Archive for November, 2009

Public to ‘Make Good’ on crime

November 30, 2009

 

A new government website is set to allow the public to decide the fate of young offenders, it has been revealed today.

The Making Good scheme will allow members of the public to vote anonymously online in order to decide democratically on suitable punishments for crime and antisocial behaviour.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said yesterday: “This scheme will not only help in reducing crime across the country, but it will also allow users a cloak of anonymity which affords them a freedom of honesty they wouldn’t normally get for fear of repercussion. I’m a big fan of anonymous internet message boards myself, as they provide a fascinating true insight into the national psyche. Honestly, some of the stuff I’ve seen in the comments sections on youtube is crazy. I didn’t know anyone still had those sorts of opinions – not young people, anyway.”

Site designer Peter Ian is already concerned at some of the public’s feedback: “We set up the site last week and we added a few general options, such as clearing litter, charity work, repairing vandalism and cleaning graffiti. We knew we hadn’t covered every base, so we built in the option whereby a user could create new categories of their own.

“I went on there again yesterday to check things over and several new options had sprung up, including ‘Bring Back The Rope’, ‘Restore Corporal Punishment In Schools’, ‘Force Them To Have A Vasectomy’, ‘Flog Them In Public’, ‘Line Them Up And Shoot Them’ and ‘Send Them All Back’. We were shocked. Only a very small number had voted on the existing options, with just under 90% opting for some form of capital punishment. And this was in response to a hypothetical situation where a youth had broken into a car to steal a wallet left on the passenger seat. I don’t know where the racism one came from, either. We didn’t even mention the perpetrator’s ethnicity in the example. We may end up taking the site down, or at least limiting the options somewhat, though I honestly don’t think the public are ready for this sort of thing yet – I’d maybe give it another 100 years…”

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November 30, 2009

 

Your Money – with Peter Jones

TV’s famous Dragon whores out his name to badly-written Sky Magazine column every month, although this time around it looks to be missing…

It’s been a disappointing month for me, readers. My ghost writer drafted up my column as usual and I made sure he packed it with plenty of sound, money-saving advice for the festive season – plus we cleverly added a santa hat and some tinsel to my byline photo. I have to say I was more than a little shocked when I read this month’s Sky Magazine, as it looks to have undergone something of a revamp. James Martin’s column was there as usual, as were those of Ben Fogle and Gok Wan. Even Mariella Frostrup’s arts section was still there. But they seemed to have missed my bit out for some reason – hopefully they’ll rectify this in January, and I’ve emailed the editor, Lysanne Currie, just to be sure. Lysanne, if you’re reading this, what’s happened to my column? And why aren’t you replying to my messages?

Anyway, I’m going to soldier on with the column – you don’t get anywhere in business by allowing a slight setback to get you down. I’m made of stronger stuff and I’m determined my re-draft will show Lysanne what she’s missed out on this month. Here goes…

Christmas is often a tough time to face up to financially for many families across the country. It can be tricky for a lot of people to control spending at this time of year, with thousands going into spiralling debt which they often struggle to pay back.  It is a nightmare for parents attempting to create the perfect Christmas for their kids, and debt is often an unavoidable consequence for many as they strive to provide for the needs of their loved ones at this special time of year. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about any of that, and even despite the recession I have still profited handsomely throughout my burgeoning portfolio. I’m planning on pulling out all the stops this year and my family are in for a treat! It’s going to be a Christmas cracker and a half – and I for one can’t wait!

I’ve bought each of the kids a scale model of Jenson Button’s F1 Mercedes and we’re having a racetrack constructed in the grounds of our mansion. I’m a major petrol-head at heart and I’ll definitely be having a go in my special scaled-up version of Jenson’s supercar, come Christmas morning – it’s going to be sick! There’s going to be burning rubber and skid marks all over the place! Be warned, I’m mighty competitive and will be timing everyone’s laps…

