Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bring on the growling tramps

M’ LEARNED friend Ms Cherie Booth QC might laughably hazard the notion that her human rights allow her to hang onto all the free clothes, gifts and jewellery that she’s acquired on her worldwide looting jaunts, but we shouldn’t use this as a reason to dismiss out of hand a citizen’s right to basic freedoms.
Take the right to an education, for instance. Who would deny that to the huddled masses? And then there’s the right to freedom of artistic expression. You might not agree that an unmade bed should be in the Tate Gallery, but just because you don’t like or understand it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not art.
Which brings us all too neatly to the £32,130 of National Lottery money that’s been given to an experimental jazz singer so he can teach tramps to growl. Yes, that’s right: so he can teach tramps to growl.
Phil Minton, 66, will use the money, so generously donated by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), to create “feral choirs” of tramps keen to “find their inner voices”. In a series of workshops for “socially-repressed groups”, Mr Minton will lead the assembled choristers in barking, hissing, laughing and growling. A previous “performance” by a feral choir allegedly sounded like a bizarre mix of “buzzing bees and the wind running through the trees”.
(I must apologise at this point for using up this website’s entire weekly ration of quotation marks in one short piece, but there really is no other way to tell it. I’m assured that they will have re-stocked by next week.)
Now I can think of many ways to make a tramp growl. You could refill empty two-litre White Lightning bottles with plain apple juice – or another undefined liquid - and leave them on the shelf nearest the door in Freshco. You could respond to their appeals for “half a crown for a cup of tea” by actually going and making them a cup of tea and then bringing it back to them. Or you could simply superglue pound coins to the pavement. None of these would cost £32,130.
But NESTA has previous for this sort of madness. This column has already detailed its grants of £75,000 to a Welsh poet so he could travel round the world on a yacht; £40,000 to a Brazilian clown so he could investigate “what clowns offer to society” (a bucket of tinsel seems to be the answer); the £74,000 pocketed by a Yorkshire polytechnic lecturer so he could become a sorcerer’s apprentice and learn “what magic might have to offer education”; and the £56,650 given to Jamaican performance poet Jean Breeze so she could … err … go home for a year.
Madness, all of it. Absolute profligate lunacy. But also art, perhaps?
With that sort of cash on offer, I shall be out recruiting my own band of tramps next week. There’ll be no need for growling or hissing. They’ll be quite capable of knocking out a half-decent version of Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do I Do For You with two of them playing the spoons backed by a percussion section of empty Special Brew cans. The wind section I’ll leave to your imagination.
SO WE’VE done the growling tramps; bring on the gay lumberjacks. No, really.
The Forestry Commission is advertising for a £30,000-a-year Diversity Manager (Turkey Army, B Division) to increase the number of homosexuals and members of ethnic minorities prepared to shin up a Scots Pine wielding an axe.
(Ans why do ethnic minorities keep getting lumped in with homosexuals when it comes to matters like this? From what I know of their religious beliefs, they can’t be too chuffed about it.)
I have no idea why this is seen either desirable or necessary. Are people from ethnic minorities or homosexuals expected to make superior tree-fellers? Will they look better in those chunky tartan shirts?
Anyway, the Forestry Commission admits to employing at least 3,000 people (it could well be more). How do they know that half of those aren’t already homosexual? Have they asked?
For all they know, they could already have 1,500 barrel-chested, axe-swinging musclemen going home every night to watch
Monty Python videos while dressed as Shirley Temple.
SO THAT’S the growling tramps and the gay lumberjacks out of the way. It must be time for the publicly-funded Kurdish teenage trapeze artists. No, really.
A Brighton-based (didn’t you just know that) touring theatre company is teaching circus skills to youngsters in a bid to improve their confidence. The group also lays on free transport, refreshments and interpreters in Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish.
The cost? A piffling £60,000, funded by local councils, the Arts Council and the EU’s Social Fund – i.e. you and me.
The EU says that the training adds value to national employment and skills. (That bit would have had quotation marks, but as I said, we’ve run out.) Quite how many vacancies we’ve got for high wire plumbers or trapeezing vegetable pickers I’m not sure, but you can bet these boys will be up for it.
And meanwhile a man dies after collapsing in a betting shop because the two nearest ambulances couldn’t be dispatched because their crews were on a compulsory lunch break enforced under the European Working Time Directive.
Ain’t life grand.

