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Date: 14th May 2013, 9:45 AM


The drinkers at the Three Pickerells were rocking in the aisles as the Commander Bernard Hogan Howe described the imagination and wit which the Force had applied to its mission of screwing up in new and innovative ways. 

At first with the audience had not been confident about laughing, for fear of suffering the fate of the student who asked if an officer’s horse was gay, but Sir Bernard assured them he was off duty. 

He started with an uproarious account of the old days in Sheffield when Detective Sergeant Challener’s men would plant a brick on demonstrators and then use it as the only evidence against them. 

The drinkers burst into spontaneous song ‘Naughty but nice, naughty but nice, never been corrupt in the same way twice.’ 

And then Sir Bernard regaled them with the deceits and incompetence practiced by the police at Hillsborough and in the years of covering up afterwards, and again the pub broke into song to show true admiration. 

Next, the Commissioner talked about Jimmie Savile and how all the complaints had been ignored and how the information that was given to them always somehow disappeared.  ‘But the funniest thing of all is the James Watson case.  It just shows how versatile the modern force can be.  Here we did the opposite.  We had absolutely no evidence, but we didn’t like the guy.  He never invited us to his coffee mornings.  So we spent a million pounds on following him and spying on every detail of his life and when we knew we had got absolutely nothing with which to reproach him, we banged him up.  We had him on bail for months, and then it took four years before we admitted that it had all just been a bit of fun.’ 

Before the singing could start again, Andrew Mitchell came in and started complaining about the police handling of Plebgate.  The Commander’s countenance darkened and he roared in anger.  ‘I am not having you criticising members of my Force.  If you dispute the evidence it means that you are accusing the police of lying or incompetence.’  Before the Plebgate One could reply, the drinkers stood to sing a final chorus of ‘Naughty but Police, Never foul up in the same way twice,’ and Sir Bernard and Andrew Mitchell put their arms round each other and joined in the chorus.


Date: 24th April 2013, 6:38 PM


David Cameron asked Luis Suarez to join him for a quick bite in the restaurant of the Three Pickerells.  When the misunderstanding had been resolved, and David’s arm bandaged, the Prime Minister explained the reason for the meeting. 

‘When you were fined so heavily by your club, you made a donation to the Hillsborough Victims’ charity so as to improve your image, but you did so in a very clever way.’ 

Luis swelled with pride.  ‘Ah, si si.  I gave to the charity but not my own money.  I gave Liverpool Football Club’s money, the same money that had been taken from me.  And everybody praised me and nobody noticed what I had done.’ 

‘My dear chap, that’s quite brilliant.  So I could become a compassionate caring Tory by making a donation of Shelter’s money, the same amount that they are spending to mop up after George and myself and I would get all the credit?’ 

‘Si, si.’

‘And when child poverty is on the rise, I can say that I am making a gift of the very money that the NSPCC is spending, and everyone will see that we are all in it together?’ 

Luis’ reply was somewhat muffled as the inevitable had happened when a waiter’s arm passed too near to the footballer’s mouth, but David took it as wholehearted agreement. 

The trouble with politicians is that they never learn to stop when they are ahead.  The injuries inflicted on him were largely superficial, but David Cameron now knows  that he should not have suggested to Luis ‘And on the same basis, would you agree that even though we both know I don’t own the Falkland Islands, I can give them away to their inhabitants and take the credit for it?’


Date: 3rd April 2013, 6:16 PM


It was Sunday in the Three Pickerels.  Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict were bickering over whose fault it was that they had wasted their time by coming to the Pondsworth and Reeling Pop Festival under the mistaken belief that it was a Pope Festival.  They cheered up when their orders arrived, eggs for Benedict, humble pie for the Pope, and a pint of Chateauneuf each. 

At the next table Jeremy Hunt was banging on and on to George Osborne about his proposals for a new duty of candour for the National Health Service, with criminal liability attaching to those who lied or even withheld information.  ‘Not so sure that’s a very good idea, old chap.  Wouldn’t want to set a precedent, would we?’ muttered George, as he thought of the opening words to his latest Budget.  ‘Today I am going to level with people about the difficult economic circumstances we still face.’ 

