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Date: 14th May 2013, 9:45 AM

NAUGHTY BUT POLICE 

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.

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Date: 24th April 2013, 6:38 PM

PUTTING THE BITE ON LUIS 

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?’

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Date: 3rd April 2013, 6:16 PM

A DUTY OF CANDOUR 

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.

 

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Date: 17th March 2013, 11:36 AM

CONVICTION POLITICIANS 

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.

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Date: 10th March 2013, 11:04 AM

YES AND NO AND OH NO NO 

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.’

 

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Date: 27th February 2013, 6:22 PM

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIBERAL AND CATHOLIC 

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?’

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Date: 16th February 2013, 11:48 AM

THE BURGERS OF CALAIS 

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.

 

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Date: 30th January 2013, 12:22 PM

STEPHEN GREEN, THE GREAT REVIEWER 

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.

 

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Date: 6th January 2013, 10:43 AM

MILLIONAIRES AND MORE MILLIONAIRES 

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.

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Date: 21st December 2012, 11:07 AM

ISAAC NEWTON, ALBERT EINSTEIN AND CONGRESSMAN GOHMERT 

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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Date: 9th December 2012, 12:54 PM

CODED MESSAGES 

John Fisher stood behind Pippa Middleton, gazing thoughtfully at her bottom and thinking that it looked like two magnificent tench lying side by side on the bank, when the first guest pulled up outside the Three Pickerels.  Pippa had been employed as December’s celebrity meeter and greeter.  First to arrive, stripped to the waist despite the freezing weather, was Vladimir Putin. 

Pippa put her arm around his manly shoulders and ushered him towards the bar.  ‘Vlad, let me tell you something.  A turkey is good for feeding a lot of people at Christmas.’  The words were transmitted to Moscow from a microphone hidden in the Putin pants, and a thousand boffins started work on the urgent task of deciphering the code and finding the hidden meaning. 

Ranulph Fiennes parked his husky sled outside and skied across the gravel to the front door where Pippa was ready to greet him.  ‘Ranulph, Ranulph, so glad you could come.  I have some advice for you.  If you are going on a back packing adventure, it’s important to ensure that you have everything you need.’  Ranulph looked at her, amazed, and asked her to repeat it, only this time more slowly.  ‘Why did I never think of that myself?’ he muttered into his beard and he went back to the sled to write it down so that he would never forget. 

UKIP’s Nigel Farage cut a fine figure in his blazer with gold buttons and his well pressed tennis shorts.  His teeth shone white in the December gloom, and his tan glowed a lovely shade of orange.  Pippa met him with a peck on each cheek and then a third in true French style and whispered, ‘A relaxed supper doesn’t require a tablecloth but you should always “greet your guests”’.  There was a moment of calm while Nigel absorbed the full significance of what had been said to him, and of those meaningful apostrophes.  When it had sunk in he stamped his feet and shouted so that every one in the village could hear.  ‘What else do you expect from Brussels?  What else do you expect from an organisation whose accounts have never been audited.  It’s a bloody disgrace.’ 

Just as the pub was about to close a Ferrarri drove up to the door, and out tumbled Silvio Berlusconi.  Pippa removed his hands from her bottom and, towering over him, offered her final revelation.  ‘Peppermint creams taste of peppermint.’  His lecherous old eyes lit up.  ‘You mean you want bunga bunga?’  She removed his hands from that treasured bottom and tried again, speaking very clearly and very loudly.  ‘Listen carefully.  Peppermint creams taste of peppermint.’  He gazed up at her, his face clouded with incomprehension, and then he got it.  ‘You mean I should stand for President again?  Very well then.’  And with a last pinch of her cheek he was gone. 

Pippa turned to John Fisher and told him that women often get bigger when they are having a baby and that it is a good idea to buy some bigger clothes.  John Fisher did not hear it as he was too busy banging his head on the table in despair, but the words were transmitted deep into the bowels of the Kremlin where they were decoded into a message from the Pope in support of Pussy Riot.

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Date: 26th November 2012, 11:25 AM

NOT A SHRED OF REGRET 

Nadine Dorries paused only to munch a handful of witchety grubs before announcing ‘I have not a shred of regret.  I would do the same thing tomorrow.’ 

Ed Miliband was asked about the pathetic alliance he had forged with the nastiest of the Tory right, based on the pretence that he would be able to deliver an actual cut in the EU budget.  He smirked as he quoted the MP for Mid Bedfordshire.  ‘I have no regret.  I would do the same thing tomorrow.’  And who would doubt it. 

The spokesman for Chelsea Football Club surveyed its ownership, its devotion to the shortest of short term values, its love of John Terry, the sacking of its last manager, its graceless behaviour over the Clattenburg affair, its refusal to apologise and its general lack of class.  He nodded in the direction of Nadine and said, ‘What’s good enough for her is good enough for me.’ 

All those strange and dodgy members of the Church of England who had undermined every bit of progress that the church had been making, by using the power of the minority to sabotage the possibility of women bishops, held hands and formed a ring.  A tambourine was shaken, and a guitar struck up the tune of ‘I can sing a rainbow.’   Quivering with fervour they sang ‘I have no regret-et, no regret-et, I would to the same thing tomorrow.’ 

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi laughed and joked as he talked about how his taking absolute power was a temporary measure.  ‘You know, temporary in the same way that Income Tax started life as a temporary measure,’ and his great frame shook with merriment.  Then he addressed his people and told them, ‘You will show no regrets. That wouldn’t be a sane thing, tomorrow or any other day.’  And his lucky subjects fell about laughing at the witty way the secret police wielded their batons.

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Date: 19th November 2012, 11:51 AM

THE HEROIC PEOPLE OF BETTWS 

It was a solemn occasion.  Never before had the coveted Carp Club gold medal been awarded to an entire community.  The older members recalled the fifteenth of April 1942 when the George Cross was awarded to Malta.  Younger members knew that this award was far more significant. 

John Fisher’s voice trembled with emotion as he described how the first blow had been struck in the long campaign to bring the oppressors to their knees.  ‘We have been preyed upon by party politicians consumed with the love of their own careers and caring little for us.  While they kept themselves to their ivory towers in Westminster we despaired, and we suffered from their hopeless bottomless incompetence and vanity, but at least they were distant from us in every way.  And then they tried to extend their influence even into the policing of our communities.  Throughout the country ballot papers have been spoiled and people have stayed away from the polls in their thousands. 

‘They were mocked and derided.  The BBC, in its infinite wisdom, persisted in describing those who did not vote as apathetic.  The Conservatives claimed that it was all down to an inability to understand the system.  Exactly the opposite was true.  Labour, who had started the whole ghastly process, claimed that the low turn out was because too little money had been spent and, besides, they had now gone off the idea a bit.  The Lib Dems squeaked incoherently, but  through all of this criticism the men and women of Bettws stayed resolute.  They remained united, and now their example will spread across the land to council elections and general elections, and at last we will seize power back from the career politicians who have brought us to our current dismal state. 

‘In some communities there were many spoiled ballot papers, and this is to be commended.  In other places the turn out was down to five or six people, but in only one community was the polling station totally ignored.  Such solidarity will earn the admiration and gratitude of generations to come.  The first telling blow has been struck, and so I invite the landlord of the Three Pickerels to present the award to the 8,737 heroes of Bettws.  It is an honour to meet Mike Masters, landlord of the Bettws Nightingale, who is here to accept it on behalf of the community.’ 

The band played the Carp Club’s anthem, the scale of C Major, and a red velvet cushion bearing the medal was handed over.  Mike Masters accepted it with becoming modesty and seemed overcome with emotion.  ‘This is too much. We really didn’t do anything,’ he said. 

‘And that was what was so brilliant,’ replied John Fisher, and the members stood and cheered.

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Date: 12th November 2012, 1:21 PM

RESIGNATION SHOULD BE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE 

‘And so it gives me great pleasure to present BanThe Ballot gold awards to Nadine Dorris and Gordon Brown.  They have come to recognise the damage done by the Commons and, by their absence from the House, have set an example to all MPs.’ John Fisher presented the medals, and the three of them went to the Three Pickerels for a celebratory glass or three of absinthe. 

Like all politicians, Gordon and Nadine were horrified at the idea of a senior person actually taking personal responsibility.  It was such a bad example, and so unexpected. 

George Entwistle had seemed to be made of the right stuff.  He had been the one person ever to be discomforted by the hopeless system of interrogation practiced by Parliamentary committees.  The method of giving every member a turn to ride his own hobby horse is absolutely designed to let the interviewee off the hook, but poor George was taken apart by the committee.  And did he resign then?  Of course he didn’t. 

And then he sent afternoon chat show broadcaster Richard Bacon to cover the American election.  Oh the disgrace of it.  His performance gave ‘omnishambles’ a bad name.  Scolding American college students for not sharing his own view of the world, endlessly banging on about how long he had been on air, fawning and slobbering before Simon Schama, trying to whip up a totally spurious story when Mitt Romney was unreasonable enough to want to check that he had really lost before conceding defeat and then, before the viewers’ very ears, turning into Alan Partridge.  It was not ‘On that bombshell’, but every tiny point made by an expert was ‘a hand grenade thrown in.’  And then to finish by trying to blunder into the middle of a ten pin bowling league match was more Partridge than Partridge.  But did George Entwistle consider resignation?  Of course he didn’t.  Standards in public life have to be upheld. 

Gordon was getting really hot under the collar about it.  ‘What would have happened if I had resigned immediately after my blundering boast to have abolished boom and bust?  Then where would we be?  What would have happened if Tony Blair had resigned after leading the country into a stupid and illegal war?’  Gordon suddenly went quiet as he thought it through.  ‘Well, apart from that, resignation should only be for the little people.  Take the example of the economy.  Of course I was in charge all those years when tax receipts were three percent less than amounts spent, but of course that meant that I was the best person to stay on and put it right.’ 

Before Nadine could tell Gordon how much she agreed with him, the pub doors were flung wide open and Chris Patten made his entrance carried on a sedan chair by the junior trustees of the BBC Trust.  Gordon and Nadine hugged each other in their joy and relief.  At last, here was a man who understood the importance of setting the right example and holding on and on and on…

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Date: 28th October 2012, 10:45 AM

ITALIAN JUSTICE 

John Fisher lay in his bed dreaming of Italian Justice.  He marvelled at a system that had sentenced a bunch of scientists to six years in prison, just for a touch of incompetence on what was a very tricky subject.  If they got six years for that, the possibilities were endless.  If only he could lure certain other people into the jurisdiction of those wonderful judges.  He would hold a party in Rome, and then call in the police to arrest all his guests. 

If a scientist gets six years, then what about Tony Blair?  What would the sentence be for an illegal war, for the mass destruction of his supporters’ hopes, for that ‘hand of history on my shoulder’ nonsense and, well, just for being Tony Blair? 

If a scientist gets six years, then what about John Terry for that disastrous defending against Germany and, well, just for being John Terry? 

If a scientist gets six years, then what about Margaret Thatcher for beginning the process of deregulating the banks, for the shameful Belgrano sinking and, well, just for being Margaret Thatcher? 

If a scientist gets six years, then what about Gordon Brown for dressing up as prudence and spending like a drunken sailor without bothering to raise the money in tax, for the miserable infighting and pursuit of office, for the shameless pantomime of his last budget and, yes, just for being Gordon Brown. 

If a scientist gets six years, then what about every Member of Parliament for the last 40 years as they all did exactly the same, year in and year out, courting popularity by their spending but never raising the right amount in tax, leaving the finances in a total mess and dumping the problem on the next generation?  Surely those wise Italian judges would have the lot of them breaking rocks until they died? 

In his excitement John Fisher leapt from his bed and sat in his carp-pattern pyjamas adding name after name to the list of those he wanted to face Italian justice. 

But when he turned the radio on he heard that Silvio Berlusconi, caught red-handed for tax fraud, had received just four years.  And then it had been reduced to one year.  And then he had two further appeals and would never go to prison anyway.  Not too old to bunga bunga his country into its current mess, but too old to be punished.

 Tears of disappointment ran down poor John’s face.  One rule for the powerful and one for the rest.  But then he remembered something.  It was a long shot, but worth the price of a stamp.  And so he wrote to the Justice Minister in Rome.  ‘Did you know that Margaret Thatcher is a scientist?’  Then with no real regard for the truth he added, ‘and Tony Blair is a scientologist.’

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Date: 22nd October 2012, 10:43 AM

DIAL AN EXCUSE 

John Fisher felt sorry for his Aunt Kitty.  Her Dial An Excuse business had been going through a flat patch.  So John was happy to accede to her rather strange birthday present request. 

She unwrapped her new taser, charged it, and took it with her on her walk to the Three Pickerels.  On the way she met a policeman on the beat.  OK, so this is a work of fiction.  She could never resist temptation and so she zapped him with the taser, leapt on his back and secured him with his own handcuffs. 

In the bar she boasted of what she had done, but some of the regulars were surprisingly critical.  She downed her pint of crème de menthe in a single gulp, and set about the task of demonstrating her professional skills.  ‘And to make it more difficult, I will limit myself to the excuses which are in fashion this week.’ 

‘The policeman had a shadow and I thought it was a samurai sword.’ 

The Hague defence.  I am not a criminal.  I am a national hero.’ 

‘I admit that I did something wrong, but I won’t tell you what it was as it would compromise the policeman.’ 

‘I thought he was a Ticket Inspector wanting me to buy an upgrade.’ 

‘I took so much caffeine the night before that I couldn’t sleep and the Polish team were very lucky.’ 

And then Kitty Fisher demonstrated her versatility by adding a few diversionary tactics. 

‘I may call a general strike.’ 

‘I promise new laws to make all energy bills the same.’ 

‘If I don’t abuse my position now, how will I ever be learn to be King?’ 

She looked up and saw that her critics had given up and left.  Her phone rang, and it was Lance Armstrong.  ‘You want me to dig you out of that mess?  Get real Lance.  There are limits.  What kind of stuff are you on?  Sorry, only joking.’

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Date: 15th October 2012, 5:43 PM

ED BALLS AND THE TRUTH TEST 

It was with a heavy heart that Ed Balls returned to Duncarping to honour his promise of a second session of baby sitting for Mr and Mrs Bright’s precocious nine year old, Vera. 

As soon as the parents had left, Vera gave poor Ed an unpalatable choice.  ‘Either you answer my questions totally truthfully, or you read to me from “Ipswich Town -The Glory Years”.’  And so Ed had no choice but to undergo the truth test. 

‘Do you believe that Andrew Mitchell would call the police plebs?’ 

‘Yes.’ 

Is it equally likely that the police would falsify their evidence?’ 

‘Yes.’ 

‘Do you believe that David Cameron’s Big Society idea is just meaningless waffle?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘And the same for Ed Miliband’s One Nation idea?’ 

‘I suppose so. Yes.’ 

‘And, Mr Balls, is the real trouble with the economy the fact that governments and individuals have lived so far beyond their means for so long that there is no spending power left?’  

‘Well, yes,’ 

‘And is it a problem which can be cured quickly by austerity?’ 

‘Oh, no,’ replied Ed, feeling better for a moment. 

‘Tell me truthfully, is it a problem which is going to be quickly improved by more borrowing?’ 

‘Well, not significantly.’
 
‘Will it all be better in fifteen years when I have finished school and university?’ 

‘I doubt it.’ 

‘And will Norwich City avoid relegation this season?’ 

‘I doubt that too.’ 

When Mr and Mrs Bright returned home, they found their baby sitter tucked up in bed clutching their daughter’s teddy bear and little Vera doing her best to cheer him up.

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Date: 1st October 2012, 5:06 PM

AUCTION OF PROMISES 

No political party had ever before tried to raise money by an auction of promises – well, not openly anyway.  But on the eve of the Labour Party Conference there were promises and pledges, with some cast in stone and even a few to be written in blood.  The price was all the same.  The punters never believed that any would be honoured, and put in their bids out of generosity or as a joke. 

Mr and Mrs Bright were amazed when Ed Balls actually turned up as promised to baby-sit for their precocious daughter Vera.  Before long he was to realise that the Lib Dem approach was probably the right one. 

‘If I earn £100 a year,’ began Vera as soon as the door had closed behind her parents, ‘and every year I  borrow another twenty, is my real standard of living the £120 that I spend or the £100 that I earn?’ 

‘What a funny little girl you are,’ replied Ed.  ‘Of course the answer is £100. 

‘And if several people did that, would the answer still be the same?’ 

‘Of course, my dear.’ 

‘And if the group of people each paid the other twenty pounds to do their washing, rather than do it themselves, would that increase their standard of living?’ 

‘Not in the slightest.  An increase is not real unless it is based on something extra being added to the economy.  Don’t you want to play with your dollies?’ 

‘So, if a family’s income went up by forty per cent between 1997 and 2010, but their borrowings moved from three times their income to six times their income because of what they had spent, would they better off?’ 

Still Ed Balls did not see where this was heading as he replied, ‘Silly girl.  They would clearly be poorer and if they had managed their affairs like that, then they would need debt counselling and none of them should ever be trusted with the family finances.’ 

‘But if it was a country and not a family that had done just that, and growth in its Gross Domestic Product was far smaller than the expansion of borrowings in the economy, would you heap praise on the stewardship of its leaders?’ 

Suddenly Ed realised what this nine year old was doing to him, and suggested a nice bedtime story. 

‘Alright,’ replied Vera, ‘but just one last question.  If a country has moved to total borrowings of six times its earnings, will it make matters better or worse if you persuade everyone to go and borrow even more?’ 

The little girl could tell, from the vein throbbing in Ed’s forehead, that he didn’t want to answer any more questions, and so she snuggled down and gave him her favourite book,  “Ipswich Town – The Glory Years”.  ‘Please, Mr Balls, read me a story.’

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Date: 24th September 2012, 10:54 AM

SORRY IS THE EASIEST WORD TO SAY 

It was Sunday morning and the Three Pickerels was humming as celebrities and regulars rubbed shoulders and unwound over a few pints of Bass and Ruddles. 

Nick Clegg stood up and soon the bar was rocking with laughter, as over and over again he trotted out his little speech about how sorry he was that he was unpopular, and that his party conference was just round the corner, and it was so very very naughty of him to make a pledge that he was forced to break because of the Coalition Agreement.  ‘No you weren’t,’ called out George Osborne.  ‘It was open to you to make an exception for that issue.  I suggested it myself.’  ‘You are awful George, but I love you to bits,’ spluttered poor Nick and the pub nodded its agreement, at least with the first part of what he had said. 

Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell shoved his way to the bar, elbowing and cursing all the plebs who stood in his way.  It had been an exciting week and he had done a lot of biking.  His first pint of champagne disappeared at one swallow, and it was not until he was half way down the third that he was once again his usual genial and lovable self.  He knew that ‘the incident’ would have to be dealt with somehow, and so he admitted ‘Even though what those common little policemen claim that I said is not quite right, I was a naughty boy.  Nanny wouldn’t like it, slapped wrist and sent to bed with no supper.  So, line drawn in the sand and all that, and on we go.’ 

Even the tolerance of the regulars might have been pushed too far and things might have turned nasty, but for the fact that Mitt Romney got up from his table and ran across and hugged Andrew Mitchell.  ‘I just love you British and your way with words.  I wish I had thought of “plebs” when I told forty seven percent of American voters just what I thought of them.  Yessiree!  There’s no doubt about it that nearly half of the voters are worthless plebs, but I nearly forgot to say it.  Sorry folks.  I am right, but sorry, all the same.’  Andrew Mitchell whispered into Mitt’s ear ‘Not forty seven per cent old man.  More like ninety seven per cent.’ 

The last apology scheduled for the Sunday morning drinks was to come from the South Yorkshire police.  They were too busy checking the criminal records of victims of crime in their area to be able to attend in person, and so the barman made a valiant effort to read out the statement issued by them.  It might well have been an apology.  It could equally well have been an old witness statement.  Such was the volume of redaction and correction that not a single word could be made out.

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Date: 17th September 2012, 11:51 AM

SERVICE TO OUR READERS 

Aunt Kitty’s triumph in the election for the post of secretary to the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club was celebrated long and hard.  It is a pity that the police officer from South Yorkshire, who had the task of seeing her home, forgot to do so.  It was a pity that the old lady was forced to stop in some road-side bushes for a pee.  It was a great pity that a notorious press photographer had followed her into the bushes and taken a dozen or more of the most intrusive pictures. 

Fat Fish Weekly had no doubts about the money to be made from publishing these grotesque photographs, and fully understood that it was in the public interest.  ‘We have a duty to society to show the security risks being run by the secretary-elect of a branch of the Carp Club.’ 

The images attracted the attention of the classy Parisian magazine Carpe Francaise.  Editor Laurence Pipee said, ‘We have done nothing wrong in publishing the photos.  What we saw in the pictures was a beautiful old lady with her pants round her ankles and her face distorted with rage.  It is exactly the same as we can all see every day when we look over the cubicle doors in public lavatories.  We do not do thees thing for profit but out of respect for our readers.  You English are such hypocrites.’ 

The pictures also appeared on Ireland’s Pat Fish Weekly.  Editor Seamlus O’Nan said that he was taken aback by the reaction. ‘The old lady may be secretary-elect in Pondsworth and Reeling, but over here she is nothing.  The photos of a woman caught peeing are published as a service to our readers.’ 

The Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club Committee turned to the South Yorkshire Police for help.  The force started by doing a criminal record check on all members, and spreading every kind of slander about them.  The officer who had neglected his duty was awarded compensation of thirty times the amount available to Aunt Kitty.  Finally the Club’s minute book was taken away and all entries which might reflect badly on senior members of the South Yorkshire Police were amended.  This was later explained as just ‘a service to our leaders.’

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Date: 31st August 2012, 9:50 AM

OF MICE AND LIONS

John Fisher worked late into the night updating his dictionary of new words and phrases. 

‘Temporary wealth tax,’ means ‘Permanent wealth tax.’ 

‘On the rich,’ means ‘Initially on few enough so as not to frighten the voters and then pretty soon on everybody.’ 

‘The lads done well,’ means ‘A quite shocking performance.’ 

‘Mouse,’ means ‘A liar and cheat, ditching electoral promises for the sake of political expediency.’ 

‘Nothing to do with KP’ means ‘Everything to do with KP.’ 

‘Lion.’ means ‘Pussy cat.’ 

‘Humiliating,’ means ‘Publish those pictures,’ as in “I know that this is about Leveson but it is humiliating”.’ 

‘The most humble day of my life,’ doesn’t mean anything very much really. 

‘Indian summer,’ means another eight weeks of rain.

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Date: 27th August 2012, 9:04 AM

BAD MANNERS 

Not many people manage to express ideas so pathetic and odious that they receive lifetime bans from the Three Pickerels, but Congressman Todd Akin and George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, or perhaps Blackburn, found themselves in the car park discussing their strategies for attracting the woman voter. 

And in one respect they were lucky, because they were spared the quite horrid spectacle of John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty introducing Prince Harry to the game of nude shove halfpenny and taking him for every pound in his equerry’s purse. 

But had the Car Park Two realised the enthusiasm with which their ideas were being adopted, their modest little egos would have swelled like a prince at a pool table. 

Gordon Brown and George Osborne were giggling together over the way in which they and their parties had consistently abused the UK economy.  Total debt closing in on 600% of Gross Domestic Product, a most remarkable achievement.  Tears of mirth ran down Gordon’s cheeks as he claimed that he had not screwed the economy but that it was just a case of very bad financial manners.  When George had recovered his breath he gasped out the alternative analysis that, as it was a case of a legitimate screwing of the economy, it would put up its automatic defence mechanisms and take no harm from it. 

They were joined by Asil Nadir, who wandered up with a magnum of Crystal and said that what he had done could not be thought of as stealing, unless one was to devalue the meaning of that word.  The three friends were then approached by President Rafael Correa of Ecuador. ‘If two people invest in a company together, then when one takes all the money it cannot be theft,’ and with that he seized the magnum of champagne and drank it straight down to rid the world of that symbol of capitalist exploitation. 

They laughed and laughed but not as much as Kitty Fisher, who had left poor Prince Harry stripped of everything that he and his equerry had with them.  ‘Bad manners,’ she admitted as, to the relief of the regulars, she put her clothes back on.  ‘Noblesse oblige,’ replied the young prince as he posed for the cameras and then turned his attention to the snooker table.

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Date: 22nd August 2012, 5:37 PM

LEARNING FROM VOLLEYBALL 

‘No Eric, there are to be no exceptions of any kind.’  There was no mistaking the steel in David Cameron’s voice as the moment approached when he would unveil his imaginative re-branding of his party.  ‘Volleyball commanded no public interest, but when it emerged as Beach Volleyball its popularity soared.’ 

And so the front bench of the new Beach Conservative Party trotted into Parliament for Prime Minister’s Question Time, resplendent in the new uniform.  Never had such saucy outfits been seen by the Speaker.  Well, not for an hour or two.  It was a truly magnificent look.  Blue silk bikini top and skimpy nothing bottoms, worn over trade mark black leather shoes and black socks to give the relaxed holiday image.

They leaned towards the Labour benches and gave strange hand signals to those behind them.  Then came the first question.  It was a deceptively easy one, tossed obsequiously into the air.  The Beach Conservatives batted it about before providing the Prime Minister with an easy smash.  They turned and had long and intimate hugs between points, just for team morale. 

There was near panic on the Labour benches.  Clearly this was a very silly idea, but politics are politics, so best not come out against it just in case the public happen to like it.  So they adopted the tactics championed by Ed Balls on the economy and Angela Eagles on the rail fair increases. They positioned themselves so close to the Beach Conservatives that they could claim to be responsible, but instead of skimpy bikini bottoms they all wore long baggy shorts, and made that the critical point of difference.  Ed Miliband looked good in his red lycra outfit as he jeered at the Government benches.  ‘Typical cost cutting, cloth skimping Tories.  We need responsible beach wear but we need growth.  It is Labour that leads the way with double the amount of material in every pair of shorts.  Not even the Prime Minister’s own team are able to stick within his one square foot of material budget. I refer you, of course, to the Honourable Member for Brentwood and Ongar.  It’s all right Eric. Your own back benchers may say that you look like a beached whale, but I couldn’t possibly comment.’ 

Meanwhile Education Secretary, Michael Gove, had slipped away and issued instructions to all state schools that every sport or game was to be changed along the volleyball model.  Out went football, cricket and basketball and in came beach football, cricket and basketball.  The Minister’s next order was for the sale of all playing fields beyond the basic sand pit which would now be adequate for all school sports.  And to his amazement he had to agree that David Cameron had rediscovered his mojo, and that the future for his party was a stroll on the beach.

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Date: 13th August 2012, 12:43 PM

THE TRUE OLYMPIC SPIRIT 

The Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club embraced the Olympic spirit with a steely grip, even though its grasp of the details of the events was rather less secure. 

John Fisher looked splendid in his pith helmet and his carp pattern jodhpurs and shirt, as he raised his mallet and spurred his water polo pony into the lake. 

His Aunt Kitty had entered the hundred litre hurdles.  After every ten litres of crème de menthe she hurdled the bar in order to replenish her stocks.

The final green of the local golf club was besieged by the Three Pickerels’ darts team, armed with air guns and getting ready to enter the shot put.  Fortunately, as the first golfer bent to address his ball the barman arrived just in time to explain the real rules of the game. 

Everywhere the good people of Pondsworth and Reeling engaged in intense but good natured competition.  The drinks became stronger, the rate at which the glasses were refilled became faster and everyone got higher and higher and higher.
 
But the Olympic spirit had spread far and wide.  Manchester United showed just how far it embraced the values of sporting excellence in its local community, by selling ten per cent of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, having been unable to do so in its more natural home, Singapore.  The money raised was to enhance fair and sporting competition in the Manchester area by going to repay some of the commercial loans associated with its American owner’s acquisition. 

The race between Tony Blair, John Major and David Cameron was a true inspiration to the nation’s children as they elbowed and jostled to claim the credit for the success of the British athletes. 

But the Olympic spirit at its most pure was shown by Rangers Football Club, reincarnated after it had dumped millions of pounds of debt on the taxpayer and local businesses.  Their performance against Peterhead, equalising with a flukey goal in the last minute, was in one sense as amateur as you can get.  Afterwards the supporters sang strange songs about things that might happen to the Pope, and the players chanted their new slogan ‘Porsche, Omega, blingier.’

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Date: 6th August 2012, 10:21 AM

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR? 

Saturday 4 August 2012 and the days leading up to it will go down as a golden age of achievement. 

First up to receive huge wads of cash were the GB footballers who had so very nearly beaten the mighty South Korean team.  If they had been able to take penalties they might have even done so.  The South Koreans were just lucky, striking every one home without any appearance of difficulty.  It was almost as if they had trained for the task.  It must not be assumed that all Team GB footballers were paid £5 million a year.  Some of them were paid far more than that.  So what needs to be done to bring them up to the standard of South Korea?  Simple.  Much more pay, and then just possibly they would not be too offended if a little more dedication was asked of them.  Yes, some win bonuses would be a good idea too. 

Then Bob Berkeley Hunt arrived by helicopter to accept the thanks of a grateful nation for the contribution to society made by bankers over the last five years.  ‘The hallmark of true champions is that they keep on producing more and more and just when you feel sure that they have scraped the bottom of the barrel, they find that little bit extra.  The way we drove our banks to insolvency through greed and incompetence is ancient history.  We cannot still revel in the glory of it, however proud we are.  Then we went that extra mile by ripping off our customers by selling them all sorts of things which could never benefit them.  Then we all had a little dabble at the fraudulent fixing of interest rates, and now in this golden week, we can announce a crowning achievement.  We have introduced a computer system which buys shares and holds them for a hundredth of a second.  You cannot imagine how much you all benefit from that kind of responsible banking.  But the joy of it is that it loses hundreds of millions of pounds of your money when we are not even at our desks.  And now the banks are in such a mess that you will need to pay us billions in bonuses to mend the problem.’  At first the audience was amazed when Bob turned down the wheelbarrow full of cash which was given to him, until it was realised that he wanted it paid into an offshore account in the name of his dog. 

The cash had all been taken by the bankers and footballers and there was nothing left for the weary figures filing past the stage.  How those well-paid gentlemen laughed and mocked at the sight of those sad wannabes who were paid peanuts - the women’s coxless pair, both the women’s double sculls, the men’s team sprint cyclists.  Victoria Pendleton and the women’s sprint team, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis. Peter Wilson, whose trigger finger was itching, the slalom canoe pair, the men’s rowing four and long jumper Greg Rutherford.  The procession went on and on.  The GB footballers and bankers saw that the medals round their necks were not real gold and mocked the stream of pathetic losers before them, but nobody in that parade of champions seemed even to notice them.

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Date: 31st July 2012, 5:49 PM

VIEWS FROM THE BACKSIDE 

The history of mankind could have been so very much better had the meeting not been interrupted. 

Mitt Romney and Denis MacShane MP had sat down together in the Three Pickerels.  Mitt was badmouthing the pint of ‘your English warm beer’ that he had ordered.  Denis MacShane had gone for a cup of warm water. 

Mitt opened up with an account of the wondrous things that could be seen from the backside of 10 Downing Street.  He praised David Cameron for making such a fine job of all the Olympic facilities which were so clearly visible from the garden, ignoring the fact that, without the benefit of the backside perspective, he had recently told American television that the games were heading for trouble. 

Denis hadn’t listened to a word and rode off on his own hobbyhorse.  ‘Ten per cent of all parliamentary seats should be reserved for those on the minimum wage.  Another twenty percent should go to those who are unemployed.  Thirty per cent for those working in the NHS, but below the level of staff nurse.  Another fifteen percent should be kept for those serving in the armed services, but no officers.  There should be a seat for every member of Accrington Stanley Reserves.’ 

‘What about keeping the job of Prime Minister for those paying tax at twelve per cent on an income of twenty million?’ asked Mitt, taking a sudden interest in his new friend’s ideas.  ‘When you stand in the garden of No 10 and look out of David Cameron’s backside you can see the whole population of your great City.  So why not make all of them MPs and solve your unemployment problem just like that?’ 

Sadly, Denis MacShane had not listened to a word of it.  ‘And another ten per cent should go to poor unemployed Labour Peers who have been dislodged by the House of Lords reforms.  Then we should keep a seat for every Labour MP who loses his seat in an election.  Then another twenty percent should be kept for those who are certified by me as being really and truly working class…..’ 

John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty had been eavesdropping as she downed her second pint of crème de menthe.  She was in that irritable stage between mellow and plastered. 

‘Oi, you MacShane?  Why don’t we get minimum wage MPs the easy way by cutting their salaries to that level?  Not what you meant?  If you want quotas, what about ten percent for really able people?  Ten per cent for those with some good real world experience?  Ten per cent for those with some real independence of mind?  And none for all the look alike career politicians?  No?  I didn’t think so.’ 

Had Kitty Fisher not brandished her bottle like Michael Heseltine with the mace and driven them away, the superb and supple minds of Mitt Romney and Denis MacShane might have sparked off each other and created a new theory of democracy for the twenty first century and saved the universe.  Or they might both have come to see the world through the eye of Downing Street’s backside.

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Date: 23rd July 2012, 9:45 AM

AN EVEN MORE SELECT COMMITTEE 

David Winnick MP was feeling pretty pleased with himself as he was driven to Pondsworth and Reeling to represent Parliament before the Carp Club’s select committee.  He had rubbed G4S Chairman Nick Buckle’s nose in the dirt, getting him to admit that his company’s reputation was in tatters and that recent events had been a humiliating shambles.  As a result, he expected a morning of congratulations and pleasantry.
 
The Carp Club delegated all the questioning to one person, having learned from the shambolic attempts of parliamentary committees to lay a glove on the Murdochs or even Bob Diamond. 

‘Would you agree that the recent expenses scandal showed a widespread culture of entitlement, combined with elements of criminal behaviour amongst Members of Parliament?’ 

This was not what David Winnick had expected, but he could only agree. 

‘And that your members fight elections on the basis of half truths about the bad news, unjustified claims about any successes, all sprinkled with a few blatant lies?  Again, David Winnick could do no more than nod. 

‘And you accept that for forty years both political parties have spent far more than their tax revenues, and have failed to account fully for future liabilities for pensions and growing costs under the Private Finance Initiative?’ David Winnick was beginning to panic, but could only agree with what had been said. 

‘Foreign policy, with its endless wars and interventions, has been illegal or ill advised and counter-productive, and often all of those?’  The poor beleaguered MP looked at the ground but silence was not acceptable, and in a small voice he admitted that it was all true. 

‘No parliamentary party is capable of getting a grip on any difficult and unpopular issue until the moment that it has all gone wrong.  All they do is just position themselves to the left or right of the others to enable them to play the “told you so” game.  A child could have seen that the world wide bubble in property prices and the expansion in personal borrowing meant that one generation was consuming the prosperity of the next, but Parliament went blithely on trying to buy electoral popularity.  And so, if we compare Parliament with G4S, we have a company which got one of its big contracts massively wrong but which has managed an acceptable performance elsewhere.  And then we have a Parliament which, because of its structure, is absolutely certain to fail on every difficult issue before it.  So, in conclusion, how would you describe that kind of institution?’ 

David Winnick was a broken man but eventually, in a shell-shocked whisper, he suggested ‘A total apology for a hopeless mega shambles kind of thing?’ 

‘That will do nicely,’ said his inquisitor Kitty Fisher, and she nodded to the G4S guards who took hold of him and flung him into the car park with some considerable gusto.

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Date: 17th July 2012, 3:11 PM

QUITE MAJESTIC 

It was a long time since anybody had associated the name of John Terry with effective defensive tactics, but all of a sudden the Terry defence was being adopted far and wide. 

Nick Clegg was delighted to accept the invitation to speak to the National Union of Students.  He brushed aside the accusation that he had broken his promise not to raise tuition fees.  ‘All I was doing was repeating your own formula in a sarcastic and ironic way.’  ‘Well that’s just fine,’ replied the students. 

In a conference hall a few miles down the road, David Cameron was facing a hostile audience of National Health workers, infuriated by his flagrant breach of the promise not to impose any further top down re-organisations on the NHS.  ‘I made no such promise,’ he boomed.  ‘I was merely speaking the words that you wanted to hear in a sarcastic way.’  ‘That’s all right then,’ the delegates admitted, and the atmosphere lightened and they listened to the great man’s words with a new respect. 

David Haye and Derek Chisora used the ploy to reclaim their licences from the British Boxing Board of Control.  ‘We never had a brawl.  He shoved me in an ironic way and I went through a few sarcastic repetitions of kicking and punching, but there was no real brawl.’  Their licences were handed back as the Board had a pretty shrewd idea that their entire history had been of sarcastic imitations of boxing. 

And then one day John Terry was rewarded for his invention.   A letter arrived summoning him to the Palace that very morning to be knighted.  Off he went in a cloud of foul language and knelt before his monarch.  He never questioned the fact that the ceremony was being held outdoors next to the drain and the pressure hose.  The Queen lifted her sword high and with a practiced and elegant swing she cut off his head with one stroke.  ‘Did he not realise,’ she asked ‘that sometimes one’s offers of a knighthood are not at all real, just ironic and sarcastic? I suspect he does now.’

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Date: 9th July 2012, 12:08 PM

DAWN OF A GOLDEN AGE 

It was a pleasant morning in the beer garden of the Three Pickerels, and the atmosphere was one of joy and harmony. 

Bob Diamond and Rupert Murdoch were tucking into their pints of Bollinger and chatting over their experiences in front of House of Commons Select Committees.  ‘Such a lovely chat.  So very far from laying a glove on either of us.  Ah, happy days.’ 

Chloe Smith sat all alone, toying with her glass of Blue Nun.  Once again she had been let down by the arch cad George.  But her brave little chin was held high, and she even managed the ghost of a smile as Jeremy Paxman sat down at her table and started asking all sorts of questions which she could not understand, let alone answer. 

In fact George was in the garden, but he had found more agreeable company and stood up poor Chloe.  He and Ed Balls had the wine list and were picking a Beaune together.  They chortled at the way in which their pretend quarrel had deflected attention from the heavy responsibility which they both bore for the state of the banks and the dire financial position of the country.  ‘Did I tell you the one about Nick Clegg and the vibrator?’  And they both fell about laughing. 

Nick Clegg was blissfully unaware of this as he sat with half a dozen of the more right wing Tories, and they drank toast after toast to the idea of making the House of Lords ever more like the fantastically successful House of Commons. 

Michael Gove was a guest of the governors of the Pondsworth and Reeling High School.  He regaled them with his description of them as local worthies in the job just for the ego trip, and when they heard that from the mouth of a politician they laughed fit to burst and then bought him a pint of the barman’s famous prune juice and castor oil cocktail and cheered as he downed it in one. 

It had been a wonderful week.  The Higgs Bosun had been discovered.  The Church of England was getting ready to welcome women as second class bishops.  Robin van Persie had rewarded Arsenal for having stood by him through some very bad times by giving them the benefit of his superior knowledge.  A Scotsman had made his way to a Wimbledon final. 

The rains were over.  Austerity was at an end.  The Euro over was mended.  The banks and the politicians were trustworthy and competent, and it was the dawn of a new golden age.

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Date: 30th June 2012, 10:20 AM

JUSTICE 

Things had gone badly wrong at Fisher Finance Ltd and Chief Executive, Kitty Fisher, was facing the full force of the law.  The charge sheet was a long one, and the cases were being heard by banker Bob Berkley-Hunt who was doing his civic duty and sitting as magistrate. 

‘I know that I lost billions of clients’ money investing in sub-prime carp when I had no understanding of the arrangements, but everybody else was doing the same.  I am really sorry.’ 

‘That is no kind of excuse,’ snarled Bob, and he imposed the maximum penalty. 

‘I know that it was the policy of my company to cheat my customers by selling them policies that they didn’t need, but it was not my fault.  I was unaware of it and have now sacked some of the secretaries involved.  But I would still like to apologise.’ 

‘Quite despicable.  Disgraceful.’ And  Bob Berkeley-Hunt again imposed the maximum penalty.

‘I admit that there were huge losses in unauthorised currency deals but it was all down to a single rogue trader and I knew nothing of it, but I am still very sorry.’  Kitty Fisher looked imploringly at the magistrate, but once again the maximum penalty was handed down.  ‘You are paid to be Chief Executive and it is your job to know what is going on.’ 

‘I admit that executives from my company conspired to defraud the entire universe by manipulating interest rates, but I knew nothing of it.  I have put the situation right by sacking a couple of juniors and waiving my bonus for the year, though not of course my long term incentives.  But before you pass any further judgement on me, I would like to suggest that the time has passed for me to keep saying "sorry".’ 

Banker and magistrate Bob Berkley-Hunt glared at the wretched defendant.  ‘It is very fortunate for the public that a banker like me can make the time to sit in judgement on foul and hardened criminals like you.  The banking industry has always maintained the highest possible standards.  Every action done in our name is done for the benefit of our customers, and if anything were to go wrong in my then I would take full responsibility.  I therefore have the moral standing to impose another maximum sentence on you.  Take her down.’ 

Kitty Fisher looked up and, with terrifying menace in her voice, replied ‘Cool.  I owe you one, dude.’

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Date: 26th June 2012, 6:04 PM

WILL I BE POOR WHEN I AM OLD? 

Aunt Kitty was unwell.  No: in truth, Aunt Kitty had a massive hangover and was in no condition to honour her commitment to babysit for the precocious Tarquin and Sequin, and so she rang her old friend George Osborne.  He was at a loose end and readily agreed to stand in for her. 

As soon as they saw him the twins knew that they had to keep him talking till the very moment that they were asleep, so that if there was a goodnight kiss they would be unconscious of it. 

‘Will I be poor when I am old?’ asked Tarquin. 

‘No.  If you save for a pension, you will be very rich.’  George was off on his favourite subject.  ‘You get tax relief.  The money in the pension fund is tax free and even small contributions, wisely invested, will build a giant pot of money for when you are seventy.’

‘And will wise investment managers buy the hundred year bond at two per cent that you are wanting to offer?  If you assume inflation stays at its long term trend, then by my retirement date it would have lost eighty percent of its real value?’  Sequin looked at him imploringly.
 
George hated precocious children and snapped.  ‘The investment managers will have no choice because new regulations will make them invest in that kind of thing.’ 

Tarquin then chipped in.  ‘My Daddy says that you can never trust a government.  You have started taxing pension funds and have special rules to penalise those who save.  If the investments do well enough to pay what an MP might get by way of pension then you take fifty five per cent of the surplus in tax, but those same rules don’t apply to your own pension because there is no fund to tax, just a cost to us children when we are in work.’ 

It was then Sequin’s turn.  ‘So if we save hard we can be certain that governments will continue to interfere.  If the statutory authorities fail to supervise, then we know that you will take no responsibility.  When you fail to run the economy properly and have to intervene with Quantitive Easing, you will destroy any chance of a pension fund doing well.  If it does poorly it will still disqualify me from benefits. If it defies all the odds and does well, you will cream off fifty five per cent. So will we really have a happy retirement if we take your advice?  We don’t think so.’ 

George’s lovely face was contorted with rage as he stomped off downstairs.  The twins agreed that the future looked bleak, but at least they had avoided the goodnight kiss.

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Date: 19th June 2012, 11:31 AM

THE TRUE MEANING OF TRAGEDY 

Sepp Blatter was dressed in black and his head was bowed.  After an impressive pause he looked up and said ‘The real, the true tragedy in life is to be found when a football match has to be decided by penalties.’  He sobbed into his black silk handkerchief and promised to lift the scourge of the penalty shootout from the lacerated back of humanity, and delegated the task to the German Football Union. 

‘No, Sepp,’ shouted the regulars at the Three Pickerels.  ‘The only tragedy here is that world football has been saddled with a man who can hold that kind of view.  Be off with you.’ 

A grim faced Scotsman is not a rarity, but the representative of the Rangers Football Fan Club took the ashen-faced look to a new level.  ‘It is a tragedy.  A tragedy for Scotland, tragedy for world football, and a tragedy for those who seek a theatre for the ritual of free- wheeling anti-Catholic bigotry.  Our beloved, revered and respected football club has been put into liquidation and is facing the indignity of having to recreate itself all over again.’  He was overcome by his emotions and wept bitter tears. 

‘No, it’s not a tragedy,’ shouted the regulars.  ‘In fact it is a bloody good thing and should happen more often.  What is a tragedy is the £100 million of unpaid tax which will now have to be found from other people, the scores of small businesses driven into insolvency because of the unpaid debts and the sickening prospect of the Club being allowed to rise from the ashes, unscathed and unpunished as if nothing had happened.  Be off with you.’

A group of well-fed chief executives then started moaning and wailing about the share holder spring, which had seen some of the more astonishing pay proposals rejected.  ‘It is desperate.  It is so unfair.  No, it is a full blown tragedy.  It is a tragedy for us having to tighten our belts and rub along with a pay package of a measly ten million, but it is a tragedy for the whole country if irresponsible attitudes prevail and we are forced to take our talents elsewhere.’ 

Once again the definition of tragedy favoured by the speakers and the view of the audience were miles apart, and they were sent packing from the pub.  Their whingeing and complaining could be heard for several minutes over the near silence of their departing chauffeured Rollers. 

Finally, with a gnashing of gums, Rupert Murdoch told of the tragic circumstances which saw him ousted from the top of the Leveson leader board, with insult being added to injury by the fact that the perpetrator was none other than his beloved son James. ‘I cruised past Jeremy Hunt, clocking up an impressive forty three answers, telling the Inquiry that I could not remember, and now I find that my very own son has shot past me with a cool forty nine memory failures.  "Tragic’’ is the only word for it.’ 

There was a hum of conversation as the regulars considered this, and then declared Rupert the winner.  They agreed that there was something tragic about the whole global Murdoch involvement, but could not accept that this was the only possible word for it.  John Fisher recorded all the other suggestions in the minutes with the exception of ‘’mankwipe’’ which, while capturing the spirit, was not a real word.

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Date: 11th June 2012, 4:02 PM

POLITICIAN FORGETS ABOUT CHILD 

At first they could not believe it.  Everything in their young lives told them that politicians never forget children, and that they keep them in their mind and in their sights every waking moment of their lives. 

When the economy starts to turn down and jobs become scarce, what do politicians do?  Any schoolboy can tell you that.  They change the law to allow those in work to retain their jobs way past their contractual retirement dates, and dump the unemployment on those who had been hoping for a job on leaving school.  And who has the votes?  Any schoolgirl can tell you that.  It is the older people still in work. 

