Ding dong…

… the witch is dead… Hey, right wingers hell-bent on canonising Thatcher as some modern political saint, protesters will stop buying Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to get it into the charts if you stop wasting millions of pounds of the tax-payer’s money on what is essentially a state funeral in all but name. Deal? No? Well if you can close down half of central London and waste millions on a politician who is still despised by half the population decades on then it is fine for people to protest in a witty and sarcastic manner by getting this song to the charts. In fact there is something delightfully, subversively British about the humour behind that, the sort of satire and humour which goes back to the days of Hogarth as a way for ordinary citizens to make their views on their ‘betters’ known and heard.

And on the related note of Hogarth, here’s a recent work from one of that esteemed artist and observer of society’s modern heirs, the excellent Martin Rowson on the whole nonsense surrounding Thatcher’s death (cartoon by and (c) Martin Rowson, published in the Guardian):

I’ve head the pleasure of hearing Martin speak twice now at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and he’s not only very knowledgeable about the history of editorial cartooning and illustration, he is passionate about using it to hold politicians and other public figures to account and letting them know we are watching the buggers, which is vital in any healthy democratic society.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 - Martin Rowson 05
(Martin Rowson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2012, pic from my Flickr)

Milk piracy

Government, supermarkets and other buyers and representatives of dairy farmers are still negotiating over the scandal of large companies like supermarkets paying such a low price to farmers for milk supplies that they make a loss on every pint. The large supermarkets, who are often the target of ire for using their bulk buying and selling power to bully suppliers like farmers into ridiculously low prices have retaliated however and explained the very low price of milk is not because of supermarkets rigging prices through buying power but caused directly by online milk piracy. In this they have been backed up by figures from the music and film industry who say that alongside music and movie piracy the illegal downloading of copied milk via web pirates was costing farmers dearly and destroying the industry. It’s thought when they attempt to lobby yet again for draconian new internet piracy laws the dairy farmers will also be leaning on politicians to bring in penalties such as the ‘three strikes’ rule for anyone suspected of illegally downloading milk or any other dairy products.

(a dairy cow yesterday, she answered no comment to the Woolamaloo Gazette’s reporter when asked about milk piracy)

Hovis to help unemployed youth and environment

Hovis the well known UK bakers has announced a new business plan they say will help alleviate both the awful current youth unemployment statistics and benefit the environment at the same time, with a side bonus of increasing the fitness of the nation. They are to scrap their fleet of large lorries spewing out diesel across the land as they cross the whole of the UK to deliver yummy fresh bread to stores and reinstate their classic young lad on a bike local delivery system, which was made famous by Sir Ridley Scott back in his advertising days. This will, the company says, reduce carbon emissions, fuel consumption and lead to a mini boom for bicycle manufacturers and new opportunities for unemployed youth to be gainfully employed and to get fit while providing a service to the community. There is a down side – in the Olde Days many children were pushed to such levels of physical exhaustion cycling their bread deliveries up incredibly steep hills they died of extreme fatigue.

This wasn’t a huge problem back then as the streets of Britain then abounded with cheeky, chirpy orphaned ragamuffin urchins who could be used to replace existing cycle delivery lads as they dropped out. It could be a more of a problem today, but with youth suffering most of all from unemployment in the double dip recession it is thought there will still be more applying than there are cycle available to use, and Liam Fox is already consulting with the government on re-writing employment protection laws for under 25s so it is once more legal to run urchins until they drop, as we did in the glory days of the Rule Britannia Empire (cheers, waves flag, salutes picture of Queen Victoria paddling at Brighton while wearing an “I heart General Gordon” t-shirt) – as some Tory MPs have pointed out, when it was legal to work children to death and whip any who complained of conditions Britain ruled a global empire and was king of industry and world commerce, so perhaps we need to get back to those old-fashioned values.

