The Curmudgeon


Sunday, July 31, 2005

News 2020

US government patents "extremism"*

The United States government has successfully patented the word "extremism", which can now be used only with permission and in contexts which the patent-holder deems appropriate.

Under US law, the American government is now the owner of the term "extremism" in perpetuity and throughout the universe of space and time, notwithstanding the provisions of any local statutes or alien customs.

The US government also owns the word in any alternate realities which faith-based communities may see fit to construct, whether they do so with or without the prior knowledge or consent of the administration.

The British government welcomed the ruling, calling it "a significant new step in the war against inappropriacy".

Legal steps are being taken to enforce the patent retroactively, so that past inappropriate uses of the word can be dealt with through the American courts.

Inappropriate usages of the word "extremism" which are in the public domain will be expunged by the Department of Homeland Expressivity Freedom when the US government patents the public domain next year.

* Used by permission. All instances of the word "extremism" in this article have been certified as correct and contextual in accordance with the rights of the owner. This article is published subject to the condition that the word "extremism" shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be written, typed, emailed, electronically entered, read out, spoken, thought or otherwise verbalised except in accordance with said rights, and on condition of a similar condition including this condition being imposed upon subsequent verbalisees.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

News 2020

Britain still too soft on preachers of hate, think-tank warns

Britain is still not expelling enough preachers of hate compared with European rivals such as France, a government think-tank has warned.

France has expelled seventeen imams in the past month for using inflammatory rhetoric to potentially induce possibly impressionable young Muslims to commit potential terrorist acts.

But the British human rights lobby has stood in the way of similar measures being taken in Britain.

Under Britain's anti-terror laws, imams preaching hatred are not subject to deportation but merely to indefinite detention, presumption of guilt by association, house arrest and use of sniffer dogs to detect caches of explosives in their mosques.

The report by the Council for Attenuating Terror and Aborting Rising Religious Hatred (CATARRH) says that such measures may no longer be sufficient to fulfil Britain's European quotas on expulsions.

"In theory, locking someone away in Belmarsh, Blunkwell or Clarkmark doesn't really count as expulsion from the country," said CATARRH spokesperson Dodie Mair. "We've tried to persuade Brussels to be more flexible about it, but they keep insisting on the distinction, and if they ever do concede the point it'll be at the cost of our traditional potato crisps or something."

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary welcomed the report and said that, in defence of the British way of life, everything possible would be done to prevent the preaching of hatred by Muslims.

"We certainly will not stand by while cave-dwelling bigots and unreasoning bombers try to inflict their petty nationalist prejudices on the country that beat Napoleon and Hitler," the Prime Minister said.

Friday, July 29, 2005

News 2020

Journalists apologise for failure to prepare public

Media professionals have apologised to the Home Office for their failure to adequately prepare the public for the adverse consequences of the fighting on the home front of the ongoing war on horribility.

The apologies came after a week during which several apparently non-terroristic human resources were protectively detrimented by members of the Ian Blair Brains Trust armed police units, resulting in some disquiet among the more volatile and rucksack-equipped sections of the public.

The Brains Trust - so named because of Sir Ian's famous dictum that the correct way to deal with suicide bombers is to "totally and utterly destroy the brain" - has been criticised for failing to carry out proper public relations exercises before embarking on its campaign of enforced cerebral disassembly.

However, ex-Guardian editor Allan Fusbudget said that the media also had to take responsibility for the public reaction to the incidents.

"The public are often in the dark about seeing the light unless media professionals are there to help them grasp the nettle," Mr Fusbudget said. "Journalists have concentrated too much on the consequences of terrorist bombings to mere civilians and have failed to make clear the very considerable problems faced by armed men with wide powers of search and seizure."

Former BBC director-general and interpreter of political nuance Andrew Marr said that the entire profession should "hang its head in shame" over its biased treatment of the police and their actions.

Media expert Bradley Ichneumon predicted that journalists will have to do "considerably better" in future or suffer a lack of important information.

"In times of war, it is no longer enough to rely on press briefings from the Home Office to find out the correct attitude," he said. "The correct attitude must be a natural state of mind for anyone who expects to remain with their head inside the information loop."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

News 2020

Anti-terror police protest at "demeaning" treatment

Members of public protection enforcer units are complaining about the treatment of officers whose conduct is under investigation by the Autonomous Police Exculpation Service.

Fourteen alleged human beings have been subjected to special protection measures by enforcer units during the past six months, in addition to at least one suspected terrorist.

All the officers involved in the measures are subject to investigatory proceedings which could take up to two years to complete, and possibly longer if the families of suspects attempt to indulge in legal action.

Of the fourteen suspects who turned out to be non-terroristic at the time of their incidentation, only three have been confirmed as holding foreign passports, and none are known to have been in the country illegally.

The Home Secretary said that the police were doing an "incredible job" at "incredibly difficult odds" and challenged anyone who objected to the shootings to do a better job in similar circumstances.

The officers' complaints stem from the fact that they have been removed from active duty and placed on official paid leave, pending investigation by the Autonomous Police Exculpation Service.

"This is the kind of thing that leads to the public losing confidence in the police," said one officer on condition of anonymity.

"Civilians who are suspected of killing people get a fair trial and the chance to state their case in open court, while all we get is a holiday at the taxpayers' expense. It's demeaning. How dare they treat us like they treat drug addicts and single mothers?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It Has to be Said

The British police force is the best in the world. A long time ago, when the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six was making its slow and painful way into the consciousness of the British media, somebody raised a question about it on the BBC's Question Time. The Birmingham Six - or was it the Guildford Four? - had been imprisoned on faked evidence and on confessions which were beaten out of them. The fakery and the beatings were the work of Britain's boys in blue, the best police force in the world, who are often faced with split-second decisions.

I can't remember what the question was, but at least one panellist preceded her answer with the assertion that if there was one thing that had to be made clear about this case, it was that Britain's police were the best in the world. At that point, someone off-camera presumably held up a sign saying Applause, and the clappity-clappity static of our habitual British self-denigration echoed around the studio for minutes on end.

Bestness in the world is not unique to the British police, of course; not even when the Guildford Four - or perhaps it was the Maguire Seven - are the issue. The NHS is the best health service in the world, especially when another chunk of it is about to be privatised. The British armed forces are frequently the best in the world when they've driven a few of their own recruits to suicide or been caught using members of the subject races as involuntary partners in some very special war-games. The British mother of parliaments is probably the best in the world, most probably when anyone calls for it to be reformed.

This week the British police - the best in the world, in case you didn't know it - are suffering a loss of credibility because some of their armed personnel - almost all British police are unarmed, making them the best in the world - shot dead an innocent man, apparently in the belief that he was a suicide bomber. They were protecting the British public, and they had to make a split-second decision under circumstances of considerable stress. Tony Blair has pointed out, on behalf of the best police force in the world, that if circumstances had been different - if the man had been a suicide bomber and if the best police in the world had not shot him - there might have been adverse criticism. Obviously, that would have been too bad.

