Owing to the need to muck out the Dodo Towers smoking room, throw away the last ashtray and extract the last few pints of tar from the smokers' lungs to patch that nasty hole in the Dodo Towers roof before the arrival of the smoking ban in England, we shall be taking a short break for the next couple of days.
Until our return on Monday (2nd July), those of you wishing to see our obituary for the late Prime Minister's career are advised to click here, while anyone looking for coverage of the smoking ban is directed towards this link.
Again, we would remind readers that anyone wishing to attend The Blogpower Awards Ceremony, which will be held in Second Life on 1st July 2007 at 2pm London time, 9am New York time can do so simply by clicking here or on the link at the left-hand side of the page.
Finally, let us leave those of you still craving coverage of Mr Blair's departure and clues to his future conduct with the following moving tribute, provided by those at Bloggerheads Villas.
27 June 2007
Owing to the need to muck out the Dodo Towers smoking room, throw away the last ashtray and extract the last few pints of tar from the smokers' lungs to patch that nasty hole in the Dodo Towers roof before the arrival of the smoking ban in England, we shall be taking a short break for the next couple of days.
It is with great sadness (and not a little alarm), that As A Dodo must today report what is understood to be the imminent passing of the Middle East - that part of the world that saw the creation of civilisation, the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and (partly as a consequence of those three births) the fomentation of several thousand years of conflict and destruction - following news that a Mr Tony Blair, former resident of Downing Street and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is to be appointed as Special Envoy to the region.
The Middle East was born in about 3,000BC when peoples in and around Egypt, Gaza and Mesopotamia became tired of the boring aspects of a life of itinerant goat-and-camel-herding (the boring bits being just about everything to do with goat-and-camel herding, especially all the getting spat at and butted by those they were responsible for (1)) and decided to build themselves a more settled and less goat-and-camel-intensive existence by setting up mighty city states.
Now free from the constant butting and spitting that had so distracted them in their past lives, the people of those city states were able to go about the business of creating the foundations of civilisation, such as reading, writing, mathematics, politics and having really good wars. This last was particularly aided by the habit of those in the region of coming up with new and mutually incompatible religions.
The millennia would see the rise and fall of many civilisations and empires in the region: the Sumerians, Babylonians, Ancient Egyptians and Assyrians were all to find themselves on top at one point and wiped away the next. Soon the Romans were getting in on the act, incidentally deciding to sow the seeds of future conflict by destroying the Jewish temple and abolishing the land of Israel. The (initially) pagan Romans themselves were later replaced as regional rulers by the Christian Byzantines. By the 7th Century AD they were to find themselves having to share space with the newly arrived Muslims. With Jews, Muslims and Christians all reluctantly sharing the same land and all convinced that the region of Palestine was really, really sacred to them, the conditions for a really good scrap were now set.
Over the next several hundred years, the peoples of the region - along with various Crusaders, Turks, Mongols, Ottomans, Germans, Italians, French, British and Americans - would do their best to ensure that the fighting never ceased. Yet somehow the region managed to survive ... until today. For today it became clear that the powers of Europe, Russia, America and the UN had chosen to give responsibility for assisting peace negotiations in the Middle East to none other than Tony Blair, a man whose policies on the region have proved so unpopular with his own people that he has been forced into a premature resignation.
Mr Blair impressed reporters with his immediate pledge to "do whatever is necessary" to find an "enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue" ... provided always that "whatever is necessary" didn't mean disagreeing with President Bush. He is expected to set off for the region - guitar in hand, crucifix in pocket and cilice round thigh - as soon as possible to re-start peace negotiations, a process it is understood that he plans to assist by lightening the current awkward atmosphere by persuading his good pal Sir Cliff Richard to sing a couple of choruses of The Millennium Prayer to the assembled representatives of Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Hamas and Fatah before calling - like President Bush before him - for all those present to show a little Christian charity to each other ... and then suggesting the whole Middle East problem could be resolved by bombing Iran.
The Middle East will be buried under large piles of rubble and a weatherbeaten "road map for peace" at St Tony's Church of the Legacy. It will be survived by increased oil prices, nuclear proliferation, numerous terrorist groups and 15 iPods the captured British sailors left behind in Iran.
(1) Interestingly, these same things are today the most boring bits about being a Premiership referee.
PS As A Dodo readers wishing to revel in contemplate the Prime Minister's departure may wish to click on our obituary for Tony Blair's Premiership.
26 June 2007
Our readers have doubtless followed our journey (and indeed the journey of other blogs almost, though not quite, as deserving as our own) through The Blogpower Awards with bated breath and will surely want to congratulate themselves, their fellow voters, the judges, the organisers and everyone else we bribed and/or threatened on their role in our thoroughly deserved victory.
We are happy to say that - thanks to the efforts of Tom Paine, just such an opportunity can be afforded to one and all at The Blogpower Awards Ceremony, which will be held in Second Life on 1st July 2007 at 2pm London time, 9am New York time. Just click here or on the link at the left-hand side of the page to go along.
Finally, we regret to inform our readers that - at present - it seems unlikely that any representatives of As A Dodo will be able to attend the ceremony. Devastating though this news will be, we nonetheless urge our readers to head along for a truly out-of-this-(real)-world experience.
25 June 2007
The Labour Deputy Leadership Contest has expired in a veritable volcano of excitement and Hollywood-style pizzazz with the news that Harriet Harman (you know ... that one ... who did ... that thing ... or maybe I've mixed her up with someone else) has been chosen to succeed John Prescott as Deputy Leader of the party, a role - alongside the Deputy Prime Ministership - in which Mr Prescott made such an unforgettable contribution to British life, or at least to the lives of tabloid editors in need of a front page filler.
Though it felt to many political journalists and most of the long-suffering electorate that The Contest began several years past, in fact the campaign to find a new Deputy Leader commenced only a little over six weeks ago as, following Tony Blair's announcement made at the point of Gordon Brown's gun of his departure from office, Mr Blair's court jester loyal deputy, John Prescott announced his own decision to end his long fight against the English language and egg-throwing farmers poverty and injustice and park his two Jags stand down.