THE POLICE and the RSPCA have begun an investigation into the killing of a fox during a shoot on the Sandringham estate last weekend, at which Phil the Greek was present.
I would make two points. Firstly, since the Hunting Act was brought in, shooting a fox is now the approved manner of dispatching such vermin. Secondly, if the RSPCA are so outraged at this wholly legal extermination, why don't they show their displeasure by dropping the word "Royal" from their name?
No, thought not. They're the Alex Best of the charity world.

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 who didn't realise that Fairtrade coffee was actually the sweepings off the factory floor, of anyone who couldn't manage to drive to work through a sprinkling of snow at more than 12mph without sliding off into a ditch, or of anyone who thinks it's sensible to lock up a middle-aged journalist for tapping into mobile phones while convicted paedophiles are turned loose onto the streets.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Shallow, stupid, ignorant and inherently racist

THE SCENE is the back room of an Islington wine bar. On one side of a candlelit table sits an executive producer from TV company Endemol. He has spiky gelled hair and is wearing glasses with red frames.

In the other side of the table sits The Devil, Beelzebub, Satan … call him what you will. He is wearing horns and a spiky tail. He burps loudly and a wave of sulphurous gas blows across the table.

“Sorry,” he says. “One too many Scotch Eggs last night. Now what can I do for you?”

Mr Endemol’s head drops into his hands. “It’s this new series of Celebrity Big Brother,” he moans. “We’ve made a right mess of it by putting Jade Goody and her family in there.

“Half the celebs have walked out, it’s boring people stiff and viewing figures have dropped through the floor. We need help.”

“Hmmm,” says Beelzebub, stroking his beard. “And what do you have to offer me for my assistance in this delicate matter?”

Mr Endemol sighs. “We can offer you the soul of Paul O’Grady – he’s on his last legs anyway – and the services of Russell Brand as your emissary on this Earth. Oh, and we can let you have series six of The Sopranos on DVD before anyone else has seen it.”

“Fine,” says Beelzebub. “Leave it with me. I’ll see if I can liven things up a bit …”

I HAVE no idea what the state of play in the Big Brother House will be by now. At the time of writing they’re all still in there bickering about a stock cube, but I expect that Jade will have been voted out by now, soon to be followed by her co-conspirators and her idiot boyfriend. And surely ridicule and vilification awaits.

There’s a delicious irony in the fact that this appalling woman was catapulted from the gutter to the glitter by Big Brother 3, only to be revealed as a foghorn-gobbed ratbag by a later series of the programme. I hope she’s banked some of the alleged millions she’s supposed to have made.

So are we really surprised that the flower of English womanhood, as portrayed on the programme by Jade, Jo and Danielle, brought up on a diet of instant celebrity and casual sex, turns out to be shallow, stupid, ignorant and inherently racist? These are escapees from the Underclass we ourselves have created – or at least allowed to evolve. Why should we expect any more of them?

And meanwhile, in the real world, four Royal Marines strap themselves to helicopter gunships and demand to be flown back into a firefight to try to rescue a fallen comrade who’d been left behind after a battle. The fact that it was only his body that they recovered doesn’t diminish their heroic efforts.

We sometimes need to remind ourselves that these chaps are the real representatives of our nation, not the cackling coven of playground bullies currently shaming us around the world.

I HAVE to confess to being gobsmacked at the television news film of BA cabin staff jumping up and down with glee after a 96 per cent majority voted for strike action over sickness pay, staffing levels and pension changes. Are these people mad? Or just too young to remember the bad old days?

And what kind of message does it send out to the hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers who have already booked their flights and who now face their precious two weeks in the sun being wrecked by union agitators?

It will not have escaped your notice that BA hasn’t had a very good year, partly through their own ineptitude and partly through terrorism scares and bad weather. Our inability to run our airports efficiently has also conspired to have queues of angry travellers camped in tents outside terminals.

I would suggest that the last thing our airline industry needs is unnecessary industrial action by a bunch of jumped-up poufs and glorified canteen waitresses. Perhaps they’ll have time to ponder that when the company goes bust and they’re all out of work.

IT’S HOWL at the moon time folks, as an illegal immigrant drink-driver who killed a 12-year-old boy turns out to be living rent-free in a council flat in Leeds.