When a politician seeks to improve his chances at the next election he will increase the value of everything which is promised by the government, and not inconvenience the public with the pain of paying for the promises through current taxation. In thirty seven years out of the last forty it has been the same.  And is the bill going to be picked up by those who are old enough to vote?  Why should it be when it can be left as a present for today’s children? 

When a politician sets up a public pension scheme without seeking to extract a single penny year by year from those who are going to benefit, even he knows that eventually the cost will have to be found.  So who does he have in mind as the likely candidate for that burden?  Once again the politician’s beady eye never leaves the school playground. 

When the politicians all stumbled across the joys of the Private Finance Initiative, enabling a huge increase in vote winning public projects with no immediate cost to the taxpayer, where did they expect to find the people who were going to have the vast new total of rentals added to all the other unfunded costs?  Look no further than the kindergarten. 

When the politicians presided over the bubble in house prices and let it rip ahead so that the voters would feel good about life, who was it that was going to have to find that they could never buy a house of their own?  Ah, bless them.  Once again it was suffer the little children.

When the politicians presided over an unprecedented expansion in personal borrowing, allowing the voter generation to enjoy an artificially high standard of living at the cost of the crisis which would come later, who was it that would pick up the tab?  Yes, that section of society which has never been out of the thoughts of those in government. 

And so, when it emerged that a politician had actually forgotten a child there was widespread rejoicing at the Pondsworth and Reeling Junior School and the second Monday in June has been declared a special holiday to give a little ray of hope.  Miracles can happen and for a few short minutes a politician might forget about them again.

 

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Date: 6th June 2012, 11:30 AM

IT WAS JUST AN ORDINARY SATURDAY NIGHT 

It was just an ordinary Saturday night at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Pondsworth and Reeling Hospital. 

John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty had been lying on a trolley in a corridor for a couple of hours with a tall thin man with some strange opinions.  They were both suffering from urinary tract infections.  ‘The trouble with hospitals,’ he barked ‘is the patients.  If we could stop the patients coming we would stop the cause of the queues.’ 

‘And what would happen if I were to pull on this zip,’ he inquired reaching round Aunt Kitty’s scrawny back.  ‘Much the same, Your Majesty as if I were to do this,’ she replied, reaching over to the Royal groin but chickening out at the last minute.

There was a commotion when Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary and Baroness Warsi pushed their way to the reception desk demanding that one of them should face a rigorous examination but that the other should not. 

As the hours dragged by Kitty Fisher proposed a game of Shag, Date or Marry, and she went for Eric Pickles, Ed Balls and Fred the Shred Goodwin.  Her trolley companion went for Monty, Hollow and Willow.  ‘You don’t get it do you, Phil?  They are your sodding corgis.  ‘What about Hang, Flog, or Hunt with Hounds?’  A gleam came into the old man’s eyes, and quick as a flash he came out with  ‘Hang all press photographers, flog all editors, and hunt Nicholas Witchell, ghastly little man.’  Aunt Kitty started warming to this game and responded with hang Simon Cowell, flog her nephew John Fisher, and hunt Jeremy the Culture Secretary. 

The outer doors flew open and in lurched John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.  John seemed to be suffering from Rio’s hands which were locked round his throat, and Rio was showing all the symptoms of badly bruised pride following his disrespectful omission from the England squad.  The two men explained that their injuries were football related and so they were given instant attention. 

‘I spy,’ began the Duke, ‘with my little eye, something which looks like it was put up by an Indian,’ but his trolley dolly was fast asleep or at least pretending to be so. 

As dawn came it had been just an ordinary Saturday night in A & E at the Pondsworth and Reeling Hospital.

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Date: 27th May 2012, 8:32 AM

ROCK BOTTOM 

John Fisher dragged himself from his sick bed to chair the annual Carp Club Rear of the Year competition.  He put the assembled members at ease by telling them that his Aunt Kitty had been sedated and would not embarrass them with another display.  The old lady had won in 1951 and had tried to crash every competition since.  He reminded them of the no photography rule which applied when members were displaying. 

Pippa Middleton had the honour of going first.  It was certainly a fine example, but the consensus was that it was not all that it was cracked up to be. 

There was a fearful row as onto the stage rushed an escaped emu, rapidly followed by its owner.  He caught it by the beak and dragged it way scolding ‘You stupid bird.  This is a rhea contest not an emu contest.’ 

Once the excitement had died down Germaine Greer and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard were allowed to present a double display, side by side.  Germaine had criticised Julia for having a flabby arse but the club members, whilst noting the extra size of Julia’s bottom, ruled that it was miles better in quality and it was Germaine who had to leave without a rosette. 

Joey Barton, philosopher and part-time footballer, walked confidently towards the display table and showed his spotty little bum.  ‘Sorry, Joey.  Off you go.  Wrong week, wrong competition.  Your entry is for the Arse of the Year.  Totally different.’ 

The evening had reached a climax with the entry of Eric Pickles in the super-heavyweight division, when the door opened and in walked David Cameron in search of a bit of chillaxation.  ‘Sorry David, but this is a members’ only evening,’ said John Fisher with a sly wink to the audience.  ‘But if you want to display as a guest entry, I promise that I will vote for nobody if not you at the next election.’  This was an easy promise for John, who had no intention of voting at all. 

In an instant the PM’s pants were round his ankles and he was displaying a bottom which was round, pink and well tended, and probably worthy of a silver medal.  The room exploded with the flash of cameras as members took advantage of the special rules for guest displays. 

Afterwards, the barman was of the view that he might be prepared to support a politician sporting enough to display his bum for the club members.  John Fisher thoughtfully added the picture to the Club’s overloaded pack of photos of politicians’ bums, and simply shrugged.

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Date: 13th May 2012, 11:12 AM

JOHN FISHER IS UNWELL 

I regret to have to report that my dear nephew John Fisher is unable to take any part in the production of this week’s bulletin.  It is even possible that he may never recover from the grief which afflicts his generous heart. 

I was with him last Wednesday when the catastrophic news came through about the latest pay increases for the Chief Executives of the top hundred UK companies.  On average their shares had fallen by no more than 6.6% in value, and yet despite this heroic achievement, their pay rises were limited to a paltry 11%.  John went pale with the shock of it, muttered ‘It’s just so unfair,’ and collapsed onto the kitchen floor. 

He lies in his bed, unable to speak and communicates only by notes scribbled in pencil.  I owe it to him to give you a summary of these jottings as they come straight from the heart of the greatest living Englishman. 

Last year the average CEO pay rise was a heart warming 49%.  They did not have to stoop to the level of performance or achievement to be awarded that increase. So where is the justice in cutting the 49% down to a wretched 11%?  It is no more than the politics of envy, and if we give in to such base instincts where will matters end? 

Today John was able to get up for an hour or two to start arrangements to raise funds for the poor beleaguered CEOs.  There will be fetes and flag days and a bucket will be taken round the crowds at all Premier League carp fishing matches, to raise some extra cash.  It will not be enough.  It never is, but it will give us all a chance to display our love and respect for this section of our society which is suffering more than any other. 

John’s health has been delicate ever since the shattering news that Harry Rednapp’s dog Rosie had lost all of her overseas savings, but the calculations by the bedside reveal the true source of John’s decline.  With pay increases at 49% and share prices static, it was only going to take some fifteen years before boardroom pay amounted to the entire value of the company, and that is an honourable objective for our CEOs to hold.  But if their pay rises are pegged to a measly 11% it may take up to thirty years before they have paid themselves everything and will then have to move on and offer their unique skills elsewhere unless, of course, they manage to reduce the value of their companies by more than 6.6% per annum, so I suppose we can all live in hope.

Kitty Fisher 

PS  It has not  been possible, at short notice, to find a suitable replacement host for the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club ladies’ karaoke.  Most people either have commitments or if not there is a reason.  But I am sure that, nevertheless, we will all give Prince Charles a polite reception.

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Date: 6th May 2012, 11:43 AM

EXCUSES – SORTING THE CARP FROM THE CRAP 

The bar of the Three Pickerels was packed as John Fisher announced that the contestants for the annual Lame Excuses competition had all arrived.  There were four competitors, but they had just one genuine excuse between them.  The regulars had an uncanny knack of sorting out the carp from the crap. 

Making his first appearance at the pub was Sir Mervyn King, defending his record of financial management.  ‘I cannot be blamed for boom and bust for the simple reason that there was no boom……. Well, apart from the year on year 25% inflation in house prices…..well, apart from the unprecedented boom in credit  which leaves us with a level of personal indebtedness, which is twice that even of the USA and which will block our recovery for years to come…… well, apart from…’ 

‘Enough!’ called the regulars, and Sir Mervyn was replaced at the microphone by the much loved figure of John Terry.  ‘I should never have been sent off.  I am not that kind of player.  Sanchez was darting in behind me just as I was raising my knee.  I was only trying to protect myself.’  The regulars had heard enough, and John Terry gave that shy little grin as he was jeered off the stage. 

The third contestant was none other than Jeremy Hunt the culture secretary.  Dressed in a gorgeous peacock blue silk shirt slashed down to his navel, he performed a sprightly lambada round the stage on his way to the microphone.  ‘When I communicate with the Murdochs, it is quasi judicial.  When my special adviser replies on my behalf, that is a totally different matter.  But I take ministerial responsibility, even though the errors are his and his alone.  I take responsibility by letting him resign.  You can’t blame me, really not.’ 

Yet again the regulars were unimpressed, and sent him on his way.  Then there was much coughing and spluttering and no small amount of retching as pig-man Roger Trotter came in straight from work.  ‘Yes, it is true.  I was discovered in the pig sty, clasping a large boar around the back legs and, yes, I agree that my trousers and pants were round my ankles and my willy was stuck into its bottom, but it is not at all how it seems.  I was having a pee and it backed up on me.  That is one strong boar.’ 

The applause was deafening.  At last the regulars had heard a genuine excuse.  John Fisher stepped up and awarded Roger the prize of a gallon of Bass, but on this occasion, he broke with tradition and asked the winner to consume it in the car park.

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Date: 29th April 2012, 12:14 PM

PRIORITIES 

It was the custom of the Carp Club that at the AGM some of the better known members would give a short presentation on the priorities which motivated them. 

John Terry described the choice between staying on the pitch and then playing for his team in the final, or the option of putting his knee into Barcelona player Alexis Sanchez in an off the ball incident. ‘It was a no-brainer really,’ admitted the Chelsea captain, and the audience seemed to agree with that. 

Barclays Bank had managed to earn £2.8 billion of spare cash and the Directors had three choices: they could apply it in better customer service and in making more loans to oil the wheels of the economy; they could pay a proper dividend to the pension funds and other owners of the Company; or they could pay it out in bonuses to those who already had some of the largest salaries in the organisation.  Their priority was to allocate nothing for the customers, one quarter to the owners but a whopping three quarters in bonuses to those who had worked so well over the last years that the Company was nearly half as valuable as it had been in 2002.  The audience sighed with admiration, and the word ‘sweet’ could be heard above the applause. 

Then it was Nick Clegg’s turn.  He described how the political parties had consistently failed the electorate and how voting figures were on the decline.  He reminded the Carp Club of the expenses scandal, the broken promises, the incompetence and the low public esteem in which members of Parliament were held, and then he announced his top priority.  This was to do everything possible to make the House of Lords just like the House of Commons.  He perhaps should not have said, in his cheerful way, that the three main parties were right behind the idea of being able to meddle even more in the second chamber, as there was a great intake of breath from his audience and an involuntary gasp of ‘Scary’. But he knew that his priority was one which would be appreciated, and the applause which greeted him when he stopped was all that he could have wanted. 

Finally David Cameron found time from the omnicalamity, which afflicted everything that he touched, to describe the background to his wondrous choice.  George Galloway had been able to win Bradford despite harbouring a suspicion he was fighting the Blackburn seat.  The additional borrowing for the year was the equivalent of an extra 45 pence in every pound on Income Tax.  The Euro was on the point of collapse and the country was back into recession, and that was all before the Murdochs had started their latest little game.  Faced with all of this, he pondered long and hard before announcing that his priority was that children should stand when an adult enters a room. 

The Carp Club members responded in the only way they knew, a standing ovation, a courtesy not extended to a speaker since Bill Clinton’s illustrated talk about the life and times of a White House intern.

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Date: 20th April 2012, 11:27 AM

NO PLACE FOR IT IN BRITAIN 

John Fisher was looking forward to addressing the Pondsworth and Reeling Social Club on what he called ‘Carpery’.  By that he meant the whole way in which career-based politics and image obsessed political parties were set up for the one aim of beating the other, and so were doomed to let down the public that they were meant to serve.  It had been inevitable, because of the very way that they were structured, that political parties all over Europe and in America had not seen the financial crash coming, and for forty years had failed to raise enough tax to cover what they spent.  If the one reward for politicians comes from beating the other side, then everything will be directed at achieving that objective and bugger the consequences for the poor old voters. 

But when he arrived on the podium he found Andrew Lansley already ther, preparing to speak on the subject of discouraging smoking.  Once again, John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty had messed up the arrangements and double booked.  As this was a regular occurrence, the two men quickly adopted the normal solution of both speaking at the same time. 

‘Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health.’ 

‘Voting remains one of the most significant challenges to public wealth.’ 

‘That is why health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives which might encourage smokers to quit.’ 

'That is why the electorate across the UK has a responsibility to look closely at initiatives which might encourage voters to quit.’ 

‘If we can remove all the branding so that cigarettes can be offered only in plain packaging, that may well assist.’ 

‘If we can remove all the branding so that parties can be promoted only in plain packaging, that may well assist.’ 

‘I am pleased to report that smoking rates have fallen significantly since the link with damaging health consequences has  been established beyond doubt, and it is my aim to drive the figures down further.’ 

‘I am pleased to report that voting rates have fallen significantly since the link with damaging wealth consequences has been established beyond doubt, and it is my aim to drive it down further.’

‘I do not work with the tobacco companies as I want them to have no place in Britain.’ 

‘I do not work with our political parties as I want them to have no place in Britain.’ 

The applause was deafening, and each man assumed that it was for himself.  ‘I think that went down rather well, don’t you?’ they both said to the other.

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Date: 15th April 2012, 4:33 PM

TRIATHLON 

The rules of the Carp Club’s triathlon were very flexible and therefore a quality field was always attracted, and 2012 was no exception. 

Mario Balotelli kicked off with a nice trio of mindless fouls, but left for an early bath.  ‘Sorry, Mario,’ called the barman, who was judging the contest, ‘three vicious and predictable assaults on the opposition don’t add up to a triathlon, or anything else of value really.’ 

Tiger Woods had got to grips with the concept and his entry combined club throwing, cussing and golf.  ‘Brilliant efforts for the first two disciplines, but the golf!  Really woeful.  I should stick to the day job if I were you.’ 

The Carp Club’s favourite, Bob Berkely-Hunt had entered the three vital skills needed by every good chief executive: looking after the interests of the shareholders, giving a classy service to the public, and ensuring fair pay for the workforce as a whole and not just a favoured few.  Before the startled barman could pass judgement, Bob doubled up with laughter.  ‘Sorry Guys. Only joking.’  And he ordered a nice cool pint of Cristal. 

Christian Voice’s offering amounted to the reduction of the Tesco share price, the departure of its Chief Executive and some mice in one of its stores.  The barman was used to dealing with unpleasant people and the Carp Club was a broad church, but there were limits.  ‘This is a serious competition for people who actually do their triathlons themselves, and not for people who look at some random events and claim their big friend did it for them. You are banned for life, and even eternity.’ 

Excitement was reaching fever pitch, when George Osborne entered the arena with his three discovery events.  He got off to a cracking start with his discovery that many rich people pay remarkably little Income Tax.  With a lovely grace and fluidity, he moved on to his discovery that his single approach to the economy was simply not working.  And then, horror of horrors, he completely dried up.  Had the barman not been rather fond of George the attempt would have ended in a career threatening public disgrace, but in the nick of time Poppy, the highly intelligent labradoodle from the Three Pickerels, was released.  In a flash George had also discovered what it was like to be bitten in the bollocks. 

Years later, when he showed off the trophy to his friends, George was big enough to admit that he had been given a lucky break in the 2012 competition, without ever being very specific about what it was.
 

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Date: 8th April 2012, 8:33 AM

EASTER HERO 2012 

It was a longstanding tradition that the Carp Club Easter Hero award should be presented by last year’s winner, and therefore the Foreign Office lifted the travel restrictions on Bashir Al Hassad.  He moved to the microphone, his little weasely face wreathed in shy smiles. 

He fumbled with the first envelope and then announced that the third place award went to Amazon for its massive contribution to the UK economy.  The citation gave a glowing report of how £3 billion of sales had been made and how the tax had flowed into the Treasury at a rate of, well, exactly nil.  From all that activity Amazon had contributed not a single penny of Corporation Tax.  Its Tax and Finance Adviser, a man called Hank Ure, modestly accepted the award on behalf of his employer.  ‘Ah shucks. It was nothing.’  ‘That is why you got the award, you wanker,’ called an irate John Fisher from the back of the room. 

Opening a second envelope seemed to be taxing the talents of last year’s winner to the full, but eventually Bashir was able to announce the 2012 runner up.  ‘And second place goes to the Metropolitan Police for services to racism.’  The room was a bit shocked.  They had been clear favourites to win after their performance over the last few weeks.  A group of shaven- headed officers clambered up onto the podium.  They took one glance at Bashir and didn’t like what they saw.  So they grabbed their prize and smacked him about a bit, planted some incriminating evidence on him and gave him a thorough kicking for good measure.  A member of the audience filmed the whole thing and recorded the foul racist language, and so they demonstrated why they had been the bookies’ favourite by stamping on his camera and informing their American counterparts that this act of terrorism was carried out with a view to damaging US interests. 

The excitement mounted as the members of the Carp Club wondered what kind of hero could have outperformed even the dedicated efforts of Scotland Yard.  ‘And the winner of the Easter Hero Award 2012 is none other than our new best friend, Stephen Green of Christian Voice.’  The cheers were quite deafening, and it was some time before the citation could be read.  ‘Stephen’s economic analysis puts Tesco’s current share price decline and a plague of mice all down to divine retribution for the support which they gave to Gay Pride.  The only way that the mice will go and the share price will return is if they truly repent of their evil donation.’  Bashir Al Hassad flung his arms around the theological economist and rodent expert and kissed him on both cheeks.  You show the same true saintly generosity of spirit with which I rule my people.  You are a worthy successor to me.’  And, as he handed the prize to the great spiritual leader, Bashir Al Hassad once again planted kisses on his lovely face.  ‘Enough of that, Sunshine,’ snarled Stephen, ‘unless you too want a touch of the old divine retribution.’

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Date: 1st April 2012, 4:03 PM

NEVER SAW IT COMING 

The Sunday morning drinkers nursed their pints and looked perplexed and sad. 

It was Gordon Brown who broke the silence.  ‘I had abolished boom and bust and relaxed the rules for the bankers, and then out of a clear blue sky a banking crisis, just like the ones which have happened regular as clockwork every twenty years since 1880, and a stonking great recession, just like all the others which come round regular as clockwork.  I never saw that coming.’ 

The cross-party MPs’ drinking club described thirty seven of the last forty years when the government had spent more than it raised in tax and then all of a sudden, and quite astonishingly, there were no reserves when the bad times came.  They shook their sad old heads in wonder. 

Portsmouth and Rangers football clubs were represented.  ‘All we did was to spend more than we could afford and take a few chances with the taxman, and now we find ourselves in Administration.  Who would have thought such a thing possible?’ 

George Osborne’s normal boyish charm was replaced with sad eyes and a furrowed brow.  ‘I slapped a 20% tax on hot pies and pasties, and now the shops are choked with long queues of people waiting until the food falls to the ambient temperature.  I am collecting no extra tax and have upset lots of people.  It seemed such a good idea at the time, and no-one could have predicted that outcome.’ 

Pub favourite, Bob Berkeley-Hunt, was muttering into his pint of Krug.  ‘Never did understand the math behind those sub-prime bonds.  Sort of assumed house prices always went up, and it was kind of smart to lend money to people who couldn’t pay, as the rates of interest you could charge those suckers was higher.  Then, billions lost, pretty much overnight.  Just sooooo unlucky.’ 

Ed Miliband looked shocked and his eyes had that far away, thousand yard or seven thousand five hundred pounds stare.  ‘It’s nearly two years since Labour left government in disorder and, whilst it is true that we have come up with no big new ideas and retained most of the same old faces, you would expect the voters to ignore all that.  After all, it is our turn next time.  Besides, we had nothing to fear from George Galloway; just a big pussy cat.  Whoever could have seen that coming?’ 

Then two smiling faces joined them.  Hilary Benn gave Ed a big hug.  ‘Cheer up old bean.  This result says nothing about the way in which the party is regarded.  Just a little local difficulty.’  Ed Balls nodded his enthusiastic agreement.  ‘The Bradford West result doesn’t mean that Labour is seen as being out of touch.  Ed Miliband is winning back the Labour heartland voters.’ 

A weary resignation struck the other drinkers.  ‘Oh dear, oh dear,’ they said, as one. ‘We all saw that coming.'

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Date: 24th March 2012, 10:47 AM

SIMPLIFICATION: THAT’S THE NAME OF THE GAME 

It had been a hard week, and George Osborne and David Cameron were letting their hair down in the Three Pickerels.  They had each frontloaded with a couple of quarts of Old Paintstripper Cider from the supermarket, and soon the pub was rocking to their rendition of that old favourite, ‘Simplification.’ 

‘Simplification,
That’s the name of the game,
And each generation
They play it the same.’ 

George then launched into a long and boastful account of how he had ‘simplified’ the tax of pensioners a nudge or two upwards.  He had ‘simplified’ the number of people paying 40% tax by adding another three hundred thousand to their ranks, and had ‘simplified’ the child allowance rules by setting up a series of tests and rules of such complexity as to ensure uncertainty, expense and endless disputes for years to come. 

‘Not bad, George, not bad for a beginner,’ acknowledged the PM.  ‘But here is real simplification for you.  You know the National Health Service?  The one I said was not going to be subjected to any more top down re-organisation?  Well, I’ve really given it a dose of the old simplification medicine. The Health and Social Care Bill is a simple little matter of three hundred and sixty seven pages long, one of the wordiest pieces of legislation ever published.’

‘Howdy folks.  Mind if I join you?’  The sun-tanned figure, dressed in Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirt and a long peaked baseball cap, was none other than a Sheriff’s officer from Brevard and Seminole Counties in the good old state of Florida.  ‘What y’all say about simplification, that’s nothing compared with our justice system.  White man shoots black boy, and he tells us it’s self defence, that’s the end of the matter.  Simple as that.  Black boy shoots white man, then he’s guilty. That’s the end of the matter.  Simple as that.  We call it “Stand Your Ground."’ 

The three friends went to the bar where Kitty Fisher was serving, and ordered a carafe of the house white.  The old lady squatted briefly behind the bar and handed over a litre of foaming liquid.  George Osborne passed his knowledgeable nose over it and took a little taste.  ‘Ugh, it’s warm and foul and tastes like piss!’  Aunt Kitty quickly swept up the money and offered no change.  ‘You may have a point there but I call it ‘simplification’, and in my eyes the two things are pretty much the same.’

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Date: 17th March 2012, 11:44 AM

THE ART OF TAXATION 

Ed Miliband was getting a bit competitive with his drinking pals Vince Cable and Nick Clegg.  It had been a long evening.  ‘I’ll tell you what I will do when I am Prime Minister.  I will tax the bankers’ bonuses. Yes I will, and with that money I will guarantee jobs to half a million people.  I will fund the renewal of the entire water and sewage system of the country.  I will double the money paid to the National Health Service and give a thousand pounds to every pensioner at Christmas.  I will reduce Income Tax paid by ordinary working families, so that nobody earning less than a banker pays any tax at all.  To kick-start the economy I will give ten thousand pounds to everybody on their birthday, and what is more I will not only deal with the deficit but will pay off the National Debt.  I admit that there were mistakes in the past but that is down to the fact there was no tax on bankers’ bonuses, apart from Income Tax and National Insurance totalling 60%.’ 

‘I’ll do more than that,’ boasted Vince Cable.  ‘I will impose a Mansion Tax on the value of houses over and above two million pounds.  I will raise so much money that in addition to  what Ed promises to do, I will abolish Income Tax except for bankers and pimps and football agents, and allow free entry to the National Lottery for every one, and hospitals will serve the finest wines known to humanity free at the point of pouring, all paid for by my new tax.  People who live in big houses are bastards and should pay more.’ 

‘Chickenfeed,’ sneered Nick Clegg.  ‘I will tax tycoons.  Nobody loves a tycoon so we will tax everybody that we don’t like, and it will raise such megabillions that everybody in the country will eat free of charge at the Ivy.’ 

Aunt Kitty who, following a temporary indisposition considered to be crème de menthe related, had been lying on the floor under the table, had heard everything.  She arose, dusty but dignified.  ‘So the theory of taxation is to find a minority that is well and truly out of favour and pretend that all economic ills will be solved by taking all they have. Everybody loves a tax which applies at a level which is well clear of their circumstances.  I am currently homeless, so I would propose a Maisonette Tax.  Ten per cent a year on the value of all houses.  Highly progressive as the rich will pay more.  Slip in a provision that any delay in payment amounts to a personal declaration of war against the USA, and fear of extradition will make sure that there are no arrears.  In any event it is only what your Mansion Tax would become after a few years and your normal tinkering with tax thresholds.’

The mighty three looked at each other and calculated the social benefits that they could distribute with tax receipts like that.  They fell on her with hugs and kisses. ‘Kitty Fisher, you are a fiscal genius.’ 

‘Quite right,’ she replied holding out her pint mug.  ‘Fill it up boys.  You owe me.’

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Date: 11th March 2012, 8:39 AM

ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR THE RATING AGENCIES 

Kitty Fisher had been busy.  She had a reputation to defend, and the Pondsworth and Reeling annual cake competition loomed large. 

‘Winning is a complex business,’ she told herself smugly, ‘and the starting point is paying the judges.’  There was only one set of decision makers who openly worked on the basis of being paid by those whose product they were reviewing, and so she invited two of the ratings agencies most deeply implicated in awarding Triple A status to the sub-prime crocks of shit, to come and demonstrate their independence and expertise.  She took the precaution of sending a large cheque because she knew how they worked, and that without such payments they would never be able to carry out the in-depth and penetrating analysis for which they were so famous. 

Early the next morning an old lady could be seen helping herself to copious quantities of what was to be her main ingredient, from bins which had been placed around the village. 

The great day arrived.  The man from Moody’s and his counterpart from Standard and Poors were both feeling full of the joys of spring, having entertained the Parliamentary Select Committee with their refusal to apologise for their role in the sub-prime disaster.  In their merry way they had admitted that there had been a bit of a bidders’ market with people, who wanted a top rating for their product, hawking it around until they found an agency ready to oblige.  They played the old game of saying that the products were fine when they reviewed them but just somehow went off a bit, and their funniest joke was the one about ‘Don’t blame us because you shouldn’t rely on what we say anyway.’ 

At the end of a long day there were only two cakes left, John Fisher’s carp and caramel torte and the heavily iced square produced by Aunt Kitty.  ‘Sorry old chum,’ they said to John Fisher. ‘We can’t rate yours as you haven’t paid us so the winner, with our Triple A rating, is  the one made by your aunt.’ 

‘Then let me offer you a slice of my masterpiece, and as you have rated it so highly, you might want another to take home for your family.’  The two executives recoiled in horror when they found that under the icing was nothing but compacted dog shit. 

‘Now will you learn the lessons from your past you greedy useless blobs of tench spawn?  Don’t give me excuses about things changing.  If it starts life as a crock of shit it remains a crock of shit.  It is as simple as that.’ 

But before the old lady could force the cake down the throats of the two men, the door opened and a dishevelled looking man in a kilt and a flasher’s mac tottered in and introduced himself as the representative of the Scottish Football Association responsible for administering the fit and proper person ownership test.  ‘Ah, cake.  My favourite.’  And he gobbled down the rest smacking his great lips and saying how good it was. 

The men from the ratings agencies reached for their chequebooks and in no time had signed him up. ‘It is not often we get the chance to sign a man as discerning as you.’  And quicker than you could say ‘stuff the investors, stuff the creditors’ they had gone to ply their noble trade elsewhere.

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Date: 4th March 2012, 4:45 PM

MOUNTED OR STUFFED? 

The pub was full. The lights were low, and one by one the pictures came onto the screen.  The game was a simple one.  The regulars had to call out ‘Mounted’ or ‘Stuffed’ when the image appeared, and the cost of getting the wrong answer was a pint of bass for all those who got it right. 

The first was a really easy one.  Poor Raisa, a police horse all her working life and then those days of infamy.  ‘Yes,’  called John Fisher who was Master of Ceremonies,  ‘Mounted is the right answer.’ 

Then came the picture of James Murdoch.  ‘Stuffed,’ came the unanimous verdict. 

The next caused a bit more difficulty as it was an aerial photograph of Jamaica.  The pub was divided until the drinkers remembered that the island which wanted nothing more than to live quietly and independently, free of any monarchy, was saddled with Prince Harry’s visit at a cost to it of two million pounds.  ‘And right Royally stuffed is the correct answer.’ 

The next picture showed poor Barclays Bank, smarting from some nifty footwork by the Treasury with the help of a little retrospective legislation.  John Fisher was getting over-excited, and squeaked  ‘The Bank which likes to say ‘”yes’’ to a five hundred million pound tax wheeze, is well and truly stuffed.’ 

Then an old and flickering movie started, and a very much younger Kitty Fisher, dressed in the flimsiest little nothings, walked boldly towards the camera.  The pub had seen these primitive porn films before and wanted no more of it, and as one the drinkers rose and shouted ‘Mounted,’ and with a shudder of relief John turned it off. 

To conclude the evening’s entertainment the screen was filled with a composite image of Roy Roger’s horse Trigger, forlorn and moth-eaten in the lobby of an Omaha television company, and Ryan Giggs coming out of the High Court looking a bit crestfallen.  The debate went on, with the room almost equally divided, until John Fisher called a halt.  ‘Gentlemen, you all owe me a pint.  Both subjects have mounted or been mounted and both have ended up totally stuffed.  Thank you and good night.’

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Date: 24th February 2012, 6:07 PM

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST 

‘I love a bit of a rammy don’t you?’  Aunt Kitty put down the two pints of crème de menthe and handed one to her new best friend Eric Joyce.  Her eyes went all misty.  ‘I hate Tories and nuns and … Did I ever tell you of the time when I was sharing a hot tub with the Tory Cabinet and they were so obnoxious that I just lent out of the tub and was sick on the ground and they never even noticed, unlike that time I ran over the nun on my bike and squared up to her and shouted ….’ And Aunt Kitty was away, feeling twenty years younger, as she recounted the great times when the red mist had descended and she had experienced the delight of all out conflict. 

Eric emptied his crème de menthe in a single swally.  He started slowly and uncertainly.  ‘So I went into this bar and it seemed to be full of bloody politicians and the majority were Tories and then there was a bit of a stramache around a bar stool and I was away throwing punches left, right and centre.  It was blissful.  At the end of a hard week, what better way to relax?  But it is even better basking in the glory of it afterwards.’ 

‘Join the club young fella,’ growled Lord Prescott, as he pulled up a chair.  ‘Did you hear of the time….?’  And he too was off reminiscing about the joy of honest combat. 

At the next table there was a great explosion of noise as David Haye and Derek Chisora were glorying in the events of the previous weekend.  They laughed and hugged each other as they reconstructed the ringing slap at the weigh-in, and the way that they had rolled around the floor after the fight spitting and kicking and punching at anything that moved.  ‘Ah, happy days, let’s buy a round of drinks for everyone in the pub…. wait for it… a rum punch.’  And the two friends were away again, happy as a sand bag. 

But there in the corner of the saloon sat a sad and crumpled figure nursing a glass of Blue Nun.  Poor David Cameron, the indignity of crying in public.  The barman could never bear the sight of tears and so went and put an arm round David’s shoulders.  ‘Cheer up, Petal.  It may never happen.’  ‘That’s exactly the problem,’ sobbed the Prime Minister.  ‘I too could have been glorying in the memories of a real red-blooded punch up, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The Royal College of General Practitioners are always up for a fight, and the BMA are real psychos.  If only I had invited them to discuss the NHS I could be sitting here glorying in stories of bloody noses and ruptured bollocks, but I chickened out and invited only those who agreed with me.’ 

‘There there, Presh,’ purred the barman.  ‘You probably did right.  Those are some mean and hard mothers, and it’s not like any hospital would be willing to accept you under the circumstances, is it?’

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Date: 18th February 2012, 10:48 AM

VISITORS FOR ABU QATADA 

It was only fair that Abu Qatada should be given a spot of financial help.  As the government’s cupboard was a bit bare, it was agreed to provide some top flight financial help so that his pennies would go further, even if the same could not be said of him.  What better place to look than north of the Border? 

The support team was led by Gordon Brown.  ‘My advice to you Abu, my lad, is to spend and spend.  At first you say that you are spending in the context of an economic cycle and it will all come right.  When it doesn’t you extend the cycle, and then when eventually you are rumbled and people keep asking why you didn’t bother to raise the money you were spending, you walk away and leave the mess to someone else to clear up and go abroad and earn some really big dollars on the speaking circuit.’ 

Abu Qatada nodded to the next expert, who was representing Glasgow Rangers Football Club.  ‘Don’t pay your National Insurance.  Don’t pay your proper amount of tax and if the debts get too much, just go into administration and tell the creditors to get stuffed.  You have no idea how much you can save that way.  The tax we haven’t paid is equivalent to the income tax for ten thousand average earners for a whole year.  Do all of this and your money will go much further.  Cool.’ 

It was going frightfully well, and so Alec Salmon chipped in with his advice.  ‘Get some really rich friends, Pal.  I have never regretted throwing my lot in with the wealth of Iceland and Ireland.  All you need is an arc of prosperity.’

The door flew open and the late arrival burst in, spluttering and apologising something about having to return something to the Palace.  Abu’s English was good but he didn’t catch the man’s name.  Something about plain Mister Fred, so the great cleric smiled a confident smile and hid the astonishment that he nursed about the customs of his host country, which he loved so deeply that he could never bear to leave. 

‘Abu, Abu,’ panted Fred.  ‘Take my word.  Form a bank.  Borrow forty times as much money as you put into it and invest it boldly.  If the investments go up you rake it in.  If they fall by even three per cent you are bust.  But it doesn’t matter as somebody else will pick up the pieces.’ 

Abu Qatada looked gravely at his visitors, his kindly brown eyes moist with tears.  ‘Thank you gentlemen for all the trouble you have taken on my behalf, but I am afraid that you are all far too extreme for the likes of me.’

 

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Date: 14th February 2012, 10:00 AM

MARTYR OF THE MONTH 

It was a long-standing tradition that the second Sunday of each month was Martyrs’ Day at the Three Pickerels.  John Fisher and his Aunt Kitty were behind the bar, as the barman always judged the efforts of the candidates. 

‘I’ll go to jail for free speech,’ whined Joey Barton, who had been flirting with the contempt of court laws.  ‘I don’t mind being a martyr.’  ‘Getting fairly punished is not being a martyr, Joey,’ sighed the barman.  ‘Those prison sentences and all the red cards were fair punishment.  Just go away and leave us alone.’ 

The next candidate for the coveted trophy was also a footballer.  Luis Suarez’ handsome face was creased in pain as he stood on stage and announced ‘I am disappointed that everything is not as it seems.’  ‘We are all bloody disappointed about that’, snarled the barman, ‘but it doesn’t make us martyrs.  You’ve got some growing up to do my lad.  Now off with you.’ 

Stephen Hester trotted into the room on his hunter and pleaded,  ‘I am not a robot.  Sometimes my work is quite hard and I get a little bit down, and without my bonus I have to rub along on a paltry million pounds a year.  That must make me martyr along with Joan of Carp.’  ‘Not in my book it doesn’t,’ growled the barman, ‘though if your horse had applied he might have stood a chance.’  So once again Stephen Hester, sweating and farting, left the pub a disappointed man and returned to his office to lay off a few more front line staff. 

Rick Santorum made a good impression as he introduced himself.  He had taken time out from his battle for the Republican nomination and had bought several rounds of drinks.  ‘I am a bright and sensible guy.  But that does me no good in a party which embraces Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement.  So the job of being candidate demands that I have to keep making the most offensive and ludicrous statements.  I have proposed that states should be allowed to outlaw birth control as contraception is a licence to do things.  When that wasn’t enough, I have had to claim that Obama has put America on the path of executing religious people by decapitation and it is only going to get worse.  I am a martyr to the cause.’ 

‘Hmm.  Strong candidate, ‘ said the barman who was so taken with his American visitor that he almost failed to notice the little dog by his feet.  ‘I am Rosie  Rednapp.  I was relying on that money for my retirement and now it has gone, and the judge didn’t give my position a second thought.  The system has trampled all over my canine rights.’ 

The barman’s heart melted and he was on the point of giving the award to the poor unhappy pooch when in rushed the National Health Service.  ‘I have been trying to do my job and nobody will leave me alone.  I was assured that there would be no top-down reorganisation and now the government is inflicting a total disaster in the form of proposals that everybody opposes, and now it seems that it is being inflicted just to save the embarrassment of a political u-turn.  I cannot stand any more.’ 

Aunt Kitty hurdled the bar and gave the Health Service a nice reviving swig of crème de menthe.  The barman pressed the trophy into her poor little hand and the whole pub celebrated the crowning of a true martyr.

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Date: 5th February 2012, 9:00 AM

LIFE’S FUNNY LIKE THAT 

‘What would Sir like?’ sniggered the barman. ‘A plain scotch mist eh? Mist eh? Geddit?’ 

‘Not clever and not funny,’ muttered Fred Goodwin as he collected his pint and found a seat next to his pal Gordon Brown.  ‘I made just the one wee mistake.  I thought that your boom would go on forever, so I borrowed quite outrageous amounts of money and then woopsiedaisy the bank was bust.  And now I am hated and vilified throughout the land.’ 

‘Well Fred,’ replied Gordon wrapping a ponderous arm round his scraggy little shoulders.  ‘I too made just the tiniest little mistake when I believed that I had abolished boom and bust and went on to borrow equally stupid amounts of money and, yes, woopsiedaisy the whole country’s economy went down the pan.  But it is just you that everybody hates.  Life’s funny like that.’ 

They were joined at their table by John Grosscat, senior spokesman for the directors of the FTSE100 companies.  ‘Last year my boys created no added value and sacked tens of thousands of their workers just to stay roughly where they were at the beginning.  Nevertheless, they decided to award themselves pay increases averaging 49%.  But it is poor Fred here who is vilified throughout the land, and public opinion has not even noticed how we have behaved.  Life’s funny like that.’ 

The queue of others wanting to thank the man, now called ‘Plain Mister’, wound around the saloon bar and out onto the street.  The board members of Barclays Bank whose necks had been saved by Fred’s final  extravagant bid for ABM Amro were there in force.  The front bench of the Conservative party who had promised to match Gordon’s spending, but at the same time to reduce the tax for the very rich, were standing patiently in line to thank the man whose antics had distracted the attention of the public.  Sir Victor Blank, former Chairman of Lloyds Bank, was there clinging to his knighthood granted for services to banking.  One by one they filed past Plain Mister, thanked him and told him that life was funny like that. 

And by extraordinary coincidence, in the champagne bar an equally long queue wound round the room and into the car park as failed sportsmen of all persuasions patiently waited to shake the hand of John Terry and thank him for hogging all the bad news headlines, some of which they themselves richly deserved.  ‘Life’s funny like that,’ they each said to him as they wandered off to their Ferraris.

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Date: 29th January 2012, 12:18 PM

PERCENTAGES 

Rose Tetra, the glamorous maths teacher of the 5th year at the Pondsworth and Reeling Junior School, had called in a few favours.  As a result there was a queue of celebrities waiting to help explain the way in which percentages work in the real world. 

‘In 2010,’ boasted Mitt Romney, ‘my income was $21.7 million and I paid tax of $3 million, which gives a rate of 13.9 %.  The rate of tax for people who do a job and earn their living is 35%.  So, as this is an election year I am doing my patriotic duty and paying much more tax.  For the year 2011 my income has fallen to a pitiful $20.9 million, but despite this hardship I am paying tax of $3.2million, which amounts to a swingeing15.4%.’  ‘What a hero,’ murmured the class, awestruck by such selflessness. 

The England cricket team then shuffled in.  Andrew Strauss asked the class, ‘If eleven men go in to bat on an easy pitch and only two of them make double figures, what percentage of the batsmen are dropped for the next game?’  But the class already knew the answer as it was an old favourite, and in unison they chanted ‘None, but you drop 25% of the bowlers instead.’ 

The pupils were thrilled when the cheeky face of Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, peeped round the door.  ‘Here is an easy one for you.  If a corrupt politician negotiates a government contract for $100 million and receives a kick back of $10 million, he is known as ‘’Mr Ten Percent’’.  So what would you call a politician whose kickback from the $100 million contract was $35 million?  No, no, no.  A corrupt thieving arsehole is not the right answer.  How can you expect to compete as global capitalists if you don’t learn about percentages?’ 

There was a commotion as the great round form of Stephen Hester squeezed itself into the room.  ‘Now then children.  If a man runs a business and at the beginning of the year the share price was 48 pence and at the end of the year it was 24 pence, how much of a bonus will he have earned?’  ‘Well,’ replied the youngest in the class, ‘as the share price has fallen by 50%, I would assume that he would have been sacked and receive no bonus?’  ‘Bless me, no.  You really understand so little.  He should receive the whole of his bonus because, well, because he is a senior banker, but he may settle for a paltry £960,000 to make it look good and to show that, like Mitt Romney, he has the nation’s interest at heart.’  And off he went, sweating and farting back to his office to sack a few more of his workers. 

Finally, a vaguely familiar figure in a shabby black suit addressed the class.  ‘If a Chancellor of the Exchequer announces that he has abolished boom and has also abolished bust, and if there then follows a huge boom and an unprecedented bust, what percentage of his predictions were total rubbish?’  ‘One hundred per cent,’ squealed the class.  ‘Now if such a man was no longer in office what are the chances, with such a track record, of him popping up at Davos to lecture the leaders of world finance on the future of capitalism?’  ‘One hundred per cent,’ screamed the children.  Gordon Brown hugged Rose Tetra and did high fives and low fives with the whole class, before congratulating himself on the education system set up by New Labour as being one hundred percent excellent.

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Date: 22nd January 2012, 4:24 PM

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE 

The Parliamentary All Party Select Committee had assembled to interrogate Churchill.  The members followed their custom of spreading the questioning amongst their entire number, however inept some of them might be, just to make absolutely certain that no real pressure was ever mounted to establish the full truth of the matter. 

‘Churchill, you and your owner RBS have been fined £2.17 million.  Is that true?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘And the fine will be paid by the shareholders, effectively the government, and not by the people responsible?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘And this is despite the dishonesty involved, with twenty seven out of twenty eight files sent to the regulator having been improperly altered or tampered with?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘And this comes after the billions paid in compensation last year for a massive mis-selling scandal?  And yet the pay for your top executives is at eye watering levels?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘Do you agree that you and your industry have been solely responsible for all of our troubles by rewarding failure on such a massive scale?’ 

There was an uncharacteristic low growl from Churchill who had by now had enough.  ‘It takes one to know one.  My lot want lots of money and they have fixed the system so that they get it, regardless of failure.  Your lot want to keep one or more of your parties in power and they have achieved that objective, regardless of a failure so abject that it makes the bankers look like star performers.  Who dismantled all the controls over the finance industry over thirty years?  Who made vast unfunded commitments to promote their own popularity, gambling on something turning up?  Who never balanced the books in more than one year in ten?  Who passed tax laws designed to stoke up vast asset bubbles and a level of consumer debt per person which is over twice that of America?   Who actually gains from the disgusting behaviour of the bankers because it takes the spotlight away from your own failings?  I’ll tell you who.  You lot.  Every one of you.’ 

A silence fell over the room, broken only by the slurping sound of a dog licking its bollocks.

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Date: 15th January 2012, 7:03 PM

HIGHLY RATED 

Not since Margaret Thatcher had danced naked on the bar had a celebrity guest made such a scary impression on the regulars at the Three Pickerels.  Kim Jong Un had thrown the door wide open, squeezed through and dished out free copies of his favourite book, “One Hundred Things To Do With A Dead Dissident.” 

He pulled together a few bar stools and ordered everything.  ‘No I don’t mean that I want to try a bit of everything.  I want all of everything and I want it now.’  A few of his security guards moved into the kitchen to supervise the preparation of this little snacklet. 

Kim Jong Un soon fell into conversation with some senior executives from the Ratings Agency Conference being held nearby at Le Manoir Aux Quatres Carpes.  ‘You guys have such a strange system for ratings,’ he told them as he sampled his first ever box of crisps.  ‘In my country it goes like this. 

‘The top rating is "Great".  To become a great leader it is necessary to seize power by force, to murder your opponents consistently over many years, to feather your own nest and to promote the interests of your family way above those of the people.’  Kim Jong Un then finished a couple of cases of pork scratchings and a jar of pickled eggs before continuing. 

‘The next rating down is almost as prestigious.  It is “Dear.”  To aspire to this one must do a lot of murdering and persecution, but it is also necessary to cause famines throughout the land and as people die of starvation, it is vital to dine on great quantities of donkey and lobster.  But it is even harder than that.  You must be able to speak as a two month old baby and write twenty operas a day when at university.  And you need to be the best golfer the world has seen.  Do those things and you will have earned the right to be called “Dear”. 

‘North Korea moves with the times, and the most sought after title these days is “Military Genius”.  How have I achieved that?  At times it has been little short of torture and  a lot of sweat, blood, tears and pain have gone into it.  Fortunately, none of it mine.’  Kim Jong Un paused for a few seconds as he drained a couple of barrels of Bass.  ‘I followed the techniques of the Dear Leader which enabled him to score eleven holes in one on his only attempt to play golf.  But enough about me.  There is much I need to learn from you.  How is it that you take money from those whose credit you are supposed to be checking, but still persuade the world that you are independent?  You fail to spot anything wrong with the sub-prime loan system, and your word is still taken seriously.  You must have very good techniques for inflicting poverty and starvation on the world.’ 

‘We are certainly working on it,’ replied the ratings agency executives, and they all left the pub in search of a little restaurant specialising in endangered species.