In the absence of a democratic election to find a successor to the Prime Minister, The Labour Deputy Leadership Contest became the most talked-about media event since Big Brother – although sadly the nation was not given the option to express its preference by text or evict any of the candidates.
The six candidates, Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful and Dopey Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, John Cruddas, Peter Hain, Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson, took their positions at the starting line for this political Wacky Race, and were off…! For the next six weeks the six candidates jockeyed for position as they fought for the votes in the great political arenas of our nation – MySpace, Facebook and The Daily Mail. By the time on Sunday afternoon the candidates entered the final stretch at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall the entire nation was on the edge of its seat – desperately waiting for the EastEnders omnibus to start.
The three-way electoral college with preferential voting – allowing Labour MPs, party members and trade unions to express their preference in a nail-biting finish of sufficient mathematical complexity to require the services of the whole of the Massachussets Institute of Technology and Carol Vorderman – saw candidates drop out of The Contest quicker than British tennis players at Wimbledon. The first to depart was Hazel Blears, who was excluded from the second round after both failing to meet the minimum height restriction and it being discovered that she was in fact being remotely controlled by a Mr T Blair of Downing Street. She was swiftly followed by Peter Hain, whose orange skin and tragic attempts to dance to the left, then right and back again had led many Labour members to assume he had mistaken the Deputy Leadership contest for an even-less-edifying-than-usual episode of Britain's Got Talent. Next to fall was Hilary Benn, who failed to pass muster when the electorate realised that yes they did rather like him, but not that much, leaving Mr Benn to return to his home in Festive Road and look froward to new adventures in the Fancy Dress Shop with the mysterious shopkeeper. Soon to follow was John Cruddas, who had made the grave - some might say unforgivable - error of standing for the Deputy Leadership as a Socialist.
Only Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman, were left. With a last-minute surge of re-allocated preferential votes and the vague memory of her having said something about the war in Iraq being poorly managed, Harman surged past the former postie (who had stopped to join some old workmates in a game of keepy-uppy with a parcel marked "FRAGILE") to an overwhelming less-than-1% victory. The country went wild – celebrating long into the night a British victory at last – and Labour’s Deputy Leadership Contest was no more.
The Labour Deputy Leadership Contest was buried at St Indifferent’s Church of the Couldn't Care Less. A moving eulogy was delivered by Harriet Harman who described Mr Prescott as a "very difficult act to follow", perhaps chiefly due to the fact she wouldn't be shagging her secretary, didn’t punch people very often and could string together three words without the first two trying to overtake the last one on the final bend.
22 June 2007
Bank of England naturalists have today announced the passing of the last known £5 Note on Britain's streets, leading experts to claim that £5 Notes have died out in the wild.
Bank of England £5 Notes or "Fivers" was born in 1793 during the Napoleonic Wars, at a time when British armed forces were becoming the laughing stock of the French for their pantaloons' habit of falling down due to the heavy weight of gold coinage in their pockets(1). Initially, Fivers found it difficult to find their ecological niche as small currency, possibly due to the fact that they were some 8½ by 5½ inches in size, though this did mean a relatively small company of men could fashion their wages into a handy get-away glider in an emergency.
Despite their size, for more than 160 years Fivers remained unchanged, much to the delight of leather manufacturers, who could sell two cows' worth of hide to make a single wallet, and the disgust of thieves and robbers who faced the risk of suffering a hernia if they tried to steal much more than fifty quid.
In the 1950s, Fivers - at last realising, like so many of Bernie Ecclestone's girlfriends that small can be beautiful(2) - reduced their size and came to sit beside smaller-denominations such as One Pound and Ten Shilling Notes in purses, wallets and back pockets across Britain. Together they spread throughout the financial system, enabling people in the street to perform the everyday task of buying and selling things without needing to carry the coinage content of a Las Vegas casino's worth of slot machines around with them.
Happy in their lot and unaware of the economic pressures around them, Fivers went gaily about the business of small business. Times, however, were changing. Though the Fivers - unlike the Shilling, Ten-Bob Note, Crown and Guinea - survived the changes to the economic ecology brought on by decimalisation, successive devaluations and rampant inflation placed ever greater pressure on the smaller notes. Pound Notes and Fivers found themselves bundled into ever more pockets and passed ever more swiftly from hand-to-hand. By the 1980s the One Pound Note had breathed its last, replaced by the brash and chunky new Pound Coin.
Despite all their efforts and a strong captive breeding programme at The Bank of England, Fivers' time was soon to be cut short. For while there were hundreds of millions of Fivers waiting to go out into the streets of Britain, the High Street Banks charged with delivering them into the hands of the public and thus enabling the small economy to function properly, found themselves unable to perform the task of stocking their hole-in-the-wall ATM machines with the little notes. This was due partly to the banks being distracted by such things as (a) constantly surveying interest rates so that they could bung up mortgage and loan costs while failing to increase their savings rates, (b) keeping a weather-eye open for the slightest opportunity to sting their valued customers a tenner for going a single penny into overdraft and (c) flogging mortgages to people who would never, ever be able to repay them. Mainly, though it was down to the fact that the banks couldn't be arsed to fork out the cash to get someone to load the ATM machines twice a day instead of once.
So it was that fewer and fewer Fivers were seen in circulation. Those few that survived were poor specimens indeed, inevitably grubby, torn and battered, frequently the survivors of accidental journeys through the boil wash or intentional journeys up a minor celebrity's nose, often held together by little more than sellotape and hope, their metal security threads dangling limply from their sides.
The last Fiver is believed to have passed away yesterday, when repeated attempts to get it accepted by a London Underground ticket machine resulted in the note being torn into shreds and a nearby member of LU staff receiving ten minutes of sustained abuse for something that really wasn't his fault.
The Last Fiver will be buried at The Church of Our Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. The minister will bury The Fiver in the back of a cash register before handing the congregation a pint, at which point the congregation will respond "A Fiver?! For a pint!? I'm not drinking in Central London again - I'll tell you that for nothing".
