Friday, February 24, 2006

Bobby, why is it vibrating?

AMONGST MY weekly postbag is always a number of letters and e-mails from recruits to Mr Blah’s (or, more accurately, Mr Brown’s) Turkey Army – those public sector placemen who know that their continued employment relies on them not voting for Christmas (or, more accurately, the Conservatives).

These are always scribbled on council stationery or sent during working hours, with the taxpayers picking up the cost of the stamp and envelope or paying for the time it takes to write “burn in hell you fashist scum” in Microsoft Outlook before the author returns to that popular Leftie website

The jist of their complaints is that I denigrate the valuable and essential work that they do by taking cheap shots at their protected status, their appalling sickness records and utter irrelevance to anything resembling the real world. And let me tell you, coming from a five-a-day anti-smoking community cohesion outreach worker, that criticism really hurts.

But, not content with taking the rest of us for a bike ride, I now discover that the Turkey Army has a new manoeuvre up its sleeve – early retirement through ill health, once more at the expense of the private sector.

Now we’ve all become accustomed to coppers and firemen sloping off with a bad back and a healthy pension once they hit 35, but I didn’t realise that assistant junior planning officers were working the scam as well. Consider this: According to the Pensions Policy Institute, 39 per cent of local government officers, 25 per cent of teachers and 22 per cent of civil servants have headed for their second homes in Tuscany long before their 60th birthdays. (The figure for firemen is 68 per cent before the age of 50; for police, 49 per cent before the age of 48.)

(And as Ross Clark of The Spectator has pointed out, only 6 per cent of the armed forces personnel take early retirement due to ill health, so shuffling documents in the wheelie-bin equality unit appears somewhat more hazardous than having rocket propelled grenades fired at you by insurgent Iraqis. Those paper cuts can be nasty, you know.)

So this high incidence of sick days (from an average of 25 to 40 days a year depending on whose figures you use, compared to just six in the private sector), coupled with high levels of early retirement through ill health, might lead you to think that by the time they’ve escaped the rigours of office life, those poor Turkey Army recruits tend to drop dead within days of receiving the carriage clock. Not so.

For some strange reason, once public sector workers have retired they stage a remarkable recovery. In fact, they tend to last longer, with clerical and professional classes outliving every other category of British worker. Truly, a miracle.

And here’s the rub, and here’s the reason that I bang on about them. While they’re living longer, on into their 80s and beyond (and having bailed out of working life at an indecently early age), they’re doing it at the expense of private sector workers who now face having to work on until 67 and beyond if they’re to afford the cat food and tinsel that pensioners buy in industrial quantities.

And not only that. Public sector workers enjoy protected final salary scheme pensions, a benefit rapidly becoming a rarity in the private sector. So we have an increasingly impoverished group of wealth-creators supporting an unsustainable gravy train of government apparatchiks. The works of George Orwell spring to mind.

The excuse for these enhanced pensions used to be that public sector workers were paid less than their private sector equivalents and were thus compensated for their service to the State. That is no longer true. Public sector pay rises have now outperformed private sector increases for several years. The difference between the average wages in the two sectors is now negligible.

This cannot go on. The economics simply don’t add up. And that, my friends, is why I bang on about it. I shall now await the next delivery of green-inked missives.

AFTER that depressing diatribe, I suppose you’re expecting some funnies. Well, I’m certainly looking forward to the Winter Paralympics, especially the ice dancing, the ski jumping and the bob sleigh. That should be a hoot, particularly if they try to drive the Sunshine Bus down the run.

I managed to upset a beggar outside Dixon’s earlier this week by responding to his request for “spare change for food” by offering him a drink from the thermos flask I now carry and one of my packed lunch sandwiches. You could see the hatred in his eyes as he realised that while he’d found a sympathetic ear, that first can of Special Brew remained elusive.

I joined a pub discussion about the gay footballers and their curious antics as exposed by the News of the World. “That wouldn’t have happened in Bobby Moore’s day”, nodded one bore. I’m not surprised. Can you remember the size of mobile phones back then?

Finally, as I inched to work through the snow and ice this morning, I heard a NuLabour mad woman on Radio 4 demanding that we should stop watering our gardens and flushing our toilets forthwith or there’d be standpipes in every street by Easter. Ain’t life grand?

MY MAN Whittaker skulks through the stable yard in the early hours of Wednesday morning clutching a black balaclava and an A-Z of the Tonbridge area. Later that day he is seen buying drinks all round in the Dog and Blunkett with a brand new £50 note. For some reason, this makes me feel a trifle uneasy.

