The Last Post has been sounded for The Royal Mail's Universal Service following the news that the Mail was losing 6p on each stamped letter it delivered - and losing most of the cheques, credit cards and birthday money contained in those letters themselves.
The Royal Mail was founded in 1516, the misbegotten offspring of Henry VIII who established a Master of the Posts to ensure that the enormous volume of billet douxs he penned were delivered to the correct girlfriend - sparing him both embarrassment and unnecessary expenditure on Royal Executioners.
The Royal Mail led a privileged and sheltered life - delivering romantic quatrains to mistresses, declarations of war to cousins who ruled enemy powers and notifications of having won a free entry in Ye Olde Readers' Digeste draw to courtiers - until 1653 when it was forced to go public by Charles I. Sadly the king's plans had to be put on hold for several years after his plan to close Parliament was incorrectly delivered to a Mr O Cromwell and it was only under Charles II that the Royal Mail was incorporated into the General Post Office.
Over the following decades The Royal Mail continued about its work as usual, letting neither snow, nor rain, nor Black Death stay its couriers from the slow completion of such appointed rounds as they could be bothered to deal with before bunging any excess post in the nearest handy plague pit or open sewer.
Change was to come in 1840, when The Royal Mail gave birth the The Universal Service with its uniform penny post - allowing urchins, mill-owners and philanthropists alike to send mail to whomsoever they liked as well as, unfortunately, introducing the dreaded hobby, philately.
Despite this The Universal Service became a popular way of delivering letters, parcels and bombs to all and sundry across the nation, until the effects of the global market began to take their toll. In 2000, battered by constant criticism of its high cost and tardy and erroneous deliveries, Royal Mail first tried to escape its poor image by disguising itself under the name Consignia. Within days it was discovered, after thousands of its new brochures bound for potential customers were found dumped in a wheelie-bin behind the sorting office. Forced to confront the ugly truth it reverted to its original name and spent the last few years of its life harried from pillar box to post office by constant jibes about thieving posties and over-priced stamps. In a desperate bid to stop the rot The Royal Mail began to close rural post offices and calculate postage on increasingly-eccentric scales - weight, size, colour of enevelope, popularity of recipient and ferocity of their dog - but to no avail. It was finally licked this week.
The body of The Royal Mail's Universal Service will be parceled up and posted to the Great Sorting Office in the Sky, but will be delivered to a Mr Graham Torting, Skye where it will remain unopened for a number of weeks before being returned to sender... and delivered to Roy & Alma, the Ale House, Cirencester. It is survived by thousands of private courier companies who guarantee next day delivery and modern modes of communication such as email, texting and shouting very loudly.
28 February 2007
The Last Post has been sounded for The Royal Mail's Universal Service following the news that the Mail was losing 6p on each stamped letter it delivered - and losing most of the cheques, credit cards and birthday money contained in those letters themselves.
26 February 2007
The death of Humanity's Sense of Superiority over its fellow creatures will come as a shock to all those who - while troubled by such daily cares as the grind of work, the quest for love or the renewed threats of both nuclear conflict and appearances by Noel Edmonds on TV - were able to console themselves with the knowledge that they were at least brighter than a chimp.
The Sense of Superiority's death comes following the discovery by researchers from the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in Cambridge that Senegalese chimpanzees band together to hunt using hand-crafted (or, rather, hand-and-tooth-crafted) spears - thus proving themselves to possess two of humanity's most highly prized assets: (a) the ability to make use of tools and (b) the ability to get their kicks by running round and killing things.
Humanity's Sense of Superiority was born in around 2,500,000BC when early hominid Australopithecus first discovered how to make simple digging tools from polished stones, thus enabling her to dig further and faster than rivals without endangering her nails, opening up new and exciting manicure possibilities as well as a diet of previously unreachable tubers, thus paving the way for the potato to take over the diet of Western human beings two-and-a-half-billion years later.
The Sense of Superiority was to go from strength to strength when another human ancestor, Homo erectus, discovered how to make use of tools to create fire, either after watching the effects of a lightning strike on the arid African savannah in which he lived or as part of a complex scam involving taking out a million rocks' worth of fire insurance on his home tree . The use of fire immediately put the hominid one-up on all his fellow creatures, enabling him to bask in the glow of his Superiority, not to mention the embers of his former home and a brand new million-rock fortune.