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Date: 7th January 2012, 10:35 AM

EINSTEIN 

The Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club was holding its annual festival in tribute to Albert Einstein, and this year the theme was the great man’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. 

The first witnesses were President Sarkozy, Jeremy Clarkson and Diane Abbott.  Each had said something preposterous and embarrassing, and each had trotted out the old ‘taken out of context’ excuse.  The result was the same for all of them: disbelief and added disgrace.  The members looked hard at them and nodded in a knowing way. 

Ed Balls strode up to the microphone and explained how New Labour had consistently spent far more than it raised in tax, and how he still recommended that policy because this time round it was going to work wonders.  A sympathetic sigh came from the audience and a murmur of ‘Keep taking the pills.’ 

Bob Berkeley-Hunt gave a detailed paper showing how bankers had been paid vast wages and incentives consistently over the last fifteen years, and how year after year the shareholders and the public had gained nothing.  The Carp Club members finished his talk in unison with him, as they had heard it so often before: ‘We bankers will continue the policy because next year, if we can only retain this wonderful pool of talent, we will produce such wonderful results that the public will love us to bits.’  The men in the white coats closed in on poor deluded Bob. 

A FIFA representative appeared and described how, year after year, FIFA’s board had maintained Sepp Blatter as its leader and figurehead and year after year the Association remained about as well respected as a turd in a swimming pool.  ‘But next year Sepp will be recognised for what he really is,’ screeched the spokesman.  John Fisher interrupted him.  ‘I think that you will find that most thinking people already recognise Sepp Blatter for exactly what he is.’ 

An expensively dressed old man shuffled up and announced that he represented extreme religious views from all over the world.  ‘Every year we persuade young and vulnerable men to destroy themselves and kill and maim countless others, all for the glory of our deity.  It has never done anything to bring about heaven on earth, but next year will be different.’  ‘Yes, you loathsome old goat,’ shouted the assembled Carp Club members. ‘Make it different by sacrificing the lives of a few of the leaders like yourself or resigning in favour of some women, who might organise things properly.  Give that a go.  Now bugger off, faster than the speed of light if possible.’ 

The Prime Minister was the last speaker, and he started to describe the brilliance of the prison regime.  ‘It quite clearly doesn’t work and so what do we do?  We do lots more of it. And more and more and more.  All parties are the same, but we are not insane.  We don’t expect a better result.  We are just too weak and unimaginative to tackle the issue as it would involve some unpopularity along the way.  Every Daily Mail reader’s vote is a thing of beauty to be treasured above all else.’ 

Before he could move on to describe the continuing failure of successive governments, maintaining a drugs policy which does more harm than good, he was interrupted by a noxious eruption of bright green vomit spouting from a very old lady.  ‘I apologise for my aunt,’ said John Fisher.  ‘It is the same every year, but at least what gushes from her mouth is better than the self serving crap we hear from our speakers.’

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Date: 30th December 2011, 12:16 PM

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 

As New Year approached, John Fisher sat at home in his carp patterned pyjamas and watched his favourite film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  He was joined on the sofa by David Miliband and David Cameron. 

The hero Gordon Blair had lived a good life.  He had provided cheap loans to allow the citizens of Bedford Falls and the rest of the UK to live far above their means, and never been unkind enough to tax them enough to cover what was being spent.  He had prevented a take-over of the country by Big Business, and although extremely relaxed at the prospect of people becoming filthy rich, he had never got too close to newspaper magnates and bankers, …. Well, hardly ever. 

And then the awful day came when he looked at his balance sheet and saw that he was £8,000,000,000,000,000 short.  Of course, what had happened was that Uncle Billy had lost it.  We all have an Uncle Billy, don’t we?  Especially when at last we are rumbled. 

And as the snowflakes fall on Christmas Eve, poor Gordon Blair cannot face up to the enormity of what he - sorry, Uncle Billy - has done, and he hatches up a story that the banksters and the Tories have taken advantage of poor Uncle Billy and run off with the £8,000,000,000,000,000.  But, because this is a story and not real life, Gordon feels a spark of remorse for his part in the sorry history and actually contemplates resignation. 

An angel called ‘Clandleson’ visits him and shows what Bedford Falls would have been if Gordon Blair had not existed.  The film turns to the moment when GB rescues his younger brother from drowning, and the viewer is shown how a life might be with no younger brothers.  ‘Oh yes!  That’s sweet!’ shouted David Miliband, who seemed to be missing the point of the film.  Then there was that dark passage where Clandelson shows a society struggling to cope without Gordon Blair.  The people of Bedford Falls were poor, in the sense that they lived within their means.  The camera never flinched from showing desperate scenes of children playing and adults who had jobs, plenty of sex, and drank a lot.  ‘Oooooh, that is really shocking,’ muttered John Fisher’s two companions. 

Then, on the stroke of midnight, Gordon Blair suddenly saw what a wonderful job he had done. Everything that was good in Bedford Falls was down to him, and everything that was bad was down to, yes, you have guessed it, Uncle Billy.  GB was welcomed home and it transpired that his wife, mother and daughter were really quite fond of him, which was something of a turn-up for the book.  The music rose to a crescendo, drowning out the real world, and GB recognised that it was a truly wonderful life, at least for some. 

Davids Miliband and Cameron embraced each other warmly, and John Fisher wondered what he had ever seen in the film.

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Date: 23rd December 2011, 9:15 AM

CHRISTMAS KARAOKE 

Prize-winning entry by Mark Allen 

The Christmas Karaoke was in full swing inside the Three Pickerels.  The temperature outside may have been cool but the atmosphere inside was not far short of electric.  However, Sarah Tether sat alone in the corner looking rather glum-faced and it soon became apparent that she had been told, in no uncertain terms, that after her performance at the Lib Dem Conference she was never again to be let loose with a microphone on stage. 

Everybody else was having a festive frolic.  Nick Clegg and Vince Cable blasted out a rendition of Charles and Eddy’s hit ‘Would I lie to You?’ They were followed by Ed Balls crooning his way through Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’.

The Tory Euro sceptics were chatting jovially at the bar whilst ordering another round of Bombardier, as Angela Merkel waited patiently in the wings before taking to the stage with Sinatra’s classic ‘My Way’. 

As the evening gathered pace David Cameron tried his best at ‘Eton Rifles’, and the loyal John Bercow ran amok shouting ‘Order! Order! I want to hear the Prime Minister.’  The routine was hastily followed by Andrew Landsley performed a top down re-organisation of the Thompson Twins’ eighties hit ‘Doctor, Doctor’. 

As the Landlord called time on proceedings there was just long enough for the cabinet’s piece de resistence, Abba’s wonderful ‘Money, Money, Money,’ performed in amazing style, promptly followed by Brendan Barber, Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow in beautiful harmony raising the roof during ‘You won’t get me I’m part of the Union’.  In a corner, Ed Miliband sang quietly to himself ‘He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother’. 

As the last partygoer left the pub in the wee small hours and the landlord was about to lock the door, all was quiet until Sarah Tether came out of her hiding place and leapt on the stage. At long last she had the microphone in her hand.

 

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Date: 21st December 2011, 3:01 PM

CONGRATULATIONS TO MARK ALLEN 

The 2011 John Fisher blog prize has been won by Mark Allen.  Mark is a Politics undergraduate at the University of East Anglia.  His winning entry ‘Christmas Karaoke’ will be posted later this week.

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Date: 17th December 2011, 10:48 AM

GLUTTONS FOR PUNISHMENT 

The leaders of the three main parties were in the snug of the Three Pickerells for the traditional meeting to make sure that all parts of society had been fairly treated and, as always, they were using Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man as their check list. 

‘First the babe,’ began David Cameron.  ‘That is one group which has been well and truly shafted by our joint efforts over the years.  We have spent their money to buy their parents’ votes and the babes can look forward to a very grim future indeed.’ 

Ed Miliband was quick to cut in.  ‘And then the schoolboy.  Ah yes, the same dim prospects as the babes and an education which leaves them unprepared to compete with their age group growing up in the emerging economies.’ 

‘The lover,’ added Nick Clegg, ‘we have cooked his goose too.  No hope of a job.  No hope of a house, and condemned to live with his parents until he is forty.’

David Cameron almost choked in his keenness to describe how the lot of the soldier had also been totally fouled up.  ‘We send him to war after war.  Some are legal and others a bit less so.  If he is lucky enough to survive, we celebrate his last tour of duty with a P45, and then there is no work for him.’ 

‘I suppose that Shakespeare’s Magistrate is really today’s squeezed middle, and we haven’t spared him either,’ said Ed Miliband, whose mouth was turning a very strange shape.  ‘Well we have sorted him out.  Fiscal drag to apply forty per cent tax.  Take the Child Allowance away.  Stand back and watch as the family’s expenses climb and its income shrinks.  Just magic.  Fair treatment right across the board.’ 

‘Don’t forget the last two,’ squeaked Nick Clegg, who for a time had mysteriously disappeared but who was now back on the bench beside David.  ‘There is old age.  We have all really savaged those people.  We cut the link between pensions and earnings in the good times and restored it only when earnings were falling. We taxed their pension plans and with Quantitive Easing drove down the return on all their savings, and now we are extending their retirement dates.  That shows real consistency.’ 

‘But,’ they all blurted out, ‘what about the very last stage?  Lying in bed in a pond of excrement, food and drink out of reach, and our super-graduate nurses too highly qualified to deal with it.  I think that the electorate will give us the credit for the even treatment which we have handed out to everybody.’ 

And then they saw the headline in Fat Fish Daily, reporting opinion poll results with a huge majority in favour of powers being repatriated from Europe to the UK Parliament.  ‘They are gluttons for punishment aren’t they?’ they chortled as they ordered a bottle of the landlord’s best French wine.

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Date: 11th December 2011, 11:24 AM

ISOLATED AND VULNERABLE 

‘Tell us the scariest story you know,’ squealed Tarquin and Sequin to their elderly babysitter.  ‘Very well,’ said Kitty Fisher.  ‘It is called “Isolated and Vulnerable”.’ 

‘Once upon a time there was a man called David and he had many bad enemies and just as many good ones.  And so he went to seek his fortune abroad, and there he met the rich and powerful Angel Merkin and her little boy Sourcosy.’ 

‘Was he a nice little boy?’ asked Sequin all wide eyed with anticipation of horrors to come.  ‘No,’ hissed Kitty Fisher as she swigged at her hidden bottle of crème de menthe, ‘he was vile.’ 

‘Now Angel Merkin also had twenty four other children whom she cruelly exploited, and over the years she prospered at their expense.  But now there was a risk that the family would break up unless the gold was spread more evenly between them.’ 

‘David was asked by the whole family to make a contribution to their relief fund to get them all over their difficulties, but he replied “No way, José” and for a few moments he made himself popular at home, but Angel and Sourcosy just looked at each other and nodded.’ 

‘The following day there was a great meeting of all of Angel’s family, and David bounced up and said that unless his great city was protected from the transaction tax then he would take no further part in the meeting.  ‘’Very well,’’ said Angel, ‘’off you go then’’ and Sourcosy and all the other children nodded their agreement.  ‘’He’s a very silly boy,’’ she said. ‘’Surely he never believed that we were really going to introduce a tax that would be bad for my, sorry, our city?’’ ‘ 

‘So David went home, a hero in his own kitchen.  But all of his bad enemies turned on him and so did his good ones.  Ed Halibut had prepared to attack poor David if he had reached an agreement, and so he dusted down his Plan B and attacked him for not reaching an agreement.  And Boris and the Bastards shunned him for not having brought the whole Merkin family crashing down, which of course was never in his power as all influence had already been lost.’ 

‘And did they all live happily ever after?’ asked Sequin.  ‘Not bloody likely,’ replied their babysitter, whose veneer of good behaviour was fast slipping.  ‘David was left totally isolated and, yes, vulnerable.  Sourcosy soon found out that he was not loved by either Angel or his electorate or anybody else.  The other twenty four children discovered that what  they had just agreed would benefit just Angel and would cost them dearly. They were not isolated but were extremely vulnerable.  Angel had captured all the gold.  She, like David and Sourcosy, was totally isolated but very rich and very happy.’ 

‘Tell us a really really scary story,’ wheedled Tarquin.  ‘Very well,’ said Kitty Fisher with a manic glint in her eye.  ‘Once upon a time there was a Prime Minister called Boris.’

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Date: 5th December 2011, 12:13 PM

SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN 

‘No. Bugger the little children,’ said the leaders of the three main parties as they emerged from the Pondsworth and Reeling School.  Following the scheme for speeding motorists they had elected to take a dressing down from the year seven class rather than a more traditional punishment, and it had not been a nice experience. 

It had started very badly when David Cameron’s whispered remark that they should bring back canes was overheard by one of the pupils, who told him in no uncertain terms that it was the politicians’ abuse of Keynes which had created the problem. 

The schoolchildren did not make the mistake of the Select Committee which had let the Murdochs off the hook.  They did not give everyone a turn, however hopeless, but chose a small girl with a quick brain and sharp tongue to ask all the questions. 

‘In how many of the last forty years did you match the money spent with what you collected in tax?’ lisped little Grania Gudgeon.  The politicians shuffled uneasily and admitted that the answer was just five.  ‘And that does not take into account the additional unfunded pension liabilities which were accumulating over all that time does it?’  Once again the party leaders could only look at their shoes and mumble agreement. 

‘And each of your parties blames the other for financial mismanagement, but you have all done exactly the same.  That is true isn’t it?’  Once again, Grania had done her homework and there was no denying what she said. 

‘You also try to heap all the blame for all of this on the bankers, and they certainly deserve their share, but the truth is that they operated within the rules that you had all helped to relax.  It is becoming clearer every day that the scale of our problem is the fact that you have also allowed total borrowing in the economy to climb to double the level of even the United States. Until it is reduced the level of spending is bound to be severely restricted, whatever you try to do at this late stage.’ 

As before the Westminster Three could only nod and  admit their guilt.  Grania continued.  ‘You congratulated yourselves on creating a ludicrous house price bubble whose effect was to enrich the older generations at the expense of the younger ones.  Everything that you have done, in your chronic failure to balance the books, has been to enhance your careers by handing out goodies to our parents and to dump the cost on us, because we don’t have a vote.  You are all as bad as each other.  Go away and write out a thousand times “I must balance my books and must not steal from future generations.”’ 

As the three men shuffled out, Grania turned to the class.  ‘That was a complete waste of time.  At least with a speeding motorist there is a remote chance that he might change his ways.’

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Date: 28th November 2011, 9:28 AM

THE ART OF THE PUBLIC APOLOGY

It was the last day of the Public Apology Olympics and the head judge, Professor Brill, was introducing the finalists to the panel.  The lights went down and he ran a clip showing two brilliant exponents of the art.  

‘When you have done something which was not totally correct, I can only say sorry.  To     leave would be totally unfair and not compatible with my fighting spirit, my character.’ 

‘The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths in Tahrir Square.  The military will not relinquish power because to do so would be a betrayal of the trust placed in our hands by the people.’ 

‘Sepp Blatter and Major General Mukhtar el-Mallah are both superb exponents of the art of  saying “sorry” but immediately wiping out the apology with a sturdy assertion of their duty to stay on.  Blatter’s use of ‘”When YOU have done something’” is quite exquisite. 

‘Benetton has been stirred into action by these two very competitive performances, and having  produced posters depicting a mocked up photograph of the Pope kissing Imam the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, the company has withdrawn it in a flurry of apologies designed to gain almost as much publicity as the deliberately offensive image.  Competitive stuff, I think you will agree.’ 

It was a classic and the judging panel had seen it many times before, but Professor Brill could not resist  showing once more the magnificent performance of Sir Fred Goodwin, as the poor man buckled under the weight of the pension he carried away from the ruins of the bank that had been his responsibility.  ‘I am extremely sorry that this has come about.’  ‘One of the finest examples,’ drawled the professor ‘of the apology which expresses no admission of personal failure, just regret at the situation.  It is rather what a pedestrian might say if he stumbled upon the wreckage of a car smash.  A very smooth performance.’ 

The other finalists both came from the world of Rugby Union.  The first clip showed Rob Andrew.  ’I am sorry.  I do apologise for what has happened because it has tarnished the game.’  ‘Surely we will now hear him resign?’ suggested Professor Brill, his voice laced with irony.  The Rob Andrew clip then went on and on, and the great sports administrator clung to his job with a grip as tight as that of a wrestling dwarf.  The panel nodded when the professor proposed that this was worth at least a bronze.  With only one more competitor to go you could cut the tense atmosphere with a knife. 

The final footage showed Martin Johnson.  A shocked silence fell on the panel as the England team manager took personal responsibility for everything and resigned. 

When the shouting and anger had died down Professor Brill agreed with the panel.  ‘Yes, this is a most shocking breach of the most fundamental rules of the game.  Not only does he seem genuinely remorseful, but he blames nobody else and has taken the consequences.  He is hereby expelled from our competition.  Behaviour like that will give the art of public apology a bad name.’
 

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Date: 19th November 2011, 11:00 AM

SETTLED BY A HANDSHAKE

Sepp Blatter smiled down benignly from the podium from which he was making a pitch to be the ethical leader of the Carp Club. 

‘I have with my single hand raised the ethic right through the world.  It is so very simple.  Do what you like on the pitch, shake hands afterwards and all is forgiven.  A shout came from a man in the audience: ‘You loathsome hypocritical old fart!’  Sepp nodded to the stewards who fell on the man and beat him to a pulp.  ‘You see.  No handshake, as that was not on the pitch.’ 

The great moral crusader then played a clip of his strategy in action: 

Theresa May and Brodie Clark were seen hugging each other, and Brodie was whispering ‘You finished my career.  You made my family miserable, and all for the sake of a little political advantage, but hey, it is all part of the game so let’s shake hands on it.  No hard feelings.’ 

David Cameron and Patrick Mercer were gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes.  Patrick was telling David that for a despicable creature he was a pretty good one, and David reached for Patrick’s hand in forgiveness for the pitch and tenor of his remarks, though somehow he seemed to miss Patrick’s hand and to be shaking and squeezing the MP’s bollocks, but the spirit of the gesture was ethical and pleasing to Sepp. 

The clip finished with Gordon Brown and Tony Blair shaking hands with true warmth and affection.  Gordon told Tony that history had proved that his foreign policy adventures showed just how great a man he was, and Tony responded by telling Gordon that the current economic state of the country was a tribute to the kind of Chancellor he had been.  And then they both realised that their long quarrel had not been on the pitch and so they snatched back their hands and fell back into their old hostilities, but by then Sepp’s camera had moved on. 

Question time came and Kitty Fisher joined Sepp on the podium, but instead of asking a question she kneed him in the groin.  He fell to the ground convulsed in pain, but before he could summon his bodyguards Aunt Kitty stuck out her hand to settle their differences.  Of course the attack was an on the pitch incident, and so Sepp had to agree. 

No sooner had Sepp nodded his forgiveness through his tears than Kitty Fisher did exactly the same thing and once more stuck out her hand to settle the matter.   Sepp said something most unethical and rolled away, ignoring the outstretched hand. 

‘I really do think that he is beginning to get the point,’ purred Kitty Fisher as she downed her first crème de menthe of the day.

 

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Date: 9th November 2011, 9:43 AM

CONVENTIONS 

The saloon bar of the Three Pickerels was filled with the sound of laughter.

Prince Charles was convulsed with mirth and had to be revived by his equerry with several glasses of cherry brandy.  As tears ran down his face, he spluttered  ‘My subjects appoint politicians to Parliament at great expense and they imagine that they are in control, but if I decide that something affects me or the Duchy then I just veto it, and if anybody asks whether I have used my veto I give no answer.  Of course it is not the law, just a convention.’  And once again he doubled up with the hilarity of it. 

Sepp Blatter then picked up the joke and told about his campaign for ethical improvement of FIFA, and the way he had treated the request that the English Football Team should be allowed to promote the charity for wounded servicemen and women and wear poppies on their shirts.  ‘Of course there is no reason why not,’ he sobbed, ‘but we love to refuse requests like this.  It is just our little convention.’  And once again the equerry was called to provide mouth to mouth rescucitation. 

Then it was the turn of one of the funniest men ever to grace the Three Pickerels.  Bashir Hassad, President of Syria.  He swigged his bloody Mary, and in a squeaky voice launched into a story about how he had promised the Arab League that he would negotiate with protestors in his country and stop murdering them.  ‘But we have not negotiated with anybody, and in fact we are murdering even more men, women children.  All the same to us.  So we just lied to the Arab League.  Lying is just a convention of me and my family.’  So high were his giggles at this outburst of wit that nobody in the pub could hear it but Poppy the landlord’s labradoodle, which rushed in and bit the little dictator, to bring the dreadful noise to an end. 

A party of Greek taxpayers arrived and spilled out of their Porsches.  They bought drinks all round from their overflowing wallets.  ‘We have a convention in our country that 49% of taxpayers avoid paying  the proper amount.  It is not legal but a convention, and really rather a jolly one, and they bought another round of Cristal champagne. 

Kitty Fisher had been lurking in the snug, listening in mounting fury.  She moved quietly through to the saloon and swung her walking stick, cracking Prince Charles across the buttocks.  Her stick rose and fell and soon Sepp Blatter, Bashir Hassad and the party from Greece were in the car park with the Prince, holding their throbbing bottoms. 

‘It is fun doing that,’ remarked Aunt Kitty, ‘not really legal, just a little convention of mine.’

 

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Date: 5th November 2011, 10:13 AM

THE POWER OF FORTY NINE 

It was All Soles Day at the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club and that meant that the funds provided by the richest members would be distributed to help those who were in need.  Although those in work had dug deep into their pockets the total for the year was disappointing, as nobody had received a pay rise better than two percent and inflation was running at more than double that figure. 

Towards the end of the meeting Lance Boyle, the oldest and poorest member, stood up and thanked the members for their help and ended a somewhat rambling speech with a quite astonishing remark.  ‘It has been a hard year for us all but we must count our blessings.  At least we can be pleased that the directors of the FTSE companies have awarded themselves pay rises which average forty nine percent.’ 

‘Why on earth should we consider that to be good news?’ spluttered John Fisher. ‘Their  share prices have fallen yet again, with a corresponding knock to the value of our pensions.  They have made massive redundancies and now employ many fewer people.  It is not as if their salaries had exactly fallen behind, even before the increases.’ 

‘Oh I agree,’ replied Lance Boyle, a retired actuary whose hobby was statistical analysis.  ‘Even on the cautious assumption that they continue to award themselves future pay rises at the same rate, in ten years their pay will have multiplied by a factor of seventy eight.  In twenty years it will have gone up five thousand two hundred and fourteen times, and by the end of thirty years it will have increased by two and a half billion times.  So, when you look at the accounts of the top hundred companies, you will see that  within twenty five years the pay of the board of directors will, in every case, be greater than the profits of the company.  That is such good news, because when these people have taken everything then there will be no more for them to appropriate.  Their goals will have been achieved and we can start again, doing things in a different way.  It will be better and fairer all round when their appetites are at last sated and we can be left alone.’ 

‘Cracking arithmetic,’ conceded John Fisher,’ but I fear that your conclusion is wildly optimistic.’

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Date: 30th October 2011, 10:36 AM

HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARES 

Comfortable on the sofa in his carp pattern pyjamas, John Fisher nodded off in front of the television.  He seemed to find himself lost in a dark, damp wood.  His feet sunk deep into the mud and his panic rose, and then he was grabbed firmly by the wrist and it was Mario Ballotelli inviting him to a fireworks display in his bathroom. 

John shrieked and pulled free but he was immediately caught again, and it was Sepp Blatter asking ‘Would you like me to clean up your ethics for you?’ 

John twisted and turned, but then in the moonlight there appeared a ghostly, impassive face and it was David Cameron putting an arm round him and chanting ‘I have no rancour against the likes of you’ and then, as far as John could make out, the PM was muttering in an angrier voice ‘Rancours, rancours, bloody rancours.’ 

Using every ounce of his strength John tore himself away, and then the Greek Government stood in a clearing showing far too much leg and whispering , ‘Come on Dearie, just one more bailout for an old lady.  You know it will be the last.’ 

‘What are you running from little boy, with your nice fishy pyjamas all muddied?’ asked Ed Balls from behind a twisted and misshapen tree.  ‘Let me put your economy right, oh yes.’ 

Blind with panic John raced towards a clearing, where he ran straight into the arms of Alec Salmond.  The amiable Scot gave John a beguiling wink and said, ’Follow me and I will lead you into an arc of prosperity with my pals Iceland and Ireland.  Och, sorry, that was last year’s spooky tale.  Follow me and you will be the sixth richest nation in the world.’ 

And then the BBC News began and John woke up with a start.  The Governor of the Bank of England was saying that the £60 billion of Quantitative Easing would not really make any noticeable difference to what the banks could lend.  The camera then moved to a shot of  Silvio Berlusconi, in whose capable hands hung the fate of the Euro and the financial wellbeing of the world.  John was too afraid to watch any more and he looked out of his window only to find the he was being picketed by a hundred or more empty tents.  In blind panic he turned back to the sofa, but could not escape the picture of a triumphant Nancy Dell’Olio marching triumphantly towards another week in Strictly, with poor Anton looking a touch green around the gills. 

John Fisher unplugged the television and ran off to bed whimpering, and hoping for the nightmares of his dreams to return.

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Date: 23rd October 2011, 10:35 AM

THE UNREFORM CLUB 

The membership committee of the Unreform Club had whittled the long list down to two applications for single membership and one for the rare and coveted joint membership.  These candidates seemed of the highest possible order, but it remained to be seen whether they really and truly espoused the principle which the Club held most dear.

‘Tell me,’ said the chairman, ‘what do you think about the proposal which has emerged amongst some of the larger football clubs, that there should be no relegation from the Premier League?’ 

‘What a brilliant idea,’ squeaked Bob Berkeley-Hunt, the chief executive of the Venereal Institute of Banksters.  ‘All my life, I have followed this honourable principle.  We, the cream of society, should be free to pursue the dream of unlimited wealth, unshackled by the crippling anxiety that we might face consequences if our bets should go wrong.’ 

The committee members nodded happily and asked President Obama for his views, and immediately they could tell that his heart was in the right place.  ‘Oh yessirree.  That floats my boat and, in all modesty, we Americans are ahead of the curve on this one.  Quite apart from our rather advantageous extradition treaty with you Brits, I think you will be proud of our policy in Iraq.  Their government has refused to give immunity from prosecution to our brave soldiers, and so I am withdrawing them.  Simple as that.  If my troops cannot commit crimes without fear of prosecution, then Iraq will just have to do without them.’ 

The final application was the joint proposal from Rupert and James Murdoch.  They spoke in unison.  ‘Bonza idea.  Who wants to punish failure, that is to say the failure at top level in any organisation?    What kind of place would the world be if either of us felt the need to resign just because of a few little mishaps?  Those clubs in the Premier League are talking a lot of sense.’ 

The committee members were ecstatic and joined hands with the applicants to welcome them into the club with a stirring rendition of the Unreform Anthem. 

‘Forty years on and still we will plunder
And blunder
Our way through society.
We’ll take the riches
But it leaves us in stitches
That none of our failures
Are our responsibility.’

 

 

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Date: 15th October 2011, 9:53 AM

THE DOG IN THE FIGHT 

Kitty Fisher was in a dire state.  She had been in hospital for five days.  Her food and drink had been left out of reach and then whisked away, and every time she wanted the lavatory she had been told to go in the bed, as the nurses were too busy.  When she finally complained she was told, ‘I am a graduate nurse not a bottom wiper, sweetheart.’ 

And so she decided to confront David Cameron when he came to the Three Pickerels for Sunday morning drinks.  Dehydrated, half starved and wrapped in a sheet covered in excrement, she hid behind a waste bin in the pub car park waiting for the great man to arrive. 

She was startled when another figure crept stealthily towards the bin, and from the other side of it emptied a great bag of correspondence and documents.  Kitty Fisher rose up like a soiled angel and hissed at him, ‘Oliver, you promised not to do that again’ and she was rewarded with the sight of the darling of the Conservative party wetting himself as comprehensively as if he had been in a hospital bed. 

Once again Kitty Fisher sensed that she was not alone.  ‘Oh no!  Not Adam bloody Werrity’, she groaned.  ‘Here to share the experience?  Oh, very well.  If it keeps your sponsors happy.’ 

And then David Cameron jogged into sight, and as he passed the bin he was grabbed by the skinny old claw of an elderly lady who was dressed just in a sheet and who looked and smelled like a one-person dirty protest.  He was disgusted but not afraid.  What harm could such a frail person do to him? 

‘You promised,’ screeched Kitty to “stop top-down reorganisations and pointless structural upheavals that have done so much damage to the NHS”, but the Pondsworth Hospital has concentrated on the new structures and totally forgotten about looking after patients.  Just look at me!  Is this the sodding NHS of your dreams?’  Kitty Fisher was beginning to lose control.  Her language was deteriorating and her voice was loud and shrill.  Then David Cameron made his big mistake.  ‘Calm down dear, calm down’ he said, engaging in his best Michael Winner impersonation. 

In a flash six stone of unbridled fury was unleashed.  John Fisher’s aunt seized the PM by the throat, wrestled him to the floor, tied him up with her soiled sheets and removed his trousers, which she then put on to protect her modesty.  And before he could even wonder how this had been possible, she bent over him and with a horrid smirk whispered, ‘Calm down dear.  It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, as a great man once told me.’

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Date: 9th October 2011, 1:02 PM

PALINTOLOGY 

Sarah Palin’s people had been really pushy, making sure that she had the last speaker’s slot at the Announcements Evening held on the first Thursday of every month at the Three Pickerels. 

The lounge was packed when the first speaker, Sir Fred Goodwin, stood up to reveal that, because he wanted to spend more time with his pension, he was no longer pursuing his aim of being Governor of the Bank of England.  He remained tight-lipped and would answer no questions, simply handing the plate of pink biscuits to the next speaker.

With immense energy for a man of his age the Reverend Ian Paisley bounded up and grabbed the microphone, and before the sound engineers had a chance to turn down the volume he bellowed, ‘Never, never, never.’  And then again for good measure, ‘Never never never, will I now put forward my name to become Pope.  I wish to spend more time with my family and my new best friend Martin McGuinness.’ 

There was then a gasp from the audience when all the rules were broken and Ken Clarke and Theresa May together took the platform.  The lights went low and then a spotlight picked them out as they turned to each other and in unison announced  ‘I have decided not to support you in any attempt you may make to gain any senior office because…..’, and here, dear reader, you must be spared the details.  It is enough to say that the barman, who had heard everything and done worse, passed clean out. 

Up jumped Wayne Rooney.  Without waiting for the microphone, he bawled ‘I have decided that I will not make myself available for England’s next two matches,’ and he shook with mirth at his own joke.  ‘Not funny and not clever,’ sighed John Fisher, as he frogmarched the superstar footballer out of the pub. 

At the end of what had become a long evening Sarah Palin’s people shouldered the customers aside and led her to the microphone.  She gave that little sideways smile before saying ‘It is real nice to be in England/Africa.  Tonight my friends, my grizzly carp mommas, fellow tree pity Republicats, I must tell you and tell you true that no longer will I be president of your fine country or of mine, being as I intend to spend more time with my family.’  By then the tears were coursing down her pretty cheeks from those pitiless eyes as she watched for the impact.  First there was silence and then rapidly the anger mounted and became very ugly.  All the rules in the book had been broken and the locals did not like it. 

A low murmur of ‘Bring Kitty Fisher’ started, and within seconds a mean looking old lady had leapt onto the stage and seized Sarah Palin round the throat.  ‘You loathsome old baggage,’ she screamed, as she beat her over the head with a handful of opinion polls showing that the American was about as popular as a tuberculoid badger in a cow-shed.  ‘Announcements Evening at the Three Pickerels is arranged to tell us things we did not already know, not for showboating and grandstanding.  Now bugger off and never darken our doors again.’ 

‘Wow. That was a lucky escape,’ sighed Ed Miliband, who had not  been successful in the ballot to chose speakers and who had intended to re-launch his surprise campaign of un- masking David Cameron as a Tory.

 

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Date: 2nd October 2011, 11:11 AM

BANNED 

‘Eat your heart out Rihanna,’ sang Aunt Kitty as she danced and cavorted in the barley field behind the Three Pickerels.   Her clothes had been flung far and wide, and so wrapped up was she in her performance that she did not hear the motorcade pull up outside the pub.  Out of the largest car stepped King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain.  They had come to Pondsworth and Reeling for the Sunday drinks and for trade talks with David Cameron. 

Bloodcurdling screams came from the car-park.  King Abdullah had discovered that his driver was a woman and had dragged her out of the car and administered ten brutal lashes with his cane.  ‘And there will be another ten when you have driven me back sweetheart, but don’t worry.  You may, just may, be allowed to vote in four years’ time,’ and he turned to his old mate, Sheikh Khalifa, and gave him a wink, which spoke volumes about the real likelihood of that ever happening. 

And then the great Saudi king saw the admittedly totally immodest figure of octogenarian Kitty Fisher running through the field wearing only a daisy chain.  His moral decency was outraged, and he pursued her and beat her with his cane until she, too, lay bleeding and unconscious.  Sheikh Khalifa was, by now, getting a bit twitchy as he wanted a slice of the fun.  When he saw the local GP arrive and start tending to the two women, his indignation knew no bounds.  Arrangements were made for the doctor’s house to be raided that night by plain clothed thugs and for him to be taken, threatened, tortured, sentenced and then given a meaningless show trial.  ‘You know, the normal arrangement,’ quipped the Sheikh, who was now feeling a bit happier. 

All this time David Cameron had been standing at the pub door, hand outstretched, waiting to great his honoured guests, but as they approached he was pushed aside by the huge figure of the barman. 

‘You, yes you, Mr Saudi King.  You are banned, though I might consider letting you back in four years time,’ and as he said it he winked to the other customers in the same way that the King had done a few minutes earlier.  ‘But as for you, Sheikh Khalifa, we don’t like your sort and it’s a life ban.’ 

David Cameron watched the King and the Sheikh disappear into the distance then went inside and sat with Ed Miliband, and they drank their pints and played the old game of trying to say ‘ethical foreign policy’ three times quickly without laughing.

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Date: 25th September 2011, 5:26 PM

ORANGE AS IN FRUIT-CAKE, MOVEMENT AS IN BOWEL 

It was a busy day for the committee of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.  It was trying to achieve a breakthrough in the peace talks with the local Tench Club, but first there were financial problems to tackle.  Fortunately UBS had offered to help and its team was making its pitch. 

‘Our recent record of achievement, you will agree, is quite spectacular.  In 2007 the bank managed to lose SFR4.2 billion in currency and commodity speculation.  Then we lost another ten billion, (US dollars this time), on sub-primes.  In 2008 we can proudly claim to have posted the largest loss ever made by any Swiss company.  We have been investigated by the US authorities who claim that we have helped wealthy Americans to avoid millions of dollars in tax, and the fine of $780 million is worn as a badge of honour.  In 2008 a rogue trader lost £4.3 billion before we had noticed anything wrong.  So great is our consistency of performance that I can announce to you today that the same thing has happened again.  Gentlemen, you can rely on us.’ 

‘Thank you very much,’ replied Chairman, John Fisher.  We will let you know shortly.  We have further presentations to consider from some other truly great financial experts: Sir Fred Goodwin, Sarah Ferguson, the Greek Government and a much respected octopus.’

It was then down to the main business.  How could relations be healed with the Tench Club when tenchists and carpists had been at each others’ throats for hundreds of years?  Hopes were riding high because the Orange Order had sent a delegation to describe the many and subtle ways in which it had helped to foster community spirit in Northern Ireland. 

‘What we advise,’ their leader began, ‘is to bring the parties to a dispute together by rubbing the other side’s nose in military victories  over them, going back three hundred and fifty years, or more if possible.  It is also particularly helpful to dress in silly hats and to march up and down the other folks’ streets, playing strident music and banging drums.  It brings them straight out of their houses and both sides exchange a little joyful banter, and that really develops mutual respect and a general feeling of unity. 

‘Now it may happen that some of the Tench Club members turn out to be really good and worthwhile people.  Stranger things have happened.  But if one of them should die and any Carp Club member should be so shamelessly wicked as to attend a tenchman’s funeral, then the peace process will be dead in the water unless your member is punished to the maximum extent available.  Expulsion from the Carp Club is the very minimum for such despicable treachery.’ 

‘Now, sadly, we have run out of time.  We are off to give the Israel and Palestine negotiators the benefit of this effective and humane approach.  And after that India and Pakistan will also wish to learn from us.’ 

Kitty Fisher’s minutes were always on the short side.  Her summary ‘Orange as in fruit cake, Movement as in bowel’ left nothing further to be said. 

‘It’s and Order, not a Movement’ said John Fisher pickily.  ‘Very well,’ replied his aunt.  ‘Orange as in fruit cake, Order as in ordure.’

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Date: 22nd September 2011, 6:09 PM

BONUS  BALLS 

Bob Berkeley-Hunt, Chairman of the Venereal Institute of Banksters, was addressing the Pondsworth and Reeling Chamber of Commerce on his favourite subject, the power of the bonus. 

‘In Britain,’ the great man began, ‘we are blessed with a generation of the finest business brains ever to have graced the top 350 companies of any country.  And how have we been able to attract and retain such massive talent?  Simple: by providing proper reward for their selfless labours in the form of the annual bonus, and even its close cousin the guaranteed bonus.  And how magnificently the remuneration committees have performed their Herculean labours, to maintain the presence of a golden generation of business geniuses, who might otherwise have been lured away to run the economies of Greece or of Italy or of Iceland.  So diligently have these remuneration committees performed their heavy duties, that over the last ten years bonuses for directors of these 350 biggest companies have risen by 187%.’ 

‘And that is not all.  You cannot expect this, the very cream of business talent to remain at their posts, just in the hope of a bonus.  They have wives and racehorses and yachts to consider.  You will therefore be as delighted as I am to hear that the basic pay of these superstars has also increased though, sadly, only by a wretched 64%.’ 

An unattractive weasely man at the back of the room introduced himself as John Fisher.  ‘I have just two questions.  First, how far are these bonuses awarded as the direct result of the directors having achieved increased earnings for their companies?’ 

Bob Berkeley-Hunt smiled, sharp and wide, and replied ‘The High Pay Commission finds that growth in senior executive pay and bonus levels bears absolutely no relation to any increase in profits.  That is why we have remuneration committees made up of people who understand what is what.  Sound chaps to a man.  Next question?’ 

‘Is there any relationship between this gravy train and increases in the value of the companies for whom these overstuffed executives work?’

‘Lord bless my soul, what a quaint notion,’ spluttered the bankster.  ‘My own company’s share price is a quarter of what it was ten years ago, but our bonuses have meant that we have not lost one of our golden generation.  Compare that with the ordinary workers who get no bonus. Tens of thousands of them have left.’ 

An earnest-looking man in a dark suit with shorts joined in.  ‘I am James Murdoch and I agree with Fisher.  Who needs a bonus?  I just waived mine and I got given a 17% pay rise for my very special performance.’ 

Then chaos.  A very angry old man and an athletic younger woman started slapping James and shouting ‘No member of my family ever waives a bonus.’  Bob Berkeley-Hunt, seeing the Chamber’s cash box invitingly open, paid himself his fee and seeing a few pounds left over trousered it, declaring it to be his  Speaker’s bonus. He had never handled such a small amount of money before, but he was able to leave with a merry quip, ‘It’s a bit sub-prime but it’s still all mine.’

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Date: 29th August 2011, 10:32 AM

LOWER PEOVER 

The members of the Lower Peover garden fete committee had been frustrated in their attempts to find a suitable celebrity to open it. 

They had asked Sir Alec Ferguson, but now that he was speaking to the BBC he was no longer speaking to them.  There is only so much conversation to be had even from that chattiest of Glaswegians. 

On the other hand they were being pestered by Ed Miliband, who wanted to use the fete to announce the great political discovery which would see Labour winning the next election.  That was the last thing they wanted, and they did all in their power to put him off. 

They asked Sir Fred Goodwin, but when he discovered that pink biscuits would be served with the tea he went into a terrible temper tantrum.  His shouts and curses were so blood-curdlingly horrible that the committee chairman, Colonel Bufton Tufton, fainted clean away and had to be revived with repeated swigs of the medicinal brandy which he always kept close to hand. 

Ken Livingstone’s refusal letter said that it was a choice between good and evil, and that the decision whether to stay at home or come to Lower Peover was as simple as deciding between Churchill and Hitler. 

And then inspiration struck.  The invitation to the mystery celebrity was issued and immediately accepted.  Ed Miliband was also invited, and platforms were set up at opposite ends of the vicar’s garden so that the good people of the village could decide which to support. 

The day of the fete arrived and the church clock chimed two, and on the southern platform Ed Miliband started a lengthy oration to break the astonishing news that David Cameron was …. wait for it…. a Conservative. 

On the other platform a Frenchman whose face seemed vaguely familiar faced the audience, with his flies open and a bottle in one hand.  ‘My name is Gerard Depardieu.  Very well, ‘ere we go again.  You see zis bottle? Now she is empty and …aahh .. now she is full and she is overflowing.  Zat is ‘ow it is done.  So in Lower Peover, eet  ees my proud duty to open the fete in what I assume ees the traditional way.’ 

And despite the astonishing volume and pungency of the great actor’s urine which was being sprayed  from the stage, the entire village huddled around his platform and none had the stomach for the amazing revelations coming from the far platform.  ‘Yes, my friends, be under no illusion.  David Cameron is quite definitely a Tory.’

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Date: 22nd August 2011, 8:42 AM

EARNING RESPECT 

Bashar Al Hassad and Robert Mugabe had been banned from the Three Pickerels.  They had been warned several times about murdering and torturing the regulars and had been repeatedly told to remove the gallows from the car park, but they just refused and so the landlord had no choice. 

And that was why they had to meet in Pondsworth and Reeling’s second pub, with all the hoodies and arsonists and bankers.  The Spawning Tench was not to their taste, but they put a brave face on things and soon their conversation turned to the ways in which they had commanded such widespread respect. 

‘Well,’ said Bashar in his endearingly high pitched voice, ‘the look is very important.  When my people see the combination of weak chin and silly moustache, they know that I mean business.  The silly moustache has been the hallmark of really effective tyrants over the years.  Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, General Pinochet, Margaret Thatcher …’ 

‘Yes,’ growled Robert Mugabe, ‘a silly moustache is very important, but what about brutality?  I just love brutality, almost as much as I love a rigged election, or blaming my most murderous attacks on my opponents on a conspiracy by the old colonial powers.’ And with that, the two of them were so captivated by their own wit and wisdom that they did not notice that Joey Barton had pulled up a chair at their table. 

‘When in doubt look for the fear,’ advised Joey.  ‘Nice one,’ squeaked Bashar as Robert Mugabe showed his respect by nodding in a cool kind of way.  Encouraged by this success the great philosopher continued ‘There’s never a problem gettin a posse together to fix the broken.  The challenge 4u is to find the energy and the will to change the mediocre.’  The two tyrants looked at each other.  They didn’t understand what that was all about, and were on the point of calling in their secret policemen when a loud kerfuffle broke out at the door. 

The bouncer was trying to prevent Sally Bercow from entering as the sheet that she was wearing did not amount to the required sports casual dress code.  ‘I’m kind of going in because I want to stick two fingers up to the Establishment’ she drawled, and pushed her way right up to the table where our three heroes were sitting.  Drawing herself up to her full height, and with a voice full of menace she snarled, ‘Which of you three arsewipes made that ungallant reference to Margaret Thatcher?’ 

And suddenly there they all weren’t.  The two tyrants wet themselves as they fled in terror. The philosopher muttered about times of universal deceit and, in some senses of the word, was gone.  The regulars stood and gave their respect to Long Tall Sally, but before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’ or ‘Speaker Bercow’, she had left and was back in the semi-Celebrity Big Brother house.

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Date: 14th August 2011, 10:02 AM

THE BLAME GAME

John Fisher was not well liked, and found that the only person prepared to talk and drink with him at the Three Pickerels was a toy dog whose day job was selling insurance products. 

‘Do you agree,’ asked John, ‘that the politicians are to blame for our current economic plight?’ 

‘Oh yes,’ replied John’s new and only friend. 

‘But the politicians don’t accept responsibility and blame the banks for their greed and stupidity, even though it was the job of the politicians to regulate them.  Even so, the banks must also shoulder some of the blame?’ 

‘Oh yes.’ 

‘But the banks simply blame their customers who borrowed too much, and it is fair that they must have some responsibility for their actions, and then those people blame both the Labour Party and the Conservatives.  The Labour Party built up the great mass of the debt and all those hidden unfunded liabilities, and the Conservatives went along with the spending plans and at the brief moment when Labour had created a surplus, they were criticised by William Hague for doing so.  And the people blame the Lib-Dems as they were pretty wimpish in their opposition and because all politicians are the same any way.’ 

John Fisher’s new best friend was not used to this kind of tirade and pushed forward his empty glass, nodded and said ‘Yes, yes, yes, oh yes.’ 

When John returned from the bar he continued his angry rant.  ‘So here we are drowning in debt because the governments of all the major countries in the world have bought votes by preferring to spend the next generation’s money rather than raise taxes in an honest way, and the banks are in no position to withstand any more shocks because they too have squandered what they earned in the good times and, yes, people did borrow stupid amounts of money, and none of it is anybody’s fault!’ 

‘Oh yes,’ responded John Fisher’s new friend as he licked the bottom of his pint and whined for more. 

‘Don’t you mean “Oh no?” ’  asked John Fisher, but drowned the wretched dog’s inevitable reply as he continued, ‘So if it is nobody’s fault, then nobody is going to learn a damned thing and when we eventually emerge from the present crisis we can look forward to a carbon copy repeat performance and….’ 

It was then that John noticed that his drinking companion was no longer sitting next to him but was on the floor and that a jet of something warm was playing on his leg.  John Fisher turned and with astonishing agility kicked the dog through the open window and into the car park. 

‘At least somebody has learned a lesson he won’t forget,’ muttered John as he squelched his malodorous way home.

 

 

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Date: 6th August 2011, 3:50 PM

COMETH THE HOUR, COMETH THE MAN 

‘Today, the tenth of August 2111, marks the centenary of the events which saw the USA collapse like a house of cards, and the moment that a dull, and in most ways unattractive, man produced the big idea which saved the economy of the United Kingdom.’  The Prime Minister stood back and looked inquiringly at the strange shape of the tarpaulin which covered the statue which she was about to unveil in the car park of the Three Pickerels. 