Best take a deep breath. Zimbabwean Aaron Chisango, 29, was one-and-a-half times over the limit when he knocked down and killed Jamie Mason in Wolverhampton. Needless to say, he had no driving licence or insurance.

The CPS decided that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him with causing death by dangerous driving, so he served just two months in the nick on lesser charges. On release, he was sent to a detention centre (a small mercy, I suppose) where he continued to fight a deportation order originally served in 1999. For some reason, a judge then ordered that he should be released on bail.

Thanks to your benevolence, and the huge amount of tax you pay, Mr Chisango now lives happily off a combination of state benefits and legal aid while lying in bed until the afternoon when he presumably gets up to watch Celebrity Big Brother.

With typically mealy-mouthed paper-shuffling, a Home Office spokeweasel says: “We are determined to seek to remove all those who have no legal basis to remain in the UK.” Fair enough. What he doesn’t say is that the Government currently has a policy of NOT deporting people to Zimbabwe, in case they’re roughed up at the other end.

It’s all utterly pointless. And certainly enough to make a cat laugh.

MEANWHILE a friend of mine who lives and works in Sweden emails me with some shocking news. Remember those Cillit Bang adverts starring the shouty Barry Scott? And how we were devastated to find out that he wasn’t called Barry Scott at all, but was merely an actor?

It gets worse. The adverts have just started running on television in Stockholm. Same man, same shouty delivery, but this time he’s called “Fredrik Berg".

Is there no-one we can trust anymore?

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 whose garden shed ended up three miles down the road during last week's gales, of anyone who still hasn't done their tax return and can't find their P11D anywhere, or of anyone who isn't mourning the passing of Charlie Stubbs, who wore the same vest for seven years and never, ever managed to learn how to drink a pint properly.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hands off the Sugar Plum Nazi

I’M GOING to hate this, but it has to be done. Today we are going to defend a paid-up member of the British National Party.

Now it might not always seem obvious, but I have previous for anti-racism. I demonstrated against the South African rugby tour, I’ve been on Anti-Nazi League marches, and I’ve heard Billy bloody Bragg whine on at more Rock Against Racism concerts than I care to remember.

I detest the BNP with a vengeance. I detest NuLabour almost more for driving ordinary, decent working class people into their arms, but that’s another argument.But I also detest the kind of illiberal Liberalism that demands that their members aren’t allowed to think the black thoughts that they do.

Which brings us, quite unexpectedly, to leading ballerina Simone Clarke, star of the English National Ballet and the aforementioned card-carrying BNP member.

Now I don’t know why she chose to join such an organisation – the BNP, that is; not the ballet company. She claims, somewhat disingenuously, that her Chinese-Cuban boyfriend encouraged her to do so. I suspect that she isn’t the sharpest knife in the box. But the last time I looked, it wasn’t illegal to be a member of the BNP. Distasteful, perhaps, but not illegal.

Which makes a nonsense of the predictable clamour from Labour MP Jon Cruddas demanding that she should be sacked. Even dafter is the call from some quarters for the English National Ballet’s annual £6million Arts Council funding to be withdrawn.

This is a dance troupe, not a top secret branch of the Hitler Youth. Until they start prancing about on stage in swastikas and coal-scuttle helmets, I think we can safely say that their interpretation of Swan Lake won’t contain subliminal messages encouraging the audience to invade Poland. And anyway, Mel Brooks has already beaten them to it. Springtime for Hitler, anyone?

BACK BY public demand, it’s Compo Corner. Step forward Mr Colin Stagg, lined up to receive at least £250,000 and probably a lot more under the Home Office’s discretionary compensation scheme.

Why? The idiot was stupid enough to make a false confession. He should just be grateful that he wasn’t convicted and banged up for 20 years instead of being cleared when the case was thrown out. Anyway, he looked like he might have done it, and that’s good enough for Her Majesty’s Press.

Enter stage left, an anonymous heavy smoker who has just pocketed £44,000 for “hurt feelings” after being criticised over her unhealthy habit by a doctor. If I tell you that the doctor was an anaesthetist and the heavy smoker was a pregnant woman who was just about to be put under for a caesarian operation when she nipped out for a fag, you’ll probably start banging your head against the wall.

And for our finale this week, let’s have a big hand for postman David Portman, who’s trousered ten grand for unfair dismissal for taking 137 days off sick over a five-year period, the most recent being a week away from work to recover from the death of his dog. And you wonder why your birthday cards (with postal orders mysteriously missing) don’t turn up until teatime?