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 doesn’t suspect that Mr Brown’s sudden desire for each and every one of us to fly the Union Jack from a flagpole in our back gardens has got more to do with his Scottishness than it has to do with our patriotism, of anyone not despairing at the news that Heinz are to change their baked bean recipe after being frightened by the encroachment of the dreadful Branston Beans, or of anyone even slightly worried that our future King cares enough about what’s going on around him to voice a valid opinion.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I was only joking about the Zil limousines

From today's Mail on Sunday:

Every Cabinet Minister is to be offered a brand new Jaguar limousine in a move that last night threatened to become a public relations disaster.

The XJ saloons - which sell for up to £50,000 and would be paid for by the taxpayer - are said by Jaguar to be "revolutionary" and "exhilarating" with "elegant, sensuous lines" and space age technology.

But the announcement that the cars would be made available to all 22 members of the Cabinet was yesterday mired in confusion. Initially, officials said Ministers would be allowed to choose either a Jaguar or the environment-friendly - but much humbler - Toyota Prius, which retails for just £17,500. But they then conceded that Ministers were unlikely to plump for the Prius - but only because "of security considerations".

It was important, said the officials, that potential terrorist targets had a fast car so they could outmanoeuvre their attackers. The Government's security justification was attacked as a "ludicrous figleaf" last night - and critics condemned the scheme as an expensive waste of public money. Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said Ministers were simply intent on pampering themselves. "This is an act of a Government that has been in power too long. There is absolutely no case for a such a substantial upgrade."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How jug-eared Lineker ruined my life

WHAT’S THIS? According to those national newspapers who love to scare people when they haven’t got story about the Duke of Edinburgh murdering the Princess of Wales, society as we know it is about to break down just because we’ve now got to use PIN numbers with our credit and debit cards instead of signing slips of paper.

(And before the pedants reach for their green crayons, I know that PIN stands for Personal Identification Number and that therefore the use of the word “number” after the use of the acronym “PIN” is tautology, but frankly I just don’t care.)

It appears that the population of Great Britain is so stupid that we’re incapable of remembering four simple numbers. Chaos will thus reign at the tills, with desperate shoppers fainting in mile-long queues while pensioners, the Welsh, women and other thick people will stand sweating and drooling at the checkout while they try to remember the date of their dog’s birthday.

What tosh. I’ve been out shopping this week and nothing has changed. My lady wife, who shops like Imelda Marcos on speed, has, if anything, spent even more pounds per minute than usual. I haven’t seen anyone in tears at the till and I haven’t seen anyone taking their shoes and socks off at an ATM machine to check the number they’d written in indelible Biro on their toes.

There really is no need for this unseemly panic. I have a foolproof method to ensure that I’m never without my principal PIN. We all use a regular cashpoint, right? The next time you go, take a nail with you and simply scratch your PIN number onto the metal surround. Bingo! You never need to remember it again.

And it’s not as if its any use to anyone else. So they know a random PIN number. So what? They haven’t got your card so there’s nothing they can do with it. As I said, foolproof.

FORGIVE ME if I don’t have an attack of the vapours over the video of Our Boys giving some Iraqi rioters a bit of “education”. Now I’m not saying that it’s right, but I’m not saying that it’s wrong either.

The soldiers concerned had been under sustained attack from machine gun and rocket fire for weeks. Just minutes before the alleged atrocity, a mortar round and a home-made grenade had been fired into the barracks while a constant fusillade of stones rained down.

To send a snatch squad out of the so-called safety of the barracks to try to grab the ringleaders of the riot was a brave act. Under the circumstances, why is anyone surprised that those ringleaders, once detained, got a bit of a kicking before being sent back to their rag-bag army with a few illustrative bruises? What better way to deter the rest?

We hear much about the poor teenage victims. No-one seems to consider that the lads in British Army uniform were, in all probability, teenagers too; frightened, pumped up on adrenaline, and thoroughly fed up of spending 24 hours a day dodging missiles.

Two final points: if the troops involved had been American, the rioters would probably have been shot dead. And if you think the gentle chastisement shown on the video was over the top, you want to try being a football fan at the mercy of our supposedly enlightened police forces. I’ve seen worse beatings handed out at a reserve match.

WHILE WE’RE talking about crimes against humanity, we should look with jaundiced eye on the continued success of Walker’s Crisps and the sad demise of the makers of Golden Wonder, who went into administration last month.

Golden Wonder invented the cheese and onion crisp. To kids whose previous experience of extruded potato snacks was a packet of Smith’s with a little blue bag of salt in the bottom, it was as much a revelation as the arrival of colour TV.

