Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blighted by the bunny-huggers

SLIPPING OUT of Beelzebub Mansions for a pre-lunch livener at the Dog and Blunkett, I pass the stable block where my man Whittaker is currently living. (Strangely, the yard outside is full of curious metal sculptures and someone’s lit the fire in the old forge.)

He’s got the television on, a smile on his face, and is watching Sky News reporting the death of the whale that swam up the Thames. Beside him, his recently-acquired pet penguin is jumping up and down and clapping its flippers in glee. I suspect there may be some history there.

I have long bemoaned this country’s over-sentimental attitude to animals, and this week proved no exception. There are dozens of people dying daily in Iraq. Thousands of children die every hour around the world from disease and starvation. Yet a bottlenose whale swims up the Thames and the nation grinds to a weeping, wailing halt and hordes of ghoulish sightseers flock to the scene.

Forests of trees are chopped down to provide acres of broadsheet coverage. The 24-hour news channels go into meltdown (“Can you see the whale, Hugh?” “No, it’s 3am and a bit dark, Emily.”) So-called experts emerge from obscurity to draw spurious parallels with the current state of Planet Earth. Japanese restaurants across London urgently summon extra staff.

It’s a fish, for fuck's sake. A big fish. Millions of dull men spend every weekend dangling their hooks in the canal trying to catch one. The only remarkable thing about it is that it’s a bit too big for the freezer.

And I’ll tell you another thing. What happens when you take a fish out of water? It dies, doesn’t it? Every kid who’s ever won a goldfish at the fair knows that. So what do they do? Take it out of the water. And it dies. The mind boggles.

And then we have lunatics like Lorraine Kelly dementedly blathering on GMTV: “Seeing it in front of the House of Commons and Big Ben, it was almost as if it was campaigning.” So Whaley captured the heart of the nation. Truly, she was The People’s Whale. (No, not Lorraine, you idiots.)

Meanwhile our under-resourced police force finds time to stop chasing robbers, rapists and granny-stabbers to pop round to the Big Brother House and arrest a coat allegedly made out of gorilla skin, and a donkey charity in Devon is so awash with money that it’s had to start making solid gold shoes for the beasts and feeding them hay soufflé especially prepared by Michelin-starred chef Hester Blumenthal.

It’s not just daft old ladies who leave their millions to cats’ homes that are to blame for this emotional distortion. The animal rights nutters have played their role as well. Personally, I can’t stand them.

I hate their holier-than-thou attitude towards what I choose to eat and wear. (If God didn’t mean us to eat animals, why did he make them taste of meat?) I hate the way they recruit airheads like Jodie Marsh to argue their cause. I hate the way they intimidate teenage girls into nut roast anorexia. I hate their beards and jumpers knitted out of macrobiotic yoghurt.

I hate it that they send me messages threatening me with violence just because I don’t agree with them. I hate their bullying of legitimate companies and workforces. I hate it when they dig up the remains of someone’s grandma. I hate it when they plant car bombs at the homes of scientists who are only trying to save lives.

And I hate it when they jump out of bushes at the hunt and frighten the horses.

I tell you what. I’ll do a deal with them. The bunny-huggers can continue to protest all they want, but they’re not allowed access to any drugs tested on animals. Got cancer? Well go and suck a dandelion, you lentil-eating lunatic.

I AM writing this before George Galloway and Dennis Rodman get booted out of Celebrity Big Brother as the public extracts their revenge on the Terrible Two. But did you see the Scotch idiot whining on about being denied an eviction vote because he constantly broke the rules?

“I've had my right to vote taken away from me. I will have my revenge on those that did this to me.”

George, forgive me for pointing this out, but you’ve got the right to vote on a daily basis at your so-called place of work. The fact that you can’t be bothered to turn up and use it is entirely up to you.

DESPITE a full and adventurous life, I must confess that I have never “enjoyed” a three-in-a-bed sex with a pair of rent boys. Unlike Mark Oaten, turned over by the News of the World on Sunday.

(And tell me, what was the act so unspeakable that even the NOTW dare not speak its name? Wearing brown shoes in town? Having Austrian blinds in one’s drawing room? Drinking Blue Nun with beef?)