(1) The habit of British forces getting caught with their pants down was recently honoured in the moving ceremony whereby 15 members of the Royal Navy were captured by Iraqi forces and ceremonially stripped of their iPods.
(2) Admittedly, this is most often true if small also happens to be a multi-millionaire.
20 June 2007
The UK Prison System has today slopped out for the last time following the news that 25,000 prisoners serving up to four years have received a Get Out of Jail Free (well, 18 days early) card from Justice Secretary, Lord Falconer, in a desperate move to provide 1,500 cells for more serious and dangerous criminals (none of whom, sadly, are believed to be members of the Government).
Before 1166 jails had existed in an ad hoc and unregulated fashion, the prison population kept low by the simple method of sending offenders to the gallows, chopping block or Iron Maiden (or, even worse, Metallica) for such serious crimes as being a peasant in a built-up area or looking at the King’s deer in a suspicious manner. When woolly liberal Henry II acceded to the throne, however, he ordered jails built in every county to hold those awaiting trial or convicted of non-capital offences such as whistling in the fields or smiling in church, and The UK Prison System born.
Thanks to the constant intervention and reforms of bleeding heart liberals the prison population grew steadily so that, by the 18th century, Captain Cook was dispatched to find an island big enough and far enough away to cope with the increasing number of uppity agricultural workers daring to withhold their labour for a fair day’s pay. On his discovery of Australia, Britain's lawmakers boasted that they had at last discovered a land where the country's ne'er-do-wells could inflict no more harm upon the British people, a boast in which they sadly failed to anticipate the subsequent creation of Neighbours.
Though social reformers in the 19th century campaigned for a penal system which reformed rather than punished, many inmates were still being sent to prison ships or filthy and overcrowded jails where they were not only deprived of their liberty but also expected to pay for the privilege – a system which would be condemned by later, reforming Home Secretaries ... and hailed as "the good old days" by their successors Michael Howard, David Blunkett and John Reid.
Indeed it was thanks to the enlightened policies of ministers such as these last three (and the fat one with the big ears… what was his name…?) that by the beginning of the 21st century Britain’s streets were safe once more - just about anyone who might consider walking down them having been locked up. As the Labour government presided over a 33% increase in the prison population, due in part to the government's desire to detain people without trial for looking at Tony Blair in a suspicious manner – The UK Prison System began to complain increasingly of ill-health and a constant feeling of being over-full and constipated. With The System bunged up, prisoners increasingly found themselves held in court cells, police cells, holiday chalets and B & Bs – in fact anywhere where a small, confined room costs an arm and a leg and a knife-fight might break out over breakfast or someone taking too long in the shower.
With The UK Prison System claiming to be completely full and unable to take another prisoner - even a wafer thin one - it was soon clear to everyone that it could not continue much longer. Even Gordon Brown's pledge of an extra 8,000 prison places by 2012 was to prove too little too late, when it was pointed out that number would be barely be enough to cover those expected to be convicted of illegally supplying steroids for the 2012 Olympics. Overstuffed and underfunded, The UK Prison System burst open and vomited forth thousands of prisoners onto the streets.
The UK Prison System will be buried at sea in a Prison Hulk. It is survived by a penal system that believes the best way to stop people committing crime is to lock them up with hardened criminals for 22-hours-a-day in tiny rooms with an amazingly good supply of hard drugs and by detention without trial, new stop and search powers, talking CCTV cameras, John Reid, Lord Falconer, Cash-for-Honours, BAE corruption allegations and Tony Blair.
18 June 2007
Political commentators are today snorting into their third bottle of that rather decent red and ordering up a couple of decent brandies to wash it down in memory of David Cameron's oft-proclaimed status as "the heir to Blair", which has passed away this weekend after being crucified in the press and by the Conservative party faithful.
Until 2005, few suspected Mr Cameron's true nature. To all intents and purposes he seemed merely to be a simple direct descendant of William IV and his mistress, happy to toil his way through Eton and Oxford (via the odd bit of genteel thuggery at The Bullingdon Club). Whereas in previous generations the landed classes were given to sending their less obviously distinguished scions into the Church of England, changing times forced the young David instead into the Conservative Party, where he was later to distinguish himself by acting as special adviser to Chancellor Norman Lamont during the Black Wednesday fiasco. From here, his journey towards a safe seat as a Tory MP was assured. Yet still there seemed nothing particularly special about the man who would eventually be hailed as the Tories' new Messiah.
It was in the Garden of Gethsemane of Winter in Blackpool at the Conservative Party Conference of 2005 that Mr Cameron's closest political friend and honorary life-president of the Eton Tuck Shop Debating Society, George Osborne, first proclaimed his ally's rebirth as "the heir to Blair". Given that Mr Cameron was at this time a rank-outsider to succeed Michael "I don't drink ... wine" Howard as Conservative leader and Mr Blair was marginally less popular with the public than a severe genito-urinary infection or a Davina McCall chatshow, Mr Osborne's announcement seemed both ill-timed and ill-advised. Nonetheless, the signs of Mr Cameron's new incarnation should have been clear for years: he was, after all - and just like Mr Blair - a glibly charming public schoolboy with - again, like Mr Blair - all the deeply-held political conviction of a stick of bubble-gum; he had - just like Mr Blair before his journey to the leadership - wholly endorsed a general election manifesto pandering shamelessly to his party's more extremist members without believing a word of it; he did - like Mr Blair - see presentation as superior to policy; he was - like Mr Blair - eager for power.
Mr Cameron's new status was confirmed within days of Mr Osborne's proclamation, as he manifested on TV and radio, eager to deny his Messiah-hood thrice before John Humphrey's crowed, whilst equally eager to fill the airwaves with vacuous, policy-free statements about hope, opportunity and how nice it is when things are nice. Soon he was performing miracles, casting out the monomaniacal obsession of his party with Europe, resurrecting the Conservatives' position in the polls and appearing to the faithful in visions(1).
