Thursday, May 31, 2007

Knives to carry warning labels

Following hot on the heels of the voluntary move by the alcohol industry, knife manufacturers across the UK are applying warning labels to their products in an effort raise awareness of the challenges of knife ownership.

"We recognise that in today’s modern Britain more and more products are being affixed with warning labels and, well, as manufacturers of some very sharp implements we didn’t want to be left out," explained Naomi Smith, CEO of her family’s forging business in Sheffield.

The warning labels follow the model of those that have for years been increasing in size and directness on tobacco products.

"We have gone for quite direct messages," explained Mrs Smith. "So for example our meat cleavers now carry a large warning message about its sharp edge."

The family firm, Billingsworth Steel, has full ranges of knives and cooking utensils both with and without warning labels.

"We have to face the reality, our knives are not only used by professional chefs in top restaurants, but also by stupid people in Manchester and therefore we feel we can now cater for both groups," she said.

The Chef’s Knife in the labelled range bears the warning ‘Risk of blindness if poked in eyes’ whilst users of the serrated bread-knife are told that it is ‘Not to be taken internally’.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dutch game show threatens UK lottery

Mandarins at the NHS have received the news that a new Dutch game show gives the winning contestant a life-changing kidney transplant with horror.

“Even if you ignore the obviously tasteless nature of this programme,” commented Sir Marmaduke Billingsworth of the Weatherfield NHS Trust. “The fact is that thousands of patients every year take part in the famous NHS 'postcode lottery' for their treatments.”

There are concerns that should shows such as the kidney transplant based ‘The Big Donor Show’ become as much as part of TV fabric as other Endemol reality productions, such as Big Brother, have become in the UK then the NHS 'postcode lottery' could suffer the same fate as the football pools suffered with the introduction of the National Lottery.

“It is a proud British tradition that the standard of your care can be influenced by where you live and the local policies of a particular Trust.” said Sir Marmaduke. “This is one of the facets that make the NHS unique, and something that continually entertains tabloid reporters.”

Other concerns are around the selection procedure of the Dutch show, with the winning contestant being chosen by the terminally ill donor in a shallow “Blind Date” style character test.

“Patients don’t want tearful video pleadings from family members and messages from members of the public to decide their treatment. They get all that on visiting day,” explained Sir Marmaduke. “They prefer the modern NHS where their care is at the mercy of faceless bureaucrats and accountants applying cost - benefit analysis in a completely unfeeling manner.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Restaurants to promote equal opportunities

Today the Institute of Curry Emporia, ICE, launched its campaign to improve awareness of equality and diversity within the restaurant trade, an industry it says has lagged behind the rest of business in embracing the diversity of British racial demographics.

“For too long now the workforce of Indian Restaurants in the United Kingdom has been dominated by people of Asian origin,” explained Chandra Billingu.

“We need to ensure that the Indian Restaurant of tomorrow reflects the rich diversity of British culture with equal opportunity for all.”

Whilst the curry has for some time laid claim to being Britain’s national dish the overwhelming majority of over 70,000 staff in more than 8,000 Indian restaurants in the UK are of an Asian background.

“We are working with schools and colleges to stimulate interest in the finest Asian cuisine,” said Mr Billingu. “We will have workshops with the finest curry chefs from Birmingham and Bradford visiting schools throughout the country. We are also launching a comprehensive range of free recipe books and cooking technique manuals.”

ICE said that it was not just its members’ restaurants that needed to do better to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to get jobs within the restaurant trade.

“Chinese and Thai restaurants are typically staffed by people from a Far-Eastern culture, rarely do you see a blond Scandinavian serving the tables, or a ginger-haired Scot in the kitchen,” said Mr. Billingu. “If the campaign to get a more representative workforce is a success for Curry Houses, it can be a success in other areas too.”

The hope is that the restaurants on our high streets will be waited on and cooked for by the same racial mix as the nation they are serving.

“We need to reflect our society, “ affirmed Mr. Billingu. “Recent surveys in the newspapers suggest that restaurants in Kent should actually be staffed with Romanians and Poles!”

