Wednesday, February 28, 2007

FA to release range of replica referee kit

The Football Association today unveiled a range of merchandise celebrating the match officials that are part and parcel of the national game. Richard Billingsworth, Head of Marketing for the Premier League, showed off some of the range at the FA headquarters in London’s Soho Square.

"We have a full range of replica kit available," he explained. "Not just the traditional black or yellow shirts but also the highly collectible fuchsia which is held in reserve to ensure that the officials don’t clash with Manchester United’s ever changing away strip."

Other items in the collection are the "Referee Experience", a series of audio CDs featuring verbal abuse from some of the English game’s top stars, such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. An international version is also planned with Zinedine Zidane.

"We are also in the process of filming a range of tutorial DVDs focusing on the art of the official," revealed Mr Billingsworth. "They will cover such topics as running backwards, walking to the linesman to pass the blame, pacing out just less than ten yards and collecting the ball at halftime."

Already available, however, is a new range of signed equipment, including flags, whistles as well as the Graham Poll collection of deluxe yellow cards which come in packs of three.
At the expensive end of the new range of merchandise are items such as the Plus10 LED extra time boards which will be part of the new Alex Ferguson range.

Mr Billingsworth said that early interest had been promising from fans and referees alike, but that the FA decided not to produce dry technical manuals. "Familiarity with the rules is not an intrinsic part of the Referee experience." he said. Similarly the planned series ‘Greatest Refereeing moments‘ has been postponed.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hairdresser helps Britney Spears cure her chronic backache.

Britney Spears has spoken for the first time about her relief at finding a cure for the chronic backache from which she has suffered since 1999 and publicly thanked Esther Tognozzi, the owner of Esther’s Hair Studio in California for her help.

“I have had a look at all my hair being sold on ebay, and I just hadn’t realised I had been carrying about so much!” explained the troubled star. “Without Esther I simply would not have been able to overcome my back problems.”

Britney was responding to the news that there is currently 32 tonnes of her hair being sold on the online auction site. In fact so much hair has been sold that Esther’s salon is expected to realise profits greater than the entire GDP of Ireland.

Geography textbooks are being rewritten, listing Esther’s Hair Studio in Tarzana as having a population of 13 with an economy based upon beauty services and a major export of unwanted hair and dignity. Despite Britney’s hair being in such plentiful supply, the salon has prepared plans to diversify from raw hair to other finished products - such as rugs and mooring ropes for oil tankers.

Other industries are believed to have profited immensely from the hair bonanza. British Airways is said to have made an extra £400,000 under their new single checked in bag rule to carry the hair across the Atlantic.

Ms Spears said that she would be forever grateful to the hair salon and plans to work with them again in future. “Everyone has been such a great help that I have promised to return in a couple of months when my hair grows back, to help fulfil all the orders” said Ms Spears.

In other economic news Forbes magazine’s “Rich List“ was published yesterday and revealed that Esther Tognozzi has now surpassed Ms Spears herself as the 23rd richest woman in the USA.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BBC sound effects record tops album charts

It has been revealed that DJ Ibitsa’s summertime smash album "Mashing it up, ya? (sun06)" was actually a cover version of the BBC Sound Effects Volume 7 LP from 1973. Last year’s breakthrough sensation Ibitsa had received rave reviews for his 14 track anthology of the summer of 2006 being hailed as "the new music sensation of the Ipod generation".

The album produced conflicting reviews within the leading edge music world. Whilst all of the journalists at the vanguard described it as a masterpiece, they were often at odds to as to which track was the apex of Ibitsa’s work.

The opening track, ‘Birdsong’ was hailed as "the dawning of the new post-Robbie mourning of pop". Q hailed ‘Thunder’ as the "foretelling of the post-breakup-post-reunion-post-breakup world we are likely to find once Boyzone reform to topple Take That". ‘Speeding Train IV’ was celebrated by Mojo as an "affirming condemnation of the text-vote created one hit wonder". The final track, ‘Banging‘, was described by NME as "Banging!"

Music journalist Paul Morley said that the album was akin to being "teased and roasted, ghosted and toasted by the fusion of urban beans and the warm silkiness of organic sounds."

DJ Ibitsa, real name Daniel Billingsworth, speaking today as he left his home in the Kensington borough of London, was unrepentant.

"I think I uploaded the wrong MP3. I’d finished laying Mashup down, skipped through a few tracks and then sent it to my label," he explained. "I spotted that I had clicked on the wrong thing a few weeks later. But everyone was saying such nice things about the work and, well you know, the money was nice."

