Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brown reveals plans for Duchess of York Commemoration

As the tenth anniversary of Tony Blair’s coining of the immortal phrase "People’s Princess" approaches Gordon Brown today revealed further plans to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

"Tony Blair made great capital out of the statement he gave after the apparent death of Diana," said the Prime Minister. "I plan to improve my popularity in the UK and internationally, especially in the United States, by invoking similar platitudinal sentimentality regarding the death of the Divvie’s Duchess."

As with many leading figures the arrangements for the funeral and commemoration of Sarah Ferguson are made years in advance but in this case are being brought forward on a political schedule. To ensure that the shared grief is as media friendly as possible the pavements outside Gregg’s pasty shops will be cordoned off for laying of flowers and stuffed ‘Budgie the helicopter’ toys. Wedgewood pottery, who she has spent several years promoting, are already stockpiling commemorative ceramic ‘Fergie toes’ for remembrance sucking.

Several ski resorts around the world will be offering free lift passes for the day of the memorial service, to honour the tradition of Sarah Ferguson’s many holidays at other’s expense.

Whilst many people think Sarah, Duchess of York is the kind of person who would be late for her own funeral, Downing Street said that despite being alive and well "she has time to make our schedule."

At the memorial service itself, fellow celebrity ginger, Elton John, will perform a specially adapted version of his hit duet now entitled "Don’t go baking the tart (She’d rather have it fried)".

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace revealed that whilst there were no truth in conspiracy theories surrounding Royal complicity in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Palace would "definitely be part of any arrangements" surrounding the unfortunate death of Fergie.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

UK’s most evil man named

Herbert Billingsworth of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has been named as the UK’s most evil man and the country’s entrant into the ‘Evil Eight’ competition. The competition aims to identify a modern ‘Hall of shame’ for the most diabolical people in history and is the brainchild of controversial behavioural scientist Professor J. Scott Billingsworth (no relation).

"I was inspired by the New Seven Wonders campaign and decided that we needed to update the traditional Rogue’s Gallery," explained Professor Billingsworth. "We need to get rid of the Genghis Khans and King Herods and bring the whole directory of evil up to date."

People across the UK cast their votes via phone, text and over the Internet and Herbert Billingsworth was announced the surprise winner, ahead of early favourites such as Fred West, Dr Harold Shipman and Richard Branson.

Mr Billingsworth spent most of the competition languishing near the bottom of the poll despite his history of owning a string of Mitsubishi Shogun 4x4 vehicles and leaving his TV on ‘standby’ overnight. Even the revelation that he had been fined for smoking in a public place only raised him to fifth position. However it was the public outcry surrounding the tabloid pictures of Billingsworth purchasing a patio heater that secured his victory as the UK’s Most Evil Man.

Mr Billingsworth will now go into a Europe wide play-off to be the continent’s contender into the worldwide ‘Evil Eight’ competition, the winner of which will be announced on the 8th August 2008.

Herbert said he was not worried about facing the best that Europe could offer and was indeed looking forward to the challenge.

"Well as far as I am aware Hitler never owned a patio heater and whilst Stalin hated evening drinks in the cold of Siberia, the Moskvitch 410 4x4 only had a 35 horse power engine," he said.

When asked how he would fair when competing with the less middle class crimes of mass murder and torture, Mr Billingsworth remained confident.

"I spent 25 years as a lorry driver. You don’t think all those off-cuts of carpets I bought were to redo the study do you?" he said with a smile. "I will take the judges to a few roadside ditches I know."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Open Winner “’get in the hole’ won it for me”

Padraig Harrington has revealed that it was the motivation of the crowd that helped him to a playoff victory over Spain’s Sergio Garcia.

"The fans have been fantastic with their constant support," said The Open Champion. "When you are standing over a quarter of a mile away from the green you need a few people to yell ‘Get in the hole!’ to make sure that your ball goes as far as possible. The years of endless practice don’t amount to anything in such a pressure situation. It’s the crowd yelling that counts."

Whilst many commentators and television viewers assume that this constant and unoriginal yelling must be a distraction the players find it not only comforting but something they now depend on.