Soon mankind was wandering across the whole globe, feeling smug as he set fire to things and made use of tools which steadily advanced from simple heated cooking stones, through bows and arrows all the way to such modern-day tools as the computer and the BBC weatherman who signs off with "And that's your weather ... for now".
While Humanity's Sense of Superiority initially seemed to survive the potentially fatal discovery that fellow primates were also capable of making use of tools to assist them in achieving their goals, it fell into a steep decline when it realised that, rather than spending its time making computers and watching annoying weathermen, it could have spent the last two million years happily running around chasing things with sticks.
Humanity's Sense of Superiority will be cremated, just as soon as the chimps succeed in working out what to do with the matches. It is survived by Charlton Heston, a half-buried Statue of Liberty and a bunch of damned dirty apes.
24 February 2007
23 February 2007
Buckingham Palace insiders and Ministry of Defence officials have today confirmed to a shocked nation that the "Bad Boy" reputation of third in line to the British throne Prince Harry has passed away, replaced in its prime by the heroic reputation of plain "Cornet Wales": not, as some had assumed, a Duchy Organic ice cream flavour but rather the title the Prince will bear during his military service in Iraq as a member of the Blues and Royals Regiment.
Prince Harry's Bad Boy reputation was born in 2002. Like so many Bad Boys, Prince Harry earned his reputation after years of living off the state and wandering around aimlessly on vast estates. Though admittedly the estates Harry wandered around had much better grouse shooting than the average inner-city tower block, the Prince nonetheless followed the path of many a bored British teen and began drinking heavily and smoking cannabis. Relatives feared these habits might go from bad to worse, leading to addiction to hard drugs or even dabbling with standing for the Conservative leadership.
Despite the Prince's antics having landed him on the front page of every British tabloid, there were soon concerns for his newbown Bad Boy Reputation when it was announced that he would be attending a drug counselling centre for a day. Much to the consternation of all those - chiefly newspaper editors - who cared about the Reputation, Harry soon seemed to have turned his back on his rebellious ways and learned to follow more traditional Royal standards of behaviour, falling off polo ponies and calling his French chef a "F***ing Frog".
Happily for all concerned, Harry was soon back on form again and by 2005 he was partying the nights away in West End nightclubs and engaging in drunken scuffles with members of the paparazzi.
In the same year the Prince entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, intent on becoming a cavalry officer despite warnings that he was obviously overqualified for such a post, being in possession of a chin. Thankfully he passed the Sandhurst intelligence test with flying colours, pushing hard on a door marked "pull" for well in excess of the half hour normally required for officer material. Those who feared that pulling on the uniform his ancestors had worn with pride might prove a fatal blow to his Bad Boy reputation were proved wrong when the uniform in question turned out to be that of a Schutzstaffel Oberfũhrer.
Despite such positive signs, Prince Harry's Bad Boy Reputation - a vital part of both the nation's heritage and the newspaper circulation battle - slipped away this week following the announcement that the Prince is to lead a troop of 12 men in Iraq. The Reputation will be buried with full military honours and an item of fruit inserted in its rear after a street brawl outside a Mayfair nightspot. It is survived by acres of newsprint praising Harry as a modern-day Achilles and the only 12 British soldiers in Iraq who can be absolutely confident of having all the latest military equipment (boots, body armour, working guns) and backup they could ever want.
21 February 2007
Comedy fans are mourning the death of one of the world's funniest double acts, Bush and Blair, following today's shock announcement by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he has decided to withdraw from his comic partnership with the USA's President George Bush and will no longer be joining him on the set of the latest in their series of hilarious "Road To" movies, "The Road To A New Vietnam".
It was in 2001 that Tony Blair decided to replace his former sidekick Bill "Slick Willie" Clinton after Clinton's comic persona as a loveable lothario - and catchphrase "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" - began to prove box-office death in America's post-millennial moral climate. Initially Blair had hoped to hook up with Clinton's old straight man, Al Gore, but was to opt instead for the guy behind the tongue-tied goof routine that stole American hearts and votes during the 2000 Presidential Election.