After the ‘mix-up’ was revealed the editorials of most of the nation’s premier music magazines hailed the unrecognized back catalogue of the BBC Radiophonic workshop. Paul Morley was unavailable for comment due to his extensive travel commitments for the ‘World Music’ edition of "Now that’s what I call a music clip show" filming in Soho.

Ibitsa is hopeful that the release of his original album now entitled ‘easyChill’ will be as well received.

"When I got back from my residency in Ayia Napa last summer I found that my mobile phone had been recording on my journey back," he explained. "It gave me the inspiration for a mix of a more futuristic sound. And passenger announcements."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Japanese whalers welcome news of artificial dolphin fins

The news that Fuji the dolphin has received an artificial fin, to replace her own amputated tail, has been welcomed by the Japanese whaling association.

“This is great news, “ commented Kadoma Takase of the Japan Whaling Association. “The news that Fuji is swimming happily and back to her old self thanks to modern technology is a real encouragement to all of us. It proves what we have been saying for years, that we can slice off bits of dolphins and whales as much as we like. Now we can even replace the severed bits and they will be as happy as ever.”

The Japanese fishing and whaling industries have come under increased pressure to end practices such as the annual slaughter at Taiji in southern Japan, where conservationists estimate over 2000 dolphins are killed each year.

“We have proud traditions, such as those in Taiji, but we are a modern organisation and are constantly lobbying for greater scientific study of marine mammals,” said Mr Takase. “This innovation means that we might also be able to save costs. Traditionally our proud history of marine mammal research has involved the use of numerous large ships and expensive harpoons. Now we only need a few smaller nets and a really sharp knife.”

The JWA hopes that they will be able to extend the techniques to not just other parts of dolphins, but also to other animals. “Shark’s fin soup is a prized delicacy and we hope to be able to bring it to more restaurant goers.” said Takasesan.

Japanese consumers were unconvinced that mutilation rather than killing would be a compromise suitable for both the international community and Japan’s proud history of marine study.

“Artificial fins?” queried a patron at a Tokyo restaurant sarcastically. “I am sure they will taste rubbery.”

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Channel 4 and Home Office announce sentencing initiative

In response to the recent criticism over sentencing policy and the implication that criminals were being spared custodial sentences because the prisons were too full, today the Home Secretary unveiled a further initiative to provide transparency within sentencing policy.

Speaking from a prototype secure studio within the Home Office, Dr Reid demonstrated the new sentencing plan known as “Time or No Time”.

Like the model for new transparent prison population management, this initiative has been formed as a joint venture between the Home Office and Channel 4 television this time based on the successful “Deal or No Deal” format.

“This is yet another wonderful public private partnership, showing that New Labour can innovate in all areas of society, especially in the area of crime.” explained Dr Reid as he gave a demonstration of the new sentencing procedure (pictured).

“Once the verdict has been given, the criminal will be able to open a series of boxes to determine the sentence they will serve in prison.” explained the Home Secretary. “Periodically the Judge will interrupt play with an offer of an alternative sentence based on a formula drawn up by the Home Office. This really is thinking outside the box!" he added.

The sentencing will range from being set free through ASBO and Community Service to long term imprisonment. Regardless of the crime that player has been convicted of they may be sentenced to time in an open or secure prison. Indeed some car thieves may end up spending time classified as paedophiles.

“I think this once again shows that New Labour has not run out of ideas,” said Dr Reid, as he opened his final box revealing 'Throw Key' for permanent incarceration.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Court sees new evidence in 21/7 bombing trial

Woolwich crown court was today shown new evidence in the trial of the six men accused of planning suicide bombing attacks on the London transport system on 21st July 2005.

The court was shown the al-Qaeda calendar for 2005.

It is a half-yearly calendar as the users would have no need for anything after June.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tate Modern announces results of accessibility trial

The Tate Modern gallery, on the South Bank of the River Thames in London today announced the results of the first stage of its trial into making art available to the disabled.

“Often art needs to be viewed in lighting or from angles that not everyone can appreciate, “ explained Sir Marmaduke Billingsworth, a trustee of the gallery. “We set the artistic community the challenge of making pieces that were as meaningful for disabled visitors as for others.”

The first installation in the trial has been a spiral staircase for the disabled (pictured).

“The results have been marvellous, “ said Sir Marmaduke. “Although admittedly better coming down, than going up.”

Monday, February 05, 2007

Electrifying changes planned for Celebrity Big Brother

Channel 4 has announced the results of an internal review into the controversy surrounding the last series and the effects it has had on the lives of the celebrities. The series is to be revamped with a provisional title of “Celebrity Suicide Watch”.