 

Budget news

In budget news George Posh Boy Osborne, taking advice from his American cousin Norman Osborn, has announced the government want to help stimulate the currently moribund supervillain economy. To this end in his budget today the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined how supervillains would now be granted tax relief and financial incentives for major infrastructure projects, such as the hollowing out of volcanoes for supervillain lairs. When challenged on this by representatives of the superhero community who claimed the Tories were in effect using taxpayer’s money to subsidise international crime, Mr Osbourne refuted this charge, claiming that supervillains and their major world domination projects and secret bases were important powerhouses of international commerce, driving both local and global economies and offering huge employment opportunities to a range of industries, from henchmen to the craftsmen such as carpenters and electricians who construct their lairs to the hi-tech companies who supply the lasers and missile tech for their plans, and the UK had to encourage these ‘innovators’ or be left behind in a competitive international marketplace.

Minister excuses dumping official papers in public park

Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Extreme Smugness, has excused his bizarre behaviour, caught on film by journalists, whereby he wandered public parks disposing of official government papers in bins as he walked. When challenged on this odd behaviour with all the attendant data protection and potential security issues attached to such foolish actions, Mr Letwin explained to the Woolamaloo Gazette he thought it was an acceptable way to dispose of such papers as “the Wombles would take care of it later.”

Last century’s census

Details of information gathered a century ago in the 1911 census has been released by the Registrar General for Scotland under the hundred year rule (the census we’ve all been legaly obliged to fill in recently will remain private for a hundred years too). The census has changed somewhat since the early 20th century – for instance we’re no longer asked to fill in a question asking if we are imbeciles, but that may be simply because the government assumes most of the population are idiots and so to save time leaves the question out and takes it for granted. Similarly the head of the household is not assumed to be male today, unlike 1911 and the adjoining question about how often the male head of the household is required to beat the women to keep them in their place has been removed from later census forms.

Doors Open Day 2010 - Register House 01
(the Registrar General giving a great talk inside Register House during Doors Open Day last autumn, pic from my Flickr)

The newly released census offers not only the chance of new information on family trees for some, it also affords a fascinating snapshot into life in Scotland a century ago, revealing some of the concerns our ancestors at the time had. A great number, it transpires, were extremely worried about having their highly bred racing horses disturbed by rampant sufragettes; it was a boom in sales of insurance policies to cover against those pesky militant women demanding votes throwing themselves under your expensive horse. Some were concerned about Prussian militarism and the possibility of a new European war against Germany, but others pooh-poohed this (pooh-poohing being a popular pastime in that era) pointing out the German Kaiser was the nephew of the late Queen Victoria so there was no chance of the British Empire going to war with them and even if by some odd chance we did then most were reassured it would be a swift campaign and over by Christmas.

It wasn’t all worries in 1911 though, as the census reveals what our ancestors a hundred years ago did for fun and what their aspirations were. Guessing which of your children might live to pass the age of ten was a popular hobby for the large, urban working classes, for instance, while ‘TB Bingo’ was a favoured pastime of the upper classes, where, coughing genteely into their hankies, they would pick out sanitoriums on their score card. The 1911 census also reveals that the most desirable thing to most of the population then was to win a chance to sail on the remarkable gigantic new luxury cruise liner, the Titanic, for the holiday to end them all.

Seriously though, there is a rather poignant aspect to the 1911 census; as UK census take place every decade this would be the last one taken before the unbelievable carnage of the Great War shattered the ordered society of that period, breaking social barriers as much as it broke human bodies. By the time the 1921 census came to be taken a vast amount of the men recorded on the 1911 census would be buried in a Flanders field, a huge chunk of an entire generation was simply missing, and among those who did survive the scars would last a lifetime, some physical (legions of men blinded, or bodies shattered), others mental, nerves broken by the horror and relentless stress of endless trench warfare, while on the home front a whole sector of the female population who had worked so hard to support the war effort had finally been granted the right to vote in the country they had worked so hard for (and more than a few of the women who did that essential work saw their health ruined from dreadful, dangerous working conditions in munitions factories and elswhere, not a few of them were killed doing that work).

The Census

Yes, it has been ten years and so it is time for the UK-wide Census. Fortunately for those of us north of the border the Registrar for Scotland deals with our one, so at least we don’t get London-blinkered questions like “if you live in Scotland or the North of England, do you know what electricity is?” And it does include Gaelic and Scots as language options too, although annoyingly it didn’t include a box to tick for Elvish or Klingon. Pah. Some citizens have raised concerns over some of the questions being asked, wondering why the authorities really need to know some things – they say it is to plan for the future in terms of hospitals, schools and other resources that will be required, but even so I have to also add my voice to the growing concern over some of the questions posed on the 2011 Census. I mean some of these are invasive of my privacy and I question what strategic planning value they will give to authorities for arranging future national resources, with questions like:

How many yaks do you keep in your household attic? (I especially objected to this one as I live in a Victorian tenement flat so don’t have an attic, so this question left me feeling inadequate and jealous of those rich people with attics to keep yaks in)

How many DVDs do you have in your collection? Please arrange answer by alphabetical title order and BBFC rating. Indicate clearly which films are non English language and contain subtitles.

