The final results are now in from Iain Dale's Guide to Political Blogging in the UK and we are delighted to be able to say that not only did As A Dodo - as previously advertised - manage to sneak into the top non-aligned blogs at number 9, it also succeeded in evading the guards and tunnelling its way into the overall Top 100 Political Blogs at a respectable number 74. The fact that we managed to rate higher than Melanie Phillips was an especial cause for celebration.
Once again, thanks to all of you who voted for us and many congratulations to everyone else in the Top 500, especially to all those from Blogpower.
The full top 100 is as follows:
1 Iain Dale's Diary2 Guido Fawkes3 Dizzy Thinks4 ConservativeHome5 Political Betting6 Devil's Kitchen7 Croydonian8 Nick Robinson9 Spectator Coffee House10 Ellee Seymour11 Recess Monkey12 Burning our Money13 Archbishop Cranmer14 Benedict Brogan15 Tim Worstall16 Mr Eugenides17 Norfolk Blogger18 Paul Linford19 Prague Tory20 EU Referendum21 Harry's Place22 Tom Watson MP23 NHS Blog Doctor24 Caroline Hunt25 Bob Piper26 Fair Deal Phil27 Times Comment Central28 Tory Radio29 Chicken Yoghurt30 Ministry of Truth31 Kerron Cross32 Slugger O'Toole33 Nadine Dorries MP34 Pickled Politics35 Donal Blaney36 Boris Johnson37 Theo Spark38 Labour Home39 British Bullshit Foundation40 Biased BBC41 An Englishman's Castle42 John Redwood MP43 Hunter & Shooter44 Craig Murray45 Samizdata46 Dave's Part47 Waendel Journal48 Newmania49 Rachel From North London50 The Last Ditch51 Our Kingdom52 Bloggers 4 Labour53 Liberal England54 LibDem Voice55 Stephen Tall56 Adam Smith Institute57 Bloggerheads58 Hoby59 Daily Referendum60 Bel is Thinking61 Quaequam62 The Bristow Blog63 Millennium Dome Elephant64 Suz Blog65 Antonia Bance66 WebCameron67 Spyblog68 City Unslicker69 James Cleverley70 Stumbling & Mumbling71 Beau Bo D'Or72 Luke Akehurst73 Newer Labour74 As a Dodo75 Edland76 Chris Paul Labour of Love77 Tartan Hero78 Glyn Davies79 UK Daily Pundit80 Westminster Wisdom81 Melanie Phillips82 Blair Watch83 Liberal Burblings84 18 Doughty Street85 Daniel Hannan MEP 86 Matt Wardman87 Mars Hill88 Little Man in a Toque89 Policeman's Blog90 Peter Black AM91 Mark Mardell92 Rolled Up Trousers93 Shiraz Socialist94 Bishop Hill95 Tim Roll-Pickering96 Paul Flynn MP97 Oliver Kamm98 Campaign for an English Parliament99 Ordovicius100 Snowflake5
29 September 2007
The final results are now in from Iain Dale's Guide to Political Blogging in the UK and we are delighted to be able to say that not only did As A Dodo - as previously advertised - manage to sneak into the top non-aligned blogs at number 9, it also succeeded in evading the guards and tunnelling its way into the overall Top 100 Political Blogs at a respectable number 74. The fact that we managed to rate higher than Melanie Phillips was an especial cause for celebration.
28 September 2007
Tory London Mayoral Hope, the oft-thwarted Conservative wish to exercise control over the nation's capital, has expired unfulfilled with the news that journalist, MP and all-star celebrity foot-in-mouth champion Boris Johnson has been chosen to contest next year's London Mayoral elections.
Tory Mayoral Hope, born at the turn of the new century to anxious parents desperate for a healthy new child that would restore a crumb of their former glory, were raised as Steven Norris, the Barry White of the Conservative Party, went toe-to-toe with Labour's own Mayoral Hope, part-time Santa Claus impersonator, Frank Dobson for the shiny new position of Mayor of London.
Yet both hopes were to be dashed as they came up against London's ex-ruler, former Leader of the GLC and part-time herpetologist, Ken Livingstone. Though he had long wandered in the wilderness, writing restaurant columns for the London Evening Standard, after being expelled from the Labour Party he had now returned to claim what he saw as his birthright - the Overlordship of London. With the government's attempts to portray him as an evil newt-stroking villain, lodged in a secret bunker deep beneath County Hall succeeding in making him the most popular martyr in London since Wat Tyler, his victory was assured. As the votes were counted it soon became apparent that Dobson would have to return to his workshop at the North Pole and Norris's plans to emulate the late, great Whittington by "putting the Dick back into London" had detumesced along with Tory Mayoral Hope.
Meanwhile, safely installed in his giant newt-shaped offices on the South Bank, "Red" Ken quickly established himself as a man of the people - unless those people were reporters for the Evening Standard, people with an aversion to falling downstairs at parties, or drivers who wanted to drive through the centre of the city. All the while Tory Mayoral Hope lay dormant waiting for the next election when it would have a chance to field a new candidate against the mighty Ken.
But once again, in 2004, Hope was dashed as Jeffrey Archer was stabbed in the (very moley) back by a pesky perjury case. Reluctantly the Conservatives turned to Steven Norris to (quite literally) woo voters away from Ken. But Labour, increasingly brazen about choosing power over principles, brought Livingstone back into the bosom of the party and Norris (quite literally) limped away, defeated.
The failure of Tory Mayoral Hope left Ken free to implement his masterplan for London, which he continued to remodel in his image, culminating in his most audacious move - a plan to replace London's beloved red Routemaster buses with "the much more modern and efficient" bendy-buses: long and articulated, crawling through the city's bus lanes like... DUN-DUN-DA!!! ...giant red newts...