Yet this was not enough to satisfy the Pharisees and Sadducees among the Tories. When he sought to cast the Grammar Schools out of the Conservative Temple he was turned on by those he had thought his disciples and dragged before the court of the righteous to be examined before the high priests of the Conservative press, who demanded that "the heir to Blair" be put to death.
David Cameron "Heir to Blair" will be formally buried in a speech to the party faithful. Mr Cameron himself is expected to be resurrected in a few days as "The Niece to Heath", unable to stick with any policy and unsure of exactly who should be governing Britain. The Heir to Blair is survived by a smile flitting over the face of Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and by Gordon Brown.
(1) well, on webcameron.
15 June 2007
The As A Dodo Team must confess that it has had more than a little difficulty in obtaining the following tribute to the controversial former Austrian President and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. Having had considerable trouble in tracking down Mr Waldheim's former associate, Don Diego Alfonso von Martin Bormann, in his delightful landhaus in Argentina, we felt it best to publish his responses - such as they were - to our questions, verbatim.
"von Martin Bormann ... ach ... ¿Bueno?"
"Si, senor, yes I speak English a little. Is it safe?"
"Oh I am sorry, I must have confused you with someone else. I am a simple Argentine dentist."
"Waldheim? ... Waldheim? ... no it does not ring a bell."
"Now, when you say you are not from the police ... can you prove that?"
"And the diamonds will be passed to me via New York? ... Very well, the interview may proceed."
"Oh yes, I knew Kurt very well. We were just two little Austrian kids together before the war, you know. We would play games together. Kurt always loved Pelmanism ... you know, the 'Pairs' game mitt cards? Kurt was superb ... we once went three days without matching a single pair. Such bad memories we had! I swear we would have forgotten our own names .... particularly if they appeared on any party papers."
"No, no, it was a terrible time the glorious liberation of ... I mean, the invasion of Austria ... by Hitler and his Nazis. Terrible. All those crowds of joyous people welcoming their new leader, all those bands, all those spiffy uniforms and marching. Absolutely terrible."
"Yes, it was so terrible that me and Kurt immediately joined the Nazi party and signed up for the Sturmabteilung. I always thought the brown shirt suited Kurt very well."
"The Wehrmacht? Well, we was drafted in, you know. Served on the Eastern Front. Of course, we was both given medical discharges in 41."
"Oh ... you have got the papers there have you? Well, it was a long time ago, you know ... the memory it plays tricks."
"Well, maybe we weren't disharged."
"Yes, it is possible we did serve a little time mitt General Löhr. Honestly, we thought he was called the Butcher of the Balkans because he did a great Wiener schnitzel. I tell you, he may have been a war criminal but the things that man could do with a bit of veal."
"Jews? There were Jews killed in the war?! No! I had no idea. I'm sure Kurt had no idea."
"So? ... We lived next door to a Konzentrationslager, did we? ... We thought it was just a simple holiday camp ..."
"We signed papers did we? No ... I can't remember that ... 'They ordered the deportation of Jews, execution of British commandos and bloody suppression of the partisans'. You see I'm sure I'd remember something like that ... or my name's not ... er ... whatever my name is."
"No, no ... these things are best forgotten, you see. Kurt knew that. I know that. I mean ... if we'd remembered them, he would never have become UN Secretary General and President of Austria, would he? And I wouldn't be a simple Argentine dentist with no fear of being extradited."
"Ja ... si ... I'm afraid I must end it there. I have a tooth extraction I must be doing. I must remember to forget the anaesthetic."
"Wiederhören ... ach ... Platicamos."
Kurt Waldheim will be buried at St Adolf's Church of the Blessedly Short Memory. The celebrant will be an innocent South American dentist in an SA uniform. The hymn will be number 666, The Horst-Wessel-Lied.
As our readers will be aware, the members of the As A Dodo team are always keen to hide their collective light, however brilliant it may be, under a bushel(1). Nonetheless, our pride and delight at being named The Best Blogpower Blog or Column in the Blogpower Awards are so overwhelming that we feel it incumbent on us to proclaim our victory from the very rooftops ... or at least from the pages of this blog.
May we convey our thanks to all those who voted for us, to all our supporters (including the noble, if obviously disturbed, soul at Guardian Unlimited commentisfree who keeps selecting us as one of their 'Picks of the Web') and to those behind the awards themselves. We also wish to congratulate our fellow finalists and winners, most of whom deserved their positions far more than did we.
Lastly we must convey the thinks of the extremely cute puppy and even cuter kitten we purchased for the purpose of extracting your votes. We are happy to say that the threat of being shot no longer hangs over them .... though given what they've done to the As A Dodo Towers carpet we say nothing about the possibility of them being introduced to a sack, some bricks and a river, in that order.
(1) though we admit that we have in the past felt it necessary to point out in some detail the location of said leafy hiding place.
13 June 2007
Political Reporting, that hard-won freedom of the Fourth Estate to
expose the lying, warmongering, scandalous, corrupt bastards who lord it over us analyse and comment on parliamentary machinations has today died of its wounds after being savaged in a speech by Tony Blair.
The birth of political reporting is a matter of some dispute between biographers. Some suggest it was born just after the Battle of Hastings, though this claim has not been taken seriously, largely because the alleged political report - the Bayeux Tapestry - only ever had one copy published and that copy was far too big to be carried on the paperboy’s bicycle(1) or to fit through readers' letterboxes(2).
Such matters, along with similar reasons for disputing the claims of Babylonian carvings, Ancient Egyptian obelisks and even Roman wax tablets as evidencing the birth of political reporting, led most experts to conclude that it was the 17th century that saw the birth of Political Reporting as pamphlets and news periodicals began to print balanced and incisive coverage of such stories as the Gunpowder Plot, which generated a plethora of fascinating headlines including “Fawkes offed!” (Ye Sunne), “For Fawkes' Sake!” (Ye Mirrore) and “House Prices Rise Again” (Ye Daily Expresse)
It was not many decades before such pamphlets had grown into regular newspapers. By 1788 The Times was founded, enabling its readers - mere months later - to bemoan the terrible decline in its standards and hark back to how the paper used to be.
