Here’s an article I wrote on Newsthump a couple of years ago that I think still holds true.
A new penis-recognition security feature will be added to the next generation of nuclear launch buttons, according to manufacturers.
A spokesman for Acme Doomsday, makers of apocalyptic end-user systems since 1950, said:
“The world has changed, and our products have changed with it. Strategic nuclear diplomacy has changed from an international game of chess to a game of Soggy Biscuit.
“It’s hard to imagine Eisenhower or Khruschev discussing a pre-emptive nuclear strike with their dicks out.
“But today, it’s almost inconceivable that a leader would be pressing the nuclear button without his cock in the other hand.
“Penises are as unique as fingerprints or irises, so if we’re going to be vaporised at the whim of a willy-waggling manchild, we at Acme will ensure it’s the right manchild, waggling the right willy.”
The days of a simple big red nuclear button on a leader’s desk are long gone, and penis-recognition will supplement existing security features.
These include a sensor to catch and analyse tears, and software programmed to recognise a world leader’s voice screaming the phrase “WHO’S A USELESS WASTE OF SPACE NOW, DADDY?!?”
Additional security measures were initially introduced in 1983, after Ronald Reagan was found resting a coffee mug on his launch button.
A subsequent CIA report found that an extra spoonful of sugar in Reagan’s morning brew would have added enough weight to obliterate Stockholm.
When asked what would happen if a female leader wanted to plunge the world into radioactive hell to assuage a minor bruise to a fragile ego, the Acme spokesman said the company was “not considering that possibility”.
The new penis-enabled nuclear buttons will be in use from 2019, assuming we make it that far.
I wrote this sketch for Newsjack on the tax arrangements at Airbnb. They didn’t use it, so thought I’d pop it up here.
HOST: This week it emerged that Airbnb paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year, despite collecting over £600 million in rental payments for property owners. The digital economy’s great, isn’t it? You can use an Apple or Microsoft device to Google an Airbnb place and have an Amazon delivery waiting for you when you arrive. And all in the time it takes to close three schools and a hospital. But how would companies react if their customers tried using the same tactics?
FX: PHONE RINGS
AIRBNB CALLER: Good afternoon. I’m calling from Airbnb UK about the property you’ve registered with us. I believe you’re renting out 139a Blackfriars Road?
JIM: That’s right, great ratings too. We’re getting so many stars, the guy in the flat opposite has set up his own observatory! Though now I come to think about it, he might just be a pervert.
AIRBNB CALLER: Well…quite. I’m ringing because we’re having some trouble with your account, and we’ve not been able to collect the Airbnb service charge. Are you able to settle up over the phone please?
JIM: Ah. Did you say you were calling from Airbnb UK?
AIRBNB CALLER: That’s correct.
JIM: Well, there’s your problem. The flat is actually registered in Dublin.
AIRBNB CALLER: I’m sorry? 139a Blackfriars Road. That’s in London, right?
JIM: Well yes and no. The address is a London address, but the flat is registered in Dublin for accounting purposes. Look, did you ever read the Narnia books as a kid?
AIRBNB CALLER: No.
JIM: Exactly. It’s just like that. Outside the front door, it’s black cabs and red buses; inside it’s shamrocks and Guinness. Outside they’re playing Streets of London; inside it’s sweet, sweet Molly Malone.
AIRBNB CALLER: This is ridiculous. I must ask you to please just settle your account.
JIM: I’m afraid I can only speak to Airbnb Ireland about this.
FX: PHONE CUTS OFF
FX: PHONE RINGS AGAIN
AIRBNB CALLER: [The same caller as before, doing a questionable Irish accent] Hello, this is Airbnb Ireland, calling to settle your account for flat 139a.
JIM: Ah. Well it’s not actually me you need to speak to.
AIRBNB CALLER: [persisting with the accent] What? Aren’t you the registered owner?
JIM: Yes and no.
AIRBNB CALLER: What?
JIM: My accountant recommended I split my personality into separate entities. Right now, you’re talking to cheeky, knockabout me, resident in London. But all my assets – including the flat – are controlled by my hard-headed businessman persona. He’s domiciled in Luxembourg.
AIRBNB CALLER: [Giving up on the accent] Oh for Christ’s sake…
JIM: But none of us can do anything without consulting our controlling international playboy persona in the Cayman Islands. And good luck getting that guy off the beach at happy hour, know what I mean?
AIRBNB CALLER: [Snapping] This is nonsense! You can’t pretend a building is in a different country or controlled by a different part of your own personality, just to avoid paying the money you owe!
JIM: [pause] Hmmm… Actually, that reminds me. While I’ve got you on the line, several of my personalities work for HMRC and as it happens, we’ve been trying to get in touch with someone at Airbnb for a while to discuss tax arrangem-… Hello? Hello?