Despite the chaos and traffic jams caused by these monstrous reptiles, Tory Hope still foundered until new head boy, David Cameron took control of the party and launched a series of wizard wheezes to halt Ken's dastardly plan to turn London into a giant salamander. But his plan to poach former Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke (after Greg had been grilled, stuffed and roasted by Alastair Campbell) as a Tory London Mayoral Hope backfired, as did his plans to champion Lord Coe, Lord Stevens and shock-jock Nick Ferrari - all of whom politely declined the offer of being the next big Tory Mayoral Hope as they were... erm... washing their hair that year.
And so it was that faced with the prospect of Steven Norris trolling round London kissing babes-in-(his)-arms, Cameron threw the nominations open to all - provided they were willing to fill up party coffers by making their vote via a premium rate phone-line(1). As seven million Londoners rushed to their phones to smash them against the wall in horror, 20,000 nominated Winston Churchill, the Easter Bunny and that really fit bird off that programme... you know the one... while 15,000 of them took leave of their senses and were seduced (possibly quite literally) by the banish bendy-buses banter of Tory Clown Prince, Boris Johnson. Boris immediately declared that "King Newt is dead" before accidentally sleeping with a woman who wasn't his wife, falling off his bicycle and choking on his own foot whilst presenting Have I Got News For You. And with that, Tory Mayoral Hope passed away.
Tory London Mayoral Hope will be buried in the 'king Boris Johnson Church of the Apology to Liverpool. The service will be conducted by Steven Norris (a lay minister) and the congregation will sing hymn 357, XTC's The Mayor of Simpleton.
(1) thus becoming the first Conservative leader to put in place a (literal) poll tax before even becoming Prime Minister.
26 September 2007
As A Dodo readers may be interested to know that our esteemed Blogpower colleague Ian Appleby will be hosting a round-up of the pick of September's posts by Blogpower members. If you've enjoyed a post on a Blogpower blog, why not send the URL to Ian at email@example.com? Nominations need to be received by 5pm on Sunday 30th September and you don't have to be a Blogpower member to put a blog forward.
The world - or at least that, almost exclusively male, part of it that prefers to spend its time jiggling its joystick in front of vast LCD TVs - is today mourning Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN 117, who is believed to have passed away(1) several million times in the last few hours, as a result of an assortment of inept, thumb-mashing fumbles on the part of players across the globe, following the worldwide release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 videogame "Halo 3".
Official records indicate that the man who would one day be known, somewhat tautologically, as "Master Chief" was born in 2511AD and spent his childhood years on Eridanus 2. The same records indicate that it was from here in 2517 that he was abducted and replaced by a "Flash clone"(2) by the United Nations Space Command - in a move so devious it can only have been planned by a descendant of Dick Cheney - and that from then on he was trained as a SPARTAN-II supersoldier, ready to fight and defeat any alien force that might threaten the Earth.
Unofficial records, on the other hand, suggest that Master Chief was born on Earth in the offices of Bungie software in the early noughties, from where he (along with the whole of Bungie) was abducted by Microsoft and trained to help Bill Gates's mega-corporation flog Xboxes and Xbox 360s to every 16-34-year-old male on the planet and defeat the forces of Sony and Nintendo that might threaten Microsoft's bank balance.
Whichever version of events is true, what cannot be doubted is that Master Chief proved himself again and again to be one of the most heroic warriors this planet has ever seen, happy to go up against the forces of the Covenant and the Flood despite their superior weaponry, greater numbers and the fact that many of the players operating him couldn't take out a barn door with an A-bomb, let alone blow a Covenant Brute away while dual-wielding an M6G Personal Defence Weapon System and Type-25 "Plasma Pistol" Directed Energy Weapon.
Time after time Master Chief ventured out to do battle with the Covenant and with online pretenders to his crown, aided only by a few - frequently rather dim - allies and the artificial intelligence Cortana(3), and time after time he was blown to bits by laser cannons, sniper-rifle head shots, the clunking fist of a Brute(4) or by comically attaching a plasma grenade to himself - all thanks to the inadequacy of the pale-skinned, junk-food-eating types controlling his actions. Like many a soldier before him, super or otherwise, he was a lion whose actions were directed by donkeys.
It is understood that, at last tired of being blasted into a virtual pulp while some dumbass failed to press the pause button while going to greet the pizza delivery guy, Master Chief was driven to despair and was last seen praying for the so-called "red ring of death" to appear on his Xbox 360, consigning both it and him to oblivion(5).
Master Chief will be buried at St Mario's Church of the Video Game Icon. Sonic the Hedgehog will preside over what is expected to be a brief, if lively ceremony - interrupted by a Boss Stage involving Dr Robotnik. The congregation will include Lara Croft, Crash Bandicoot, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Ulala, Link, Samus Aran, Gordon Freeman, Commander Jameson, Tommy Vercetti, Pacman, Solid Snake, some Space Invaders and Parappa the Rapper who will sing Master Chief's favourite Beatles song "Halo, Goodbye".
(1) doubtless alongside at least one, as yet undiscovered, videogame obsessive whose idea of fun was to play the game for three solid weeks with only the aid of several boxes of ProPlus, a lifetime's supply of RedBull and a series of bottles to pee into.
(2) which the UNSC claimed to be more effective than an Ajax clone but not quite as good as a Jeyes Fluid clone.
(3) which, for some reason, took the form of a holographic female with a come-hither voice and oversized virtual breasts. NB Cortana is not to be confused with the model Jordan who, while she certainly has oversized virtual breasts, has a %$*!-off voice and is rarely described as an intelligence, artificial or otherwise.
(4) not thought to be Gordon Brown.
(5) or perhaps even World of Warcraft.
Many moons ago, we at As A Dodo Towers asked you, our noble readers, to get out there and get vote-stuffing on our behalf in an attempt to help us grab a mention in Iain Dale's Guide to Political Blogging 2007. Well, not merely did you stuff the votes, you stuffed them so well that we have the unexpected and, frankly, ill-deserved honour of having snuck into the Top 10 Non-Aligned Bloggers at Number 9. Many thanks to all those who voted for us and thanks to Iain for all his hard work on the project.
