it is laughable rubbish.

Mr Cerny’s oeuvre, yesterday. Perhaps fortuitously, his skills are as mediocre as his inspiration, so the figure in the tank looks nothing like Saddam Hussein. But at least now we know what happened to Yosser Hughes

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Kiddie’s corner

Hey kids - join the dots and watch the picture magically reveal itself! Can you finish before a “community leader” jumps through the window and cuts your head off with a big knife? No.

Best not try this on the good carpet, if you get my drift…

Friday, February 10, 2006

See what you miss if you’re not paying attention?

The Anglican Church, finger on the pulse as ever, has chosen this week to follow through on its recent decision to apologise for slavery.

Good to know that today’s modern church is not afraid to take a stand on the controversial topics of the moment.

I understand the logic and the value of this apology, and support it whole-heartedly, of course. As a believer myself, I see the church as an institution standing with one foot in eternity, which gives such statements a resonance beyond the now. There are souls long dead who will take direct and personal comfort from its having been made, or who will at least – from their current timeless perspective - take a charitable view of the intentions of those making it.

But I can’t shake the nagging feeling that there is something else the General Synod could usefully have spent a few minutes on just now…

Joyful crowds greet the news of the Anglican Synod’s timely announcement.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

If I were a whale, I’d be pretty upset

Now on sale in America – the Princess Diana action figure. Hurry hurry hurry while stocks last – only ten thousand will be made!

Exquisitely detailed right down to the well-thumbed underwear, not only is it fully poseable with realistic retching and grasping hand action: it also recites 25 "historic" phrases that capture the essence of this truly remarkable adulteress and freeloader:

"I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts"
"There's far too much about me in the newspapers, far too much"
"I want to do good things"
"I don't sit here with resentment. I sit here with sadness"

Of course no doll could capture her true magic…

“Let’s go shopping”
“Of course Charles is Harry’s father – ha ha!”
“Jeeves - send up another barrel of taxpayers’ money”
“I want another holiday!”
“No, no, no – I only do pretty orphans, you silly little commoner”
“Give me your proud Egyptian obelisk my swarthy stallion”
“Those little men in the white Fiat – are they Mossad or MI5, do you think?”

The United States is a republic, of course, and so does not benefit from Britain’s unrivalled crop of cretinous royal parasites. Presumably this is why they keep trying to substitute for them by worshipping locally raised rodents like the Nazi-loving, mafia-hugging, election-stealing, wire-tapping, girl-drowning Kennedys. Even so, one wonders if there could be anyone so retarded as to buy this item and yet still be allowed out on their own without a leash. A hint as to the target market for this little treasure is provided by the fact that the box it comes in is lovingly inscribed “Diana, Princess of Whales”.

There are 300 million people in the USA. There are 10,000 Diana dolls. That’s enough for roughly 0.00003 % of the population. The average IQ of the bottom 0.00003% of the population lies around 35 to 40 – ie, just barely smarter than a programmable toaster. And they’re monarchists, each and every one…

The Diana doll yesterday. A great disappointment to all true fans, being not nearly as pointless and annoying as the real thing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Banana Peelers

Following up on its worldwide exclusive re the perils of avian welfarism, the Economist catches our eye again with this piece on the role of policing in primate societies.

The noble scientific pioneers of the the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, in between barroom brawls, gunfights and cattle rustling, have taken time out to study what happens to primate behaviour when the alpha males are removed from circulation. Their theory was that the role of these high-ranking individuals extended beyond simply maintaining their own primacy, to include breaking up conflicts between lower-ranking individuals even if they had no stake in the outcome, effectively acting as the local bobbies on their own beats.

Picking on a troop of previously blameless pigtailed macaques, they put this theory to the test. Sure enough, removing the coppers for just a few hours every day
“resulted in the remaining monkeys grooming fewer others, playing with fewer others and dividing up into cliques as the social network that held the troop together broke down. The number of aggressive incidents also increased”

The boffins conclude that
“the role of policing in these monkeys is to allow individuals to socialise widely at little risk and thus hold a large troop together, since the police will intervene if things get out of hand”

The relevance of this study to the human condition is self-evident when one considers the many parts of Britain’s towns and cities where the humble copper has long since become a sight unseen. Not that this is exactly a novel insight. Edmund Burke (1729-1797) says it rather well:
“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites... Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Given that forty years of comprehensive education and welfarism have left a significant percentage of our urban population somewhat less civilized than a pigtailed macaque, perhaps the time has come once again to draw a leaf from Mother Nature’s recipé book and apply it to our high-rise Sodoms. One could of course try to winkle our current policemen out of their squad cars and diversity training seminars and back onto the streets they are paid to patrol, but they would doubtless consider that infra dig, and anyway who would then compile the quarterly hate speech statistics, replace the film in all the speed cameras, and shoot passing Brazilians?