The British police force is the best in the world. This needs to be said, as is evident from the number of people who feel obliged to keep saying it. Anti-terrorist hunter-killer units often operate under stressful circumstances. Their self-sacrifice in allowing themselves to be press-ganged into handling weapons (surely you don't imagine they do it because they like the job?) is without parallel. Armed police protecting an ungrateful public from suicide bombers have a dangerous job to do. All this must be said, if only to emphasise the fact that some of them do not appear to have been trained very well in doing it. But let us never doubt it, the British police are the best in the world.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Protecting Our Culture

A minor member of the caretaker administration which tried to preside over the declining seven years of the Thatcher government has urged that those who "literally spit hate at our country" should be deported. I couldn't agree more. Our country has enough problems without people literally spitting hate, although I must confess I've never literally seen it done myself.

The gentleman in question, whose name escapes my memory, also proposed a handy new name for the so-called "shoot to kill policy", that protective safety measure whereby a certain Officer Five-Rounds became an unwitting instrument of terrorist policy. "I rather prefer the expression shoot-to-protect rather than shoot-to-kill," the gentleman said. "I think that is a more accurate description of what happened."

Well, I'm glad we agree on the shooting part. Shots were certainly fired. Aside from the single member of the foreign, visa-expired, suspiciously-dressed public who was protected with extreme prejudice, Stockwell station was full of collaterally-protected members of the British public who saw what happened; so it cannot very well be denied. Calling it "shoot to protect" also helps differentiate the act of shooting from the act of permitting a suspected suicide bomber to climb unhindered onto a bus, which in light of the events of 7 July can hardly be construed as protective of anyone. Perhaps they thought the bus was suspiciously roofed.

Terrorism "as a generality" (a literal one?) has been growing for thirty years and threatens not only the west. This explains, once again, why Iraq cannot be relevant to the matter. The real problem, according to the gentleman in question, whose name escapes my memory, is that there are many people who "for reasons that are irrational, dislike the Anglo-Saxon way of life". The gentleman seems obsessed with strange, hardcore minorities who do strange, hardcore things - one wonders how he and the Tories ever managed to fall out. First people who literally spit hate at our country, now people who dislike wattle-and-daub living accommodation and getting pluckily thrashed at the Battle of Hastings - what is the world coming to?

This may seem a trivial matter, but I do have a personal stake in it. Though I was born in this country, I come of foreign stock. I have Scandinavian features and a French surname, which presumably means that my dominant genes are Norman. As the more pure-blooded among you may be aware, the Normans invaded this country, on grounds of dubious legality and with very little convincing evidence in their favour, only nine hundred and thirty-nine years ago this autumn. I wonder if this is long enough for satisfactory assimilation to have taken place.

It appears not. Many of us who were born here and live here still somehow contrive to hate the culture of the UK, according to the gentleman in question, whose name escapes my memory. Some of us (myself included) don't even know what that culture is supposed to consist in; although if it has anything to do with cricket, warm beer or the good old Blitz spirit, I cheerfully admit to a literal urge to spit chilled Heineken at it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Regrettable Circumstances

The Metropolitan police have issued a statement expressing regret at the pumping of five bullets into the head of someone unconnected with the failed bombings of 21 July. "For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets," they said. Jolly white of them.

The man who so carelessly lost his life emerged from a block of flats that was under surveillance. Police officers in plain clothes followed him to the station, his clothing and behaviour adding to their suspicions. I wonder what his behaviour was. Perhaps he acted as if he thought he was being followed. In any case, they followed him to the station, where the regrettable circumstance occurred. According to the mayor of London, the terrorists were to blame.

No one should underestimate the difficulties of the police in dealing with potential suicide bombers. If someone blows up fifty people and it later transpires that he walked through a cordon of armed police on the way, few are going to be very understanding towards the Met. Similarly, if an innocent person is stopped and searched and found to have nothing worse than a few Asian antecedents, the cry of "institutional racism" will not long be silenced. Unfortunately, the cry of "institutional racism" is also quite likely to be heard if the Met starts treating all British Asians as potential mass murderers.

As long as Iraq is not the problem, as Tony has told us it isn't, there are few effective ways to deal with the problem of suicide bombers on the Underground. One is to have everyone searched on entering a station, which will bring the capital grinding to a halt and will cause the bombers to start blowing up restaurants, discos, clubs and so forth. They'll probably get around to those in any case, but let's try to continue as much as possible as normal. The problem with searching every Tube passenger is that the consequences would enable the terrorists to feel they had succeeded in disrupting our way of life, which as everyone knows is their main and only ambition.

As long as Iraq is not the problem, as Tony has told us it isn't, another possibility is to keep watch over every Muslim in the country, tap their telephones, open their letters and station a police guard with dogs in the entrance of every mosque. Those Muslims who object can be detained on suspicion for their incriminating antipathy to multiculturalism. This policy has the advantage of not inconveniencing any non-Muslims except the ones that get blown up because of the surge in volunteer bombers which will result from the policy. It is for others to judge whether this is a price worth paying for the continuing non-disruption of our way of life.

As long as Iraq is not the problem, as Tony has told us it isn't, a third possibility is to let the suicide bombers do their work, and then use evidence, witnesses, informers and other police tactics to try and catch the ringleaders. This has the decided advantage of avoiding the all-too-familiar embarrassment of pre-emptive strikes which later turn out to have pre-empted a nonexistent threat. Perhaps Tony and Officer Five-Rounds can get together one day and exchange commiserations; or perhaps the comparison is unfair. Officer Five-Rounds, after all, may have made an honest mistake, however over-emphatic he undoubtedly was in making it.

The problem with letting the suicide bombers do their work, of course, is that people will continue to get blown up. However, people will most likely continue to get blown up as long as our hated lifestyle remains undisrupted; so as long as Iraq is not the problem, as Tony has told us it isn't, it would seem sensible to keep added inconveniences such as race wars to a minimum. After all, nobody is to blame for criminal activities except the criminals themselves. When people are burgled or mugged, they blame the burglar or the mugger, and the matter is generally uncontroversial. But when law-abiding persons get their brains blown out by the Metropolitan Police, one cannot always rely on people to do as Ken Livingstone did and blame suicide bombers who were not present. There will always be a few malcontents who'll try to pin the responsibility on the Metropolitan Police.

If only Iraq were the problem. Then it would all be so simple. We could just pull our troops out; the advantages would be tremendous. They wouldn't have to get killed any more in the service of a foreign chimpanzee, we wouldn't be violating international law any more (at least not in Iraq), we wouldn't be associated with people like John Howard and Silvio Berlusconi, and the bombers and their bosses would go somewhere else to play. But alas, this cannot be. Iraq is not the problem, because Tony has told us it isn't.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Satanic Supplement

Cruelty,n. One of the few available means of deriving pleasure from the company of one's fellow beings.