25 September 2007
It has - somewhat belatedly - reached our attention here at As A Dodo Towers that Freedom of Speech may be about to gasp its last, having suffered a violent attack by a combination of spineless web hosting organisations, some solicitors red in tooth and letter-before-action and Mr Alisher Usmanov, the latest charming figure rushing to buy his way into a British football - thus following in the footsteps of such delightful men as Thaksin Shinawatra and Robert Maxwell.
It appears that Mr Usmanov, a man some might think too thin-skinned to withstand the assorted merry terrace chants he might expect to face should he succeed in purchasing Arsenal FC, was so deeply wounded by remarks made by some bloggers (and indeed by the fact that certain other bloggers should dare to refer to those same remarks on their own blogs) that he felt he had no alternative but to send out the Schillings gang, who instantly set about putting the frighteners on the bloggers and their webhosts, using sawn-off legal letters to urge that certain references to Mr Usmanov be removed forthwith "or else". The webhosts were sent into a frenzy of plug-pulling, causing the death of the online incarnations of, inter alia, Craig Murray, Tim Ireland and Boris Johnson, all of whom were found smothered under a pile of lawyers' letters. It is to be hoped that their reincarnation is not far off, if it has not occurred by the time you read this.
(UPDATE) Full details of the whole affair can now be found at Tim Ireland's new site here.
There are now 302 blogs supporting the gagged bloggers: Chicken Yoghurt, Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric , Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots , Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia , Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene, Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke, Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly’s Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty’s Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody’s Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica, Back off, man…, Dan Hardie, Krusenstern, Brendadada, Freace, Boriswatch, Fork Handles, Chris Applegate, Christopher Glamorgan, West Virginia Rebel’s Blog, Instapundit, Powerpymes, iDiligence Forum, Gizmotastic, Demos, Gary Andrews, Neweurasia , Never Trust a Hippy, sub specie aeternitatis, Bananas in the Falklands, The Sharpener, Virtual Light, Stu News, Scraps of Moscow, Danivon, As A Dodo, La Russophobe, PJC Journal, Mick Fealty’s Brassneck, dead brains don’t dance, A Comfortable Place, Bamblog, Robert Amsterdam, The Customer, No Longer at Ease, Rachel-Catherine, Humaniform, Mike Rouse, Chesus Yuste, anticapitalista, Aderyn Cân, Ulla’s Amazing Wee Blog, Ross200, Disruptive, Internazionale.it, The Obscurer, A Lefty Down Under, Things I Learned or Made Up, Pickled Bushman, Persons Unknown.
24 September 2007
It is our sad duty to present the following (tragically not silent) tribute to world-renowned mime, Marcel Marceau, by his close friend, Jacques Derigueur - author of The Disreality of 1968 (1967-69), Is This Really a Book? And if so Why? and Jerry Lewis - Clown, Meta-Clown or Semiotic Signifier?
The world has fallen into a silence from which it cannot escape. My friend, my intellectual sparring partner, Marcel Marceau, is dead - dying, as he lived his life, silently. Now he is trapped for all eternity in a box which only he can see. In this, as in all that he did, he provides a perfect metaphor for all our lives.
It was in 1946 - that time after and yet somehow before war - that I first encountered Marceau. It was then that he single-handedly (that single hand in a white glove, matching his other single hand in an equally white glove, united and separate at the same time, implicit, yet explicit) dared to save that very ancient (and paradoxically, en même temps, very modern) art of mime from the near-extinction to which the philistine attitudes of the bourgeoisie had condemned it.
And how was he to save this art? He became it! In donning the guise of "Bip" the clown, Marceau became mime and mime became Marceau. Of course there were some - there are always some - who mistook this act. Some said Bip was derived from the "masters" of silent cinema - Chaplin, Keaton, Seagal - but Marcel was ahead of his time, and of his time, and thus, in a hyperreal way, Bip was the progenitor of these pale parvenus who dared to call themselves clowns (and not merely this, with his white pancake make-up, painted eyebrows and rejection of written communication as an art form he also anticipated, perhaps created, perhaps even destroyed, the late doyenne of the British literary scene, Dame Barbara Cartland).
Like the silence before le Big Bang, Marceau's mime existed in its very own vacuum ... normally created inside an invisible glass box, a phantom prison that Bip filled with angst and a desperate need for escape, twin sensations his audience understood immediately.
Bip undertook a myriad of exciting adventures - trapped in a glass box, trapped in a glass trunk, trapped in a glass wardrobe. His oeuvre was endlessly reinvented and infinitely repeated - most successfully in his three-hour epic movie, Le Rêve du Bip dans La Vitrerie, which had audiences leaving the cinemas in floods of sympathetic tears as they closely identified with the ennui of late capitalism and found themselves filled with an immediate need for death, or at the very least a stiff drink.
Of course, comme toujours, there were pretenders to the crown: some - Benny Hill, Mr Bean - were great men, others - Jacques Tati - were mere speechless flaneurs. Where Tati posited his comic mishaps in the bourgeois world of postmen and holidays, Marcel's lack of verbiage transcended the quotidian. Bip's silence spoke volumes. Nothing more needs to be said - as I have already explained in my seminal text, Inside the Outside of the Glass Box (Vols. I-XII).
Now after 60 years of saying everything by saying nothing, Bip will say nothing - and everything - no more. Bip is dead. Marceau is dead. Vive le silence!
The As A Dodo editors add: Marcel Marceau will be buried beneath the Eiffel Tower just as soon as the stripy-jumpered pall-bearers have located the invisible handles of his invisible casket. The congregation will walk on the spot into a non-existent gale before mouthing the words of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" and dabbing at imagined tears.