No, if other primates can do such an effortless and effective job of policing their own societies, let’s outsource our own policing to them. Let chimps twist the heads off of shoplifters and gorillas throw muggers into the paddy wagon one limb at a time. As an added bonus, they can hardly be accused of racism, and so can strangle gangstas with their own chains and ram a certain cleric’s hooks up his arse with unimpeachable impartiality.

The sight of an adult male silverback tying some lippy chav into a pretzel will I am sure remind all other nearby undesireables of pressing business elsewhere, and the streets will once again become safe for women, children and the elderly, as they were back in that unimaginably distant past when the human police actually did their damned jobs.

Come on, boys – let’s go to work…

Did somebody say “Pig”?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Displacement activity

Much excitement among the plus-sized locals of my little corner of the world this past weekend, as Superbowl XL is played in Detroit. This is apparently the best thing to happen to Detroit since the French left in 1763. Looking around at the blasted post-industrial moonscape of Detroit, I suspect that the French got the better of the deal, although perversely they went on to recreate it down to the smallest detail in Clichy–sous-Bois, including the chippy, “multicultural” population.

The XL in Superbowl XL means 40, not extra large, tho’ the association was hard to avoid whenever the cameras panned across the tightly packed, lard-arsed crowd. Mexican Waves soon took on tsunami-like dynamics all their own, pitching many of their participants onto the field, where they lay gasping and floundering like a key scene in evolution washed up on a pre-historic beach.

The Superbowl is one of those secular traditions that unites all Americans, regardless of ethnicity and background, in the pursuit of beer, pizza, hot dogs, chips and dips at Superbowl parties in homes all across the land. Where a Brit would go out and drink, an American stays home and eats. And eats.

One cannot avoid noticing the peculiar prudishness of American society regarding drink and sex. Such is the widespread disapproval of alcohol that I soon learnt not to invite my colleagues or neighbours for a pint. To any American not of Irish extraction, drinking in a pub is but a short step from the most abject displays of feckless Irish Catholic alcoholism. Wives fumed, curtains twitched, and chastened husbands stopped returning my calls. Fortunately I have since made contact with the local Gaelic underground, who know what the pub is really all about – ie, abject displays of feckless Irish Catholic alcoholism. But at least they’re relaxed about it.

Whatever. The point is that most Americans would not dream of getting drunk anywhere but in their own homes, but think nothing of publicly gorging on the kind of junk food that would sicken a hyena if the quantity didn’t choke him first. Surely there is sublimation of some sort at work here.

Of a piece with this perversely misplaced puritanism was the Superbowl Half-Time show, featuring the Rolling Stones. Grandpa Mick is 62, Keith Richards, 62, Ronnie Wood, 58, and Charlie Watts, 64. These men are literally pensioners, and songs they sang were older than some of the players on the field. Yet the network actually censored them, turning down the volume on Mick’s microphone at crucial moments to save tender American ears from the words “cock” in Start Me Up and “come” in Rough Justice.

The third song, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, somehow escaped unscathed, as the moralists’ penchant for the red pen was undone by their hopeless naiveté. Was there a slightly broader grin – perhaps a glint in the eye – as Sir Mick belted out the last verse?

When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
’cause you see I’m on a losing streak.

Do they really not know what “losing streak” refers to here? How sweet…

Update! Bears appear once more doing what they do best in this Superbowl advertisement. Coke-addled marketing execs save up Superbowl ads all year for their humour, and they’re the highlight of the entire pointless exercise so far as I’m concerned. You can see the rest here. FedEx and the Magic Fridge were ok, too.

Some Steelers fans celebrate their team’s victory in Superbowl XL. A chorus of “Who ate all the pies?” is probably redundant.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Don't you want a little gorilla you can call your own?

Reflecting upon the role of cartoonism in so many avoidable deaths, I am drawn almost against my will to the sad case of Magilla Gorilla, an early victim of Hanna Barbera’s barbarous trade.

We've got a gorilla for sale
Magilla Gorilla for sale.
Won't you buy him,
Take him home and try him,
Gorilla for sale.

Don't you want a little gorilla you can call your own,
A gorilla who'll be with ya when you're all alone?

Take our advice,
At any price,
A gorilla like Magilla is mighty nice.
Gorilla, Magilla Gorilla for sale.

Week after week we watch Mr Peebles’ increasingly desperate and insensitive attempts to get shot of him. Discount after discount whittles away at his self-esteem, and time after time the sale that offers escape ends in a humiliating return to the shop window. How can one doubt that this is a deeply traumatised individual, ripe for an eventual explosion of irrepressible rage given frightening force by his sheer size and strength? And yet Mr Peebles continues to hawk this unhappy ape to any passing child for a nickel.