Enjoy,v.t. To endure without visible misery.

Foetor,n. The fragrance of foet.

Indiscretion,n. The worst possible crime, namely the type to which is added the cardinal aggravation of being caught.
A myopic but amorous rake
Found his paramour's bodice was fake.
He peered at her face
And exclaimed, "In that case,
I have made a most dreadful mistake."
Rev. Wibley Beamish

Liberty,n. The enviable state of being oppressed by market forces rather than police forces.

Misanthrope,n. A boor who imagines that just because humanity is not absolutely perfect there is some excuse for going into the specifics of its faults.

Nationality,n. One of the many available excuses for subordinating conscience to expediency.

Rat,n. A rodent which lives wherever man lives, eats whatever man eats, and is treated with the disgust it deserves.

Subtraction,n. Mathematical operation used in counting one's blessings.

Ulvern,n. A mediaeval garment of uncertain but vital purpose.
And thus did hee ryde for hys King, hys ulvern flowynge behynde hym; whereof hee was in ye nexte towne arrystedd for indecynt ysposure.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and North Westminster Advertiser

Friday, July 22, 2005

News 2020

London Underground announces new safety measures

London Fast&Lo, the private company contracted to run the London Underground service, has announced that it will be cutting the length of trains by one carriage, and possibly two during rush hour.

"This is a normal and natural safety measure which we have undertaken after careful consideration," said Fast&Lo executive Drago DeLay.

"Although some of the customer accommodation receptacles on the Underground were built as recently as 1972 or 1996, many of them are wearing out and will have to be taken out of service," Mr DeLay continued.

The Department of Transport welcomed the announcement and praised Fast&Lo's "timely display of fiscal prudence and corporate ethicalism" in not replacing the carriages.

Asked whether shorter trains would mean a more frequent service, Mr DeLay said that London Fast&Lo would continue to service the whole city in the manner London deserved.

"Some increase in customer proximity is inevitable, particularly during the rush hour," he said. "This is why we are removing more cars during the rush hour, so that customer proximity can be increased to the optimum level possible."

The company would consider reinstating some of the carriages if the number of crushing injuries rose above the maximum specified in Government guidelines, assuming the Department of Transport did not liberalise the guidelines first, Mr DeLay said.

The opportunity for enhanced customer proximity would be a "major blow in the war against terror", he continued. Increased consumer density in the accommodation receptacles would help minimise damage by confining blast effects within a relatively small area, he said.

"It takes more force than you might think to blow a chunk of metal right through a human body, and these bombs they use are quite primitive really," Mr DeLay concluded.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Snake Oil

The Prime Minister has once more displayed his uncanny insight into why evil things get done. "We know why these things are done," he said. "They are done to scare people and to frighten them, to make them anxious and worried."

Well, that puts it clearer, to be sure. Whoever they may be and whatever motives they may claim to have, the people who caused today's explosions wanted to scare us, frighten us, anxietise and worry us, and nothing else. They didn't want us to get out of Iraq, that's for certain. You'd be a fool, a dupe, and a poison-tongued apologist even to think it. The slimy, despicable motives of the culprits are so obvious that Tony could inform us of them without even knowing the full details of what had happened. "It's best, for operational details," he said, "to go to the police and the emergency services and others who can give you the information." That seems fair enough. Most of us know better by now than to rely on Tony for facts, but this was, after all, a press conference.

Tony quoted the Metropolitan police commissioner as hoping to get back to normal as quickly as possible, and recommended that everyone "react calmly" and go on "as much as possible as normal" while we wait for the next hysterical raft of "anti-terror" laws to be launched upon the deadly shallows of New Labour rhetoric. If this kind of thing goes on happening every few weeks, we can forget legalistic qualms about hoods or being a teenager after nine o'clock. They'll be outlawing carpentry and rucksacks before the first tinsel goes up.

Tony got the news of the blasts in the middle of lunch with his fellow Iraq-liberator and refugee-repatriator, John Howard. I wonder what they talk about when George isn't there to steer things along. Then Tony went to a meeting with the government's "civil contingencies" committee, which had been scheduled to discuss appropriate calm reactions and possible normal continuations to the bombings on the seventh. The committee is called Cobra. Terrorism is a disease, and they're the cure.

Carcinogens cause cancer. Terrorists terrorise. That's what they are, so that's what they do. Only when one can kill people in thousands instead of dozens is one permitted ulterior motives. The bombing and despoiling of Afghanistan and Iraq may have scared, frightened, anxietised and worried a few people, but it's all in a good cause and any terror which may be felt is either an unfortunate side effect or somebody else's fault. React calmly and continue as much as possible as normal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

News 2020

Former Prime Minister dies at 77

The Right Honourable Sir John Major, KG, CH, CSE and former Prime Minister, died peacefully in his audience's sleep today during a long speech he was making about cricket. He was 77.

Sir John, who came to power after the voluntary departure of Lady Thatcher in 1990, led Britain through the first War of Iraqi Liberation and in and out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Though not a fiery orator, he was known as a man with an interesting overlip and had many human quirks, including the pronunciation of the word "want" to rhyme with "pant".

After a chivalrous electoral campaign which he lost to Lord Blair of Belmarsh, Sir John retired from worldly things and was elected to the Committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club, where his interestingly interesting personal character and neatly brushed hair could be used to their fullest advantage.

He was also a member of the executive board of the Carlyle Group, the US-based global equity firm charged with the handling of British assets on their way to the United States.

Tributes have been trickling in from adversaries on all sides of the political spectrum. "He was a political giant," said Lady Thatcher, who ranked him "second only to Heath, Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain" among twentieth-century Conservative Prime Ministers.

The novelist and cultural commentator Edwina Currie paid tribute to Sir John's personal integrity and dress sense, while Lord Blair of Belmarsh called him "a political giant".

Monday, July 18, 2005

Terrorism: More Insights

The British foreign secretary, an excuse protruding from a suit wrapped around a feebler excuse, has provided his own theological commentary on the latest pronouncements of Reverend Blair. An independent organisation specialising in foreign affairs has found that one of our main problems in preventing terrorism is the fact that Britain "is riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror".

The disciple is astonished. "I'm astonished", Straw said, "that Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies in the United States". Straw must have a rather tenuous grasp of where a pillion passenger rides. It isn't shoulder to shoulder, and it certainly isn't in a driving seat.

Apparently Chatham House and its fellow Islamofascist-licker, the Economic and Social Research Council, have got behind the times a little. Straw put them straight: "The time for excuses for terrorism is over." Goody. Does that mean we can dispense with Reverend Blair's invocations of democracy the Halliburton way as an excuse for blowing people up?