“There was a record number of complaints from the viewing public and so we need to reflect their need for action as well as the statements from the luvvies involved.” commented a source within Channel 4 who did not wish to be named.

“Since they came out the housemates have been on numerous TV programmes saying that it has ruined their careers and lives,” he explained. “A couple have even considered suicide, so we thought we really needed to use the power of the Big Brother house to turn around such a terrible situation and get the show back to entertainment.”

The source said that the next series of Celebrity Big Brother will therefore abandon evictions from the house, but will instead revert to communal punishment.

“At the end of each vote all the contestants will be strapped into their own electric chair,” explained the source. “The voltage applied to each contestant will be in proportion to the votes they receive from the public. So, if they are all equally annoying to the viewers they will all get a mild tingle and a new hairstyle. Of course if one is really standing out with the public then it will be roast pork on the menu that night.”

Channel 4 denied that such an electrocution system had been in place for this year’s show.

“Cleo Rocos’s hair has always been like that” he said.

The new format will appeal to the visceral nature of reality TV but will also provide the celebrities involved with a reduction in time spent in therapy.

“They all want to go into rehab. It’s like the ASBO of the celebrity world. If you have been in rehab you have really suffered dahling.” commented research scientist Professor J. Scott Billingsworth. “So the producers can sell electro-shock therapy as a benefit of being on the show.”

When asked if the likelihood of death would put off the celebrities wishing to take part the Channel 4 source was unconcerned.

“There will always be another 15 z-listers who want once last chance to heat up their tired careers and this really could be their last! They always say you should go out whilst you are still hot.”

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Residents complain about influx of immigrants

At the "Local Diversity" conference in Birmingham, residents from small communities all over the UK got together to discuss how immigration is changing the face of Britain.

"It has really changed since I was a child, " commented Andrea Ladbroke, 83. "When I was a young girl Notting Hill was filled with wealthy families. Their large houses full of the comings and goings of old money. The local cafes filled with gossip from the servants."

Notting Hill, like other areas of London, and indeed many of Britain’s communities, has suffered from the influx of outsiders, says Mrs. Ladbroke.

"Well all the houses now are full of American movie stars or Pop Stars from northern towns. It just isn’t the same. They come here buy up all the property and take all the local broadcasting jobs at the BBC. What’s more you can‘t understand a word they say." she added.

It seems those long term residents that remain are dwindling in number and this is causing the traditional character of the area to disappear.

"Well, I feel sorry for the young people, they simply cannot afford a house unless they have had a BAFTA award winning show, or perhaps sold out Knebworth. I just don’t understand how they are going to get onto the property ladder."

Residents were not happy with the way the newcomers were integrating into local traditions.

"We still have the carnival but now it is filled with foreigners coming from places like St Lucia in the Caribbean," Andrea pointed out. "I have nothing against the Caribbean, I find it a wonderful place to winter." she added.

Henry Billingsworth, 76, from Prestbury in Cheshire said his small town had suffered a similar fate to that of Notting Hill, with the influx of residents from Portugal, the USA and Liverpool.

"You can’t cross the street safely, at my age, for fear of meeting your end on the front of a Ferrari or one of them big Mercedes off road cars," he said. "They take all the local’s jobs too. If we hadn’t let that Cristiano Ronaldo into the country then David Beckham might still have a job."

The influx of new culture has led to some improvements in the lives of the locals.

"It would be wrong to say there have been no changes for the better," remarked Mr. Billingsworth. "My small 2 bedroom semi is now worth £2.5 million and I never used to be able to get a Caramel Macchiato at 1 in the morning."

Channel 4 to work with Home Office on prison reform

The Home Secretary, John Reid, today announced that Channel 4 and the Home Office would be forming a new partnership to end the overcrowding and mis-management in the UK’s prisons.

"In a landmark partnership, we will be turning a number of prisons over to be administered by Channel 4 television," announced Dr Reid at a press conference today. "The broadcaster will bring its expertise to the problem of overcrowding in Britain’s prisons."

The Home Secretary explained that the prison numbers would be regulated by a series of phone vote evictions.

"The prisons’ security cameras will be broadcast on a new digital TV channel and we know that the public are very keen to follow the tedium in the daily routines of people kept in close quarters, sharing sleeping and washing facilities," explained the Home Secretary. "So clearly this is a solution that is fit for purpose and the revenue will be useful too," he added.