"The fans have been doing it throughout my pro career," commented Tiger Woods, the winner of the previous two Open Championships. "I get it whether I am teeing off on a par five or have just nudged the ball for a two inch putt. I can’t imagine how the greats of yesteryear, the Sneeds, Palmers, Normans, Faldos and so on got by with just polite applause and a cheer if the shot really turns out to be a good one."

Open runner-up, Garcia, said that he felt that it was this level of support that gave Harrington the edge going into the four-hole playoff.

"You know, the majors are in English speaking countries," he said. "For sure, I was listening but I never heard ‘¡Consiga en el agujero!’ which might have made all the difference."

Harry Billingsworth, 24, from Newmarket who attended this year’s Championship in Carnoustie said that yelling out this tired old phrase was all part of the fun of spectating.

"I am trying to help the players but ‘A bit of draw around the hazard and feather the landing with spin!’ is a bit too long to get out," said Mr Billingsworth. "It’s a great bit of fun though. So is yelling ‘Get your hair cut!’ at Miguel Angel Jimenez."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bush has colonoscopy to end Blair special relationship

George W. Bush today underwent a minor medical procedure to ensure all traces of Tony Blair have been removed from the President’s colon.

"The President was advised by his doctors several years ago that he should have a check-up to ensure that when Mr Blair left his office, as Prime Minister, there were no cancerous traces in Mr Bush’s colon," explained White House spokesman Scott Billingsworthski.

Following the 11th September terrorist attacks on the US, Tony Blair insinuated himself deeply into the President’s inner circle. It was the depth of this special relationship that raised concerns with George Bush’s doctors about the impact on his colon.

Downing Street sent its best wishes but denied that there had been any Brown / Bush contact over the President’s alimentary canal. It is understood the White House received a message from the people of Iraq suggesting that President Bush receive a really thorough probing at least twice.

Vice President Dick Cheney briefly gripped the reigns of power whilst Mr Bush was having the camera inserted.

"The President is always pleased to have Dick to fall back on," said Mr Billingsworthski.

Mr Bush’s medical team used the latest in miniature camera technology to reduce discomfort and declined an offer from Russian President, Vladmir Putin, of one of their outside broadcast camera trolleys.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Acrostic messages make controversial return

Controversy reigns in the world of online advertising as increasing number of websites are using subliminal or even guerrilla tactics to maximise their advertising revenue.

Luke Billingsworth, a writer for a technology blog, said that the terms of service of programmes such as Google’s Adsense prevent webmasters from making direct pleas to their visitors to click on such advertising.

"I would love to be able to say to my readers ‘If you like the story click on our sponsors and help this site’ but I just can’t do it," explained Mr Billingsworth. "The web community, however, won’t be held back and they will always look for alternative approaches."

Currently the trend is to move away from tiresome pop-ups adverts or blunt interstitial pages, to more subtle techniques and reviving some age-old favourite techniques.

"Knowing how observant and intelligent my readers are enables me to use very subtle techniques," said Anne Corman, the writer of a satirical website. "My readers are used to peering over the rose tinted spectacles of traditional writing and I can rely on them to find the messages."

Advertisers are concerned that this revival of techniques such as acrostic writing may lead to an increase in more random traffic which would dilute the targeted audience they are receiving from the increasingly sophisticated overt advertising.

"Doubtless that risk exists but then as the alternative is people not clicking on ads at all then advertisers will probably take a more relaxed attitude," commented Mr Billingsworth.

Sadly many discerning visitors who do decipher the codes that writers are incorporating in their work many never get a public thanks. "You can only stretch a gag so far and sometimes there just are not enough paragraphs to say ‘Thanks’," lamented Anne Corman.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Court orders plumber to pay housewife

Teesside Magistrates court has ordered AA Aardvark plumbing to pay an invoice served on them by Mrs Gina Hastings. The plumbing firm had initially refused to pay the invoice on the grounds that "it doesn’t work like that".

"Well I had to take it to court as they simply refused to pay for my services," explained Mrs Hastings from the courthouse steps. "I provided them with a great deal of service over the two days they were installing my new boiler, services that they should pay for."