Naturally it would be perverse to blame Magilla for his sad situation or resultant state of mind, but one can’t help but fear that it will all end in tears…

All the signs were there, but we just didn’t want to see them.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Church Militant

Every now and then, among the endless stream of stupidity and low-grade evil that comprise the average day’s stories, one sees the bright golden glimmer that denotes a nugget of pure good news – a little item that restores one’s faith, however briefly, that God is in his Heaven, and all right with the world.

And so it is that today we thank the Lord for the existence of Bill Stuart-White, and appropriately enough, for he is a genuine vicar and so predisposed to that sort of thing.

It seems that three alcopopped hoodies wandered into Evensong and made off with a parishioner’s handbag, only to find the Vicar in hot pursuit, his robes streaming behind him tanquam vexilla regis prodeunt inferni. After a brief chase, the bag was recovered and the hapless chavs delivered into the hands of the local constabulary.

It is always a mistake on the part of the criminal classes to presume too much on the forgiving nature of Christians. Even Anglicans have a respectable tradition of tough love that still occasionally surfaces, as in the case of the Rev Stuart-White. I am put in mind of an acquaintance at university twenty years ago – a wispy little man in the Christian Socialist tradition who, being goaded beyond endurance by the blasphemies of a grinning Trotskyite, suddenly gave the cheeky commie a decent uppercut. Backpedalling desperately, the startled Trot attempted to make light of the matter by offering to “turn the other cheek” – whereupon with the immortal words “Sod you, I’m C of E”, my friend followed up with a righteous haymaker, dislodging both a trendy Guevarista beret and several expensive items of dental hardware.

I had not thought to see his like again.

The Rev W Stuart-White yesterday. You’re fuckin’ *nicked* my son…

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pen meets sword

If any further proof were needed of the evils of the worldwide cartoonism, the current furore over a Danish newspaper’s dirty dozen depictions of Mohammed should convince even the most sceptical of observers. Are the images crude? Perhaps. Insensitive? Maybe. Funny? Alas, no.

WARNING - those of a culturally sensitive disposition should not click on this link in case their heads explode.

“How would you feel if someone drew Jesus with an erect penis?” wails one anguished commentator, too distraught even to butcher his helpless hostages in time-honoured and culturally sensitive fashion. Well, actually, Jesus has had to put up with a lot worse than that over the last two thousand years. For a start, he was played by Robert Powell in “Jesus of Nazareth”. If that wasn’t enough to earn us all a smiting I imagine nothing is. But more to the point, we believers didn’t go around torching cinemas either. OK, we firebombed “Gigli”, but everyone did that, including Ben Affleck’s mum.

Ahmed Qureia, lame duck Palestinian PM, sets the tone: “We hope that the concerned governments are attentive to the sensitivity of this issue. We warn that emotions may flare in this very sensitive issue.” Warn? Emotions may flare? I’ve spent enough time on psychiatric wards to recognize that tone. That’s what all the really sick ones say after they’ve let rip – “look what you made me do!”

Too many Muslims seem determined to confirm everyone’s worst prejudices. It reminds me of my father’s favourite joke – as an Irishman (and a drinker) himself it was one he loved to tell when he had a pint in his hand. Michael sees his friend Paddy walking disconsolately down the street a full half an hour before closing time. “What’s up, Paddy? Why are you out so early?” “They wouldn’t serve me, Michael! They said that us Micks always end up causing trouble.” “Sure that’s terrible, Paddy. So what did you do then?” Paddy hangs his head a little lower. “Aaah, I wrecked the place, o’ course…”

Sadly there were never any Muslims in the pub to hear it.

Plantu of Le Monde puts his paper firmly back on the itinerary of all truly discriminating headhackers.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Smarter than the average Barbera

More on the willful blindness of certain “experts” as to the true nature of their chosen subjects, as our good friend Desargues draws our attention to another example of the same kind of romantic nonsense.

Timothy Treadwell was a “bear expert” in the habit of living for months at a time among wild bears of Alaska, giving them names and sneaking up close enough to touch them. Alas, it appears that the bears did not reciprocate his feelings: at some point during his final visit they dispassionately decided that he and his girlfriend were easier to catch than yet another bloody salmon, and promptly ate them both. Rangers stumbling upon the grisly scene were forced to shoot the bears to recover the remains.

One deduces from this tale of woe that the North American varieties of bear are made of sterner stuff than their child-rearing Indian and European kin. A search unearths four other examples of fatal bear attacks in the same general area, without even starting on horror stories such as the baby eaten right out of its stroller in upstate New York.

Like M. Cousteau, Mr Treadwell preferred to characterise his unpredictable friends as misunderstood – “harmless party animals”, even. One may now suppose that he has modified his views somewhat, although sadly too late for himself and especially the luckless female who trusted in his expertise. In their memories therefore we hereby dub North America’s bear community “the sharks of the forest”.

