Topical Material 19th July

July 25, 2010

Well excuse me for releasing this a week later, but this is material which was submitted to Newsjack last week. Sadly, none of it was used. Here it is:

Vox Pops

  • A group of adolescent gorillas have been observed playing tag by scientists. Shortly afterwards, they mugged a baboon, stole some coconuts and went joy-riding on a zebra.
  • Scientists have been giving popular names to endangered British species. A beetle which lurks in the darkness and feeds only off other beetles has been named the Mandelson.
  • American bank Goldman Sachs has been fined $550m for allegedly misleading clients over mortgage-backed securities. Senior managers at the bank played down the significance of the fine, assuring shareholders that they’ll earn it back by writing one letter to the US government about its overdraft facility.

Corrections and Clarifications

  • We wish to apologise to Premier Wen Jiabao of China. We reported that he said China would not flee the Euro. Of course, he actually said that China would not free the Euro.
  • The FBI have apologised to the so-called Barefoot Bandit, who spent two years stealing expensive yachts, cars and planes. They didn’t realise that he was, in fact, a trainee banker for Goldman Sachs.
  • Apple has issued a fresh denial that the iPhone 4 suffers from a loss of signal. A spokesman assured owners of the iPhone 4 that, if anything, other people can see even more clearly that they’re geeks.

BP Faces New Accusations

July 24, 2010

BP was once again under fire from US Senators last night over claims that it was responsible for the Challenger disaster on January 28th, 1986. “Those goddamned Limeys must have been responsible,” claimed Senator Ivor Price, whilst stuffing cash into his pockets from special interest groups.

“They almost certainly had a rig in the Gulf area at the time, and the Gulf’s just the other side of Florida. Only an incompetent British oil company could cause an explosion that large. American engineering and management is 100% cotton-pickin’ perfect.”

President Obama stepped into the furore, anxious for fair play and the rule of law to be upheld prior to November’s mid-term elections. “We’re now going to close down the entire US aerospace industry for six months and have BP pay the wages of all the workers,” he said. “I’m also going to hold a gun to the head of Prime Minister Cameron to get him to confess that Britain was responsible for the plan to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Clean-up costs

“America has 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the world’s energy and refuses to ratify any agreements on greenhouse gases,” admitted the President. “We therefore think it’s only fair that BP picks up the cost of America’s appalling record of pollution.”

Amongst the other American environmental crimes for which BP will be held responsible are:

  • Use of approximately 12,000,000 gallons (US) of Agent Orange from 1961-71 in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia by the United States military. The Vietnamese government estimates that some 400,000 deaths and disabilities were caused by direct spraying, and as many as a further 500,000 birth defects. The US government has not paid compensation, or attempted to clean up the pollution.
  • The 1982 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. Whilst 3,737 deaths have been confirmed by the government of Madhya Pradesh, other government agencies believe there were c.8,000 deaths in the weeks after the leak and an additional 8,000 in the years afterwards.  A government affidavit filed in the US Supreme Court in 2006 cited 558,125 cases of injuries resulting from the disaster. In 2008, 26 years after the disaster, sources said that 390 tonnes of chemicals abandoned at the site continued to leak into the local environment and ground water. In 1999, 17 years after the disaster (and presumably after many victims had died through lack of medical care, or died indirectly through injury-induced poverty) UCC agreed to $470m compensation, which was the sum for which they were insured, plus interest. Their generosity knows no bounds.

Breaking news: Transocean ‘Not to blame. Not.’

On July 23rd Mike Williams, a Transocean employee responsible for the electronic systems on the Deepwater Horizon rig told a federal investigation that the alarms had been ‘inhibited’ (i.e. turned off) to avoid interrupting the sleep of the crew. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/23/deepwater-horizon-oil-rig-alarms)

Newshounds may recall the Congressional lynch mob on 17th June trying to get BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, to admit BP’s liability for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He was accused of ‘stonewalling’ when he refused to apportion blame prior to an ongoing federal investigation. Last night the White House was quick not to ‘hold a boot to the throat’ of any American company which looked like its deliberate bypassing of safety procedures contributed to the disaster.


