Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Enemy at the Gate?

As you might have noticed, there's a bit of a thing going on at Calais at the moment.

Lots of people (many of them from countries where we've either actively bombed their infrastructure into rubble, or supported dictators who did it for themselves) are quite keen on getting into the UK. Many of them have survived hazardous journeys across the Mediterranean on unsafe, overcrowded vessels having paid people traffickers all their worldly possessions for the privilege.

They now sit by the side of the road, looking for ways to find some sort of egress into the UK, either in the back of a lorry or by walking 30 miles down a tunnel used by 150mph massive hunks of metal that would vapourise them on contact.

We're told by the government and their usual rabble of media acolytes that these folks are trying to get here for two reasons.

1. They want to claim benefits, and/or

2. They want to blow us up

Let's take a look at why both of those statements are absolute piles of bollocks, shall we?

They're only coming here to claim our benefits

So, you're sat in a crumbling house in Syria with bombs and rockets going off all around you, or starving to death in Sudan and you think "where shall I go to escape this hell?"

Obviously the clear solution is to whip out your smartphone, search "benefit rates and qualifying periods in the EU" and make your choice from there, right?

Do people not get how ridiculous that sounds? 

Even if the infrastructure existed for them to be able to make these considered comparisons, are we seriously suggesting that people climb off a boat on the Greek mainland and then in order to get their hands on £60 per week embark on a 3,000 mile overland journey with nothing except what they can carry in their pockets?

On the way, they pass through other countries that have very similar conditions for the receipt of benefits to the UK and indeed plenty who pay at a higher weekly rate. Surely if it was all about the benefits they would stop off in any one of those and make it their home?

They're coming from Islamic State to blow us up

Again, let's examine how logical that statement is.

IS clearly has no trouble getting its hands on money to buy weapons. It is funded in part by rich people from what is an incredibly rich part of the world and centre of its oil production.

It puts time and effort into recruiting and training its soldiers and planning guerrilla military campaigns and acts of terror.

So are we seriously saying that after all that effort, the most effective way it has of getting its operatives into the UK is to try and sneak them onto the back of a lorry at Calais having exposed them to potentially fatal journeys over land and sea to get there?

Terrorist 101 suggests that if you want your operatives to be able to move freely and without suspicion around the world, you either recruit ones that already have the right to live in the place you want to attack or you create false identities to get them into your target country legally, on student visas for example.

What you don't do is stick them in a leaky, overcrowded boat then bank on Barry leaving the back doors of his lorry full of Ginsters pasties open while he nips for a slash. It's ineffective, highly likely to be unsuccessful and basically plain bonkers.

Alright smart arse, why are they coming here then?

You want to know why? Simple really, it's because they like us and have heard good things about us.

They know we're a country which has a history of being racially tolerant. One where if you are prepared to knuckle down and work hard, there's a fairly decent chance you can make a reasonable life for yourself. One where the fact you're the wrong religion won't get you kidnapped, tortured and killed by your theological or political opponents.

In short, they like the image Britain has created for itself in large parts of the world as being a capital for enterprise, fairness and opportunity.

It's just a shame that so many politicians and media outlets are determined to ruin that image, by acting exactly the opposite in order to distract the indigenous population from the damage they are doing to it.

So next time you see a refugee camp at Calais, or a boat bobbing in the Mediterranean full of men, women and children that your government is quite happy to let drown, have a think about whether you would be prepared to put yourself through that for the promise of an extra £60 a week rather than barking to the dog whistle.


Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Dead Politician Sketch

Scene: The interior of a pet shop. The shopkeeper is waiting behind the counter, as the door opens and the bell rings.

SK: Ah, Comrade Corbyn. Good to see you again. What can we do for you?

JC: I wish to complain about the politician I bought from this here establishment not hours ago.

*puts cage on counter*

SK: Oh yes. The Burnham. Lovely plumage, changes to suit the political climate. What's wrong with him

JC: I'll tell you what's wrong with him my lad. It repeats everything I say, that's what.

SK: No it doesn't!

JC: Yes it does!

AB: Yes it does!

JC: See!!

SK: That wasn't repetition, it can't have been. Look, he's resting.

JC: Resting? Resting? If I hadn't covered it in manifesto commitments it would be pushing up the deficit right now

AB: Up the deficit! Up the deficit!

JC: There! It did it again!