It was with the rapid extension of political suffrage during the Victorian era, however, that political reporting reached its height. The public clamoured for more and more news of the day’s events in Westminster and abroad and new and exciting newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and Eth Monchaster Grauniad sprang up quicker than a five-year-old ascending the interior of a chimney.
This golden age could not last for ever. The inter-war years saw the first signs of a decline in the health of Political Reporting as newspapers began to abandon straight reporting in favour of influencing political events. Leading the charge was The Daily Mail, which first sought to bring down the country's first Labour government in 1924 by the publication of the Zinoviev letter, then sought to bring down democracy itself by supporting Oswald Mosley, Mussolini and Hitler - leading the Government to threaten it with closure ... and insist that the paper's owner Lord Rothermere drop the word “Nazi” from the Mail's “Ideal Nazi Home Exhibition”.
The trend was to worsen down the years. When Australian newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch took over The Sun in 1969, Political Reporting took a turn for the worse as politicians began to court the Australian editor in his top secret headquarters deep beneath Earls Court, where he was often to be found, surrounded by a bevy of topless beauties, sitting in a swivel chair, stroking his wombat. The influence of Mr Murdoch's Sun soon became legendary – and with headlines like “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster” cost Freddie Starr the 1979 general election.
Meanwhile Political Reporting had turned to the television as millions of viewers tuned in to see if Reginald Bosanquet could get through the news without falling off his chair and, later, received a much-needed fillip when young upstart Jeremy Paxman regularly upset politicians by outrageously insisting that they answer the question he’d asked them.
Despite this brief televisual flowering, by the 21st century Political Reporting had reached its nadir. TV newsreaders could only deliver the news whilst walking and talking (a practice which had failed disastrously when attempted with Reginald Bosanquet), the BBC had abandoned the practice of delivering the news whilst wearing dinner jackets in favour of John Humphrys cruising the streets of Westminster in the radio car wearing a hoodie and packing an Uzi and the newspapers themselves refused to report anything at all unless it featured a member of the Royal Family, a pop star, a footballer or an orange-skinned and bawling ex-inhabitant of the Big Brother house. Matters had reached such a parlous state that some people even began to rely upon the internet and political bloggers for accurate and incisive commentary on the political events of the day, leading many to conclude that President George Bush was in fact a chimpanzee, the Labour Party had sold England to a cabal of 12 foot high ant-men who secretly ruled the European Union and that the leading question of the day was Britney Spears's lack of sufficient funds to pay for any underwear.
Thus it was that when, in one of his final speeches as prime minister, Tony Blair raised his voice to drown out the cries of “pot, kettle” and "motes and beams" and accuse the media of hunting like a "feral beast tearing people and reputations to bits", Political Reporting was mortally wounded. Unrelenting, the Prime Minister continued his vicious attack, insisting that
his government the deteriorating coverage of political reporting had "sapped the country's confidence and self-belief; it undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions and above all else it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions in the right spirit for our future." Only having delivered himself of this verdict did Mr Blair end his assault, leaving the assembled throng to stare briefly at the corpse before rushing out to stand aimlessly on Westminster Green waiting to deliver a live piece for the 24 hour news.
Political Reporting will be buried at St Alastair Campbell's Church of the Twisted Perception, Westminster. The service will be conducted by the Reverend Reginald Bosanquet who will - it is hoped - not mistake the font for a urinal this time.
(1) which also presented another difficulty in that it had not yet been invented.
(2) which had also irritatingly failed to be invented yet.
11 June 2007
Scotland, that mighty nation located inconveniently to the north of England, which gave the world whisky, a fair legal system, an excellent education system, the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, Billy Connolly and Gordon Brown, has taken the high road for the last time, following the publication of reports by the Federation of Small Businesses and the OECD showing Scotland is the worst performing small country in Western Europe thanks to its terrible health record and appalling life expectancy.
The conception of Scotland is, like so many other conceptions, clouded in a haze (though not, unusually, of alcohol). Doubtless it had been around for many millennia, quietly getting on with whatever it was doing, before it first came to the world's notice in about 55BC when Julius Caesar's forces successfully invaded Britain (shortly before successfully leaving as quickly as they could the moment they realised what a cold, damp and dark little island it was). It was with the Emperor Claudius's decision to invade again in 44AD (thus proving himself to be the drooling idiot his critics accused him of being), that Scotland really began to make itself known - largely by its habit of sweeping down into England for a bit of looting and pillaging. By 121 AD this habit had become so irritating to the Romans that the Emperor Hadrian decided to build a wall from Northumberland to Cumbria to contain the loosely affiliated tribes to the north thus provoking one of the world's longest neighbourhood boundary disputes and inadvertently providing the spark for Scottish nationhood.
Over the following centuries relations between Scotland and its southern neighbour would prove fractious, with England constantly sidling up to Hadrian's wall and peering jealously over it to eye up Scotland's beautiful glens… and bonnie morags. Down the centuries, the two countries would frequently come to blows, each invading the other repeatedly. In 1296, England's Edward I even succeeded in stealing the sacred Stone of Scone, not only depriving the nation of the artefact on which each of its kings had been crowned but also denying the Scots the recipe for one of their most exquisite items of patisserie.
Despite such incursions, the Scots busied themselves with becoming a powerful small nation. As a sign of their pride, the people dressed themselves in the favourite accessory of the British traveller, the long tartan rug, thus signifying their deep desire to proclaim the greatness of the nation across the globe, while oppressing all the locals and never, ever returning home.
Although the Act of Union with the Auld Enemy in 1707 failed to halt Scotland’s flowering, as philosophers, scientists and artists made their country the cradle of the Enlightenment, the first signs of strain in Scotland’s health were to show when Bonnie Prince Charlie failed to wrestle control back from the English – leading directly to the Highland clearances as Scottish mountains were offered at knock-down prices to English landlords. But, for the next two centuries, though subjugated, Scotland continued to extract its revenge on the English by exporting its shortbread, Rabbie Burns and prime ministers.