‘The longer term reasons for the American disaster are clear.  For over thirty years the country had bought far more from abroad than the value of its exports.  It had sunk vast wealth in flaunting its military might, with the result that it was mainly owned by China.  It had also spent far more than it ever raised in taxes, which had seen its indebtedness steadily climb to the level of its annual earnings.  It might have got away with it for a bit longer but for the behaviour of its politicians in the spring and summer of 2011.  They preferred to play political games with the debt problem rather than pursue a carefully considered solution, and succeeded only in highlighting the bankruptcy of the political process as well as that of the country. 

‘The Tea Party faction in the Republican Party had moved from the slogan “No taxation without representation” to the snappier “No taxation”.  All the major programmes for the disadvantaged were abandoned and the rich grew massively richer.  The Democrats were too weak to organise public opinion against the siren song of “Cuts in services for others and no tax for me”.  The rich had since the 1970s cornered a wholly disproportionate slice of the pie, and now they were demanding the rest of it.  It was inevitable that the country should fall apart.  There was nothing left to hold it together. 

‘The UK was at risk of the same fate, which is why we need to celebrate the actions taken by John Fisher on the first Sunday morning in August 2011.  It was here, at this pub, that it happened.  The great men of the day - Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron - were supping their pints when they were approached by our hero.  At first they laughed out loud at his advice, but when the thinking was explained they marvelled at its brilliance and put it into  effect that very afternoon.  When it was announced to the financial markets on the Monday, the FTSE halved in value, but it was not long before the genius of the idea was recognised and Britain was booming. 

‘Every week Prince Andrew, in his new role, would give his advice, and every week for the next twenty years successive Chancellors would do the exact opposite.  The Prince had an uncanny knack and the system never failed.’ 

The Prime Minister whipped off the covers from the statue and revealed a life sized effigy of John Fisher dressed in carp pattern pyjamas, pint of Bass in one hand and a copy of The Complete Actuary in the other.  The crowd stood in respectful silence as they read the inscription ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man.’

 

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Date: 24th July 2011, 12:13 PM

WOULD YOU RATHER?

Kitty Fisher was earning a few much needed pounds by babysitting the precocious twins next door.  Tarquin and Sequin had given her a fearful runabout, and she had only managed to get them to bed by promising to play their favourite game ‘Would You Rather?’ 

‘Would you rather,’ began Kitty with a nice easy one, ‘be taught English by President Bush, be taught geography by Sarah Palin or be punched by Lord Prescott?’  ‘Easy peasy,’ cried the twins. ‘Punched by Lord Prescott, any day.’ 

Kitty Fisher took a surreptitious swig from her flask and continued, ‘Would you rather lend all your savings to the Greek Government or lend them to the American Government or listen to Michael Atherton for an hour?’  Again, the twins needed no time to consider, before agreeing to send their savings into the black hole of Greek bankruptcy.  ‘After all,’ they squeaked, ‘money is only money.’  ‘Loathsome, spoiled little shits,’ thought Kitty Fisher as she smiled benignly at them. 

‘Very well,’ continued Kitty Fisher, somewhat fortified by her latest pull at the crème de menthe, ‘would you rather drop a catch off Stuart Broad’s bowling, have a boot thrown at you by Sir Alec Ferguson or be kissed by Wayne Rooney?’  Success at last.  An involuntary shudder of revulsion passed through the twins and after some discussion they opted for the Stuart Broad scolding. 

Kitty Fisher then pressed home her advantage.  She moved in close so that they could feel her hot and spirited breath.  ‘Now my little darlings, would you rather have your phones hacked by News Corporation, be turned by a wicked witch into Rebekah Brooks or….’ And here Kitty Fisher added an extra long pause for dramatic effect as she enjoyed the sickly green pallor which had overtaken Tarquin and Sequin.  ‘Or would you rather be slapped by Wendi Deng Murdoch?’  And with that the twins let out a ghastly shriek and disappeared under their duvets.  Kitty Fisher then enjoyed a pleasurable evening of drinking and paid no attention to the piteous sobs of terror coming from the twins’ bedroom.

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Date: 17th July 2011, 11:48 AM

STREWTH!

It had been a difficult week for Rupert Murdoch.  He had almost split himself in two.  He had given Rebekah Brooks all his support, and then accepted her resignation.  He had grovelled and apologised to all and sundry in the UK while at the same time his USA paper, the Wall Street Journal, had carried his assurance that News Corporation had made ‘only minor mistakes.’  He was not much troubled by the prospect of appearing before a few toothless MPs at a Select Committee hearing, but he was scared witless at the reaction which he was likely to get at the Sunday morning drinks at The Three Pickerels.  But he could not be seen to back away from the challenge. 

The bar was crowded when the great media mogul arrived, but out of the throng raced Radovan Karadzic, on day-release from The Hague.  The General enfolded Rupert Murdoch in a great bear hug and kissed him on both cheeks and then on the lips.  ‘My friend, I thank you a million times.  Since you have become the big story, the press and television have found no space to talk about any little indiscretions that I might have committed.’ 

The greeting of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was no less effusive. ‘You are a real pal, Rup.  The mismanagement of the US economy over many years has been so devastating that we find ourselves about to have our credit rating cut and that will be only the beginning, and yet because of you not a breath of this has found its way into the news.  Keep up the good work.’ 

Before the poor Rupert could so much as taste his pint of Fosters he was grabbed by Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, supposedly the world’s top two golfers who had just been dumped out of the Open at the half-way stage.  The two men embraced him warmly and said ‘Why don’t you come back to our club and play a round with us?’ before realising how the News of the World would twist those words, and before then realising that Murdoch had done for their favourite paper. 

They came at him in their hundreds to hug him and kiss him and thank him for sparing their blushes.  ‘Careful of my toe,’ whinged heavyweight David Haye, as he leant over to enfold Rupert in his mighty arms and thank him for hogging the news headlines.  He was followed by the England Ladies Football squad, Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty, the Duke of Edinburgh, the spanking vicar of Pondsworth and Reeling, Robert Mugabe and George Osborne.

When the barman called ‘Time please, gentlemen,’ poor Rupert was still surrounded by grateful miscreants wanting to demonstrate their undying gratitude.  He was bruised and battered.  His best tracksuit was thoroughly mussed up, and his pint of the amber nectar had been taken away untasted. 

'Strewth,’ he muttered. I preferred it when everybody hated me!’  ‘In that case,’ replied John Fisher, as he bundled the old rogue out of the pub, ‘I think you are going to be extremely happy over the next few months.’

 

 

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Date: 10th July 2011, 6:37 PM

REBEKAH 

Last night I dreamed I went to Wapping again.  It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the office and I could not enter for the way was barred to me. 

And I thought back to the way in which I had been swept into the arms of Maxim de Murdoch and brought by him to be in charge at Wapping, but I never stood a chance.  For there on the stairs hung the picture of the incomparable Rebekah.   Mrs Danvers had been Rebekah’s loyal P.A. during the tumultuous years that Rebekah was the editor.  ‘You will never be fit to clean Rebekah’s boots,’ she murmured as she edged me towards the window.  Summoning all of my strength I replied, ‘But sadly for you, Danny, Rebekah is no longer with us and I am the editor.’  She turned and fixed her pale eyes on me and broke the terrible news.  ‘Rebekah has left but that does not mean that she has gone.  She will never go.  She is now sitting on the right hand of de Murdoch Almighty on the main Board.’  And with a terrible cackle of glee she opened the window so that I could jump before I was pushed. 

Last night I dreamed I went to Wapping again.  It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the office which was now just a smouldering ruin. 

And I thought back to the way that Rebekah had risen again and once more cast her spell over Wapping.  Maxim promised me that Rebekah was a thing of the past and that I, and I alone, would be in charge but still the presence of Rebekah and of Mrs Danvers hung over the place, exerting an iron grip.  But all was not well and evil was flourishing and then that seedy little journalist started to uncover the awful truth that Rebekah had never seen.  I turned to Maxim and begged him to put things right, but he backed Rebekah at every turn and then decided to burn down the whole house and declare it all to have been toxic.  Rebekah stood at a top window and, as the fire caught hold, she pronounced, ‘Worse revelations are still to come and I have some visibility.  This is not exactly the best day of my life.  But I am the one to lead us all through to a better place. Follow the example of Maxim de Murdoch and place your confidence in me.’  And then the flames flared behind her and the smoke hid her and all that we could hear was a hacking cough and the hollow laughter of Maxim and his son James. 

Last night I dreamed I went to Wapping again.  It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate and that lights were blazing in the new office and that the Sunday Sun was rising.  And there at the top window on her throne was the unmistakeable figure of Rebekah, back in charge, and beside her, her loyal PA, Mrs Danvers, looked at me in a knowing way, and James and Maxim de Murdoch were performing high fives, and in the quiet of the morning a single word floated down to me, ‘Result!’

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Date: 3rd July 2011, 11:13 AM

HOLY SMOKE

The Pope and Carolyn Bourne arrived at the Three Pickerels at the same time, only to find that it would not open for another hour.  And so they went to the public library and each paid for an internet session to catch up with some outstanding jobs. 

Carolyn had intended to write to Nick Clegg telling him that he had her full support and that anybody who said anything nasty about him was the scum of the earth.  She also planned another email to poor Heidi Withers, following the considerable success of her first.  The Pope was struggling with the task of what to say in the world’s first papal Tweet. 

Carolyn set off at a great pace and her fingers flew over the keyboard, almost as quickly as she could think. 

*  When you are a guest at somebody’s party, you do not declare what is or is not digestible, unless you are positively allergic to something. 
*  You do not insult members of your host’s party at any time and definitely not in public. 
*  You regularly draw attention to yourself.  Perhaps you should ask yourself why, and the same goes for your friend Vince. 
*  Nobody celebrates their union in the garden of number 10, unless they are the incumbent.  It is brash celebrity style behaviour. 
*  David has the most exquisite manners of anyone I have ever come across.  You would do well to follow his example. 
*  I understand about the shortage of money, but you should not pursue expenditure of approaching one billion pounds a year in reorganising the upper chamber and in that very silly idea about sharing the bunks.  It would be most gracious to lower your sights. 
*  Most of important of all, when you come to make certain vows in a very public way, if you break them, it will bring disgrace on you and people will shun you and stay away from your party. 

Meanwhile his Holiness was completely stuck.  He knew that all round the world people were waiting and hoping that the sincerity and piety of that first papal Twitter might change their lives.  The Pope’s mind was a complete blank, and so he decided to rely upon providence and to tweet the next thing anybody said to him.

Carolyn Bourne hit the send button of her latest email at the very moment she saw that she had addressed it to Nick Clegg rather than her beloved Heidi.  ‘Holy bloody smoke!’ she exclaimed, in a voice which was refined but also very loud. 

A papal promise is a papal promise, even if only made by the Pontiff to himself.  ‘Not exactly what I would have chosen,’ he muttered, ‘but it has something going for it.’  And without even trying to use the hundred or so characters still available to him, he despatched it into the ether. 

He looked at his watch, and seeing that mid-day had arrived he swept Carolyn off her feet and carried her to the Three Pickerels where he ordered copious quantities of the landlord’s very best Chateauneuf.

   

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Date: 28th June 2011, 3:02 PM

THE MEANING OF LIFE AND AN EXCUSE FOR EVERYTHING

If David Cameron, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and Jeffrey Samuels QC had been expecting a quiet evening of drinking at the Three Pickerels, they were to be disappointed.  The Prime Minister had bought pints of bass all round, and pork scratchings and pickled onions, to introduce Wen to the delicacy of English cuisine when they were spotted by John Fisher.  John had been drinking all day and the alcohol had loosened his tongue. 

‘Oi. You.  Cameron,’ he roared.  ‘If you come in here, you buy drinks all round because you are as guilty as anybody of bringing about the financial collapse. You could see perfectly well that there was too much debt in the economy, and that the position was an unsustainable bubble.  Did you stand up to Brown?  Did you buggery!  To get elected you just pledged to match his spending, and yet now you have the nerve to blame everything on him.’ 

David Cameron stood up ready to deliver a long, highly articulate and highly evasive answer when the Chinese premier tugged at his sleeve and whispered something to him. David Cameron nodded, cleared his throat and replied to John Fisher that he had learned over five thousand years never to talk to others in a lecturing way, rather to respect others on the basis of equality. 

John Fisher was wrong-footed by this unexpected answer and turned his attention to Jeffrey Samuels QC.  ‘Oi.  You.  Big-wig.  I saw what you did to that family in court.  If this is what you call justice then heaven help us, we might as well live under China’s legal system.  It is the same only opposite.  There the defendant has no rights, and here it is the victim’s family which suffers.  Your client, already serving a life sentence, could not be touched by the court, and yet the process of the trial left the family unnecessarily traumatised.’ 

The great advocate rose gracefully to his feet, rested his hands on his lapels and was about to launch into the old thing of ‘It is because I am a barrister, dear boy, and just doing my job to my client and the interests of justice,’ when he too caught the eye of Wen Jiabao and simply told John Fisher that over five thousand years the Bar Council had learned never to talk to others in a lecturing way but, rather, to respect others on the basis of equality.  So pleased was he with the way this sounded that he repeated it with a flourish for rhetorical effect. 

And then John Fisher’s aunt hurdled the bar and stole a bottle of crème de menthe, and when the barman protested she lectured him on the need to talk respectfully, and within minutes everybody joined in and everything of value was stolen in a frenzy of looting and of scolding anybody who tried to intervene, in the way that Wen had showed them. 

Later that night the three celebrities drove back to London in the Prime Ministerial Rolls Royce.  David Cameron and the QC had really developed a taste for looting, and they turned to their guest and said ‘We now understand the advantage of the Chinese ways of doing things, and we will be sure to adopt them over here.  It is only a matter of time.  Not a question of if but Wen.’  And they nearly expired, laughing at their own joke.

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Date: 19th June 2011, 9:44 AM

YOU COULD HEAR A FIN DROP

It was the third Sunday in the month, and that meant it was the ever popular session in the Three Pickerels when celebrities were invited to name their heroes, and what a lot of surprises there had been.  Sir Fred Goodwin’s hero had been St Gemma Galgani, the patron saint of the poor and unemployed, and Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that he worshipped and admired every aspect of the BBC. 

First up this week was Ed Miliband,  and he astonished the regulars with the intensity and passion with which he spoke.  ‘My hero is my brother David.  I love my brother. I adore my brother.  He is the finest number two or perhaps twelve that a natural-born leader like myself could have.  I worship…’

The barman called time on Ed Miliband on the grounds that the pub had heard it all before.  Then it was the turn of David Miliband.  He looked across to his brother and smiled bleakly and took out his prepared statement, but instead of the reciprocal address that everyone expected he tore up the paper and with the fervour of the newly liberated he announced  ‘My hero is Senator Wiener.  What a player.  What a person, and what amazing use of the office photocopier.  I admire Joey Barton and Wayne Rooney and Colonel Gaddafi and in fact anybody other than…’ 

But again the barman called time as the rules permitted only one choice and no further comment. 

And then it was the turn of Chancellor George Osborne.  He stood at the microphone with that distant smile playing over his graceful lips and then announced, ‘My hero is Sean Murphy, the man who was too impatient to cure the wart on his finger in the normal way and so he blasted the whole perfectly healthy finger to smithereens with a shot gun.’  It took a moment to sink in.  George stood there nodding and waiting, and then it was John Fisher who blurted out ‘You don’t mean that the same applies to your economic policy and your approach to the deficit?’ 

But the regulars had got there first, and John Fisher’s question reverberated through a room so quiet and thoughtful that you could hear a fin drop.

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Date: 16th June 2011, 4:48 PM

BALLS

John Fisher had the misfortune to be hosting the Carp Club’s weekly news and politics programme ‘Slimey Things’, when Ed Balls was to be interviewed.  Papers had been found which clearly implicated Ed Balls and his friends in a plot to oust Tony Blair and replace him with Gordon Brown.  John was scarcely half way through his first question when Ed Balls turned on him. 

‘You journalists live in a make-believe world.  You never liked Gordon Brown or Ed or David Milliband or even myself, and you look for the slightest excuse to blacken our names with talks of conspiracies and plots.  Well, let me tell you there absolutely was no plot.  Perhaps Tony and Gordon weren’t always on the best of terms, but deep down they had a wonderful relationship.  Perhaps Gordon was very keen to take over as Prime Minister, but his wonderful handling of the economy showed that he had every quality necessary for the job and it was, after all, his turn.’ 

On and on and on ranted the boorish Ed Balls until he finished by dismissing the theory of the plot to oust Blair by asking  ‘And how could these memos amount to a plot against Tony Blair when, all along, he was a part of the discussion about how and when he should hand over to Gordon?’ 

Ed Balls should have seen the danger sign in the deep purple which was now the colour of John Fisher’s face.  ‘I was not asking you, Mr Balls, about a conspiracy against Gordon Brown.  Had you given me a moment you would have heard that the question was about the conspiracy against the whole electorate.  And now you have spelled out all the details of that plot.  The 2005 election was fought on the basis that Blair was going to be Prime Minister for the whole five year term. It was announced by Alan Milburn before the election, and you all went along with it because you knew that Blair was good at winning elections and Brown would not be.  But, as you admit, all along you had another plan.  Your plot against the electorate was to promise one thing whilst all the time you were all going to substitute the hapless Brown as soon as the dust had settled.’

Had John Fisher left it there, there is no doubt that the charge would have just bounced off the politician’s rhino-like skin, but he would have retained his job with Radio Carpery.  Instead, totally out of control, he banged the desk and shouted at Ed Balls, ‘You odious loathsome bastard.  You tench-spawning, bottom-feeding sack of rancid groundbait.  You scaly, bream-faced, closet supporter of Ipswich Town….’ 

Fortunately, before John Fisher was able to find the words to measure his full contempt, he was wrestled to the ground by his elderly Aunt Kittie, who breathed soothing words into his ear.  ‘Don’t fuss so.  He’s only a politician.  That’s what they do, so don’t expect any better from them.  Besides if you ignore them, they may go away.’

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Date: 10th June 2011, 9:18 AM

THE CARP BLANCHE

Another day, another money-making scheme for the desperate Kittie Fisher. 

She positively drooled as she saw the commercial success of Jeffrey Deaver’s new James Bond book, and so she prepared her own synopsis for her publisher. 

‘James Pond swallowed the last of his pint of crème de menthe and looked across the room at the sultry Rose Tetra and wondered, “What’s it to be, a special relationship or just an essential one?”’

‘She took a long drag on her roach and slurred the words ‘Lord M is ready to see you now.’ Many had hoped that Lord Mandelson would be appointed as yet another Middle East peace ambassador, but Pond was happy to work for a man even more ruthless that the evil Blatter, head of FIFERSCH. 

Pond headed down to collect his equipment for the mission and tapped in his new password.  007 had been abandoned in favour of a memorable word and a number, and he had chosen ‘Poodle 1’.  In truth the special equipment service had gone down hill since Q had been moved over to Human Resources and the role had been given to a group of GPs.  And so Pond accepted his new weapon with a shrug of resignation and set out for the Swiss head-quarters of FIFERSCH on an aircraft carrier which was at a loose end following the sale of the Harrier fleet. This was pushing the theory of hiding in plain view to the very limit. 

Aunt Kittie sketched out the events surrounding the carrier’s journey across France and the treacherous arrest of ‘Poodle 1’ at the border when Fabio Capello had slipped him the powerful inertia drug so successfully used on his footballers, and in no time at all he was  dragged into the presence of Blatter. 

‘Mr Pond, we had been expecting you,’ and with a chuckle of pure evil he stroked the great white carp which he held on his lap.  Blatter bent low over the fish and kissed it full on its rubbery lips.  ‘Now, my lovely, we have some high protein meal for you.’ 

‘You will never get away with this, Blatter,’ snarled our hero.  ‘Your chances are sweet FA.’

‘Exactly, Mr Pond,’ drawled  Blatter.  ‘A catapult with no missile?  Even for these hard times that is a bit lame.  What is your plan B?’  But before Pond could be fed to the fish and escape through the sewage system and seduce Rose Tetra and move on to the next book, the doors were flung open and the IMF stumbled in and gave Pond their support and said that they thought that even though the white carp wouldn’t grow much, it was all just fine.  Even Blatter was sick at the credibility afforded to a bunch of no hopers, with a track record worse than the credit rating agencies, and then Pond really did escape and John Fisher’s Aunt Kittie set about the task of writing a quite disgusting sex scene involving catapult rubber, the great white carp, and a vat of crème de menthe. 

The publishers read through the synopsis with despair and contempt until they came to the last scene, which became the basis of the long running franchise ‘Carp and the City.’

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Date: 3rd June 2011, 10:04 AM

CUCUMBER HELL

John Fisher always was a dull man and shows no sign of change.  And so it was no surprise to learn that he celebrated his birthday in his accustomed way by staying in and eating great quantities of his favourite food, cucumber.  Bloated and disgusting he waddled to his bed, and it was not long before he was visited by the most terrifying nightmares. 

The Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club had fallen into the hands of venture capitalists and they had sold the lakes and leased them back at an unaffordable price and the club was facing eviction and the carp were going to be dumped on the street and then the kindly old face of Smelt Bloater appeared before him saying that there was no crisis. 

And then, when in his dream John realised that Smelt Bloater was going to climb into his bed and John called out for help, it was the FA, the sodding FA, that came to his rescue and made matters so very much worse.  And they too tried to get into his bed and Smelt Bloater dug him in the ribs and said that he was a great supporter of John’s Ban the Ballot campaign as nobody needs elections if the candidate is good enough and the FA from deep under John’s bedclothes shook Smelt Bloater’s hand and told him that they too agreed that there shouldn’t be a ballot. 

And John used this moment of distraction to report his mistreatment to the Care Quality Commission again and again and again and they did nothing and then the great round face of Smelt Bloater was beaming at John and telling him that there were no problems on his expensive Swiss watch and that the fault lay with the BBC. 

As John began to wake up, he knew that things could not go on like this and there had to be change but it was Andrew Lansley who got into bed alongside John and Smelt Bloater and the FA and explained his ideas for reform and then just as it could get no worse there was a strong light in John’s eyes and he realised that the Big Society had arrived and he sat up in bed sweaty and dishevelled and unprepared for this great moment, but it was just  the sunrise and the start of another day, and it had all been a nightmare. 

And really and truly nothing to do with the real world.

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Date: 23rd May 2011, 3:33 PM

AUNT KITTIE PREDICTS 

Kittie Fisher had never found any difficulty in predicting the future.  Some things were just so obvious.  Bankers’ crisis in 1972.  Another comes along 17 years later in 1989, so it was no surprise that the next came along in 2007.  This was no mumbo jumbo about the magic of numbers but a simple observation that it takes just a little more than 15 years for the bank executives, who had learned some caution from the last disaster, to be overtaken by a new breed of ambitious and inexperienced young operatives, mad with greed, pride and ambition, and blind to all of the patterns and lessons of the past. 

She had correctly predicted the sacking of Chelsea’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti.  Six managers in eight years sets a fairly predictable track record of short-termism in this department. 

She had also predicted that American TV evangelist Harold Camping would be once again predicting the end of the world.  It was time for him to have recovered from the shame of the last prediction and to wish to see his ratings rise as he predicted death, destruction and, last but not least, rapture.  Rapture.  That was the element which would add real value to the prophecy. 

She had legal bills to pay after her ill-judged attempt to marry Prince William, and therefore needed some fairly major publicity which she could convert into profitable interviews with press and television.  First, she thought of predicting Norwich City as Premier League champions for 2012, but she needed something with wider appeal.  Then she considered predicting that ‘The Carp Club’ book would be the Number One best seller, but that might be seen as a touch self-serving.  And then the idea came to her.  She ran to the balcony and flung the windows open and addressed the crowds below. 

‘I, the most mystic and mysterious Kittie Fisher, seer of the future, giver of reasonably priced interviews, being in the eighty fourth year of my days, open to all reasonable offers of sponsorship, hereby predict.’  She paused for dramatic effect and tried to hold back the smirk, which was beginning to take over her stern features.  ‘I predict that on the fifth day of the month of November in the year of Our Lord 2011…’ Kittie Fisher thought that talking in this rather affected and silly way would increase the value of her prediction.  ‘I predict, based on revelations which have come to me in a vision, that on that very day, on the stroke of mid-day, the Big Society will come.’ 

There was a gasp of surprise and amazement from the crowd, and then a small boy shouted out  the question which they had all wanted to ask.  ‘How will we recognise the Big Society when it comes?’ 

‘The answer, dear boy,’ purred Kittie Fisher, ‘is rapture.  Rapture, dear boy, rapture.’

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Date: 14th May 2011, 10:24 AM

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Kitty Fisher had been caught in the nick of time and was led away from the Abbey in irons.  Her trial at the great Court of Carpery had taken many strange turns.  When asked how she responded to the charge of entering a royal wedding with intent to marry the heir to the throne, she responded that it depended on which day’s truth was being used.  Was it the first day version of a forty eight minute gun battle with Prince Andrew whilst Prince William hid behind his fiancée, and the Prime Minister watched on television?  Or was it the day two version whereby the Duke of Edinburgh wrestled with a seal and his wife was shot in the foot and there was no video streaming at all?  Or was it the day three version involving Prince Andrew having been aware of the truth all along, and Kitty Fisher having lived at the bottom of his garden while seals and other animals were helicoptered in without the knowledge of anybody and there was all sorts of data as well as pornography left where the Dean of the Abbey kept rabbits and local children? 

But the flexibility which was permissible in the case of the White House was not allowed to feature any further in Kittty Fisher’s trial, and so she had no choice but to address the Court on the question of sentencing. 

‘Please may I be sentenced like Network Rail?  Let me be fined heavily but let the fine be paid by the public rather than by any of the individuals concerned? 

‘Alright then, if you won’t allow that, why can’t I be punished like the bankster Bob Berkeley-Hunt?  His bank committed the most atrocious behaviour, ripping off its customers by selling them all sorts of policies that they did not need and then adding to their distress by holding out and denying liability.  Well, the financial penalties were applied to the bank and not the individuals, whose vast bonuses were undiminished.  So who bore the brunt of the penalties?  The shareholders, of course.  And who were the shareholders?  Well, through their pension funds it was the very people who were the victims in the first place.  I would settle for some of that kind of punishment. 

‘No?  Oh well then, what about some of the Phoenix Four kind of justice?  I will voluntarily agree not to gatecrash another royal wedding for the next six years?’ 

Mr Justice Salmon looked up from his bench and nodded his agreement, and set Kitty Fisher free.  His certainties about the meaning of truth and justice had been totally unsettled by the defendant, or perhaps by the events of recent days.  He drifted into a deep sleep and dreamed of Nanny and the nursery, and times when right was right and true was true for more than a few hours.

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Date: 7th May 2011, 12:08 PM

SANTA SUBBUTEO 

The whole misunderstanding started with a small boy who was in the crowd thronging outside the Great Hall of Carpery for the Christmas message from its symbolic leader, the Tope.  His desperate plea to his granny for a football game from Father Christmas was being ignored, and so the good natured members of the Carp Club got behind him, chanting ‘Santa Subbuteo, Santa Subbuteo.’ 

These words were misunderstood by the Tope who thought that they were a plea to make a premature start on the process of pratification, and so he announced the establishment of the Committee of Inquiry in respect of the three leading candidates. 

Each of that mighty trio had a lifetime’s achievement of outrageously foolish and offensively dumb acts and pronouncements, but the applications of Sarah Palin and George Bush were rapidly rejected. They had each reached a plateau of hopeless prattishness but did not have that extra spark needed. 

The application of Donald Trump was, however, something in a class of its own.  As they studied the evidence the panel members were open eyed in astonishment at the escalating crassness and boorishness of his achievements, and they could even see him progressing through the stage of pratification and being declared a stain. 

Donald Trump opened his case by insisting on seeing the birth certificate of all the panel members, and then of the committee officials and even the press and public gallery.  He had started his campaign for the Republican nomination riding high on the theory that Barak Obama was not an American, and what had worked so well for him over there would surely serve his interests here. 

Then he spotted the great elder statesman of international carpery, Wun Fin, who was a panel member, and that gave him his excuse to launch into his views on China.  ‘When I am President, I’ll make you motherfuckers pay.  I’ll bring trade sanctions down on you faster than you can fake a moon landing.’ 

The panel were wildly impressed but Wun Fin tested the applicant by asking ‘And if you do that, what about the $367,967,986,378,000 loans that the USA has taken from China to support its overspending in the last two decades?’  When Donald replied ‘We won’t repay those motherfuckers a single cent,’ the panel burst into spontaneous applause.  All that stood in the way of instant pratification was a miracle of prattishness.  ‘I can help you there,’ said Donald with all of his boyish charm, and he pointed to the extraordinary haystack perched on his head.  ‘If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.’ 

The panel took Donald through to the bar to celebrate with the traditional Noilly Prat. 

John Fisher remained slumped in his seat in the public gallery muttering ‘President Trump, President Motherfucking Trump.  Even makes King Charles III sound reasonable by comparison.’

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Date: 28th April 2011, 4:21 PM

LIKE A SPARE BRIDE AT A WEDDING 

The idea came to Kitty Fisher when she was working on her latest and steamiest novel.  The villainess of the piece, the scheming minx Gerda Pureloins, had just decided how to ruin the happiest day of her old school friend Poppy Allbright.  She would turn up at the altar dressed as Poppy, and marry the groom herself.  No sooner were the words on the page than Kitty started to work out the details of her plot to take revenge on the Royal family for reneging on Prince Andrew’s promise to invite her to the wedding. 

Secrecy was everything, and therefore she turned up as usual at the Three Pickerels for the Thursday meeting of the Forlorn Four.  All of them had desperately hoped to receive a wedding invitation and they had all been rejected.  When John Major was going, it was so cruel to exclude poor Gordon Brown.  And then, how could they possibly not invite the greatest living statesman, former Prime Minister and now Middle East Peace Emissary, Tony Blair?  When poor old Robert Mugabe looked at the other tyrants and despots who would fill the front rows of the Abbey, he knew that his exclusion was nothing but an Israeli-inspired colonial conspiracy.  He was just as bloodthirsty and vindictive as at least the majority of them.  The Forlorn Four had been drowning their sorrows with Aunt Kitty, and had recovered enough poise to have agreed to meet at the pub the next morning at 8.30 to watch the whole ceremony on television. 

On the morning of the wedding 9.00 came and went, and then 10.00.  The three men sat in the corner of the snug becoming ever more conscious of the fact that a second disappointment was being visited on them.  Kitty Fisher had stood them up.  A tear coursed down the stern cheeks of Robert Mugabe.  He had fallen for Kitty, and thought wistfully of the times when he had put a hand on her knee and call her ‘My pretty little torturer.’ 

And then they all noticed the strangest thing on the screen.  The BBC was taken by surprise as two identical Rolls Royces were being driven towards the Abbey.  Both contained brides demurely hidden behind their veils, but the lead car was actually being driven by the bride.  The window was wound down and David Dimbleby was struggling to describe the heraldic significance of the fluent loose-wristed gesture which the bride was making to the crowd. 

The three great men watched in horror as the first car skidded up to the steps of the Abbey and the bride vaulted out and hurried inside.  It was Tony who first spotted the huge flask of crème de menthe hidden in the bouquet and he was quick to realise that only the most decisive action on their part would avert a tragedy for the Royal Family, and one which would put the very monarchy itself in jeopardy.  ‘This is no time for sound bites’ he said, ‘but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder.’  Gordon was having a personal crisis.  Was this to be the old indecisive Gordon in denial of what was staring him in the face, or was it to be the superhuman Gordon who had single-handedly saved the world?  Zimbabwe’s favourite son, Robert Mugabwe, was quickest off the blocks but was left cursing his ill fortune as he was unable to pay the taxi from his frozen bank accounts. 

Meanwhile, the calm tones of David Dimbleby flowed over a happy and respectful nation.  ‘And the bride has now made her entrance into the Abbey.  Serene and lovely.  A modern bride for a modern monarchy, she has arrived alone, glorious, proud and free of all trappings of family.  She bends and seems to raise her bouquet to her lips, in a gesture of solidarity with young people from all countries and all walks of life.  The warm scent of peppermint wafts over the guests as the bride defies years of tradition and positively charges up the aisle.  Side to side.  Side to side.  Such is the break with tradition and such is the originality of our future queen.  At the back of the Abbey a minor ruckus takes place as the Palace guards eject an impostor.  And as she now  reaches the altar she wraps her veil tightly round her face…’ 

Back at the Three Pickerels the only two men who have the power to avoid the disaster face each other.  They each have a hand on the telephone but seem unable to agree as to who should make the call.  Will the hurt and betrayal of Granita be put behind them?  Will Prince William have the surprise of his life?  Will the House of Windsor be able to survive the young Prince marrying an eighty year old foul-mouthed alchoholic? 

All will be revealed in next week’s thrilling instalment.

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Date: 20th April 2011, 4:47 PM

ALL FUR COAT AND…

John Fisher had accepted a temporary job with advertising agency Carpie and Carpie, and he had been assigned the dreary task of writing slogans for a whole range of political parties. 

The UK branch of the Tea Party had been thrilled with his t-shirts branded ‘Ignorance, The New Knowledge,’ and ‘Nothing, The New Everything.’ 

John had then delighted the minority grouping whose only two policies were opposition to animal rights charities and antipathy towards Islamic dress.  His slogan ‘All Fur Coats And No Niqabs’ went down a treat. 

He was also pleased with the simplicity and directness of what he had written for Ed Miliband.  It had to be somewhat general as there were no specific policies available, and so he suggested ‘Just First Class.’  John’s enthusiasm was not shared by the Labour leader who insisted that John be removed from the team. 

That gave John more time to think what would work best for the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, and the project was no easy one.  He solved the Lib Dem problem by borrowing the old credit card advertisement.  Vince Cable looked grim, but he was sporting enough to model the yellow cat-suit emblazoned with the words ‘Nick Clegg – Your Flexible Friend.’ 

Days passed as John sat at his desk doodling and trying to find the right words to sell the Prime Minister to a weary nation, and then it came to him in a flash.  He emailed Conservative Head Office and it was received with rapturous applause. ‘The Big Street Party.  Don’t Let Them Spoil It.’  It summed up the profundity of the Cameron offering and captured the unbridled sense of fun of George Osborne. 

With his work well done, John Fisher retreated to the comparative sanity of the annual maggot and bait fair at the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.

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Date: 16th April 2011, 9:50 AM

THE GOOD DOCTOR 

When Kitty Fisher saw the scale of the disaster and understood the size of the clean-up costs that would be visited on her, she fled.  The police and the press caught up with her on the train.  She was travelling first class, but did a Miliband before the cameras started to roll and removed from sight everything which might betray her extravagance.  She tried her normal tactic when cornered, and made a long speech about the evils of immigration, but the situation was too grave even for that. 

It wasn’t even her fault really, though as a victim of the Piscatorial Life scandal she really should have learned never to rely on the words of a politician.  David Cameron had said quite clearly that there was no need to get permissions or insurance before organising a street party.  Kitty Fisher could now see that the choice of the M25 was not a sensible one, but the ladies of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club were always up for a picnic in novel surroundings.  Nobody had died, but the scale of the destruction was awesome and the writs were raining down on John Fisher’s aunt like cabinet members on a bye-election constituency. 

Her first thought was to apply to the European Central Bank for a bail out - a very popular option for those who had behaved far more foolishly than she had.  She was, for a moment, worried that the ratings agencies might cotton on to her total lack of creditworthiness, but that anxiety was rapidly dismissed.  They had all given the sub-prime bonds a top safety rating right up to the very end, so it would not be hard to pull the wool over their eyes, but there was Angela Merkel.  She was more than a match for Kitty Fisher, and decidedly unenthusiastic about lending another penny.  So where, oh where, could she find somebody just longing to hand out public money on a vast scale?  And then the solution suddenly came to her. 

Within a day she had changed her name by deed poll, simply adding the additional first name of ‘Doctor’, and she had notified the local authority that her house name was no longer ‘Fisher’s Haven’ but in future would be ‘The Surgery’. 

And so she wrote to Andrew Lansley, pledging her full support for his idea of GP funding and telling him that she was ready and willing to accept her share of the National Health Service budget.  She knew that her troubles were over and so drew a yard of crème de menthe from her very best barrel.  ‘Here’s to the Coalition’, she said and downed it in one long swallow.

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Date: 7th April 2011, 3:45 PM

QUARTER FINAL DAY

The long awaited day had arrived for the quarter finals of the stand-up comedy competition at the Three Pickerels.  Competitors from all over the world had come to fight for the coveted Margaret Thatcher trophy.  Three pairs of well matched comedians had slugged it out before the judging panel, and there remained only two men on the stage.

The first to perform his act was Wayne Rooney.  He approached the microphone, and with an air of infinite sadness began his routine.  ‘Bugger, bugger, bugger, shit, poo.’  He stared defiantly at the judges.  His act was motivated by a conviction that the world did not properly value him, and this was a view shared by the panel.  He went on, ‘Turd, potty, bum and arse.’  By now the room was rocking with merriment at his wit and clever word play.  When he finished with a quick and slick ‘Bastard, tit, piss-pot, willy,’ it was more than the audience could take.  Convulsed with laughter, they had to go out for some fresh air to recover from the great man’s one-liners.  And that was before he finished off with his punch line ‘I am really sorry for that.’ 

David Cameron could not fail to be disturbed by such brilliance, but when the panel was back in position he started his own tilt at the title. 

‘Just a few preliminary remarks to update you before I start my routine.  An Englishman, a Welshman and a Scotsman went into a surgery.  The Scotsman asked for and received  a prescription, and was told that there was no charge.  The Welshman was also given a prescription and was told that he need pay nothing.  But when the Englishman asked for his prescription he was made to pay £7.40’.  Poor David couldn’t get these last words out without choking with laughter, and the panel chairman noted that it was a very good joke spoiled by poor delivery. 

David Cameron then went on, ‘And another thing…..  There was a man in 2013 who had two children and earned just one pound less than the point where higher rate tax began.  His boss had a big export order and rang him and asked if he would do some overtime over a bank holiday weekend.’  The audience was now beginning to titter.  ‘And so his boss paid him £200 as a reward.  After tax and National Insurance, he was left with a little over £112, …’  For a moment the Prime Minister was convulsed with laughter and had to drink a glass of water before he delivered the punch-line.  ‘But what he did not realise was that that overtime payment lost his family their entire child benefits, so that from the £200 he paid £80 in tax, his National Insurance and £1752 in lost benefits.  That’s what I call a Big Society.’ 

David Cameron turned bright red and tears of laughter flew from his merry eyes.  The panel members shared his mirth, but after a short pause the chairman announced the winner as Wayne Rooney.  ‘Sorry old chap,’ he said to the crestfallen David Cameron,  ‘It was very funny, but it does also have to be credible and nobody would believe any of that.'

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Date: 2nd April 2011, 10:39 AM

JAMIE’S NIGHTMARE ACADAMY

As Jamie looked at the students assembled for the first day of his new academy, his heart sank.  Never had such an unpromising cross-section of humanity been assembled under one roof.  Jamie’s inexhaustible supply of optimism was stretched to breaking point, but the television cameras were on him and he had to perform.

‘I respect all of you.  Life hasn’t been easy for you.  I know how that feels.  I could easily have gone the same way as you but I got some lucky breaks along the way and my academy is going to give you a way to turn it round.  We all deserve a second chance.  Come on, you can do it.’  But as soon as the cameras were no longer on him, poor Jamie’s face contorted with doubt.  He had worked hard to assemble tutors who were neither experts nor celebrities so that his pupils could come face to face with the views of real people.  But would they be able to control these wilful and determined characters? 

Rochdale’s Gillian Duffy, Gordon Brown’s new best friend, was to take the first class. ‘Honesty and Respect.’  She sat down at the desk and waited for her pupils to settle, and she waited and waited and waited. 

Even above the din, the voice of Pastor Terry Jones rose stridently.  ‘It’s not my fault. Oh no sirree.  It is my right to shred or burn the Koran.  The violence which follows is not my fault, oh no sirree. It just shows how excitable those folk are.’  And on and on he droned and whined, being careful to make sure that he was positioned to obtain maximum exposure. 

Gillian Duffy did all that she could to bring the class to order, but the din and the chaos just grew.  From the front of the room came a great shout of ‘No! No! No!’ as The Rev Ian Paisley stormed out.  At the back of the room Colonel Gadaffi and Robert Mugabe were getting on famously, playing the old children’s counting game ‘One dictator two dictator three dictator four, five dictator six dictator seven dictator more.’  And on the last word they executed exuberant high fives and started all over again. 

Banker Bob Berkley-Hunt had turned his back to the teacher and was conducting an animated telephone call.  ‘No , we have done enough.  No more apologies.  We must get on with the serious task of making some really big money.  For the shareholders?  No, don’t be daft.  For us my friend, for us.’ 

Jamie peered through a window and groaned.  The cameras panned from his stricken face to the riot in the classroom and back, and then the credits began to roll. 

Will Jamie be able to bring out the best in his new intake?  Is there a best to find in every case?  Will the students stick the course?  And if so where? 

Next week’s thrilling instalment will reveal some amazing twits.  (Did you mean ‘twists’?  Ed). (No.  JF)

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Date: 27th March 2011, 6:39 PM

DIGNITY AND RESPECT

George Osborne was feeling relaxed and on top of things as he addressed a group of the older members of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.  He had, in his speech, selected a small band of the unloved to set up as targets.  There was a small smack for the bankers, who deserved much more, a little smack for the owners of private jets and the non-domiciled, and then he boasted of how he had raised the rate of tax on oil exploration to 81%.  He smirked as he considered the way in which he had attacked a previous Chancellor who had raised it to 75%.  That was the advantage of talking to the elderly.  Too far past it to see the wool being pulled over their eyes, and too polite to mention it even if they did.  Bless them. 

A very old lady rose unsteadily to her feet and took a long pull at what looked suspiciously like a pint of crème de menthe.  ‘You patronising smug arsehole,’ she began.  ‘It’s the oldest trick in the book.  Setting up a few unpopular targets.  It does nothing to address the real issues of the deficit or the lack of any growth, but is designed to give the appearance of tough action.  So, remind me, what did you promise last November in the House of Commons?  Was it “We have protected key pensioner benefits and made the previous government’s pre-election increases in cold weather payments permanent, because this government treats pensioners with the dignity and respect that they deserve?” 

‘So what did you sneak in after your Budget speech, that you didn’t wish to mention when on your feet in the House?  £100 cuts for winter fuel allowance for pensioners over eighty, and a £50 cut for the rest?  Perhaps we should be pleased that a promise lasted almost four months? 

‘I’ll give you dignity and respect.  It’s not just the money but being taken for a fool, and, young man, don’t think for a moment that we didn’t all notice the opportunistic about-turn on oil exploration taxation.’ 

And then, in a blur of astonishing athleticism, and without spilling a single drop of her pint, Kitty Fisher, vaulted up onto the stage, whipped her scissors from her sewing basket, snipped the Chancellor’s braces and was out of the room and running, carrying his trousers over one arm.  The meeting stood up and, to the tune of ‘All Through the Night’, sang to the great politician, who could only stand there red of face and white of knees.
 
‘Dignity and respect
Have to be earned.
Say goodbye to your trousers,
For they will be burned.
We had hoped you might have learned
From the last lot.
But from the tricks that you have turned,
It’s clear that you have not.’   

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Date: 20th March 2011, 7:17 PM

ONLY SIXTY EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS

William Hague was acting as compere for the annual fashion show and sale which was such a popular event at the Three Pickerels.  He was relaxed and happy.  He had not imbibed the twelve pints which his younger self had considered the minimum for a good session, but had been quietly comparing the Bass and the Ruddles in quite meaningful quantities.  Above all, his worst fears had not been realised.  His nightmare was that John Fisher’s Aunt Kitty, drunk and disorderly, would make a scene and cause embarrassment for him.  The last of the ladies of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club was now on the cat-walk, and he felt it safe to make an announcement.  ‘I can assure any of you who were still anxious, that Kitty Fisher will not be appearing.  At this very moment she is on a plane to Venezuela.’ 

Bad timing.  For at that very second there was a crash and much cursing from the changing rooms, and then a gasp from the customers followed by a great groan of visceral disgust.  Aunt Kitty made her grand entrance, wearing black bra and pants and a sheer knee-length negligee.  ‘This is my Princess look,’ she purred.  ‘Just sixty eight thousand pounds and it is yours.’ 

It was a very angry Robert Mugabe who broke the silence.  ‘This is a plot by the old colonial power. Do I get the respect that I deserve as clearly the vilest tyrant in the world?  Do I get ill-considered military action to help shore up my position?  No, because there is no oil.  Instead you send this monstrous gargoyle to assault my dignity.’  ‘Bye, bye Big Boy,’ sighed Aunt Kitty to the retreating despot. 

Aunt Kitty then advanced on poor Silvio Berlusconi who had been hoping for a quiet day, out of the limelight.  ‘Just a hundred thousand Euros and you even get to take it off,’ she leered.  This was too much for even the rampant Italian.  ‘No. Very sorry.  I have headache.’ 

There were only two of the regulars who were not in hiding or trying to avoid the old lady’s predatory gaze.  Prince Andrew was on the phone to Kazakstan, and Fergie was looking at the outfit with open mouthed admiration.  ‘What a classy little number,’ she squeaked.  ‘Just what I need to wear to the wedding.’  Meanwhile, Prince Andrew had concluded his deal with a Kazak friend who was happy to pay his usual price, which was two million pounds more than the real value. 

Aunt Kitty, seeing the way things were going, took the opportunity of adding a final element to the bargain.  ‘Sixty eight thousand pounds and an invitation to the wedding?’  ‘No problem, sweetheart,’ replied the UK’s special representative for trade and investment.  ‘Jeffery Epstein won’t be wanting his.’ 

The quiet of that fine spring Sunday was broken only by the sound of William Hague’s official car speeding away back to the safety of his Richmond constituency.

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Date: 15th March 2011, 5:17 PM

TICK TOCK!

Nobody was quite sure of the real reason why the annual Lib Dem Conference had been re-named, but the official line was that ‘Lib Dem Con’ was a respectful way of including a reference to the party’s partner in the Coalition. 