The two hotbeds of evil also said that the Iraq mess had given al-Qaeda "a boost" and that "The UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States". Naturally, this is not to be believed. We have heard it from the Saviour of Baghdad himself: terrorists are not motivated by opposition to anything, but by pure evil, mad fanaticism, utter devilishness and being just all-fired Bad.

Straw cited Saturday's attack in Turkey as a sign that terrorists "will seek any excuse". Turkey "was not supporting our action in Iraq", therefore the terrorists in Turkey could not have been motivated by our action in Iraq, therefore the terrorists in Britain could not have been motivated by our action in Iraq. They're all the same, you see. They just have to kill innocent people, so they go around looking for excuses to do it. Poor bastards probably can't even help themselves.

It's a jolly good thing we are ruled by people like Reverend Blair and his humble acolyte - not forgetting, of course, the chimp in the driving seat of the remote-control battlebike whose pillion we have the honour to occupy. If we allowed ourselves to be seduced by others, less willing to understand the motives of the terrorists, less able to exercise Reverend Blair's God-given, almost participatory insight into their hermetically murderous minds - why, I don't know what we'd do. We might start feeling unsafe.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Larry Cohen

Several of Larry Cohen's cheap, cheerfully inventive films - Q, God Told Me To and the It's Alive trilogy - have recently been released on DVD. This is an unmitigatedly Good Thing, and I hope to see many more of them.

After an apprenticeship as a writer and producer for television, Cohen wrote, produced and directed his first feature film, the splendidly titled Dial Rat for Terror, in 1972. He came to prominence with It's Alive (1974), a horror film about an epidemic of fanged, predatory babies. Though cheap, it is notable for its satirical black humour (the hero's son slaughters the medical staff at birth) and for its exploration of the parents' dilemma. Frank Davis, having fathered one of the creatures (and lost his job for being "too controversial"), at first disowns the deadly infant but later tries to protect it, despite its obvious anti-social tendencies. It's Alive is also noted for being scored by Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music for Hitchcock's Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo and others.

Cohen made two sequels, It Lives Again (1978) and It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987). They are among the select number of film sequels which equal or improve on the original. One critic noted that It Lives Again must be the only horror film in which the tension derives as much from efforts to protect the monster as from those to destroy it. A young couple conceive one of the fanged mutants, and are torn between Frank Davis, who is part of a parents' underground movement trying to protect the things, and Mallory, a ruthless cop who wants to hunt them all down and exterminate them. Mallory, of course, has fathered one of the mutants himself.

Cohen's films are full of quotable dialogue. In Full Moon High (1981), a teenage werewolf puts off his girlfriend's advances with the excuse that it's his "time of the month". The Stuff (1985) concerns a parasitic goo from beneath the Earth's crust which manages to get itself marketed as a dessert; the film's industrial-spy hero (Michael Moriarty, a Cohen regular) announces proudly at the beginning: "Nobody could be as dumb as I appear," and later gets to deliver the maxim: "Everybody has to eat shaving cream now and then."

In Q (aka The Winged Serpent, 1982), the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl is resurrected and flies about New York City snatching people off the skyscrapers. Cohen was able to employ the talents of David Carradine and Candy Clark as well as Moriarty, and the film is one of his most sophisticated, but it still manages to include such lines as "Maybe his head got loose and fell off".

Perhaps Cohen's most complex film, as well as his darkest, is God Told Me To (aka Demon, 1976), in which Peter Nicholas (Tony LoBianco), a troubled Catholic detective, is faced with an epidemic of murders carried out by apparently normal people who claim, with quiet satisfaction, that God told them to do it. "He's done so much for us," says a man who has just shot his wife and children; "I thought it was about time we did something for him." As with many Cohen films, God Told Me To is rather messily edited, working beautifully in the set pieces but often less than adequately in the plotting. Nevertheless, it combines religious satire, horror, science fiction and human drama in a way to which big-budget extravaganzas like The Exorcist and Stigmata barely aspire.

In 1987, Cohen made an unofficial sequel to Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot. With typical chutzpah, he threw out all of King's characters and kept only the basic premise of a small American town inhabited entirely by vampires. A Return to 'Salem's Lot starred Michael Moriarty as an anthropologist lumbered with his troubled teenage son ("Didn't they tell you? I'm fucked up") and Samuel Fuller as a Nazi-hunter turned vampire killer. As Moriarty finds his moral relativism crumbling somewhat before the all-American vampires, the film gets in some effective jabs at small-town snobbery and hypocrisy: a little old lady vampire refers coyly to her "drinking problem", while the evil king-vampire is shown to be, at bottom, little more than a rather nasty conservative politician.

Besides monster movies, Cohen has also made thrillers such as The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), which portrays the FBI chief as a sexually repressed, paranoid megalomaniac; Special Effects (1984) the twisted tale of a policeman, a murderous film director, and the woman whom he turns into the double of his leading lady; and The Ambulance (1990), a Hitchcock-style entertainment in which Eric Roberts investigates the sudden disappearance of a young woman, much to the disdain of gum-chomping cop James Earl Jones.

Because of their frequently hurried production and their bargain-basement budgets, Cohen's films are sometimes murkily shot or hurriedly assembled; but Cohen's freewheeling approach (and independence from studio interference) enables him to attack a number of satirical targets which often get off lightly in the mainstream: Christianity in God Told Me To, salt-of-the-earth small towns in A Return to 'Salem's Lot, family values in the Alive trilogy, addiction-manufacturing food companies in The Stuff. In the third film of the trilogy, Cohen even manages to work in some telling swipes against American demonisation of Cuba. Having made a wisecrack earlier in the film about using the deadly babies against Castro, Stephen Jarvis (Moriarty again) later finds himself being given medical treatment on the rogue island, then taken home and given a Russian pistol to protect himself against the monsters. "Perhaps you hadn't heard," one of his Cuban companions tells him, "but we're human beings as well."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Devilish Logic

The Vicar of Downing Street, whom God appears to have blessed with telepathy, has informed his faithful that the London bombings were not motivated by opposition to the invasion of Iraq. That settles that, then.

Their cause is "not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such that it can't be moderated." No doubt this is true of the bombers themselves and of the mediaeval lunatics who control them; fortunately, there is nothing in our own behaviour to drive anyone into the arms of such creatures. This happy fact may be readily deduced from the Prime Minister's absolute inability to conceive of such a possibility.

"What was September the eleventh, 2001 a reprisal for?" If there had been any investigation worth the name, we might have some idea. As it is, we are necessarily forced back on theories, prominent among which are western support of various brutal and corrupt governments in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Indonesia and Israel. What was the invasion of Iraq a reprisal for?

The Prime Minister also indulges in some rhetorical flourishes about the crusades for democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Palestinians' apparent eagerness to build walls. "If it is Afghanistan that motivates them, why blow up innocent Afghans on their way to their first-ever election?" Apparently it's all right to blow up innocent Afghans provided you're looking for a cave-dwelling religious maniac who may or may not have inflicted a non-reprisal and who may or may not be anywhere near Afghanistan.