By the 1970s the years of struggle had begun to weigh heavily. When North Sea oil was discovered off the coast of
Norway Scotland, it was wickedly siphoned off by the English, denying the Scots vital revenues to maintain their infrastructure and access to the premium grade oil necessary to maintain their world-renowned cuisine. Soon, unscrupulous establishments sprang up offering traditional Scottish fare deep-fried in inferior oils (and sometimes even whisky). A daring retaliatory raid at Wembley during the Home International against England, saw a squad of crack Scots reclaim some English soil (and turf and goalposts) in retaliation for the theft of their oil, but it was too little too late. The annual invasion of Edinburgh every summer by English comedians drained the country of vital resources (mostly whisky and accomodation), and a desperate attempt by the Scottish Health Board to reverse the decline in public health drastically backfired when their drama-documentary series Rab C Nesbitt failed to appal right-minded Scots.
A last gasp attempt to wrestle Scotland away from the English gave Scotland some hope in its dying moments when the SNP swept to an indecisive victory in the Scottish elections. But even the ban on smoking in enclosed public places failed to halt the decline of the nation’s health as plucky Scots huddled together in doorways for warmth (in June) as they stoically puffed their way through a packet of 20 whilst preparing to roll themselves back haim to an evening drinking lager on the sofa while tucking into a vegetable, fruit and indeed food-free 20,000 calorie meal and the prospect of a premature grave.
Scotland will be buried at the High Kirk of Irvine Welsh, the service will be conducted by the Reverend Begbie and the congregation will sing “Lager, Lager, Lager, Lager, Lager”.
08 June 2007
Further to today's obituary for Paris Hilton's Dreadful Incarceration, we now understand that the aforementioned article was a pile of utter garbage a trifle premature, having been informed by Los Angeles Court officials that, on seeing the Incarceration collapse and Ms Hilton appear to get off scot-free, the presiding judge immediately applied his knowledge of CPRR(1) and successfully resuscitated the highly-talented hotel heiress's sentence of imprisonment - producing cries of amazement from onlookers and of "It's not right!" from the heiress herself(2).
As usual we apologies profusely for this latest in our long line of obituarial cock-ups. We would promise to do better in future but for our understandable fear that none of our readers would believe us.
(1) Correct Punishment for Rich Recidivists
(2) some present insist that Ms Hilton's cry was merely an attempt to remember the proper term for "left".
Paris Hilton’s Dreadful Incarceration has died cruelly in its infancy after only three days – although her lawyers argued it was five – following the release of the world’s greatest hotel heiress and sex tape celebrity on unspecified medical grounds, rumoured to be Vacant Personality Syndrome.
The heir to a share of the Hilton Hotel fortune - alongside her siblings London Hilton, Tokyo Hilton and New York Hilton – Paris Hilton has for years led an existence troubled only by the threat to the Hilton fortune from long-lost cousin, Wolverhampton Travelodge. Yet, despite being born into a life of untold wealth and privilege, Paris has become one of this century’s creative artists.
As one of the foremost actresses of her generation she starred in the horror film House of Wax – a terrifying tale of a bikini-line treatment gone wrong – and has made four series of a groundbreaking neuroscience documentary filmed inside her own brain, The Simple Life. Doubtless inspired by the brilliant work of
flagrant self-promoters controversial artists such as Jeff Koons, Paris went on to explore the world of the photographic arts, first coming to the art world's attention with her in-depth and probing video installation 1 Night in Paris and later stunning the cognoscenti with her series of Getting Out of the Car triptychs, featuring the shaven pudenda of herself and fellow artists Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. As well as her achievements in the visual media, Paris was also to prove herself in the world of music, becoming one of the most startling interpreters of popular song since Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard with her eponymous album, Paris(1) featuring such timeless hits as Turn It Up (No, God No, Please No, Don’t!), Nothing in This World (Except $50 Million in the Bank) and Stars are Blind-Drunk and Behind the Wheel.
All these great works were put under threat in September 2006, when the brilliant heiress was arrested for driving under the influence of too much money and over-exposure on TV, the internet and the press and sentenced to 36 months' probation and had her licence suspended. Understandably unaware that the law could ever apply to one of such enormous global stature (and significantly more enormous wealth), and - as she was later to tell the court - incapable of performing such humdrum tasks as reading her own mail, who could blame her for popping out in her car almost immediately after her sentence and blasting through a 35mph zone at 70mph with all the grace of Mr Toad of Toad Hall in pursuit a canary-coloured cart.
Despite her obvious innocence of the charges brought against her due to her total lack of mens rea(2) (having little or no mens at all) and pleas from her friends and relatives to the Governor of California himself, Mr Arnold Terminator, the uncaring authorities decided to break the Hilton butterfly upon their legalistic wheel. Careless of Paris's impassioned courtroom plea that one of her ability should not be forced to spend time with the little people, she was sentenced to 30 days in Los Angeles County Jail. So it was that this brilliant young lady was banged up in front of the watching cameras (in truth, not the first time this had occurred) and Paris Hilton’s Dreadful Incarceration was born.
After just three days and nights, the butterfly was truly broken: Paris had developed a serious medical condition known to laymen as "being a rich white woman in a US jail". Deeply concerned at this, a sympathetic sheriff's office swiftly acted to free her from her plight, choosing to let her serve the rest of her sentence under house arrest wearing an electronic tag - just as soon as they could get Prada to make one for her. So Paris Hilton's Dreadful Incarceration was brought to an end.
Paris Hilton’s Dreadful Incarceration will be buried in a lavish ceremony attended by a weeping Statue of Justice. It is survived by yet more front-page coverage for Ms Hilton and thousands of poor and unconnected people serving out their sentences in the normal manner.
(1) A title Paris arrived at after having the meaning of "eponymous" explained to her no less than 17 times.
(2) "Guilty mind".
07 June 2007
Having delivered the appropriate brown envelopes stuffed with used notes to the relevant officials and otherwise sought to gerrymander the selection process and suborn the operation of democracy, we at As A Dodo Towers are pleased to offer our readers the chance to express their deep and abiding love for As A Dodo by voting for us in the Blogpower Awards - nominations for which have just been announced.