Whatever the real reason, Nick Clegg and David Cameron found themselves going over the speeches that they each intended to deliver at the closing session.  David sat patiently listening.  Nick was really excited about his new ideas. 

‘My party is committed.  Committed to the centre ground.  We have the freehold ownership of the centre ground of British politics.  We stand for that group of people that I always call alarm clock Britain. Yes, always.  At bedtime and first thing in the morning.  These are the people who get up and go to work.  These are not the wealthy.  Those people are idle and are quite rightly taxed at higher rates. It is alarm clock Britain which will benefit from everything which this party does.’ 

It was, of course, far longer than that and with even fewer jokes, but that was the essence of the speech which Nick Clegg practiced in front of his friend.  Poor Nick.  Instead of rapturous approval, he saw only despair on David Cameron’s face. 

‘Nick, that is really very, very poor.  The middle ground stuff is another way of saying that you have no policies of your own and will forever shift your policies when other parties change theirs, as otherwise you will lose that middle ground.  And that alarm clock stuff makes no sense at all.  What you are saying is that if you get up to go to work and keep earning roughly in line with unemployment entitlements then you are the apple of the Lib Dems’ eyes, but if you are successful and reach the stage when you hit the higher rates of tax then you have become the idle wealthy.’ 

Nick took the criticism in good heart and listened politely to David, who gave a version of his favourite speech about the Big Society.  The gist was that the government had undermined the natural willingness of communities to work together, and therefore to help charities and community schemes we should take from them every penny of government help and all shared or other facilities.  If the lives of the voluntary sector enthusiasts were made as difficult as possible then any that succeeded would be leaner and fitter – well, leaner and fitter than most politicians.  Nick rolled his eyes and said. ‘You must be joking.’  ‘Well yes, actually I am, but nobody other than you has ever realised it,’ smirked the Conservative leader. 

So the two men set to work on a joint message to Conference which would combine the best of both worlds.  It was called ‘The Big Alarm Clock Society’.  Those with the biggest alarm clocks would occupy the centre ground of the wealthy.  The government would not interfere with anything, but it would try to set the conditions whereby those with the very biggest alarm clocks would contribute to their society without adding to the deficit.  It was total nonsense, but the two men delivered it with great conviction and without notes, and the Lib Dems stood and cheered till they were hoarse.  It was just what they wanted. The new policy broke no promises.  It contained none of the sour posturing of previous speeches and was not likely to upset any of the voters, apart from that tiny minority who still hoped for something even remotely practical and sensible from politicians.  The two men looked lovingly at each other.  They knew that their determination to work together had produced the great new political doctrine of the twenty first century. 'Tick tock. Tick tock,’ they said to each other and then they had not only a great new policy but the slogan to go with it.

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Date: 7th March 2011, 3:48 PM

THE PANTS INSPECTOR 

Smelt Bloater, Chairman of FIFA, was addressing the annual convention of the CCI, Carp Clubs International.  The leaders of fisheries from all over the world had come to hear the FIFA boss speak.  Every one of them was a high achiever and an innovator, but none was too humble to learn from a great man and the wonderful organisation that he chaired. 

Smelt Bloater had been speaking for a couple of hours or so and had outlined all the finest achievements of FIFA, from the brilliant decision to exclude goal line technology from the World Cup to the totally admirable stewardship of a voting system which ended up with the biggest sporting event being awarded to a country which had no capacity to hold it without everything being purpose-built, no history of interest in the game and no realistic use for the facilities afterwards, as well as a climate which was totally hostile to summer football. 

Smelt Bloater beamed down at the delegates and they looked up at him with the adoring admiration of puppies.  ‘And now we come to the final part of my speech when I unveil to you the two magnificent decisions which FIFA has taken for the benefit of the world of football, and indeed of the world itself. 

‘We could have done something about those high profile managers who always blame the referee, and who set an example which helps indiscipline to become endemic in the game, but we chose not to.  We had bigger fish to fry.’  Smelt laughed long and hard at his joke. 

‘We could have intervened in situations like the recent Celtic v Rangers fixture, where the intensity of the rivalry spills over into violence in the streets and leads to vast wastage of public money in extra policing and a huge increase in domestic violence, but we chose not to.  That issue is a very small fish in our very large pond.’  It was some minutes before Smelt was able to recover from his joke and continue with his speech. 

‘We could have tackled issues like the way in which Ecuadorian footballers have become the victims of extortion and violence from organised crime, but we chose not to.  These things are just small fry when compared with the enormity of the decisions which we took at our meeting. The scale of them…..’  At this stage oxygen had to be brought to the podium to revive the great man.  All the delegates could see why Smelt Bloater’s line in humour meant that he was  in such great demand as a speaker, but few were prepared for the great sweep of his strategic vision for football which he then revealed. 

‘FIFA will reform the deepest ills in the game of football by making two radical reforms to the rules.  Firstly, with immediate effect, we will ban the wearing of snoods.  Secondly, we will phase in proposals to ensure that no person will play our noble game unless his or her pants are the same colour as the shorts worn over them.’ 

There was uproar in the hall as applause for the man and his organisation turned into something close to hysteria.  An hour after the speech ended with such impressive revelations the delegates were still chanting FIFA, FIFA, FIFA!  Few noticed, when a little old lady, smelling strongly of crème de menthe, slipped into Smelt Bloater’s pocket an envelope containing the very first application for a job as a FIFA accredited Pants Inspector.

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Date: 27th February 2011, 9:43 AM

DOUBLE TROUBLE

George Osborne was preparing to address the Friday meeting of the ladies of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.  His talk was entitled ‘There is no choice’.  Aunt Kitty handed him an ancient megaphone.  ‘Sorry, old chum.  Can’t afford electricity.  The cuts, you know.’ 

Before he could start to speak the door flew open and in rushed Colonel Gadaffi’s son, Saif al Islam.  Aunt Kitty’s heart sank, as she knew that this double booking was entirely her fault.  She had invited both for the same day, not really expecting either to accept, let alone turn up, but here they both were as large as life and just as ugly. 

Saif al Islam surveyed the women of the Carp Club.  ‘Hmmm.  Nice bodyguards,’ he murmured licking his lips. 

The tantrums of the two men were of epic proportions.  Neither would stand down to allow the other to speak first, and so it was agreed that they would give their talks simultaneously. 

Saif: ‘Our country faces a dreadful catastrophe, and only the present government can save it.’ 

At the same time George Osborne started his own speech.  ‘Our country faces a dreadful catastrophe, and only the present government can save it.’ 

Saif:  ‘Those who dissent and protest are troublemakers, drug-dealers, trades unionists, single mothers and extreme Islamists. 

George: ‘Those who dissent and protest are troublemakers, drug-dealers, trades unionists, single mothers and extreme Islamists.’ 

Saif: ‘If the opposition has its way it will lead to financial ruin, the destruction of all industry, and an end to our oil wealth.’ 

George; ‘If the opposition has its way it will lead to financial ruin, the destruction of all industry, and an end to our oil wealth.’ 

Some forty minutes later both men brought their speeches to a simultaneous ringing conclusion. 

Saif: ‘I will fight for my noble cause.  I will battle down to the last round in my tank.’

George; ‘I will fight for my noble cause.  I will battle down to the last pound in your bank.’ 

The ladies stood and cheered.  George and Saif performed elaborate high fives, low fives and other complicated hand gestures.  Aunt Kitty took a great pull on her flask and basked in the praise rightfully due to her for arranging such interesting and diverse speakers.

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Date: 21st February 2011, 12:44 PM

TRUNCHEON LUNCHEON

It was Friday lunchtime at the Three Pickerels and the ladies of Pondsworth and Reeling had gathered to raise funds to help support banker Bob Berkley-Hunt, who was having a rough time.  Though his bank had made quite fabulous profits on the back of the various government subsidies which it had received, it had only been able to contribute tax to the public coffers at a little over 2%.  He had blustered and threatened to take his ball away and then claimed that his bank had paid lots and lots of tax under PAYE, but of course he knew very well that that tax was the tax of his employees and not the bank.  But just as the ladies were about to hold the draw, there was a hideous noise outside and the pub was filled with hundreds of policemen. 

They all shouted at once, and it was a long time before the barman could understand their grievance.  Eventually it became clear that they had heard of the Sunday morning competition for politicians to compete for the honour of the daftest statement of the week, and they felt slighted because they had not been given the chance.  The ladies knew where their duty lay, and soon formed a judging panel ready to hear the first contestant. 

A burly constable from the local force stepped up and described how, on a day when all sorts of crime and yobbery were rife in his town, he had found old Dodie Ruffe helping herself to some rapidly thawing food which a supermarket had put out, and which was not going to be collected for another week.  ‘The dogs and cats of the town were welcome to tear the bags to pieces and scatter the food to rot in the streets, but when I saw an old lady collect a couple of items for her own consumption I knew that the whole fabric of society was being undermined.  I cuffed her, smacked her about a bit and now she is facing prosecution.’

The whistle of amazement which this story drew from the panel gave the young officer high hopes of winning, until a sergeant from the Wisbech force stepped up. ‘A new park has attracted a lot of violent young people at night.  They drink and fight there, making the locals afraid to use it and when they have really wound themselves into a frenzy they go out and terrorise the people living nearby.  So our response is to go into the park when it is daylight and the yobs are in their beds, but once it is dark we won’t go near the place.’  He flexed his knees and then nodded a confident, perhaps even smug, acknowledgment to the chair of the panel, while flipping a one fingered salute behind his back to the other forces.

The third entry, from the Surrey and Kent Police, was a report on the advice given to allotment holders not to protect their shed windows with wire mesh, lest they hurt a burglar.  Their spokesman finished with a summary of the measures which householders should take to ease the tasks of those wishing to steal from them, and returned to his seat confident of victory.  Just as the panel’s spokeswoman was about to announce the winner, the door opened and in walked David Cameron. 

He went straight to the podium and took the microphone.  ‘I appreciate that I am not a policeman and that my entry is not really fair, but I would like to explain to you my ideas for the Big Society.’  The pub went absolutely silent.  The police and the ladies were chilled to the marrow.  ‘Alright, you win’, said the massed ranks of the police in unison, as one man.  ‘Alright, you win,’ said the ladies of Pondsworth and Reeling, in unison, as one woman.  And in the hopes that it might make him go away they gave him the £138.40 which they had collected for poor Bob Berkley-Hunt.

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Date: 15th February 2011, 8:50 AM

BAN THE BORROWING

John Fisher was taking advice from Professor Brill on his new campaign to make  governments raise all the tax needed to cover the full cost of the promises they make. John did not feel that the Professor’s monosyllabic answers were good value for the substantial fee that he had paid for the consultation. 

‘Professor, is it true that  legislation requires all companies to show the public the full cost of future liabilities like pensions, and that this forces them to deal with all their commitments out of today’s money?’ 

‘Yes.’ 

‘And is it true that the very same governments who made these rules do exactly the opposite and leave the cost of many of their commitments to be picked up by others in the future, and that they claim to balance their books when there is a thumping great gap between the true cost of public services and benefits and the taxation which they raise from the electorate?’ 

‘Yes and yes,’ replied the Professor, becoming almost garrulous. 

‘And do you agree that if the government, in normal times, was to fund its pension and other commitments in exactly the same way that it required of the private sector,  it would have to raise the basic rate of income tax for everybody from 20% to 38%?’ 

The Professor was exhausted by his previous lengthy reply and nodded his agreement. 

‘So, if politicians had to raise the true cost of public services from the generation who were benefiting from them, then the debate and discussion would be much more honest than at the last general election, when all parties knew the size of the problem but none dared to spell it out?’ 

‘Yes,’ replied Professor Brill who was unable to disguise the extent of his boredom. 

‘If such a regime was introduced gradually it could be achieved without damage to the economy, and as the drain on the state from the accumulated interest costs was taken away it would actually improve things?’ 

Again the professor nodded his weary agreement. 

‘But it will never happen, will it?’ asked John Fisher, but before Professor Brill could answer John  added ‘Hell will freeze over first and Norwich City and Ipswich Town will enter into a ground-sharing arrangement.’ 

And suddenly Professor Brill, a lifetime supporter of the Tractor Boys, was on his feet waving his hands and shouting, and it was several hours before John was able to get a word in edgeways.

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Date: 6th February 2011, 4:30 PM

THAT’S NOT FAIR 

Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and U.S.Vice President Joe Bidon had all entered the Boris Johnson Trophy, run by the landlord of the Three Pickerels, for the daftest public statement of the month, and had been drawn against each other in the first round.  They had given it everything in the previous week, and had assembled for Sunday drinks in the saloon bar. 

It was a confident Joe Bidon who played to the judging panel the video of him talking about President Mubarak.  ‘Is Mubarak a dictator?  He is a friend of the USA.  Mubarak is no dictator.’  The whole bar erupted in its admiration for Joe’s statement, and the panel’s verdict was ‘Yes, Joe.  That is as daft as a Bush.’ 

The bar had been set high.  Nick Clegg drained his pint of Ruddles and hit the ‘play’ button of the video machine.  The Sunday drinkers were treated to his speech about people whose tax rates have risen from 20% to 40% not feeling any worse off.  As the applause died down, Nick wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes and added ‘Perhaps when we double it to 80% the tax payers will actually feel better off!’  So hard did he laugh at his own joke that the pub doctor had to be called to assist and calm him down. 

Despite the quality of these two entries, there was a confident swagger about Ed Miliband as he strode to the podium and treated the audience to a repeat of his speech about how it was the Coalition cuts in public spending which would blight the lives of future generations.  And then something totally unexpected and unconstitutional happened.  David Cameron, who had been engaged in a drinking game with Sally Bercow, who was by now four sheets to the wind, got up and seized the microphone. 

‘Ed Miliband is a disgrace.  Time will tell if the Coalition strategy or the Labour view turns out to be the right way to deal with the deficit, but what will blight the lives of the next generation is the debt that your lot built up when they were in government.’ 

The pub doctor was now called to the aid of the judging panel, whose convulsions of laughter at the Cameron intervention had taken on life threatening proportions.  When they recovered they conferred at great length, and then announced the Prime Minister as the first round winner.  ‘Even though you had not entered the competition, and even though the efforts of Messrs Bidon, Clegg and Miliband had achieved quite sublime levels of daftness, your own intervention trumps the lot.  As you know perfectly well, you publicly supported the Labour levels of spending right up to their last year because you didn’t think you would win votes by pointing out the problem. As you also know, the amount of the unfunded pension liabilities combined with the health care needs of an ageing population are a problem of such a scale that it dwarfs all deficit issues.  We can see you going all the way to the final.  You, Mr Cameron, are a contender.’ 

Bidon burst into tears.  Clegg started to threaten the panel, ‘I give you my solemn promise…’ before he realised that it did not carry the weight it once had.  The same could be said of Ed Miliband who said ‘I’ll set my big brother on you.’ 

David Cameron’s face turned a bright and shiny red, but nobody could tell if it was through shame, rage or pride.

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Date: 30th January 2011, 11:15 AM

TESTING TIMES FOR ANDY GRAY

Andy Gray knew that if he was ever to work in television again he would have to undergo a course of rehabilitation, and no course was more rigorous in its rooting out of bad attitudes than the Kitty Fisher House of Correction.  It was run by her in the back room of her house, and it was certainly true that those who had been through the experience were never quite the same again. 

Kitty Fisher’s methods owed little to modern psychology and much to her studies of Dickens and her admiration for the characters of David Copperfield’s step father, Mr Murdstone, and Wackford Squeers, headmaster of Dotheboys Hall, but Andy Gray did not know this when he signed up for the course and paid a large sum of money to John Fisher’s aunt. 

In the first week there were constant beatings and humiliation and also great peals of laughter, though it all came from the old lady.  She was really happy in what she did, and who wouldn’t be?  But Andy was working hard and making real progress.  He could read a whole page of newsprint about the career of businesswoman Karren Brady without once saying ‘I could show her a thing or two about statistics.’  He could look at a photo of referee Sian Massey without a single disrespectful comment, and could be given a microphone and handle it and use it without any suggestive gestures. 

The time had come for his final exam.  To get Kitty Fisher’s certificate of rehabilitation he just had to make correct responses to three video clips, showing the fullness and sincerity of his conversion. 

The first clip showed the Brazilian women’s football team, celebrating their 5-0 victory over USA in 1997.  They jumped and hugged and cavorted with the trophy.  Andy’s eyes bulged a little but his comment was ‘That is what you get when you combine athleticism, flair and hard work’. 

Then it was a short film of Silvio Berlusconi with a few of his more startling cabinet appointments.  ‘I have looked into this,’ said Andy Gray.  ‘It is important not to take things at face value.  Both Ministers are, sad to say, far better qualified for their posts than their boss.’

Kitty Fisher was amazed and impressed.  Everything now depended on the last question.  The video was of Sarah Palin, giving a wide-ranging speech setting out the full extent of her knowledge of geography, climate change and world affairs.  ‘I have a lot of respect for the intelligence of that lady and for the range of her understanding,’ Andy said without the trace of a smirk. 

‘I knew it! I knew it,’ screamed Kitty, as once again she applied her sharpest cane to Andy Gray’s broad backside.  ‘You haven’t changed at all.  You are just saying what you think I want to hear.  Nobody in their right mind could think that.  You have so failed this course.’

And so a saddened and much chastened Andy Gray forked out for another week of Kitty’s correction and Kitty Fisher, out of her profits, sent a case of crème de menthe to Karren Brady and Sian Massey, neither of whom were especially pleased or impressed.

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Date: 23rd January 2011, 6:05 PM

MY FRIEND MARY 

Aunt Kitty and Mary Portas had agreed to go undercover to see just how far service standards had slipped in every area of human activity. 

They started off at the Chilcott enquiry, but even before they got there they found that the Cabinet Office was not prepared to supply the correspondence between Blair and Bush, which was essential to show the extent to which the two men had reached a secret agreement to invade Iraq.  Even the evidence that was presented was inadequate, and the tribunal members and Tony Blair chattered amiably amongst themselves without any regard for the customers in the gallery.  Blair was allowed to get away with murder.  The enquiry did not seem to mind when he suggested that his deception of Parliament was just a political judgement.  Apparently that was just fine and dandy.  They had no problems with the fact that he had not really engaged the Attorney General in the details of what was brewing, when the legality of the war was the biggest issue.  It was when they just smiled and nodded as the former PM announced that it would be a stonking good idea to follow up the success of his Iraq policy by waging war on Iran, that Kitty Fisher could bear it no longer. ‘You pathetic apology for a carp’s arsehole!  You miserable weak-kneed tenching git.  What kind of public service is this?  I’ve had better at Primark in their January sale!’ 

The two ladies were unceremoniously ejected.  ‘No, Mary, don’t say a word,’ sighed Aunt Kitty.  ‘Even if they had all the training in the world they would not provide a decent service. They are just not up to it.’ 

So their next investigation into public service took them to New Scotland Yard, where they had an appointment with Chief Superintendent, Harry Troutington.  ‘Ladies, ladies,’ he smarmed, ‘what can I do for you?’  ‘It’s very simple really,’ smiled Kitty Fisher.  ‘I am just a poor old lady and don’t really understand, but why is it that, when the police have buckets full of evidence about phone hacking, they prefer to take no action at all, yet when my little poodle, Helen, did a naughty on the pavement and I had run out of bags to pick it up, there was a police helicopter overhead within twenty seconds?’  The Chief Superintendent turned a spectacular shade of purple and before you could say ‘Jack Pike’, both ladies has been unceremoniously ejected.  Again Aunt Kitty recovered first and turned to her friend.  ‘No you are not going to take them to see examples of how other people do it better or give them a makeover.  You are coming with me to see some real service.’ 

Even as they approached the Three Pickerels, the door was opened for them and they were greeted warmly. ‘ Kitty, you are looking good.  Ms Portas?  Your first visit?  Excellent.  The usual for you Kitty and I think green tea for your guest?  Your special  Moroccan mint green tea? ‘  Kitty Fisher nodded and gave a meaningful wink.  Had Mary Portas not been so overwhelmed by the service to notice it perhaps she would have escaped her friend’s little joke, but soon the two women were discussing the events of the day.  ‘I have never had tea like this before,’ said Mary Portas, who was then onto her third pot and near the point of collapse.  ‘I don’t suppose you have,’ replied Kitty Fisher as she took those embarrassing photos which adorned the next edition of Carp Weekly.  ‘But this is what I call very special and very personal service.’

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Date: 16th January 2011, 9:16 AM

UNMASKING THE IMPOSTERS

The discovery that Aunt Kittie had for ten years been an undercover police officer rocked the Pondsorth and Reeling Carp Club to its very core.  A select committee was set up to investigate other members whose eccentric behaviour could only make sense on the same basis. 

The first member to be interviewed was former treasurer, Gordon Brown.  He was quizzed about his view that boom and bust had been abolished.  He was asked about the sale of the gold reserves at the bottom of the market and his later instruction that, as budgets were being prepared to spend far less, nobody should mention the word ’cuts’.  The Chairman gazed long and hard at him.  ‘You are a policeman aren’t you?  Not even a politician would make all those blunders.’  Gordon gave a sheepish grin.  ‘I almost wish that was the explanation.  I was always a politician, just not a very good one.’ 

Then it was the turn of David Cameron.  So confident was the Chairman that he greeted him with a hearty ‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo.’  He referred to the way in which the Conservatives had snatched electoral defeat from the jaws of victory, to allowing Gordon Brown to get away with portraying himself as the safe pair of hands with the economy, to the appointment of George Osborne as Chancellor, to the promise to limit bankers’ bonuses to £2000 and to the blundering into a vast range of ill-considered reforms just when a little stability was needed.  ‘Come on, Officer.  You can admit it to us.  You looked the part, but your lack of any natural ability was bound to give you away in the end.’  ‘It’s not bloody true,’ muttered the Prime Constable and stormed out to his Panda Car. 

Bob Berkely Hunt really looked like a banker.  He had perfected the necessary hint of petulance in the voice.  ‘I don’t have to be a member of your carp club.  My band of superstars will be in great demand in carp clubs all over the world.  You shouldn’t worry about how much we pay ourselves as you gain so much in the tax that we would have paid, if our accountants had not sorted it out.  You interfere with our organisation at your peril.  The pensioners of the Carp Club depend on the long term success of my bank.  Why, £1,000 invested in it 14 years ago would now be worth as much as £850.’  If he had left it as that, the Chairman would have believed that he really was a banker but it is hard not to overplay one’s hand when the role is that of a pantomime villain.  Bob Berkeley Hunt continued ‘No, I am not sorry. The time has come for all the banks to stop saying sorry and to set about the task of making money.’  No sooner were the words were out of his mouth than the entire committee became helpless with mirth. The Chairman recovered first.  ‘Even a banker wouldn’t be that stupid in the current climate.  You must either be a secret policeman or a communist agent bent on bringing down the capitalist system.’ 

Bob Berkeley Hunt called for champagne all round.  ‘And why not both?’ he said with a  stylish wink in the direction of the secretary.

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Date: 9th January 2011, 5:07 PM

THREE CHEERS FOR SEPP BLOATTER

The Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club committee had no choice.  Following Aunt Kitty’s part in ‘the incident’ she could no longer be allowed to remain as club secretary, so they fired her.  She took it badly.  Words so foul gushed from her mouth that the committee members were almost too shocked to hear that she had declared herself a candidate in the election for the now vacant post. 

There was only one candidate standing against Kitty Fisher, the ever popular Walter Softy.   The Presiding Officer counted the votes in the presence of the members, the candidates and their technical advisers.  Ten thousand votes were cast in favour of Walter Softy and there was just one vote for the old lady. She turned to the first of her advisers for his views. 

‘Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes,’ called out President Mugabe.  ‘This lady has won and won well.  Hers is the only valid vote.  The rest are an Anglo American plot.’  He sent out to his fleet of limousines and soon several hundred thousand votes all in favour of Aunt Kitty materialised.  ‘You are a real sweetie, Mugsy,’ she said and gave him a huge hug. 

Up stepped her next adviser, election specialist Laurent Gbagbo, all the way from the Ivory Coast.  He, too, shook her by the hand and congratulated her on a stunning victory.  ‘Sod the votes,’ he murmured. ‘I have got Walter Softy holed up in the Three Pickerels.  If he tries to move out my men will blow him to bits.  You could of course consider resigning if the neighbouring carp clubs give you an indemnity and a couple of hundred million, less of course my thirty percent.’ 

Advisers, employed by Walter Softy, came and went but no amount of persuasion had any effect on Aunt Kitty.  Stubbornness and crème de menthe combine as a lethal cocktail.  And then help came from a most unlikely source.  Sepp Bloatter, head honcho of the World Carp, started with a long speech which wore down the resistance of all who had the misfortune to hear it.  Hour after hour he droned on and then he turned on Aunt Kitty and scornfully told her,  ‘You received only one vote and that was your own.  You lost.  Accept it and move on.’  The reporter from ‘Fat Fish Daily’ was so amazed by this outbreak of common sense from such an unlikely source that he left to file his copy in praise of Herr Bloatter.   

Had he stayed long enough to hear the great man conclude his speech with his traditional finale ‘And the true winner is Qatar’, he would have joined in the derision and catcalls of the assembled members, and the paper’s next day headline would have been very different.

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Date: 1st January 2011, 5:51 PM

GUEST OF HONOUR

Vince Cable was guest of honour at the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club New Year dinner dance.  Having seen his dazzling display on the Christmas Strictly, the committee had arranged for Erin Boag to renew her partnership with Vince and to add some much needed class to proceedings.  Had the committee members done their research better, they would have avoided the trouble which lay in store for them and their celebrity guest. 

As soon as it became known that Vince Cable was to be the guest of honour Aunt Kitty had written to him asking for the first and last dances, and had sent him a form promising to partner nobody but her at the beginning and end of the evening.  That was before the election and Vince was happy to sign this pledge, and at the time he probably meant what he promised.  But then was then, and now Vince had formed a new coalition with Erin. 

The music started and Vince and Erin drew gasps of admiration as they floated over the dance floor, spinning and gliding in perfect harmony.  And then it happened.  What was to become known as ‘the incident’.  Out of the crowd flew, or perhaps tottered, a hellcat in the form of a little old lady, dressed in purple and brandishing a half empty bottle of crème de menthe.  ‘Beat it, sweetheart.  This is a ladies’ excuse me and now he is mine,’ she said to Erin in a voice whose ferocity chilled the New Zealander to the marrow.  And Kitty Fisher wrapped herself around poor Vince, whispering into his ear, ‘So you find it difficult to smile?  I think that this may tickle your fancy.’  Nobody could bear to look at what happened next and there was no help available for the great statesman. 

When Aunt Kitty had finished her very special dirty dancing, she seized the microphone and announced a sing song in honour of the Club’s special guest.  Everyone, including Vince, joined into a rousing chorus of that old favourite:

‘Murdoch lies over the ocean
Murdoch lies over the sea
But he will never take over News Corps
And that is because of me.’

But when Aunt Kitty started her version of the Good Ship Venus and came to:

‘The captain’s daughter Mabel
Whenever she was able,
Gave the crew
Their weekly screw…’ 

the  members could all predict what was coming and the next line was drowned in  their protests. 

‘Very well,’ said Aunt Kitty, ‘we will have some Scottish games in honour of our guest and he will have to take part.’  The doors of the hall opened and in came three large athletes carrying huge poles.  ‘And so,’ Aunt Kitty announced, ‘we conclude our evening with the…….’ 

Vince Cable was nothing if not a quick learner.  ‘Who put me with this bigoted old woman?’ he quoted as he vaulted over the bar and sprinted for his ministerial car.  ‘If you don’t like what has happened to you,’ shrieked Kitty Fisher ‘don’t break your promises.  Simples!’  And with that she wandered over to the table where Erin was sitting and together they polished off the remains of the crème de menthe.’

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Date: 21st December 2010, 12:09 PM

SEASONAL SECRETS

It was just another December night at the Three Pickerels, when President Obama stood on his chair and sang this song to the regulars. 

‘Silent night.  Secret night.
Like a clam we keep it tight.
We distribute it to three million or more.
Wonderfully secret and secure.
Death to Wikileaks.
Death to Wikileaks.

Pentagon.  Big and strong.
It doesn’t take you very long
To hack right into the core.
Any teenager can do more.
Extradition from the UK.
The traffic is all one way.’

The frantic applause was interrupted by several large CIA officers threatening ‘One word of this gets out and you get the chair.’ 

Kim Jong-il was chatting to John Fisher at the bar. ‘Beloved Leader who is the master of all things,’ said John, bowing low enough to hide his smirk, ‘let me tell you a secret.  Last week South Korean president, Excellency Lee Myung Bak, managed to drink sixty five pints of Bass in less than an hour.’  And John stood back to watch the inevitable conversion of the beloved leader into Kim Jong very ill. 

The shifty little man in the flasher’s mac, sidling up to the bar, turned out to be none other than Silvio Berlusconi.  ‘I’ll have my usual. Where is she?’  Reluctantly Dolly Varden slipped off her bar stool where she had been fascinated by John Fisher’s stories of monster carp, and followed the little maestro into the back room.  A few minutes later she re-appeared looking a bit dishevelled and, having picked her way through a small sea of vomit, started to sing raucously her Christmas favourite. 

‘Ding dong verily Ity
You’ve got a very small w….’

But the oath of secrecy sworn by all customers of TheThree Pickerels prevents you from knowing what.  Don’t even guess.

 

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Date: 15th December 2010, 4:08 PM

IT’S NANNY

It was the night of the Carpus Christi Students’ annual balloon debate.  They were back from a happy day of violent demonstrations.  There was no cause which could not be improved by the posting of a few hundred long-dead fish through the letterboxes of members of the House of Carpery, and the students had been extremely thorough. 

The session, chaired by the sultry Rose Tetra, started with a parade of the four candidates whose obnoxious character or behaviour qualified them for their role as balloon ballast, with the peculiar twist that it was the most revolting of them who was to be spared the fate of ejection, but, instead to receive the Ordure of Merit. 

Up strode the first of them, none other than Pastor Terry Jones, the would-be Koran burner and all round protector of the faith.  There was a moment of silence, and then gagging and retching throughout the auditorium.  ‘No, no, no, no,’ shouted the student body as one.  We cannot soil our balloon with this repulsive specimen.  Far too nasty, even to be thrown to his death.’  And so the pastor slunk out, a broken man, deprived of the oxygen of publicity. 

Then it was the turn of the Board of Newcastle United, fresh from sacking the one manager who in recent years had given them success and appointing another with a track record which was no better.  Again there was a gasp of horror. ‘Out! Out! Out!’ chanted the students. ‘These are even worse.’  The Newcastle Board was by now used to this kind of reception and left in a flurry of v-signs and sneering. 

The third candidate was the English Defence League.  Even the strong stomachs of the students, who themselves held some pretty odd ideas, could not tolerate this and the League was driven away in a shower of rotting carp and gudgeon left over from the demo. 

The mood of the students had sunk so low that before the last candidate could be introduced to them they needed something to raise their spirits.  The lights were dimmed and on the great screen came a video of £200,000 per week footballer Wayne Rooney, taking a penalty.  First came the extravagant scything sweep of the run-up and then came the sight of the ball soaring into the air far above the goal and into the stands. ‘More! More! More!’ chanted the undergraduates, who never tired of the sight of the footballing god earning the last penny of his wages. 

The lights came up and onto the stage shambled the last candidate, Prince Charles.  ‘I suppose that as one is now the only one in the balloon one is going to be thrown out.  One hasn’t really had a very good week, one would like you to know.  One thought one was really quite popular but one’s Roller was besieged by more angry students than one could shake a stick at.  It’s not fair.’ 

‘Oh yes it is,’ shouted the students. ‘We cannot all pick up the phone to the Qatari royal family when we don’t like the decision of democratically elected bodies.’  But it was a different voice which caught the Prince’s attention.  A little old lady with a large bottle of green liquid in her hands had snapped at him.  ‘Charlie boy, life isn’t fair and, for that, you had better thank your lucky stars.’  The years rolled back at those familiar words.  Prince Charles went pink and his stiff upper lip started to quiver.  He ran over to the old lady and embraced her. ‘Nanny.  It’s Nanny isn’t it?’

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Date: 9th December 2010, 2:44 PM

AND THE WINNER IS… ANNE WIDDECOMBE 

The English Carp Association was confident about the quality of its bid for the 2022 World Carp.  The SICC (Special International Carp Committee) inspection team members had not even felt it necessary to leave the Dorchester, where they had been staying at the ECA’s expense, to see that everything was in plaice. ‘It seems Crystale clear,’ they said, as they ordered a few more bottles of the stuff at £350 a pop. 

The team sent by the ECA to Zurich had seemed an irresistible blend of all the talents.  How could Vince Cable, Prince Andrew and Wayne Rooney fail to deliver the goods? 

First onto the podium was Prince Andrew.  Something seemed to be troubling him.  ‘Nobody told me that there would be a whole lot of foreigners here,’ he grumbled, forgetting that the microphone was switched on.  ‘Oh, well, the Great Game must go on, though with all the corrupt French present we don’t really stand a chance.’  The prepared statement which he then delivered was, at least by his standards, quite good but the damage had been done.

Next up was Wayne Rooney.  It was a pity that he had brought that night’s supper menu instead of his script, and even more of a shame that the pudding was tarte tatin, as the words somehow played on his mind and his concentration was shot to pieces.  He licked his lips several times and left without saying anything. 

Up strode Vince Cable, confident and accomplished in his arguments and his silky description of the opportunities which English carp could offer the world.  He delivered his final summary  to huge applause, but instead of leaving when he was ahead he added.  ‘I very much doubt if I will be voting for our bid.’ 

When all the presentations had been heard and the last gifts exchanged, SICC president Smelt Bloater stepped up to announce the winner.  The audience was spellbound.  Having awarded the last World Carp to a rich country with no water and the previous one to an even richer country which was icebound all year long, SICC had surely exhausted the scope for wilful eccentricity.  With only the ghost of a smile, the president announced that the 2022 World Carp had been awarded to Anne Widdecombe.  ‘The committee, in making this choice, demonstrates beyond all doubt that it is not influenced in any way by the gifts and promises made to it by the candidates.  By awarding the Word Carp to someone who had not even applied, we can give hope to the millions who wish to win the National Lottery without buying a ticket.  And having seen her dance, we are confident that…’ 

But Smelt Bloater’s words were lost in the peals of hysterical laughter of the representative from Qatar.

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Date: 2nd December 2010, 4:00 PM

THE RUDENESS OF PRINCES

Aunt Kitty had been asked to talk to the sixth formers of the Pondsworth and Reeling Upper School about the recent Wikileaks revelations.  If she thought that a pint of crème de menthe was a proper substitute for preparing the lesson, she was to be proved very wrong.  She thought that if she made it a question and answer session then the students would do most of the talking and fill the forty minutes of the lesson. 

‘What is the collective name for a group of princes?’ asked Aunt Kitty. 

‘A rudeness of princes,’ replied the class as one, and showed no sign of wishing to add to it. 

‘How would a prince describe the idea of investigating a major UK company for corruption in its dealings with Saudi Arabia’s ruling class?’ asked Aunt Kitty. 

‘He would call it idiocy,’ came the answer from the entire class. 

Aunt Kitty needed something which would occupy the students for rather longer as she was already getting short of material.  ‘What would a flabby-bottomed prince who had not held down a real job for twenty five years say to the full-time officials working at full stretch to deliver equipment to the armed forces?’ 

‘He would tell them to get off their fat arses.’  Once again the response of the entire group  was identical and instantaneous.  Aunt Kitty glanced at the clock and saw to her dismay that only three minutes had passed. 

‘Right.  Here’s a difficult one,’ said Kitty Fisher through gritted teeth.  ‘US Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller reports that one of the British visiting party shot his mouth off in a public place, alleging corruption on the part of his hosts (but this time he seemed to be against it),  was behaving in a cocky way and vowed to win a replay of the Great Game in the host country.  Who was that person?’ 

‘Prince Andrew,’ replied the class, which was by now not even trying to disguise its boredom. 

‘O.K. smartarses,’ snarled the old lady.  ‘Prince Andrew sold his house at Sunningdale, which had previously failed to attract any real interest, for £15 million.  Who was the buyer and how much did he pay over the asking price?’ 

‘An extra £3 million and the son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan,’ came back the correct answer. 

‘Right,’ shouted Aunt Kitty.  ‘List all of the things disclosed by Wikileaks which came as a surprise to any of you.’ 

‘None,’ replied the whole class.  ‘It was all pretty much what we would expect.’ 

‘That’s it,’ shrieked Aunt Kitty.  ‘Class dismissed.  Bugger off, the lot of you.  Sodding princes.  Sodding Wikileaks,’ and she delved into her handbag for her secret supply of crème de menthe which she downed in one.

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Date: 24th November 2010, 2:47 PM

STRIKE THAT FROM THE RECORDS

Dolly Varden, the secretary of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club, was reporting to the committee on the progress of the bid to host the 2016 World Carp.  It was not going well.  The UK bid was far superior to that of the other contenders.  The carp fisheries were long established and the accommodation for the anglers was palatial, but none of that counted for much. 

‘The trouble is,’ reported Dolly, ‘that the Sunday Tench has published a story which shows that some members of SICC, the Special International Carp Committee responsible for the tournament, have been offering to sell their votes.  The members of SICC are outraged and will not vote for us.  So I have written to SICC saying how sorry we all are and telling them that the Sunday Tench is a disgusting rag and nothing to do with us.  We have a free press and cannot influence what they write. 

‘And now the BBC is threatening to broadcast more on the corruption of the SICC representatives just before the vote on our application is to be taken.  Once again I have offered this committee’s abject apologies, but I have also asked the government to intervene to get the broadcast moved.  The MPs who accused the BBC of being unpatriotic are absolutely right.  The Prime Administer is doing his best for us by lobbying the power-brokers on SICC who will have most influence on the decision. 

‘SICC chairman, Smelt Bloater, is seething with rage at the accusations.  Despite the guilty verdicts he says that the bidding process is completely cleared of all suspicion and that the executive of SICC does not welcome the corruption investigations, even where the offence is proved.  Our job now is to spend the remaining days before the vote in putting pressure on the media to delay any further revelations, and to do what is necessary to soothe the hurt feelings.’ 

Dolly Varden’s report was interrupted by an explosion of inarticulate rage from John Fisher, who could take no more. ‘You fucking, tenching arseholes,’ he shouted at his fellow committee members. ‘Is there no depth to which we are not prepared to sink?  If our newspapers sniff out corruption amongst the SICC membership, then world carpery should be bloody grateful. We have done SICC’s job for it.  If a World Carp can only be won by colluding in corruption then I want no part of it, and neither should any of you.  And while we are on the subject of collusion the SICC representatives are doing deals with each other, exchanging support for 2016 for votes for 2020 quite irrespective of the merits of the bid.  Smelt Bloater shrugs his shoulders and says that collusion cannot be avoided.  If this is how the system works, then we are better off out of it.  I propose that…’ 

But the Pondsworth and Reeling committee never got to hear John’s proposal as he was carried cursing and screaming from the room by the stewards.   ‘Strike that from the records,’ ordered the chairman.  The next item on the agenda is ‘Gifts for SICC representatives.’

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Date: 21st November 2010, 4:09 PM

CABLE AND CONDOMS

It was a quiet Wednesday night at the Three Pickerels.  John Fisher sat by the fire supping his pint of Bass.  In a corner of the pub the Pope and Vince Cable were sharing a bottle of Chateauneuf. 

‘Your Holiness,’ asked Vince.  ‘Tell me about the nature of truth, and in particular….’ 

‘No need to be so formal,’ said the Pontiff. ‘Just call me “H”.’ 

‘Very well, H,’ continued Vince. ‘How does this condom thing work?  Before you were elected you were on record as being totally against condom use in all circumstances.  I think that your catchy slogan, “Jesus against johnnies”, played a large part in getting you over the line.  Then on your visit to Africa condoms were still a no go area and the AIDS argument cut no ice with you.  But now you have announced that they can be used in gay sex and by prostitutes, and in fact for any purpose except the limiting the number of children for good married couples. Where did you get a mandate for a startling change like that?’ 

The Pope gave Vince a steely and grim look before replying ‘Let me tell you a little story.  Once upon a time there was a politician, and even amongst the Liberals he was acknowledged as the most liberal.  In the run up to his election he signed a pledge, promising that he would never vote for an increase in tuition fees.  His fellow Liberals did the same, and it probably played a part in winning those seats where they were successful. 

‘Our politician and his Liberal friends did not win the election.  Nobody did, but soon he entered into a political marriage of convenience.  It was not the kind of marriage that I would bless and soon bad things started to happen.  In no time at all the politician and his Liberal friends did the very thing that they promised that they would not do, and they voted to increase tuition fees.  Our politician was not sorry for what he had done, and claimed that he had not broken his word at all because in some way the promise was always conditional on the Liberals winning power and did not apply if there was a coalition. His boldness quite took the breath away, but when his supporters recovered their poise they all asked him “Where did you get a mandate for a change like that?”’ 

The two men looked at each other long and hard before they both spoke the same words at the same time ‘I think we understand each other, don’t you?’ 

It was Vince’s turn to buy the next bottle and so he ordered Chateau Haut Bage Liberale and the companionable hum of the two men’s conversation was interrupted only by the sound of John Fisher being sick.

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Date: 14th November 2010, 10:18 AM

COME ON – CUT THEM SOME SLACK

Representatives of all the political parties had gathered at the Three Pickerels for the Sunday morning drink and the chance to chat over the events of the week in relaxed surroundings.  Sadly, they were all wallowing in self-pity. 

‘It’s not fair,’ one of them whinged.  All we want is the freedom to tell lies without interference from the courts.  Where will all this end?  Will we be called to account for half-truths and misleading omissions?  We are the elected representatives, not those interfering judges, and we should be the ones to decide whether to tell some absolute whopper to ensure a few extra votes.  Come on.  Cut us some slack.’ 

‘You’re absolutely right,’ responded the pub’s regulars, keeping commendably straight faces as they held out their glasses for a refill.  ‘Carry on just as you always have done.’ 

Then it was the turn of former president George Bush, who was crying into his Pepsi. ‘Come on guys.  Get off my back.  You cannot criticise me for torturing people.  My lawyer said that waterboarding isn’t torture and is perfectly legal.  That‘s enough for me. Cut me some slack.’ 

‘Oh yes,’ came the reply. ‘Don’t you worry.  Get a lawyer on your side and you can do whatever you want, and invade whoever you want.’  And the great American statesman, detecting not a hint of irony, called for drinks all round on him. 

Another group of  councillors complained at great length that political correctness had reached such a level that the thought police, and the real ones, were down on them like a ton of bricks if they did something as petty as to demand that a journalist be stoned to death.  ‘It is our right, no our duty, to communicate in a way which the masses will understand.  Come on. Cut us some slack.  It is for your own good.’ 

The regulars all had empty glasses.  ‘You are so right. Our democracy depends on your right to make offensive and tasteless demands.  Just carry on.  Don’t mind us.’  And once again another round was bought for them. 

The pub door opened and in walked Dodi Ruffe, an elderly widow who had made a mistake in her claim for housing allowance.  It was a small error and she had been advised by the duty solicitor at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, but she was being prosecuted and faced likely eviction.  ‘Come on,’ she said to the assembled politicians.  ‘I am very sorry.  It was a tiny inaccuracy in a mass of complicated papers.  It won’t happen again.  Cut me some slack.’ 

With one voice the assembled politicians of all parties screamed at her.  ‘You miserable, scrounging apology for a human being.  Why should hard-working bankers toil, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, to fund your useless and parasitic life-style?  You are lucky to live in a caring democracy or your punishment would be far worse. Be off with you.’ 

The bell rang for closing time. As the politicians were collected by their chauffeurs, their spirits had risen and they were, once again, ready to serve the public in their own very special way.

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Date: 7th November 2010, 11:22 AM

IT’S NOT WHO YOU KNOW BUT WHAT YOU KNOW

Aunt Kitty had recovered from the battering received at the hands, and feet, of Anne Widdecombe, but her spirits were low.  She needed a good night out at somebody else’s expense, and she knew how to get it. 

And so she turned up at the Great Yarmouth Stadium on dog racing night, presented herself at the restaurant entrance and announced ‘Lawyers and surveyors hospitality.’  That ploy always worked.  Those people were never short of cash and could easily accommodate one extra.

‘I am a guest of Edward,’ she murmured as she slipped into the private function room.  There is usually an Edward to be found, and even if not everyone would assume that there is. 

At the bar she ordered her usual pint of crème de menthe, and on discovering that it was free she got in another five, just in case funds ran out later on.  So that she did not appear greedy with all those glasses round her, she piled up six plates of food and placed one by each tankard.  She then sat down to study the form. 

She knew that to make big money she would simply have to follow the example of the very richest of the rich.  Two hours later she had backed every single winner. 

In the first race she liked the look of Trimback Hard, and she thought of the thirty directors of FTSE companies who had written letters of support, urging ever deeper cuts to the pay and jobs of others.  Despite being a bit tubby the dog was an easy winner. 

The winnings from the first race went on a mangy dog called Lotsmore, as it reminded Aunt Kitty of the news that the average pay rise enjoyed by FTSE company directors for the difficult last twelve months was 55%. 

Then the growing pile of money all went on Clawback.  Aunt Kitty remembered the attempt by Serco to force its 193 biggest suppliers to pay it a retrospective 21/2% levy, and again applied her theory of following the example of the biggest earners.  Clawback was not much of a runner, but by dint of barging and snarling it bullied its way to the front. 

Race after race gave Aunt Kitty the chance to apply her intimate knowledge of the world of finance.  Bigger and bigger grew the pile of cash in front of her.  Greater and greater was the number of empty plates and glasses around her chair.  Winning sharpened her appetite. 

Had it not been for her unwise decision to treat the assembled company to an unexpurgated rendition of her song of the moment, ‘All the Nice Girls Love a Banker’, she might have escaped without challenge. 

Sally Blossom, the sharpest and boldest of the solicitors, came over to her and said ‘You, Madam, are a fraud and an interloper.  You don’t know anybody here, do you?’ 

‘No, my dear.  That’s true,’ said Aunt Kitty sweeping up the great wads of cash and weaving her way out, ‘But it’s not who you know, its what you know that counts.’

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Date: 3rd November 2010, 11:41 AM

NEW POLITICS

John Fisher was delighted to discover that his favourite pub, the Three Pickerels, had become the drinking haunt of politicians and political commentators of all persuasions.  He hurried there for the Sunday morning session and lined up a few pints of Bass for himself.  He did not wish to miss a word of the conversation as the subject was bound to be the new arrangements for housing benefit. 