"Why, even after the first Madrid bomb and the election of a new Spanish government, were they planning another atrocity when caught?" Why, even after the remarkable case of the weapons of mass nonexistence and the collapse of any pretence at democracy, is Britain still colluding with the Bush government in its illegal occupation of Iraq? If Their logic is devilish and Ours is angelic, why do the syllogisms look so similar?

"Why, if it is the cause of Muslims that concerns them, do they kill so many with such callous indifference?" Presumably because few religious fanatics have many qualms about sending people to their just reward. Whatever damage they inflict, they can always be sure that their sky-daddy will provide appropriate compensation - hellfire for the guilty, bliss for the collateral damage. The single "cause" which apparently unites something over a thousand million Muslims, including the bombers, is regrettably left unspecified.

The bombers, it appears, were driven by "evil ideology", which does not involve opposition to anything. Perhaps they bombed us because they agreed with free-market fundamentalism? Anyway, they use "almost devilish logic" to play on our "tendency to guilt", which is obviously a very evil thing to do indeed; and they would never, never change their behaviour if we changed ours. Presumably, being evil, they also will not change their behaviour if we fail to change ours. Obviously, this will result in considerable progress.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

News 2020

Police hunt terror mastermind

As millions of stoical little Londoners joined the Prime Minister in a Victory Day-style two-minute silence as a mark of respect for the victims of last week's terror bombings, police raided several homes in search of the terrorist mastermind behind the terrorist attacks.

Approximately seventeen such masterminds are believed to be at large, spread across various countries of the world. They are assumed to work by building on the adolescent delusions of young male Muslims about western policy in the Middle East.

Terrorist masterminds can generally be distinguished by their elusiveness and their lack of one or more limbs. They often look very different from the photographic data held by security agencies, and their biographical details are frequently a matter of dispute.

"With those kinds of distinguishing marks, it shouldn't be long before we round this monster up," commented Home Office minister Mibley Proctor today.

The police raids took place on the evidence of the terrorists' identity cards, which were found at the scene of the terrorist bombings. Although none of the terrorists had any previous criminal record, police rapidly identified the terrorists' identification papers as identifying the terrorists' identities.

The terrorists were all British citizens who were born in Britain between the ages of 18 and 30. One of them was married with two young children, and another was a keen cricket player.

"It just goes to show that family values and a so-called liking for cricket doesn't necessarily make you English," commented British National Party leader Tig Fickin.

In a display of secrecy and clannishness which might have been misinterpreted by a lesser news agency, the terrorists' families were unavailable for comment. The terrorist with children placed his children in a Muslim school, to which reporters were denied access.

It is not yet known how many of Britain's Muslims observed the two-minute silence, as public safety companies have not yet collated the information from the security reports.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

News 2020

Police probe propaganda mosque mobs

The Government was last night urged to upgrade its email and mobile phone monitoring capacities as violent mobs stormed fifteen mosques all over Britain.

Policemen have been stationed at the doors of mosques since last week's terrorist terror bombings, in order to protect Muslims against any backlash and listen for seditious sermons from the pulpits of British-resident imams.

However, the police were unable to stop the mobs, made up predominantly of youths carrying banners for the British Exit Europe Party and the British National Party.

Both parties have unequivocally condemned last week's terror bombings by terrorists. "I utterly condemn these terror bombings," said BEEP leader Robert Kilroy-Silk. "We owe these people nothing. First they chop women into little pieces for not wearing a parka, and now this."

BNP leader Tig Fickin said, "The BNP utterly, utterly condemns the utter, utter terrorists who committed this utterly depraved act."

Referring to the violence, Mr Fickin said, "We utterly condemn violence against innocent people and utterly did not authorise any violent action against Muslim churches or immigrants."

The Government admitted last night that the companies contracted to monitor email and mobile phone calls were having difficulty meeting their quotas, due to a large proportion of their computer space being taken up with preparing defences against shareholder lawsuits.

For budgetary reasons, the police are proceeding on the assumption that the mobs were made up predominantly of anarchists and anti-globalisation protesters attempting to damage the reputation of their political rivals.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Our Spirit and Strength

Another personal message from Tony Blair has slithered into my inbox, grinning with commiseration and another verbless slogan, "New Labour New Britain". To distract us from warmed-over Conservative policies, it seems those cunning fiends of spin doctors have hit upon warmed-over Conservative campaign propaganda. I'm afraid the message really is titled "Our Spirit and Stength"; but I must point out in all fairness that, unlike previous sermons from this pulpit, it refrains from addressing me as "Dear supporter".

"Last month," Tony commences, "we promised to keep you up-to-date about the outcome of Britain's Olympic bid and the G8 summit that took place last week." Tony always keeps his promises. In case the outcome of Britain's Olympic bid was in any doubt, I am informed further down that we won it. A major factor was "the spirit and diversity of London and the United Kingdom", apparently. Willingness to spend taxpayers' money on a business-friendly white elephant had nothing whatever to do with it. What a relief.

Another of Tony's achievements, with which he concludes his sermon, was that of the G8 summit: "the $50bn uplift in aid, the signal for a new deal on trade, the cancellation of the debts of the poorest nations, universal access to AIDS treatment, the commitment to a new peacekeeping force for Africa". Uplift?

But most important of all, let us not forget "the commitment in return by Africa's leaders to democracy, good governance and the rule of law". In order to "help make our world a more just, stable and peaceful place", Africa will have to do as it's told. If it doesn't conform to Tony and George's idea of good governance, then presumably the debts will stay in place, AIDS will have its way, and aid will not be uplifted. Truly, as Tony says, we can be proud.

However, Tony's achievements have been upstaged a little by the terrorist attack on London, and it is to this that he devotes the bulk of his tractatus misericordiae. As so often in such matters, the main problem is to get the moral condemnation in quickly, before the adjectives run out. In these days of up-to-the-minute, twenty-four-hour professional news and commentary, it is all too easy to be left with the dregs after horrifying, callous, murderous and the rest have all been done to death by the BBC. Writing five whole days after the bombings, Tony must make do with "murderous carnage" and some of George W Bush's rhetorical hand-me-downs: "We are determined to bring all those responsible to justice and to ensure our values and way of life remain undiminished." They hate us 'cause we're free.

"Anyone who heard the response of MPs of all parties," Tony declares, "would have been left in no doubt about the resolve and unity of our country". Apparently the three main parties of supporting the troops, controlling the rabble and letting business do as it pleases represent the entire gamut of political opinion. Not only are we all resolved and unified, but "this national determination is shared by the overwhelming majority of Britain's Muslim community". Not just the country, but almost all of Britain's Muslims share the national unified resolution to be nationally determined to be resolute and unified.

Well, gosh.