However not everyone in the restaurant trade has welcomed the move, some see a danger in diluting the cultural heritage that makes each eatery unique.

“It just isn’t necessary,” said John Bull who owns the ‘Cuore di Roma’, an Italian Restaurant in Basildon. “Most Italian waiters are called Darren and were born in Essex anyway. They just put the accent on to pull the female patrons.”

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drogba, Ronaldo “bad role models”

Premiership stars such as Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo were today condemned as being unsuitable role models for children.

“Premiership footballers are respected by children all over the country and they mimic their behaviour,” said Marjorie Billingsworth, organiser of a toddler’s group in Nottingham. “I think most parents of small children see this on a daily basis.”

Mrs Billingsworth highlighted examples of the behaviour that she said was unsuitable and how it was mimicked by children.

“Take Cristiano Ronaldo. When something happens that he doesn’t like, he falls to the ground and rolls around. Then, if the referee does not appear to be giving him what he wants, he will cry out and display a look of complete anguish and agony. His cries can be heard all around the stadium,” said Mrs Billingsworth. “When he does this on a Saturday, you can bet that in supermarkets up and down the land on Sunday morning, there will be two year olds trying exactly the same antics to get their mums to buy them a Milky Way.”

It was not just the tactics used to get their own way that she believed toddlers were copying from their millionaire idols, it was also the manner in which they gave their attention.

“We have often seen Didier Drogba roll around for several minutes in apparent agony from the look on his face showing the injustice that he has suffered, only to see him jump up and take the free kick he has emotionally blackmailed the referee into giving and to carry on with the game as though nothing has happened,” she said. “This can be seen in shopping centres from Land’s End to John O’Groats as toddlers get that much screamed for toy or sweet and then discard it, completely oblivious to the events of a few moments previously.”

Mrs Billingsworth called on all footballers to think of their impressionable fans in future to try and make themselves into better role models.

“I appeal to them,“ she said. “Considering they are big, strong, grown men with vast wealth, talent and opportunity, they should stop behaving in a manner that a spoilt child would recognise.”

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tories return to Victorian values

The Conservative Party is preparing for a new year annoucement giving details of its Victorian Values based ideology should it win the next General Election.

Centrepiece of the proposals will be the re-introduction of workhouses into the nation's inner cities. "Entrance to this elite employment programme," said Tory leader, David Cameron, "will not just be upon declaring bankruptcy, they will accept recommendations from any loan company currently advertising on ABC1".

"Workhouses are not the only area where Tories will lower regulation and costs for the British employer, " explained Mr Cameron, "and whilst cleaning chimneys is a somewhat dying trade, we believe there is still plenty of discarded coal to be found in the mudflats of our nation's mighty rivers for Primary School children to collect."

On crime the Tories will take their porposals further. "ASBOs will be replaced with a more traditional punishment for anti-social behaviour. So called 'chavs' will be forceably required to retire to a nationwide network of purposely constructed 'Drawing Rooms' to do the honourable thing."
The Conservative Party has yet to disclose their policies towards Health and Defence, although it is widely expected that the money saved by abolishing the National Health Service will be used to fund the inevitable military campaigns that come with reformation of the British Empire.

Whilst there have been recent changes made to Britain's parliamentary system the Tories plan further reforms such as the removal of women's right to vote. "Our proposals will also bring to an end any accusations of cash for peerages." said Mr Cameron, "Peerages will be awarded upon retirement from military service only."

The inner workings of the Conservative Party will be modernised to bring them up to the Victorian age. Leaders will be notified of a challenge from a rival by receiving four white feathers. Indeed Michael Howard, David Cameron's predecessor as Conservative leader, is now a Colour-Seargent in the French Foreign Legion. In a letter home he recently revealed he joined up "To forget my time as a Conservative."

Monday, May 21, 2007

BNP to ban St George

The British National Party today announced a surprise policy to ban the celebration of Saint George's Day in England. It follows a policy review to ensure that the party had not drifted in its struggle for cultural purity.

"The BNP is becoming a more mature party and, as with every party as we become more sophisticated, we need to ensure we don’t drift away from the core principles what made us strong in, like, the first place,” explained BNP policy guru Phil Billingsworth. “We feel we have become a bit liberal in recent years.”