Pope Francis leaned over, his merry eyes twinkling, and said, ‘You make level with them today, but what about all those other days you naughty boy?’  He was immediately interrupted by Pope Emeritus Benedict.  ‘Yar, but you didn’t level with them did you?  You didn’t mention the real reason for the sluggish economy, the amount of total borrowing of over six times GDP, and how the Conservatives when in opposition always said they would match the Government’s spending plans.  Mein Gotte, it’s a good job you are not an NHS worker.  On second thoughts a man of your talent might fit quite well into the Vatican.’ 

Then into the pub trooped Nick Clegg, he of the broken pledge on tuition fees, and David Cameron with his shattered promise of no top down re-organisation of the NHS. 

Pope Francis summoned them over to his table, and when the ring kissing was over he told them in the humblest possible way that unless the new legal duty of candour was applied only to the Health Service, they and most of Westminster would suffer almost constant prosecution.  ‘And you surely would not want to have one set of standards for your citizens and another for the politicians would you?’ 

‘I can’t see anything wrong with that,’ replied the Prime Minister, ‘but perhaps those who live on glass balconies should not throw stones.  If we are talking of candour and cover-ups then perhaps your church is in no great position to give lessons to others.’ 

And suddenly the silky language skills deserted poor Francis and Benedict.  ‘Sorry. Me no understand English,’ they muttered as they scampered out of the pub and down the road to take refuge among the crowds thronging the pop festival.



Date: 17th March 2013, 11:36 AM


It was the third Sunday in March which meant that politicians were flooding from all over the world to the Three Pickerels to compete for the title of the Carp Club’s Conviction Politician of the Year. 

Standards were high, but the claims of EU president Herman Van Rompuy brought the audience to a frenzy.  ‘My conviction is that correct labelling of jam is the most important issue facing us.  I have maintained a rule which means that anything labelled as strawberry jam must have as little strawberry content as possible.  If the strawberries creep up to even 40%, then it cannot be called jam.  There must be a minimum of 60% sugar.  That is my conviction.’  The President’s commanding lead disappeared when he was unable to answer the question as to whether that meant that beef jam should contain at least 60% Shergar. 

The next to stake his claim was Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk.  He began to talk about the right of an MP to punch and head-butt parliamentarians of all shades of opinion, and there was great support for his point of view.  Sadly, through a quirk in the legal system, the saloon bar of the Three Pickerels was treated as falling under the jurisdiction of Westminster, which meant that he should not have bought that tray of drinks for himself, and he was disqualified on a technicality. 

Ed Miliband gave a stirring presentation about his lifelong attachment to the idea of a mansion tax.  He described the way in which he had very nearly mentioned it on almost one occasion when he  was in power, and how his conviction on the subject had boiled up to an irresistible urge when he thought of the idea of using the proposal as a ploy to embarrass the Lib Dems.  It was certainly a compelling and credible example of conviction politics, and many thought that it ranked as highly as David Cameron’s conviction that he would follow all the Leveson recommendations that were not actually bonkers. 

A bus sped into the car park, and a long line of men spilled out singing ‘We are the champions.’  John Fisher went to the front door and tried to persuade them that they had misunderstood the nature of the competition, but there was no denying them.  In they swaggered: Jonathan Aitken, Lord Taylor of Warwick, Jim Devine, David Chaytor, Chris Huhne on day release, and many more whose convictions still lay before them.


Date: 10th March 2013, 11:04 AM


John Fisher was having a quiet drink in the saloon of the Three Pickerels when he was joined by Churchill who whined and rubbed himself against John’s leg until John gave in and bought him a pint.  The dog’s powers of conversation were somewhat limited and so John had to make the running. 

‘When David Cameron solemnly promised no top-down reorganisations to the National Health Service, he was fibbing wasn’t he?’ 

