Armed forces job-shadowing initiative ‘a lottery for the jobless’

Defence secretary John Hutton has defended the government’s new ‘going back to work by going over the top’ job-shadowing scheme after critics described the way posts were allocated as ‘a lottery’. 

 The scheme allows for nominees to be attached to serving units in the army, navy or air force for an extra £1.50 jobseeker’s allowance per month, or £2.50 if in an active combat situation.  With pressure groups already accusing the government of bolstering the armed forces on the cheap whilst distorting unemployment figures, the latest allegations have been robustly denied.  

 ‘We don’t just hand these places out willy-nilly.’ said Hutton.  ‘Candidates are carefully selected to ensure that the skills they gained during full-time employment match their new role in the armed forces as closely as possible.’

 However opposition parties have rubbished this claim, citing the example of Edna Smith, a 48 year-old former Woolworths till operator from Preston, who was sent to Afghanistan as part of an SAS special operations team and participated in a covert snatch and grab raid in South Waziristan. 

 Critics also point out the case of Nigel Meek, a 16 year-old school leaver from Rhyl who was posted with Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy.  Meek is alleged to have sat on several high-level strategy meetings and was given the task to procure contracts for a new fixed wing fighter-bomber. 

 ‘The MOD cannot comment on such security-sensitive issues.’ said Hutton.  ‘But I can assure you that increased military spending on of bucket seats, bass boxes and ‘Nigel 4eva’ window stickers is entirely coincidental.’

 (Written 23 Jan 2009)

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Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dismay as poll shows ‘Oo-er missus’ rejoinder no longer funny

A Leominster man has told of his dismay after a national poll concluded that the rejoinder ‘oo-er missus’ is no longer considered funny.

 Local ‘character’ Malcolm Short, 54, settled in the rural border town after retiring as a City banker in 2004. He quickly installed himself as a local wit and bon viveur at his local pub, the Spaniard’s Arms.

 “Since then I’ve regaled all-and-sundry with my amusing jokes and anecdotes.” He said, “Often butting into people’s conversations with an amusing ‘that’s the pot calling the kettle black’, ‘sounds like the wife’ or ‘matron!’ So you can imagine how I felt when I heard that my favourite ‘oo-er missus’ is no longer funny.”

 With his repertoire depleted, Short believes his customary place propping up the bar to be under threat. “These younger lads are coming in with jokes they’ve been texted or got off the internet. I’ve been telling the same jokes for the last thirty-odd years and have had to rely on my quippage skills to add that extra-funny garnish – I just can’t compete any more.”

 ‘Oo-er missus’ joins an ever-growing list of near-extinct rejoinders including the once-hilarious but now prehistoric ‘as the actress said to the bishop’. This loss of comedic verbosity is having a devastating effect on pub philosophers such as Malcolm.

 “A case in point:” he continued, “I was sat on my stool nursing a real ale the other day when someone came in for a swift half en-route to the bakers. I overheard him telling the barmaid that he was looking forward to getting his hands on some nice big baps, but without my ‘oo-er missus’ I was helpless to interject.”

 “By the time I’d thought of something funny to say, someone else piped up with ‘I’d watch out if I was you Brenda,’ before I even had a chance to open my mouth. Something died in me that day.”

 (Written 21 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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‘Mamma Mia!’ DVD supply to run out before Valentine’s Day

The entire male population the western hemisphere has gone into panic today following the shock announcement that there will be no Mamma Mia! DVDs available to buy for Valentine’s Day. 

 The International DVD Distributors and Retailers Association has warned that stocks of the popular Abba-based movie musical all-but sold out over the Christmas period and that supplies will be exhausted by approximately the end of January. 

 The Mamma Mia! DVD was the most popular Christmas present in 2008, with virtually every male in the world buying a copy for virtually every female member of his family, in addition to girlfriends, colleagues and same-sex partners. 

 ‘We must take into account the number of birthdays between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, coupled with the fact that Mother’s Day in both Greece and Norway falls well before February 14th,’ said an IDDRA spokesman.  ‘The demand for this product is simply too great for us to handle.’

 British males have been particularly hard-hit, as many thought they’d forgo the traditional Valentine’s Day flowers in favour of the DVD.  ‘I’m devastated,’ said Brian Kent, a plumber from Croydon.  ‘I’m one of the few blokes who didn’t give his missus a copy for Christmas, so I thought I’d get back into her good books and get her one for Valentine’s.  If they’re sold out my life won’t be worth living.’

 Brian Carrington, a fashion designer from Hereford is also unhappy.  ‘I was delighted when my partner gave me Mamma Mia! for Christmas, but I’ve yet to get the Blu-ray version or the Mamma Mia! gift set – I’m distraught!’

 Prices for second-hand copies of the movie have sky-rocketed since the announcement, with pirate copies from the Far East going for upwards of three hundred pounds on eBay.  Meanwhile sales of an obscure West African film, Mamma Mali have also soared as desperate consumers make hasty purchases whilst searching for the disk online. 