Unfortunately, not everyone will be so lucky this Christmas. There will be thousands of people across Britain who, for a variety of reasons, will end up spending the festive season alone. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how that must feel, to be sat on your own in a bedsit, lonely and forgotten, with no loved ones to keep you company. Luckily, I don’t have to, as we’re having all the family over this year for a wonderful Christmas extravaganza – it’s going to be brilliant! We always hold Christmas at ours as there’s plenty of space for the kids to run around, plus we have several spare bedrooms should anyone need to crash over. I love being wealthy – it’s fantastic! You should give it a go…

If you don’t feel ready to become rich just yet, then you could give these Christmas money-saving tips a go – you’ll be surprised how much you might save:

Don’t buy turkey this Christmas, as it’s expensive. You can substitute it with Tesco Value Chicken Roll, which is far cheaper. Plus it’s ready sliced, meaning any leftovers can be more easily used for sandwiches on Boxing Day.

You can save money on Christmas crackers by simply not buying any at all. Be honest – can you really remember what you got in last year’s cracker? They’re needless and annoying around the dinner table, so do away with them this year – you’ll thank yourself for it.

Scotsmac is a cheaper substitute for mulled wine, so I suggest using that instead. Also, try watering it down a bit – you’ll be surprised just how far a bottle can go!

You can save on heating bills by inviting as many family members to dinner as you can. You should be able to adequately heat a 2-bedroom house from the body heat of about 9 people. Be careful to scale down the portions on dinner when inviting extra guests, otherwise this will prove to be a false economy.

Wrapping paper is frivolous and is only ever discarded. Use newspaper or magazines instead. If you’re really looking to save £££s, save junk mail pamphlets and election literature from the post and use those instead.

Right, I’m just about done. I think this column should be useful to a lot of people and it’s certainly not a lazy re-write of last year’s Christmas piece I did for Sky Magazine. I know you weren’t the editor back then, Lysanne, but I hope you appreciate the effort I have gone to in sharing my financial wisdom with the readers of your publication. At the moment I’m not altogether sure whether I want to write another column next month, but I will give it some thought over the holidays, and hopefully, if this misunderstanding is resolved in time, I will be back in January.

Merry Christmas, readers…

Peter xx

Everton Tesco move shelved

November 26, 2009

Everton Football Club’s plan to relocate to a Tesco car park in Kirkby has been rejected by the government after a public enquiry found the idea to be “impractical”.

The club hoped the move from Goodison Park to a new 50,000-seater stadium in the car park of Tesco Extra would allow football fans ample parking next to the new ground, together with the chance to complete their weekly shopping around each game.

A spokesman for the club said upon hearing the news: “It’s a massive disappointment for us and we’re obviously gutted at the end of the day. This move could have revolutionised both shopping and football – and with consumer spending being what it is, we believed this move would be mutually beneficial, though the government obviously disagree.”

Peter Ian, who headed the inquiry, said yesterday: “We had no choice to reject it due to the obvious practical reasons. For instance, deliveries to the store would be disrupted on Saturdays, and normal people doing their shopping would find it an unwanted disturbance. Also, the customer services desk would become vastly overworked, due to Everton fans’ propensity to complain about absolutely everything all the time.

“The other major problem is that Everton fans are renowned for picking up items from a particular shelf, then changing their minds and putting them back somewhere completely different. This would cause untold extra work for Tesco staff, who are already under a lot of strain. They also have a poor record in returning trolleys to their bays, often leaving them in inconvenient locations around the car park where they could easily cause superficial damage to the paintwork of parked cars.

“The other thing Everton fans are well-known for is taking too long at the checkouts. This can cause annoyance at the best of times, let alone on a Saturday when the store is at its busiest. No shopper would appreciate an Everton fan wasting time finding their wallet, then going back to pick up a couple of items they had forgotten and finally pulling out 8 different clubcard vouchers before ultimately completing their payment. It was for these reasons that we had to reject the proposal out of hand. Had it been a proper club, such as Liverpool for example, we may have decided differently. Liverpool fans have a great record in trolley returns, checkout speed and are generally much more decisive with their purchases on the whole. Plus they’ve won something in the last 15 years.”

November 25, 2009

Maggie Averidge: acclaimed medium

Uses psychic energies which science simply cannot measure to answer any questions from the “other side” – as long as they’re not too difficult

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Dear Maggie,

I would love for you to do me a reading for the upcoming year. And if you are struggling in any way, just to widen the net until something relates to my life in some way, however loosely.