LET’S IMAGINE for a minute that BNP ballerina Simone Clarke decides to stand for election to Covent Garden parish council in those idle moments when she’s not performing a pas de deux. Let’s also imagine that she gets enough votes to be elected and, on her first day in the council chamber, she proposes that the local swimming baths should hold a regular “whites only” evening.

There’d be Guardian readers choking on their lentils, race police kicking the stage door down and suicide bombers smuggling themselves into the Sugar Plum Fairy chorus line with ten pounds of Semtex stuffed up their tutus.

Yet the Wolverhampton City Council has just introduced special Thursday evening sessions for black and Asian people only, and for the life of me I can’t see the difference. Special lifeguards and instructors man the pool for the hour-long sessions and special blinds have been put up to shield swimmers’ modesty.

Now I accept that some Asian people might not like being looked at while wearing their swimming cossie, but frankly that’s just tough. Perhaps Mrs Average of Sensible Street is a bit shy of leering men as well, but she just has to get on with it.

This kind of officially sanctioned segregation does nothing but create more divides - another ghetto, albeit an aquatic one. What next? Asian-only buses? Black-only restaurants? I think you can see where I’m going with this one.

SIGNS OF the times, all taken from one issue of our biggest-selling daily newspaper:

Debt-ridden Brits are selling their kidneys on the internet, North Wales police are abandoning their traditional helmets in favour of baseball caps, troops in Iraq are so stretched that they’re using dummies to “man” watchtowers on their bases, the cost of a loaf of bread is about to break the £1 barrier, and Tigger has been accused of punching a teenager at Walt Disney World in Florida.

And meanwhile decaffeinated Yorkshire Tea is being advertised on the telly. I don’t know which of the above I find more shocking.

I BRING you glad tidings. Bryan Crook and Janice Giles, from Stroud, have won a life-changing £2.5million on the Lottery. And how are they going to celebrate this good fortune? By buying a caravan in Burnham-on-Sea.

Now I’m sorry, but there should be a law against this sort of thing. If, when the man from Camelot knocks on your front door, you don’t have to hand a wish-list of planned hedonistic extravagance – women, drink, Bentleys, drink, holidays, drink, mansions, drink, a quickie with Heather Mills McCartney, drink – then they should disbar you from winning the first prize, chuck you a cheque for £100,000 to soften the blow, leave you to continue with your part-time cleaning job, and then put the rest of the money back into the pot so it can be won by someone who’ll squander it properly.

It might seem harsh, but it's for the greater good.

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 reduced to despair by the potty-mouthed, casually racist, shallow and stupid flower of English womanhood as shown on Celebrity Big Brother, of anyone not sinking into January depression as poor Jack Wooley's Old-Timer's Disease gets worse and worse, or of anyone who won't be glad to see the back of that slack-jawed, chisel-faced, Estuary-bred, talent-free, fake-brown, breakfast-puking, false-titted, skeletal egomaniacal clothes-horse-who-got-lucky known as Poash Spice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday: Went to Greggs for a pasty ...

SO, AS Winston Churchill was fond of asking: Who’s in charge of the clattering train?

(He didn’t write it. The phrase comes from an anonymous poem published in Punch magazine commemorating a railway accident.)

And a railway accident is what we appear to have suffered as the government’s recent scaremongering over road-charging and the impact of short-haul flights on the environment smacks straight into the buffers of ridiculous rail fare increases imposed, in part, to reduce demand.

So who is in charge? Who’s preaching joined-up government and making sure that we have a cohesive transport policy? Not John Prescott. He’s too busy planning how to spend the alleged £1million that he’ll pocket for his memoirs. (Tuesday: Went to Greggs for a pasty. Wednesday: Went to Greggs for a pasty. Thursday: Played hide the sausage over the office desk with some floozie and then went to Greggs for a pasty. And a doughnut. And another pasty.)

And not Tony Blah. He’s jetting back from another freeloading junket in the luxury mansion of a star-struck idiot he doesn’t even know. We are told that he’s made a contribution to charity to cover the cost of this holiday. Whether that means ten grand to Cancer Research or a penny in the plastic Labrador outside the Co-op, we’re not allowed to know.