Almost immediately Bush and Blair began preparations for their hilariously titled - and now notorious - "Bringing Democracy" World Tour, Blair spending each day working on the wonderfully ludicrous "I'm a Pretty Straight Kinda Guy" routine that had won him the laughter of audiences across the United Kingdom, while Dubya perfected everything from his "Kenny Boy Lay? - Never Met Him In My Life" skit to the death-defying piece of physical comedy that was "Chewing A Pretzel".
With Bush and Blair's comic characters in place, Dubya playing a knuckle-dragging jock and Blair the smooth-talking poodle that insisted on following him everywhere he went, Bush's long-time manager Dick Cheney spotted the box-office potential in the sequence of scripts that would become the pair's "Road To" movies. Soon they were laughing on "The Road to Democracy", sweeping along the dusty "Road to Afghanistan Liberation" and crying on "The Road to Iraqi Freedom" (known in Britain under the title "The Road to Electoral Suicide").
It was during the filming of the last of these three movies that rumours of a split first began to surface. Crew members reported the sounds of heated arguments emerging from the pair's trailer and more and more often the once inseparable duo were seen to arrive and leave the set apart. The cause, some claim, was the latest script optioned for the pair by Mr Cheney, "The Road To Iran" (also known as "The Road to Armageddon"). Whatever the basis for the dispute, it was increasingly clear that relations between the two men had begun to sour. Indeed it came as little surprise when, on Tuesday night, Mr Blair announced that he would be pulling out of the duo's latest lraq tour, "The Big Troop Surge", to concentrate on other projects.
The comedy duo that was Bush and Blair will be remembered fondly by its fans, both of whom can be found in a secure wing of The Charge of the Light Brigade Hospital for the Militarily Insane.
Bush and Blair are now working on their solo projects: Tony Blair's "Legacy Tour" (fans should be aware that the tour has now been considerably shortened) and George Bush's "Who Gives A Crap? I Ain't Standing For Election Again" stand-up appearances in Washington's premier comedy venue, the White House.
19 February 2007
Britney Spears's Hair died this weekend after it was forcibly removed from its life support system in a Los Angeles tattoo parlour. It had been unwell for some time as a result of obsessive interest in its every move, flick, wave and tint from people around the world who deemed knowledge of the Hair more important than an understanding of history, science, politics or even themselves.
Britney Spears's Hair was born in 1981 to Britney Spears herself and led a normal and unremarkable life - barring a childish experimentation with Mickey Mouse ears - until 1998 when it found itself propelled against its will into the paparazzi flashlights following the success of Britney's debut album ...Baby One More Time.
Almost overnight the Hair became the most-photographed celebrity in the world, replacing Princess Diana's cleavage and Tony Blair's cheekily self-satisfied grin as the holy grail of snapshots.
Where once the Hair had been able to spend its days sensibly brushed and parted or even matted and hidden under a hat if it so wished, now the hair faced a daily barrage of media speculation about its next reinvention and endless questions about everything from its favourite conditioner to its thoughts on the Middle East peace process.
Despite its astonishing financial success the Hair's behaviour became increasingly erratic as it was hounded from nightclub to wedding chapel to divorce court. In a desperate bid to return to a more simple style, the Hair checked itself into rehab for a quick rinse and blow-dry but checked itself out before completing the treatment, resulting in a tonsorial disaster that pushed the war in Iraq off the front pages.
The damage had been done, and Britney Spears filed for divorce from the Hair citing irreconcilable artistic differences, although she was present as the two parted company and the Hair was finally allowed to rest in peace, beneath the barber's chair, before being swept away for the final time.
Britney Spears's Hair will be buried at the St Samson Church of Non-Denominational Celebrity Hair, Hollywood, in a private service attended by friends, family, minders, paparazzi and hundreds of thousands of distraught fans before the Hair is exhumed by bald acolytes and sold on eBay.
Britney Spears's Hair was predeceased by Ted Danson's thatch and Demi Moore's locks. It is survived by tabloid editors tearing their hair out as they while away the time until they can print the next Britney upskirt crotch shot without more than the usual amount of hypocrisy.