"We have experience not just of running phone voting," commented Hilary Billingsworth of the Channel 4 board. "We have great experience dealing with incarcerated racists, and further we are used to dealing with con-artists – i.e. those who pretend to be someone they are not," he explained, "Such as the alleged celebrities we have been trotting out for years,"

Dr Reid also paid tribute to other competencies that Channel 4 will be bringing to the joint venture.

"The Big Brother house is already a clear example of ‘what great looks like’ for the rest of the department to focus on. In three weeks, they have had only two men escape. That already puts the Big Brother house as the best performing prison," he said.

Tony "The Spanner", currently midway through his sentence in Wandsworth prison, spoke by video link.

"Normally people in Big Brother moan about each other being fake. In this version viewers will be able to see who is really innocent, rather than just claiming to be," he commented from a prototype prison ‘Diary Room’. "If it goes well for me, I could be in the celebrity version when I re-offend, it would be nice to meet some newspaper editors and pop stars."

Channel 4 denied this was a desperate move to re-invigorate a tired franchise with ever more salacious content and that the replacement of programme sponsors Carphone Warehouse with Imperial Leather soap had been planned for some time.

"We have always maintained that if those involved want to have sexual encounters we are not to intervene. It just might be that with this reality format any such adult entertainment is a touch more, erm, ferocious than they expect."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Scientists hail discovery of new emotion

Scientists have heralded the discovery of a new emotion by a researcher at the Kyle University in Birmingham.

“Following a year long study it has become clear that in addition to the traditional emotions of anger, fear, love and so on, there is very definitely another powerful driver of the human psyche” stated controversial scientist Professor J. Scott Billingsworth.

The Professor, recently released from a custodial sentence for aggravated assault, explained how he approached his work.

“Due to court-orders preventing me conducting research directly on my assistants, I proceeded to observe my fellow researchers as they conducted their daily tasks on their own projects. It became apparent to me that as their projects developed and they experienced successes and failure, they clearly experienced a new emotion that I have called ‘futilation’.”

The Professor revealed that the new emotion, whilst outwardly similar to existing ones, appears to be specifically found within the scientific research community itself.

“This emotion is best described as experiencing frustration that your best efforts are being expended on a futile exercise,” explained Professor Billingsworth. “This exercise might be one that is being repeatedly described to you as of high importance, but that you realise is at best only ever going to be appreciated by those close to you, and at worst costs you your marriage and wastes your youth. Being futilated is a very destructive state to be in.”

When questioned as to the actual usefulness of this research Professor Billingsworth reacted angrily.

“You see, right now I am experiencing raging futilation, just like when my budget was cut on my research into violence. Shortly before I was convicted.”

Within 24 hours of the announcement of the discovery, a new specialist firm of solicitors was advertising on UK Gold offering help with personal injury claims for anyone futilated at work.

Friday, February 02, 2007

British film-makers call for re-introduction of the death penalty

A petition signed by the great and the good of the British film industry was presented to 10 Downing Street today in the ongoing campaign for the re-instatement of the death penalty. This followed yesterday’s similar move by the screenwriters’ guild petitioning for police to be armed as a matter of course.

Lord Winningsworth, famed director of films such as ‘Electric Death’, ‘The Trial of Dr Jones’ and the controversial ‘Kill Rage’ series spoke outside the famous black door.

“British filmmakers, some of the finest writing and directing talents in the world, are currently hamstrung by the UK’s lack of a death penalty,” he explained. “They are limited in their work because a tense courtroom drama doesn’t work if the denouement is a sentence of ‘twenty years with time off for good behaviour less time served on remand’. I mean where is the drama in that?” he said.

When asked about the inevitability of miscarriages of justices with the finality of a death sentence, Lord Winningsworth said that was part of the consideration.

“Indeed, that too is another rich line of drama. Films exploring the tragic mistakes of the justice system are much loved by writers and actors – they all love those powerful speeches.”

Anne Corman, award winning crime fiction writer, expressed similar sentiments being felt by a large number of novelists and those working in television.

“Police dramas in the UK are never going to be able to compete against those from the US, there is not enough gunplay – rarely can we write a believable shoot-out, no car is ever likely to get its tyres shot out by pursuing Police officers.”

The death penalty is a controversial subject that has divided the nation. It was abolished in 1965 after pressure from the print media, concerned that they can never match the drama of such a live event and therefore moved to try and stem the growth of television news. With the advent of 24 hour news, the broadcast media has backed the writers and filmmakers.

“We can’t always rely on the US and Iraq for such wonderful live drama” said a source at Sky News.

Tomorrow Andrew Stevens of Channel 4 television will be presenting a petition for the jury system to be replaced with a system of text voting.

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