21 September 2007
It is with deep regret that we at As A Dodo must today report the death of Party Politics in Great Britain, following news that the policies of the major parties have now become so interchangeable - if not indistinguishable - that there seems to be little or no point in trying to tell them apart. Given Party Politics' long and not always ignoble history, the news that political parties have ceased to be a source of ideological belief and Hegelian dialectic and instead become mere vehicles for the election of their leaders to the Premiership will have come as a shock to many (particularly Sir Menzies Campbell) and a source of delight to Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Given the long decline and sad end of Party Politics, few can today picture them as they were in their youth: two boisterous (not to say belligerent) lads, "Whig" and "Tory", both the children of turbulent times, both engaged in endless battles over the royal succession and the power of the monarchy. By all accounts they were bold youths, never happier than knocking back a few swift ones in the pub before a gentle evening of trying to beat seven shades out of each other as they vied for the favour of a various royals, in scenes which (fortunately) would not be seen again until the tragic and disturbing events of "It's A Royal Knockout" in 1987.
As they moved from their teens into their twenties and beyond, however, Party Politics began to settle down. With independence in the offing in the Americas and revolution nascent in France, Whig and Tory had begun to feel that fighting in the streets was best left to others - preferably German mercenaries trying to keep down revolt on the streets of America and effete members of the British Aristocracy going under the dread-inspiring pseudonym of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" brawling with the sans-culottes on the streets of France. Tired of their youthful ways, Party Politics began to grow respectable - debates in the Houses of Parliament began to involve fewer punch-ups, brawls became confined to only the worser class of election hustings and monarchs became too interested in talking to trees to interfere. By the mid 1800s, Tory had begun to let it be known that he'd much rather be known as "Conservative", Whig started referring to himself "Liberal"(1) and both found themselves able to stand at the same bar in the House of Commons without either attempting to physically wound the other.
Over the following decades Conservative and Tory went about the business of Party Politics with a vengeance - arguing over free trade and protectionism, repealing Corn Laws, spinning off and then absorbing an assortment of splinter parties and ensuring that the House of Commons had some of the cheapest bars in all of the UK.
In the early 20th Century, Party Politics were given a further boost by the arrival of Liberal and Conservative's horny-handed and cloth-capped brother, Labour. This feisty new addition to the political scene, complete with his socialist ideology and Methodist convictions had soon injected new life into the old two-party system ... even if much of this new life was added at the expense of Liberal, who found himself swiftly transformed from a significant figure on the political stage to third understudy in the local am dram players.
By the middle of the century, Party Politics had become a gripping clash between the ideologies of Socialism and Conservatism, capable of sweeping up millions as National Health Services were created, industries nationalised, nuclear weapons purchased, wars fought, unions confronted and much more cheap beer served in the many House of Commons bars.
With the arrival of Margaret Thatcher as Conservative leader and the rise of the Labour left wing in the 1970s, Party Politics arrived at its most glorious hour. There was now no issue which was not a point of principal, no argument which was not vital and no drink which was not a necessary stiffener before a debate.
Few knew it at the time but Party Politics' finest hour was also the beginning of Party Politics' decline. After 18 years of Conservative rule, Labour had begun to rue its old ways. Where once "conviction" had been its watch word, now it began to prefer "pragmatism" and "triangulation": free markets, nuclear weapons and low taxes ceased to be a source of division between the parties and instead became sources of agreement. By 1997, the British public knew they could vote for either Labour or Conservative without fear of sweeping change.
So it was that Party Politics drifted first into consensus and then, with Conservative eager to ape Labour's success by shadowing its policies, into confusion. By 2007 the most fiscally conservative party was the old socialist party, the most ecological party was the centre party and the most socially liberal party was the former right wing party. Thus it was that party difference ceased to mean anything beyond the difference between the party leaders and so Party Politics - despite Ming Campbell's literally breathtaking rendition of "Say It Loud, I'm Old and I'm Proud!" at Brighton this week - sleepwalked off a cliff at a seaside political conference.
Party Politics will be buried all at sea at Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool over the Party Conference Season. Mourners have been asked to send large donations and a request for a seat in the House of Lords to the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat election funds.
(1) Our American readers are here asked to note that this was in a time when the word "liberal" meant to believe in liberty, rather than being the vilely offensive curse word, indicative of a total lack of moral fibre and a willingness, nay eagerness, to be violently taken from behind by communists, terrorists and other evildoers, that it is today.
20 September 2007
Chelsea FC fans, style-watchers and lovers of footballing mind-games are advised that As A Dodo has just been informed that Jose "The Special One" Mourinho's time as Chelsea Manager has passed away. The precise nature of Mr Mourinho's passing is as yet unclear, though those who in recent months have witnessed his rapid transformation from a grey-suited fashion icon and footballing mastermind into a grizzled figure in a tracksuit with all the footballing knowledge of an elderly high court judge (or, heaven forfend, Steve McClaren) believe that the cause was a polonium-enriched football delivered to the Chelsea manager in an armoured Zil following his failure to select Andriy Shevchenko for every match.
In the interim, those wishing to mourn Mr Mourinho are directed to this obituary for Jose Mourinho's Cool, which so sadly predeceased his passing as Chelsea manager earlier this year.
19 September 2007
Punk – the once genuinely exciting musical revolution(1) that transformed a generation of loon-panted, pot-smoking, tree-hugging Genesis fans into bondage-trousered, speed-freaking menaces to society whose idea of fun was sticking a safety pin through a granny whilst listening to he Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen – has finally admitted that it has been clinically dead for some years by announcing that those very same Sex Pistols are reforming to "celebrate" (and shamelessly market) the 30th anniversary re-release of Never Mind the Bollocks.
Despite being inspired by American garage bands of the 60s and the New York Dolls and the Ramones in the early 70s, Punk’s parentage was claimed as an immaculate conception by boutique owner Malcolm McClaren – a man whose self-belief and marketing nous were matched only by his ability to claim credit for the invention of everything from sliced bread to the safety pin. Although the Sex Pistols were formed in 1975, Punk first gobbed on the public’s consciousness in 1976 when the Sex Pistols toured Britain – causing more chaos and destruction than the Three-Day Week and giving the tabloids a near-fatal attack of shocked headlines.