There simply could not be a better topic to be a showcase for the new politics, where calm and reason would triumph over the old yah-boo tribalism.  Everybody agreed that the benefits system needed reforming as parts of it had become an insurmountable hurdle, making it impossible for families to move back into work.  All sides recognised that it had an inflationary element to it as the market value of rents was pushed ever higher by the payments made by the government.  It was common ground that there were elements in the fairness argument  which pointed in entirely different directions, depending upon whether one was looking at the needs of disadvantaged families or the position of those taxpayers who had made massive efforts to stay in work and were subsidising rents for others at a level far above their own gross earnings.  John Fisher sat back in his chair and waited to hear the exchange of subtle and imaginative ideas, which would lead to a solution to this most intractable of problems. 

It was the voice of Harriet Harman which first rose above the general hubbub.  Spotting  Danny Alexander she screeched at him ‘Get out of here you disgusting red haired rodent,’ and then very softly after the remarks had had their effect, added ‘So sorry.  Didn’t really mean that.’ 

Then Polly Toynbee added her thoughtful and constructive comment.  ‘You are forcing people into ghettos. This policy is your final solution.’  Her remark, understandably, caused huge offence without actually tackling the details of the problem.  Once the temperature had been raised to boiling point, there came the soft and smiling apology. 

All semblance of rational discussion was about to fly out of the window and then Boris Johnson added his contribution talking in terms of a Kosovo-style social cleansing, but his strategy was different.  Instead of apologising, he swore blind that he never said anything of the sort and that his remarks had been taken out of context. 

John Fisher’s blood pressure was rising, but before he could utter a word the door opened and there stood Lord Tebbit and Lord Prescott.  Perhaps, thought John, some of our elder statesmen can bring a little calm to proceedings.  ‘You should be bloody ashamed of yourselves’ growled Lord Prescott. ‘I can’t think how any of you can sleep at night.  Talking to the bloody enemy!’  And with that he was driven off in his sleek new Jaguar. ‘Vichy style surrenders That’s all I can expect from you lot’, snarled Lord Tebbit, and without further ado he pedalled away on his bike. 

John Fisher was wracked with disappointment and seething with rage.  ‘Arseholes,’ he yelled. ‘All of you.  Useless, pointless arseholes.  Incapable of change!  Incapable of dealing with anything difficult without resorting to abuse and insult.  Oh bloody hell.  I am now doing just the same.’  And so he downed his remaining pints and returned to Pond House where he wrote a long and detailed paper about how the problem might gradually be tackled, but nobody would ever know, or still less care.  Boisterous abuse was far more valuable than real thought.

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Date: 26th October 2010, 11:39 AM

A NEW FOOTBALL DICTIONARY

Professor Brill worked late into the night compiling his new guide to the meaning of words and phrases commonly used in Premier League football.

‘No.’   The answer given by all but two of Portsmouth’s £8,000 per week players when asked to take a small wage cut to save low-paid staff from redundancy. 

‘I am Manchester United through and through.’   This formula applies to any club, and is a statement that the player would like the fans on his side until a better offer comes along. 

‘Contract.’  A one sided arrangement enabling the player to claim his full pay through the bad times, but which he will rip up as soon as a better opportunity comes along. 

‘The club has no ambition.’   This means the club is trying to live within its means but that the player will wants it to risk its financial future by forking out more than it can possibly afford to buy more players, with the result that the club’s wage structure will have to be moved upwards for everyone else.  The phrase is often used by players who wish to disguise the part played by their own poor form in recent  poor results. 

‘Fat cat.’  This term of derision applies to the owner of a club who impoverishes it by withdrawing funds, but has absolutely no application to players whose exorbitant wage demands achieve the same. 

‘World class.’  The description of a player on top tier wages whose mediocrity is cruelly exposed when playing against real talent. 

‘The lad has no respect for the club.’  This means that the lad has no respect for the club.

‘Player loyalty.’  There is no record of this phrase being used, other than as a joke.

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Date: 22nd October 2010, 12:07 PM

‘ANY QUESTIONS?’ OR ‘ A WORD IN EDGEWAYS’

It was the last broadcast of what had once been a panel discussion programme before its name was changed to reflect the new reality.  The BBC had assembled the most astonishing panel and the members of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club were on their feet, shouting and cheering as one by one the speakers took their seats on the platform.  First, came the tall, handsome figure of President Obama.  Next, another tall and proud man.  It was none other than Osama Bin Laden.  Then, after a slight pause, the popemobile pulled up and out stepped the Holy Father himself.  Finally the applause reached a crescendo as local man John Fisher completed the team. 

Chairman Jonathan Bumblebee got the show on the road with his introduction.  Under his chairmanship this part of the programme had grown into a monologue which often exceeded ten minutes, and today was no exception. 

At last the first question was allowed.  ‘Does the panel think that friendly fire is at all friendly?’  ‘Ah, this must be one for our American guest.  Obama.’  But before the President could draw breath to speak the Chairman set out on a long explanation of the background to the question.  It was wonderful, engaging and clever stuff, but after ten minutes the audience was growing restless.  ‘Oh dear.  I am afraid we’re out of time on that one.  On to the next question.’ 

‘Does the panel think that tall buildings are a good idea?’  ‘Well,’ said Jonathan Bumblebee, ‘it is a fair question even though in poor taste.  For those of you who haven’t read your papers this century I had better give a bit of background before going to Osama.’  Ten minutes later the briefing was still continuing and somehow, once again, it was time to move on.  All over the country there was the ferocious low growl of millions of teeth being ground in anger and frustration. 

The third question, ‘Would the panel prefer to see an increase in condom use or in AIDS related deaths?’ really inspired Jonathan Bumblebee.  ‘Now who could that one be aimed at? Before I hand it to the Holy Father, I will give him a little thinking time by just running over the issues.  We wouldn’t want his answer to go off at half cock…’ and by the time the Chairman had finished his introduction to the question it was too late to involve the panel and time to move on to the last topic of the evening, by tradition the quirky one. 

Bumblebee was looking forward to this as he had long wanted the chance to embarrass John Fisher and so had planted the seemingly light and innocent inquiry ‘Would the panel trust a man who wore carp patterned pyjamas and pants?’  But when the Chairman turned to the audience for the question, to his dismay he found an entirely empty room.  From the distant clubhouse came the cheerful sound of glasses being clinked and good humoured banter, as Obama and Osama arm wrestled to decide who would pay for the drinks and John Fisher shyly showed his pants to the Holy Father.

 

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Date: 18th October 2010, 10:18 AM

LIVERPOOL F.C.

Liverpool Fishing Club was in a state of chaos, and Professor Brill of Carpus Christi had been given the task of explaining to the members how the disaster had come about and what they could reasonably expect for the future.  The situation was made worse by the fact that the state of the club pretty well matched that of the country.  The questions came thick and fast, but more often just thick. 

‘Those American businessmen.  They promised us that they would build a brand new fishing lake.  When they bought the club they said that there would be shovels in the ground to begin the project within sixty days, but they did nothing.  They promised that the club would not be made to pay the debts which the two of them incurred to buy it, but that is exactly what they have done.  Now they are trying to obstruct the sale just because they have failed to make money, and they are writhing around like sulky children saying that it is an epic swindle.  Could you believe that foreign investors could ever behave like that?’ 

‘Of course they would,’ replied the Professor.  ‘They are businessmen.  That is what businessmen do.  It’s in their nature.’ 

The subject of the Americans had been exhausted, and the questions moved on to other disappointments of the members.  ‘That David Cameron.  Before the election he said “I’m not going to flannel. I’m going to give it to you straight.  I wouldn’t change child benefit.  I wouldn’t means test it” and now he is in power, that is exactly what he has done.  That Nick Clegg.  Before the election he signed a pledge not to increase tuition fees and now he has gone back on his word. Could you believe that politicians could ever behave like that?’ 

‘Of course they would,’ replied the Professor.  ‘They are politicians.  That is what politicians do.  It is in their nature.’ 

Professor Brill’s favourite student, the sultry Rose Tetra, had followed him to Liverpool and joined the meeting.  ‘Those professors.  When a young student takes herself to their rooms late at night for special personal tuition, they tend to take advantage of the situation.  Could you believe that they could ever behave like that?’ 

The Professor licked his lips in the disgusting manner of a banker thinking about his bonus, before he replied  ‘Of course they would.  They are professors.  That is what professors do. It’s in their nature.’

 

 

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Date: 10th October 2010, 11:43 AM

A  NARROW SQUEAK FOR ANTON

John Fisher was worried.  When his Aunt Kitty went quiet for more than a few minutes there was always trouble brewing, and she had not spoken a word since witnessing Ann Widdecombe’s waltz on the first Saturday of Strictly.  While it had been happening she stared at the screen, like a python watching its prey, her tongue flicking out and a scarily predatory look settling over her. 

She spent the following week on line, tapping away at the keyboard of John’s computer and taking notes. When she saw the astonishing Widdecombe salsa, her activity turned into a frenzy of research and note taking.   On the following Thursday morning she packed a bag and texted John ‘I may be gone some time.’ 

Like all good plans, the kidnap plot depended on exploiting the good nature of the victim and a little brute force.  Kitty Fisher parked her van outside Ann Widdecombe’s house, and when she emerged for her foxtrot training session there was Aunt Kitty lying in the gutter just by the open rear doors, groaning pathetically.  ‘Help me, help me.  I have been attacked.’  In no time at all Ann was down beside her with her mobile out ready to call for help.  There really was something of the knight about her.  And then, in the blink of an eye, Aunt Kitty had grabbed her rescuer by the scruff of the neck, gagged her, removed her phone and bundled her into the back of the van, locking the doors and wiring them shut. 

‘Anton,’ crooned Aunt Kitty down the phone in a very passable imitation of the former MP’s voice.  ‘I have a terrible migraine.  Can you make sure that all the lights are turned off and the blinds are down?  As long as there is total darkness, I will be able to learn some new steps.’ 

And so it was that Aunt Kitty, fortified with a couple of pints of crème de menthe, slipped into the training room and homed in on the unsuspecting Anton. 

‘Nice smell of peppermint,’ said Anton as he tried to extricate himself from Aunt Kitty’s vice-like grip. 

‘Have you lost a bit of weight?’ he said, as she leapt up into his arms. 

‘It doesn’t have to be that close or that raunchy,’ he shrieked as Aunt Kitty was all over him, arms and hands everywhere, like a sex-crazed octopus.  ‘I thought that we were only doing what you would do if the pope was watching.’ 

‘Young man,’ purred Kitty Fisher.  ‘I have changed my mind and I have a lot of time to make up’ and her bony hand grabbed Anton’s bum.  Just as the poor man was about to suffer the ultimate indignity the door flew open and lights came on, and there in the doorway stood a very angry Ann Widdecombe.  ‘Did you really think that a gag would prevent someone with years of experience in Parliament from calling for help?  I am not usually a violent woman but….’ 

Aunt Kitty is now recovering in hospital.  Ann Widdecombe is setting about her foxtrot with new purpose and seems likely, once again, to produce something quite memorable; and while Anton basks in the reflected glory and the further raising of his profile, he has nightmares struggles to keep his mind off what might have been.

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Date: 5th October 2010, 2:37 PM

BLUE MOON 

After a few pints of bass at the Three Pickerels John Fisher had lost his inhibitions, and his usual gnomic utterances had turned into an ugly rant.  The saloon bar fell into an embarrassed silence. 

‘These people think that they are rudding heroes.  They imagine that by spending unimaginable amounts of money they are doing the world a favour.  They couldn’t be more wrong.’ 

‘Would you tenching believe it?  Following a disastrous financial year in 2008, they have lost far more this year.  Their income does not even cover the wages they choose to pay, and next year and the year after the deficit will increase again.  It is just plain wrong, but the rules are too weak to hold back these idiots who have no grasp of the value of money or of the way in which expenditure on this scale simply alienates them from what should be their bedrock of support.  It isn’t just a disaster for those immediately concerned.  This toxic financing sends tsunamis of inflation far and wide and swamps the most vulnerable, the ones who play by the spirit as well as the rules.  It takes away the whole point of local involvement when loyal members and supporters are made to think that they cannot survive without help from abroad.  One day there will be a moment of reckoning.’ 

‘Europe proposes rules to stamp this out.  Will it do so?  Will it buggery.  The implementation has already been postponed once and there is no appetite to stand up to big business.’ 

‘That’s enough, John’, shouted the Landlord.  We don’t encourage political talk in here, even if your description of the last government was spot on.’ 

‘I’m not talking politics,’ said John huffily. ‘It’s Manchester City and it’s a total disgrace.’ 

And so he took hold of the microphone and in his flat nasal voice crooned his very own version of that club’s song. 

‘Blue Moon, that’s how often we used to win.
Without a thought for our sport we invited the big money in.
Blue Moon, we sold out just like the rest.
Let other clubs scrimp and invest.
We’ll buy our way to success. 

Blue Moon, we don’t give a toss about the rest.
Fair competition’s OK but buying success is best.
Find a foreign investor and feather your nest.’

 

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Date: 27th September 2010, 2:15 PM

AND EDDY HALIBUT IS THE WINNER 

When the result was announced Eddy Halibut turned to his brother Davy.  ‘I love you.  I adore you.  I am wholly consumed with my passion for you.  Your campaign may have been second best but you are the brother I worship and admire.’  Eddy had not been entirely sure of his victory and, just in case it all went wrong, he had come equipped with a very large dead porpoise.  ‘Seems a shame to waste it,’ he thought, and so once again he launched himself at his brother beating him into submission with the violence of his attack. 

He brushed himself down and strolled onto the platform to give his victory speech.  It went down flatter than a steamrollered dab, so he thought it was time to show his more relaxed side and sing a couple of songs as a tribute to his brother, the one he loved so intensely. 

He settled down, tuned his guitar and launched into the Ballad of Davy Halibut. 

Born in a hospital in NW3
Older brother of the great Eddy,
Raised in politics he knew every MP
Elected to Parliament when he was only three
Davy, Davy Halibut, you finished second to me.

‘I love you Davy,’ he cried above the fanatical applause from the party members.  ‘More, more, more,’ came the chants from his friends strategically placed throughout the hall.

He waited until the noise had subsided and launched into his closing number. 

Two little boys were both MPs.
Each wanted to be boss.
‘I love you,’ they said each to the other,
As they fought like a cat or brother. 

One little chap then had a mishap,
In the fourth round his hopes were dead.
He wept for his loss and looked bloody cross,
As his young brother said:

‘Did you think I would leave you crying
When I need a good number two?
You can join me up on my hoss,
But you will know that I am the boss. 

Then Eddy threw his arms wide in an all embracing gesture so as to unite his party and his family and heal all the wounds.  ‘I adore you all, every one of you.’  The assembled crowd looked anxious and quickly shuffled out of the room, fearing the violence which usually followed these declarations of love.

 

 

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Date: 19th September 2010, 10:03 AM

PRINCE PHILIP THE CARDINAL AND WAYNE ROONEY

Aunt Kitty pleaded guilty to the first two charges, but claimed to have been provoked beyond all endurance.  She pleaded not guilty to the third, saying ‘I never laid a finger on him, more’s the pity,’ and licking her lips in a lascivious way which shocked the court and induced nausea amongst the jurors. 

The evidence was stacked against her or, more accurately, piled three deep.  The photographer of ‘Fat Carp Daily’ had caught the moment.  Aunt Kitty stood tall, pint of crème de menthe in hand, and there at her feet, unconscious, lay Prince Philip, Carpinal Walter Kasper and Wayne Rooney. 

‘Yes, I did it,’ said Aunt Kitty responding to the first charge,’but he had it coming to him.  Prince Philip had come to inspect the ladies’ drawings of mirror and common carp and I was part of the reception committee.  When he came to talk to me, he looked longingly at my purple dress, leaned over to me and asked “Are you wearing purple knickers?”  Nobody talks to me like that so I hit him with my brolly.’ 

‘Yes I did it,’ said Aunt Kitty responding to the second charge, ‘but he had it coming to him.  ‘Carpinal Walter Kasper had come to inquire after the soles of the lady members of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club, and I was part of the reception committee.  When he came to talk to me he looked suspiciously at my purple robes and asked if I was an Anglerman or a Roman Carpoholic and, not liking my answer, he said that Pondsworth and Reeling reminded him of a third world country marked by aggressive daceism.  Nobody talks to me like that, so I hit him with my brolly.’ 

Aunt Kitty had pleaded not guilty to the third charge, and Wayne Rooney was summoned as a witness.  ‘She is telling the truth.  She never laid a hand on me.  I was drinking at the bar and  the old girl showed me her empty glass and winked, so out of politeness I bought her another pint of crème de menthe, and then just to get away from her I leaned over and said “Your place or mine, sexy?”  Instead of walking out on me she came right up and suggested, the most detailed, the most horrible and, to give her credit, the most disgustingly original sex acts, and I was so shocked that I passed out.’ 

When the weekend papers had finished chewing over it, Prince Philip’s reputation was not in any way damaged.  Most would have thought of the question which he actually asked but would not have dared to ask it.  The Carpinal was badly damaged, and threw a sicky next time he was asked to leave the safety of the Vatican and visit the UK.  Wayne Rooney was widely mocked from the terraces for his gentlemanly and wimpish behaviour, and his manager rested him whenever the team played away at the rougher grounds.  Aunt Kitty is enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame and is angling for an invitation to appear in next year’s ‘Strictly’.

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Date: 13th September 2010, 4:42 PM

BOOK BURNING 

The ghastly Roger Sporn, self proclaimed leader of the Militant Tenchandeel, lay in bed in his Masterdace pyjamas. 

His party membership had doubled with amazing speed when at last his mum had joined, but after that membership had remained static. 

Then from across the Atlantic came the idea of a book burning.  The effect was magical, and how deliciously simple.  Even Roger Sporn could surely burn a book, at least if his mum helped.  You start with a pathetic and inadequate organisation with virtually no following, and once you get onto this book burning kick you become a celebrity and you can go to York and talk to your gran about a mosquito and then every loser with views too loathsome for even the most extreme parties will come flocking to you, and you will be on television and important people will ring and beg you not to do it and you will give them the finger and, oh yes, for the first time ever you will be the centre of attention. 

‘What’s a book, Mum?’ he shouted.  ‘Not sure, Pet.  Go see John Fisher.  That’s the sort of thing he might know.’ 

Roger Sporn hated being called ‘Pet’ and had never managed to get his Mum to call him Master or Pastor or any of those good sounding ones.  Nevertheless he took her advice, and once more found himself ringing the door bell of Pond House. 

‘Next Sunday is Burnabook Sunday and everyone will be outraged and I will be a celebrity and Militant Tenchandeel will have more members and they will call me “Masterpastor” and then soon I will be in charge, so what’s a book and can I have some?’ 

John Fisher looked down appalled as a great stream of snot ran down the cheeks of the over-excited youth, and his right foot twitched as he wondered where to kick him first but then he saw the opportunity that was staring him in the face. 

By Sunday John had tipped off the press and television of the world, and there on the village green was a pile of John’s latest book ‘The Carp Club’ stacked so as to display the cover clearly from every angle. 

As Roger and his Mum struggled to get these unfamiliar objects to burn, the civilised world rose as one to protect its values from the barbarism of the Sporns, and suddenly ‘The Carp Club’ was every one’s lips.  Sales went through the roof. 

‘It’s an ill wind which blows no good,’ mused John Fisher, and before he turned for home he launched a massive kick into the testicles of Roger Sporn as he bent over the pile of books which John had so unsportingly prepared for the event by soaking them overnight.

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Date: 7th September 2010, 3:27 PM

OFF THE RAILS 

Aunt Kitty had been forced to take a job as a waitress at the Fat Carp Restaurant after her disastrous day out on the railway.  She had bought a cheap day return from Pondsworth to London, to deliver a letter of protest to the Government about its stitch-up of the Piscatorial Life policyholders. She asked if there were any conditions attached to her ticket and was shown a 7000 page book which she could buy for £60, exactly ten times the price of her ticket.  ‘And it may be out of date,’ warned the clerk, so she resolved to spend the money on a liquid lunch instead. 

Aunt Kitty was so pleased with the price that she splashed out and treated herself to first class.  Sadly, neither the train to London nor the return train had any first class accommodation.  ‘Tough luck sweetheart,’ she was told when she complained. ‘We never run first class on that route.’ 

She caught the 1.15 train back and was immediately fined because, overnight, the train company had changed the start of afternoon peak travel from 4.30 to 1.00.  There was no working lavatory on the train so she got out one stop before her destination to use the facilities on the station.  They, too, were blocked and when she left to use the nearest public conveniences she was again fined, this time for getting off too soon. Her ticket was confiscated and she had to buy a full price single for the remaining five miles, and it cost more than twice the amount of her original return ticket. 

The two fines imposed were double the full amount of the first class fare, even though there were no first class facilities. 

Aunt Kitty complained to Chief Executive Ivor Meanside, who dismissed her with a curt ‘If you want to travel cheaply it is up to you to obey our rules.’ 

A week later the infamous Fisher temper was still at boiling point when Aunt Kitty got a lucky break.  Into the restaurant, on the stroke of 1.00pm, waddled Ivor Meanside, asking for the special £10 lunchtime menu.  ‘Would you like our special lunchtime wine offer?’ she asked persuasively. ‘It is a double magnum of Chateau Lafite, which would normally cost £8,000 but it is available for just 50p.’ 

Aunt Kitty sold him the wine deal and the upgrade to double helping sizes, and was amazed at how much of the wine the railway boss managed to put away, and how much he whinged because the extra portion sizes did not materialise.  ‘Just better get back to the office,’ he said at 4.00 pm, as he put £10.50 on the table together with a 5p tip.  Aunt Kitty intercepted him, locked the door and handed him a bill for £11,000. 

‘Desperately sorry Squire, but you were too late for the lunchtime special prices.  We changed the time last night and it is not available after 10.30.  It is a pity that we did not have the larger serving sizes available. In fact we never do, but as you ordered them you must pay.  Ah yes, and the wine. Of course. The special deal does not relate to the two and a half bottle size, oh no. To qualify you have to consume all that you have bought.  Our automatic 15% service charge relates to the full price of everything.’ 

Ivor Meanside turned an astonishing shade of purple as he shouted and ranted. ‘That is unfair and unreasonable and bloody wicked!’ 

‘I suppose so,’ said Aunt Kitty in a consoling way as she processed his credit card.  ‘A bit like fining people for getting off your train one stop early, sweetheart.  But look on the bright side.  At least you were given a seat.’

 

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Date: 31st August 2010, 2:50 PM

I LOVE MY BROTHER 

The circus had come to town, and all the members of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club had crowded into the big tent.  They had watched Ed the Greyman Boilees disappear into the background, invisible even to those who wanted to find him.  They had been amazed by the death-defying trapeze acts of Diane Turbot and Andy Gurnard, and had gasped in horror as each failed to catch their partner, sticking out the left hand when the right was needed.  They were now ready for the final act, the Battling Halibuts. 

‘I say, I say, I say,’ shouted Eddie Halibut, ‘I love my brother,’ and with that he pulled a dead trout from his trousers and smacked poor Davey Halibut across the face. 

‘Call that a slap?’ replied Davey.  ‘Not even a tickleback.  I love my brother too.’  And he in turn reached into his trousers and drew out a five foot long conger eel which he wrapped round Eddie’s neck. 

Then the two brothers fell to the floor punching, biting and kicking. 

‘I am the Change Britain Through Unity candidate and I love my brother,’ screamed Eddie Halibut, as he stuffed a particularly frisky flounder up poor Davey’s nose. 

‘No, you tenching idiot,’ shouted Davey Halibut.  ‘I am the real candidate for change.  No more New Labour.  No more Old Labour.  Just true Labour.  I am the voice of change and no change and the future and the past.’  And so saying, he reached up and hauled on a rope and down came ten tons of rancid ground bait, right on his brother’s head.  ‘I love you Eddie, you know that don’t you?’ 

‘I love my Mum too,’ shouted Eddie Halibut, once he had dug his way to the surface.  ‘New Labour was less than perfect, but under my leadership the party will be as wonderful as my dear beloved friend Lord Makoshark.  This is for you, Mum,’ he said as he dragged his brother to the floor and really set about him with a dead tench. 

‘You have no experience, you hopeless little piece of gudgeon bait,’ and Davey took out a saw-fish and cut off poor Eddie’s left leg. 

‘It is all about tax and fairness,’ screamed Eddie Halibut.  ‘Everybody who earns more than the average wage should pay tax at 60%  and then they will have less than average, and when everyone has less than average it will be progressive and fair,’ and so saying he snatched up a wrasse which he had cunningly oiled, and he drove it right up his brother’s bottom.  ‘I adore you to distraction, Davey,’ he groaned. 

‘Rudding Hell!’ said John Fisher, who had been watching the spectacle.  ‘If that’s how they treat family, what would they do to the electorate?’

 

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Date: 28th August 2010, 9:31 AM

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS BEEN LEARNED

Aunt Kitty was quick to take advantage of the new laws preventing discrimination on the grounds of age.  She became a receptionist for PISSPOT, the Parliamentary Independent Scrutineer Supervising Outgoings Transparently.  She was the front line of defence to protect the taxpayers’ interests against money grabbing MPs seeking to abuse the expenses system.  She was told that hers would be an easy job as they had all learned the lesson. 

The first MP to arrive was Simon Stickleback-Fry.  He arrived supported by an intimidating mob of heavies.  Aunt Kitty outlined the details of the new scheme, but at every turn was met with insults and derision.  Such was the level of abuse that the other receptionists fled in tears, leaving Kitty Fisher alone to face the sulky anger of an MP who was no longer getting everything his own way. 

Throughout the day the pattern repeated itself as the office was visited by a procession of disappointed MPs.  Aunt Kitty made a detailed note of all the abuse and insults and submitted it to her boss so that it could be posted on the PISSPOT website, allowing the public so see how little had changed. 

She was horrified to find that her account had been redacted with all the names and all the juicy bits blacked out.  The chairman of PISSPOT explained that the truth could not be published as it would undermine the credibility of parliament. 

The next morning Aunt Kitty arrived in a determined frame of mind.  She installed a camera above the massive portrait of Two Ton, the giant carp, and settled back to wait.  When Simon Stickleback-Fry and his mob re-appeared she allowed them to rant on, getting ever more abusive and threatening, until he slipped into a self-pitying sulkiness saying ‘If you don’t give me everything I demand I won’t want to carry on as an MP.’  And then, in a blur of black and purple, she struck. 

The next morning the video of the woman, the cat and the green dustbin was knocked off top spot.  Instead the world was fascinated by a clip of an old lady, with her features redacted, leaping over a counter, grabbing an MP and rubbing his nose in a pile of bogus expense claims while thrashing his ample buttocks with her umbrella. 

The editorial in The Bloater put forward the view that the MP would learn no lessons from the incident, but sometimes a thing is worth doing just for the sake of it.

 

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Date: 23rd August 2010, 9:51 AM

A LATE GIFT FROM A FAT CARP

The streets of Pondsworth were lined ten deep on each side, but nobody broke the silence.  Heads were bowed in sorrow but also in respect, as the casket containing the mortal remains of Two Ton were carried towards the cremacarpium. 

The procession was led by Peter Carptree and John Fisher, the only two men ever to have caught the monster carp.  Peter had caught it in 1955 when it was only 15lb, and though at the time he had wet himself with fear and disgust now he was happy to bask in the glory.  John Fisher had befriended the great fish and had caught it more than a thousand times.  Two Ton’s vast bulk was in no small part attributable to John’s habit of feeding it a pack of sandwiches on every occasion. 

The cameras of the world were present to record the final moments and with them, like flies to a dung heap, came politicians from far and wide.  From America came Barak Piranha, from Australia came Julia Gilling who had ousted Kevin Rudd, from France came President Shark-Cosy, and from Scotland came Alec Salmon.  The eulogy was given by Prime Administer Sir Adipose Ffynne. 

Two Ton’s life started with a Tory Prime Minister and ended with one.  Under Sir Winston Churchill, he was encouraged to fight them on the banks and never give in.  Under Sir Anthony Eden he had a narrow escape during the Sewage Crisis.  Under Sir Harrold Macmillan he had never had boillees so good.  Under Ted Heath he masterminded the great victory in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.  Under Margaret Thatcher he spawned the strategy which defeated Arthur ScarredGill. Under John Major he sent up a pattern of bubbles which led to the wearing of shirts tucked into pants and to the expulsion of Saddam from Kuwait.  What wonderful years.  It would be inappropriate to use this sad occasion to score a political point but it was the slack, the waste and the excess of the last Labour Government which left him weakened, flabby and overweight.  He was in no state to withstand the surgery which his condition so desperately required.’ 

‘But Two Ton was a great supporter of the green agenda and of the sharing, caring ideas of the Big Society.  So as our tribute to him we will save fuel by turning the cremacarpium down to its very lowest level, no higher than a domestic oven.  And, in the very near future, all society will benefit from Two Ton’s generosity of mind and of proportion.’ 

Nobody really understood what the Prime Administer was trying to say.  In truth very few listened to him, so lost were they in their sorrow for the passing of this great fish. 

When, the following day, every household in the constituency received a large pack of smoked fish as a gift from the Prime Administer there was much suspicion, which was only partly allayed by the fabulous taste.  The normal conspiracy stories abounded, but none came even close to the shocking truth.

 

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Date: 21st August 2010, 9:39 AM

WHAT A PAIN

John Fisher was sick and tired of the hypocrisy of it all, and of  being used by other people to further their own private agendas.  If people want to fight, they should inflict pain on each other and not on their customers. 

Every year, just before the beginning of the carp fishing season, the ritual would be the same.  The bosses of British Carpery would flex their muscles in an effort to smash the union and every year the carp-workers’ union, You-Might, would weep crocodile tears.  ‘It is mere co-incidence that the dates for strike action just happen to be the three weeks over Christmas and then every bank holiday throughout the year.  We deeply regret the inconvenience which our bosses have caused to the public.’ 

After a few pints of Bass in the Three Pickerels, John Fisher fired an email off to the bosses of British Carpery and the You-Might Union.  ‘What you are both doing is to hit out at your customers who support your business, until one of you hits them so hard that the other can stand it no more and backs down.  So why not go the whole hog and round up a couple of carp anglers and flog them, alternate blows, until one of you has had enough.  It will be just the same thing but we will get it over quicker.  Besides, this way only two of your customers will be hurt.’ 

John had never expected his seven pint idea to be taken seriously, and had forgotten all about it until he turned on the television news.  The scene was Heathrow, and British Carpery chief executive Billy Tench and You-Might leader Tony Smallfry stood either side of Aunt Kittie, each armed with a riding crop.  ‘Whack,’ went Billy Tench.  ‘Smack,’ went Tony Smallfry in return, as each landed his first blow.  Unfortunately for them they had chosen the wrong victim.  Memories of distant judo lessons returned to the old lady, and in a trice the two men were both on the floor cowering under a rain of blows and the old lady’s breath, which smelt like a blast from a crème de menthe distillery. 

As the two men limped off, clutching their throbbing backsides, they reached out to each other for mutual support, saying ‘Let’s settle this year’s dispute, but next year we will go back to attacking our customers as a whole.  Less chance of them fighting back that way.’

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Date: 18th August 2010, 10:43 AM

LORD PISCAT AND THE BETRAYERS

Professor Brill was teaching his class about the appropriate response to an election where no party had an outright majority.  He was greatly honoured by the presence of Lord Piscat, who was to answer questions about the ways in which a politician could contribute to the common good in the light of the crisis facing the nation. 

‘Frank Field,’ the Professor asked, ‘has agreed to lead the Coalition’s attack on poverty.  You must be pleased that a colleague of yours is making sure that the values of your party are going to be so influential?’ 

‘I’ve been in politics for over fifty years but even I cannot believe it.  Labour ministers have decided to collaborate with the Tories….. I would ask if they can live with their conscience but I’d even question whether they had one.’ 

The whole class let out a gasp of surprise.  What was the point of the voters giving no overall majority if the hostility of the past was more important than trying to get a job done at a time of crisis?  Their teacher turned to Lord Piscat and asked, ‘but what about John Hutton and Alan Milburn?  These are both honourable men.  Surely it is better that they should be exerting influence at the heart of the Coalition?  A set of Labour values must surely help the poor and needy whose cause you champion? 

‘I’ve been in politics for over fifty years,’ growled the great statesman, ‘but even I cannot believe it.  Labour ministers have decided to collaborate with the Tories…. I would ask if they can live with their conscience but I’d even question if they had one.’ 

Professor Brill walked up to Lord Piscat and murmured ‘Presumably the Labour members of the wartime cabinet were also guilty of betrayal?’  He quickly stepped back as a massive fist whistled past the end of his nose. 

In the front row of the class sat the lovely Rose Tetra, Professor Brill’s star pupil.  Her sultry looks and husky voice sent shivers of delight through Lord Piscat.  ‘I’ve been interested in politics for over fifteen years but even I cannot understand it.  How did it happen that a man who was so very proud of being working class came to accept a peerage? I would ask if you can live with your….’ 

But the question was never even finished, let alone answered, as the great Peer of the Realm shot out of the lecture theatre with a speed quite astonishing for a man of his bulk.

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Date: 16th August 2010, 9:08 AM

BUT THE REAL DIFFERENCE IS…

The Pondsworth and Reeling Festival catered for all tastes.  At one end of the arena Professor Brill was talking about football clubs and at the other end John Fisher was discussing the deficit. 

‘Over half the clubs in the Football League are or have been insolvent,’ was the opening of Professor Brill’s talk. 

‘Over half the governments in the developed world are in a disastrous financial position,’ said John Fisher, to an entirely different audience. 

‘And the cause is always the same,’ said the Professor. ‘They habitually spend more than they can sustainably earn.’ 

‘And,’ said John Fisher as he described the very different world of politics, ‘The cause is always the same.  They habitually spend more than they can sustainably earn.’ 

‘And they never learn,’ added the star academic from Carpus Christi, ‘Because it suits them  better to ignore the economic facts of life.  They peddle the dream that the supporters can enjoy expenditure far beyond the level of the club’s income.’ 

John Fisher was seeking to establish clear blue water between what he had to say about government finance and the dry talk given by the Professor about football, of all things.  ‘And politicians never learn because it suits them better to ignore the economic facts of life.  They peddle a dream that the electorate can enjoy expenditure beyond the level of the country’s income.’ 

Professor Brill moved into the second hour of his talk.  ‘The arrangement is doomed to suffer a messy and painful failure, and this will continue to happen until the football clubs are honest with their fans and either increase the season ticket prices to the level which supports the expenditure or reduce the expenditure to match what comes in.’ 

John Fisher was a dull man and a poor speaker and his audience was about a tenth of the original, but he soldiered on.  ‘The arrangement is doomed to suffer a messy and painful failure, and this will continue to happen until politicians are honest with their electorate and either increase the taxes to the level which supports the expenditure or reduce the expenditure to match what comes in.’ 

‘And when the inevitable happens and the football club goes bust,’ shouted the Professor as he finished his talk, ‘Who loses out?  The answer is the creditors, the small businesses who supply the club, and all of us as taxpayers.  The football preference scheme makes sure that those on the inside don’t lose out, but the real cost is just dumped and dumped on those who can least afford it.’ 

It is hardly a surprise that John’s talk ended so very differently, as the two men were addressing entirely different subjects. ‘And when the inevitable happens and the country goes bust, who loses out?  In the short term it is the most vulnerable people as they have no reserves to carry them through.  But in the long term the costs are dumped on the next generation. After all, today’s children who will have to pick up the tab don’t have a vote at the next election and votes are all that count.’ 

And so at last these two learned men, whose subjects were so very different, found some common ground.  The consequence of buying today’s popularity without facing up to its cost, is to dump ruinously on those who can least afford it.

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Date: 6th August 2010, 12:14 PM

AUNT KITTIE AT THE HAKE

Aunt Kittie was awoken by desperate and piteous screaming and sobbing coming from her nephew’s room.  She rushed in, fearing the worst, but found that it was only one of John’s bad dreams.  The same one had been afflicting him in recent days but, for some reason, he would never tell her what it was. 

As soon as John Fisher’s eyes had closed he dropped off and found himself sitting in the public gallery of the War Crimes trial at The Hake.  Charles Salar was accused of the most unimaginable atrocities.  ‘Next witness,’ called the Clerk to the Court, and to John’s astonishment up stepped his Aunt Kittie.  The old lady was dressed in a slinky body-hugging little number with a low cut top and the skirt split up to the thighs. 

Before she was sworn in the old lady took a huge swig from the flask of crème de menthe she had concealed in her handbag, and then proceeded to harangue the court.  ‘You effing jeffing apologies for the lowest scum of humanity!  You loathsome blobs of rotten groundbait on the keep-net of the world.  I never wanted to come here.  You have no sodding idea how inconvenient it is to be giving evidence at a war crimes tribunal when I could be attending the Pondsworth and Reeling monthly maggot and boilee festival.’ 

But worse was to come.  Under very, very cross examination, Aunt Kittie said that she had been to a party attended by Charles Salar and that in a strange hotel in the middle of the night there had been a knock on her door.  Naturally she sprang out of bed to open it and there stood two men who handed her a bag.  She did not look inside, but later found that it contained old socks.  She did not understand what they were and so gave them to charity.  ‘I don’t know who Charles Salar is,’ she shrieked at the top of her voice, ‘And frankly darlings I have more important things to do with my life than this.’ 

It was the double somersault with tuck and pike that she did on leaving the court which always reduced John Fisher to a screaming wreck.  As he slowly woke up under his aunt’s gentle shaking, he gave a great sigh of relief.  ‘It was only a nightmare.  Nothing like that could really happen.  Could it?’  Aunt Kittie just raised her eyebrows and tottered off to bed.

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Date: 3rd August 2010, 3:46 PM

DEATH TO THE DAB

John Fisher had fallen for the seductive promises and bought a digital radio.  He had expected crystal clear reception and no interruption to his favourite programmes, Carp For The Day, Desert Island Fish, Hook at Bedtime and The Anglers.  It had proved to be a massive disappointment.  It went through batteries like a tench through groundbait.  The reception was far worse than what John had enjoyed on his old radio, and when he travelled outside his village there were areas where there was no reception at all.  John’s fragile temper was beginning to fray even before he heard that in just four years’ time the old system would be switched off and he would be left with this pathetic apology for a radio. 

With the adrenaline flowing John hammered out a letter to Fat Fish Daily and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had been turned into a leading article under the heading ‘Death to the DAB.’ 

The next morning, John was awoken early by the ugly chanting of a vast mob outside his house.  ‘Death to the dab killer,’ they chanted.  ‘Death, death, death.’ 

John opened his curtains just wide enough to see the massed ranks of the Flatfish Preservation Society.  One the members launched into their anthem. 

‘God save our flattest fish,
Long live our dabs and plaice,
Flounders are great.
Death to all who harm them.
We will disarm them
And disembowel them,
God save our plaice.’ 

The door to Pond House slowly opened and John Fisher emerged in his pyjamas. The bottoms were golden with an elaborate scale motif.  The top sported a design showing mirror and common carp happily feeding on boilees.  An inspired choice for a six year old, but strangely disturbing on a fifty year old man who was holding a radio in one hand and a lump hammer in the other. 

‘You stupid arseholes,’ he shouted.  ‘You dim-witted ignorant pricks.  Can’t you read further than the effing jeffing headline?’ 

‘I wasn’t writing about fish but about this,’ he said holding up his hated digital radio.  ‘What’s good enough for Matthew Parr is good enough for me.’  And with that he brought down his hammer and with one thunderous blow smashed the DAB radio into a thousand pieces. 

John Fisher took advantage of the shocked silence which followed to explain how an unworkable and vastly inferior radio system was about to replace the current, entirely satisfactory analogue system in the name of progress, piling extra cost on poor performance.  ‘In short,’ John Fisher concluded, ‘A metaphor for how government works.’ 

In the silence that followed it could have gone either way.  The mood of the crowd remained ugly and volatile and then the Flatfish Preservation Society anthem started again, but now with different words. 

‘God save our analogue.
Long live our analogue.
God save FM.
Death to the digital. It is no good at all.
Abandon changeover date.
Don’t bugger up this one too.’ 

What the new words lacked in class, they made up in sincerity.  John nodded gravely to the departing crowd and went back in side to breakfast and to Rabbi Lionel Bluefin, on his FM stereo tuner.

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Date: 27th July 2010, 8:34 AM

 ABHORRENCE AND THE OBSCENE

John Fisher had brought his Aunt Kittie to the Platitude Festival to take her mind off the latter which she had received from her bankster Clyde Dale. 

‘We regret to inform you,’ the letter read, ‘that due to a clerical error on our part, your mortgage account is in arrears to the tune of £5672.  We have taken this from your current account and you have now an ongoing unauthorised overdraft situation.  Costs and penalty interest now amount to another £3,456,321. This is due in twenty four hours, after which legal action will be taken against you.’ 

As the main act of the day started, John was despatched to get in an extra couple of pints of crème de menthe ‘just in case it gets cold later.’  When he returned he was horrified to find that his aunt was missing but not as horrified as the stage security guards who were taken by surprise as an old lady, fuelled on alcohol and anger, shot past them.  Aunt Kittie scampered over to a surprised Abhorrence, seized the microphone from her hand and addressed the crowd, which was now pogoing in front of her with mounting excitement. 

‘Abhorrence and I are going to sing a few songs together to express our loathing of the only industry which makes its customers to pay for its own mistakes, and not just its customers.  All of us.’  The crowd roared its approval and, with that, Aunt Kittie’s purple hair and Abhorrence’s flame coloured tresses came together as the  belted out a version of ‘Kick’ into the microphone.  

‘A kick in the crutch
Is much much, much, much
Too good for people such
As those sodding banksters.’ 

Abhorrence and Kittie danced and pranced, as only they could, up and around the stage.  The audience bayed for more. 

Aunt Kittie called for a pint of crème de menthe which was passed carefully through the audience.  She downed half in one mighty gulp and handed the rest to Abhorrence.  She looked queasy but bolted it down all the same. 

On and on they sang and danced until they finished with a whooping, swooping roaring duet of the Bankster’s Song. 

‘I always wanted everything,
Everything from you. 
I always wanted all you had
And more and more and more.’ 

And with that Aunt Kittie left the stage with a graceful swallow dive and was swept shoulder high all the way back to the seats where her nephew was waiting. 

‘Home John,’ the old lady shrieked. ‘They don’t do festivals like they used to.’

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Date: 24th July 2010, 4:36 PM

PISCATORIAL LIFE

Aunt Kittie had invested all of her savings in the Piscatorial Life Society.  She knew that it would at least be good for its basic guaranteed payments because it was subject to annual review by CISSIT, the Carpery Investment and Saving Scrutiny Institution.  As it happened, the annual inspections were carried out with a degree of negligence and incompetence which was to leave the Court of Carpery and the Ombudsman gasping and amazed, like  fish out of water.  The basic guarantees on which Aunt Kittie had relied to fund her retirement were worthless, and she lost everything.  Her only hope was that the government would compensate policy holders for the losses arising from its mistakes. 

When John Fisher heard on the news that the Rainbow Trout Coalition had decided to pay compensation at some vague future date, and then only at the rate of five pence in the pound, he hurried home to see his aunt, knowing her fearsome temper and fearing the worst for his collection of china and glass carp and tench. 

To his surprise, he found the old lady very composed and quiet but with a look of immense concentration on her face. 

A few days later, it was Aunt Kittie’s turn to be caretaker of the regional government offices as part of the rainbow Trout Coalition’s Big Society idea.  Somehow, when she locked up she managed to leave the gas supply turned on at one end of the building and an open flame at the other.  The resulting explosion reduced the building to rubble. 

Unlike the Government in the case of CISSIT and the Piscatorial Life, she immediately admitted responsibility and promised to adopt the same principled approach to settling her liability as was being taken to the members of Piscatorial Life.  She wrote to Prime Administer, Sir Adipose Ffynne. 

‘I am totally responsible for this disaster.  The rules are the same for both of us, so I will wait for ten years until most of the people who suffered from my negligence are dead and then I will offer what I can pay, no, sorry, what I choose to say I can pay, and I anticipate that it will be somewhere between twenty and thirty pence.  You will appreciate that this is a fair way of proceeding in cases of negligence and breach of duty.’ 

The reply came not from the Prime Administer himself but from Sli Metode, senior partner of the Carpinet’s solicitors, Voracious Carpacious and Rudd.  After much threatening and patronising the letter read  ‘It is not just a question of scarcity of funds at this difficult time but, as you may know, the much respected  Lord Justice Pouting has ruled that policy holders suffered no real loss because members of the public never really rely what a government body says or does. 

It is true but regrettable that this august senior partner had never received a letter from a lady in her eighties which used the word ‘arsehole’ quite so frequently, and some parts of what Aunt Kittie wrote were too awful even to paraphrase.  Nevertheless, the gist of her reply was that if governments don’t believe that people rely on their inspection regimes then they have no business squandering tax payers’ money on them, and that if successive administrations, of all persuasions, had not applied the same negligent hopelessness to their regulation of the banksters and to the balancing of their books, then we would not be in the financial mess which we are today.

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Date: 19th July 2010, 4:48 PM

WOMEN BAILIFFS?  WOMEN?

The Archbailiff of Carperbury was chairing the committee for the appointment of new bailiffs.  The last candidate for the day, one K. Fisher, had been ushered in.  The atmosphere was thick with hostility.  Eventually it was Aunt Kittie who broke the silence.  ‘Something wrong, Your Scaliness?’ ‘I’ll say there is something wrong,’ interrupted the Bailiff of Bath and Eels. ‘You’re a woman.  Real women don’t wish to become bailiffs.’ 

‘I know I am a woman you silly old trout,’ shouted Aunt Kittie, the famous Fisher temper beginning to boil over.  ‘After 85 years it is the sort of thing moderately bright people notice for themselves.’ 

‘Then if you are so bright why haven’t you noticed that, for Anglermen like us, the tradition is of all male bailiffs?’ 