The dispute arose after Mrs Hastings hired AA Aardvark to install a new condensing boiler and water tank. The job was completed to her satisfaction and she happily wrote them a cheque for their work.

"A couple of weeks later I got a call from Joe Billingsworth, who runs AA Aardvark plumbing, asking if there had been some mistake and what I thought I was playing at," she said. "But I just explained that the £43.50 was just for services rendered, plus VAT."

Mr Billingsworth said that he was disappointed with the judge’s decision but would of course respect the wishes of the court.

"I just assumed that all the tea and sandwiches were free. At £2.50 for a tea and £3.80 for a sandwich, it might have been better to go to Starbucks," said Mr Billingsworth. "I guess we will have to consider the £12 per hour cost of washing and re-arranging underwear drawers the next time we put customers’ bras on our heads."

Local trading standards officers said that this was not the first such case and they warned local tradesmen to make sure they get a detailed estimate of the services they will be using.

"It is a lesson to us all," said Mr Billingsworth. "From now on I will ask for an itemised quotation from the householder of their charges, and also what the licensing is for usage of pictures of their daughters away at university."

Tyne Tees Television is to feature Mrs Hastings in an upcoming edition of their "Household customers from Hell" fly-on-the-wall TV programme.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Children claim truancy is “work / life balance”

A group representing schoolchildren today said it was unfair that those skipping school were branded as truants when in fact they were just supporting the wider efforts within society to have a more fulfilling life by controlling how much they work.

"I don’t like go school much ‘cos it’s like totally like stressful," said Jake, 15. "I go sometimes like when the council makes us like. But it’s like so boring that it like stresses me out about homework and exams. It should be more flexible like so we can like choose our own hours and stuff."

Several schoolchildren have petitioned their local council saying that they fear being called a truant is a stigma that forces them further from school and gives the impression that they are in some way delinquent.

"It’s like dead bad when they send these like letters to like your mum and dad and stuff." said Jake’s sister Shania, 16. "They get like really aggro about it and that’s why I want to go part time, so I can like spend more time with my daughter in the local cafĂ©."

Shania says that like her brother she needs to escape stresses of the daily 9 to 3 routine and often skips lessons but wouldn’t if the right programmes were in place.

"My time is well valuable and I don’t want to get stressed or feel I am like missing out. So I hang out with my mates and shout at boys." she explained. "I might do like a work-sharing scheme, me and a couple of mates could like attend a few lessons each or something which would help with child care arrangements."

Youth groups have supported the students’ claims and are now trying to arrange a petition to be sent to the Education Minister, Ed Balls.

"Young people are being stigmatised by society just because they are trying to balance their traditional formal education with their leisure needs," said Quentin Billingsworth of the Young People’s Society for Young People. "They are being disenfranchised by an old fashioned society that thinks young people should be measured by their education and behaviour rather than how they express themselves through dress or what is on their iPod. A constant ‘long hours society’ can lead to health issues, such as existing only on Ginster’s pasties."

Mr Billingsworth revealed that his plans to submit the petition to the minister had been delayed due to politicians’ lack of suitable engagement with children, but was undaunted that it would be completed.

"The petition is taking time because, quite understandably, the young people are difficult to locate, what with many of them out expressing themselves rather than being in school," he said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flood victims speak of their loss

Residents of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have been complaining to the media that their tragedy is being forgotten and that the government is simply not doing enough to help their plight.

"It is terrible," said Janice Billingsworth from Hull. "People don’t seem to understand the nightmare we are facing. Carpets, furniture, wallpaper, all ruined. It’s a total tragedy."

Those in the flooded areas said that they just did not expect to experience such total devastation to the contents of their cupboard under the stairs in twenty-first century Britain.

"It is ok for the people of Bangladesh. The thousands that die in flooding there have never known the hardship of laying a laminate floor," wailed Ms Billingsworth. "The tens of millions of people who are left homeless will never have queued up for half an hour at their local B&Q."

Those hit worst by the flooding and who have lost sofas and even kitchen units feel that with the attention of the media focussed elsewhere they are not getting the aid they require.

"When there are tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh or India spending weeks sitting in tree-tops waiting for the torrents of floodwater to subside enough to let a small reed boat save their children it gets on the telly," she said fighting back the tears. "Whereas no one seems interested that we have had to take up not only the laminate floor in the kitchen but also the tiles that were underneath!"