Do you keep your underwear and socks in the same drawer or individual compartments?

Please explain why you insist on drinking coffee when you know fine well that Her Brittanic Majesty prefers tea.

Preferred biscuit to dunks at elevenses – Digestive, Hobnob, shortbread, other (please indicate – be aware anything other than these three acceptable biscuits will be taken as a sign of subversive personality behaviour)

Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Communards fan club?

Who do you find more trustworthy, Nick Clegg or Cleggy from Last of the Summer Wine?

Are you satisfied with A) your high-speed broadband connection and B) the quality of online pornography?

Elucidate on the correct form of address for the Haggis (include the post code).

Red or White wine?

Cats or dogs?

Kiera Knightley or Carey Mulligan?

How many umbrellas do you own in your househould? Please indicate if they are full-sized or telescopic.

Explain, using graphics where necessary, the symbolism of the London Olympic logo and why it isn’t really a huge waste of money.

When you die do you plan to be interred in a cemetery, cremated, leave your body to science or have your corpse re-animated and return as a zombie? (please indicate if you intend to be evil, brain eating zombie or the more comedy friendly variety if the latter)

Explain why even in a pan-European, progressive, inclusive society it is still socially acceptable to make fun of A) red haired people (even in Scotland), B) fat people, C) mentally disturbed people who appear on reality and talent shows and D) the Belgians.

Britain’s love for curries proves that we’re really not racist at all and are actually a jolly nice multi-cultural society – discuss in no more than 500 words. Please indicate your favoured curry dish.

Explain why, using picures where required, Oor Wullie is an important medium for recording the microcosm of Scottish society.

Did you fill in this form yourself you lower class oik, or did you do it properly and have your butler do it?

Queen entertains the UN

Her Majesty the Queen paid her first visit to the UN Assembly in New York for half a century today, where she entertained the assembled diplomats and world leaders by singing a cover version of Kim Wilde’s greatest hit: “One is the Queen in America, wuh-oh…” She’s such a trouper. Prince Phillip followed by giving  the UN crowd his world famous Zorba the Greek dance to make up for insulting almost every foreign person present.

Easter zombies

The Easter holiday weekend, when we remember Jesus Christ who died then rose from the grave, walked out of the tomb as an Undead, munched on some passing disciple’s brains and so gave birth to the zombie genre and set the scene for the horror messiah Saint George of Romero. And praise also to the Catholic Church who took time out from buggering young children to create the myth of Transubstantiation where they held that the wine and the Host wafer literally became the body and blood of Christ when taken at services, giving life eternal, thus also promoting both the cannibal horror sub genre and of course the vampire. Where would modern horror be without Jesus and the Catholic Church, eh?

Your Woolamaloo Gazette holiday movie guide

Looking for some movies to watch over the Easter break? Here’s the Woolamaloo Gazette handy guide to some recent releases:

Mick-Ass: the tale of one Irish superhero and his forbidden love for his donkey

Butter Island: Intense psycho-drama as Leonardo DiCaprio suffers an allergic reaction to dairy products and takes a dark trip through his deepest fears

Splash of the Fountains: Anita Ekberg digitally reanimated and fighting monsters from Greek mythology in the Trevi Fountain. All now in 3D, including Anita’s enormous knockers coming right out the screen at you.

How to Drain Your Flaggon: a delightful 3D CG animated romp of a young lad’s first foray into drinking mead in his viking village.

Alice in Underwear in 3D: a now grown up Alice escapes a planned loveless marriage by travelling back to Underwearland and becoming a lingerie model.

Treen Zone: Matt Damon joins classic British hero Dan Dare to fight off an invasion by the evil Mekon of Mekonta’s Treen army during the second Gulf War.