17 February 2007
16 February 2007
Tony Blair’s Nuclear Plans have emitted their last after a titanic struggle with Greenpeace led the High Court to rule that plans to build a new series of reactors were “unlawful” and that the Government's consultation process was “misleading”, “seriously flawed” and led everyone else to rule they were "absolutely typical".
The Government having sat down with the nation in 2003, talked things through and decided not to give birth to nuclear power - despite the attractions of having someone to look after one's energy needs in old age - because of all the mess it would cause, Tony Blair’s Nuclear Plans were a surprise birth in late 2005. The surprise was particularly great as the Prime Minister had faithfully promised the nation that he would have his nuclear power generating organs tied up in a lengthy consultation process.
Following the birth Mr Blair was quick to assure the, still startled, country that his new progeny would close the country’s “energy gap” and conveniently reduce carbon emissions as well as helping turn Britain into a world leader for three-eyed fish and glow-in-the-dark seaweed.
Despite Mr Blair's pride in his offspring, as the Plans grew older and their power leaked dangerously across the country, the High Court was surrounded by angry and terrified members of Greenpeace armed with hemp-woven pitchforks, torches knitted from muesli and some of the best lawyers money can buy, demanding an urgent judicial review.
With Greenpeace warning that the success of the Plans might plunge the nation into a nuclear nightmare in which schools, hospitals and even civil liberties might be laid waste, the High Court - after wondering whether anyone would notice the difference - ordered that the knot in the Prime Minister's enormous desire for a nuclear legacy be re-tied.
Tony Blair’s Nuclear Plans will be buried in a lead-lined coffin in the graveyard of St Sellafield Church of the Poisoned Sea, from which they will arise just as soon as the Government can fake another consultation. The service will be conducted by a two-headed vicar. Hymns will include “When Irish Eyes Are Glowing” and "There Is a Luminous Green Sheep Far Away".
Tony Blair’s Nuclear Plans are survived by Tony Blair’s complete refusal to listen to anyone except himself.
14 February 2007
The reputation of Egypt's Queen Cleopatra VII for beauty - a reputation burnished down the ages by such great writers as Lucan, Shakespeare and the authors of short-lived sci-fi show Cleopatra 2525 - has died, choked on a single Roman coin.
Born in about 51BC, following Cleopatra's accession to the throne of Egypt at the age of eighteen, Cleopatra's reputation for beauty was rapidly spread about the whole of the known world, chiefly by drunken sailors for most of whom the last sight of a female was "that dolphin off the coast of Asia Minor that was giving me the eye last week". The fame of her alleged beauty grew even greater in 48BC, following the Queen's usurpation by her co-ruler and brother Ptolemy XIII and her subsequent exile.
By the time of Ptolemy's defeat by Julius Caesar later in 48BC, Cleopatra's beauty was known even in Rome itself. Keen to capitalise on the situation, the Queen decided to woo the Roman leader by having herself delivered to him in the Palace at Alexandria rolled up inside a Persian carpet ... which it now seems she probably didn't remove before wooing him. Caesar himself being (a) a man, (b) very important and (c) a man - as well as being no great catch in the love stakes given that he was getting on a bit, frequently suffered fits and possessed a head of hair so sparse that even Donald Trump's barber would have been at a loss to deal with it - insisted that it be put about that he had been making love to the most beautiful woman in the world and thus a legend was born.
The Queen's allure gained even more lustre following Caesar's death, when she successfully wooed his closest follower, Mark Antony, with a combination of her charm, wit and - it would now seem - some very carefully arranged lighting. The passionate nature of their relationship, in which they came close to ruling much of the known world, became a byword among the ancients, much as the relationship of David and Victoria Beckham is today. The romance of the relationship's ending, with each killing themselves at the thought of the other's loss, inspired generations. 1600 years later William Shakespeare himself recorded the Queen's extraordinary loveliness in his Antony and Cleopatra, although his judgment in this regard may well be brought into question by the fact he did insist she be played by a young boy. Soon she was being played by the greatest beauties of every age from Elizabeth Taylor to ... er ... Judi Dench.
