Tuesday, 31 January 2012

David Cameron: Another Success!

Last year David Cameron visited India, with the aim of strengthening relations and creating jobs in the UK. The Prime Minister led what Downing Street described at the time as the largest UK trade delegation in living memory. Mr Cameron said he wanted Britain to be the "partner of choice" for India.

Yesterday, the Indian government announced the winner of the international competition to supply its air force with new jet fighters. It's one of the world's biggest ever defence deals, a staggering colossus, over its lifetime worth more than 7 billion pounds.

And the winner is ... (wrestles with envelope) ... er ... (attempts drum-roll - drops sticks) ... France.

The French Rafale jet's scooped the down-select. No doubt during the coming final price discussions India's negotiators will keep the poor old British Eurofighter bid in the picture, just to concentrate French minds.
But that's it.

Well done Pillsbury!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Spice Girls To Re-form For Diamond Jubilee!

It seems the Spice Girls have agreed to re-form for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer. 'Singer' Melanie Bee let slip the top-secret info today, during a prime-time cable TV interview on Kazakhstan's Legova Promotions network.

The former Scary Spice was asked if the girls would be getting back together for the London Olympics. Without thinking, she twice shouted into the studio mike: "Ooh, I think the Queen's Jubilee concert is the event I'd be looking at more closely for that to happen."

But she quickly changed the subject, apparently realising she wasn't supposed to let on yet.

And when she was off air, Bee told the interviewer: "I'm going to be in such strife for saying that, it's still so totally hush. What a careless slip-up. You naughty man, you wormed it right out of me!"

For Elizabeth Windsor, the reunion comes as a just reward for 50 years on the throne of England. When asked to comment, Windsor said: "The sodding Spice Girls. What part of 'Led Zeppelin' did you not understand?"

Friday, 27 January 2012

Waitrose: The Common Touch

Toffs' supermarket Waitrose has recently sought to grow its presence among more plebian shoppers. Launching a major effort to reach out to the nation's riff-raff, a new store's opened in Croydon, south London. Waitrose marketing professionals strove to get alongside local shoppers' minds; the advertising hoarding above is the result. The store's official opening was carried out by celebrity newsreader, Radio 4's James Naughtie.

Well done Waitrose - at last, you talk my language! Now, about your ridiculous prices ...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Charles Windsor: Urban Space-Cadet

Charles Windsor is in Cornish headlines once more. This time, he’s endangering Truro’s fragile economy by advocating the building of new housing and a giant food centre on Duchy of Cornwall land at the city's edge.

Windsor claims the project would allow local food producers to compete with supermarket giants, as well as providing much-needed accommodation. His plan would destroy a beautiful valley, and replace it with the sort of urban sprawl he supposedly abhors. Farmland which currently supports a fine dairy herd, hedgerows and trees would all be destroyed.

Despite Windsor’s claim to encourage Cornish food producers, one of the partners behind his scheme is Waitrose – the toffs’ supermarket which coincidentally stocks his own expensive Duchy Originals food products.
Waitrose would share the new food centre with a consortium, which would buy goods from local sources and sell them under a brand called the Taste of Cornwall. But the supermarket would have three quarters of the store, Taste of Cornwall merely the remainder; so much for helping local producers. The consortium’s composition is yet to be confirmed.
Truro City Council’s leading the local opposition to Windsor’s stupid notion. The Council believes shoppers would head to Waitrose, perhaps have a look at the Taste of Cornwall items and then return home without bothering to go into Truro itself. The result? An irretrievably damaged city centre, its renowned Georgian streets deserted, the farmers’ market gone, independent shops closed down.
Windsor’s previous meddling in town and country planning resulted in the appalling Poundbury development in Dorset, his dream of the perfect English village. A rag-tag collection of shoddy buildings, the pop-up wasteland has failed to establish any sense of community and is detested as self-important by residents of nearby Dorchester.
For Cornish folk who want it, a short drive from Truro there's already a food hall at the A.30 Fraddon turn-off. Selling over-priced, unnecessary items, the hall’s effete snootiness is counterpointed by its location. Thanks to a McDonalds further up the gradient, the spot’s known locally as Hamburger Hill.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fifa: Bring a Bottle!

Beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches at the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, football's world governing body, Fifa, has announced today. Finally then, octogenarian President Sepp Blatter’s able to organise a few piss-ups, though in unusual locations. After his demented statements on racism recently – I was surprised to learn he’s in fact Swiss – it seems he’s decided to chase the populist ticket. Or at least, shuffle after it.

In a statement, Fifa explained: "Alcoholic drinks are part of the World Cup, so we're going to have them. That's something we won't negotiate." This insistence is at odds with Brazilian law, which banned the sale of booze at football grounds in 2003 after increasing violence. Even Qatar’s 2022 World Cup will have visitors’ drinking zones, though to avoid infidel temptation the people who actually live there will be banned from them.