 Pleas for government intervention have gone unheeded, with the Prime Minister refusing to purchase from emergency stockpiles of the movie.  ‘The government has enough on its hands bailing out banks and businesses – we can’t bail out consumers as well,’ Said Gordon Brown at Prime Minister’s question time.  ‘They’ll just have to wait until it comes onto Sky Box Office…  That reminds me; I must set the recorder when I get home.’

 (Written 22 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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World’s first Baltiplex cinema opens in Sedgley

 A revolution in dining and entertainment has come to the West Midlands town of Sedgley with the opening of the world’s very first ‘Baltiplex’ cinema and Indian restaurant. 

 The Baltiplex is brainchild of Entrepreneur and restaurateur Khalid Mahmood, who opened the six screen cinema/curryhouse in a glittering ceremony last Saturday.  ‘It’s a perennial problem – do you go out and catch a movie or do you stay in with a takeaway? Well now you can do both.’ Said Khalid, ‘It’s been a long road, but this project has been so dear to my heart that I had to see it through despite the many planning objections.’

 Diners at the Sedgley Baltiplex can enjoy the tastiest contemporary Indian Cuisine and the latest Hollywood blockbusters at the same time, in the comfort of the former 19th century All Saints’ Church – now renovated and decorated in a tasteful fusion of Indian and Black Country styles. 

 Mahmood is proud of his achievement, and keen to show what’s on offer.  ‘We have a range of classic dishes on the menu, each designed to compliment a particular film genre.  For example a sweet and creamy Korma for romcoms, a Jalfrezi for something equally hot and spicy – anything with Angelina Jolie basically, and for those who like their meals and movies to be a bit more action-packed, our infamous sprout Vindaloo – a student favourite.’

 ‘This week you can watch Kate Winslet’s triumphant Revolutionary Road in the company of a tasty Chicken Tikka Bhuna, or enjoy a fiery King prawn Madras with the gritty war-time drama Defiance, with a side order of Daniel Craig for the ladies!’ He joked. 

 ‘Other highlights include our children’s matinee: Binky the Twinkle Fairy meets the Magic Forest with Bangalore Phall and for those who don’t like Indian food there’s a traditional chicken and chips accompanied by the 2001 Bollywood classic Bhalevadivi Basu starring Shilpa Shetty.’

 While outwardly upbeat, Mahmood has refused to comment on the lawsuits he is said to have filed against other specialist restaurants in the area.  ‘All I’m prepared to say to the owners of ‘PlexMex’, ‘Sci-Pie’ and the ‘SpaghettiWestern’ across the street is: I thought of it first!’

 Baltiplex diners are advised to book early as tickets are selling out fast, the mango chutney supply is limited and the business is due to go into administration by April.

 (Written 20 Jan 2009 with additional material by Ugi, Sauce and Jeni B)

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 7:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Night-time duvet tussle a potential energy source claim scientists

Electricity can be generated from the static produced during the nocturnal battle for the duvet, claim scientists at the Centre for Alternative Energy in Basel, Switerland. 

 Professor Paulina Merz, who led the research, outlined the group’s findings during a recent alternative energy seminar in Geneva.  ‘We all know that a tremendous amount of energy is expended trying to get your share of the duvet at the night.’ She said, ‘So we needed to find a way of harnessing that energy.’

 ‘We discovered that duvet covers made from certain materials generated considerable amounts of static when pulled across pyjamas and nighties.  We adapted a Van de Graf generator to convert this potential into electricity which was then stored in batteries.’

 Merz outlined that during a three-week period she and her husband generated enough electricity to power an electric egg whisk for five minutes.  ‘An astounding result.’ She said, ‘Which would have been even more impressive if Franz didn’t have such a bloody tight grip.’

 However the team admit that there are a few flaws to the system which need to be ironed out before it can be introduced into households.  ‘Unfortunately we forgot to turn it off when Franz insisted upon his monthly allotment of, how you say, nookie – that egg whisk was buzzing away for so long it nearly melted.’

 Fresh from their success the centre is now looking at other ways of generating energy at night.  ‘From thumping lumpy pillows to getting up to go to the toilet – we’re leaving no stone unturned.’ Said Professor Merz, ‘We’re particularly excited about the potential to convert nocturnal flatulence into natural gas.  If Franz sticks a converter, rather than my head under the covers every time he farts, Europe could tell the Russians to shove their gas exports where the sun doesn’t shine.’

 (Written 20 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 7:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rappers fury as Beeb edits ‘objectionable’ rap song into complete silence

The BBC has defended itself after controversial East-coast rap artist and producer K-Dawg expressed his anger at the censorship of his latest single ‘[withheld for legal reasons]’. 

 After branding it ‘the most objectionable thing we’ve ever heard’, the BBC altered the song so much that fans tuning in for its first radio airing heard nothing but three minutes of utter silence. 