Having survived more than 2,000 years, Cleopatra's Beauty breathed its last on Valentine's Day 2007, when the unearthing of a coin bearing the heads of both Anthony and Cleopatra by Newcastle University revealed that the two of them were so ugly that, inasmuch as they may have spent long nights of passion together, each probably insisted the other wear a bag over their head throughout.
Cleopatra's Beauty will be buried at the Nicky-Hambleton Jones Church of the Botox-Frozen Forehead. It is survived by Cleo Lane, Cleo Rocos, the Renault Clio and a production of Anthony and Cleopatra starring Bernard Manning as the Queen of Egypt.
12 February 2007
David Cameron's Squeaky Clean Image inhaled its last breath, exhaled very slowly, said "Wow!" and expired this weekend following his refusal to deny claims in a new biography that he smoked cannabis while he was a pupil at Eton 25 years ago.
"Dave"'s Squeaky Clean Image was born in 2005, the offspring of a coterie of Eton chums united by a desire to mark the end of the dark days of Michael Howard's leadership which had, strangely, drained the lifeblood out of the party. Their far-out plan to fill the vacuum in the centre ground of British politics left by Labour's spritely trot to the right under Tony Blair was initially dismissed as the kind of nonsense that could only have been dreamed up en route to the all-night garage for a couple of Twix bars and those "chocolate things with the nuts on them, you know the ones".
The Squeaky Clean Image was soon sullied during its leadership campaign when it refused to deny that it had taken class-A drugs at university, with fellow alumni insisting that it had had "a normal university experience" - saving money from its grant by buying almost-past-ther-sell-by-date goods in the supermarket in order to be able to afford a bag of grass for the weekend which would, inevitaby, turn out to be parsley.
Despite this setback the Squeaky Clean Image quickly established itself as a lively presence in British politics, cycling through the streets of West London in vibrant day-glo colours and campaigning for home-owners to erect green windmills on their roof so that we could "all look at the pretty colours turning in the wind, man".
But it was the Squeaky Clean Image's adoption of Old Labour policies - most recently the decision to fight the imposition of ID cards - that led critics to suspect that the smoke coming from Conservative Party HQ wasn't the result of Margaret Thatcher spinning rapidly in her grave, but was the natural by-product of the enormous bong the young Tory policy wonks fired up each morning for inspiration.
Despite Tory leaders' traditional association with powerful intoxicants - Winston Churchill lived on a champagne and whisky drip, Margaret Thatcher's "vitamin injections" kept her in a state of hawk-like readiness for 22 hours a day and Michael Howard never slept at night at all - the hot knives were out for DC's Squeaky Clean Image once news of his teenage reefer madness was splashed across the front pages of the Sunday newspapers. The Squeaky Clean Image called for the right to a past that is private, thus immediately promising a future that is far too public for comfort. Friends and colleagues rallied around but when Norman Tebbit told him to come clean - in that way only he, and certain black site interrogation operatives, can - David Cameron's Squeaky Clean Image sniffed its last.
David Cameron's Squeaky Clean Image will be cremated in an environmentally-friendly, and very High Anglican service, at St Withnail's Church of the Camberwell Carrot. There will be a public memorial service, group hug and rave at Glastonbury this summer. It is survived by David Cameron's Youthful Indiscretions and the increasingly irrational ramblings of Tony Blair.
10 February 2007
09 February 2007
As A Dodo has no choice but to report the passing of Free Will, which - after many years of illness - has been ordered into eternity by a team of neuroscientists from Germany, London and Oxford.
Free Will was born in the philosophical schools of ancient Greece in about 450BC when, following Socrates's conclusion that "the good - being identical with the true - imposes itself irresistibly on the will as on the intellect when distinctly apprehended and that every man necessarily wills his greatest good, and his actions are merely means to this end", one of his students punched him in the face for being a dreadful old bore.
Free Will was an unpopular child – frequently getting into fights with philosophers who felt their decision to gang up on Free Will and attempt to beat it to a pulp were all preordained by bearded men on Mount Olympus given to chucking thunderbolts about and changing into swans and bulls to ravish young maidens. Later on it would grow up be an unpopular adult, frequently getting into fights with Logical, Biological and Theological determinists who thought their decision to gang up on Free Will was preordained by past events, the contents of their genes or a bearded man in the sky with a strange resemblance to Dr Rowan Williams.