Mr Oaten’s outing provided much fodder for Sunday morning sanctimony, as fellow politicians queued up to lambast the naughty press for ruining this poor man’s perfect family life. Now I couldn’t care less what our elected members get up to in their own time (as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses), but if a senior politician seeking higher office is so irredeemably stupid that he puts his head above the parapet despite having a rent boy in his closet, then I think we should all be told how flawed his judgement is.

television of the week comes from Sky Channel 999. “Duck, Duck.” “What is it Dog?” “Can we push the red button?” Yes, Dog.”

Fantastic stuff. I watched it for two hours the other night thinking it was Celebrity Big Brother. Do give it a go. And it’s worth waiting to see what happens when the clown and the nun come on.

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 being especially nice to their wife this week just in case she’s the mystery £1.5 million Lottery winner who hasn’t yet told her husband, of anyone who’s rung the Bishop of Borsetshire to complain about Alan and Usha, or of anyone who doesn’t want to strangle the woman caught on telly fiddling her benefits by pretending to be a single mother who said: “Of course Tony is always working, but at the end of the day my children are not his and I don’t expect him to pay for my children. I do that myself.” No, love. I think you’ll find that we do.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't let the C stream near the Meccano

A SCHOOL in Scotland has introduced lessons in applying fake tan after pupils were found to be popping out at lunchtime for a quick sunbed session.

Given that two out of three teachers now appears to be a convicted paedophile, is this altogether wise?

I know it’s a terrible cliché, but you really couldn’t make it up when it comes to the horrendous situation in our schools. And seeing as our education system was nominated by Mr Blah as his first three priorities on coming to office, you can only wonder what state it would be in if he wasn’t trying so hard.

The eradication of anything that could possibly be considered elitist, the see-sawing of admissions policy, the petty over-regulation inspired by the compensation culture, the obsession with meaningless performance targets, the bar-lowering of exam pass rates to the point where qualifications are worthless … is it any wonder that many university graduates can’t even read and write properly?

Am I missing something here? It can’t be that hard to sit 30 children down and teach them basic facts, can it? And, at the same time, instil some discipline and moral values?

Of course teachers are always ready to shift the blame onto the parents, and in some instances they may have a case. But it’s the State’s comfort blanket of excuses that allows lazy parents to dodge responsibility.

No-one has a naughty child any more. They either have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or (and let us welcome this week’s newly-invented evilness alibi) something called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It was all so different when I were a lad. If, for instance, I’d been taken home by the police for dangling a classmate by his legs over the edge of a tower block in a dispute over the lucrative dinner money racket, my old man would have knocked me into next week if I’d claimed to be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder rather then just being an opportunist wannabe gangster.

Now you can’t even lay a finger of a hulking teenager without being dragged through the courts, put on the sex offenders register and given a job as a teacher.

And no-one has thick kids anymore. They all have dyslexia. Well it’s time that we laid that myth. When I were a lad, we didn’t have dyslexia. We had A streams, B streams and C streams.

The A stream did Shakespeare (and at big school we did Latin and Chaucer in our first year), the B streak could tie their own shoelaces and the C stream weren’t allowed anywhere near the Meccano set because they would swallow all the little nuts and bolts. It was natural selection.

Now the bright kids get held back by the thick kids and they all end up with nine A-levels and a place at university so no-one is any the wiser until they start work and turn out to be utter imbeciles. And seeing as half of them will be joining the Turkey Army, that probably won’t turn out to be career-threatening anyway.

There is a cast iron argument in favour of my theories. John Prescott failed his 11-plus. What more evidence could you ever need of that system’s effectiveness?

IT’S NOT just in education that NuLabour’s policies keep changing quicker than a chameleon playing with a Rubik’s Cube.

First cannabis was decriminalised “for personal use”; now that they’ve discovered that it turns people into paranoid schizophrenics it’s about to be banned again. (Although this “personal use” thing always troubled me. Where did they think people bought it from? Over the counter at Tesco, or from highly-organised criminal drug smuggling gangs?)

Then binge drinking was deemed to be evil, just before 24-hour opening was introduced. Now it’s the turn of what feminists call the “sex industry”. Kerb-crawlers will in future be shot, but up to three prostitutes can set up a brothel in the semi next door to you and it’s all quite above board. (And why three? Is it buy one, get one free?) Who’s running this bloody country? The Mad Hatter?