Thanks,

Sandy, Leeds.

~ Hmm … I think we have a skeptic in our midst, don’t we Sandy? Not that I mind in any way. I’m a huge fan of skeptics. Believe it or not, I’m actually quite skeptical myself – I always question things in a rational way before blindly believing in everything I’m “picking up” from the “other side”. Anyway, I’m starting to pick up something from you, Sandy, but it’s not coming through very clearly – it’s as if it’s blocked in some way. This is typical of skeptics, as they have a negativity about them which disrupts the flow of energy from the spirit world. I feel you need to release this negative energy, as it is holding you back from enjoying your life to its full potential. That’s better… I sense, Sally, that change will be significant in your life over the next year. Now that may be change in employment, relationships or maybe a change of outfit. It could mean new shoes, perhaps, or a change of décor at home – or maybe you will even move house. This change could be to do with anything in your day-to-day life, though it may also be change related to loved ones, friends, neighbours or even colleagues at work. Basically, someone somewhere (including yourself) will at some point experience a change of some kind or other at some time in the future. Now that might be financial, emotional or superficial as I have mentioned above, but it could also cover changes relating to someone in your life (including you) from being in an alive state to being deceased. And if it’s not to do with that, then it could possibly relate to the fact that you may well go into a shop and buy some goods totalling £1.99 using a £20 note. As you can imagine, £18.01 represents significant change in your life, Sally. But it may not even be something like that. If I, sorry, the spirits, haven’t guessed correctly yet, then don’t despair. They are often quite cryptic for good reason, though they have never been wrong (that I can remember, anyway). Perhaps they could be saying “change”, as in “bureau de” – maybe you’re thinking of taking a holiday, or at least are due a break? I’m sure you’ll find something in that reading which makes sense, Sally. Peace be with you, and I hope this goes some way towards curing you of your skepticism, my darling.

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Dear Maggie,

I’ve been told I’m quite psychic myself and I actually foresaw Sandy’s letter to you, together with your reading. I can understand her skepticism, however, as this reading may not have been for her. In fact, I almost felt that it could have been written for me, as the details were completely accurate. I’m actually moving house, I have just come out of a relationship and several people around me have changed or died (or at least are about to). I’m quite astounded and I can’t think of any rational reasons why something like this would happen – how would you, as a medium, go about explaining this?

Ann, Diss.

~ Well, Ann, this is not unusual at all. The spirits can often pre-empt things, which is clearly what has happened in this case. In fact, I’ve known of spirits pre-empting readings as far as six steps ahead of the current reading. It’s similar to the monkeys-with-typewriters theory. Basically, you should think of the spirits as an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, and of an accurate reading as being the Complete Works Of Shakespeare. My point is that each reading is suited to someone, although it may not always be straightforward finding whose reading it is. Another way to think of this phenomenon is to imagine that the “other side” is an enormous estate agency, and that every week it puts new properties (i.e. readings) in its windows. Now, the medium is similar to an estate agent, in that they act as a facilitator between the reading produced from the “other side” and the client, who is the prospective buyer. In real life, prospective buyers are nearly all skeptical of estate agents and many will say they haven’t had good experiences with them. That’s all well and good, but houses still get sold, don’t they? That means the estate agent must be getting something right, yes? You’ll also find that estate agents don’t record the times they haven’t sold, as this information is irrelevant to them. In fact, if a house doesn’t sell, the agent will usually remove it from their books entirely, and concentrate on marketing those which are more likely to appeal to buyers – although a good estate agent will show persistence and strongly persuade the buyer that it does indeed match their criteria in order to ensure they receive their commission.

The public don’t really believe in estate agents anymore, but there are still thousands of them up and down the country making a living from gullible people in difficult and stressful situations. Basically, estate agents exist, but people choose not to believe in them – does that sound familiar to you? Good spirits to you, my darling…

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Would YOU buy a house from Maggie? If so, please post a short message in the “about” section giving specific details about your current property and you may well appear in Maggie’s agency, which she insists is “definitely not closing down”.