FX: PHONE CUTS OFF
This afternoon, Theresa May becomes the first world leader to meet Donald Trump. It feels horribly like Chamberlain meeting Hitler in 1938, but let’s be optimistic. Two people, seemingly complete opposites, forced together by circumstance. If nothing else, it has all the makings of a classic rom-com:
MUSIC: GENERIC ROM-COM TRAILER MUSIC
VOICEOVER: She was a strait-laced English vicar’s daughter who’d stepped in to help her country. He was a loudmouthed American billionaire who’d barged in to help himself. When he asked her to meet in Washington, she thought: “summit’s up!”
TERRI: Actually, I find wordplay a bit frivolous…
VOICEOVER: Terri was an ordinary woman, with an extraordinary dream.
ADVISOR: Prime Minister, how can you hope to make an advantageous trade deal with someone who says he’ll only ever think of American interests?
TERRI: There must be some part of him capable of pity. He spent 20 minutes with Michael Gove without vomiting!
VOICEOVER: Donny was an extraordinary man, with some extraordinary habits.
DONNY: Come in, sit down, take a chair. No, don’t sit on the bed, it’s, ah… it’s been raining.
VOICEOVER: Donny couldn’t stop lying.
DONNY: Terri, I’m the best truth-teller. When I tell the truth, people say it’s unbelievable, completely unbelievable.
VOICEOVER: Terri couldn’t answer a straight question.
TERRI: As I keep saying: questions are questions and answers are answers and my answer will be the most appropriate answer to the question, when it is answered.
VOICEOVER: So when Terri met Donny, there were always going to be fireworks.
TERRI: Yes, I’m sorry about that, the Ministry of Defence have promised next time they’ll point it the other way.
DONNY: I once said the exact same thing to a Miss World contestant.
VOICEOVER: When Terri Met Donny is a story of two incompatible people with incompatible goals. Featuring what’s already being described as the most nauseating gross-out scene in movie history:
TERRI: I’m not faking a you-know-what. I’m sorry, I just won’t.
DONNY: You want this trade deal dontcha?
TERRI: I can’t do it in the restaurant!
DONNY: Think of England.
MUSIC: MUSIC STOPS
TERRI: Urgh… [Enunciating clearly] Em. Emhem. Emhemhemhem. Emhemhemhemhemhemhem. Oh my goodness. Goodness gracious me. Golly gosh, that really was exemplary. [Exasperated] Now will you please sign that trade deal.
DONNY: What trade deal?
MUSIC: MUSIC RESTARTS
VOICEOVER: You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll laugh to stop yourself from crying, then cry anyway. When Terri Met Donny, opens in Washington on Friday, rated R. I’m sorry, that’s rated “Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhh!!”
Hospitals are introducing stringent new identity checks, with patients asked to prove the nationality of all four grandparents before treatment.
The move is aimed at preventing anyone who is even a bit foreign from being treated at a British hospital and potentially receiving a transfusion of pure British blood.
A Health Department official said: “People turn up at hospitals with their leg hanging off or whatever, but what happens if their grandmother was Italian?
“That leg could be an Italian leg, and giving a fully British transfusion would dilute our national bloodline. What would the soldiers who fought at Monte Cassino say?”
“Then there’s maternity. If we don’t know who’s being born here, we could end up putting pure British blood into a part-foreign child.
“No, these so-called expectant mothers can dig a pit and fill it with moss and give birth there, like I assume their grandparents in some godforsaken un-British hole did.”
In a separate development, Muslims and Jews will be asked to identify themselves in hospitals by wearing armbands with crescents or stars sewn on, and will receive transfusions from separate blood banks.
An NHS spokesman described the move as “not at all sinister or Hitlery, just an extension of our existing transfusion policy for Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Anti-discrimination campaigner and leftie luvvie wuss Samantha Softie said: “This is appalling. Hospitals are supposed to treat people according to need, not nationality.
“Besides, under these plans barely any NHS employees would actually be eligible for treatment in their own hospitals.”
The Health Department official responded by narrowing her eyes, writing a name on a piece of paper and muttering: “Sounds like shifty foreigner talk…”
Kinder are to investigate reports that its products may be a choking risk for its child workforce.
Toys for Kinder’s chocolate eggs are packaged by a Romanian contractor, which is alleged to be employing children young enough to choke on the small pieces.
A Kinder Egg spokesman said: “We have very strict labelling to make it clear that our toys are a choking hazard for young children.
“Obviously if one of our contractors is using children to assemble toys in our supply chain we will investigate immediately.
“We’re delighted that our contractor is offering poor Romanian children a chance to stand on their own two feet, or in the case of the youngsters, crawl.
“But we must insist on a child-friendly working environment.”
The spokesman added: “Kids love chocolate, maybe they could mix up the chocolate instead? Or wrap the eggs in the shiny, shiny foil?
“The children could then use the 22p an hour they earn to buy age-appropriate toys, or to buy food for their starving families, or whatever.”
The Queen is set to host incoming President Donald Trump for a formal summit next year, with discussions centring on questions of interior decor.
The Queen is to offer advice to Mr Trump on his number one priority for his first 100 days in office: “blinging up the White House”
A Palace spokesman said: “Her Majesty’s style is to cover all surfaces with either gold or with pictures of herself and her relatives.