Aunt Kittie surveyed the committee dressed in the traditional pink robes of the bailiff electors and snorted meaningfully but unattractively.  ‘We could start by defrocking some of you and putting that claim to the test and …’ But the kindly Archbailiff intervened.  ‘No, no, no, good heavens no.  The traditions of the Anglermen are critically important to our continuation of a broad church of carpery.  We never, ever, change them except of course when we decide to do so.  If you go back to Mr Carptree Goes Fishing, which is our bible, you will find that the only bailiffs depicted are Tom the baitcatcher and the spivvy looking gent on the Avon.  There are emphatically no women bailiffs in that book, and what is good enough for Mr Carptree is good enough for me.’ 

‘What about the carp fishing chapter then?’ screamed Aunt Kittie.  What does Carptree use for bait? A par-boiled bloody potato that’s what.  So how come that you all use boilees as bait and nothing else?’  The Archbailiff looked pityingly at her  ‘ Some parts of Mr Carptree are open to interpretation and some parts are the word of Crabtree himself, and we are bound  hand and foot however much we want to change.’ 

‘Hand and foot?  I bet you are, you old pervert,’ snarled the candidate.  ‘And how do you decide what is set in stone and what is open to interpretation? No, on second thoughts, I can guess.  You seek guidance and then come down firmly on the side of what you wanted to do anyway.’ 

‘My dear good lady,’ said the Archbailiff, ‘I am sure that we can find a compromise.  Are you by any chance gay?  That would help, as long as you promised that you weren’t doing any of the naughty bits.’  The stony look which the old lady gave made His Scaliness back off that idea. Instead he turned to his fellows and said ‘Come on.  It is a broad church, and at her age she is not much of a woman is she?’ 

A great roar of ‘No, no, no, no, no’ erupted from half of the committee.  ’Never, never, never.  We would rather become Roman Carpoholics than have a woman bailiff and the Tope has said that we can be bailiffs in his carp club.’  ‘What about compromising by appointing her and then suspending her from duty?’ suggested  the Archbailiff, desperate to hold the Anglermen carpists together, but before the conservative element could shout down that idea a door slammed and the candidate had voted with her feet, much like the majority of the Anglermens’ once large membership.

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Date: 13th July 2010, 5:09 PM

PAUL THE PSYCHIC CARP

The carp in the tank in the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp clubhouse had lived an unremarkable life until a drunken member had decided that the fish would be able to predict the winner of the General Election to the House of Carpery.  Five boilees had been dropped into the water, each representing one of the main parties.  The great fish rejected the boilees of the U-bends, the British Metacarpals and the Mirrorcarpists and then, opening its great mouth to its full extent, it gobbled up the boilees representing the Conservationists and the Orange groupings.  To the amazement of all the members it did not swallow them but swam around with both, somehow stuck together between its lips, shaking its great head with a puzzled look on its face until eventually the boilees dissolved and fell apart. 

The Committee knew a good thing when they saw it and leaked to a receptive press corps the proposal that Paul was going to predict the outcome of the Mirrorcarpist leadership election.  The interest of the public was intense, and the pressure on the candidates to take part in the experiment proved irresistible.  Proceedings were chaired by the universally loved and revered elder statesman, Lord Makoshark, who had a book to sell and was happy to have the publicity.  It was not totally dignified, but at least was better than that notorious television advert. 

The first tempting morsel was a large worm representing Ed Boilees. Then two maggots were selected, almost identical but not quite, and they were to carry the hopes of Ed and Davey Halibut.  The two brothers stood side by side in their grey shorts and school sweaters, bickering and pinching each other when they thought that nobody was looking.  Diane Turbot’s hopes were riding on a great diversity of flavours all blended into one tempting mouthful for the carp.  She studiously represented parts of the taste spectrum which were missing in the other more conventional offerings.  Finally, Andy Gurnard opted for leftovers.  It was a strategy which had been tried and had failed many times before, but it was at least very different to the new leftovers strategy which had, in recent years, failed so miserably. 

Lord Makoshark was trusted by all the candidates, and so he released the baits into Paul’s tank so that no advantage was given to any candidate.  The great carp slowly swam across to inspect the offerings.  One by one he rejected them, sometimes with a grimace and sometimes shaking his massive head in dismay or rolling his eyes dismissively.  When he had rejected them all he held himself suspended in mid-water and appeared to be summing up the situation.  A look of infinite sadness came over his face, and then before anyone could react to stop him, he launched himself out of his tank and across the clubhouse, slapping the benign face of poor Lord Makoshark on the way, remaining airborne until he crashed into a pile of John Fisher’s Ban the Ballot posters left over from the General Election.  He hugged them to him with his pectoral fins, and with a great despairing sob he died. 

Those present were too shocked at first to take in the immensity of Paul’s rejection of all the candidates.  They did, however, realise that the Carp Club, still reeling from its failure in the World Carp and from the first round of cuts, was not in a position to face the truth.  Those present all swore an oath of silence and, as agreed, the next morning Fat Fish Daily and The Bloater, both ran headlines ‘Paul the Psychic Carp Retires.’

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Date: 6th July 2010, 10:46 AM

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT

Aunt Kittie had been summoned by Clyde Dale, her personal bankster.  The bank had recalculated the cost of the currency which it had supplied to her.  The correction of its own mistake resulted in a 30p overdraft.  For each of the ten days that she had been in South Africa she had been charged a minimum unauthorised overdraft interest charge of £20, and today’s interview commanded a further fee of £50.  ‘Tenching Hell,’ the old lady spluttered.  ‘I had £25,000 in my deposit account and the overdraft was the bank’s mistake anyway.  £250 for going 30p overdrawn.  That’s not very nice!’ 

‘It is from where I sit’, replied Clyde Dale as he ended the interview. 

The following day John Fisher’s aunt burst into Clyde Dale’s office, waving the latest statement which she had received for her deposit account.  ‘Spawning bloody carps,’ she shrieked.  ‘My 10% Super Saver Account is now only paying 0.001% interest.  You never notified me of the change and yet I know that you are charging all your small business customers huge administration fees and a minimum of 12%.  Even by the very low expectations that I have for banksters, I have to say that that’s not very nice!’ 

‘Oh, but it is from where I sit,’ murmured Clyde Dale as he pressed a button and called for security to remove the old lady from his office. 

The very next day Kittie Fisher received a letter from the bank informing her that with the deepest of regret it was withdrawing the facilities given to K F Holdings Ltd and required immediate repayment.  ‘You slimy loathsome pile of decaying bream,’ she yelled as, once again, she stormed into the bankster’s plush office.  ‘My company is doing well. I employ nearly fifty people.  The Carp Club is relying on you to help the recovery by supplying credit to small businesses, and instead of lending money to Carp Club members you lend it to GreekoCarp or to other banksters or just play with it on the carpital markets, making money from money but helping nobody.  The Carp Club saved your skin by lending you cheap billions when you were bust, and now you are behaving even more antisocially than before!’ 

‘The bank would so love to help, if only it could,’ drawled Clyde Dale, as he studied the list of 2009 Bordeaux First Growths on his desk.  ‘Sadly the Carpinet has increased the requirement for the cash reserves that we must keep. So, with the best will in all carpery, I just can’t help.’ 

‘Total bloody bollocks,’ screamed Aunt Kittie, for once forgetting to include a fish reference in her swearing.  ‘When you thought there would be a problem with paying bonuses you quadrupled the basic salaries of the banksters, and on top of that you are still paying out bonuses in cash amounting to 40% of everything the bank earns, so you can find cash to retain the people whose stupidity and greed created this mess in the first place but not do anything useful.  That’s not very nice is it?’ 

Clyde Dale, who had been daydreaming of yachts and tropical islands, opened his eyes and a nasty smirk spread across his chubby face.  ‘I think you may know what I am about to say.’  But Aunt Kittie had left his office and was already withdrawing her savings down to the last penny.

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Date: 28th June 2010, 11:20 AM

THE GREATER THE PAY

Aunt Kittie was distraught.  She had spent all her savings to travel to South Africa to support England in the World Carp, and their performance had been flatter than a plaice on a motorway.  Dabio Carpello had failed to inspire his team.  Ayne Finney, Joshley Coley and Frank Lamprey, all big fish in a small pond at home, had turned out to be minnows.  How could it be that those who were paid tens of millions performed like rank amateurs? 

As the second bottle of crème de menthe slipped down, the truth emerged.  ‘It’s a conspiracy, an effing jeffing conspiracy.’  The old lady’s fingers flew arthritically over the keyboard and the printer went into overdrive. 

‘German Pope responsible for the one that got away.’  Any fool could see that Frank Lamprey’s carp had been netted. 

‘Referee was Martin Borman.’ 

'Leather jockstraps gave German team unfair advantage.’ 

‘Yes, yes oh yes,’ shrieked Aunt Kittie again and again as she printed hundreds of such theories.  ‘She’s a sporting old girl,’ thought the couple in the room next door, totally misinterpreting what they were hearing. 

The following morning a seriously hung-over Kittie Fisher looked at the garbage which had seemed so compelling the night before.  The truth hit her like a slap in the face with a fat tench.  ‘The more millions you pay them all, the worse they perform.’ 

Back at Carpus Christi Professor Brill was completing his inquiry into the banksters’ crisis, and was studying two graphs.  The banksters’ pay graph went up in a near vertical line.  The banksters’ contribution to the good of the Carp Club graph was the mirror image.  The professor tapped out his concluding sentence.  ‘The more millions you pay them all the worse they perform.’ 

Back at Pond House John Fisher was finishing his history of the governance of the Carp Club.  The last chapter dealt with the House of Carpery expenses crisis which coincided with the failure of its members to spot the sub-prime carp crisis, or even notice that the fish had all died.  ‘The more they all pay themselves,’ he concluded, ‘the worse they perform.’

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Date: 23rd June 2010, 2:21 PM

WHAT IS A MILIBAND? 

Professor Brill finished his lecture to the third year students at Carpus Christi with what he assumed to be a rhetorical question.  ‘So what is a Miliband?’ 

A forest of hands shot up and a voice called out.  ‘Please Sir, a Miliband is a member of an Eighties girl band.’ 

Rose Tetra glanced up from the steamy novel on which she had been covertly working at the back of the class.  ‘A Miliband is an item of intimate clothing as in “slowly, languorously she undid the ribbons on her black silk Miliband, and there was a sharp intake of breath from the bishop as it slid to the floor leaving her….”’ 

‘Enough, enough,’ gasped Professor Brill, quickly turning to the nerdy student in the club tie and the tweed jacket. 

‘A Miliband is the spectrum for measuring minute points of difference in a class whose objects, to the naked eye, seem identical.’ 

‘Well, that last one is at least nearer the spirit of the thing,’ said the Professor regaining his composure, ‘I will tell you.  A Miliband is a fictional character which attempts to mimic Eddie and Davie Halibut, the youngest career carpists ever to serve in the Carpinet and whose competition to succeed Jack Pike as leader of the Mirrorcarpist Grouping was chronicled with such accuracy and precision in William Barr’s history of The Carp Club.’ 

‘Well,’ asked the lad in the tweed jacket, ‘What is the point of a Miliband, and why do we need two?’ 

‘The answer,’ stammered Professor Brill, whose mind had never quite freed itself from Rose Tetra’s definition, ‘is entertainment value only.  The standard currency is two Milibands make one Balls, and one Balls is only half an Abbott.’

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Date: 16th June 2010, 5:38 PM

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP

John Fisher, as chairman of Kittie Fisher Holdings Ltd, had been honoured with an invitation to The Whiting House to meet Barraca Cuda, President of Carp USA. 

Aunt Kittie’s company had been sourcing its supplies of crème de menthe from the golf states of Georgia and Florida.  The same design faults which had caused the leak at Pondsworth was now sending a torrent of foul liquid across some of America’s finest courses.  Putting had become a very sticky business, and at Augusta alligators were weaving out of the water hazards, sloppy drunk, proclaiming to astonished caddies ‘You are my very best friend.’

When John Fisher arrived at the steps of The Whiting House he was greeted by a hostile throng of television and press.  Barraca Cuda strode out of the Dover Sole office and launched into a foul mouthed harangue. 

‘British Fisher Holdings is a British wart on the arse of the world, coming Britishly over here and Britishly flooding our sacred American greens and fairways.  I will kick your British arses from Cape Cod to Los Anglers and back again.  You British will pay every cent of the cost of clear-up as well as every other loss that I can think of - loss of tax, loss of free drinks for holes in one and the entire cost of running America for a year. 

‘So now you come to The Whiting House with your British cringing and snivelling to try to talk your way out of your responsibilities by begging for our civilised American mercy…’ 

‘I came here,’ interrupted John Fisher ‘because you invited me.’ 

‘Typical British deception,’ snarled the President into the nearest camera. ‘If I employed you I’d fire you and then kick your British arse.’ 

‘So what about Bhopal?’ asked John Fisher who had now had enough of this.  ‘Yes, Bhopal.  Your American companies cause death and desolation in the poorer parts of the world and not one Presidential squeak about it.  Your banksters flood the world of carpery with toxic sub-primes and never a word of apology.  The silo which leaked was designed by Americans and run by Americans and Kittie Fisher Holdings immediately admitted liability, but all you can do is posture about kicking ass and generally get in the way of the clean-up, in your effort to impress a few voters.  Call this a special relationship?’ 

‘Oh, yes,’ said the President smiling for the very first time, ‘Very, very special.  When we say “jump” you jump.  When we screw up you have to live with the consequences, but when you step one inch out of line you get your special little arse kicked.’ 

And with that Barraca Cuda vanished back into The Whiting House but not before he had planted a cultured right foot deep into John Fisher’s rear.

‘Just as well for John Fisher that  it was only a mid-term election looming,’ observed Professor Brill, who had been watching the sorry events on television.


 

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Date: 11th June 2010, 9:11 AM

A GREEN DISASTER 

A shocked silence hung over Professor Brill’s class.  News had just broken of the leak from Aunt Kittie’s new crème de menthe silo.  The toxic green liquid gushed out from the broken valve and was flowing towards the Pondsworth and Reeling carp hatcheries.  Birds were being intoxicated by the fumes and becoming fouled in the sticky mess.  It was in every way a green disaster. 

‘We shall now see the workings of the most certain and universal formula known to all carpery,’ announced the Professor, choking back his emotions for the good of his pupils. ‘It is very simple. 

‘Y = 4X. Z=8X. 

‘X is the amount which the person responsible for the spill initially announces as the maximum possible amount of the leakage.  I understand that Kittie Fisher has promised that the worst case scenario is a problem of 100,000 litres. 

‘Y is the figure which usually follows about 4 weeks after the incident, and it is the amount which the polluter claims to be capturing from the scene and it is exactly four times the size of the original worst-case figure given.  The polluter at this stage claims 99% success. 

‘Z is the figure which everyone other than the polluter calculates as the quantity of substance still flowing into the environment despite the amounts being trapped.  It is double the amount of what is being successfully mopped up.’ 

And so a month later Aunt Kittie appeared on television and without an apology to her name announced that she was managing to capture and rebottle 400,000 litres and that the green environment was safe in her hands.  In fact 800,000 litres of the vile spirit carried on flowing down the streets of Pondsworth and onto the wetlands for another six months.  The Carpinet huffed and puffed.  All Carpery debated whether a greener way could be found to keep old ladies lit up, but no agreement could be reached.  The Carp Club was just too closely wedded to its favourite tipple and members feared that a ban on crème de menthe silos could lead to controls on the storage of Bass and Ruddles and that would never do.

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Date: 8th June 2010, 2:47 PM

A COST TO AFFECT THE NEXT GENERATION 

Aunt Kittie was off to the World Carp.  When she went to the surgery for the first of her injections against tench foot and salmonella, she was handed a questionnaire about her drinking habits. 

John Fisher’s aunt was aware that there was one level of truth which was appropriate to the time running up to the inoculation, and something very different afterwards. 

She therefore answered the questions in somewhat general or perhaps evasive terms.  ‘The last thirteen years have involved a small element of over-indulgence.  In each of these years consumption has run ahead of bottles bought.  I now find myself owing at least two rounds of drinks to every member of the Carp Club.  The deficit will need to be addressed partly by cutting consumption but also by raising more money to replenish supplies.  The situation needs to be resolved in the long term, but any action over the next twelve months would lead to a double dipso depression.’ 

After the inoculation Aunt Kittie felt able to speak a bit more frankly. 

‘All of this is somebody else’s fault.  My over-consumption has reached the equivalent of one gallon of crème de menthe and three barrels of Bass for every man, woman and child in the Carp Club.  Until the inoculation I did not bother to count the piles of empties in front of my house, but I can now say that the position which I have inherited is far worse than I had ever imagined it.  The burden will be borne by those with the broadest backs, and I am therefore increasing the monthly allowance which I extract from my nephew and will balance my supply and consumption without inflicting on a vulnerable old lady such as myself the misery caused by Megrim Thresher in the 1980s. 

‘Prime Administer Sir Adipose Ffynne was therefore right to say that the gravity of this problem will affect future generations.’

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Date: 29th May 2010, 10:28 AM

A STING TOO FAR 

Aunt Kittie trawled through the pile of newspaper cuttings.  ‘Yes! This is the way to make lots of money.  Nothing to it.  No journalistic integrity, no research, just the passport to instant wealth.  Sounds good to me.  I am a natural stingray.’

Perhaps a little more care in the planning might have yielded a better result and saved John Fisher’s aunt from making a right tench of herself. 

She dyed her hair an improbable shade of yellow, supplemented her bosom with a camcorder and, dressed in the merest suggestion of a miniskirt, fishnet stockings and high heels, tottered off to where Dabio Carpello was enjoying a quiet cup of tea. 

‘Hello deary.  You fancy a little business?’ she said as she sat down beside him and gripped his thigh with her bony hand and leered a most disconcerting leer.  Her lipstick had been applied so vigorously that it seemed to cover half of her face. 

Dabio removed the hand from his leg and thumbed through his English/Italian dictionary.  ‘Ah no.  What is pleasuring me is lots of activity with the players.’ 

‘Promising,’ thought Aunt Kittie, but she was unprepared when he looked hard at her and asked ‘Tell me Signorina, is she a WIG?’  Privately, Dabio thought that if this was one of the famed wives or girlfriends then they were not a patch on their Italian counterparts. 

‘A wig?  A wig, you horrible bucket of rotting maggots,’ shrieked Aunt Kittie.  ‘it’s my own, all my own!’ 

‘Ah, Michael Owen,’  replied the great manager, happy that he was now getting to grips with the language, but surprised that the injured player had not been able to do better for himself.  ‘He has sick on his foot, yes?’
 
‘That is quite disgusting,’ muttered Aunt Kittie as she wobbled off thinking that there must be easier ways of making a fast buck.  ‘I blame the bloody coalition.  If an old lady can’t carry out a profitable sting, what has the country come to?’

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Date: 24th May 2010, 10:28 AM

A TALE OF TWO MILIES

Aunt Kittie hammered away at her word processor.  Her new novel was going to restore her fortunes.  It was a story of two Milies, brothers united by mutual love and a strangely disturbing appearance, but separated by naked ambition. 

‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.’  With those ringing words John Fisher’s aunt began the opening chapter.  She described how the performance of the Mirrorcarpists, which both brothers had done so much to influence, had suddenly turned from the age of wisdom to the age of foolishness, as each brother sought to distance himself from the ruinous performance of the last Carpinet and the reasons why the general election had been lost to the forces of Liberality, Conservaty and a bit more Conservaty. 

David Mili’s campaign was championed by Alan Carpon, and Aunt Kittie’s thrilling story told how he had taken a early lead in the polls.  Until his brother threw his landing net into the ring he looked sure to win as long as he kept his head. 

Aunt Kittie typed in a frenzy of creative energy, stopping only for an occasional draught of crème de menthe. 

As the book reached its climax she described the way in which younger brother Ed Mili’s cause was taken up and then totally taken over by elder statesman Eel Finnoch. 

The last chapter told how Ed Mili’s attempt to address the Sheffield Carp Club had been thwarted by his sponsor.  Overexcited and overconfident, he strode to the front of the stage, grabbed the microphone and, again and again, bellowed out his old war cry ‘We’re alright.  We’re alright!’ 

Mortified at not being able to get a word in edgeways, Ed realised that there were things in life more important than carpery and that it was not worth sacrificing the loving relationship which he had with his brother.  As he unplugged the sound system at the mains he shouted ‘It is a far far better thing that I do now than I have ever done.’ And off he ran to start a new life running a fish and chip shop called ‘A Far Far Better Plaice’. 

‘Masterpiece,’ Aunt Kittie murmured to herself, and posted a copy to her publisher confident that she had a best seller on her hands.

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Date: 7th May 2010, 11:18 AM

THE LAUGHING POLITICIANS 

We are three politicians. 
Each has kept his seat. 
The public hasn’t rumbled us. 
It really is a treat. 

We squandered all the money. 
We let the voters down. 
But once again they vote for us. 
We’re the happiest men in town. 

We laugh at their credulity. 
How did we pull it off? 
We laugh at the electorate
When we think the mike is off. 

We never can stop laughing. 
Indeed we never tried. 
When we found they’d voted for us, 
We laughed until we cried. 

Oh ho ho ho ho ha ha,
Ho ho ha ha ha. 

Our jolly faces never show,
When we tinker with what’s true. 
We open wide our great big mouths,
With no respect for you. 

We said we’d cut the deficit,
But the point they couldn’t get,
Was that even in much tougher times
We’d still increase the debt. 
We talk about the voting system,
Though we could not care much less.
It’s better for us than facing up
To who created the mess. 

Oh ho ho ho ho ha ha ha
Ho ho ha ha ha. 

So if you meet a politician,
All well groomed and posh,
Shake him by his fat old hand,
And slip him loads of dosh. 

His eyes will beam and sparkle. 
He will shed his cares,
But don’t expect much of him
In the next five years. 

Oh ho ho ho ho ha ha
Ho ho ho ha ha.

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Date: 3rd May 2010, 3:32 PM

TOO DIFFICULT 

John Fisher put down the article on the causes of the collapse of the Carp Club finances written by the distinguished economist Hector L Pectoral.  He was sickened by its conclusion:  ‘The career carpists were all aware of the bubble growing in the economy and all of its risks, but it was politically just too difficult to intervene while the times seemed good.  So they committed the Club to more and more spending and felt able to do something only when the disaster was irretrievable.’ 

‘What is the point of these carpists if the things that matter are all just too difficult for them to tackle?’ 

‘It’s not just that,’ added Aunt Kittie who had been reading over John’s shoulder.  ‘They are all talking about the Club’s annual deficit, but nobody is saying anything about the total amount of the accumulated debt.  Far too difficult.’ 

‘And there has been not a word about the very biggest issue facing UK Carpery, the relentless rise of Chinese, Indian, Russian and Brazilian Carp Clubs which challenge the very basis of UK Carpery if we do not respond.  Too difficult, I imagine.’ 

‘That is right, Johnnie, and no attempt to grapple with the unfairness which sees all the fruits of the good times snaffled by a few banksters, and all the costs of the bad times visited on the poorest.  Just too sodding difficult for them.’ 

‘Language please Auntie, but you are right.  No mention from any of them of the demographic time-bomb as more and more Club Members need help to mix their groundbait and boil their boilees.  Too difficult.’ 

‘And I suppose it is too difficult for them to even think about the way in which all the Groupings seek to retain power by spending more income, even in the good times, than they can raise from subscriptions.  Unless they solve that one, we are doomed to put up with this misery for ever.’ 

An hour later John Fisher and his aunt had compiled a list of the hundred most fundamental issues facing UK Carpery, and not one of them had been tackled by the carpists in the election campaign. 

John Fisher howled in his rage and despair.  ‘If the really important issues are just too difficult for the House of Carpery then I am going to find it far too difficult to walk sixty yards to cast my vote.’

‘You weren’t going to anyway, and quite right too,’ reminded Aunt Kittie, pouring them both a sustaining pint of Bass, with an easy turn of the wrist.

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Date: 30th April 2010, 9:27 AM

ROACHDALE 

The career carpists made much of what later became known as ‘The Incident.’  How could such a thing happen to an experienced campaigner?  Could he ever spin his way out of the shame of it? 

Aunt Kittie took the bus to nearby Roachdale to buy groundbait, and found herself caught up in a strutabout by Chad Butt and his British Metacarpals.  The great leader goosestepped along the street in his military tunic and leather shorts, his tall boots gleaming in the sunshine.  Behind him a phalanx of over-muscled heavies swaggered, all shaven heads, white shirts and dark suits.  ‘Hey Mr Butt,’ Aunt Kittie called out, ‘You lot are nothing but dacist scum.’ 

This played to the great leader’s main strength, mindless abuse.  ‘You vile old bag!  You miserable piss-smelling pile of rags.  You turd-breathed apology for a piece of shit on the heel of my jack-boot.’  And for the next fifteen minutes Chad Butt poured out his bile with an energy and enthusiasm which made a deep impression on all who heard it.  ‘Wow!’ said the people of Roachdale as one, revolted and depressed at the same time.  ‘That is pretty well what we would expect of him.’ 

It was therefore a pity that Chad Butt forgot to remove his microphone when he got into his battlebus.  His normal speaking voice was high and fluting.  ‘Actually, Sue,’ he said to the largest and smelliest of the heavies, ‘You don’t mind me calling you that do you?  Well, what I would really like for my birthday is a kitten.  A fluffy white one with a pink bow.’ 

Career carpists were jubilant or mortified, according to their persuasion, but they all thought that this would mean electoral disaster.  The voters themselves never liked duplicity but were not unduly concerned, as they had learned not to expect any real tie-up between public utterances and private behaviour. 

When Aunt Kittie returned home she bumped into Prime Administer Jack Pike, who was on a walkabout of his own.  ‘Tell me, Jack, just how bad is the Carp Club’s financial position?’ 

The Mirrorcarpist leader replied ‘Well, Kittie my dear, this is a global problem but as long as I am re-elected, my prudent…….’ 

By the time he had finished his stock answer Kittie had given up on him and was at home relaxing over a refreshing pint of Crème de Menthe. 

When she answered the knock at the door, there stood the shambling figure of the Prime Administer.  ‘I have come to apologise.  You asked me a fair question and I gave an evasive answer.  I did not trust you to make a mature judgement based on the truth.  The situation is, I am afraid, absolutely dire.  And at least a third of the blame is my own.’  For the next hour he explained in detail the depth of the problems and the range of possible solutions.  As he left he again apologised and added ‘I am a sinner who has repented.’ 

‘Bloody tench!,’ shouted John Fisher when he heard.  ‘Rudding hell!’ If word of this ever gets out my Ban the Ballot campaign is ruined.  Thank God he learned the lesson from the Roachdale incident and took off his microphone.’

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Date: 27th April 2010, 6:15 PM

BALANCED OR HUNG  

The Carp Club politicians, for all their many faults, had maintained the tradition of door to door canvassing.  The career carpists all had one thing on their mind, the possibility that no grouping would have an absolute majority. 

The first to knock on John Fisher’s door was Conservationist leader, Sir Adipose Ffynne.  He ranted about the paralysis that a hung House of Carpery would bring to the club’s finances.  John Fisher thought that this would be a big improvement on what was usually achieved with a clear majority. 


John was then surprised to find Scottish Nationalists Alec Seaman and Nicola Surgeon hammering at his door.  They had no candidate in the election, but would defend to the last their right to canvas. 

Prime Administer Jack Pike announced to John that if the election produced no clear winner then he would accept the result of the ballot.  ‘That’s rather the point of democracy ,’ responded John, without making very much effort to hide his irritation.  ‘So you might think,’ whispered the Prime Administer as the door slammed in his face ‘but just you see who gets first shot at forming a Carpinet if I lose the vote.’ 

Finally the repulsive Chad Butt, leader of the British Metacarpals, marched up to the door flanked by his heavies.  As John listened to the appalling catalogue of what the Metacarpals would do if they held the balance of power, Aunt Kittie slipped out and, grabbing one of the heavies in a totally inappropriate way, murmured into his ear ‘Well balanced and well hung, big boy!’

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Date: 24th April 2010, 5:17 PM

THREE MEN BUT NO VOTE 

Despite the death of the entire carp population, down to the very last sub-prime specimen, fishing remained compulsory.  To relax the law would involve two things which could never happen. Firstly the Carpinet would have to admit that the fish stock had perished, and secondly the House of Carpery would have to revoke some of its laws.  It was far more comfortable piling on more new ones. 

So John Fisher and Peter Carptree sat beside an empty lake fishing companiably, and also totally pointlessly.  But the law was the law and the Carpinet was ruthless in enforcing compliance, unless of course the infringement was by one of its own. 

On the far side of the lake they could see Dabio Carpello putting the English squad through its daces as it prepared for the World Carp to be held in South Africa in July.  They mixed groundbait of irresistible subtlety and then cast their boilees with amazing strength and accuracy.  But the lake contained no live fish and their efforts yielded nothing. 

‘Prime Administer Jack Pike still boasts of the money invested by his Grouping in this lake, but if the carp are all dead it doesn’t amount to a lot,’ mused Peter, whose line was now tangled into a web of chaos. 

‘True,’ said John, fishing neatly and well but, of course, catching nothing.  ‘The Carpinet boasts that it reduced waiting times, and during the days of the tethered carp scheme you would always catch a fish within ten seconds of arriving.  It allowed the banksters to tick all the boxes and meet their targets, but it was hardly real fishing was it?  And then those huge overfed, sluggish carp that were introduced.  It was almost impossible to avoid catching them.  The statistics for the average carp size soared but it was a pointless and miserable business.’ 

‘So, John,’ replied Peter Carptree, ‘in this election one lot promises to spend and spend.  Another lot claims that it will spend a little less and achieve the same glorious results, and a third bunch promises everything new and better.  We are sick of the first two but don’t know whether to trust the other.’ 

Peter Carptree had now managed to wrap his line so securely round himself that he could not move a muscle.  John Fisher continued to fish immaculately and skilfully, but the results were just the same. 

Across the lake Dabio Carpello urged his team on to ever greater efforts, but privately thought that UK Carpery was not a patch on the much derided Italian system. 

‘I know, Pete, that our boycott of the election may seem a bit unfair.  Some of the carpists are honourable and sensible; well, one or two of them.  But if we don’t do something to break the mould we will swap one bunch of misdirected inadequates for another and then we will never achieve change.  The carp fisheries of India and Brazil are already overtaking us.’ 

Sadly Peter Carptree had now succeeded in getting his head jammed into the groundbait bucket, and was in no position to communicate his agreement.

 

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Date: 21st April 2010, 9:30 AM

ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO DUST 

Prime Administer Jack Pike had learned lessons from the drubbing he received during the Great Debate.  He looked directly down the lens of the camera with a scary intensity, and smiled his strange and inappropriate smile.  ‘This volcanic eruption is a once in every hundred years event.  It needs a man of my experience.’ 

Sir Adipose Ffynne, leader of the Conservationists, had also learned the same lesson.  Rigid with anxiety and tension he stared into the camera for all he was worth.  ‘This volcanic dust is the fallout of thirteen years of the waste and incompetence of the Mirrorcarpist government.’ 

Celia Canthe, leader of the Orange Grouping was riding high in the polls after her star performance in the Great Debate.  She pouted winsomely and brushed her glorious hair with long sensuous strokes, as the camera behind her captured her reflection in the mirror.  ‘Dust to dust and ashes to ashes.  This is the end of the two party system.’ 

Max Tope, leader of the U-bend grouping was addressing a crowd of almost four in the lounge of the Three Pickerels.  ‘When  I have taken the Carp Club out of EuroCarp I will use part of the billions that we will save  to erect a curtain, yes a giant curtain thirty thousand feet high, all round theses Sceptered Isles and when dust clouds come they will be drawn as tight as a burbot’s bum.’  ‘I think,’ observed John Fisher, who was unlucky enough to have been in the pub ‘that that is much the most sensible policy you have ever put forward.  The rest are nothing like as good.’  But sarcasm was wasted on Max, who was into his seventh pint and the third hour of his speech. 

Chad Butt, leader of the British Metacarpals was for once speechless.  Volcanic dust had settled in the three inches of bum crack showing above the authoritarian leather belt, and for once the would-be saviour of British Carpery accepted the description ‘a pain in the arse.’

Later that afternoon both Jack Pike and Sir Adipose Ffynne,  confounded by the brilliance of Celia Canthe’s performance, were practicing in front of a mirror, pout on lips, hairbrush in hand but somehow it was not quite the same.

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Date: 16th April 2010, 5:11 PM

EVERY ONE A WINNER 

Every five years the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club held an election for its social secretary.  For the first time ever there was more than one entry, and election fever gripped the candidates.  All three of them were to speak at the Thursday get-together.

As outgoing social secretary it fell to Aunt Kittie to organise the form of the debate, and the demands of the candidates and their back up teams had driven her to despair.  Her nephew John Fisher found her in her living room, marching on the spot and singing.

‘Seventy six new rules led the big debate,
With a hundred and ten things more that were banned,
And there were rows and rows,
Of carp politicos.  It got totally out of hand.

Seventy six researchers phoned The Sun.
A hundred and ten more texted The Mail.
There were more than a thousand tweets
Springing up like weeds
And spin doctors…’

‘Aunt Kittie,’ shouted John, once again unsettled by his aunt’s behaviour.  He handed her the morning post which consisted of letters from solicitors Carper Rudd threatening injunctions because Plaid Carply and Alex Salmon’s party were not invited to take part in the debate, even though they had not actually put up candidates.

At 8.30 that evening when the debate was due to start in the club room, John was giving a lecture in the nearby Groundbait Exchange.  His favourite subject, an actuary’s view of algebra, would not normally command much attention but tonight he had a full house as the club members fled from the debate between the candidates, which took place in front of an audience entirely made up of their advisers and managers.

But everybody was a winner.  Each of the three candidates trumpeted their victory on Dacebook and the net.  Aunt Kittie continued to sing her subversive songs, but quietly.  John Fisher had the biggest audience of his life, and was not the slightest bit bothered that every last one of them slept peacefully.

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Date: 10th April 2010, 11:11 AM

CRISIS MANAGEMENT 

It  was unfortunate for Aunt Kittie that the election to the House of Carpery had just been called, and that  the good and great of all persuasions were assembled outside the Pondsworth and Reeling Clubhouse, ready to launch their campaigns.  There were gasps of horror when the old lady came careering down the hill on her bike, totally out of control.  The fumes from the alchohol that she had consumed shocked the crowd, as did the sickening impact as she ran over Sister Angelica of the Sacred Carp convent.  But worse was to come.  ‘Just because you are an effing jeffing nun,’ screamed Aunt Kittie,’it doesn’t mean you can wander all over the road like a spawning tench!’ 

How could John Fisher’s elderly aunt extract herself from this mess, as Sister Angelica lay bleeding and whimpering?  At least she had some true professionals on hand to help her. 


Celia Canthe, head of the Orange Grouping, suggested that Aunt Kittie put it down to her green credentials and bearing in mind the quantity of crème de menthe which John Fisher’s aunt had consumed, it was not a bad idea. 

Sir Adipose Ffynne, leader of the Conservationists, huffed and puffed and suggested that Aunt Kittie should blame the whole thing on the economic mismanagement of the Mirrorcarpists over the last thirteen years. 

Andrew Huss, captain of the English carpet bowling team, who was there to present the raffle prizes, suggested that Aunt Kittie should point to the positives that could be taken from her performance and then draw a line under it and move on. 

There was no restraining Prime Administer Jack Pike.  His speech was long and wordy but before the angry crowd had managed to silence him he had proposed claiming that Aunt Kittie had been cycling prudently, that the problem was international and not of her making and that, above all else, she should not mention the cuts. 

And then the mists cleared from Aunt Kittie’s brain and the most extraordinary and daring idea occurred to her.  She went over to the stricken nun, bent down beside her and said  ‘I am really sorry.  It was entirely my fault and what I said afterwards was very wrong.  Let me pay for the damage.’ 

At those words the assembled career carpists muttered darkly about the disgrace of it and the bad precedent that it set.  Sister Angelica picked herself of the floor, embraced Aunt Kittie and the two of them limped off together to Pond House for tea.

 

 

Top^


Date: 6th April 2010, 10:54 AM

LEGAL HIGH OR BULLSHIT 

Aunt Kittie was addressing the Pondsworth and Reeling Gardening Society on how to grow better climbing beans. ‘There is a substance,  freely available and totally legal which will act as a powerful stimulant.  You will get amazing highs.  Your plants will grow up to eight feet tall and your beans will grow long and straight.   It is called FYM and I can procure it for you.’
 
‘This is deeply shocking,’ muttered Prime Administer Jack Pike, who had arrived late and was unaware of the context.  He had also misheard the word ‘beans’. 

He left the hall and immediately reported the matter to CRASS, the Committee for the Regulation and Abolition of Suspect Substances.  He lost no time in leaking the scandal to ‘The Daily Scale’ which whipped its readers into a frenzy of indignation. 

His instruction to the Committee was to spend up to ten minutes in a thoroughgoing and in depth investigation of the substance, and then to announce its independent conclusion that FYM was a menace to society and should be banned. 

The Committee was now down to just one member from an original twenty following the latest resignation, that of Eric Carplin. 

‘But, Prime Administer,’ complained Professor Thornback, the last surviving expert on CRASS, ‘FYM is not a drug of any sort.  It is just farmyard manure.’ 

‘Don’t bamboozle me with your elitist scientific nonsense!’ roared Jack Pike.  ‘I am not having old ladies peddling stimulants and sex aids as long as I am in charge.  It is deeply disgusting.’ 

The resignation of the last remaining member of Crass passed un-noticed as the Prime Administer gazed manfully into the television cameras and modestly revealed that, having saved the world from economic disaster, he had now saved all carpery from the scourge of FYM. 

'But why, Mr Pike,’ asked interviewer Blake Hake, ‘do you set up these expensive committees if you always ignore their advice?’ 

‘I think you will find, with all respect, that I always listen to them when they get things right and agree with my point of view,’ replied the great man as he lumbered out of the studio bent on improving some other aspect of carpery, which had previously been doing quite nicely all by itself.

Top^


Date: 31st March 2010, 4:44 PM

JUST TOO SILLY 

Aunt Kittie had asked John to join her at the Three Pickerels for a drink and some deep discussions.  She sipped her half pint of crème de menthe and looked anxiously across the table at her nephew. 

‘You do know, John, that we are not real people, just characters in a book?’ 

He nodded bleakly. 

‘And that our only purpose is to expose and mock the tawdry activities of the banksters, and the self-serving hopelessness of party politics in Westminster?’ 

This time there was a mere flicker of acknowledgement as John compared his pints of Bass and Ruddles. 

‘We’re doing a good job on Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the BNP?’ 

‘Yes, Auntie,’ replied John who was now pretty sure that this week he preferred the Bass. 

‘Well then, we don’t have to do UKIP do we?  All that absurd nonsense about Britishness being defined by one’s level of politeness, and then all that silly gratuitous rudeness to the EU president.  I just cannot see what we can do to satirise them or heap derision upon them when they do it so spectacularly well themselves.’ 

‘Yes, Auntie.  They are just too silly, even for the world of carpery.’ 

‘Good.  Then that’s agreed.  I’ll have the other half now,’ said the old lady as she slid her glass across the table.

Top^


Date: 29th March 2010, 9:53 AM

NOT SO BONNY

My MP flies over the ocean,
My MP flies over the sea.
His sponsor forks out for first class,
Oh bring back my MP to me.

My MP repays hospitality,
So honest and upright is he.
He exerts influence and asks questions,
But not for his constituency.

My MP flies over the ocean
And forgets to register the flight
In the register of members’ interests,
But it’s only a small oversight.

But if I should happen to be late
In meeting some legal deadline,
The fault is entirely my own
And so is the bloody great fine.

Bring back, bring back,
Oh bring back a little more equality.
Bring back, bring back,
A habit of probity.

Top^


Date: 26th March 2010, 9:32 AM

AS A NEWT

Aunt Kittie was delighted to have found employment with solicitors Carpacious Voracious and Rudd, even as a lowly paid cleaner’s assistant.  Since she had lost the bulk of her savings in the Piscatorial Life debacle, she had been reduced to living on handouts from her nephew John Fisher.  She had been lured into that expensive mistake by the knowledge that the company was regulated by the House of Carpery and supervised by the Carpery Investment Special Supervision Institution.  She had been let down by an abject failure either to supervise or to pay compensation for the losses caused, and she had no intention of being twice hooked.

On pay day she was therefore horrified to see a 4% deduction from her wage packet in the shape of money paid to PIST, the Piscatorial Investment Superannuation Trust.  The scheme had been set up by the Carpinet to apply to everybody who did not have any other workplace pension.  The idea of trusting the House of Carpery with the investment of her money chilled her to the bone.  Fortunately she recalled the words of Carp Club Treasurer Albert Puffer somewhere in the fifth hour of his last budget speech, announcing that there was automatic enrolment but also the right to opt out.

Aunt Kittie asked a solicitor working at the firm, Ian Greatwhite, how to secure the opt out.  He laughed a hearty and rather scary laugh and said that the form was 378 pages long and nobody had ever successfully completed it.

The following Saturday morning found Aunt Kittie in the  surgery of her local member of the House of Carpery, Simon Stickleback-Fry.

‘By the time I reach retirement age do you agree that I will have contributed £20,000 to the PIST scheme?’

‘Yes, that sounds about right. But taking into account the administration charges, even with the skilled investment management which we bring to the matter, you will still have £15,000 left.’

‘And of that figure, how much will be taken in deductions from my means tested benefits?’

'Well my dear, certainly not less than the £15,000 in your savings plan.  You surely would not expect anything else, would you?'

‘So I will have wasted and lost every penny that I contributed.  It will in effect have been an additional tax on the very poorest.’

‘Oh no, my Love, it will not have been wasted.  You will have the satisfaction of supporting yourself and not living on benefits, and the Carpinet will be able to spend the money for the common good with all the prudence and wisdom for which, even though I say it myself, we have a certain reputation.’

Aunt Kittie resisted the urge to hurdle the desk and gouge out the young man’s eyes with her umbrella and instead asked, ‘Would I be right in thinking that the members of the House of Carpery do not rely on PIST for their own pension arrangements?’

'I hardly think that would really be appropriate, would it, my dear?’ replied the great man as he looked at his watch and thought of the lunch which he would enjoy at the Fat Carp.

‘Bugger you then, and bugger the whole House of Carpery,’ shouted Aunt Kittie who was finding herself all too easily slipping into the language for which she had, over the years, rebuked and chastised her nephew.

Top^


Date: 19th March 2010, 2:54 PM

UNFAIR

Chad Butt, leader of the British Metacarpals Grouping, hitched down his trousers to show the traditional three inches of bum crack before moving to the microphone to address the assembled hard core of the membership.  He flipped his right arm up towards the ceiling in a salute which he thought was a fair imitation of the great leader of Italian Metacarpery, Benni Tope.  Sadly, to the rest of the world it looked like a stranded tench twitching a pectoral fin but the faithful, filling the primary school hall, had been paid to applaud and not to carp or criticise.

'Brothers, fellow warriors in our noble cause, our day will surely come.  But first we have to make further changes to our constitution to satisfy the bias and prejudice of the Court of Carpery.

‘There is one rule for them and one for us.  The Mirrorcarpists are going into the election with a slogan “Vote for us: vote for fairness.”  The Orange Grouping is seeking votes on the platform of “Fairness and Change.”  And yet we, who incorporate the idea of fairness into our very constitution, are criticised for it.  The court has ruled that our membership requirement “Only fair people are allowed in this party” is dacist and against the law.

So be it but it is just not bloody fair, but our day will come and we know where all the unfair people live.’

A steward held up a placard with the instruction ’Applaud’, and the rented mob earned its beer money.

Top^


Date: 16th March 2010, 8:37 AM

ORANGE ROUGHY

It was the appointed time for one of her sessions of special personal tuition, and so Dolly Varden checked her appearance in a mirror before passing through the Common Room of Carpus Christi to Professor Brill’s study, and she liked what she saw.  Her clothes were dull and shabby, the most expensive grunge that her ample allowance could buy, and her long flame-coloured hair was artfully teased to make her look as if she had been dragged through a hedge backwards.

When she knocked on the Professor’s door, instead of hearing the traditional call of ‘Come’ she was greeted with a sound of sobbing and choking.  She rushed in and found her tutor rolling about the floor, trying hard to regain control.  She had not seen him in such convulsions of laughter since former Prime Administer Tim Bleak’s air guitar episode, or Jack Pike’s claim to start every day by listening to hard rock band The Metal Stingrays.

‘There are just under two months until the election to the House of Carpery.  It is a time when the Grouping in power will solemnly introduce ideas for new legislation.  It is all bogus because there is no time for it to be passed, but it gives the chance to show the imaginative strategic thinking that they can bring to the future and to show that they have learned lessons from what has gone wrong in the past.  So what do they introduce as their trump card?  A plan to get carp re-established in our lakes?  A scheme to control the activities of the banksters?  No they come up with a half-baked proposal to make dog insurance compulsory!  And what will happen?  We all know bloody well what will happen, because it is always the same.  The people who create a problem with their vicious dogs will ignore it.  The people who manage their dogs properly will bear the cost and inconvenience.  The only uncertainty is whether they will appoint thousands of officials at huge expense to police it, or whether it will be one of those areas where they create the law and fail to deliver any possible kind of benefit which might exist, through a total failure to follow up in the areas where the problems exist.’  At this point Dolly was unsure whether the Professor’s tears were of laughter or despair.

‘Professor,’ she whispered huskily, ‘Before we get down to our research there has been news, and I have a question to ask.  Last week you taught me that if you cannot meaningfully say the opposite of an election slogan, then it is vacuous nonsense.  You can’t claim to be supporting unfairness, so the Mirrorcarpists’ slogan means nothing.  You cannot ask the voters to elect you in place of the existing lot by saying “We will do it all just the same”, so the Conservationists’ slogan “Vote for us: vote for change” is just meaningless twaddle.  So what about a slogan which simply combines the two? “Vote Orange for fairness and change”?  That must be double nonsense, mustn’t it?’

Professor Brill studied the press release carefully.  ‘No my dear, on the contrary, this slogan is full of meaning.  Firstly, it is an announcement that its writer has no original thought to offer.  Secondly, it is a statement that the Orange Grouping is looking longingly at the others and declaring itself ready for coalition with either of them.’

‘Coalition, Professor?  You really think it means coalition?’ asked Dolly, all innocent as if batter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

‘Yes my little orange roughy, coalition,’ replied the Professor as he steered her towards his massive leather sofa and their research began.