MAYBE I’M just not cut out for modern life. Rarely does a day pass without me having to stop and shake my head in bafflement at some new development.

Last week we pondered the provenance of Bernard Matthew’s Turkey Ham. Is it ham or is it turkey? Surely the public has a right to know. This week there were TV adverts for something called Warburton’s Riddlers, which turn out to be bread rolls baked with cheese ALREADY inside them. What witchcraft is this? Send for the ducking stool.

And then there’s global warming. For the last decade, people with beards who wear jumpers made out of yoghurt have been droning on at us about saving the planet and the terrible fate that awaits us if we keep chopping down the Amazon rain forest.

Now it turns out that it’s those self-same trees that are causing global warming by churning out almost a third of the methane gas entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Add farting cows to the equation and we’re lucky we can breathe at all. And look what happens when you light a fag. Buncefield.

So instead of vegetarianism and tree-planting, what we really need to save the planet is more burgers served on mahogany picnic tables. Stick that in your ecologically friendly pipe and smoke it. (I don’t trust whales either. And those baby seals look a bit shifty.)

ONE IN six teenagers believes they will find success through celebrity, according to one of those inane polls. And more than one in ten would jack in their so-called studies today if they could appear on television.

This is a dangerous obsession destined to end in disappointment. But when the nonentity that is Chantelle walks out of the Big Brother house and straight into a one-hit wonder recording contract, it’s easy to see how our kids are seduced … and not just by their teachers.

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 impressed with the speed of Thai justice, of anyone who’s never called a policeman’s horse “gay”, or of anyone who knows where those “begging” figures of crippled children in leg irons that used to be outside shops have all gone to. You’re lucky to see a fibreglass guide dog these days.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

So is it turkey or is it ham?

TODAY WE are going to be nice to the government. Bear with me, there is method to this madness.

Now we’re not being nice because that strange Ruth Kelly person thinks it’s OK for convicted sex offenders to get a job teaching children. Nor are we being nice because an increasingly delusional Mr Blah has just announced his 657th crackdown on yobbism and it’s just the same as the previous 656.

(Go on, do you know anyone who’s been marched to a cashpoint and fined £80? No, of course not. It’s never happened.)

No, we’re being nice to the government because the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has issued its list of 12 official icons of Englishness and that, my friend, is grist to the mill of any newspaper columnist in the dog days of early January.

Let’s look at the official list. There’s Stonehenge, The Angel of the North, Punch and Judy, the SS Empire Windrush, Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII, a cup of tea, the FA Cup, Alice in Wonderland, the Routemaster Bus, the King James Bible, the Spitfire and the hymn Jerusalem.

Already we have problems. The Routemaster is so iconic that Ken Livingstone has killed it off in favour of continental-style bendy buses, Henry VIII was probably Welsh and Holbein was German, and for all the economic and cultural benefits the SS Windrush brought to this country, was its arrival really more important than the game of cricket? Or our legal system? Or pubs?

Luckily the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is inviting people to nominate their own additions to the list, so my alternative dozen is already winging its way to Whitehall: brass bands, Donald McGill postcards, red telephone boxes, the Radio 4 shipping forecast, fish and chips, morris dancers, Alan Bennett, the Morris Minor, Coronation Street, tabloid newspapers, Marmite and Rolf Harris’s portrait of The Queen. (And before you rush to point out the fact that Rolf is Australian, I would remind you that he’s a Commonwealth citizen and therefore counts.)

Sadly there was no room for black cabs, crown green bowling or Boris Johnson, but it’s a worthy list and only goes to show how much we have to be proud of. Unfortunately, the task of the columnist is to veer between patriotism and cynicism, and in that spirit I must also nominate my Icons of Modern England. And it is not a pretty sight.

Try these: Prince Harry in a Nazi uniform. That fat chav who won the lottery. Poundstretcher shops in every High Street. The Princess Diana memorial fountain. The Turkey Army jobs section in The Guardian. A Fathers For Justice campaigner dressed as Batman climbing up the House of Commons. The compensation culture. Beagle 2. A drunken girl pissing in the street. Speed cameras. Ikea. And the notion of “celebrity”.

which, what are we to do about Celebrity Big Brother? Other than watch it, that is? I always thought that I was reasonably in touch with modern trends, but I watched aghast as several people of whom I had never heard were wheeled into the house last week.