“Mr Trump apparently sees her as a great inspiration.”
The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the meetings, advising the new President on the correct racial epithets to use against varying national populations on official trips.
The President Elect praised Queen Elizabeth on Twitter, writing:
“Howsabout that Queen? Gold house, gold clothes, gold hat. There’s a lady with style! What is protocol on where you can grab a Queen?”
Mr Trump’s advisers indicated that the Queen would be advising the President on two other key issues:
1) how to retain affection among working people despite decorating your house at their expense while literally wearing a crown; and
2) where to buy a crown.
The BBC became embroiled in a fresh row yesterday, after newsreaders were seen wearing remembrance poppies on Halloween.
Daily Mail columnist Nigel Cross wrote: “Halloween is a day when people typically put on ridiculous fancy dress.
“For example, the Mail editor Paul Dacre came to work as a red-faced, screeching banshee, while Theresa May makes a very convincing Zombie Margaret Thatcher.
“Wearing poppies on Halloween reduces them to the status of fancy dress and demeans the solemn message of the poppy – that it’s sad when people die in wars, but also really, really good when we win them.”
Mr Cross, whose newspaper is a direct rival to the BBC but always reports on them in a fair and balanced way, continued: “Wearing poppies on Halloween just shows how much the BBC hates Britain.
“It’s almost as bad as the lack of respect last year, when on 31 October – just 12 days before armistice day – BBC presenters weren’t wearing poppies at all.”
A spokeswoman for the BBC apologised profusely to anyone offended by either the wearing or non-wearing of a small red paper flower, and offered to immolate Mary Berry inside a giant wicker poppy as penance.
I wrote this a few months back, at the start of the summer, following a family reunion. It’s a bit soppier and more sentimental than the usual stuff I post on this site, in fact I don’t think there are any bum jokes in it at all. Usual service will be resumed soon.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t often think with any depth about the people and places that are important to me.
This weekend, my parents held a party for my mum’s 60th birthday. She’s the youngest of five siblings and the other four all made it from around the world for at least a day or two either side of the party, bringing assorted spouses, children and grandchildren along.
The party and the few days either side were a precious, unique window in the timeline of our extended family. Generations crossed one another for a few days, as many of my cohort turned up with toddlers and new babies in tow, while relatives into their 90s joined the party. It is very likely to be the only time that particular group of people will ever assemble in the same room.
Two-year-olds who had never previously met chased one another round and round the house, ducking between grownups’ legs, squabbling over toys and rolling about on the floor at the sheer joy of each others’ company. Above their heads, my parents’ generation sketched out family trees and swapped notes on long-dead ancestors. As the generation above them has thinned out, the sixty-somethings all seem to have become fascinated by their family history. I’m sure I will become interested too, if I live long enough to become part of the apex generation.
It was strangely bittersweet to watch the passage of time affecting the people and places that are important to me. Swapping notes on parenting with slightly-older cousins who once seemed impossibly grown up. Seeing self-assured people showing signs of frailty. Being reminded that even ever-present, larger-than-life characters are mortal too. Of course I’ve always known that fact, it is an obvious thing to say, but I’ve been very lucky never to lose anyone close to me before their time. In fact, very few of my parents’ generation show any signs of slowing down. It’s the scarcity of these times when we can meet all together that makes me wonder what state we will all be in when the next one rolls around.
My generation – the bright-eyed kids who squabbled over possession of the sandpit in my parents’ garden – now have our share of grey hairs, bald heads and character lines. As we grew up, the sandpit became a fire-pit, around which our teenaged selves drank beer and told rude jokes thinking we were out of earshot of the grownups. This weekend we considered getting some wood in for the fire-pit, but realised that most of the former tearaways would now be inside for much of the evening, putting kids to bed. And my parents’ generation, now responsibility-free, feel the chill too much to sit round an outdoor fire. Some time this summer, the fire-pit will turn back into a sandpit for the grandchildren.
My parents have done a lot of work on the family home in recent years. They’ve extended, they’ve redecorated and they’ve replaced almost all the fixtures and furniture. Time has changed the place as well as the people, it is no longer really the house I grew up in. Apart from the shape of most of the walls, little remains the same from childhood photos. But that’s not to criticise. It’s much nicer now that the carpets aren’t threadbare and the stuffing isn’t belching from the arms of the third-hand sofa. My old home is now a place where new memories are being built. The place I hope my children will remember with fondness. Grandma and granddad’s house.
The evening of the party, when it was mostly just family left, the singing started. My mum, her brother and her three sisters stood together singing Irish and Scottish folk songs their dad had taught them. The previous time they’d all met together and sung like that had been at his funeral. Now, though, it was joyous.
The party eventually broke up and family members returned home over the next few days. As they left, they all said things like “We must do this again soon” and “We can’t let the next time we meet like this be a funeral”. My mum said they’d like to have another party like this in five years. My dad said it’d be better in two, he couldn’t be sure they’d all have the energy again in five. I hope they do both.