For the next three years bands such as The Damned, Buzzcocks, The Clash, X-Ray Spex and Arthur Mullard and Hilda Baker provided great music for disaffected teens across the nation and front-page news for the red tops.
By 1979, though, it was all over. Punk gave way to New Wave, No Wave, Wave Punk, Post-Punk Post-Wave and, finally, No Punk At All – as, in 1982, The Damned's Captain Sensible reached the top of the charts singing Happy Talk from Rodgers and Hammersteins' celebrated anarchist musical South Pacific.
Although Punk was, by this time, stiffer than Stiff Little Fingers it refused to acknowledge reports of its timely demise, claiming to live on in the spirit of mildly rebellious teenagers from France visiting London and hoping (mistakenly) to catch a glimpse of Johnny Rotten in “le Carnaby Street” and, most importantly, Spit the Dog, who (quite literally) single-handedly gobbed his way from Tiswas to summer seasons at Bridlington – keeping the punk flame flickering dimly for many years past it’s sell-out date.
Even the Sex Pistols Filthy Lucre tour of 1996 (with Sid as competent as ever on bass and vocals, despite his demise) failed to alert a gullible public to the decaying corpse of Punk, held together with safety pins, phlegm and John Lydon's willingness to do that starey-eyed thing that so frightened the powers-that-be in '76 ... despite the fact it now bore all the threat of a sloppy kiss from an ageing aunt.
The ailing spirit of Punk dragged on into the 21st century as tearful middle-aged men and women gathered in small groups to recite the Punk liturgy – the sacred text of Bill Grundy’s infamous interview with The Sex Pistols – that they’d just learnt by heart after watching it on YouTube at work while they should have been preparing that Powerpoint presentation for a three-day marketing conference in Birmingham.
So it was with the news that the Sex Pistols were hoiking up one last greenie with a concert at the Brixton Academy that Punk went to join that great three-chord, two-minute, one-note vocal, no-guitar solo in the sky.
Punk will be buried at St Sid Vicious's Church of The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle. The service will be conducted by the Reverend John Lydon and the congregation will sing Ever Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated? from the forthcoming musical God Save The Queen… No Really…! (Music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Lyrics by Ben Elton). Mourners are asked not to send flowers but to gob on the casket as it is lowered into the ground.
Punk is survived by Malcolm McClaren.
(1) in fact 45 revolutions ... per minute on 7” vinyl
17 September 2007
We at As A Dodo regret that we must issue yet another of our frequent apologies, this time in respect of the following obituary for the secret love of Gordon Brown for Margaret Thatcher, which appears to have been drafted while our staff member was writing under the influence of Simon Bates.
I wanna talk to you about a guy called Gordon. Gordon was a guy from Scotland. He was a big guy. He was a political guy, a Labour guy. Back in the late 70s Gordon was also a lonely guy. Sure he had his mates in the Labour party, his pals in TV production, but Gordon knew there was something missing in his life. He knew he needed a special lady to love.
But then, in 1979, Maggie walked into his life. When Gordon caught sight of her on the TV, standing outside Downing Street proclaiming the words of St Francis's prayer, he was amazed. Maggie was bold, she was brave and - with the way the sunlight glinted off her helmet of blonde hair and the fires burned in the pupils of her steel-blue eyes - she was beautiful.
But Gordon had a problem. You see, Maggie wasn't popular with the Labour Party. She was the woman every Labour member loved to hate. Gordon knew that he could never speak a word of his love to anyone.
And so the long, painful years of Gordon's Secret Love began. He tried to snatch a glance of her whenever he could, running off into quiet corners to gaze adoringly at the telly as she crushed the unions, defended the Falklands, enriched the yuppies, raised unemployment rates and reduced the welfare state. He couldn't bear to be apart from her.
At last, in '83, Gordon found himself in Parliament, finally able to gaze upon his beloved across the floor of the House of Commons. Yet still he could say nothing. Still he had to pretend to hate the woman he loved so deeply. But at least Gordon now had a new friend, a friend I'll call Tony, to lean on. One night he confessed his Secret Love to Tony. Tony gave him a hug, told him to be brave, told him his secret was safe.
And that's when the biggest blow came. Next thing you know, Tony was doing the rounds of the TV studios and newspapers, telling everyone he could about Tony's deep love of Maggie. Soon Maggie was being seen around town with Tony, hanging on his every word and praising him to the skies. Gordon felt betrayed. He felt a fool.
Gordon tried to hide his hurt. He started wooing a girl called Prudence, journeying into a dark world of fiscal constraints and economic bondage. He also tried to hurt the one he loved. He said Maggie showed "a degree of malice in her conduct about the health service". He accused her of "far-right, far-fetched, far-out dogma". He tried to blame her for all of society's ills. But in his heart of hearts Gordon knew he still loved Maggie.
And then it happened. In 2007, Tony fell off a political cliff. Some say they saw a big Scottish guy called Gordon at the scene, but who knows. What we do know is that Gordon at last felt he could proclaim his love for Maggie to the whole world. Now Maggie was taking tea at Number 10 with Gordon and basking in the light of a thousand camera flashes beside him. Gordon's Secret Love was a secret no more.
And so, for Gordon, for Maggie, and in memory of Gordon's Secret Love I'd like to play you their tune ... Highway to Hell by AC/DC.
Gordon's Secret Love will be buried at the church of Our Iron Lady of the Photo Opportunity. The congregation will be accompanied by the sound of assorted deceased members of both the Labour and Conservative parties revolving in their graves.
14 September 2007
Credit, the system of getting free stuff on tick and then 'forgetting’ to make the repayments and moving house very quickly, has gone to the great debt collection agency in the sky, following the news that the worldwide Credit Crunch has made life difficult not just for homeowners but also the people who lent them all that money to buy a one-bedroom shoebox in Pinner.