Readers wishing to display their deep passion for an extinct, flightless bird with a fondness for satire are invited to click on the following links and put their crosses in the boxes marked As A Dodo ...
Readers are reminded that they can vote for us once a day and are further advised that, while there are many excellent rival blogs up for these awards, a failure on our part to win in any of the above-mentioned categories will result in a cute puppy and even cuter kitten being shot. We (not to mention a very anxious puppy and kitten) thank you in advance for your support.
06 June 2007
Graphic designers are today weeping into their vodka and Red Bulls as they mark the passing of The London 2012 Olympic Logo, that astonishing piece of imagery which had briefly succeeded in uniting the nation ... in utter condemnation.
The Logo was the child of the middle-aged and besuited London Games Organising Committee(1) and dashing, Hoxton-finned, brand consultant Wolff Olins. The conception, it must be admitted, was not without attendant difficulties. For several months the committee lay back, thought of England and handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds, while the dashing Wolff tried everything from running things up flagpoles, pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, leveraging its creativity, empowering its knowledge-base and fast-tracking its synergies. All was to no avail until Wolff briefly gave up its attempt to service the needs of the Committee, took a moment to stare out of the window and spotted a gang of hoodies incompetently spray-painting a Committee member's car with a pink swastika. Inspired, Wolff immediately called on the Committee to hand over £400,000 and bend over, before proceeding to give it what is usually termed "a right royal rogering".
After a short pregnancy, the Committee finally gave birth to the logo on 4 June 2007. The reaction to its appearance is perhaps best judged by the fact that the doctor overseeing the Logo's birth could only be restrained from his repeated attempts to slap it back into the womb by three hospital orderlies and a passing scrum-half. It was, in truth, an unlovely child, combining the graceful line of a tartrazined-up five-year-old's drawing, the delicate palette of one of Sir Elton John's stage outfits and the understated iconography of the Nazi party.
Such an ill-favoured infant could not be expected to have either a long or a successful life. When presented to the public it produced extraordinary displays of horror and disgust normally capable of being induced only by a Channel 4 documentary or showing Melanie Phillips a single mother. When presented to potential Olympic sponsors it resulted in the whittling down of their number to two graffiti-removal firms and a German-accented South American dentist going by the name of Diego Alfonso von Martin Bormann.
Yet the Logo might perhaps have struggled on even then, had it not been for experts warning that - in its animated form - it was capable of producing epileptic fits in those vulnerable to flashing images, and apoplectic fits in those who cared a damn about good design. Reluctantly, the Committee was forced to remove the Logo from its website.
The funeral for The London 2012 Olympic Logo will be held at St Sebastian Coe's Church of the Bleeding Disaster. The Reverend Tessa Jowell will read from an official advisory warning epileptics that the following funeral contains rapidly flashing images. The hymn will be number 728 "Dear Lord! They paid £400,000 for that?!!"
The London 2012 Olympic Logo will be buried under a vast petition calling for its immediate destruction. It is predeceased by the Olympic Spirit and several billion pounds.
(1) which has insisted that it's abbreviation should be Locog rather than Loco, at least proving that its members - contrary to popular opinion - are not completely stupid.
04 June 2007
As regular readers may be aware, we at As A Dodo are members of the Blogpower initiative, a loose collective of bloggers from across the globe(1) and the political spectrum(2), which has been besieging the blogosphere on behalf of smaller bloggers since December 06.
As part of its bid to take over the interweb, Blogpower has now launched the first annual Blogpower awards, allowing anyone(3) to vote for any blog(4) in any of the categories set out here. The contest's motto is 'Vote early and vote often' - we can only urge our readers to do exactly that
(1) plus some who are out of this world and others who are on the Planet Zog.
(2) by which we mean the usual assortment of carefully reasoned argument and swivel-eyed ranting
(3) by which we mean you.
(4) by which we mean As A Dodo.
The peoples of Europe were today stocking up on tinned goods and shotguns, converting their brand new wine cellars back into fallout shelters and laughing mordantly at the contents of old "Protect and Survive" leaflets as they bewailed the sudden death of Freedom from The Fear of World War III, that astounding - yet disturbingly brief - epoch when it was possible for citizens across the Northern Hemisphere to go to bed at night without fearing that some
trigger-happy idiot senior military official in Russia or the USA might mistake a flock of seagulls1 for a missile attack and initiate a nuclear conflict.
Freedom from The Fear of World War III was the product of the long but stormy relationship between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. From the USSR's birth in 1917 right up to the early 1940s the pair had eyed each other suspiciously across the global dance-floor, only kept apart by the fact most of it was occupied by a lot of ageing Europeans in silly uniforms dancing the Imperialist Frug with impressionable young African and Asian nations overwhelmed by the ageing Europeans' wealth, savoir-faire and tendency to slap around any young African or Asian nation that didn't want to put out on a first date. All this was to change in the mid-1930's with the rise of a new type of European in Germany, possessing all the anti-social tendencies of the old Europeans with the addition of a psychotic devotion to racial theories, a tendency to see the presence of other peoples in the world as a mere engineering problem and much, much snazzier uniforms.
The USSR had been initially attracted by the new Germany, with whom it shared such interests as watching lots of soldiers marching as if auditioning for Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch and a real enthusiasm for pogroms, but ended the relationship in the early 1940s after Germany turned up drunk on several bottles of extra-proof Blitzkrieg and attempted to beat it up. Hurt - both physically and emotionally - by Germany's behaviour, the USSR turned for comfort to both the macho young USA and the once-debonair but now ageing United Kingdom, the three states indulging in a brief ménage-à-trois during which they cut up the dancefloor and, indeed, most of Europe.
The relationship could not last: as the USA and UK spent more and more of their time alone together, the USSR began to feel left out. Soon it was to quit the relationship altogether, preferring to hang around behind an iron curtain with like-minded (if they knew what was good for them) countries, winning their absolute loyalty by
beating them up if they got out of line giving them generous gifts of aid and assistance when they needed help. Thus the Cold War was born and with it the global fear of a new World War.
