Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tin foil hats and the Turkey Army

PEOPLE WHO have suffered from being educated from the 1980s onwards won’t know this, but there is an excellent novel by John Wyndham called The Midwich Cuckoos that used to be a set work in schools.

It tells the tale of a village where for a full day, every living thing is rendered unconscious by a mysterious force that forms a perfect circle enveloping the whole town. Just about everyone wakes up from the ordeal none the worse for their experience. Until it is revealed that every woman of child-bearing age in Midwich is pregnant.

The subsequent children turn out to be golden-eyed, telepathic, and with an accelerated growth rate. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but their presence is problematic. Which brings me to Education Secretary Ruth Kelly and her mission to keep children in schools from dawn until dusk, a NuLabour project clearly modelled on the Midwich experience.

I have already discussed at length in this column the social engineering project that is Mr Blah’s Turkey Army. Armies of bright-eyed if stupid 18-year-olds emerging from so-called schools with a full set of worthless A-levels, collecting an equally-worthless degree from an equally-worthless so-called university, and then marching off into a publicly-funded job-for-life in the Civil Service with a publicly-funded final salary scheme pension at the end of it.

Not surprisingly, these turkeys tend not to vote for Christmas, because electing NuLabour for another term keeps the gravy train on track. And meanwhile the rest of us who struggle through a risk-laden life in the private sector watch our pensions evaporate to the point where tins of Kit-e-Kat and bags of Werther’s Originals will become luxury items, rather than daily purchases. (Well that’s what old people buy, isn’t it? It’s all they seem to have in their trolleys when they’re blocking the aisles at Tesco anyway. Oh, and tinsel, especially in January.)

Now, not content with processing right-thinking cannon fodder from their teenage years, Ms Kelly’s mad-eyed evangelism is trying to steal our children away from us in their primary school years. How long will it be before our own offspring are grassing us up to the Thought Police for anti-social crimes like eating burgers, having a quick fag in the potting shed or shouting “Get off you big Nancy Boy” at the telly whenever Peter Mandelson appears? It’s frightening.

And what about the thick kids: the ones who are too stupid to pass even NuLabour’s tick-the-box exams? Asbo Estates, that’s what. The modern-day version of the Victorian workhouses, where recalcitrant youths are made to wear hoodies and hang around outside shopping centres in exchange for weekly supplies of microwave pizza, alcopops and oven chips.

They will then be ministered by publicly-funded social workers while Lottery-moneyed artists build them sculptures made out of broken bicycles and grant-aided street theatre companies put on shows about the horrors of glue-sniffing. It’s beautiful; it’s perpetual motion.

I’ve had enough. I’m digging a moat and making a tin foil hat.

NOW I’M NOT one to pre-judge (arf!), but I have a terrible feeling that the offspring of Ms Trisha Parsons and Ms Hayley Fisher might be inhabitants of an Asbo Estate 14 years from now.

Their babies, both little girls, share the same father - a lumpen scrote called Scott Bingham. The two mothers have become firmest of friends after discovering each other’s existence, and now even dress alike and have their hair dyed in similar fashion. A touching tale of modern-day relationships, I think you’ll agree.

So why am I so ready to condemn these children, not yet out of nappies, to a lifetime of cheap jewellery, Pot Noodles and scratchcards? Their names. One is called Porscha and the other is called Khyra-Jaye.

To be honest, you may as well pierce their ears, stick them in thongs and make an appointment at the tattooists right now. When did you last hear of a university lecturer called Khyra-Jaye? Have you ever come across a managing director called Porscha?

What’s wrong with Vera or Elsie, Norma or Gert? It’s madness. Branded from birth by a dodgy monicker just because your schoolgirl mum watches Footballers’ Wives. Where were social services at those Christenings? Eh? Eh?

MIND YOU, an Asbo Estate can pitch up just about anywhere these days. Just ask the residents of one of the leafiest streets in Kensington, where houses routinely fetch over a million pounds.

Their peace has been shattered by the arrival of the 13-strong Julian clan, who have been given a five-bedroomed council house in the street from which to menace the neighbourhood while pulling in £600 a week in benefits.

Let’s do a name check, shall we? Amongst the 11 children, aged from 18 months to 18 years, are Tee Jay, Mason, Mia and Armani. (I may have made that last one up, but you get the picture.)

And again, not wishing to judge too soon, I will simply point to the fact that family’s pets are a Staffordshire bull terrier and a Rottweiler. They may as well pierce the dogs’ ears, stick them in thongs and make an appointment at the tattooists right now.

NANNY STATE update: For decades, the television legend that is Blue Peter has led the way in recycling, turning empty washing-up bottles, cornflake boxes and sticky-back plastic into everything from homemade Tracy Islands to large-scale models of the Big Brother House, complete with a plasticine effigy of that gobshite Maxwell.

But, for a school in East Sussex, such engineering marvels will be no more. An essential component of any Blue Peter project – the empty egg carton – has been banned, for fear that they might pass salmonella onto teachers or children who handle them.

It would be appropriate at this point to ask the health and safety Nazis just how many people have ever been stuck down by this disease after willfully handling said containers. But we already know the answer: none, not one, ever.

Still, you can’t be too careful, can you? God only knows what Brunel would have made of all this.

MEANWHILE THE nation’s farmers, usually one of the least politically-correct groups of society, have been made giddy by the sudden sunshine and have picketed the offices of the Oxford University Press complaining about the use of the phrase “couch potato” in their dictionaries.

Apparently – wait for it – the term is insulting to potatoes and is putting people off buying them. No, really.

Given the amount of moaning farmers usually do, you would have thought that they would have been too busy to waste their time on such a stupid stunt. Perhaps Mr Plod ought to take a closer look at that burgeoning crop in the Lower Meadow.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone not tired of Tim-mania already, of anyone came into work with a face like a tomato on Monday morning and then complained about sunburn, or of anyone who’s obsessed with Sudoka – it’s a crossword with no clues. What’s the bloody point?


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