“During the policy review one of our members, who had read a library book, pointed out that Saint George was a Turkish immigrant who came over here and took our job of slaying Dragons.” said Billingsworth at the launch of the “Ban Turkish George” campaign. “As you know stopping all these Turks, Poles and that coming over here is one of our central policies so we realised we had to take action against this corruption of our English culture, starting with Saint George.”

Phil Billingsworth does not just wish to stop at outlawing the celebration of ‘Turkish George’ but eradicating him from English life completely.

“We need to remove the mark of this Turk from the flag of England and thus from the flag of Britain,” he said. ”To do anything else would be to raise the white flag of surrender to multiculturalism.”

Mr Billingsworth said that he wanted the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, to focus more intently on what passes for the party's core policies and principles.

"I am sure Mr Griffin is a true Englishman, which is why he lives in Wales. I expect he is learning the language now to fully integrate into Welsh society," said Mr Billingsworth. "Don't get me wrong, I am not against the BNP, some of my best friends are racists."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Media continues Algarve vigil

As the days pass the 24 hour news media becomes more and more concerned about the plight of their little viewers that have recently been tragically lost, or abducted by less sensational news sources.

Reporters are combing the Algarve, frantically searching for any story or rumour with which they can get a thousand words of speculation or 5 minutes to camera.

“It’s such an appalling tragedy. These poor little viewers are sitting at home knowing exactly what they need to know. “ said Mary Billingsworth of Sky News. “However for us here in Portugal, standing on street corners, we have a soap opera to create and no one, least of all the Portuguese Police are fuelling our speculation.”

Commentators throughout the Algarve are amazed that the local police are not scheduling their searches and investigations around the plight of the British journalists who have been separated from their offices and loved ones with only their expense accounts for company.

“We have a little blonde news ticker that scrolls across our screen. It needs to be looked after and given the care and attention it needs,” explained a tearful Ms Billingsworth. “One can only imagine the horror and frustration being experienced at our parent’s news desk.”

Indeed the frustration is causing many people to search frantically around for any sighting of a retired former British Police Officer in the area, or even just someone with a small child, who might be able to do a few minutes on camera and, if possible, burst into tears.

“We are doing everything we can to raise awareness of our coverage. We have big graphics teams searching out new pictures to grotesquely splash across the screens in the hope of finding some new viewers. We are struggling though with the mindset that the local law enforcement officers are in fact a bunch of incompetent yokels who are new to policing.“

The topic of conversations, by the pools and in the bars of this otherwise quiet holiday resort that has become the centre of media activity, is the same - “When is the next news conference?”. There are desperate scenes as frantic reporters and distraught producers try to eke out five minutes, live on air, about a conversation with a shopper in a supermarket about how little speculation there has been.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

World’s highest mobile phone call

A new yardstick (9,672 of them in fact) in the field of communications was achieved when Herbert Billingsworth, 29, made the world’s highest mobile phone call. The call was made possible due to the Chinese government’s installation of a mobile phone mast with line of sight to the top of the Northern Ridge.

“I wasn’t the first at this altitude, that was Rod Baber who was calling the BBC and others," said Hebert “I am a couple of inches taller than him, so my phone was higher and I was able to claim his record about 15 minutes after he finished his call,” explained the proud record holder. “Of course I called my Mum, Elsie.”

A transcript of that historic call follows below:-

Elsie Billingsworth : “Hello?”
Herbert Billingsworth : “Hi Mum, it’s me, Herbie.”
EB : “Oh Herbie! I haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you?”
HB : “OK, Mum. I am on Mount Everest!”
EB : “Have you heard about your Auntie Dot? She is having terrible trouble with her … well you know … her problem.”
HB : “Mum! I am calling from Everest.”
EB : “You know we had the double glazing done a couple of years ago, Herbie, we don’t need anymore. I thought you worked for a bank.”
HB : “No, the mountain, I am on Mount Everest!”
EB : “Now, are you wrapped up warm? You got a scarf? You know that my friend Mrs Gervais caught a nasty chill just nipping up to the shops for her pipe tobacco. Are you eating properly?”
HB : “Yes, mum, I am, this is the highest mobile phone call ever made!”
EB : “I expect it is, price of things today, not like when I was a girl. Do you want me to call you back? If you can wait a bit it's cheaper for me after six.”
HB : “Sorry mum, say again, I didn‘t catch all that, it’s windy.”
EB : “Wednesday? Eeh, that’s amazing, it’s Thursday here!”
HB : “Thirsty, yes I am a bit I suppose. It’s quite a climb.”