So perhaps Gordon Brown is astride the footplate kitted out as the Fat Controller? ‘Fraid not. He’s far too busy taking elocution lessons and pretending not to be a Porridge Wog in case the Great Unwashed Electorate decide that they’ve had enough of unaccountable Jocks coming down here and telling us what to do.

So there we have it. We are told not to drive or we’ll be taxed. We are told not to fly or we’ll be taxed. But if we take the train, we’ll have to pay through the nose … because the trains are too busy. You really could not make it up.

AND WHERE is all the revenue from these extra “environmental” taxes going? Well not into stopping global warming, that’s for sure. It would be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide. What do you do? Offer the Sun a backhander to clear off for a few decades?

And there are only so many forests you can plant and so many igloos you can build for homeless polar bears. So hey, why not spend it on the Turkey Army instead? At least that way NuLabour can prolong the hope that they might get re-elected by the jobsworths whose mortgage depends on their patronage.

“People like who?”, I hear you ask. Well, people like the Arts Council’s Cardboard Citizens Managing Director (£45,000), the Civil Resilience Manager at Stockport Council (£39,132), the Detached Mobile Youth Provision and Rapid Response Manager in Islington (£40,578) and the Sustrans (aka cycle fascists) Bike It Officer (£23,000).

These are some of the more modest positions advertised in the pages of the State-subsidised Guardian in 2006. And now, thanks to a body called the TaxPayers’ Alliance (undoubtedly about to be denounced by NuLabour as a rabid collection of fox-hunting racists), I can inform you that the average starting salary for a Turkey Army worker is £36,893 a year, an astonishing £11,405 higher than the average private sector wage.

Add to that the gilt-edged pensions, the shorter working hours, the double-the-average sick days, the free travel to work, the generous relocation packages, the subsidised gym memberships and the “golden hellos” of up to £5,000 a time and you’ll understand why the bill for this political largesse now approaches £1.6billion a year, with 20 per cent of the nation’s workforce in NuLabour’s employ.

One can only hope that the other 80 per cent decide that enough is enough and bring a halt to the madness next time they get the chance. I can just imagine the scene down at the JobCentre. “And your previous experience is what? A Detached Mobile Youth Provision and Rapid Response Manager? Right, can you flip burgers?”

IT WOULD be unfair of me to suggest that our current generation of politicians is altogether less corrupt than their predecessors. Take this intro on a story from the Daily Mail last week:

“Lord Lambton, who resigned as a Tory defence minister after being photographed in bed with two prostitutes as he smoked a cannabis cigarette, has died aged 84.”

Well, I don’t know about you but I’d settle for that. It’s not a bad innings, is it? And it sure beats getting splashed all over the tabloids for ditching a weather girl in favour of a Cheeky Girl.

CHRISTMAS TELLY used to be safe and comfortable. Morecambe and Wise, The Sound of Music, The Snowman. So what did the festive boob tube give us in 2006? Swing with Saddam, live via some nutcases’ mobile phone.

At least we’ve got our fashion tip for 2007 – a dark overcoat with a black silk scarf. And how come they’ve arrested two people for shouting at him as he made his way to the gallows? Can no-one have any fun these days?

So coming soon to a screen near you: Castro Croaks It and Nuke North Korea, as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears play a form of Twister wherein whoever lands on the capital, Pyongyang, gets to push the red button. Commentary by Stuart Hall and Eddie Waring. Happy New Year.

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 who understands how we can spend £2.3 billion on the marbled halls of Ministry of Defence offices while expecting the families of serving soldiers to live in hovels, of anyone who understands how a police force can warn the public about two escaped murderers but then refuse to release their pictures "in case it infringes their human rights", or of anyone who doesn't understand why I'd like to hit Jade Goody's obnoxious mother very hard in the face. With a shovel.

Monday, January 01, 2007

And a very berry Christmas to you all

I AWAKE in a cold sweat from a frightful dream. I am in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin and I’ve just hit the multi-millionaire owner Sir Bono over the head with a posh leather stool before stamping on his posh sunglasses. Take that, you preening, preposterous, pint-sized pixie prat.

The environmental campaigner who had his favourite hat flown across the Atlantic; the anti-famine activist who could easily feed a village or two with the small change from down the back of his tax-dodging couch. The man who put the hip into hypocrite.

Remember that advert? “Every time I click my fingers, another child dies.” Well perhaps it might be a good idea to stop clicking them then, you clown.

