Friday, May 19, 2006

Of course, he bought her a plane for Christmas ...

STOP THE presses! Hold the front page! Summon the messengers with cleft sticks! A Big Plane has landed in London.

I can’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s just a Big Plane. It doesn’t fly at supersonic speeds, it doesn’t go underwater, it can’t take off and land vertically: it’s just a Big Plane.

We expected more than this by the year 2006. Readers of the legendary Look and Learn children’s magazine of the Sixties will, like me, be asking themselves where it all went wrong. Where is the promised time travel? Where are the public teleports? Where are the personal jet packs and the flying cars? Where are the “meals in a pill”? (And no, Pot Noodles don’t count.)

Instead of finding ourselves living in a bright, shiny and safer version of Blade Runner, we’re stranded in a backwater of Basingstoke.

Think about it. All those scientists who made the 20th Century the most progressive and inventive era in the history of this planet suddenly ground mysteriously to a halt. Instead of coming up with rocket-powered shoes or electric pyjamas, their greatest achievement so far this year is beans on toast in a bag that you’re supposed to put in the toaster – surely a triumph of hope over experience.

So what happened? I blame the Internet. Once the boffins had set up this network as a means of exchanging information, it quickly became clear that there were all sorts of other applications for an electronic community. Before long the test tubes and the Bunsen burners had been abandoned in favour of downloading pornography, betting on football matches and buying second-hand vintage Grateful Dead T-shirts.

And if they did tear themselves away from their keyboards for five minutes, it was just to clone the odd sheep. So progress has ground to a juddering halt.

Which brings us back to the Big Plane. We are told that the “typical” configuration is seats for 555 passengers. We are shown tantalising drawings of on-board casinos, shops and bars. But we know the truth, don’t we?

Those fancy facilities will never materialise on those airlines with which most of us can afford to fly. There’ll be extra seats crammed in instead and we’ll be spending two hours getting on, two hours getting off and another eternity waiting for our luggage alongside 800 other poor souls.

Call that progress? Blame the boffin who’s just lost half his government grant playing Internet poker.

NEVER MIND wondering how the Home Office manages to employ illegal immigrants as cleaners. Never mind worrying about Ruth Kelly coming round to build a tower block at the bottom of your garden. Never mind asking how that chipolata-trousered buffoon called Prescott has still got a job – or at least a salary.

No, the really important question of the year has just been answered: where was Gene Pitney when he was only 24 hours from Tulsa?

Thanks to a typically smart-arsed letter to The Guardian, we can establish that if Mr Pitney spent eight hours in his motel room (although not necessarily sleeping) he was around 16 driving hours from home. If we assume that he would have averaged 60 mph (the 55mph limit not being introduced until the Seventies’ oil crisis) that puts him some 950 miles from Tulsa.

Obviously, the permutations are many. But one compelling fact convinces me that the mystery has been solved. Smack on that 950-mile circumference is the border town of El Paso in Texas. This place has previous.

Remember the Marty Robbins’ song about the town, wherein a young cowboy bewitched by a beautiful Mexican girl in Rose’s cantina kills a love rival before being fatally shot himself? Could it be that Mr Pitney fell for the self-same charms of the whirling Felina?

No wonder he could never, ever go home again, the dirty dog.

I DON’T understand why there’s such a big debate over Mr Blah’s sudden realisation that nuclear power stations are the only way to fuel this country in the future. It’s probably the most sensible thing he’s said since 1997.

Consider this: to provide the same power as one nuclear plant it would require 2,400 wind turbines the size of the London Eye. I’ve got one of those daft windmills near me and all it does is generate enough energy to turn the light on in my fridge when I go for a fresh beer.

So all we need to do now is make sure that we build the new generation of nuclear power stations somewhere sensible. Scotland, or the Isle of Man, springs to mind.

I TRUST Lady Heather McCartney will forgive the media intrusion if I proffer my sympathies on behalf of the industry that never failed to show up whenever she wanted to publicise one of her seemingly endless, self-aggrandising charitable causes. I also apologise on behalf of the TV crew that followed her and her unfortunate husband into the Arctic wastes to film them bothering baby seals.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” Clearly not. But at least after Sir Paul’s stumped up a fair portion of his fortune, he’ll be spared that irritating odd-sock-in-the-washing-machine situation.

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 any fans who really expected the Da Vinci Code film to be as good as the book, of anyone who thinks Arsenal's nutcase German goalkeeper shouldn't have been sent off, or of anyone who doesn't feel a little bit sorry for that sad old trout who claims to be a porn star on Big Brother. Or the frying pan-faced plain girl who wants to be a footballer's wife. Or the gay "sexual terrorist". What's one of those then? A suicide bummer?


Anonymous tc said...

Never mind the Isle of Man or Scotland for the new nuclear power stations. The obvious place is Wales. Signposts to it will be in Welsh, so none of the tree huggers will find their way there to protest. And any nuclear accidents might hasten the appearance of GM sheep without wasting all that money on research.

5:21 AM  
Blogger The Weardale Militia said...

Nay lad lets not forget the sinister fact that Ruth Kelly is allegedly a member of Opus Dei, I find this unnerving. Who is her "numerary" or mentor, who could be the dark figure giving her advice?
Any way I don’t believe she was in the movie.

I am surprised that anyone other than me remembers Marty Robbins and El Passo, which is arguably one of his finest songs.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind Scotland, Wales or the Isle of Mann, the obvious place is Essex! If things to tits-up the prevailing winds will take nasty stuff over to those 'nil-point' Norwegians. (And besides, who would miss Essex?)

8:33 AM  
Blogger Kiwitrader said...

No, No, No.

If ever there was a time for "outsourcing" this is it.
I say Build 'em in France!!!

5:15 PM  
Blogger Rhys said...

nah, Chuck em up 'round Liverpool way. Get Scoursers as the main source of employment, and no one'll notice if any of them gain an extra head because of mutation and such.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rather give all that glowing uranium to a muslim extremist than a scouser.... the stuff would get nicked in no time......

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Alan G said...

Where would you be if you were 24 hours from Tulse Hill..?

12:53 AM  
Blogger BarryBeelzebub said...

If you were 24 hours from Tulse Hill, you'd be back in the 21st Century.

2:29 AM  

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