It isn’t just the media that is the target of the resident’s complaints, they feel that the government, and new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, should be doing more to help.

"When we bought the house the survey said that there was a risk of flooding but we spent the insurance money for flood cover on a new plasma TV. Which was also ruined." explained an emotional Ms Billingsworth. "I don’t see why I should pay for a new one. Taxpayers from all over the UK should as it is their water not mine. Or something."

Businesses have also suffered from the deluge. Gill Binsworth, landlady at the Riverside Tavern said that her pub had been ruined and wanted to know who was going to help.

"We bought the pub eight years ago, we fell in love with it at first sight when we realised that we could charge extra for our beer since the place commanded such excellent views of the river. It was lovely with the river coming right up to the edge of the beer garden. Now it is in the snug," she said. "This is the third time it has flooded and I am getting a bit fed up putting new carpets in. I now know how the people of Mumbai felt when a thousand people died in flooding there last year."

Surprisingly one area of industry that traditionally leads the calls for increased government or EU aid has been silent.

"Aye, well you know, rain and water, loss of crops. That’s just part of farming" said a spokesman for the National Farmer’s Union. "Although I don’t know who is going to pay for the replacement of my wood burning Aga stove."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Vauxhall unveil new Formula 1 challenger

In amongst all the commotion surrounding Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix this weekend, one of the most anticipated announcements of the past few years was finally made when General Motors revealed its intention to enter the Formula 1 championship for the 2008 season.

"There has been a lot of speculation as to when GM, as one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, would enter Formula 1," said Dermot Billingsworth, Marketing Director of Vauxhall motors speaking at the Silverstone launch. "The time is now right."

General Motors said that it feels its Vauxhall Nova brand fits best with the ‘young aspirational male’ demographic, an area where the marque’s traditional strength has been under assault with the resurgence of hot-hatchbacks from German and French manufacturers.

"Our aim is that the design of our challenger, the NOVA-F1, will represent what our brand means to young men, and make F1 technology more relevant to road car design. " said Mr Billingsworth. "It will have the loudest engine on the grid. Not only that but the exhaust pipes will be bigger and made from the shiniest chrome on Earth. The only thing brighter will be the turquoise neon-strips under the car."

Mr Billingsworth said that the car would feature an innovative sound system with the driver actually sitting in a super-amplified ‘bass bin’. "You will definitely hear this car on the track!" he added. "The sound system will be a traditional thumping drum beat loud enough to hear over 22 F1 engines."

The Vauxhall Racing team says that it isn’t just in technology where track and road should converge, but in race strategy. "Like everyday driving for our young customers, the most important aspect of a Grand Prix are the seconds after the red lights at the start," Billingsworth explained. "So the NOVA-F1 will be tuned to burn as much rubber as possible past the girls in the start-line grandstand."

Motor Racing journalist’s from around the world appeared sceptical at the prospect of starting up a works team from scratch and making the start of next year’s Melbourne Grand Prix in March. The question was put to Mr. Billingsworth of how long it would take to turn the wooden concept car on display into a competitive carbon-fibre racing car.

"Concept car?" he responded. "Carbon Fibre? I don’t think you fully appreciate the teenage Vauxhall Nova customer."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Government calls for increased Loyalty Card usage to combat terrorism

The new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, today urged Britain to increase its usage of shop loyalty cards and urged retailers who do not have the programmes to introduce them. Ms Smith’s statement comes in the wake of revelations that the Glasgow bombers acquired their supplies from the do-it-yourself specialist B&Q.

"We would have been able to detect the preparations for the bombing attempts in London and Glasgow if we had more access to people’s shopping habits," she said in a statement to the House of Commons. "If B&Q had a loyalty card then this data would greatly enhance our intelligence gathering capabilities."

A spokesman for the leading retail espionage service, Tesco said that it has always worked closely with the Home Office and the intelligence community and denied that they were using the information for any sinister purpose.

"It isn’t just about increased profits for the Tesco group, it is also about the nation’s well being," said Hamish Billingsworth. "For example, we have a comprehensive database of everyone who is, shall we say, making sure they get at least a glass of red wine a day. If you know what I mean."