 ‘We had no other option.’ Said Peter Frankin, head of BBC Standards and Guidelines, ‘We are morally and legally obliged to blank out any swearwords from everything we air on the radio.  In this case that meant ninety percent of the lyrics had to go.  Once we’d also taken out any references to drugs, violence, sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, heightism and other offensive material, there were no words left at all.’

 ‘Even then we still had a job on our hands.’ He continued, ‘K-Dawg had somehow managed to make both the bass-beat and melody sound offensive, while the middle-8 was positively repugnant!’ After this censorship ‘[withheld for legal reasons]’ consisted of no audible sound whatsoever. 

 ‘But we were still determined to play it.’ Continued Franklin, ‘The BBC prides itself on its wide range of musical coverage, including rap.  We needed to be considerate of Mr.  Dawg’s legions of fans and give this track the air-time it deserves.’

 In response to the BBC’s actions rapper K-Dawg left an angry video message in defence of his new record on his Facebook site: ‘Mutha ****’in ****’s gonna **** **** for this! Ain’t no good ****’in **** when a brutha’s tryin’ to **** **** ****.  My single’s the ****’s **** an’ no BBC’s gonna **** wid it for ****’in sho’! When I get hold of this ****’in Franklin guy I’m gonna get a great big **** with another **** tied to it and ****’n stick it right up his mutha ****’in [withheld for legal reasons].’

 (Written 19 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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‘Please Use Other Door’ signage foils Gaza incursion

Hamas fighters have foiled Israel’s latest incursion into the Gaza strip by placing a ‘Please Use Other Entrance’ sign at the main route into Gaza City, causing the Israeli Defence Force to halt their offensive. 

 Eyewitnesses reported seeing several tank, mobile artillery and infantry battalions mulling around the sign, pointing confusedly in the direction of Gaza City before turning around and heading back the way they came. 

 Thwarted, Israeli military chiefs ordered several probing attacks along Gaza’s flank towards Jabaliya, Zeitoun and Rafah, only to find their move checked by a number of signposts bearing the legend ‘Border Crossing Out Of Order’. 

 Their offensive frustrated, Israeli authorities countered this latest Palestinian strategy by erecting a defensive cordon around the stricken territory.  This shield, stretching from Beersheba to Ashkelon, consisted of hundreds of public order notices proclaiming: ‘Keep off the grass.  No dog-walking – no ball games – no indiscriminate rocket attacks’.

 (Written 16 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 7:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Edexcel announces multiple-choice exam marking

Edexcel, Britain’s largest examination board, who were awarded a contract to re-mark disputed test papers following the 2008 marking debacle, has announced plans to streamline this years’ assessments. 

 In order avoid another farce and allow a quick and efficient processing of exam papers for 2009, the company will introduce a multiple-choice marking scheme.  When grading a test paper, exam markers will be required to score each answer by choosing one of three options:-

 a: Correct

 b: Incorrect

 c: Don’t Know

 The scheme is expected to be rolled out across the national curriculum, from GCSE exams to vocational BTEC assessments, in time for the Easter school holidays.

 (Written 15 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Job losses announced in supernatural sector

Britain’s ghosts have become the latest victims of the recession.  Redundancies have been announced throughout the nation’s haunted hotspots as employers are being forced to give precedence to their living-and-breathing workforce. 

 Several hotel chains have been forced to lay-off the spooks that lurk in their properties, including the Warner Olde Weir Hotel, Yeovil.  ‘We can barely afford to keep our corporeal staff at the moment.’ Said manager Susie Smith.  ‘I just can’t justify employing a spectral Victorian stable-lad to put the wind up our guests anymore, so See-Through Jim has to go.’

 Perhaps the most devastating loss is at The Fletcher’s Arms, Hereford, where landlord Peter Cumberland has had to fire an entire legion of Roman soldiers.  ‘They used to march through my cellar twice a day, regular as clockwork, but the brewery’s no longer prepared to keep a dozen Imperial cohorts on their books.  It’ll be a lot quieter down there amongst the barrels from now on I can tell you.’

 This latest wave of unemployed has also put extra strain on existing jobseekers, as competition for work increases.  ‘It’s bad enough looking for work as it is.’ Said unemployed furniture salesman Gary Kemp.  ‘And then you find yourself queuing up at the job centre behind a headless scullery maid – it ain’t pleasant!’ Aberdeen busker Mick McCron concurs.  ‘I can’t go to my usual patch any more ‘cos it’s been nicked by the phantom piper of Colquhonnie, and he can play 24/7 without even a toilet break – what chance have I got?’

 The Union of Ghouls, Haunters and Other Supernatural Trades was unable to comment on the recent job losses among its members, but a spokesperson has left this statement:

 ‘Whooooooooooo….’

 (Written 15 Jan)

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 7:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Art academy opens writers’ block

After several delays, contractual wrangling and a budget overspend of over three million pounds, The Cheltenham Art Academy has finally unveiled its new writer’s block. 

 This block will…  er… 

 Um… 

 Oh bollocks.

 (Written with great difficulty on 15 Jan 2009)

Published in: on September 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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