I always thought Preston was the sheep-rustling dog in Wallace and Gromit, I’d never seen the Baywatch woman before and that Maggot bloke was a complete mystery. And as for that shovel-conked slapper from Essex, well, words fail me. Other than to say that if she was taking part in the programme “to show the real me”, then she was doing a damn fine job.

Meanwhile the Americans spend all their time “working out” while the Brits slob around smoking. We have an MP who is supposed to be representing one of the most deprived areas in London indefatigably absenting himself from his duties in pursuit of self-aggrandisement, a shamed music hall entertainer who spends most of his time wallowing in a pool of self pity and a huge, pierced black man who looks like the role model for the BNP’s “come over here and take all our women” neuroses.

And just to show that the government, about which we are being nice this week, continually fails to grasp the more ridiculous side of life, a spokesweasel from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs threatens to have that pneumatic-lipped transvestite Scouser arrested for wearing a coat made from gorilla skins. As if.

And news just in: Big Brother has asked Michael Barrymore to use the ashtrays provided rather than throwing his used fags in the pool.

REMAINING IN the pit of stupidity, we turn to Which? magazine’s list of stupid packaging instructions. We’ve all heard about the bag of airline peanuts marked “Caution. May contain nuts”, but the fear of being sued is driving manufacturers to ever more ridiculous warnings.

There’s the birthday card for two-year-olds labelled “This card is not suitable for children under three years”, the box of trainers marked “Average contents: Two” and the child’s Superman outfit that carries the caution “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”. That must have been a big disappointment then.

My favourite isn’t so much born out of fear but fashion. A bottle of £1.50 mineral water promising “Bio-hydration and optimal cellular hydration that will help your body combat the negative effects of 21st century living. Easy to drink”.

Easy to drink? It’s just water for Christ’s sake. What next? Magic Pixie bread?

(Elsewhere in compo land, schools in Scotland have stopped giving out free fruit to pupils in case one of them chokes on an orange pip or a cherry stone. Let’s just stick to the deep-fried Mars Bars then, eh? )

I AM constantly besieged by junk mail offering me millions of pounds of credit if I’ll only sign on the bottom line. A company called Capital One even insists on sending me a pen in the letter, making the signing-away of my life even easier.

Explain this. In their view I’m too poor to even own a pen, yet they’re willing to give me an unsecured loan, no questions asked. And we wonder why the economy is in a mess.

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 reassured by the sight of our future Army officers carrying their own ironing boards into Sandhurst (“Zulus, Sir, millions of them.” “Don’t bother me now, Evans. I’m trying to get a crease in this shirt.”), of anyone who isn’t fed up with the Tucker family’s perpetual grief over Betty’s death, or of anyone who can explain to me what Bernard Matthews’ Turkey Ham is all about. Look, it’s either turkey or it’s ham. Just come clean and tell us.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The curse of the Y chromosome

I HAB a code. I can nod feel my node and my head has been filled with quick-setting concrete.

It does not help that I am writing this on the day regarded by many as the most miserable of the year. My wallet is empty, the credit cards groan with post-Christmas stress, and someone’s polished off the last of the Newberry Fruits. Meanwhile the bills that didn’t get paid in the run up to December 25 form an orderly queue, the heating is on the blink and someone’s backed a shopping trolley into my car. Happy New Year.

My potentially fatal illness gets no sympathy of course. It doesn’t seem to register in the minds of women that those of us with a Y chromosome suffer colds far more badly than the female of the species. They can happily bash on with washing the sheets after the house guests have gone. We, meanwhile, are riveted to the couch with a bottle of Beecham’s All-In-One and a large Buckfast and Vimto.

At least the fridge is beginning to clear. The turkey carcass has been rendered down to stock that will be thrown away during a freezer clear-out in August. The remnants of the ham has been sliced and bagged, but the Christmas Stilton is still there, whispering sweet nothings to a half empty tub of brandy butter while simultaneously feeling up a cheeky bottle of mixed olives.

The excess over, we can now return to the simplistic security blanket of comfort food. Mashed potato. Baked beans. Spam. Sausages. Bacon, egg and chips.