Credit was born in around 1,000BC, when Ancient Babylonians grew tired of exchanging their wives for goats and bulls for asses and instead began exchanging their goods and services for credit receipts drawn up on clay tablets, which were not only easier to stick in the pocket of one's robe but also much less likely than the goats, bulls and asses to leave a nasty mess behind while they were in there.
Thanks to its convenience, Credit soon became a way of life across the globe, with everyone from Roman Emperors to humble Chinese paddy-field workers more than happy to 'buy now, try to avoid the bailiffs later'.
By the eighteenth century 'tallymen'(1) had begun to offer their goods for sale in return for weekly payments. It was not long, however, before Credit began to tire of this itinerant life and decided to go into business in the City, signing on at banking institutions the world over and offering itself out to the highest bidder. By the middle of the twentieth century, Credit was everywhere and consumers were happily signing away the rights to their property, chattels and small children to finance their credit cards, store cards and London Transport Oyster cards.
Yet all was not well. So popular had Credit become that everyone was demanding it ... and so soft-hearted were the institutions for whom Credit worked that they were reluctant to refuse it to anyone at all ... even if they did happen to be a penniless Alabama five-year old with a credit-history that would make Enron blanch and a desperate need for a $2 million mansion and a gold-plated Nintendo Wii. Credit found itself spread thinner and thinner(2). As hordes of US homeowners began to default on their loans, Credit began to contemplate its end. Fearful, Credit decided to leave its old friends in the financial institutions behind and go off to lick its wounds at the Bank of England.
Thus it was that when UK building society Northern Rock found itself short of a couple of million shillings to pop in the gas meter, its search for Credit initially proved fruitless. Yet Credit, noble creature that it was, was unwilling to see the tragic little multi-million-pound-organisation- which-had-foolishly-gone-on-bunging-out-mortgages-left-right- and-centre-even-when-every-sane-being-on-the-planet-could-see-a- credit-squeeze-was-coming fail, and so it came down from its lonely Threadneedle Street retreat and offered to lend Northern Rock the money it needed ... after first requiring it to fill in a loan application and have its credit history examined by a surly teenager on the other end of the phone whilst listening to a tinny rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
For all its nobility, the loan was Credit's last mistake: a flood of desperate applications from financially over-stretched borrowers up and down the country caused a run on the Credit markets. And so the Credit Crunch gave way to the Credit Crumble and Credit was no more.
Credit will be buried at St Vorderman's Church of Your Home Could Be At Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Repayments. The undertakers will deliver the casket to the church just as soon as they see the cash… up front… The service will be conducted by Alvin Hall and the congregation will sing Money by Pink Floyd, Money by Berry Gordy (in the style of the Flying Lizards), Money, Money, Money by Abba and Sgt. Northern Rock Isn’t Going To Help Us by XTCCJ.
Credit is survived by Cash On Delivery, Pay As You Go and Crippling Debt.
NB Your mortgage may go up as well as up. Remember your home, bank or building society may be at risk if you do not keep up repayments.
(1) so-called because they kept a record or ‘tally’ of what people had bought on a wooden stick ... which also proved useful in persuading them to pay up every week.
(2) not to mention squeezed into a series of financial vehicles of such complexity and opacity that the only people who ever understood them are now either mad, dead or earning a fortune working out the answers to late night TV phone-in quizzes.
12 September 2007
The streets of Baghdad were today filled with emptiness as the people of that shining jewel 'mid the Mesopotamian sands chose to commemorate the ending of the US Troop Surge's Tour of Iraq by not going out in case they got blown up by a celebrating insurgent or decorated with bits of their own anatomy by happy and contented members of a rival tribal group.
It was on January 10th 2007 that President Bush announced The Surge's birth to a joyful nation. The President's child was a bonny and bouncing baby, whose mere presence - the President assured America - was enough to bring a powerful desire for peace and democracy (not to mention a deep wish to run away from the 30,000 heavily armed new troops) to any "evildoer".
Though still very young, Mr Bush's baby was sent away in February 2007 to gain an education in the ways of nascent democracy - taking in extra tuition on the ways of Explosively Formed Penetrator warheads - on a grand tour of Northern Iraq. Led by its new tour guide, General David Petraeus(1), The Surge was shown the many sights of the ancient streets of Baghdad, from the delights of its famous illuminations(2) to the charms of its many insurgents, always eager to greet a foreign soldier with a smile on their face and a bomb near their heart.
Despite the many highlights of its tour, the root of The Surge's ultimate disappointment was to be found in the fact the chief object of its journey - a successful democratic government in Iraq - was closed for the summer and not expected to open for at least several decades. Unable to see the shining beacon of democracy promised to it by Mr Bush, The Surge instead had to content itself with amassing a large supply of souvenir mortar rounds, bullets and Improvised Explosive Devices readily provided by local militia groups. Bored, tired and missing home, The Surge began to complain about the length of its tour and wonder aloud about the whole purpose of its trip.
Unable to show his tour group any sign of functioning government, General Petraeus was forced to put a brave face on things, gamely telling anyone who asked him that he was sure that democracy would soon be up and running in Iraq, whilst at the same time announcing that The Surge's tour of Iraq would soon be brought to an end.
The US Troop Surge in Iraq will be quietly buried in mid-2008 at St Rumsfeld's Church of the Holy Jesus What Kind of A Mess Has This Doofus Left Behind?! It was predeceased by the British Military Presence in Basra and is survived by an Iraqi Government unable to find its arse with both hands.
(1) a man easily distinguishable from previous tour guides provided to the US Army in Iraq by the fact that he doesn't believe Al Fallujah is that guy down the block who runs the falafel stand.
(2) usually, given the unreliability of the electricity supply, a couple of candles and the odd bomb explosion.
10 September 2007
Gordon Brown’s Honeymoon Period – that glorious summer of sunny smiles and political harmony marked by a nation’s delirious acceptance of their new unelected Prime Minister(1) – has passed away.