SK: No, that was me. It couldn't have been the Burnham because it's...err....dead. That's it, dead. 

JC: Dead?

SK: Yep. Dead. If he wasn't laying on his back you would be able to see the stab wounds. He's a stiff. Bereft of votes. Giving a speech to the conference invisible. Climbed up the party hierarchy and gone to meet his backers.

JC: Well if he's dead, I want a replacement

SK: Sorry chief. We don't have any more in stock. I could do you a Cooper or a Kendall

JC: What's the difference between them and a Burnham

SK: To be honest with you mate, fuck all.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Tube Strike Blues - with apologies to W H Auden

Stop all the trains, close off the underground
Prevent the customers from queueing, clutching their hard-earned pound
Silence the tannoys and with muffled moan
Turn out the public, have them find their own way home

Let the traffic copters hover, whirring overhead
Clog the streets with buses, a stationary sea of red
Put hi-vis jackets on the staff manning all the doors
Hire out a Boris bike, without reading every clause

Clapham North, East Ham, South Ealing, Acton West
My morning rush and bus replacement day of rest
My late nights, my weekends, my never having to wait long
I thought the Tube was here forever: I was wrong

Departure boards are not wanted now, put out every one
Ascend to the surface, step out into the sun
Mop away the urine, sweep up all the litter
For all you'll hear on Wednesday is Londoners being bitter






Monday, June 15, 2015

Human Rights Act Song

(To the tune of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive")

I never used to be afraid
Never petrified
Because I had the Human Rights Act
Sitting by my side
Now you spend so many days
Trying to get it repealed
But it won't yield
No matter how much force you wield
So now you're back
From your disgrace
Dressed up like a berk
That gormless look upon your face
We should have changed the bloody locks
We should have paid some of the fuzz
To say you called them plebs
And save us all this fuss

Go on now Gove, walk out the door
Just bugger off now, cause you're not welcome any more
Weren't you the one, with your sodding bill of rights
Stealing our freedoms
Giving us sleepless nights
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as there's democracy
We'll keep the HRA alive
We've got all our votes to give
We've got all our lives to live
It will survive
It will survive 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's Just Not Cricket

Evolution is a wonderful thing. In the animal kingdom, it produces all sorts of varied fauna and flora, perfectly adapted to its environment. Without it, we wouldn't be here as a species with our capacity for language and innovation.

Even sport is not immune from the effects of evolution. As sport comes to the realisation it's part of the entertainment industry, it adapts and changes to ensure it can continue to attract the important spectator and sponsor income essential for its survival. Is it possible though that some sports have pushed the process too far, to the point where the sport itself has become lost?

The essence of cricket is the contest between bat and ball. The batsmen are trying to avoid being dismissed while also looking to score runs, while the bowler is trying to keep the runs to a minimum while taking wickets. In their attempts to engender entertainment though, have the administrators of the game pushed that balance past its tipping point?

Cricket has equated entertainment with one thing only - runs. The art of bowling well, whether that be the giant pace bowler sending down 90mph deliveries, or the spinner bamboozling the batsman with flight, drift and turn isn't regarded as what the spectators want to see. 

Every boundary struck is greeted with a Pavlovian burst of disco music, fireworks and cheerleaders, accompanied by the crowd waving the plastic signs provided for them by the sponsors. In contrast any wicket - particularly of the home side - is greeted with silence irrespective of the quality of the delivery that brought it about.

In an attempt to generate more "entertainment", laws and playing regulations have been tinkered with. Boundaries have become smaller and smaller, so even miss-hits and top edges fly over the ropes. Bowlers are given a much narrower window to aim at for a delivery to be legal. They are restricted on how many short-pitched deliveries they can bowl in an over. Captains are prevented from setting fields to stem them flow of runs by the number of fielders they can have in different positions.

Even that would perhaps be manageable, as the bowler still has one element in his armoury that he can call upon for assistance - the pitch. However, even these are now being increasingly tailored towards assisting the batsman. Lifeless, beige strips of turf that offer neither sideways movement nor excessive pace to provide hope for the bowler. In baseball, a pitcher can still throw a 90mph curveball irrespective of the ground beneath his feet. In cricket, the fast bowler can put in all the effort he likes but if the pitch sucks the pace out of the ball life becomes easier for the batsman.