“This isn’t just tomato ketchup. This is Heinz Organic tomato ketchup, with little crusty bits around the nozzle and a greasy thumbprint on the bottle from an early-November eggy bread-fest.”

It’s good to be back to normal.

adverts pick up on the mood. Nine out of 10 are for celebrity fitness videos. The other one purports to come up with a way for you to dodge paying your debts. I’m not sure which is more offensive.

A company called Debtbusters claims to have found a piece of government legislation that lets you avoid paying back money you’ve borrowed, stops all the hassle from your creditors and will see you debt-free “in just 60 months”.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? One small problem: it’s called “bankruptcy”. Mind you, imagine the consequences if every scrote in the country goes down that route. The high interest credit companies will go bust, their bankrupt customers will never get another loan again, sales of Pot Noodles, microwave chips and cheap fags will plummet and we’ll end up with a leaner, fitter underclass that might just manage to drag itself to work for once.

They certainly couldn’t afford to buy all those fitness DVDs. In the space of a couple of hours of daytime TV, I saw the following assorted “celebs” trying to flog exercise routines to desperate housewives: Jordan (no toe-touching), Kelly Holmes (like you could keep up), Jayne Middlemiss (yoga in Geordie accent), Angela Griffin (ex-soap star), Charlie Brooks (current soap star), Debra Stephenson (dyslexic current soap star), Martine McCutcheon (another ex-soap star), Kirsty Gallagher (my dad’s famous), Gabby Logan (I’ve had twins, you know), Ulrika Jonsson (I’ve had Sven, you know), Lady Isabella Hervey (skanky reality show bird) and Anthony’s 70s Disco Workout (out-of-work former Big Brother winner soon to phone Debtbusters and go bankrupt).

Mrs B’s contribution to this season of dance, diet and detox was to go out and buy a panini maker, although what eating foreign bread-based products has to do with losing weight I don’t know. No doubt it will soon join the foot spa, the juicer, the George Formby Grill, the toasted sandwich maker and the vegetable steamer in the Only Used Once cupboard.

We only need a Panasonic breadmaker to complete the set of useless middle class artifacts and I’m sure I saw her scanning the Lakeland catalogue for one last night.

I ADJOURNED to the Dog and Blunkett for a post-New Year livener (I call it “retox”, i.e. getting drunk again) only to find the local Hunt hardcore gathered in the back room sticking labels on bricks.

It turns out that the League Against Cruel Sports has launched a fund-raising appeal so that they can equip their legions of crusty agitators with video cameras to film alleged transgressions of the absurd Hunting Act. Fair enough, those lentils don’t pay for themselves and just keeping a rescued Beagle in fags costs a tidy amount.

To encourage bunny-huggers nationwide to contribute, they have generously set up a Freepost address so that they pick up the bill for anything posted to them. I fear they might not have thought this through.

Hence the large number of horny-handed, ruddy-cheeked countrymen gleefully addressing bulky parcels to The League Against Cruel Sports, Freepost SE 5087, London SE1 1BR. I won the contest for most expensive “donation”. I waited until my man Whitaker passed out, wrote the address on his forehead in felt pen and posted all 20 stone of him.

In other Loony Left news, animal rights nutters in Devon raided a farm before Christmas and “set free” 60-odd wild boar destined for the dinner table. Local farmers were not amused as the beasts can wreak havoc amongst the crops so called in the Dulverton West Foxhounds to hunt down the escapees.

As there is an exemption in the new legislation allowing the pursuit of escaped animals with unlimited numbers of dogs, a jolly day was had by all. I told you it was a stupid Act, didn’t I?

ONE WOULD have thought that Nottinghamshire police had enough to do, what with gun-toting Yardies running riot across their patch. No so PC Zahid Malik, who found time to write to a Home Office magazine complaining that Scotland Yard’s Black Museum was called the err … “Black” Museum. Apparently this is a negative and probably racist term and, despite being used since 1877 without complaint, should be banned forthwith.

Personally I’d just post PC Malik to Blackpool. Or to the League Against Cruel Sports.

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 voting to evict Michael Barrymore from celebrity Big Brother before it even gets going, of anyone wondering what to do with their Wednesday nights now that Rome has finished or of anyone who doubts that it is better to give than receive: Mrs B. now has the cold.