It was in the balmy days of June 2007 that Gordon Brown and the British people were united in political matrimony, Gordon having offered a shoulder for the nation to cry on as it tried to recover from the discovery that former husband Tony Blair had been having a long and passionate affair with George W Bush ... as well as having offered the use of a double-barrelled shotgun with which to do away with its errant spouse (thus fulfilling Mr Blair's confident prediction to his friends that Gordon would only ever get together with the British people over his dead body).
So it was that on the joyous day of the nuptials, men, women and children across the country gathered together to celebrate the union between themselves and Gordon Brown in an outpouring of emotion on a level not seen since a secret cabal of florists(2) took out a contract on Diana, Princess of Wales to boost its profit margins.
At first all seemed well with the relationship. Mr Brown proved a dutiful - if unexciting - spouse, never happier than when plodding off to work to deal with inundation, foot and mouth, terrorist attacks or any other of the signs of impending apocalypse which had decided to pop by to wish him and the nation all the best in their new marriage. Yet beneath the surface all was not as it seemed. As the months went by the nation began to tire of Mr Brown's ceaseless dedication to his work, not to mention his constant calls for bans on gambling, reductions in drinking hours, the reclassification of cannabis and his secret meetings with spiritualists in order to channel the thoughts of The Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips. Soon the nation found itself looking elsewhere for a bit of fun and it began to think again of beginning an affair of its own with that well-scrubbed if rather vacant David Cameron chap who had popped round the other week to offer to install some solar panels on the roof.
Sensing a growing distance between himself and his spouse the Prime Minister decided to endear himself to the populace once more. Sadly he chose to do so by paying tribute to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and slipping £120 to new mums to "buy something nice for the kiddies". It was not enough to close up the rift that had developed between Mr Brown and the nation that had once been willing to lie down and think of "Britishness" for him.
So as the nation sullenly ignored him over the toast at the breakfast table, Gordon Brown’s Honeymoon Period was over… I MEAN OVER! and a door slammed on the greatest political love-story since Alastair Campbell last caught sight of Tony in his Y-fronts.
Gordon Brown’s Honeymoon Period will be buried at the Trades Union Congress. The service will be conducted by the broadsheets, the tabloids and Newsnight (in an item dominated by quirky graphics, unsuitable music and a few images of Alan Yentob nodding intercut at random). It is survived by Gordon Brown’s Awkward Silences, Gordon Brown’s Moodiness and Gordon Brown’s Decision To Return Home To Live With His Mother For A Wee While.
(1) due mostly to their relief at being delivered – how ever undemocratically – from the yoke of Tony Blair.
(2) led, we are advised by our Egyptian correspondent, by the Duke of Edinburgh.
06 September 2007
A tribute to the late, great, tenor by one of those who knew and loved him best, restaurateur Luigi Stereotipo- Nazionalo.
Che posso dire? The maestro is no more. I cry, I tear my clothes. Caro amico mio, I miss you. Luciano, I know you since you are little boy here in Modena. Always you love three things: the music, the football, the food ... but not necessarily in that order. I remember when you are nine or ten you want to be great footballer. I see you play as keeper. You are so good - the quick hands, the great football brain and - of course - the fact you take up quite a lot of the goal.
But is the singing that take you. Always you listen to you papa's records - Gigli, Schipa, Caruso - all the greats. I see you covered in flour from papa's work in the bakery, listening to Giovanni Martinelli record with a faraway look in you eye ... and the remains of a basket of focaccia in you hand. Then there is time you get up in my little ristorante and climb on the table and sing you heart out. Is bring tears to my eyes even now ... and not because you break my table. It is because you have the great voice.
You study, you work hard and that voice he take you everywhere. You sing at La Scala, you sing in London, you sing in Australia, you sing in New York. They say you reach nine high C's when you sing at The Met. They make you take 17 curtain calls -it even make you give up you after-performance, pre-meal-snack nibble. Such dedication.
Ah, you voice. I can hear it now. So flowing, so beautiful. Always I remember the words you say to me when you come into the restaurant, "Luigi - I have the calamari , the caponata, the fritatta, the prosciutto, the alici, the bruschetta, the gamberi, the bresaola, the pepperoni, the carciofi, the melanzane, the funghi, the lampascioni ... and once I've finished the starters come back to me and talk about the mains".
You were the greatest star. You bring music to millions. When you sing Nessun Dorma at the World Cup you make everyone cry (especially Domingo and Carreras when they realise how much better you sing it than them). The whole stadium it fill with tears and for once is not because Gazza is there.
Ah Luciano, I know you have you problems. I know you have little difficulty with you tax. I know they say you no act. I know they say is wrong to sing with popstars. But I know you have great appetite for life, for music (and, si, for food) and I know you have voice of gold. Arrivederci Luciano.
05 September 2007
The British Military Presence in Basra, part of that joint mission with the United States to extract oil from bring peace and democracy to the benighted country of Iraq, has been zipped up in a body bag as troops withdrew relocated to the airport – marking the end of a foreign adventure with all the mishap-free success of M. Hulot's Holiday.
The British Military Presence in Basra was first established in 1917 as our brave Tommies secured the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s interests in neighbouring Persia freed the region from the evil clutches of the Ottoman Empire, and formed the modern state of Iraq from three rival ethnic groups – the Kurds, the Shi’as and the Sunnis – who have, ever since, co-existed peacefully with their new neighbours.
Granting independence to Iraq in 1932 the British retained a military presence in the region because large deposits of oil had been discovered there, re-invading the country in 1941 to stop Germany from stealing the oil and just “minding it for the Iraqis” for a short while as part of the struggle against the evils of Hitler. Despite British heroism in defence of the oil 17 years later an ungrateful Iraqi Army overthrew the Anglophile puppet government monarchy and set about using their new-found freedom and economic independence to terrorise their population all by themselves.