"Together," Tony continues, "our modern, diverse and tolerant country will ensure the terrorists fail in their attempts to destroy the way of life we all share and value." Except for a smallish minority of British Muslims, it appears. Presumably they were the ones responsible, directly or indirectly, for the murderous carnage which, as Tony would no doubt agree, cannot possibly be compared with our ongoing war for democracy, good governance and the rule of law in Iraq.

Monday, July 11, 2005

News 2020

Blitz spirit in the face of terror

The official death toll for last week's terrorist terror attacks now stands at 156, the Department of Atrocity Management has announced.

As of this morning, rescuers were still attempting to dig out an unknown number of terror victims who were buried under debris when the terrorists struck with their terroristic terror tactics.

"The most difficult part is the children," said one rescuer when asked by a reporter just exactly how he felt about it all in his own words but briefly.

The Department of Atrocity Management has confirmed that rescuers have been encountering difficulties in determining whether under-fives have the proper level of health insurance that would justify digging them out, and urged commuters to be vigilant in keeping up their payments.

Despite the terrorist attack several days ago, millions of commuters today defied the terrorists by going to work as normal.

The Prime Minister condemned the terrorists, expressed his condolences to the victims and praised London's "traditional Blitz spirit" in Parliament today. "The Protestant work ethic is something they will never take away from us," he said.

The leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, condemned the terrorists, expressed his condolences to the victims, praised London's "wartime stoicism" and asked whether an inquiry would be set up to blame the Government for allowing the terror attacks to take place.

The Home Secretary condemned the terrorists, expressed his condolences to the victims, praised the rescuers for their bravery, their fortitude and their anticipated lack of insistence on a pay rise in the near future, and said that nobody could blame the Government for the attacks as nothing could possibly have prevented them, but that the Government would be taking "every possible preventive measure" as instantly as possible.

None of the victims are known to have been asylum seekers, but at least two were Arabs and several more were self-confessed Muslims. The authorities have not yet confirmed whether they were friendly fire, collateral damage or real people.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

News 2020

Terror victims opportunified to help war effort

The bodies or parts of those killed or injured in terrorist attacks will soon be co-opted into the war against vileness in a new Government anti-terror recycling initiative, the Department of Public Persuasion has announced.

Under the new laws, any bodies not claimed within forty-eight hours of a terrorist attack will be subject to requisition by the Government.

Detached pieces of those still living will also be subject to requisition unless claimed by the previous owner with a signed doctor's certificate stating that the part in question both belongs to the claimant and is capable of being sewn back on in an operation which the claimant can afford.

The requisitioned bodies will be treated with a new "plasticisation" process which will cause the flesh to harden and remove the risk of decay.

Bodies that are complete or nearly complete will be hung from lamp-posts in electoral districts which show excessive opposition to the war on horribility so that residents can "gain a more direct understanding of just what it is that these terrorists are capable of", said Minister of Public Enlightenment Randy Sweetmeat.

Small body parts, such as hands or eyeballs, will be sent to individual agitators and inciters of the public to non-governmentally sanctioned modes of protest. The parts so used may not be "plasticised" so as to save expenses and add olfactory force to the message being conveyed, Mr Sweetmeat said.

The scheme has the enthusiastic approval of Lord Blair of Belmarsh. The former Prime Minister and co-initiator, with Commander-in-Chief George W Bush, of the war on anti-peace, issued a statement from his fortified bath-chair in Henley congratulating the NuLabLib Coalition on its "radical continuation of my own pioneering commitment to compassionate and efficient public information".

The scheme will be paid for by a "lamp-post tax" on beneficiary districts, and by a small one-off charge to be paid by the nearest surviving relatives of the consumers whose vacated biological assets are being utilised. "I'm sure it's what they would have wanted," Mr Sweetmeat said.

Friday, July 08, 2005

News 2020

PM condemns latest attacks

The Prime Minister has personally flown back from holidaying in Addis Ababa to give his personal condemnation of the latest terrorist bombings in central London yesterday.

The official death toll from the bombings now stands at 149, though there is some controversy as to how many of the deconsumerisations were due directly to the bombs and how much to lack of preparedness on the part of customers.

"I suppose it can be difficult to remember your personal bio-identificator number if your leg's been torn off," said an operative from Middle Income Rescue Inc., the US-based compassionate intervention company which controversially patented the 999 telephone number eight years ago.

"I think the credit companies should make those numbers easier to remember," he continued. "Then they'd lose a lot fewer customers through having them shunted off into NHS hospitals."

The Prime Minister condemned the attacks as "vicious" and "nasty", in accordance with the words used by the Commander-in-Chief of the United States. His use of the adjectives is in accordance with present trends, with "barbaric" and "evil" expected the next time terrorists strike London.

The Prime Minister also emphasised that the death toll might have been much higher had London Underground not undergone extensive renovations under the Private Finance Initiative some years ago.

"Almost all stations within half a mile of central London have now been equipped with bio-sensitive ticket readouts," he said. "This means that no terrorists can strike at central London without registering their biometric data in a memory bank, from which the Metropolitan Police can retrieve it on payment of the appropriate fee."

Asked whether a terrorist might somehow have got onto the underground without a ticket, the Prime Minister condemned "irresponsible conspiracy theories" and "inappropriate utilisation of terror-detrimented innocents for the purpose of political point-scoring".

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Worse Things Happen in Countries with Lines Under Them

Everything's all right now. The Prime Minister has descended from the right hand of George W Bush and now stands ready to comfort us all in our pain. The terrorist attacks were "barbaric", he said; and all the more barbaric for being so impolite as to occur while he and seven other real people were thrashing out new ways to get Africans to pay western companies for African resources. If only the perpetrators had waited until the end of the G8 summit, if only they had not interrupted him, they might have aspired to the level of civilisation manifest in Chirac of Haiti, Putin of Chechnya, Bush of Falluja or even Tony himself.

Tony expressed his "profound condolences" and his "sympathy and sorrow" to the dead, the injured, the bereaved and so forth. This was jolly comforting for all concerned, I'm sure.

"I think we all know what [the terrorists] are trying to do," he continued, with that finger-wagging intonation which suits him so well, redolent of the pulpit at morning assembly in a more than averagely unpleasant Church of England school. The terrorists were trying "to frighten us out of doing the things we want to do", trying to "stop us going about our business", he said. But he assured us that we would not allow the terrorists to do this. Business will never be stopped from going about doing the things it wants to do; not on Tony's watch. Doubtless this was even more comforting. He mentioned "spirit and dignity and ... a quiet and true strength", which apparently is Made in Britain. It's a shame he doesn't use it himself now and then instead of the customary gambollings round Bush's golf shoes.

"This is a very sad day for the British people," he concluded; "but we will hold true to the British way of life", minus Magna Carta and one or two other superficials, one presumes. If depriving the British people of a few civil liberties has made us as safe as we are today, how else can New Labour move forward not back if not by depriving us of more? Better safe than sorry, I mean to say.