For more than 40 years the USSR and the USA returned to eyeing each other across the global dance-floor, hanging around at its edges while buying drinks for all their pals and trying to impress the other nations by setting up puppet dictatorships in third world countries and amassing massive nuclear arsenals. Such displays were not without their costs, both for the superpowers themselves - who had to pay for enormous numbers of drinks, plentiful puppet dictatorships and vast nuclear arsenals - and for all the other countries, who had to pay the price of sucking up to their superpower friends and having their governments subverted or countries invaded by their "best mates" not to mention forking out billions on Valium to help their inhabitants cope with the fear of imminent nuclear destruction.
Eventually the costs were to prove too great for the USSR which - despite putting on a brave face - was down to its last rouble and had been living off a diet of boiled beetroot and state propaganda for years. Unable to afford even the tanks necessary to put down a popular uprising in a satellite state, in 1991 it fell apart. In doing so it gave birth to Freedom from The Fear of World War III.
For 16 years, Freedom from The Fear of World War III led a happy life - spreading peace dividends across the globe, freeing billions from the dread of another World War and forcing James Bond scriptwriters to try and come up with new baddies. During its life, the world (or at least that part of it which hadn't been right-royally ballsed up by all those ageing Europeans and their empires) enjoyed unprecedented growth and wealth as well as a lot of fun laughing at the antics of Boris Yeltsin. It was all the sadder, then, that Freedom from The Fear of World War III should be struck down in its prime, set upon by none other than those some-time lovers and some-time sparring partners, the USA and Russia as America - its military muscles inflated, its testosterone levels sent into overdrive and its brain shrunk by daily injections of Neocon steroids - insisted on deploying a nuclear defence shield on Russia's borders and Russia - having pumped up its own muscles on a regime of new-found oil and gas wealth, the smack (not to mention cattle-prod, enforced detention and nuclear-tipped salmon sushi) of firm government and a blithe disregard for democratic norms - threatened to kick sand in America's face by pointing missiles at the US's best buddies in the European Union. With detente getting wound up and TV producers blowing the dust off old videotapes of "Threads" and "When the Wind Blows", Freedom from The Fear of World War III passed away.
Freedom from The Fear of World War III will be buried at St Oppenheimer's Church of the Mutually Assured Destruction. The service will be conducted by the Reverend Dr Strangelove and the hymn will be number 462 "Come, sound His four-minute warning abroad".
1 or any other early 80s synth-pop band.
01 June 2007
Disney Animated Feature Films has sung its last saccharine ballad penned by Elton John and gone to join its maker in a cryogenic chamber following the publication of research that the negative portrayal of the elderly in films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians and The Hunchback of Notre Dame adversely affects children’s image of the older generation – even more so than when the older generation refuse to buy them the repackaged DVD of Lilo and Stitch, available for a limited time only, that they have already seen 237 times.
Disney Animated Feature Films - the child of animator Walt Disney and his beloved pet mouse - burst into the black and white world of the 1930s with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – a brash and colourful brat that leapt into the face of Depression-era America and the smoggy world of staid Britain, injecting a much-needed dose of Technicolor with its innocent story of a sweet young princess who spends her time buffing the tools of seven aged midgets.
The success of Snow White, despite its portrayal of a wicked elderly royal intent on destroying a beautiful young princess (a portrayal understood - according to the representatives of Mr Mohamed Al Fayed - to have been based on Prince Philip), encouraged Disney to return to the drawing board for its next feature, Pinocchio – the heart-warming and innocent tale of an elderly carpenter who, to banish his loneliness, whittles away at his wood for hours on end until a magic fairy grants him a young boy all his own.
Despite the box-office failure of Fantasia (attributed by critics to the two-dimensional performance of Mr Disney's beloved protegé, one M Mouse) Disney Animated Feature Films continued to prosper during the war years with Dumbo, a young elephant who discovers an ability to fly following an alcoholic binge and a couple of sniffs of a magic feather, and Bambi, a young deer traumatised by the tragic death of his mother at the hands of a wicked hunter (again, we are advised by the representatives of Mr Al Fayed this part was based on The Duke of Edinburgh).
In the post-war years The Films continued to increase their hold on children’s imagination and their parents wallets with a string of all-singing, all-dancing anthropomorphic adventures including The Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book and The Anthropomorphist’s All-Singing All-Dancing Adventure.
By the 60s, however, the Films' grip on the public imagination began to loosen, thanks in part to lower budgets and production values but mainly to the fact the public's imagination was dancing naked round a maypole while whacked out on a mix of acid, peyote, hash and those groovy looking pink 'n' purple pills. Things worsened in the 1970s and 80s, with the films coming under attack from such attractions as Luke Skywalker's struggles against the wicked Darth Vader, a creature more machine than man (a character we are again advised was in fact based on Queen Elizabeth's husband).
Advancing years began to take their toll on the Films, with features such as Aladdin and Mulan relying more and more on a clinical formula of over-the-top performances from US stand-ups and soundtracks composed by cutting edge musicians such as Celine Dion. Ever more competition from digital animators, changing demographics and a disastrous decision to ask Slipknot to provide the love songs for the proposed, 101 Dead Dalmatians, bleached the colour from Disney’s upbeat vision of the world and slowly The Films became less animated.
The final blow was struck by researchers at the Brigham Young University in Utah who, after 70 years of smarting at Snow White’s satirical take-on Mormon polygamy, published a scathing attack on stereotypical images of the elderly in Disney Animated Feature Films – complaining that toothless and hunched characters were demeaning to senior citizens and severely cramped Peter Stringfellow’s style. The writing may not have been on the wall but the drawings were most certainly in the bin.
Disney Animated Feature Films will be buried next to Bambi’s mother. The service will be available for a limited time only on DVD and the congregation will sing from the Book of Phil Collins and Elton John. They are survived by the Duke of Edinburgh.