When quizzed about the invasion of privacy that the usage of such information entails, the Home Secretary was unrepentant.

"The public rightly wants us to catch these murderers, but doesn’t want our national ID card scheme," she said. "Obviously if we had one single card and forced the stores to use that for their loyalty schemes we would not need to invade people’s privacy multiple times by searching through the shopping data from several companies."

The government said that rumours it was in talks with Tesco over the running of any ID card programme were ‘wide of the mark’.

"The plan is not just for the ID cards, but to outsource the whole of MI5 to Tesco," said the Home Secretary. "Frankly they seem to know more about what people in this country are doing than we do."

Tesco denied speculation that it was planning a sting operation involving a Champagne delivery service to the caves of Afghanistan.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Community bemoans immigrants lack of integration

Many communities have problems with the integration of immigrants, but it seems that one in particular has reached the end of its tether and decided to speak frankly about the problem.

"The Americans come over here and take over our businesses," complained Pierre Facturations-Valeer, a spokesman for the International Community. "They bring their disgusting food and drink, stinking the place up." continued Monsieur Facturations-Valeer, "You can smell a Pizza Hut from miles away."

Other members of the international community expressed similar feelings about the United State’s lack of integration.

"They come over here, take our jobs, such as running transport in London. They moan endlessly about the country, it’s not like anyone is forcing them to stay." said Phil Billingsworth. "They don’t bother to learn the language, instead they stay in their own groups with their strange ‘Dude’ this and ‘What’s the deal with?’ dialect. Some of them have been here for years and yet cannot speak a word of English."

The international community also complained that the native people feel that they cannot celebrate their own festivals and customs and instead have to make allowances for the immigrants’ traditions.

"They all dress up in camp costumes and drag their children around houses begging for sweets at Halloween, for example," said Mr. Billingsworth. "It is all sweetness and light until you fail to join in and give them something, then they get nasty and start making a right mess."

It seems that when the international community reaches out to the United States their efforts are rebuffed which creates some bad feeling, something acknowledged by the American embassy.

"We would like to join in more with the rest of the world but you know, except for the Canadians, they’re just not American," said a spokesman. "We can’t play the rest of the world’s sports, because everyone is better at them than us. If we play our own sports then of course we are World Champions."

"They are just girls’ games anyway, just grown men playing Netball and Rounders," said Mr Billingsworth. "It isn’t just sport they refuse to join the rest of the world in though. The US lives by its own rules. It refuses to join in the International Criminal Court and pays lip service to the United Nations."

It seems that until there is greater integration of the United States into the world community there will be an increasing backlash against this influx of immigration.

"They should go back where they came from," said M. Facturations-Valeer. "Which ironically was everywhere else in the first place."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Royal Mail candidate misses rejection letter

There were red faces at the Royal Mail’s headquarters on Monday when Sally Billingsworth arrived to take up her new job.

"I had applied for the role of Lost Post Analyser," explained Ms Billingsworth. "I went through all the interviews, selection panels and aptitude tests but didn’t hear anything back. So I assumed that I must have got the job and just turned up."

It seems that the rejection letter that Sally should have received had, ironically, been lost in the post, and thus at the start of last week there were two new Lost Post Analysers waiting to start their jobs.

"Well, you know, here at the Royal Mail we are quite used to items of post going missing," explained Jane Stubbs, a HR Manager at the company’s Old Street Headquarters. "Although of course this is quite embarrassing it does highlight that we are focussing resources in the right area - that of reducing the number of items lost in the postal system."

"Well, it has worked out OK for me, since they have now offered me the job that, apparently, they had rejected me for," said a beaming Ms Billingsworth. "This shows the value of one of the policies I will be instigating, that of increased use of recorded delivery.

"Perhaps they should have sent me the letter by recorded delivery rather than a plain envelope with a hint of yellow in the colour and bearing a Royal Mail logo on the front and ‘with us it‘s personal‘ on the back. I could have easily mistaken that for junk mail. I assume. In addition they would know that I had received it, if I had. Which of course I didn’t."

We've been here before