The Prime Minister did not mention - perhaps our infamous intelligence services have neglected to tell him - whether or not this was the kind of terrorist attack which we invaded Iraq to prevent. Perhaps Jeremy Paxman will ask him one day. One obvious answer does spring to mind, namely that we went into Iraq to protect ourselves from fictitious bombs, not real ones; but somehow I doubt that's the answer the Prime Minister would give.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Momentous Message

On this momentous day, aided by his political ally Lord Coe and his intellectual peer David Beckham, Tony Blair has achieved a momentous achievement. Having saved Africa only last week, the Prime Minister has now secured the 2012 Olympic Games for London.

It is particularly notable that this momentous day occurs during the anniversary year of the momentous British victory in the Second World War. With the aid of the United States, and despite the Communist threat from Stalin's USSR, the plucky little men and women of Britain waded through the blood, toil, tears and sweat of Churchill's speeches to emerge in triumphant victory over the evil forces of anti-Semitism. All British people will join in hoping that Tony Blair's Olympic victory will be another such magnificent chapter in the history of the fight for peace and freedom all over the world insofar as these goals are not incompatible with economic growth and political practicability.

But the 2012 Olympics will be held in the anniversary year of an event of much less positivity, namely the murderous terrorist attack on the Israeli team which took place during the 1972 Games in the city of Munich in Germany, which Britain defeated in the victory of 1945, for which we should all be grateful. The 1972 Games in the ex-Nazi city were forever marred by the terrorist attack by fanatical Palestinian* Islamofascists not dissimilar to the fanatical Islamofascist near-Iraqis who, on 11 September 2001, perpetrated the murderous terrorist attack on Britain's ally in the victory of sixty years ago, the United States.

Obviously, the Olympic Games are a celebration of peace and human brotherhood insofar as this is not incompatible with frenzied multi-million-dollar competition for national prestige. Obviously, the Olympic Games should be an event of enjoyment and fun for all, as well as profit for some. But the staging of the 2012 Olympics in Britain - America's ally in the war on terror - will not be without its problems. Many people will come to London, some of them foreigners. While it is unlikely that anyone from a country called "Palestine" will be among them, the potential for terrorist attack cannot be dismissed.

The 2012 Olympics is not only Tony Blair's fourth great achievement of the 2005 parliament, after the salvation of Africa, the placing of climate change on the agenda of an apathetic public and the drawing of a thick black line under the Iraq issue. The 2012 Olympics is a future outpost in the ongoing war on terror. It is a fortress which must be defended, a bridgehead which must be held, a Princess Diana who must be protected, a frail, newly-born African child who must be nurtured, nourished and kept away from land mines insofar as this is not incompatible with the continuing viability of the British self-defence industry.

The Government's identity card scheme, originated by David Blunkett and carried on by his successor, is the aid package which will fulfil these desperate needs. The Government's identity card scheme will protect us against terrorists and against baby-chewing anti-G8 anarchists who have made a mockery of the legitimate protesting rights of people who protest about less than they do. The Government's identity card scheme will make life easier and better in all ways. The Government's identity card scheme will help pay your bills. The Government's identity card scheme will help Britain win more gold medals. The Government's identity card scheme will destroy irritating insects, kill all known germs except those patented by the United States Defense Department, erase unwanted tattoos and ease the symptoms of obesity and hyperactivity in your children. The Government's identity card scheme is the answer.

And remember: Tony loves you.

*Note for Zionists: The terms Palestine and Palestinian are here used with no anti-Semitic intent but purely out of laziness, for which we offer our most humble and abject apologies.

Monday, July 04, 2005

News 2020

Britain joins US call for China to improve human rights record

Britain has joined the United States in calling for China to improve its human rights record.

"The British government is certainly very concerned at China's irresponsibility in expanding its economy in such a slanted and inscrutable way," said Foreign Office minister Frogmorton Hussop.

The US Commander-in-Chief used this year's Homeland Independence Day speech to reiterate America's commitment to human rights for all, and to warn China that continued abuses "cannot be tolerated in a globalised world."

The Americans are particularly concerned that China's cunningly acquired control of many of the earth's remaining fossil fuel reserves may cause unwarranted hardship to private car owners in the civilised world.

"China's long history of human biomass utilisation and comparative non-individuation among its natives enables Chinese human resources to withstand deprivation without excessive populatory depletion," the Commander-in-Chief said from the Sacred Foetus Bunker somewhere under Washington DC.

Americans, despite there being no hardier or more courageous nation in the universe of space and time, were not used to walking and had religious prohibitions against public transport, he continued.

"China's failure to respect the rights and freedoms of American human resources is a deliberate and calculated violation of free market principle," the Commander-in-Chief continued.

The authoritarian regime in China has undertaken limited market reforms since the quelling of an anarchist uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but more recently it has demonstrated its imperfect grasp of genuine free market economics by paying for western energy resources with more money than westerners can afford.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Passion, Strength and British Manliness

The British Conservative party, having been drubbed in a general election in which less than thirty per cent of the people supported the victor, is responding in its usual fashion, by having a leadership contest. The candidates all have the unenviable task of trying to carve out a position to the right of New Labour, which in these days of colonial wars, ASBOs and threats of identity cards must be rather like trying to carve George W Bush's likeness into Mount Rushmore. It's difficult, noisy and time-consuming, and there may be room for doubt as to whether the result justifies the effort.

The shadow foreign secretary, Dr Liam Fox, lays out his hammer and chisel in today's Observer. Under the headline "Tories must give Britain hope again", Fox complains that Britain is too democratic: "Messages and policies are ... refined to please the most and displease the fewest." Manifestoes, which apparently should be written in flame, signed in blood and implemented with fire and sword, are "an exercise in nuance and compromise".

"Passion and belief," laments Dr Fox, "belong to a bygone age." I don't know if Dr Fox is referring to politicians or to the electorate here, but his acquaintance with either class must be of the slightest. Naturally, I can understand Dr Fox ignoring the passionate, principled Iraq protests and the passionate, principled G8 protests, since he presumably agrees with Bush, Blair and Brown on both issues; but what, if not the Passion of Tony Blair and his disciples, has brought us to our present lamentable pass in the Middle East? What, if not the Labour party's apparent belief that Blair is keeping them in government, induces it to continue supporting the liars, murderers and war criminals as they dance grinning and preaching down the road to holocaust? Surely Dr Fox, however isolated he may be from real people, ought to recognise passion and belief when they're staring at him through several hundred flat dead eyes across the floor of the House of Commons.

Dr Fox identifies "three momentous challenges". The first is to heal the ravages of Thatcherism: "The 1980s forces which generated economic revival also significantly increased social and geographical mobility. This markedly reduced the role of the extended family and the security it represented. ... Consider mental illness. We shut down our (unacceptable) old institutions without sufficient options to replace them. We now have inadequate services, contributing to homelessness, crime, addiction and self-harm."