So how does one go about confusing a five hundred pound carnivore with a soft toy? Wise old birds have long warned us that
“it’s always tempting to impute
unlikely virtues to the cute”

The otherwise inexplicable popularity of the Kennedy family is grim testimony to this deplorable human frailty. But the cuteness excuse just doesn’t wash with me this time. Bears are big, they’re covered in filthy fur and ticks, and they reek. A teamster’s mother might find that combination appealing, but don’t tell me anyone else is rushing to hug them. Something else is at work here, and inevitably the finger of suspicion swings unerringly towards the real culprits - Hanna Barbera.

Stay with me here.

Yes, it was those unscrupulous manipulators at Hanna-Barbera who lured luckless losers like Mr Treadwell into the hills, with the reckless and deceptive nonsense of Yogi Bear. Yogi and Boo Boo were not much prettier than the real thing, but they were harmless. They were in fact simple and easily biddable creatures who would do practically anything for a “pickernic basket”, which is how Ranger Smith persuaded them to pose for that tawdry and ill-advised Spartacus centrefold with the Banana Splits and got the whole show cancelled.

Sadly, children’s cartoons are a notoriously unreliable source of zoological minutae. For example, one can watch any number of episodes of Magilla Gorilla without once learning that gorillas build nests and show a high degree of fecal disinterest. Or that they can, if sufficiently provoked, rip off your arm and beat you to death with the wet end.

And so it is with the bears. We were conned, plain and simple, by shameless pro-bear propaganda, and two more victims have paid the ultimate price. Surely Hanna Barbera know the human cost of their products by now, yet apology comes there none.

How many more must die? How many more tourists shredded while proffering a picnic basket? How many more children pounded to a pulp by a deeply disturbed discount gorilla from the pet shop? How many more blameless citizens shot by incompetent law enforcement horses?

Hanna-Barbera – j’accuse…

Yogi and Boo Boo, yesterday. Foiled by those fiddly little clips on the child seat, they skip the hors d'oeuvre and go straight to the entrée…

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Radio activity

Le Monde reports with a certain amount of schadenfreude that President Chirac has once again fallen victim to a telephone hoax – in this case two infantile disc jockeys from Montreal impersonating the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister.

Of course, M Chirac has not been well for some time, but the ensuing conversation suggests that the poor man’s medication could do with being dialled back a little. He trundled serenely through the standard pleasantries on such occasions, apparently oblivious to the suppressed giggling and repeated use of the “Fart” button at the other end of the line. “Je voulais vous présenter mes bien cordiales félicitations pour votre succès aux élections. Nous avons d'excellentes relations et je suis sûr qu'elles vont se poursuivre dans le meilleur esprit” confided the doped up President to the pathetic pranksters, who were by now leaning non-stop on the “Flush” sound effect in desperate search of a reaction. When the suggestion of a notoriously air-headed chanteuse as Canada’s new ambassador to France met with indifference, the sniggering slowly died away to be replaced by a vague sense of embarrassment.

Chirac is fast becoming the hoaxers’ delight for his increasingly tenuous grasp on his surroundings. The only recent case where he spotted a fake call unassisted was when someone pretending to be Tony Blair called him to discuss the Common Agricultural Policy, but foolishly forgot to offer him the usual no-strings-attached blowjob and huge sack of British taxpayers’ money. Unlike Tony, there are still some limits to Jacques’ gullibility…

Those wacky DJ japesters, yesterday. They live with their mothers, you know. Who’d’ve guessed?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Timeo danaos et dona ferentes

Jacques Cousteau’s grandson, Fabien, is following in his illustrious forebear’s flippers by building a shark-shaped submarine. By means of this ingenious device he will get closer to his toothy subjects than ever before, without altering their natural behaviour in such circumstances: ie, to immediately rip him limb from limb and swallow the still twitching chunks whole.

We await with interest the first time he uses the thing during mating season, whereupon death might suddenly lose its sting.

His interviewers are too polite to ask whether he has tested his shark sub on unsuspecting swimmers. This would present an almost irresistable temptation for any normal human, but marine scientists are obviously made of sterner and more disciplined stuff. Also M. Cousteau is French, and so a bit lacking re sense of humour.

Instead he is wholly devoted to far worthier aims. Through close and dispassionate study, he hopes to dispel the popular image of Great Whites as “bloodthirsty serial killers”. “Fewer than 12 people a year are killed by whites. We shouldn't demonise them so much” he opines. Will he then discard his submarine subterfuge to frolic openly with these gentle denizens of the deep? No.

The dozen people killed and eaten by Great Whites in the last twelve months were not available for comment.

Young Cousteau and his remarkable disguise yesterday. Proof if it were needed that the only way to avoid ending up inside a shark is to already be in one.