Now Golden Wonder always put cheese and onion crisps in green bags. That was the natural order of things. Until Walker’s, owned by the Satanic PepsiCo UK and backed by the jug-eared Lineker, arrived on the scene. They committed the ultimate crime of putting cheese and onion crisps in BLUE bags. Cue a taste/sight breakdown and a catastrophic confusion of senses from which many of us haven’t yet recovered.

No wonder half the nation's kids are suffering from ADHD, or whatever it's called.

IT WOULD be appropriate for those of us of a certain age to spend a quiet minute or two in memory of Jackie Pallo, wrestler par excellence and mainstay of the Saturday afternoon World of Sport programme through the 70s and 80s.

And what a great crew he had around him. Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki, Johnny Kwango and my own personal favourite, Les Kellet, their exploits all lovingly narrated by the velvet-voiced Kent Walton and his supporting cast of baying grannies.

Old Les was a bit of a lad. He’d get pummelled around the ring for three rounds by some nancy boy with Brylcreemed hair 30 years his junior and then, just as he was comatose against the ropes with his young opponent approaching to deliver the coup de grace, he’d spring back to life and deliver a devastating head butt to win the bout.

Week after week he managed this Herculean task. Truly a supreme athlete.

MY MAN Whittaker goes from strength to strength. The performing penguin he acquired a couple of months ago is now bringing in serious money by busking down at the local concrete shopping centre. The strange metal sculptures that have been clogging up the stable yard for months are slowly being melted down into scrap.

Now a Danish flag-making business appears to have sprung up overnight and is doing seriously good business. And I can swear I saw him drawing some kind of cartoon when I strolled past the window the other night.

It’s like I always said: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and before you know it he’s a fucking criminal mastermind.

Pip pip!

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 worrying that they’ll be banged up for glorifying terrorism by celebrating Bonfire Night, of anyone stupid enough to invest in Asda’s eight pence Valentine’s card – the world’s cheapest suicide note, or of anyone outraged that News of the World reporters took three hours to score some drugs in the pub where Prince William was last Saturday night. THREE HOURS? I’d have been on to Trading Standards.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Worthy of a wider audience

I'VE DELIBERATELY stayed away from this one, but I think this picture more or less sums up what I think about the situation. I wouldn't mind, but every one of the protesters I saw interviewed was English. What makes them think that they can step inside their extremist Muslim bubble every time it takes their fancy?

A snapshot of British life

AS WE are daily assailed with a barrage of loony stories, it does the soul good to occasionally sit back and take stock of The State We’re In. For that reason, I present for your delectation a snapshot of life in 21st Century Britain. Oh. one of the following has been made up. See if you can guess which one.

A head teacher at a school in Ipswich has banned hot cross buns in case they offend pupils who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ms Tina Jackson (and why are all the worst barmpots female?) is worried in case the “religious imagery of the cross” might upset non-believers.

As operations are cancelled and wards closed, the National Health Service admits to spending £9million on “art” in the past two years. The items bought included a £70,000 giant pebble at University College Hospital and a £35,000 cartoon mural at Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge.

An Olympic Road Network is to be set up across London with special VIP lanes allowing big-wigs, politicians and corporate sponsors to sweep past traffic jams. Ordinary motorists found straying into the lanes will be fined £5,000. Whether or not the government has ordered a fleet of Russian Zil limousines is unknown.

So many students have collected a full house of A grade A-levels that universities are finding it impossible to distinguish between them. Consequently 10,000 straight-A students have been rejected by Oxford and Cambridge. Meanwhile the basic pass rate has increased to almost 97 per cent and even the Welsh are scraping a couple of Es.

Since her release from prison in May, 2004, taxpayers have spent £700,000 a year on providing 24-hour police protection for Maxine Carr, the former girlfriend of Ian Huntley. Her most recent demands were for a three-bedroom house in Switzerland or Holland, a £30,000-a-year income and free tickets to fly home four times a year. No-one knows if this request was granted.

A policeman who took to the beat in Mansfield on a mountain bike and consequently made 309 arrests in a year has been banned from going near a day centre for problem teenagers because of complaints that he was nicking too many “vulnerable young people”. The ban was agreed to by his area commander, Inspector Samantha Wilson, a woman.

Cherie Blair has become the first prime minister’s spouse to be given an official government car and driver for her personal use, including shopping trips and visits to the gym. The cost to the taxpayers of this bullet-proof perk is estimated to be £50,000 a year. The information had to be dragged from the government under the Freedom of Information Act. Whether or not the car in question is a Russian Zil limousine is unknown.