Top^


Date: 8th March 2010, 3:29 PM

CHANGE

John Fisher had spent far too long in the bar of the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.  He had been trying to work out whether he preferred the draft Ruddles or Bass, but was now far beyond the point of being able to taste anything properly.  He was also grumpy because the showing of the great angling classics, A Fish Called Ponder and Groundbait Day, had been cancelled.  Instead the club was being treated to an electioneering address by Sir Adipose Ffynne, leader of the Conservationist Grouping in the House of Carpery.  The great man was talking in a relaxed and fluent way, but was not making much impression on his audience.

‘Change is the message.  Yes, change.  We will deliver change and new efficiencies, but for frontline services we will deliver change by leaving them unchanged.

‘Change.  We will deliver more for less.  Then we will deliver far more for far less and when we have cleared up the mess left behind by the Mirrorcarpists, we will deliver infinitely more for next to nothing.

‘Change.  We are the new generation of carpists who will deliver openness, honesty and transparency.  We will not make promises that we cannot keep.  We will limit the amount of space in the Conservationist headquarters occupied by non-domiciled sponsors to something around 50%, give or take 50%.

‘Change.  We will change the natural order of carpery.  In the past, administrations have been elected on a wave of optimism and have departed amidst a whiff of sleaze.  This time I can promise that we will start in the way that we are bound to finish.

‘Change.  We will listen to the Banksters and the carpital markets.  We will not engage in scaremongering, but let it be clearly understood that a vote for Jack Pike and the Mirrorcarpists is a vote for a plunging fishstock market and a falling pond.

‘Take the scales from your eyes and see that it is the patriotic duty of all carpery to vote Conservationist and ensure that the very richest among us pay lower death subscriptions to the Carp Club.’

John was the last to leave the clubhouse, largely because his condition meant that his route to the door was long and exotically meandering.  As he weaved his way to his house he could hear the speech continuing without hesitation, without notes and now totally without audience.

Top^


Date: 1st March 2010, 4:05 PM

IN THEORY, YES

Professor Brill was addressing a packed room.

‘As an election approaches you will find that the pronouncements of the career carpists fall into four categories, if we ignore the naughty little fibs that they all tell. They are:-

Vacuous.
Hopeless.
Partly true but misleading and
Simply true.’

‘The vacuous ones are easy to spot.  The test for them is to consider whether anybody could sensibly hold the opposite point of view.  Take the Mirrorcarpists’ slogan “Our grouping stands for fairness.”  Turn it round to read “Our grouping stands for unfairness.”  That would be absurd, so we can see that this fairness claim is a classic example of the completely vacuous slogan.

‘The Conservationists have followed suit.  As an opposition grouping they have chosen to lead with “Vote for us; vote for change.”  Can you imagine any opposition seeking to over-turn the lot in power with the slogan “Vote for us; vote for exactly the same”?  No that would be nonsense, so we see another totally empty and meaningless slogan.  We can expect plenty more like that from all sources.

‘A good example of the hopeless can be seen in the Conservationists’ promise to benefit the club members and to encourage them to be prudent savers by giving them cheap shares in the Banksters’ Company.  The promise makes no sense at all.  The Carp Club needs a high share price if it is to get back the money that it invested.  The promise of cheap shares overhanging the share price means that the Club can never get a good enough price to recover its investment.  The promise is a massive own goal for the Carp Club, but it is just as bad for the people who have invested their savings in the  Banksters Company as, for just the same reason, it ensures that they will never recoup their losses.  By penalising all existing savers, it actually discourages the habit of prudent saving. Totally hopeless, and again there will be plenty more to come from all sides as the election campaign moves forward.

‘Then there is the promise of a scheme of free help to mix the groundbait for 600,000 elderly members. Yes, it is true that the scheme will offer the service to 600,000 people, but 450,000 people are already covered by existing arrangements and 125,000 will be unable to complete the 500 page application form which leaves us with just 25,000 new elderly members being helped.  So a degree of truth but, in essence, misleading.

‘The simply true statement is very rare and usually regretted by all concerned.  For example, the carpery representative for Mackerelspond says “I don’t like travelling in the same carriage as the general public.”  Nobody can doubt his sincerity but it does not help his cause.’

At the back of the room, Dolly Varden put up her hand to ask ‘Surely there is a fifth category, the entirely truthful and well informed electoral promise?’

‘Ah,’ said Professor Brill.  ‘In theory, yes but in the world of real carpery nobody has ever identified one.’

Top^


Date: 23rd February 2010, 9:57 AM

BARKING

The British Metacarpal Grouping had hired the Pondsworth and Reeling Infant School hall for the launch of its new constitution.

Its leader, Chad Butt, marched into the gym and onto the stage at the head of a group of identically dressed heavies.  Military boots, combat trousers, big bellies, straining white shirts and polished heads.  Chad Butt cut an imposing figure in his formal dark suit and sober tie.  As he turned to face the audience, they were impressed to see his bum cleavage limited to a discreet two inches and that his zip was pulled up at least half way.

‘Fellow soldiers in the great crusade,’ he squeaked.  Then with his voice a little more under control, he continued.

‘The forces of piscatorial correctness have colluded with our carply rivals to compel us to make changes to our constitution.  So be it, but we all know what will happen when we have taken over the National Carp Society.  We will free ourselves of the jackboot of these carpists and change it all back again.  Even though we have to accept changes which besmirch our rule book, our hearts and beliefs will not change in any way.

‘So as from now we will allow into our membership one brown trout angler and one of the black bream persuasion.  They may feel that they are unlikely to be made welcome, and in that they will be right.  If there are no volunteers we will co-opt them at random from the lists which we keep.  We know who they are and we know where they live.

‘We will march into the coming election and will triumph in Barking, where we will gain our first ever seat in the House of Carpery.  It will be the first of many, but our Grouping will be forever associated with that name.

‘I promise you that the British Metacarpals will never be a multidacial party.  This grouping will remain dedicated to the interests of whiting, of whitebait and white fish of all kinds.’

And with that, after a certain amount of encouragement from the heavies, the room saluted their magnificent leader with their straight-armed salute and a feisty rendition of the horse mackerel song.

Top^


Date: 15th February 2010, 10:09 AM

A QUESTION OF TRUST

John Fisher turned on his radio in time to hear John Pomfrets interviewing Prime Administer, Jack Pike.

‘Your Grouping promised in its 1997 election campaign to reform the voting system, which it described as being unfair and totally wrong.  Why was that promise never honoured?’

‘I am glad you asked me that, John.  As you know the economy has prospered under my leadership.  Never before…’

‘Prime Administer, please answer the question.  The listeners hate the evasions which have become part of today’s political life.  The fact is that for as long as your Grouping thought that it would benefit from the first past the float system, it forgot all about its promise.  Now that you are facing defeat at the polls you are proposing a referendum at some uncertain future date.  How can you be trusted to deliver on that promise?’

‘Yes, John.  It is a matter of trust.  My Grouping has always commanded trust. The electorate can be trusted to make the right decision, but Sir Adipose Ffynne and his Conservationists can be trusted to feather the nests of the richest and to bring back boom and bust which I….’

‘Yes, yes we have heard all that before.  If you have complete trust in the voters why are you not proposing a completely open debate on the kind of electoral reform to be adopted?  What you have done is to identify the version which looks most likely to deliver the same results as before and restrict the choice of the electorate.  For thirteen years you ignore your promise, and then when you are in trouble with the voters you produce this idea as a vote winning gimmick and you have the nerve to come on air and talk about trust?’

‘If I may say so, you are absolutely right, John.  It is all about trust.  I have earned the trust of the Carp Club Members. They don’t want to go back to boom and bust.  They wouldn’t trust the Orange Grouping to run a goldfish bowl, let alone our glorious carp fisheries.’

‘But, Prime Administer, none of you trust the electorate at all.  Why don’t you allow a full and open debate on the changes to the voting system?  Why don’t you allow a referendum on Carpital punishment?  You don’t trust the people who put you in power any more than they trust you.’

‘I am glad you raised that point, John.  Nobody ever said it would be easy.  Hard times and hard decisions call for a man with a moral compass.  The Conservationists have no morals and the Orange Grouping has no compass.  On Election Day  we will find that it is all about trust.  Trust me.’

John Fisher had switched off long before he switched off.  ‘I know who I can trust’, he thought. He slipped Ali Shecadd’s new CD, Shining Scales, onto his stereo and savoured the intensity of her passionate new ballad.

Tie my hands and tie my feet
And lay me by the pond
I love a man who trusses me,
Whose promise is his bond.’

Top^


Date: 9th February 2010, 10:09 AM

CAT FIGHT

Aunt Kittie Fisher went to the Three Pickerels to celebrate Dolly Varden’s eightieth birthday.

Dolly was standing outside, and the air was blue with her foul language.  ‘Three hundred of those bastard career carpists have stolen over a million pounds.  It has cost a further million to track them down, and the remaining three hundred who have been doing a perfectly good job have had their reputations dragged in the shit.’

Dolly’s rage was infectious and soon Aunt Kittie found herself shouting at her friend.  ‘You silly old bag!  Can’t you see that the thievery costs us a mere £2 million but the sheer hopelessness of all of them has cost us hundreds of billions, and they still have not noticed that the carp are all dead.  The war against the Salmanic states alone…’

Dolly Varden advanced on Aunt Kittie, her vast bosom heaving in her rage.  ‘What about the flippers then?  All within their own rules, they buy a house and do it up at our expense and then sell it flipping tax free.’  And for emphasis she swung her handbag and caught Aunt Kittie fair and square amidships.

‘You hopeless old fool.  Of course it’s bloody irritating,’ screamed Aunt Kittie.  ‘But why did the carpists all fail to see what the banksters were up to?  Our children and grandchildren will be picking up the cost of that long after we are dead and gone.  They are all delighted to have the expenses scandal as it takes the voters’ attention away from their real failures.’  And with that she brought her stick down on Dolly Varden’s rump with a resounding smack.

‘And as if that’s not bad enough,’ bellowed Dolly helping herself to a great fistful of Aunt Kittie’s hair, ‘they are now claiming House of Carpery privilege to excuse themselves and avoid the consequences.’

John Fisher was appalled at the sight before him as the two old women wrestled with each other.  ‘Ladies, Ladies.  Here is some direct action on which we can all agree.  Let us reclaim the pub.  The grim drone of Max Tope, leader of the U-Bend Grouping, could be heard banging on and on about EuroCarp.

‘Out, the lot of you’ snarled Dolly Varden as she rushed into the saloon.

‘You miserable peddlers of lies and half truths,’ spat Aunt Kittie as she overturned their tables and drove them out into the crp park.  ‘And don’t bloody come back!’

‘Well, Dolly, I feel better for that.  Let me buy you that birthday drink.’

‘I’ll have a cherry brandy’ said Dolly Varden.  ‘Make it a pint.’

Top^


Date: 31st January 2010, 11:35 AM

PICNIC

‘Aunt Kittie!’ exclaimed a shocked John Fisher. The old lady was cavorting round her living room dancing and singing in a little girl’s voice.

‘If you go down to the Inquiry today
You’re sure there’ll be no surprise.
If you go down to the Inquiry today
You’ll hear half truths and lies.

For Tony Blair, like him or not,
Will be there under the spot
Light, for today’s the day
Tony Blair has his Chilcott.

Every Blair who loves his limelight
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lots of marvellous publicity
And wordy games to play.

In the Conference Hall
In the view of all
They’ll play hide and seek with the truth
‘Cause that’s the way Tony Blair
Has his Chilcott.

Chilcott time for Tony Blair.
Tony is having a lovely time today.
Watch them try to catch him unaware
But see him toy with the Chilcott Inquiry.’

Aunt Kittie collapsed onto the sofa, shocked and surprised at her performance.

‘I had such hopes of him in 1997, but then he took us into a wrong and totally stupid war.  I have never forgiven him for that.’

‘So, Auntie, who did you vote for in 2005?’

‘Well, for Tony, of course.  I simply couldn’t vote for any of the others and it is wrong to abstain.’

‘So what would a party have to do to shake your loyalty?  You are sickened by the war but still reward the perpetrators with your vote.  If you keep supporting politicians for whom you have no respect, how can you hope to change anything?’

‘Nagging is not a nice quality in a nephew.  Open that bottle, and make it a large one.’

Top^


Date: 25th January 2010, 9:17 AM

ON MESSAGE

As the Carp Club election approached Alice Shadd, Ophelia Perch and the other spinning doctors all advised their candidates to get up to speed with Carper.  The candidates were all familiar with Dacebook, but they were struggling with the challenge of carping and its requirement to communicate in no more than140 characters.  This is what they made of it.

Sir Adipose Ffynne, Conservationist.  The 2010 election will be fought and won with a new respectful kind of campaign.  We will not sink to the level of that pathetic loser Jack Pike or that nonentity Celia Canthe.

Jack Pike, Mirrorcarpist.   My New Year message is that serious times call for serious carpists.  Sir Adipose Ffynne is a toff and talks posh.  Trust me.  I am a class act, a working class act.

Chadd Butt, British Metacarpal.  Vote for me or else my boys will be round.  I know where you live.  Is that 140 characters? Can’t think of anything else.

Celia Canthe, Orange Grouping.  Because of the financial crisis I am reducing the promised characters from 140 to 70.

Max Tope, U-Bend Grouping.  When my Grouping wins and we take UK Carpery out of the evil Eurocarp there will be no limit to the characters available for carping.  500, 1000, 10,000 and more.

Albert Puffer, Carp Club Treasurer.  The world has come to recognise my stewardship as a monumental example of prudence and excellence.  Never before in the history of international carpery has the cycle of boom and bust

Top^


Date: 17th January 2010, 6:34 PM

WORDS AND MEANINGS

John Fisher met Professor Brill of Carpus Christi to discuss the meaning of the promise made by Prime Administer, Jack Pike.

Having seen off the latest conspiracy to unseat him, Jack Pike had promised to lead his Grouping into the election and then for a full five year term afterwards.

‘So, Professor, that means that he will have another five years, but if his Grouping win again then a new leader would take over immediately after the 2015 election?’

‘No,’ replied the Professor.  ‘It could never work like that.  You cannot have one leader for the election campaign and a new one immediately afterwards.  The voters would rightly expect that the Prime Administer for whom they are asked to vote is the person who runs the campaign.’

John thought for a moment.  ‘But we have seen from the wretched case of Tim Bleak that if you announce that you are going to stand down at some stage in the future, then your position is immediately undermined as your successors jockey for position while pretending still to support you.  So when Jack Pike promises to serve a full term, it means that unless matters are taken out of his hands he is also committed  to making the same promise for the 2015 election and so on for ever?’

Professor Brill gazed at the magnificent bronze of mirror carp spawning as he considered the issue.  ‘When the leader of a Grouping says that he will serve the full term he is really saying that he is going on indefinitely, unless you view it as a special kind of promise.’

‘Surely there is only one kind of promise which a man of honour can make?’

‘You would think so, but most promises made by members of the House of Carpery are hedged about with unspoken conditions which only emerge later.  For example, “I will implement a constitutional review of the voting system,” carries the silent condition “Unless I get a really large majority.”  “I will cut red tape” means that I will cut some of it and then add lots more.’

‘So when an election promise is made, how can I distinguish between one which is what it appears to be and one which carries all sorts of unspoken conditions?’

‘The School of Applied Carpery here at Carpus Christi is doing a lot of work on that problem, and our scientists are baffled.  The only sure way of telling them apart seems to be by looking at what actually happens, though our research shows that some 93% of election promises carry silent conditions.  In many cases election promises are really useful to tell us what is not going to happen.  You can, for example be 100% sure that the one period of time which Jack Pike will not serve as Prime Administer is from now until the date of the election after next.’

‘Tell me Professor, what is the trend in the percentages of those who actually vote at elections?’

‘Sadly, the statistics show an unbroken pattern of declining numbers.  It is hard to fathom why.  I must confess that, once again, the scientists are baffled.’

Top^


Date: 7th January 2010, 10:12 AM

OLD COP DONALD

Old cop Donald had a form, ninety pages long.
It took four hours to fill it in, but he never got it wrong.
With a tick box here, a tick box there,
Here a tick, there a cross, everywhere a tick box.
Old cop Donald had a form and it ground him down.

Old Jack Straw he had a form, just two pages long.
On that form he claimed for a mortgage, at a rate that was long since gone.
With an error here, an error there,
Here a bosh, here a bish, everywhere he got it wrong.
Old Jack Straw he had a form and he got it wrong.

When old cop Donald filled his form and did it properly,
‘You’re just trying to stay inside and warm’, said Jack improperly.
With a foot in mouth, Jack caused offence,
Here an upset cop, there an upset cop.  Everywhere upset,
When old cop Donald filled his form and did it properly.

So now we know there are two rules, one for those in power,
And one for those who obey their rules but think they are a shower.
With some new rules here and more new rules there,
Here an Act, there another Act, everywhere new rules,
But not for those in power.

Top^


Date: 31st December 2009, 1:06 PM

CARPERELLA

‘Whatever you think of them, it is for a good cause and you must do it,’ ordered Aunt Kittie in that sharp tone which could not be denied.

And so John Fisher found himself accepting the role of Carperella in the House of Carpery charity pantomime.

The Ugly Sisters, played by Eddie and Davie Halibut, were preening themselves and looking in the mirror.  ‘We are going to the Ballot’, they boasted while poor Carperella moved to the footlights and sang the soleful ditty, ‘Won’t Vote, Can’t make me.’

Then bankster Clyde Dale appeared as Baron Hardup and sang

‘Pay me to the Moon
And I will sing and dance.
If you tax my bonus
I will go to France.’

The lights dimmed and in a puff of smoke the Fairy Godmother appeared.  She strode confidently to the front of the stage and leaned towards the audience ‘I am a regular sort of a g…..’ but the hostile reaction from the stalls sent her scuttling for safety, only to be replaced by a substitute fairy.  ‘My prudent management has put an end to boo…..’, and once again the outpouring of anger meant that an undignified retreat had to be made.

The next scene saw representatives of the main Groupings ready to sing when a cry came from the back of the theatre.  ‘There’s no-one behind you.  You are all bottom of the poll.’  And they too rushed off in confusion.

At Prince Char’s ballot the Ugly Sisters were trying to fit their feet into a glass kipper.  Not a chance.

Back in the kitchen Carperella told Prince Char, played with spirit by the lovely Celia Canthe, that anyone who tried to fit her foot into a glass kipper was as daft as a dace.  That was the right answer, and the pantomime ended with Carperella and the Prince with their arms round each other singing the traditional closing number:

‘Somewhere over the rainbow
People vote,
But not for career carpists
Who have got our goat.’

‘If you try that again, Sunshine, I will knee you in the bollocks,’ hissed Celia Canthe to John Fisher, perfectly fairly under the circumstances, as she adjusted her bustle.

Top^


Date: 22nd December 2009, 4:25 PM

A CELEBRATION OF FOUR CARPOLS AND LESSONS

Part 1 - Carpols

Never before had so many members turned out for the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club annual celebration.  The orchestra warmed up, conducted by David Gurnard, with a few scales and then the children of the Small Fry Choir were orfe and into the first carpol.

‘God rest ye merry carp anglers
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember not to vote this year
And they won’t get their pay.
So save us from career carpists
And make them go away.
Oh tidings of common carp and Koi,
Common and Koi.
Oh tidings of common carp and Koi.’

A silence fell on the room as the soloist sang the most poignant of all carpols:

‘While banksters watched their stocks by night
All seated round a screen
The members of the Club looked out
At where the carp had been.’

Then it was back to the Small Fry Choir.

‘Good Vince Barbel looked far out
And saw deep trouble cooking.
The other carpists did not see
Because they were not looking.
Sickly were the carp that year,
The negligence was cruel.
The House of Carpery did nought
Save pass another Rule.’

Finally the members were all on their feet together, singing their old favourite:

‘The carpist and the bankster
When they are both full grown,
They will treat the Carp Club funds
As if they were their own.

The bankster loves a bonus,
The Carpists pass lots of Rules,
But neither helps the membership.
They both are useless tools.’

Top^


Date: 22nd December 2009, 4:22 PM

A CELEBRATION 0F FOUR CARPOLS AND LESSONS

Part 2 - Lessons

The four members who had won the ballot then stepped forward to read their lessons.

Sian Sharkey from Wales nervously read her piece.  ‘The lesson that I have learned this year is that the banksters and the carpists just don’t understand how we feel about them.  They each blame the other.  They plead guilty to something very small and promise that lessons will be learned, but then carry on exactly as before.  So the lesson which I have learned is that they will not change unless we force them.’

John Herring had learned the lesson that carpists cannot abolish boom and bust, and that the Carp Club funds were depleted by paying for all sorts of projects which had no chance of delivering the goods but which gave short term political advantage.

Aunt Kittie read slowly and clearly.  ‘This year I have learned that the members of the House of Carpery, deep down, regard all of our money as belonging to them.  If they reduce a tax and take less from us, they say that they are giving us money.  The expenses scandal shows that they regard Club Funds as their own.  But the real lesson is that their incompetence and neglect costs us far more than what they take from us.’

Finally, old Dodi Ruffe shuffled up to the lectern.  ‘I know I am not very bright.  I come from Norfolk, so it’s not my fault.  But I have learned that I was right all along.  When the £10 subscription for the poorest members was increased to £20 it did make me worse off, whatever the clever career carpists told me at the time.’

And for the first time ever, the members brought proceedings to an end by spontaneously bursting into a joyous rendition of their new anthem:

‘We shall not, we shall not elect
Our votes will be less than sparse.
Those who show us no respect,
We’ll kick them up the arse.’

Top^


Date: 18th December 2009, 11:08 AM

A QUESTION OF TRUST

It was 1 March 2003.  Tim Bleak, who was then Prime Administer, was addressing a hushed and tense House of Carpery.  ‘Adam Huss-Seine has weapons of carp destruction.  I must also disclose new intelligence of the most shocking nature.  He has the ability to plop a poisoned boilee into any of our carp lakes within forty minutes.  That means that it is legal for us to defend ourselves by declaring war.  If we fail to do so and some of our fattest carp succumb to a plague of boilees, then how will we ever be able to look our grandchildren squarely in the eye?’

Tim Bleak wrestled to control his emotions and stared into the television camera with an expression aimed at communicating the anguish and loneliness of the great statesman, before he concluded his speech with ‘I am a regular kind of a guy.  Trust me.’

It was 10 December 2009 and Tim Bleak, former Prime Administer, was the star guest on Twaite Shadd’s current affairs programme, ‘Beyond All Trout’.

‘Well, T.B.,’ she said, ‘you took us to war on your assurance that Adam Huss-Seine had weapons of carp destruction, and that has turned out to be completely untrue.  Are you ready to appologise?’

Tim Bleak composed his features into a look which combined pain and sincerity, compassion and honesty.  ‘Nobody misses Adam, you know.  He wasn’t a nice man and some of his neighbours were quite cross with him.  My friend George Gill of Carpery USA was keen to bomb Ireland because his Dad didn’t like Adam’s moustache, and I persuaded him to attack the right country.  If Dacebook had made me aware of the true situation then I would have spun it through the House of Carpery on some other excuse, so I couldn’t care less.  I made the right decision.  Trust me.’

And reassembling his face into a look of infinite sadness at a world wicked enough even to question him, he said ‘What I did was right.  Iraq has been a model of good democratic order ever since Adam was toppled.’

It was 16 December 2009 and John Fisher was rapidly losing the plot as he addressed the Pondsworth and Reeling Carp Club.  When he got too excited his voice rose to a high pitched wail and great damp patches appeared under his arms.

‘There never was a threat to our carp.  Three hundred thousand lives and billions of pounds have been squandered and we are now loathed throughout Middle Eastern carpery and he asks us to trust him?

‘Carp Club Treasurer, Albert Puffer, tells us that boom and bust has been abolished and we are asked to trust him too!

‘Prime Administer, Jack Pike, tells us that there will be no cuts – just investment. Even his colleagues don’t believe that.

‘This is not a problem that you solve by kicking out one Grouping and voting for another.  It is part of the system.  I would rather shove an electric eel up my arse than vote for any of them!’

Aunt Kittie’s sharp voice cut the shocked silence.  ‘That is no way to talk in public.  You are of course right, but enough is enough.’

‘Sorry Auntie,’ muttered John Fisher as he slunk home.

Top^


Date: 14th December 2009, 9:39 AM

SIMPLES

Anglers are never bitten by the common carp but a very large specimen can give quite a ferocious suck, and so it was that John Fisher found himself in the waiting room of Dr Andrew Findus, internationally renowned specialist in fish finger.  He whiled away the time reading Isaac Walton’s new book on spinning for carpists, The Complete Mangler, but was not impressed.

Dr Findus was pleased with the results of his treatment, and told John that his operation was the five hundredth that he had completed that year.  ‘I suppose that qualifies you for some vast bonus,’ muttered John churlishly.

‘Surgeons don’t get bonuses,’ replied Dr Findus wearily.  ‘We are paid a reasonable salary and, if there is extra to be done, we do it because we are professionals.  Simple.’

In the Three Pickerels John Fisher found local bankster, Clyde Dale, nursing a pint of Dom Perignon and looking morose.  ‘The House of Carpery ought to keep its nose out of things it doesn’t understand.  We get paid a salary.  Of course we do, but if conditions are good our bank makes lots of money so it is only fair that we should have a quarter of it.  If we don’t get it we will leave.  Simple.’

John took his pint of Bass to a corner table and tried to concentrate on the carptic crossword, but was unable to shut out the television news reporting interviews with the leaders of the Groupings in the House of Carpery.

‘It is neither right nor fair that the banksters should receive bonuses and so we will tax them at the rate of 100%.  It really is that simple,’ announced the Prime Administer as he watched the opinion polls for any sign of a resurgence.

‘It is neither right nor fair to tax individual banksters,’ replied Sir Adipose Ffynne.  ‘We cannot run the risk that they will all leave.  Instead we will tax the banks themselves.  Simple.’  And he too turned his full attention to the state of the polls.

‘The Mirrorcarpists and the Conservationists fail to understand how these matters really work,’ claimed Celia Canthe.  ‘We will tax all of the transactions carried out by the banks and then we will lend them back the money that we have taken in tax, as otherwise they will not be able to fund the rebuilding of the fish stocks.  Couldn’t be more simple.’

‘All you have to do is send home all the people that we don’t like.  That’s my kind of Christmas bonus,’ sneered Chad Butt, leader of the British Metacarpals.  ‘Simple as that.’
‘When I have taken British Carpery out of EuroCarp we will all be so rich that the banksters’ bonuses will be small change,’ claimed Max Tope on behalf of the U-bend Grouping.  ‘Simple, really.’

John Fisher could stand it no more.  As he left the pub he unplugged the television.  Purple of face and with a vein throbbing unpleasantly in his temple, he shouted ‘At this stage the whole issue is impossibly complex.  If the career carpists had wanted to keep it straightforward they should have kept their eyes on what was happening in the real world three years ago, instead of fighting each other.  Then they would have seen the sub-prime carp problem coming.  It’s that bloody simple.’

Top^


Date: 7th December 2009, 12:03 PM

LOOPHOLES?

Celia Canthe shuddered at the memories of her last meeting with John Fisher.  That droning voice; that mean minded obsession and that lecherous way of licking his lips as he stared at her.  All quite repulsive but, for the new leader of the Orange Grouping, duty called.  Dressed in the heaviest and dowdiest tweed suit that she could find, once again she found herself sitting opposite him trying to persuade him to drop his campaign and transfer his allegiance to her.

‘My Grouping will introduce free membership to everyone earning less than £10,000 per annum.  That is only fair and, before you ask, it is fully funded.  The cost will be met by a levy on people who live in big houses and also by closing loopholes.’

‘What has the value of a house got to do with anything?  Your lot claims to want to move away from property taxes.  First you say you are going to hammer people whose house is worth £1million, and then you work out that that may lose too many votes so you double the rates of tax and apply it to people whose houses are worth £2million.  Why not a special tax on estate agents or lawyers? They’re pretty unpopular. Why not a tax on people with big cars, or who play golf, or who have season tickets at Manchester United?  I thought you were trying to establish a new principled form of carpery.  The idea of relieving the poorest members is fine, but you are playing the age old populist game of finding some small and preferably unpopular group and sticking it up them.  It is far easier than working out how to control Carp Club spending to a sustainable level and then spreading the cost fairly.’

John Fisher paused for breath and admired the way in which the Orange leader’s chest heaved as she fought to control her rage.

‘I won’t argue with you, John, if you aren’t going to be reasonable, but even you can’t object to closing the loopholes through which the rich members and their spivvy carpo-accountants wriggle to reduce their subscriptions.’

‘What do you mean by loopholes?’

‘The clever, intricate schemes that are all snook and mirrors but most of all discounts for the amounts that people pay to save for  their pensions.’

‘Loophole? That’s not a bloody loophole,’ shouted John as he rose to his feet, his eyes still glued to Celia’s heaving bosom.  ‘If the House of Carpery decides that it is a good idea to encourage people to save for old age and then another lot decides that it is a bad idea, then that is fine.  That’s your job, but don’t go pretending that these payments are some weaselly loophole. They are nothing of the sort, but I will tell you what is about to become one.’
‘Some people have no pension, and your plan is to take away the relief from Carp Club subscriptions on what they pay.  Now what about people whose job carries a pension without them contributing to the cost?  People like members of the House of Carpery whose pensions will be funded by the electorate paying vast funds to cover the liabilities?  Logic demands that these costs should be added to your income for the purpose of calculating your subscriptions.  What is sauce for the dace is sauce for the zander.  That, to use your own phrase, is only fair, isn’t it?’

The colour flowed into the cheeks of the Orange leader and her bosom heaved alarmingly.  ‘That is nonsense.  Vicious nonsense.  Interview over.’

And as on their previous meeting, Celia Canthe turned at the door and hissed ‘Bugger you John Fisher, and bugger your website too.’

‘Some things never change,’ thought John as his imagination ran riot and he conjured fantastic pictures of Celia emerging from a carp lake with strands of pond weed clinging to her Harris Tweed bikini.

Top^


Date: 30th November 2009, 4:44 PM

THEY JUST DON'T GET IT

‘Can I join you?’  And without waiting for an answer Kenneth Carp, Shadow Administer in the Conservationist Grouping, sat down opposite John Fisher, glass in hand.

‘I hope you know what you’re doing with all of this Ban the Ballot malarkey?’

John Fisher groaned loudly and impolitely.  ‘Not more of that old thing.  I am sick of the story of how not voting for you will open the doors to something much worse.  I had hoped for better from you.’

‘No, old man.  Entirely the opposite, in fact.  What you need to think about is that if the poll is drastically reduced we could have a hung House of Carpery, and then nobody would be in power.’

‘And?’ queried John Fisher cautiously .

‘And no government would get its business through, no new Rules could be passed, the Carpinet and the Prime Administer would be thwarted at every turn, independent minded Central Committee Members would raise questions and would scrutinise everything and cause delay, compromises would be required, the whole pace of new Rule making would be slowed …….What are you grinning about?’

‘You really just don’t get it, do you?’

As John Fisher and Kenneth Carp were glaring at each other over their pints, a few hundred yards away Sir Adipose Ffynne had just risen to address the members of the Pondsworth and Reeling District Carp Club.

‘My mission is to restore your confidence in the House of Carpery.  Hard decisions will be taken, but when I have tackled the very root and concern of your worries then the slate will be clean and it will be business as usual.

‘New Rules are being introduced with the agreement of all Groupings which will prevent National Committee Members from employing their spouses and their children.  Of course we senior carpists are not against family values so members may employ civil partners, lovers, parents, nephews, uncles or the wives and children of other members.’

A rude voice from the audience interrupted the smooth flow.  ‘It’s not just the expenses.  Voting numbers were falling long before that.  Why didn’t any of you anticipate and deal with the sub-prime carp problem?  Why didn’t you even notice that all the carp were dead and rotting on the banks?’
As Sir Adipose Ffynne ignored the question and returned to his theme of the restored reputation of the House of Carpery, he was interrupted by a protest song which was soon taken up by the entire audience

‘You don’t, you don’t get the point.
But soon you will have no choice at all.
There are dead carp rotting by the waterside
And still you don’t get the point.’

Top^


Date: 22nd November 2009, 3:54 PM

A LESSON FROM A PROMISING STUDENT

John Fisher could not believe his good luck.  He was taking the gorgeous Rose Tetra, Professor Brill’s star pupil and destined for a great career in theoretical carpery, out to dinner at the Waterside Inn and he was on a promise.

Later that night, after Rose had dined on lobster and caviar washed down with two bottles of Crystal, John drove her back to her flat in his Nissan Picra.  She leaned across and gave him a chaste peck on the cheek and said ‘That was just a House of Carpery promise, not a real promise.  Better luck next time,’ and with that she was gone.

The following Saturday John Fisher was in a mounting state of excitement as Rose ate and drank the very best that the Fat Carp could provide.  Rose had apologised for last week’s little misunderstanding and assured John that tonight he was on a manifest promise.  But as John’s trusty Picra drew up outside her flat, Rose was out of the car in a flash and, with her key in the door, blowing John a distant kiss.  ‘You misheard me John. I said a manifesto promise and you know what happens to them.’

‘Third time lucky,’ thought John as he poured the last of the Montrachet into Rose Tetra’s ever-empty glass and ordered her some of the fabulously expensive 1927 Cognac for which the Creel was rightly famed.  Again John wondered how someone of such a slender figure could consume so much rich food and expensive drink.  But John was happy to pick up the bill.  He and Rose had had a proper grown-up talk about John’s disappointment.  Rose had acknowledged that she had come up short.  They agreed to put the past behind them and to move on.  Tonight John was not only on a promise, but on a cast iron guarantee.  But, yet again, before John had even stopped the car Rose was looking at him from her front door and John’s cast iron guarantee evaporated into no more than a raised eyebrow and a cheeky grin.

The following Saturday it was Rose who made the reservation, a table for two at Le Carpice.  ‘John, don’t be cross with me.  I have always wanted to dine there and this time I will back up my promise by executing a legally binding deed.’  Poor, gullible John was under the spell of Rose Tetra’s tench green eyes; the delicious smell of her perfume, Eau du Lac, wafted over him.  He would have fallen for almost any trickery but this was too far fetched, even for a man in his condition.  ‘Oh no. That is too cynical, too obvious.  Nobody would fall for that one. You either mean what you promise or you don’t.  If you have to add some unenforceable legal framework then it simply shows that your word is intended to be neither your bond nor even your bondage.’

And so John picked up the phone to his long time friend Waltraute Herring.  An assignment was arranged, and without a promise in sight  the two celebrated the new EuroCarp appointments by indulging in a night of vigorous rumpuy pumpuy.

Top^


Date: 16th November 2009, 1:58 PM

GOOD SCIENCE AND BAD SCIENCE

When John Fisher turned on his television, hoping to see the Ali Shacedd concert, he was disappointed to find the performance cancelled.  The gloomy face of Prime Administer, Jack Pike, glowered out at him. 

‘I wish to address all carpery about the new Rules which are needed to avoid the problems of climate change.  Every carpist, young and old, must be prepared to scale back on the use of energy.  Some of you may have to fish in the dark.  We must all do without heated groundbait.  In future your boilees will have to become warmees.  Is this really necessary or is it just some plot hatched by the hated Conservationists or pathetic Oranges?  The U-bends and British Metacarpals both claim that climate change is the invention of Eurocarp bureaucrats.  Men of prudence and integrity will meet challenges of this sort by seeking the best answers that science can provide.  For the benefit of you all I have assembled a panel of the finest carpoclimatic scientists under the esteemed Professor Brill of Carpus Christi.  They have handed me their report which demonstrates the seriousness of the climate change risk.

'Like you, I dread the thought of thrusting my hands into cold groundbait on a dark night or using half boiled boilees, but science is science and I have no choice but to implement the recommendations of the Brill Committee in full.’

The following day John Fisher tuned into the rescheduled Ali Shacedd concert but, to his dismay, his screen was once again filled with the lugubrious features of the Prime Administer. 

‘I wish to address all carpery about the report, which I have now received, of Professor Brill’s committee on the use of hemp in groundbait.  The mandate given to the committee was to investigate the potential harm to carp and carp fishers arising from this substance, and in particular the modern version known as “badger”.  The report concludes that hemp in groundbait is no more dangerous than eating candyfloss or being tickled with a feather duster.

'What Professor Brill and his henchmen have done with the five years that they have been researching this issue is beyond me. Any good taxi driver or career carpist will tell you that hemp and badger are lethally dangerous substances.  It is my duty to over-rule uppity scientists, and a fleet of new Rules to increase the classification of these dangerous and pernicious items will shortly pass through the House of Carpery.  Professor Brill and his feckless crew have all been sacked and will never again be given the privilege of offering their unpaid services.’

John Fisher ran around his house turning full on every heater, light and electrical appliance before cooking a vast pot of hemp seed porridge.  The taste of it sickened him, he was deafened by the roar of the appliances and sweating like a tench as the central heating pushed the temperature to tropical levels but somehow he felt a bit better about things.

Top^


Date: 7th November 2009, 9:35 AM

THE GIN TRAP

John needed plenty of fortification for Aunt Kittie’s impending visit so he drove down to Sturgeon’s supermarket.  He gathered up two bottles of gin and took them to the checkout.

‘Sorry love.  Can’t sell you two bottles.  You might drink one in the car on the way home as you would still have a spare.  You can buy one bottle or a case of twelve in a sealed box.  Company policy.’

John kept his temper, smiled thinly and went back into the store to collect a dozen bottles.  His aunt’s visit was going to be a long one and she drank like a carp, so it was not such a bad idea.

Soon he was back at the checkout desk.  The cashier swiped his points card.  ‘Sorry love.  Can’t sell you this.  You bought a bottle of bass last week and this would take you above the House of Carpery recommended monthly level.  Against company policy.’  Once again John Fisher choked back his frustration and decided to buy a single bottle, put it in the car and then buy another.

He placed the single bottle on the till.  ‘Sorry, Sir.  I can’t let you have this.  It is against company policy to sell to somebody who has been refused alcohol that day.’

The store manager, Ray, agreed with John that, even in the ten volumes of consolidated Carpfisher Gin Regulations, there was nothing to prevent any of these transactions.  ‘But that’s not the point.  The House of Carpery in its wisdom gives us a way of tackling these things.  Our precautionary approach tells us that unless something is specifically permitted by the Rules then we don’t take it on ourselves to allow it.  If it were right or proper the Rules would say so.  I am sure that you can see the sense of that Sir?’

So John drove to one of the less salubrious area of Pondsworth where he soon contacted a man who sold him a dozen bottles from a large white van at less than half the shop price.

Top^


Date: 1st November 2009, 7:26 PM

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE?

John Fisher rolled out of his bed and stumbled to the telephone, which had been ringing non-stop for the last ten minutes.  John assumed that it was yet another call from the British Metacarpals with their usual message, “We know who you are and we have got your telephone number.”

“Bugger off.  It’s half past bloody three in the morning!”

“John.  It’s me, Jack Pike, The Prime Administer.  I have been thinking.”

“About bloody time too.”

“No, John.  I have been looking at your Ban the Ballot website and have decided that you are absolutely right.  I should never have doubted you.”

John Fisher had learned quite enough about Jack Pike and his night time telephone calls to take anything at face value, so he just waited.

“Yes, John, Think about it.  Was I elected to be Prime Administer?  No of course I wasn’t, but here I am single-handedly saving the nation and doing a pretty good job for the world. 

Was my best friend and closest ally, Lord Makoshark, elected?  No of course not, but where would we be without his kindly and reassuring presence by my side?

And now I am going to use my massive influence to get my old buddy Tim Bleak appointed as president of Eurocarp.  How the members of the National Carp Society will rejoice if that can be achieved.  They have missed TB.

So here we have the three best appointments that could possibly be made in the interests of the membership and not a sniff of an election amongst them.  John Fisher, you are an absolute star.  We need more appointments and, yes, let us ban all the ballots.  That suits me just fine.”

The rumbling laughter of the Prime Administer was too much for John Fisher to stomach.  He unplugged the telephone and returned to his bed and pulled all the blankets tightly over his head and moaned incoherent sounds of grief and rage.

Top^


Date: 27th October 2009, 2:34 PM

A VERY GOOD QUESTION

When the phone rang John Fisher was lying on his bed listening to Ali Shacedd's latest album Golden Scales.

"My name is Betty Huss.  You don't know me but I can see from your website that you keep an eye on all the new Rules which keep spewing out of the House of Carpery.  Do you know about the 2009 Childcare While Fishing For Carp and Tench Regulations?  They run to about 12,000 pages.

"Ah," said John Fisher "You have been caught sharing care arrangements with a friend?"

"Yes. We have done so for years.  When it is my day for compulsory carping, my neighbour Stella Fry looks after the kids and vice versa when she has to fish.  We are now told that we are unlicensed professional childminders and likely to be put on the sex offenders register and fined heavily but if we stay at home and miss our carp session we will be sent to prison."

John Fisher gave the problem a few moments' thought.  "The advantage of this deluge of half baked legislation is that it is full of loopholes.  Find a friend and look after her children when she goes carping.  She, in turn, can look after Stella's children and then Stella takes care of childminding for yours.  If you do that the Regulations don't apply"

"If it is that easy to get round the rules, as well as being so easy to infringe them by mistake, then I wonder what is the point of them?  It must have cost us a fortune to have the House of Carpery produce all of that and for what purpose?"

"That, Betty, is a very good question" replied John as he put the phone down and turned up the volume on Ali Shacedd's husky rendition of "My boilee lies over the ocean."

Top^


Date: 27th October 2009, 10:20 AM

NASTY ISN'T ENOUGH

Ever since John Fisher had taken his Ban the Ballot campaign to the annual conferences of the three main groupings, all carpery was awash with the story.  The last day speakers for the Conservationists, Oranges and Mirrorcarpists alike had performed to near empty halls as the delegates all shoaled around John's stand.  The career carpists were horrified, seeing their rich salaries and pensions under threat, but the individual members were in a state of mounting excitement as they saw the chance of reclaiming democratic control through the boycott of the coming election.

Every morning that autumn Fat Fish Daily and The Bloater published stories of the fury and dismay of Jack Pike, Celia Canthe and Sir Adipose Ffynne.

Every day the British  Metacarpals sent their traditional letter to John Fisher telling him that they knew where he lived, but this time, also complaining that their human rights had been breached by John's failure to picket their conference.  Every day Max Tope, leader of the U-Bend Grouping, drank halves of bitter in the lounge bar of the Three Pickerels and railed about Eurocarp to a florid band of paid stooges.

John Fisher was at home listening to Ali Shacedd's retro album "Mr Crabtree's Lonely Carp Club Band", when the knocking on his door turned to a hammering which threatened to break it down.

When he opened up, a gangling pasty faced young man wearing a "Masterdace" T-shirt stood before him.  Behind him was a row of heavies all with shaven heads and dressed in dark suits.  They stood with their legs wide apart looking belligerent.  John Fisher immediately recognised all the trappings of a delegation from a no-hope extremist grouping with views as nasty as they were stupid.  The leader turned out to be Roger Sporn self proclaimed leader of the Militant Tench and Eel.

"Why haven't you brought your stand to my grouping's annual conference?" whinged the tenchist leader. " It's just not fair.  It is our right to be picketed and boycotted like the other groupings and then to have our picture in the paper."

John recognised the bodyguards as all being members of the Mirrorcarpist grouping and drew the only conclusion available to him. "I don't see how you can have an annual conference when there is only one member in your grouping.  Can't you even persuade your Mum to join? Anyway what do you stand for?"

The reply was long and rambling and of a gratuitous viciousness which exceeded anything that even John had heard.  " Bugger off, Sporn" shouted John  " I concede that your policies are by far the most revolting I have ever heard, but that does not qualify you as a carpery grouping."

But before John could slam the door he saw the glint of a long distance lens and the retreating figure of Alice Shadd, the dirty tricks queen of the Mirrorcarpist grouping.

The next day the foreshortened and doctored image of John Fisher apparently holding hands with the repulsive Roger Sporn appeared in a centre page spread in Fat Fish Daily under the heading "John Fisher closet  Militant Tenchist"

Prime Administer Jack Pike went on the record to say that his grouping unconditionally  condemned all unfair and inappropriate tactics.

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Date: 27th October 2009, 10:17 AM

CLEAR GREEN POND WATER BETWEEN THEM

Albert Puffer, the magnificent Treasurer of the Mirrorcarpist Grouping was addressing the annual conference.  The members knew that they were in for the long haul.  Three hours into his oration, he had only just finished congratulating himself on the prudence of his stewardship, when he reached into his pocket and with a great flourish produced a copy of the latest edition of Fat Fish Daily.

That morning's lead story was headed "Shameless and Hopeless" and charged the Treasurer with distorting the truth about the difference between the Mirrorcarpists' spending plans and those of the other Groupings.

"Lies, bloody lies!" snarled Albert Puffer ripping the paper to shreds and hurling the pieces towards the nearest camera.  "Let me tell it straight and clear so that even a newspaper editor can understand it.  Next year we will invest and invest big time.  We will invest £100 billion in the Tethered Carp Scheme, £50 billion on groundbait for the elderly and £30 billion on incentives for the banksters.

The Conservationists will slash spending down to a contemptible £100 million on the Tethered Carp Scheme.  They will feather the nests of the richest by cutting the cost of groundbait for the elderly to a mean-minded £50 billion and will fail to incentivise the banksters by limiting the scheme cost to a paltry £30 billion.

The Orange Grouping.  We all know what they are, which is more than can be said for their leaders and members.  They will dither and waste £100 billion of the members' hard earned money on the Tethered Carp Scheme.  They will squander £50 billion on groundbait, yes, on groundbait for the elderly and, worst of all, £30 billion to incentivise their old mates and muckers the banksters.

There is clear green pond water between us and the other Groupings and if the Editor of Fat Fish Daily is too blind to see it then that is his loss.

A vote for the Mirrorcarpists is a vote for investment in the future.  The Conservationists'

spending plans will trim the very fins off our fattest carp and the plans of the pathetic Oranges show just how out of touch and irrelevant they are."

As Albert Puffer's speech went into its fourth hour he was totally unaware of the speed with which the conference hall was emptying.

Outside, a huge crowd was assembling around John Fisher's Ban the Ballot stand.  The sound of their singing grew and grew

"We shall not we shall not elect
Career carpists show us no respect
We shall not elect"

Inside an empty conference hall, Albert Puffer moved into the 5th hour of his speech.

"There is only one man clever enough, canny enough and prudent enough to have abolished the cycle of booming carp and......"

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