'Oh yes.’ 

‘And with his track record, Sir David Nicholson is not the sort of man you would want to put anywhere near NHS reforms, is he?’ 

‘Oh no.’ 

‘And if I went into hospital my food would be left out of my reach and I would be told to use my bed as my lavatory? 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘But that’s not what happened to the Queen when she went in, was it?’ 

‘Oh no.’ 

‘And the real problem with the economy is that all political parties stood and watched as the borrowing in the economy grew from two times the amount of GDP to six times that amount in just twelve years?’ 

‘Oh, yes.’ 

‘And so the debate between George Osborne and Ed Balls is irrelevant political posturing, as it doesn’t address the fact that, as long as consumers have so much debt, there can be no real growth?’ 

Churchill had been quite comfortable alternating his yeses and his noes as he licked his nether regions, but was still alert enough to reply with a muffled ‘Oh.yes.’  But then the door to the games room swung open, revealing see the unmistakeable figure of Cardinal O’Brien teaching the Hokey Cokey to a group of young priests.  ‘In out, in out, shake it all about.’   John and Churchill, who may have been too quick to judge exactly what was going on, rushed to the door and slammed it shut with a heartfelt cry of ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no.’



Date: 27th February 2013, 6:22 PM


Nick Clegg and Silvio Berlusconi were celebrating in the Three Pickerels, and the drinks were on Silvio. 

‘I cannot thank you enough, my cheeky little English Liberal,’ wheezed the resurgent Italian as he reached out to pinch a barmaid’s bottom.  ‘Without your ‘elp I could never have dealt with my problems so well.  There I was, faced with scandal of every sort and lost for words, and what was it you advised should be the first public response?’ 

Nick gagged on the foul tasting Campari before him, and said ‘In any crisis the first thing to say is “I knew nothing.”  There, just as simple as that.’ 

Silvio had been absent-mindedly stroking poor Nick’s leg as he thought of the time that he had bought by uttering those simple words to the Italian electorate.  But then more questions had arisen and he needed to do something else, and he had gone back to Nick for advice.  ‘So what was the next step in your master strategy?’ 

‘Well, what I always do next is to hold up my hands openly and honestly and claim that perhaps, yes, it was just about possible that I had been aware of some non-specific allegations.’ 

‘Mama mia, ‘ow did I forget? That was so brilliant.  I went on television and told that to the electors, and it was enough to make it all go away for a few more days, but then just before the election the voters were asking more questions, so I asked you for your ‘elp again, and you came out with that wonderful new idea.  Remind me what it was.’ 

Nick blushed a becoming shade of Cardinal pink and modestly admitted, ‘Yes it was rather good wasn’t it?  I suggested that you admit to having been aware of allegations but no very specific ones.’ 

Silvio, in his excitement, was up and groping his way to the bar to refresh their drinks when Cardinal O’Brien and the Pope came to join the table.  They had overheard what had gone on before, and the Pope suggested to Nick Clegg that if things go wrong then the best thing to do is to resign.  Nick got most of his irritation under control before replying. 

‘Well, if that is how you choose to do things in the Vatican, then that’s your look out.  But you can hardly claim that your organisation is a shining example.  It’s not as if you were infallible is it?’


Date: 16th February 2013, 11:48 AM


Who would have thought that two senior politicians could fail to organise such a simple thing?  David Cameron was supposed to babysit for the precocious twins, Tarquin and Sequin, on the Friday, and Gordon Brown had undertaken to do it on the Sunday, but they both turned up on the Saturday.  And so it was agreed that David would tell a bedtime story to Sequin and Gordon would do the same for Tarquin.  The twins both demanded one about the FSA. 

‘Well Tarquin,’ said Gordon, ‘the FSA is a government agency set up to make sure that the financial services system works well, and to protect the public from toxic financial products.’ 

‘Does it cost much to run, and is that money well spent?’ asked Tarquin, who knew the answer but was the picture of innocence. 