After two millennia of hard knocks, and a succession of increasingly repressive British Home Secretaries, Free Will first began to complain of feeling unwell when millions of Britons felt compelled to vote New Labour into power in 1997, while in 2000 millions of Americans thought they were voting the Democrats into power but were told otherwise by Jeb Bush and Fox News. Free Will continued about its business but its health was repeatedly called into question after a rapid series of heavy blows including speed cameras, CCTV, biometric passports, DNA testing, ASBOs, 28-day detention without trial and the continuing success of the musicals of Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
The final blow for Free Will came when it was revealed that neuroscientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, with colleagues from University College London and Oxford University, had developed a new technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and predict their intentions before they act. On making the discovery they immediately informed Free Will, which promptly did as it was told and died.
Free Will has asked to be cremated in a secular service but will instead be held for 28 days before being buried at St John the Reid’s Church of Thoughtcrime. It is survived by the National Lottery.
07 February 2007
The People's Game, twin brother of The Beautiful Game which died only last year suffering from congested bungs, passed away yesterday as Liverpool FC, one of the last English football clubs actually capable of winning a soccer trophy beyond the award for "Best Second XI Away Strip", was converted into a "franchise" under overseas ownership.
Immensely popular throughout England almost from the moment of its creation, The People's Game was a simple entertainment, capable of uniting men up and down the country as they stood, cap on head and scarf round neck, in the terraces of a Sunday afternoon and shouted spirited encouragement to the members of their local team - most of whom were born and brought up within hailing distance of their home ground - and even more spirited imprecations against the rapscallions on the opposing side and the frailties of the person of questionable parentage in referee's uniform.
It was in the early 1990s that The People's Game began, like so many an England game, to drift slowly towards inevitable defeat in the penalty shoot-out of life. It was at that time that The Game first began its involvement with the notorious Americo-Australian lothario, Rupert Murdoch. Like Wedekind's Lulu, The Beautiful Game soon found itself living a life of wild excess, throwing its money away on a parade of vacuous pretty boys and brutish thugs ... many of whom would go on to play for England. Its appetites beyond satiation, even by Mr Murdoch's vast piles of cash, The People's Game was forced to go in search of more and more and richer and richer suitors, be they ageing American multimillionaires or billionaire Russian oligarchs. By the early noughties The People's Game was even willing to sell off the most successful football club England had ever seen to anyone with a bit of cash to spare for a new stadium.
Yet even this was not the height of its infamy, for at the same time The People's Game was willing to offer almost anything (except, of course, a team capable of winning the World Cup) as it tried to extract the last penny from the pockets of its fans. With its ticket prices soaring and sports rights being sold for astronomical fees, The People's Game eventually put itself beyond the reach of those who loved it, thrusting itself instead into the hands of corporate sponsors whose perfect view of a match was out of the corner of an eye while doing a deal in the VIP restaurant and far-flung "fans" who were in less danger of visiting their team's stadium than Kettering FC are of winning the European cup.
The People's Game will be buried at the Church of St Lineker the Crisp-Seller. The Reverend Alan Hansen will read Psalm 4752 "The defence were woeful and no-one tracked back". Well-wishers are asked to send as much cash as possible.
05 February 2007
Newspaper editors and TV journalists were today churning out miles of newsprint and kilometres of videotape in memory of 160,000 Bootiful Bernard Matthews turkeys, which passed away this weekend following an outbreak of the H5-N1 bird flu virus.
The Bootiful Turkeys were born in 2006 of simple Suffolk stock. Coming from a humble background, they spent much of their infancy in dark and extremely cramped conditions, whose basic nature was offset only slightly by their trendy egg shape and the availability of hot-and-cold-running yolk 24 hours a day. Luckily a long line of agricultural ancestors, not to mention large doses of growth-promoting antibiotics in their mothers' feed, had fitted the Bootiful Turkeys for work. Soon they were breaking out of their old home and taking up work with local farmer Bernard Matthews who offered them all the pellets an automatic feeder can provide and the chance to mingle with thousands of their comrades in conditions only slightly darker and more cramped than those they had just left.