Frost’s Key … unlocks … Emmy … success

November 24, 2009

Veteran British broadcaster Sir David Frost has received stateside recognition as his programme ‘Through The Keyhole’ won an Emmy Award in the New York ceremony yesterday evening.

The innovative show – which last aired in 2002 – was hosted by Frost, and centred around a studio panel of 3 household names as they attempted to guess the celebrity homeowner from a set of clues given by the on-location presenter Loyd Grossman. The celebrities selected for the show were often relatively unknown – a deliberate move by the show’s producers to make the process more challenging for the panellists. Grossman would present a short segment in which he toured the celebrity home before rounding off by reiterating 3 or 4 items of interest, designed to assist the panel in determining who the house belonged to. Once the panel had deduced the owner of the house, Frost would invite the celebrity onstage and conduct a short 5-minute interview with them lasting 20 minutes.

Sir David, who is renowned for adding gravitas to his presentational style by including long pauses between words, said upon receiving the award: “This is … both … an honour … for which we’re all … truly … grateful. It is … in no doubt … a testament … to the … integrity … the tenacity … and the professionalism shown by all … who have worked … on the program … over many, many years.

“I have been privileged … not only … to have worked with Loyd, as you know … but also … with his replacement … Catherine Gee … from ‘Escape To The Country’ … not forgetting … the wonderful Lisa Snowdon … who also filled in for Loyd … on occasion. And not forgetting the panel … and what a panel they were … Toby Anstis … Bonnie Langford … Bobby Davro … Su Pollard … Rowland Rivron … Danny Baker … Eve Pollard … Ruth Madoc … Tim Vine … Nick Knowles … Jane Moore … Andrew O’Connor … Linda Barker … Peter Sissons … Andrew Neil … Tim Vincent … Jenny Powell … Jennie Bond … Paul Martin … Willie Rushton … Carol Malone … Iwan Thomas … Sue Carroll … Jonathan Morris … to name just a few … all of whom … have inspired … with their … and, of course … my deepest thanks … to the countless celebrities … whose homes we have … been honoured … to view over the last … 20 years. This award … is for you … wherever … you now are …”

Through The Keyhole series 7 (2001-2002) is currently showing daily on LivingTV 2.

Sting compiles Amazon wishlist

November 23, 2009

In what is always a highly-anticipated event in the Sumner household, and indeed to the wider public, the Grammy-Award-winning singer Sting has once again compiled his Amazon wishlist in time for Christmas.

The contents of the wishlist are, as ever, a closely-guarded secret – particularly in the singer’s own household: “It’s always an exciting time for the whole Sumner family around Christmas, but it can sometimes be a bit stressful for Trudie to make sure Sting doesn’t find out what anyone’s bought for him,” said a spokesman for the performer, who has become something of a figurehead for the Amazon site.

“I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, but he’s quite a busybody – he’s always making everything his business. That can make it tricky for everyone else in his household to intercept the post and keep his presents hidden. Indeed, this has led to them having the packages delivered to friends’ houses in order to avoid Sting’s ‘knowing’ look, which he often uses to X-Ray the contents of a parcel,” he added.

The former Police frontman – a keen supporter of the website – decided to complete his traditional wishlist a week earlier than usual, due to the Brazilian government’s proposal to build a giant hydroelectric server for the site over the next few weeks – a move which threatens to drastically increase the overall volume of traffic, particularly along the Xingu River.

The list is thought to contain as many as 20 individual items, with roughly one third available through Amazon’s marketplace. The average dispatch time is rumoured to be around 3-4 days, with the longest delivery time said to be around 1 week – although this could increase “significantly” during the creation of the Bel Monte Server.

During a press conference in Sao Paulo, the ‘I Saw Three Ships’ singer urged Brazil’s government not to start work on the BMS until after Christmas, as it would “massively inconvenience the festive arrangements for many Amazon customers as well as those of its various indigenous groups.”

Who the bloody hell EU?

November 20, 2009

EU leaders have made the unorthodox move of appointing two wildcard candidates as the European Union’s first president and foreign policy chief.