I can’t stand the man, and now he’s gone and blagged himself a Knighthood. Outrageous, even if it is only one of those dodgy ones we give to foreigners. Arise, Sir Bonio, and then kindly clear off sharpish. And please take that other dishevelled dope, Sir Geldof, with you.

Unfortunately, I haven’t even got the energy to properly rail against the disgraceful way NuLabour “leaked” the news of this honour a week before it should be announced. I’ve seen people sacked before for pulling such stunts. What makes Tone think he can do as he pleases? And to think that some people reckon that giving poor Zara Phillips a gong has brought the whole system into disrepute …

RELEASED NUTTERS, many of them failed asylum seekers, are murdering people in the streets; the entire government is mired in corruption and deceit; rampant drug abuse is driving a nationwide crime wave; so what do the cops do? They arrest a bloke for picking berries.

No, really. Mr Ian Blayney, of Lydney, Gloucestershire, was on a canalside walk in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in August when he saw some rowan berries growing in an adjacent field. Being a sad bastard he hopped over the fence, filled a plastic bag, and later made a few jars of jam from the proceeds.

He was therefore somewhat surprised three months later to get a knock on the door from Officer Dibble. It appears that a nosy-parker minimum-wage security guard had spotted Mr Blayney climbing over the fence onto private property and had noted his car registration number. There then ensued a three-month manhunt during which Cheshire Police tracked down their man and then asked Gloucestershire Police to feel his collar.

He was subsequently taken to the police station, interviewed and then formally cautioned for trespass. I understand that friends and relatives who were given the resultant jam may now be under investigation for receiving stolen goods. (Actually I made that last bit up, but in this context you can never be sure.)

Right, let’s make it clear that Mr Blayney was on private property. If someone shinned over my fence and nicked all my tomatoes I wouldn’t be very happy. But rowan berries? Since when have they been a valuable commodity?

And am I wrong to suggest that perhaps a phone call warning Mr Blayney of his misdemeanour might have been more appropriate than a visit from two uniformed officers?

NOT MUCH of a holiday for the Jokeforce, the government-funded body set up to provide material for satirical columnists. No sooner have they been in action in North Yorkshire, where a chap who wanted to organise a Christmas do at the village hall was told that he must display posters warning that the mince pies might contain suet or nuts and that the
cocoa content and temperature of his hot chocolate must also be checked, than they’re off to Anglesey in Wales to ruin the Christmas of elderly patients in a hospital in Holyhead.

In this instance they instantly banished the patients’ own portable television sets from the wards because “someone might trip over the wires”. Cases to date of people tripping over the wires in the past 10 years? Zero.

The mostly bed-bound patients have been allowed to bring in their own tellies and DVD players since the unit opened, but a snap inspection by Health and Safety stormtroopers just before Christmas led to the poor old things being unable to watch Pauline keel over in EastEnders or David Platt (surely the Devil Incarnate) lay waste to Gail and Sally’s perfect Christmas. So it’s not all bad news then …

WHAT HAS happened to this country’s spirit of adventure? I’m sitting there watching thousands of people whining because fog had cancelled their flights out of Heathrow. “It’s ruined our Christmas”, they moaned.

Well, not necessarily. Did any of them think of getting off their spoonfed backsides and embracing the challenge? A quick coach trip down the M4 would get them to Bristol Airport, ironically one of the most fog-bound airports in the country, but this time bright and clear. From there it’s just a hop and a skip to Paris where there’s a major air hub with connecting flights to anywhere in the world. And if the M4 proves too challenging, what about the Eurostar?

No, it’s much easier to stand there and complain instead. And it’s not as if they’d all been booked on £5 cheapos and couldn’t afford anything else. Those airlines don’t fly out of Heathrow. The truth of the matter is that we’ve lost any sense of self-reliance. If the advertised flight doesn’t happen, we’re hapless and helpless, left weeping and wailing in the hell of Terminal 3. It’s just pathetic.

Old Adolph must be sitting on a cloud up there kicking himself that he wasn’t around 70 years later.

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 who thinks it's a good idea to make the Red Arrows abandon red and blue smoke and just use white because it's less expensive, of anyone who thinks it's a good idea to cancel all parachute training for the Parachute Regiment because we can't afford it, or of anyone who thinks that it's time to stop hoping against hope and bring our demoralised young men home now. The Fifth Test isn't that important.