Seven or even eight runs per over is becoming the new normality in the shorter formats of the game. If this continues though, then even that will be greeted with a "ho hum" response from spectators, who will want more and more. So what do administrators do then? What cricket has done is equivalent to football doubling the width of the goals to make it easier to score.

At the recent one-day World Cup in Australia, they used some of the largest grounds in professional cricket such as the SCG in Sydney and the MCG in Melbourne. Boundaries weren't brought in significantly, which meant batsmen had to work hard to hit fours and sixes and slower bowlers in particular got some protection from being slogged out of the game.

There needs to be a rebalancing of the game of this type between bat and ball, whether that is a relaxation to the fielding restrictions or guidance issued to groundsmen about the kinds of pitches they should be preparing and the size of boundaries. As it stands, the one-day game may be entertainment, but it's really not cricket.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Alternative Dating Apps - Twitter At It's Finest

I started on a train of thought about alternative dating apps - equivalents to Grindr, if you like. For example:

Flippr - for penguins

Badgr - for people sett in their ways

Beavr - for people who give a dam

Chuntr - for disgruntled Yorkshire folk

Twitter being the hive mind of clever, funny folk that it is then got to work with some of its own, such as:

Wankr - for people who don't want to meet anyone (@scottwilks)

Blattr - matching countries willing to pay bribes with people looking to receive them (@davidkirland02)

Splittr - for member's of the People's Front of Judea. Or the Judean People's Front (@TraineeJohn)

Farmr - for lonely country folk ((@markarnott30)

Coopr - for people with fez fetishes (@RugbyDiscipline)

Errrr - for the indecisive (@WashyAndIrony)

Mindr - for cockney wide boys (@TonyBraisby)

Xcalibr - for minor royalty (@raisemyboats)

Fudgr - for prevaricating politicians with a sweet tooth (@mactab52)

Coppr - for people who fell down the stairs, or were definitely armed (@johnnydobbo)

Needless to say, if any of these turn up on the App Store at any point in the future there will be legal action!




Sunday, May 17, 2015

The UKIP Calypso - Part Two

In the UK on the 5th of May
The electorate had their say
UKIP gonna win seats for fun
Started off with two, ended up with one

Now it's time to count the cost
Nigel said he'd quit if he lost
But it turns out he's here to stay
Just like Jesus, within three days

Resignation calypso, resignation calypso
Farage is gone, then he's back
Resignation calypso, resignation calypso
Like haemorrhoids in your crack

O'Flynn says Nigel got a thin skin
And that might be why he didn't win
We need to be grown up and more adult
Calling us something that sounds like cult

Resignation calypso, resignation calypso
UKIP turning into a jokey
Resignation calypso, resignation calypso
In and out like the hokey cokey

Some say we should give Carswell a go
But we asked and he don't want to know
If we carry on in this mess
We'll end up stuck with Mark Reckless

Resignation calypso, resignation calypso
What a farce it turned out to be
Resignation calypso, resignation calypso

We can always blame the BBC

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New "British Values" curriculum revealed

David Cameron has today announced new lessons in British Values, to be introduced at the start of the next academic year. While details of the lessons have remained a closely guarded secret up to now, we've been able to obtain excerpts from the curriculum. The key areas are as follows:

Tolerance

Pupils should be taught what a tolerant society modern Britain is. Exceptions can be made however for the following groups:

  • Immigrants
  • People who aren't immigrants, but look like they might be
  • Disabled
  • Gays
  • Poor people - teachers to use their judgement here, as this will vary depending on location e.g. poor in Kingston upon Hull may mean unable to afford food, while in Kingston upon Thames it may mean unable to afford a villa in Tuscany

Fairness

In Britain, we have a society built around a basic principle of fairness.

Note: be careful here not to mention the democratic system, which attaches a value to your vote based entirely on how your neighbours vote and a set of boundaries arbitrarily drawn on a map.

Be particularly careful if asked why one party gets 56 MPs for 1.5 million votes, while another one gets 1 MP for five times as many.


Equality

Every citizen in Britain should be entitled to expect equal rights. Particularly the right of the security services to intercept and read their communications without probable cause, irrespective of who they are.

All communications on this topic are to be sent through the usual private servers, as currently.


Diversity

No, not the dancers whose entire act seems to consist of throwing the frizzy-haired dwarf around to music.