There’s a reason for this enlightened attitude. It turns out brewer Budweiser, hailing from the world’s most powerful footballing nation, is a big Fifa sponsor. But to dispel any concern over alcohol-fuelled violence there's a simple solution: serve no beer at all to Engerland fans. Everybody else who’s had a few knows how to behave.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Michael Gove: Rule Britannia!

Education Secretary Michael Gove has brushed aside Britain's dire economic difficulties to propose the public donate a new royal yacht to the Queen during this year's diamond jubilee celebrations, according to a leaked letter sent to cabinet members.

In the letter, Gove suggests Britain's economic situation could be temporarily expunged from the public consciousness through use of a distracting large-scale celebration to lift everyone's spirits. The celebration, in Gove’s mind, would be synonymous with the gift of a yacht to the grasping Windsor family. Estimates for such a vessel start at £60m.

When school budgets are being slashed, parents will be wondering how the minister came even to think of this idea. By no means is everyone in Britain an enthusiastic monarchist, and reptilian Gove has no right to ingratiate himself with the Windsors through improper use of the public purse.

The minister has sought to justify his initiative, saying: "The year ahead provides an enormous opportunity to showcase the very best of Britain." But why would this involve handing the Windsors a huge, luxuriously-appointed yacht?

Turning to absurd jingoism, Gove continues: "The diamond jubilee must not be overshadowed by the Olympic Games, but form an integral part of this great year for our country." The only possible benefit of these over-hyped games would be their dilution of the jubilee 'celebrations'.

And remember this. Even if you choose to believe Elizabeth Windsor is a wonderful woman and her husband merely an engaging eccentric, both are very elderly. Before long such a yacht would fall under the control of loathsome Charles Windsor.

Gove’s great plan sits alongside forecasts that this year the UK economy will slip back into recession, and see a further severe squeeze on living standards. It’s good to see the minister has his feet on the ground. Coming soon, arise Sir Michael?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ready, Steady, Crook!

Chefs are in the news.

Budget TV’s dreadful Antony Worrall Thompson has apologised for shop-lifting, saying he felt ‘stupid’ and that he would seek ‘treatment’, after being caught red-handed with booze snaffled from his local Tesco supermarket at snobbish Henley-on-Thames.

Bumptious Worrall Thompson, whose career has long been eclipsed by taller people including other chefs, has expressed blubbing remorse for his thefts. He’s bewildered as to what his motives could have been, though trying to avoid paying money probably came into it.
Being nicked for stealing wine is one way of returning to the public eye, of course. Perhaps like a fallen evangelist, ritual contrition will re-launch him. But more becomes clear when we learn Worrall Thompson is the godson of legendary alcoholic and part-time actor, Richard Burton.

Meanwhile, as part of the government's Change 4 Life public health campaign, it’s reported telly chef Ainsley Harriott has helped devise a cookbook promoting healthy dishes which can be created for under £5. But watching his TV cooking programme ‘Dances with Saucepans’, now sadly axed, Harriott’s own daily diet appears to include at least twenty shots of espresso. Would you take his advice on nutrition? 

Worse, Ainsley’s branded collection of supermarket culinary delights includes quick-cook rice or cous-cous, flavoured with combinations of appalling chemicals probably sourced from ICI. I’d never eat the stuff. But I wouldn’t mind sticking a fork into one of those mad bulging eyes.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diane Abbott's Tweet

Poor Diane Abbott. I don't agree with her political views,nor am I a trendy left-wing apologist of course, but honestly - she's a racist? Rubbish. Yesterday she made a controversial comment on Twitter, its clumsiness aggravated by being squashed into 140 characters. Cue sophistry and spin by politicians and commentators alike.

Abbott tweeted: "White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game." The remark was a reaction to a Twitter exchange about media coverage following the Stephen Lawrence racist murder trial. Specifically, the tweet responded to journalist Bim Adewunmi; she'd complained about the use of the terms "black community" and "black community leaders" by the media. The context of Abbott's response was conveniently ignored by critics.

Today Abbott has released a statement saying: "I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused." But that won't be the end of the affair; for her opponents in press and politics, there's too much self-righteous capital to be made.

No doubt those who've wailed loudest at Abbott's tweet are the people who've been least vocal at the outcome of the Laurence murder trial. In particular, the Conservative Home Blog has been lightning-quick to tell us Abbott has "deliberately provoked hatred of a racial group, and is therefore in breach of the 1986 Public Order Act". But there's nothing at all on the blog’s Newslink page for today concerning Stephen Lawrence.