The decision has been seen by many as a major gamble, due to the candidates themselves being such relative unknowns, with neither boasting any previous experience of politics whatsoever.

Belgian teacher Herman Van Rompuy was said to be “speechless” following his shock call-up to the EU presidency. The 45-year-old father-of-two, who lists his hobbies as “badminton, chess and long walks”, said yesterday: “I was completely flabbergasted when I got the call. At first I didn’t believe it when my wife told me she had one of the EU leaders on the phone and that they had decided to give me the president’s job. I said to her ‘give over – pull the other one. Tell them to fuck off.’

“I’m glad she didn’t in the end, because when I took the call it was actually Fredrik Reinfeldt on the other end of the line. The Fredrik Reinfeldt. I couldn’t believe that he was on the phone to me, and asking if I wanted to represent my continent on the world stage. I told him I’d be honoured, that I’d give it my best shot and that I wouldn’t let them down. I was trembling throughout the call, and after he hung up I felt like I was 3.08 metres tall.

“I can’t wait to get out there in December and show everyone what I’m all about. Fredrik told me to keep it simple, play to my strengths and express myself. He said it was important not to change my style of leadership now I’m on the world stage and that I should play my natural game, as that was why they picked me in the first place. I feel like I’m in a dream and I have to keep pinching myself just to prove it’s real.”

Foreign policy candidate Caroline Ashton – an admin assistant from Northamptonshire – was said to be “staggered” upon receiving her call-up: “Because Europe are 1 hour ahead of us, I got the call at 8am our time whilst we were having breakfast. I nearly spat out my toast when I realised it was Fredrik Reinfeldt informing me that I would be handling EU foreign policy. It was all a bit surreal, as I tend to think of the EU as being foreign already, though I was nonetheless honoured that they’d thought of me.

“I’ve never been involved in any high-level politics before, but I do have some experience of office politics which I hope will be of some use. Fredrik said that they chose me because of my good organisational skills, my punctuality and my exemplary sickness record. He also said that I was conscientious with good attention to detail, which was what swung their decision in the end.

“I couldn’t believe it was actually happening – I’d almost forgotten applying for the job as it’d been months since I sent off my CV. I just assumed after a few weeks that they’d filled the role and that I wouldn’t hear from them again. How wrong I was.”

The successful candidates are due to take up their new roles from December 1st.

Ben Elton royal remarks ‘taken out of context’

November 19, 2009

Ex-comedian Ben Elton has apologised on behalf of the British media for having taken recent remarks he made about the Royal Family “out of context”.

The remarks made by Elton on Australian satire show Good News Week caused controversy across the globe last week, forcing him to issue an apology over the way they were misrepresented by the media.

Elton, who famously turned his back on comedy in 1993, said yesterday: “When I was quoted as saying that the Queen was a ‘sad little old lady’ I was actually being really clever and satirical. If you’d read my latest novel, which is actually a stark social commentary on the state of modern Britain, then you would realise the point which I was trying to make. And I didn’t call Prince Phillip a ‘mad old bigot’ either. What I actually said, if people had bothered to listen was that he looked like he could be a mad old bigot, if you didn’t know him better.

“With the remark about Prince Charles, I was actually quoting something he said to me – which, if anyone had actually bothered to do some research, they would have realised. He’s a wonderful man and I can’t speak highly enough of him. I had the honour and the privilege of meeting him at the Royal Variety Performance when I hosted it a few years back and I was actually relaying the story of him telling me about how he felt like ‘a disillusioned ex-hippy’ at times.”

When pressed on the remark relating to Prince Edward, Elton clarified the point further, saying: “I meant ‘gay’ as in ‘rubbish’, which anyone with half a brain cell could work out. I was making the point that his production company has never made anything worthwhile, whilst cleverly utilising the way the kids speak these days. If you’d read the novel I wrote last year you’d see for yourself just how clever that was.”

Ben Elton is currently working on a “cutting social satire with a powerful subtext”, centred around the plight of a former comedian now considered “too successful” by the “media establishment”, which eventually forces him to move halfway across the world. “I’m actually rather pleased with how it’s taking shape,” said The Thin Blue Line creator yesterday. “And I think it’s set to show many people just what an arrogant hypocrite the British media actually is.”