‘Bless me, yes it does.  You cannot have a quality service on the cheap.’ 

‘And has it been effective in protecting people from toxic products like Equitable Life policies or the bankruptcy of our major banks?’ asked the precocious little brat. 

‘Yes,’ replied Gordon, turning off the light and leaving.  ‘It has been brilliant at spotting problems once they have actually happened and been publicised by others.’  Ignoring the Equitable Life part of the question he told an astonished Tarquin that the banking crisis was purely an international problem, and outside the control of the FSA. 

In the next door bedroom David Cameron had also begun his story.  ‘The FSA is a government agency set up to make sure that food is safe and to protect the public from toxic products.  It looks after food labelling so that you will always know that what is in the tin is exactly what the label says.’ 

‘Does it cost much to run, and is that money well spent?’ asked Sequin, who also knew the answer perfectly well. 

‘Bless me, yes it does.  You cannot have a quality service on the cheap.  And it has been brilliant at spotting problems once they have happened and somebody else has publicised the issue.’ 

‘So whose fault is it that I was fed horse meat for my school lunch today?’ 

The word “fault” worked like a cattle prod applied to the rear of the Prime Minister.  As he left he turned to Sequin.  ‘It is all very simple.  If I go and negotiate with the leaders of twenty seven other countries and the outcome suits us, it is something that I have achieved and delivered.  If horse meat  turns up in your burger then it is down to the Romanians or, better still, the French.’ 

As David and Gordon had time on their hands, they went to the Three Pickerels.  Gordon had a nice glass of White Horse and David went for a bottle of Cheval Blanc.



Date: 30th January 2013, 12:22 PM


The drinkers at the Three Pickerels flocked to the saloon bar for their cultural evening, and they were thrilled to find that once again Stephen Green of Christian Voice was the guest reviewer.  The great advantage of his method was that he never read the books that he reviewed, and therefore was in a position to review anything that the audience suggested, just like that.

‘What about “Pride and Prejudice”?’  Stephen thought for a moment before he pronounced.  ‘This is a deeply disgusting and despicable book.  It seeks to make money out of pride, which is one of the seven deadly sins, and then it compounds its wickedness by glorying in the kind of prejudice that ignorant people bring to Christian Voice.  I do not need to have read it to know what a pile of filth it is.’ 

Stephen Green was then asked about “Moby Dick”.  For a moment it seemed that he was going to walk out on the meeting, so great was his distress.  ‘Any book that carries in its title a popular and revolting name for the male sex organ is deeply disgusting.  But a book which compounds that offence by describing it as “Moby” is too repulsive for words.  I feel soiled by even having heard the title.’ 

A little girl asked Stephen for his review of the “Tale of Jemima Puddleduck”.  ‘You may consider it funny to mock incontinence, but it is a very serious thing, even in a duck.  If you even open a book of this sort, your grubby little soul will be bound for the flames of hell.  I don’t need to read a vicious little volume like this to know the true depths of its depravity.’ 

John Fisher stood up and asked for Stephen Green’s review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  The great scholar considered the matter, and then pronounced.   ‘This is very much my kind of book.  The Lord has given us a wonderful palette of colours and we all glory in the scarlets, golds and blues of life.’  He gave a little self deprecating laugh as he went on, ‘And the greens are also pretty admirable.  But here we have an author who understands that God’s love is so deep that it extends to the lesser colours.  I think that every one of us in our own way is a shade of grey.  I admire this book so greatly that I might even read it.’ 

The saloon bar erupted with its admiration for Stephen, and the drinkers could scarcely contain themselves until his performance on Desert Island Discs, when he would be choosing eight records he had never heard as well as a book he had never read.



Date: 6th January 2013, 10:43 AM


Everybody hates millionaires.  Nobody needs their votes, so the popular thing is to tax them till the pips squeak.  All over the country, politicians of different parties promised that this would make good all the problems caused by their years of following the popular option rather than the right one. 