At that point the call ended abruptly as Mr Billingsworth’s phone ran out of credit.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top team debuts first new signing

Today at its Docklands headquarters Barclays, the UK’s third largest bank, debuted its new signing in a mortgage department planning meeting. John Varley, Barclays Chief Executive Officer, had previously presented the Portuguese wonder-kid, Marcel Billingo, to the press in a small ceremony where he handed Billingo his security pass and laptop.

“Barclays has always planned to be a global player and to compete in Europe. The signing of Marcel proves our commitment to getting the best talent into the right positions forging a world class team,” said Mr. Varley.

Billingo, 23, is a rising talent having been signed by Barclays as a graduate of the academy of the London School of Economics. Following a learning year in the lower league of the Nationwide Building Society, the youngster was snapped up on a £580 a week contract.

Billingo made an immediate impression in the planning meeting from the kick-off. “I have always wanted to play in the premier league of finance and for such a great team as Barclays,” he announced as he introduced himself, before kissing the logo on his Barclays tie. He took up a central position next to the tea trolley, a position he said he hopes to be able to compete for and win on a regular basis.

Pundits have speculated that he has the capability to grow into a Middle-Manager enforcer, marking the opposition tightly with granular trend and performance analysis across the entire field. The consensus is that he Excels with a continually high worksheet rate. However, his inexperience showed towards the end of his first full 90 minute meeting amid accusations of time wasting after he took the conversation down to the corner of the “car park whiteboard” in what was clearly not a “solutions meeting”.

His dream start finally ended in acrimony when, after playing a spectacular one-two pivot table feeding directly into open workspace, his figures were challenged by the imposing presence of the Central Risk Manager. Billingo fell to the floor clutching his head which brought derision from the travelling audience.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Married men deflated by Kylie statement

Allotments and pubs all over the UK are filled with married men lamenting the announcement from Kylie Minogue following accusations regarding her relationship with a married friend.

Ms Minogue responded to such accusations with a statement that she has “never been unfaithful to a partner and would find it completely immoral to be involved with a married man.”

“It’s pretty depressing,” said Nick Billingsworth, 41, a bricklayer from Middlesbrough. “I mean you know there is always that fantasy of Kylie, and perhaps Dannii too if it was New Years Eve or something. Now it looks more remote than ever.”

Gill Binsworth of the Women’s Academy of Logic says that studies have shown that Kylie Minogue is found to be so attractive to all sexes and sexual orientations that she is believed to be the only woman that married men can mention openly in the presence of their wives without fear of recrimination.

“Indeed, the prospect of a sexual encounter with Kylie is so remote that most women believe it is out of their husband’s reach entirely,” said Mrs Binsworth. “However if he should get the chance most would admit he should probably go for it.”

Given that a sexual encounter with Kylie is considered to be an event that would always be pardonable, much like slapping Chris Evans. The statement has had a devastating effect on the morale of the nation.

“My Nick hasn’t been the same since Kylie made her statement,” said Fiona Billingsworth. “He has started to accept now that his hair really is thinning and that he is a little too overweight to wear a tight fitting football shirt on match days. It’s almost as though Kylie has taken away the one thing that he was holding onto to retain his youth.”

However it was not all doom and gloom in the Billingsworth household, since as Kylie firmly closed one door with her announcement perhaps she left others ajar.

“Well she didn’t rule out an affair with a married woman, and you know well its Kylie isn’t it,” affirmed Mrs Billingsworth. “The husband has already said it’s not a problem as long as I take the video camera.”

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Carling Cup for sale on eBay

The Carling Cup (also known as the League Cup) today appeared on the internet auction site eBay with an asking price of £500m.