Here in Britain, it is part of our traditions to openly mock and ridicule a wide range of different nations, many of whom for some reason chose not to be part of our glorious Empire built on military conquest and slave labour any more. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Australians - for being better than us at sport
  • Americans - over-loud, overweight and over here 
  • Germans - wars and penalty shoot-outs
  • French - see Germans, but without the penalty shoot-outs
  • Muslamics - for picking the wrong Abrahamic religion and dressing funny (note: while mocking the Muslamics is acceptable, no caricaturing of their prophet is allowed)

One Nation

Britain is made up of three constituent parts (we're ignoring the Irish here, as they're not technically British and there's a fairly awkward centenary coming up in 2016 we don't want to talk about).

However we have much in common, for example:
  • Our money (except the Scots and their strange plastic banknotes)
  • Our language (except the Scots, and the Welsh, and the Cornish)
  • Our shared participation in economic recovery (except anyone outside the M25)
Note: some of you in "working class" areas may have these facts challenged by your students. Just a reminder that failing to achieve a 95% pass rate on the British Values exam will lead to a visit from Nicky Morgan, and I'm pretty sure none of you want that now, do you?


Friday, May 08, 2015

The Hangover - Part 2015

So it's Friday May 8th, and Britain peels apart its collective eyelids and pores over the results of the votes it cast yesterday.

What it sees must be coming as something a surprise to it. A result that none of the polls taken in the lead-up to voting could have predicted. The Conservatives edging their way slowly towards an effective - albeit slim - majority.

See that's the thing with the "first past the post" electoral system. It carries the risk of handing 100% of the power to a party which gets 35% of the votes. It's a bit like going to the supermarket and having 65% of your basket chosen by someone else.

Throw in a constituency system which is disproportionately weighted in favour of areas with low population north of the border - the SNP will secure 56 times the number of MPs the Green Party will, but with only 500,000 more votes - and the whole thing becomes even more of a mockery.

Still, it is what it is and we all knew the rules before we put our X in the box. Still, I'd love to know why some people made the choices they did.

Those of you who voted SNP. You do realise that you've traded in a position of zero power in a Labour-led opposition for, well, exactly the same thing but wearing a different colour jacket, right? Your leader talks about "making Scotland's voice heard". It will be, but in the same way that everyone has to hear the drunk on the bus having a loud conversation with himself. Everyone hears, but nobody listens.

Those of you who abandoned the Liberal Democrats and voted Tory. What kind of logic is that? You showed at least an ounce of compassion back in 2010 by voting for someone to keep a rein on the worst of the right-wing's excesses. It may not have worked as well as you hoped, but why go back? It's like asking the person mugging you if they want your house keys and cheque book while they're at it.

Those of you who voted UKIP. Get someone to read this to you. You're a perfect example of why democracy doesn't work.

Those of you who voted Conservative and will always do so irrespective of what damage they do to the country. I would say you better hope you're not poor, or disabled, or sick, or unable to find work, but you're clearly not. Otherwise, why would you do something that puts in jeopardy the lives of every person that falls into one of those categories in exchange for a few quid off stamp duty and a bit less inheritance tax?

Thanks to fixed term parliaments, it's too late to do anything about it now. We had our chance to turn the ship around, but frankly we fucked it up. Don't be surprised if the first thing Captain Cameron does on returning to the helm is ditch many of you overboard and leave you to drown.

You can't say you weren't warned.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal

This is an urgent DEC appeal on behalf of the East Sussex town of Crowborough.

Heavy winds on the night of March 30th 2015 have left the town devastated, and caused a humanitarian crisis worse than any in living memory.

Homes have been destroyed, businesses ruined and in some cases tens of pounds worth of patio furniture upturned. Eye-witness reports of the carnage are still coming through, but our aid workers have sent back this harrowing scene.



There remains an ongoing risk of disease, and with Ocado vans unable to navigate the tree-strewn driveways the spectre of famine still hangs in the air.

Please, give what you can to help these people who in many cases have lost everything of value.

Just £5 will buy them a Starbucks grande mochaccino and a slice of fruit toast.

Just £10 will provide them with a warm sweater from Primark, which they'll never wear because they simply won't support the exploitation of child workers in Bangladesh darling.

Just £5,000 will enable them to cook a warm meal for themselves, by replacing the Aga.

With your help, we can have these poor people back on the golf course or sipping a nice Malbec in no time.

Thank you for listening.