Take away their Child Benefit.  Their shoulders are broad enough. 

Take away their Winter Fuel Allowance.  They don’t need it. 

Why should they have free prescriptions?  They can afford to pay.  Same principle.

Why not make them pay to use the National Health Service?  It saddens us to do it, but in these hard times… 

Take away their rights to state pension.  Why should we pay for their holidays abroad?  Why should they receive the same as a person who has no savings?  It is just not fair. 

Tax their pension funds at 55% but keep pensions tax free for the rest of us.  Okay, we’ve already done that, so increase the tax to 75% or more. 

All these policies will deliver a saving of £60 billion a year.  So our deficit has gone and we can spend and spend and spend.  Vote for us.  We are your saviours. 

When the cheering died away a very stupid person asked, ‘Please, what is a millionaire, apart from your goodselves?’ 

The three party leaders all claimed that they were not really millionaires, not by their definition.  But it soon transpired that what they meant by millionaires, with shoulders so broad that they could take on all these cuts, were people paying higher rate tax, like senior school teachers or the drivers of tube trains.  ‘Unless you have millions of millionaires you don’t get the money we need.’ 

‘But the wonderful thing is,’ they all claimed, ‘year by year, we have created millions of these millionaires by bringing more and more of you into higher rate tax.  In 1997 there were just two million paying it and by 2014 there will be five million of these millionaires, and we did it.’ 

And then the three men fell on each other, punching and gouging and each claiming that he had created the most millionaires.


Date: 21st December 2012, 11:07 AM


The Three Pickerels was packed for its annual science award ceremony, and 2012 had thrown up a thinker whose intellect and imagination had far outstripped past winners such as Isaac Newton, Nicholas Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, James Watson and Francis Crick.  It was a hushed, and even awestruck, saloon bar that greeted Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.  With his booming voice he needed no microphone. 

‘My discovery is that if you come across something that is stupid, wicked and damaging, then rather than stop doing it the best course of action is to do more.  If assault rifles are freely available and fall into the hands of disturbed people, then the answer is to have more of them and not fewer.  Every child in nursery school should be armed to the teeth.  Every teacher should be equipped with machine guns and bazookers.  Yee Ha!  Problem solved.’ 

It was many minutes before the applause had died down and questions could be put to the Congressman.  ‘My name is Nick Clegg.  I tend to make cast iron promises and then abandon them.  What do you recommend?’  ‘Follow the theory.  The answer is  for everybody to lie and be reckless with the truth all the time, and then nobody will be upset about a broken promise because it will be just what is expected.’ 

Then it was David Cameron, who shyly asked,  ‘My problem is that when I have a difficult problem I appoint an expert review or an independent inquiry to buy time, and I promise to accept the findings unless they are totally bonkers, but when the report comes out I ignore it and do what I was going to do anyway.’  The Congressman smiled broadly.  ‘Yessiree.  That is pretty pernicious behaviour and so the theory holds good.  Go and do lots and lots more of it.  Then nobody will even imagine any other result.  Problem solved.’ 

The drinkers were spell-bound but when Bob Berkley-Hunt, representing international banking, asked if it applied to his industry they feared that the theory might break down in such an extreme example, but the Texan took it in his stride.  ‘Okay, so you have all lied and cheated and shown massive incompetence, and despite all that has happened you keep on doing the same thing.  Well, what I say to you Bob is “Well done, my friend.”  You have identified the activities of your industry as being totally toxic and you have carried on with more and more of the same.  Briiliant.  Quite brilliant.’ 

Louie was cheered to the rafters and the drinks flowed, and at first nobody noticed the final question.  John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty had climbed up on the stage and kneed the Congressman sharply in the groin.  As he writhed in agony she said, ‘I have done a really bad thing there, and so on your theory I should do lots more of it?  Very well then.’ 

And so it was that poor Louie Gohmert had to go back to Texas to revise his theory and receive treatment but, far worse, he underwent the disgrace of having his name deleted from the Carp Club Board of Honour.


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