The seller, known only as “TheGreatOne” has listed the item as being a part of a collection “that now cannot be realised” and it is described as being in used but excellent condition although some light polishing may be required to remove tear stains.

Those interest in purchasing the Carling Cup should be aware that they will have to arrange to collect the item themselves as postage is not offered with the sale. The item is currently located at a small team in Fulham.

Pundits are puzzled by the move, and are also unsure as to the significance of comments by the Cup’s seller requesting genuine bidders only and that payment would not be accepted in roubles.

Chelsea Football Club, the current Carling Cup holders, would not comment on the eBay listing but denied rumours that they were the buyers who had posted adverts on eBay’s “Want it Now” service for the Premiership and Champion’s League trophies. Both advertisements expired this week.

Friday, May 04, 2007

News Organisations claim “Real life not real enough”

At a conference on the future of newsgathering, keynote speakers warned that the public is becoming increasingly sceptical about real world catastrophes as they become exposed to ever more sophisticated effects in film, television and computer games.

“It is a real challenge for the News Organisations around the world,“ explained Kate Billingsworth from BBC News. “It used to be that even the best Hollywood effects wouldn’t look quite right. But now computer graphics have reached a point were Alien spaceships can crash into Big Ben on your home computer and look much more believable than when the real thing happened a few months ago.”

The conference focussed on major events that have simply gone unnoticed by the public who believe them to be fakes.

“We get our news from TV and the Internet but the news imagery has to compete with other footage shown. So, when Ben Nevis erupted and the lava flow slowly engulfed part of Fort William it just did not engage the public’s imagination,“ continued Ms Billingsworth. “Many we have asked believed it was a trailer for an upcoming disaster movie. The fact that the same 30 second piece of footage is used over and over again just fits in with the pattern of a TV commercial. Perhaps if the lava had been a brighter red, or maybe if it had set fire to more of the highlands and certainly more of Fort William itself, people would have believed the video on the news was as real as it was.”

The problem is compounded by the cross-over between the news and the rest of the media. “News readers appear in movies announcing details of disasters or significant events all the time. They also appear on TV in whimsical celebrity dancing shows, “ she said. “We need to make it easier for the public to tell fiction from reality”.

The conference announced it was to petition the government for the introduction of “This is real life“ signs containing the current date and time to be placed at every site of natural, political, cultural or economic significance. This would enable quick and easy identification of the authenticity of the event in the public’s imagination.

Other events that have been dismissed as hoaxes or attributed to a computer game have been the aborted invasion of Anglesey by the Argentine Navy, the repeated damage wrought to Tokyo by Godzilla and a recent English rugby victory over South Africa.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

PM fears fortnightly rubbish collection

Tony Blair today entered into the controversy surrounding proposals to change some of the nation’s rubbish collection to fortnightly arguing in favour of the more traditional weekly collection.

“I am a bit of a traditionalist on this,” said the Prime Minister. “There are many people, like me, who believe that the country is best served by the collection of rubbish each and every week. As many people know I was not so keen on a longstanding tradition in the borough of Westminster for the rubbish to have two smaller collections, twice weekly, on Tuesday and Thursday which was why I moved Prime Minister’s Questions to a single larger collection on Wednesdays.”

The major concerns have been centred on increasingly large amounts of garbage being allowed to fester for greater periods providing opportunities for the infestation of maggots.

“The maggot infestation in Westminster is very real,” commented Mr Blair. “I think there is a great risk that it will give the Tory party time to produce a load of mad policies, frankly, that will wriggle out into the mainstream and provide a rich breading ground for the spread of Conservatism.”

The idea of moving rubbish collections to a fortnightly service has been proposed by several groups in the country as a drive to increase recycling and thus to lead to an improvement in environmental conditions in the long term.

“Well, that is a good and noble idea, but flawed, since it will give the maggots time to develop new ways to attack a defenceless and innocent Prime Minister,” he continued. “We have a good record on recycling of the same messages and themes of always harking back to the previous government’s time in power. In fact I believe that my answers to PMQs have been recycled 17% more, in real terms, than they were in 1979.”

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