All 41 fire stations across Greater Manchester have been issued with comfy reclining chairs that can convert to beds at a cost of £130,000. Unfortunately firemen are not allowed to sit or lie in them for health and safety reasons because they are yet to be trained in how to use them. You may think this is madness; anyone who’s ever trapped their finger in a collapsing deckchair will beg to differ.

A builder who tried to advertise for a carpenter who could “understand English, written and verbal, as he will be dealing with clients” was told by his local JobCentre that it wouldn’t take the advert because it was racist. The builder, who regularly employs non-English staff, received a letter from the wonderfully titled JobCentre Plus Diversity and Race Equality Team warning him that he may even have broken the law. Whether or not the letter was delivered by a Russian Zil limousine is unknown.

The government has decreed that all children must be weighed by the State at the ages of four and 10 because of growing worries about childhood obesity. Meanwhile “elitist” games and PE lessons have been all but abolished and school playing fields continue to be sold off to provide subsidised housing for public sector apparatchiks.

A butcher's shop in Oldham has been ordered to remove posters advertising its award-winning black pudding from windows in case the term offends members of the Asian community who might pass by. Stormtroopers from the council's crack Community Cohesion Unit have also asked staff to refer to the delicacy as "blood pudding" in future.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has drawn up new legislation guaranteeing family pets five “freedoms”. As well as being fed an appropriate diet, little Tiddles must also have suitable living conditions; companionship or solitude as appropriate; monitoring for abnormal behaviour; protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease; and a hidden away place for her litter tray so she can have a poo in private. Whether or not special inspectors will be turning up at midnight in Russian Zil limousines to check if you’re feeding Tiddles Felix Chunks or Tesco Value cat food is unknown.

Up to 16 million adults are holding down jobs despite having reading and writing skills no better than those expected of 11-year-old children leaving primary school. This is approximately half of our national workforce. Meanwhile Hampshire County Council has spent £50,000 on a piece of library “artwork” which consists of a spinning plasma TV screen attached to a pole. It has subsequently broken down and ceased spinning. You may think that 10,000 new books would have been a wiser investment.

A girl of six has been banned from wearing a Barbie watch to school after a teacher decided that fellow pupils might be scratched by the metal winder when she put her hand up to answer a question. The girl had been given the watch by her parents so she could learn to tell the time. Hampshire County Council – yes, them again – said: “The teacher may have been overzealous.” It is thought that pupils are soon to be issued with rubber pencils in case of accidental stabbing incidents.

The black police bodyguard who protected the Duchess of Cornwall has won £30,000 compensation after complaining that he was “over-promoted” due to political correctness. Sergeant Leslie Turner (not a woman) argued that he was only given the prestigious role because he was black. He said he wasn’t ready for the job, wasn’t trained properly, and subsequently made mistakes which led to him being reassigned. The Metropolitan Police settled out of court. With your money.

John Prescott, everyone’s favourite lunatic, has given the nod to a two-year project which will examine if fire engines should continue to be painted red and if their sirens should go “wee’wah” or “wah-wee”. Extensive foreign travel is envisaged for the lucky Guardian readers who will get the two planned jobs. Estimated cost is £100,000. Meanwhile 46 local fire control rooms are being closed across the country to be replaced with eight “regional” centres which better fit with the NuLabour masterplan of European federation.

And finally, at Marks and Spencer it’s actually cheaper to buy a new ironing board, complete with cover, than it is to buy a replacement ironing board cover on its own. It’s consumerism gone mad. Expect mountains of discarded ironing boards blocking Olympic VIP car lanes by 2010.

Pip pip!

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 surprised that the sicknote capital of Britain is a place called Merseyside, of anyone surprised that Abu Hamza used the services of prostitutes (well with one eye and a hook, he was hardly going to see much action down at the disco, was he?), or of anyone not puzzled by the death of Al Lewis, who starred as Grandpa Munster in the 60s TV series. He was a vampire, wasn’t he? How did he die then?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Whatever happened to the simple life?

WHY DOES life have to be so complicated? And why do we have to have so much choice?

I was pondering this dilemma while having a shave the other morning in a bathroom where even the simple act of “backing out of the leadership contest” forces you to choose between little flush and big flush. And then there was my razor.

My old man used a Gillette safety razor with one disposable blade, yet I was whittling away with three-blade razor with a suitably macho name and a battery that made it vibrate. What next? A four-blade razor? A razor with a headlight? A razor that plays the Home Service?

Little did I know, but I had already been overtaken by events. Gillette has announced the launch of a new razor with FIVE blades on the front and an extra ONE on the back for trimming sideburns and shaving under your nose. It’s madness. It’s nuclear proliferation on the supermarket shelves.

Are the boffins at Wilkinson Sword already working on a seven-blade razor? With laser guidance and satellite navigation? Where will it all end?