And so, for a while, Britain withdrew altogether from Iraq. In 1991, however, the latest of Baghdad's loyal friends of the West despots, Saddam Hussein, had set his sights on Kuwait’s oil fields and American and British troops again invaded to restore peace and democracy. While the Americans stopped short of Baghdad, our brave boys conquered Basra and soon felt at home there amidst its ancient streets and traditional Officer’s Club and NAAFI (est. 1917). Withdrawing from the city after a regimental sherry and bridge evening got out of hand, British troops were powerless to intervene as the Republican Guard slaughtered Shi’as in their thousands.
Following the discovery of weapons of mass destruction
a dodgy thesis written by a Canadian student a fictional link between the Saddam regime and Al Qaeda, the Allies were welcomed back into Iraq as heroic liberators in 2003, as Tony Blair decided to make his mark in history and to be judged by God back Donald Rumsfeld's George W. Bush’s daring plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein and free Iraq’s giant oil reserves.
Although it was our American allies who were to bear the brunt of Iraqi ingratitude for bombing their country back to the Stone Age liberating their oil them from the nightmare of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, even in Basra mutterings of discontent were heard. Soon these mutterings grew into a more audible collective tut and British troops found they were no longer welcome in the city’s clubs and late-night kebab houses, unless accompanied by a large amount of bombing and rifle-fire from local insurgents.
So it was this week that the “pre-planned” decision to withdraw all British troops to the city’s airport was taken amidst much criticism from the Americans whose decision to “surge” more troops into Baghdad earlier in the year had so successfully pushed the insurgents into the rest of the country and enabled the Iraqi government to take a well deserved holiday.
Denying accusations that they were abandoning Basra to the Iraqi Army – an organisation with all the effectiveness of Warmington-on-Sea's Home Guard (but with better weapons) and all the loyalty to its leadership of a member of the Tory party, the Queen’s Own Light Baggage Handlers Brigade and 2 Para Confiscation of Water Bottles and Nail Files Battalion quickly established control of Basra airport and began merrily wishing happy tourists and business travellers “a good one-way flight out of Basra”.
And so it was that with the US accusing the UK of abandoning Basra and the UK accusing the US’s policy in Iraq of being “fatally flawed”, the last post was sounded and the owners of Basra’s clubs and late-night kebab houses breathed a sigh of relief.
The British Military Presence in Basra will be buried very quietly. The service will be conducted by the CEO of British Petroleum. It is not expected that our American allies will attend. It is survived by The British Military Presence in Afghanistan and The British Military Presence in Aldershot – both of which have been causing much
hardship and unhappiness to locals since the 19th century.
03 September 2007
Across Britain married couples are today bowing their heads and quietly hissing at their partners about a thousand different petty faults they have found in each other as they remember Divorce, which has passed away after the revelation by the UK's Office for National Statistics that it has fallen from a great height to a record low.
Though its origins - like the financial records of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills - remain shrouded in mystery, many believe that Divorce was born in Mesopotamia in the 4th Millenium BC. Most historians believe it was the child of an unhappy marriage, though others believe it was actually raised by a lawyer who had just thought of a brand new way of getting people into the courts and their money into his wallet(1).
From the start Divorce proved popular in Mesopotamia. Wherever Shu-Ilishu could be found reeling home late from the temple after a couple too many beers or Inanna could be discovered having secret trysts with Ishbi-Erra behind Ur-Dakuga's back, there would be heard calls for Divorce to come as quickly as possible.
As the years passed, Divorce decided to strike out for pastures new. It was extremely popular in Ancient Athens, where it became the swiftest and easiest answer to matrimonial disputes (which, Ancient Athenians being Ancient Athenians, usually revolved either around fraught arguments over whether Achilles could ever catch up with a tortoise or even fraughter arguments about what exactly Alexander had been caught doing with his pool boy). It was in Rome that Divorce reached its greatest heights, however, partly due to the fact that anyone was allowed to divorce at will but mainly due to the inevitable fallout from all those orgies.
With the spread of Christianity, however, Divorce began to show the first signs of fragility. It was no longer regarded as a sensible and convenient solution to the problem of two people waking up one morning to the realisation that the worst thing in the whole world is to discover that your partner makes an irritating slurping noise while eating his or her larks' tongues, but seen instead as an affront to God's Will(2). Despite this, many attempts were made down the years to keep Divorce alive and well. Henry VIII in particular did all in his power to support Divorce, even setting up his own religion to help separate himself from several spouses (in much the same way that L. Ron Hubbard founded his own religion to separate his followers from their money). Thanks to his good work it was not long before Divorce was proving almost as popular as heretic burning and catching syphilis.
Over the following centuries Divorce fell in and out of favour with the waxing and waning of the power of the church. It was in the 20th century however that it was to reach new heights, particularly after 1945. Not least among the causes of this renewed popularity was the number of Tommies who came home to Britain from World War II to discover their wives had drawers full of nylon stockings, handbags full of chewing gum and a wardrobe full of members of the US military called Dwight trying to do up their belt buckles. The stars of stage and screen, ever eager to help a good cause, also rallied to Divorce's side. In this regard particular mention must be made of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mickey Rooney for their hard work in the area of serial marriages and to George Clooney for making so many women dissatisfied with that slob they've got taking up space on the sofa back home.
Yet despite all this good work - not to mention the pressures of a society in which both partners must work to afford a reasonable standard of living, the strain of child-rearing and the great contribution of mobile phone texting and the internet to the business of having torrid affairs - last week Divorce was revealed to have fallen to a new low.
Divorce will be buried at St Britney's Church of the Repentant Spouse. The reading will be from chapters D, I, V, O, R, C and E of the book of Tammy Wynette, after which the congregation will inform each other that "It's not you, it's me" before throwing the communion wine over each other and storming out of the church.
(1) which, given that the currency at the time came in the form of gold bars, was almost as capacious as that of a modern divorce lawyer.
(2) placing it alongside other well-known affronts to God's will such as US election victories by the Democrats, the failure to possess at least two semi-automatic rifles and the teaching of evolution in schools but strangely not in the same category as owning slaves, selling your daughter or stoning adulterers to death.