Archive for the 'Comedy' Category

Queen tells off Berlusconi

It’s almost enough to make you a royalist.

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Riot at America’s Next Top Model auditions

I fear someone might have broken a nail…

US to rid the world of spam

So that’s where it all comes from…

The letter heard round the world

One of the most important skills for a budding journalist to learn is to treat everything as an opportunity to improve.

Every article, blog or broadcast is a source of new and exciting information. Any scrap of paper that crosses your path is potential fodder for a young and hungry mind.

So it was with absolute glee that I stumbled upon this most perfect piece of prose. For all who read this, all I can say is stop, listen and learn to what must be the greatest letter of complaint since the Bible:

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

Virgin1

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:

Virgin2

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Virgin3

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:

Virgin4

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

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I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

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Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

Virgin7

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincererly…

Eurotrash: sliding down the EU Tube

The great French statesman Charles de Gaulle once said: “It is Europe, it is the whole of Europe, that will decide the fate of the world.” Though de Gaulle is gone, the sentiment lives on, housed in the shining edifices of the European Commission.

Earlier this month I went to Brussels with 14 of my fellow Journalism students from City University. There, we were initiated into the secrets of the Eurocrats and the mantle of responsiblity was laid upon our quivering shoulders. barroso20king2

Despite the unquestionable importance of the EU, we were told, the British public has a skewed perspective on the affairs of Brussels because of the agendas of the media moguls. And it is up to us to fix it.

As Albert Maes, a previous EU ambassador to Jerusalem and lecturer in economics at the University of Namur in Belgium, put it: “The easy solution for the tabloids is always sarcasm.”

Out of a press core of over 1,200 journalists from all over Europe, many British news outlets don’t even have their own correspondents in Brussels. Those that do will often be charged with covering Europe as a whole.

One of the spokespeople we met, who did not wish to be named, said that many of the journalists she dealt with from the UK tabloids were not only rude but massively ignorant about anything to do with the EU.

This is because, to put it bluntly, the EU is boring as hell. No amount of free coffee and walks around stunning white buildings could hide the fact that the domain of the Eurocrats is unbelievably tedious.

Even the most talented British journalists have serious problems sparking interest in the latest regulations on, say, water pollution, even if it does mean that Blackpool beach will be littered with slightly less crap than usual.

Mark Mardell, the BBC’s Europe editor, said: “The job of journalists is to inform and entertain. The EU comes down heavily on the inform side.”

Believe it or not, I am generally pro-Europe. Yet after being told repeatedly how important it was for us, as future journalists, to raise awareness of the EU, I cannot help but feel a certain smug amusement at the revelation in today’s Sunday Times that the EU’s latest online project has received as little attention from its continental audience as it has on British shores.

Launched 18 months ago by the commission’s communications bureau, EU Tube – Europe’s take on the video-sharing website YouTube – has attracted dismal viewing figures. Some videos, such as the Controlling the Use of Chemicals in Europe and the Better Rights for Temporary Workers, have had only a few dozen hits.

Still, there is one success story in the EU archive. The “Let’s come together” video, made to promote the Brussels film subsidy, has reportedly had more than 7m views. The video (above) features clips of couples having sex, watched by a gaping cinema audience.

It seems the Eurocrats have learnt something Rupert Murdoch could have told them years ago: sex sells, no matter where you are.

The Da! say Duh

Anyone looking for a way to weather the credit crunch should take a leaf out of the book of the Da! collective – a troop of raggle-taggle anarchists and artists who have taken over a £6m town-house in Mayfair, all in the name of art.

The group have staked their claim to the empty property, hanging a black anarchists’ flag from the first-floor balcony. Inside, many of the 30 bedrooms have been transformed into slap-dash art installations, including, according to the Guardian:

“One room is full of tree branches while another hosts a pink baby bath above which dangle test tubes filled with capers.”

The things people do in the name of art…

Was it the Mail wot done it?

Russell Brand and Johnathan Ross have caused a storm of controversy rarely seen by the desensitised eyes of the MTV generation.

Their prank calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs have met with condemnation from the PM and the BBC have received more than 10,400 complaints from outraged listeners and Daily Mail readers.

While blame is still being bandied around like a hot potato, Brand has apologsied (in his own special way) on his Radio 2 show, saying “sometimes you mustn’t swear on someone’s answerphone and that is why I would like to apologise personally”. Although excusing himself by saying “it was quite funny”.

To many this apology-of-sorts may sound like too little too late. Ross’s quip that Brand had “fucked” Sachs’ granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, and that Sachs might hang himself as a result of the message was not exactly easy listening. But the fact is that before the Daily Mail launched a campaign to have them fired, only two complaints had been made about the show, neither of them related to the messages.

Brand is no stranger to disapproval, after receiving death threats for calling George Bush a “retarded cowboy” when hosting this year’s MTV Awards in the US. But in a country that spawned one half of Gilbert & George and which deems Tracey Emin’s condom-littered bed “art”, it seems bizarre that an adolescent prank should provoke such a conservative blacklash.

While the UK airwaves are held to account by industry standards and moral censure from the prudishness of middle England, offence is the virtual currency of the UK art world. British Muslim artist Sarah Maple, currently exhibiting at the SaLon Gallery, Notting Hill, London, is a case in point.

Winner of the 4 Sensations prize, awarded to the “most imaginative and talented artists graduating in the U.K” by Channel 4 and the Saatchi Gallery, Maple has become the darling of the art world by depicting Muslim women holding pigs, sucking bananas suggestively and a photo of herself wearing a t-shirt that says: “I heart Jihad“.

Maple said: “I’m questioning the way some Muslims interpret the faith…It’s a quite serious thing, and then I make light of it, and I think a lot of people find that unsettling. But then they grow to like it.”

While Maple’s work has been met with criticism from the British Muslim community, it has seen nothing approaching the condemnation surrounding Brand and Ross. Has free speech in the UK been so disabled by self-censure that we’ve lost the last bastion of Britishness: our sense of humour?


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