It’s the same with paint. Once upon a time you popped down to the local hardware shop and a man in a brown overall gave you a tin of brilliant white Dulux. For those dangerous people with more sophisticated tastes a limited range of colours was available, mainly variations on Magnolia.

Then they started messing about with the colour white. Apple White, Cool White, Bicycle White – nonsense like that. After that came fancy National Trust colours, and even fancier prices. Then there was “traditional” paint, made out of lead, kippers and asbestos by a man in a lock-up garage in Chelsea.

Here at Beelzebub Mansions, we have just had the boot room re-built to accommodate an imminent lurcher. I was hoping that a tin of one-coat emulsion might suffice when it came to decorating. I should have known better.

Mrs B has decreed that Crown or Dulux simply won’t cut the mustard and we must instead avail ourselves of the services of one of those ultra-trendy paint companies called Mackeson and Barrymore or something. The silly names don’t stop there.

Once the colour chart has arrived, we find ourselves trying to choose between Donkey Phlegm or Wizard’s Sleeve for the walls. The doors? It has to be either Jazz Mag or Mouses’s Back (and I’m not making that last one up). All ordered over the internet, of course, and at the wholly-reasonable price of £40 a tin. I’ll say that again: FORTY POUNDS A TIN. They’re having a laugh, surely?

LIFE DOESN’T get any better in the supermarkets. Getting past checkout now involves an elaborate interrogation by a drooling teenage nincompoop before you’re even allowed to pay.

Do I have a clubcard? No, I don’t want Mr Tesco to know how much I drink. Do I want help with my packing? Look, it’s three bottles of Chardonnay and a Twix. I’m not a moron. I can cope.

And why when I’m buying booze in Waitrose do the kids on the checkout shout “Alcohol!” at the top of their voices? I don’t want the polo club members to know I’m serving them Uzbekistani gin the next time Mrs B has one of her little soirees.

And that’s another thing. “Basics” and “Value” brands. Why not just label the stuff “Cheap Crap for Dole Scum”? I mean, who in their right mind (and in gainful employment) is going to walk up to a cheese counter laden with the best that Europe can offer and pick up a generic, orange, plastic-wrapped lump of something called just “Cheese”? If they can’t be more specific than that, it has to make you wonder.

It’s like those curry houses that sell something called “meat curry”. Not enough information, pal. And how can a proper chicken possibly cost just a quid? And those packets of frozen fish that have been “formed from juicy cuts”. Why? Wasn’t the original fish fish-like enough? (And yes, Bernard Matthews, I’ve not forgotten about your “turkey ham”. Is it turkey or is it ham? You may as well come clean because I’m not going to give this up.)

I fear that we’re quietly heading towards the time when the lower orders are fed synthetic food by the State. A bloke called Harry Harrison even wrote a science fiction book about this scenario, set in 2022. It’s called Soylent Green, and trust me, you don’t want to know what goes into Soylent Green.

IF ANGER was a measurement of satisfaction, I’d have already had my money’s worth out of this year’s BBC licence fee. The cause of this rage is that programme about benefit cheats.

Now I’m not normally one to shout at the telly, but I now have to take the precaution of bringing a bottle of Buttercup Syrup and a packet of Tunes into the sitting room on Tuesday nights.

As well as turning over scrotes on the fiddle, the Beeb has bowed to political-correctness by inserting touchy-feely stories about the millions of wasters who are allegedly trying to get back into employment. This week’s episode featured a big Welsh lump of proletariat who hasn’t had a job for three years.

Of course it isn’t his fault. It’s that Mrs Thatcher who closed down all the mines who’s to blame (and all of 20 years ago). This bloke can’t even be bothered to go to the JobCentre (Mrs Thatcher has apparently also banished buses from the Valleys) so they come out to him. No, really.

And the single great achievement of the mobile dole office staff? They shifted him from claiming jobseeker’s allowance to claiming incapacity benefit (and an extra three quid a week) on the grounds that he’s got irritable bowel syndrome. Well let me tell you, I’m getting irritable sloth syndrome here.

The great tub of lard also got to go on a free course for night club bouncers, which he managed to pass. Did he then get a job as a night club bouncer? Are you mad? So he’s now doing a free computer course. And you wonder why more than half of your income now goes in taxes …

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 planning to take their kids to see that good, old-fashioned cowboy film that’s been nominated for an Oscar, of any BBC bosses who think the UK Theme is only listened to by “sentimental insomniacs”, or of anyone who doesn’t think that it might have been a bit more sensible to let the Jews have the Isle of Wight as a homeland, rather than a chunk of Palestine.