Who Do You Write Like?

July 23, 2010

A Canadian writer-friend sent me a link to this website: http://iwl.me/ called ‘I Write Like. The idea is that you paste some of your scrivenings into the text box, click he button, and you’re told which famous writer your work is like.

My accounts were like Margaret Attwood, Bottom Lines (a farce I wrote for my MA dissertation) like H.G. Wells (admittedly a big influence), The Scam (written when I was 22-23) like George Orwell (by the age of 15 I’d read everything he’d written, including volumes of journalism). Oh, and The Scam is an Orwellian black comedy. My latest novel, St Kathleen of Pop was like Dan Brown in the opening of chapter one but Ian Fleming in chapter five (I concentrate hard on a low fog index for the opening of a novel). A novel I wrote when I was 21-22 was like David Foster Wallace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Foster_Wallace), as was my journal from January 1st this year. A children’s novel I wrote a few years ago was like Mark Twain, whose work I’ve never read. I tested the opening paragraph of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. He writes like James Joyce. Joyce should be so lucky…

What does it show? It shows that the internet is a terrible distraction for writers. This text apparently reads like Dan Brown. I’ve yet to see an option for ‘I write like Shit’, but maybe Dan Brown’s a euphemism?


Newsjack Recording

July 16, 2010

Last night I had an email from Newsjack, the BBC7 satirical news show. Unknown to me, least one of my submissions had been performed the previous night in front of a studio audience. Unfortunately, my contribution(s) was/were cut from the final broadcast for reasons of time.

I felt that was a huge milestone in my writing life. Sure, I have no broadcast credit – but my writing was considered to be of a standard worthy of broadcast on the BBC. A writer-friend told me this evening that this is surely the highest accolade in the English-speaking world. Too kind, too kind.

I submitted some topical one-liners and a single sketch. I believe it was probably the sketch which made the grade because it was about Blair confessing to Pope Benedict XVI. Rather than let the writing go to waste, I thought I’d share it. You can view the sketch here: Tony Blair Confession. Here are the topical one-liners. I would imagine that in a few years these will be completely incomprehensible:

  • Zenna Atkins, Chair of Ofsted, said that schools could learn from private industry in the way they deal with bad teachers. Presumably they’ll be promoted and then given multi-million pound bonuses when pupils fail their exams.
  • European space probe Rosetta has flown past the asteroid Lutetia. The 75-mile long rock was easily identifiable because it has the word Lutetia on each end.
  • Botox has been approved for headaches. Scientists aren’t sure how effective the treatment is, but people look much better afterwards.
  • Roman Polanski is not going to be extradited for sentencing in the States. He’s now sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Switzerland. His lawyers may appeal against the decision.

Fuck Barclays Cycle Hire – A Message to the Sponsor

July 1, 2010

Imagine my delight this morning and saw that the Barclays Cycles had been ‘artistically enhanced’ overnight. This photo was taken at 08.25 outside my workplace in an arty area of London. You can see I had the whole intact flush – on every single cycle, both sides of the logo had been doctored. The colourmatching was pretty good, as was the font choice.

Fuck Barclays Cycle Hire

Fuck Barclays Cycle Hire - spoof logos

The first question in the office was ‘How many cycle bays across London had been affected?’ The second was ‘Who were the heroes behind this?’ The third was ‘Is that glue on your hands, Mark?’

Alas, I was clueless and glueless – but I doff my hat to the protestors for their ingenuity. Doubtless they did this in response to news of the recent promotion of Bob Diamond to President and Group Chief Executive. Poor chap’s given up an unlimited bonus for a salary of  a mere £1.35m per year and a bonus of up to £3.375m. But that’s forgetting the reported long-term share incentives worth £6.75m over the next year. It’s a hard life. Perhaps he’ll have to economise – may I suggest he cycles to work in future?

***STOP PRESS*** Police are looking for a man in his sixties answering to the nickname ‘Red Ken’.