The second challenge is to intervene in the economy and distort the pristine purity of market forces: "The second challenge is to create an economy competitive enough to fund what we want in the long term. We cannot tackle society's problems without sound economic foundations to support the requisite services." Oddly enough, the "noted Thatcherite" Dr Fox follows this repudiation of Thatcherism with the claim that the Conservatives will not be able to bind up the nation's wounds "by abandoning tried-and-tested economic beliefs." Political flexibility is a wonderful thing, especially when it's done with passion and belief.

The third challenge is to "have a vision of the world beyond Britain or Europe". But not beyond the United States, it appears. Dr Fox's rhetoric on the Third World and climate change is indistinguishable from that of Blair, Brown and Bono, which perhaps is why he passes hastily on to the solution to all our problems, which appears to consist of "localism" (either a repudiation of, or an interesting new name for, Thatcherite centralisation) and other abstract nouns.

Elsewhere in the Observer, Fox is reported as offering a more concrete set of proposals towards Britain's regeneration. "We face the prospect of a lost generation, failed by family and education and venting their frustrations on society," he claims. It is time to consider radical solutions: "Boys should be taught in single-sex schools with strong male role models". Again, it isn't specified who these macho mentors might be, but a little later on there is a clue: "I would like to see more church and voluntary groups get involved ... and try to teach them what's expected of them. I would like to see the sort of cadet schemes run by the armed forces try to get a bigger role." Dr Fox stresses that "such solutions would be optional" - presumably left to the discretion of those fatherless families which are the source of the whole problem. That will certainly help.

Fox's idea, of course, is a throwback to the Victorian ideal of "muscular Christianity" - lots of physical jerks, not too much thinking, God is an Englishman, no sex before marriage and precious little after, and lots of the kind of male bonding that is at present generally the province of Catholic priests or very expensive rent-boys. Clearly, in order to make Britain great again, we must revert to the tried and tested moral beliefs that made us great before. If Iraq is to be the new Crimea, if World War III is to be the new World War I, let us at least ensure that our cannon-fodder is worthy to lie beside the glorious cretins of the past. Rowan Williams and Norman Schwarzkopf for "strong male role models", anyone?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Satanic Supplement

Birth,n. Hereditary and universal cause of death.

Child,n. Buffer zone in the cold war politics of family life.

Foot,n. Mankind's transportation equipment, designed by God to operate the accelerator pedal.

Impartial,adj. Giving equal weight to opposing points of view, without bias or preference, fear or favour. Hence, if the Government says that 2+2=7 and the opposition says that 2+2=17, the impartial news media will courageously report that 2+2=12.

Like-minded,adj. Possessed of an equivalent mental deficiency.

Obstetrics,n. Branch of medicine concerned with one of the more widespread venereal diseases.
A kindly old midwife named Mavis
Was an expert delivering babies;
And having done this,
She gave each one a kiss
And a virulent new strain of rabies.
Rev. Wibley Beamish

Patriotism,n. Pride in those aspects of one's own national heritage which one likes to imagine led to the breeding of such people as oneself. This definition applies to all cases except that of Her Britannic Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Falklands, Home of the Tongue that Shakespeare Spoke, Guardian of the Freedom of the Seas, etc., etc., in which the words "one's own national heritage" above must be replaced with "the rulers of the United States".

Queets, Curls of baby hair preserved by mothers for the purpose of humiliating offspring in later life.
He never dared take a girl home for fear his mother would produce the photograph album and his thirty-nine-year-old queets.
Isidore Yoffsnark

Utmost,n. As little as can be got away with.

X-ray,n. Means by which doctors determine how much of a prospective corpse is bone.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lentil Hazards

As is well known all over the civilised world, lentils are not to be trusted. This is because they are pulses, and thus largely undetectable without the use of a stethoscope. During the decades immediately following the European colonisation of America, when lentil burrows dotted the plains in their thousands of millions, many doctors took up lentil hunting as a profitable sideline, detecting the creatures with their surgical instruments and then dispatching them swiftly with expert blows of a suitably heavy receptionist.

As a result of this intensive harvesting, the lentil population has declined; and in countries such as Britain, where health care is not a high priority, very few stethoscopes are available for use. Lentil hunters consequently have to stand very still wherever they happen to suspect the presence of a lentil burrow, grasping their right wrists firmly, but not too hard, in their left hands. In their right hands they hold large clubs, with which they attempt to hit and stun as many lentils as possible the moment the creatures emerge from the burrow. Some experts also favour the method of, in the jargon of the trade, "going for the jugular", whereby the hunter places his fingertips, not on the veins in the wrist, but on those in the neck, in order to detect the elusive pulses; this method does in fact work quite well, but should not be attempted by the unsupervised amateur, as it is all too easy to make a small mistake and end up beating oneself unmercifully about the head.

The lentil that you see neatly packaged in the shop is a small orange disc a few millimetres across; but of course it only attains these dimensions (not to mention the tractability common to most publicly observed lentils) after a long and arduous period of factory processing. The lentil in its natural environment is often an awesome sight, and each of the little orange discs with which you flavour your complacent soup may well have been purchased with the lives of as many as four valiant men. It is no easy matter to club a wild, vicious lentil when it leaps from its burrow, particularly if you are grasping one wrist in your other hand in an attempt to keep your finger on the pulse at all times. Many a crippled hunter who began with his finger on the pulse has ended up with several fingers in a pulse thanks to the phenomenal reflexes and ferocious temperament of the disturbed lentil.

Lentils, as everyone knows, are social creatures, and this trait remains very much part of their character even after processing, which is why they are so rarely sold singly. It is when they are alone that lentils are at their most dangerous; this accounts for there being so many of them to a bag. Should you ever drop a single lentil on the floor, be sure to find it quickly or else to drop a few of its companions after it, otherwise the suppliers cannot be responsible for the grisly consequences that will inevitably ensue. Most companies take thorough precautions to avert such consequences; for example, the bags in which lentils are sold have been carefully designed to ensure that it is extremely difficult to drop one lentil without dropping several more at the same time. Indeed, with some later models of bag, which are just finding their way onto the market, it is almost impossible to let a single lentil fall without scattering the whole lot across the floor. Naturally, this innovation has brought immense relief to the public mind.

Because of the violent nature of the lone lentil, the creatures are generally hunted in packs if at all possible. The usual way of doing this is to make certain all the lentils in a given burrow are driven to the surface simultaneously, generally by placing in the burrow three or four tomatoes - one of the lentil's few natural enemies - and then blocking off all the exits except for the one where the hunters wait with their clubs at the ready. The only circumstances in which this method can fail are when the lentils have more than the expected number of escape routes or when the tomatoes, thanks to their notoriously defective sense of direction, lose their way inside the burrow.