Over the following months the Bootiful Turkeys set to work eating, standing around, pecking each other's feathers off and occasionally collapsing under their own rapidly-increasing weight. All went well until early last week when several of the male turkeys claimed they had bird flu and all the hen turkeys insisted that the stags only had colds and were making a fuss about nothing. Within a day 71 of the allegedly hypochondriac birds had vindicated themselves by dropping dead, while many more were showing signs of illness. Thankfully the creatures had many visitors during these troubled times, most of them members of the farm's staff who tried to cheer their charges up by wandering blithely from turkey-shed to tukey-shed acting as if nothing was seriously wrong. Despite such efforts, within only two days a further thousand Bootiful Turkeys had wrapped themselves in the celestial Bacofoil. It was at this stage that officials from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) were brought in to calm the situation among the remaining Bootiful Turkeys by gassing every last one of them.
The 160,000 Bootiful Turkeys' funeral was held on Sunday. The funeral cortege, consisting of 20 "sealed, leak-proof lorries fully covered in tarpaulin", took the deceased to the quaint little church of St Bernard's Hotter-N-Heck Incinerama, where they were heated to gas mark five thousand while the choir sang hymn number 386 "All Things Bright and Bootiful". The ceremony ended with a 112-gun salute as Suffolk locals tried to plug anything they feared might pose a bird-flu risk - including 72 blue tits, 23 starlings, 44 crows, 78 ducks, a couple of swans, a global-warming-befuddled ladybird and one inbred agricultural labourer with webbed feet.
The 160,000 Bootiful Turkeys are survived by the H5-N1 virus, Turkey Twizzlers and Bernard Matthews' £300 million fortune.
03 February 2007
- Adelaide Tambo 1929-2007 - Leading anti-apartheid campaigner
- Anna Cropper 1938-2007 - TV actor
- Sidney Sheldon 1917-2007 - Oscar-winning screenwriter and popular novelist
- Paul Channon (Lord Kelvedon) 1935-2007 - Guinnes heir and former Secretary of State for Transport
- David Wickins 1921-2007 - second-hand car dealer and mentor to Mark Thatcher
02 February 2007
Loans for Peerages – the modern, democratic method by which our unelected rulers are appointed to the House of Lords – was found dead this week shortly after Tony Blair was questioned for a second time by the Metropolitan Police. Sources indicate that foul play is suspected.
Loans for Peerages was born just before the general election in 2005, the child of Labour’s desperate need to prop up its ailing finances and an antiquated system of appointing anyone with a spare million to the unelected upper chamber of the Palace of Westminster.
It proved to be a popular baby: within days of its birth it was attracting unprecedented media attention as it crawled, literally, from boardroom to boardroom soliciting “loans” at a rate of interest not seen in your High Street building society since your manager got high on genuine Albanian champagne-style fizz at the last Christmas party and opened the vaults saying, “Take whatever you want.” Within only two years, however, it was causing controversy, with Scotland Yard detectives forced to step in after complaints that it had committed offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act of 1925 when some lenders alleged that they hadn’t received their ermine-collared free gifts.
The death of Loans for Peerages was first, mistakenly, reported last year, following claims that it had been fatally wounded following the arrest of Labour’s chief fundraiser, Lord Levy, and the questioning under caution ofMPs and officials from Labour and other parties. The reports turned out to be false when it was revealed early in 2007 that, far from being dead, Loans for Peerages had merely been swept under the nearest available piece of carpet.
Loans for Peerages' resurrection was to prove brief. Its death knell was sounded by the arrest of Mr Blair's "gatekeeper" Ruth Turner, and the re-arrest of Lord Levy on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, not forgetting a further police interview with Tony Blair himself, who is believed to have explained that he saw nothing of Loans for Peerages at all as he was tying his shoelaces at the time.
Loans for Peerages was buried by the highest bidder at the Church of Deal or No Deal. Following a brief sermon by the Reverend David Lloyd George, the collection trough was passed, a deeply emotional eulogy was read by several very rich men who mourned their chances of ever becoming peers by the back door, and a choir of businessmen sang hymn number 427 "What a Friend We Have in Tony".
Loans for Peerages is survived by a discredited government, a quasi-mediaeval system of patronage and the imminent findings of Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates’s inquiry.