Comparison site comparison ‘inconclusive’

November 18, 2009

A recent price comparison website comparison carried out by consumer magazine Which? has been found to be “inconclusive” by its authors.

The report – which scored all four major comparison sites on categories such as navigability, redirectionability, savings, time taken and advert irony level – found that there was “little difference in overall quality” between each company, and that the websites were all “much of a muchness”.

“We were surprised by the poor savings on all the comparison sites,” says Peter Ian, who was involved in the study. “The better value insurers tend not to feature on these websites at all, so these sites are a kind of ‘best of the rest’, if you like. But even when you accept that fact, the overall savings are negligible, and no more than customers could save by going direct to the insurers themselves. One of our colleagues made quite a clever comparison based on our comparison of comparison sites – they said that comparison sites were superfluous to the direction of traffic in a similar way to those people you get at car boot sales who tell you where to park on the grass verge. Although I would say, in fairness, that car boot parking marshals score a lot higher in redirectionability compared to all the price comparison websites we compared.”

Advert irony was also disappointing across the board, with none of the sites scoring higher than a Freddie Starr level of irony. Peter Ian explains further: “A basic grasp of irony is an essential tool in modern advertising and it was disappointing to see that none of the comparison site adverts displayed any sort of irony beyond Freddie Starr level. GoCompare.com were the worst, displaying irony levels below those of Paul Daniels, and Confused.com were barely any better, peaking just above Jim Bowen level. The major problem with all the adverts was that they relied on old-fashioned jingles and cheesy slogans which work their way easily into the public psyche. This would have been OK if this was 1986, but unfortunately times have moved on since then and these adverts just look outdated and silly.”

The comparison effectively ended up a dead heat between all four services, with no clear front runner in any category. “We were frustrated at the end of the study as it proved inconclusive and we were unable to recommend any particular price comparison website over the other,” added Mr. Ian. “All we ended up finding was that a comparison of comparison sites is of no use to a consumer looking to take out life cover or renew their home insurance. We would ultimately recommend that customers cut out this unnecessary middleman and go straight to the price comparison sites themselves in order to find the best deals.”

53% would kill for Conservative government – poll

November 17, 2009

A recent ICM survey has found that almost 53% of voters would “literally kill someone” if the Labour government achieved an unprecedented 4th term in power.

The poll, built entirely around superficial and emotive responses rather than actual voting intentions also found that 48% of voters thought that David Cameron had “the better hair” for running the country. Only 32% preferred Gordon Brown’s hairstyle – a result which, if translated into votes, would give the Tories a comfortable majority of 102 come the next election.

When asked which personality voters would prefer to have, only 25% opted for Brown’s stoicism in the face of disaster compared to an overwhelming 67% preferring the faux bonhomie of the Conservative leader.

The favourite colour of voters was varied, with 46% preferring blue, 32% liking red, 18% in favour of yellow and 4% preferring “others”. Should voting patterns follow suit, Mr. Cameron would win the forthcoming General Election with a substantial majority of 96.

Asked how they would feel on waking up the day after the general election to find Labour had been returned to power, 53% said they would “literally kill someone”, 22% said they would be “disappointed”, 11% said they “would take a sharp intake of breath”, 10% said they would be “pleasantly surprised” and 4% said they would be “mildly sexually aroused”. A Tory victory, however, would cause 18% voter arousal, according to the poll.

As many as 42% more voters preferred Mr. Cameron’s choice of ties compared to those chosen by the current Prime Minister, with 45% of voters believing the Conservative leader had better “star quality” compared to Mr. Brown. Only 23% thought that the current Prime Minister had the “likeability factor”, compared to 56% thinking the same for Mr. Cameron.

The poll also revealed that over 33% of voters are “excited” about the forthcoming election, with 28% planning on holding election night parties whilst watching the action on a large plasma screen television – though plans of this nature may have to be flexible, as 42% believe the General Election will be held in May, with 31% speculating on April and 20% believing it will be held in the first quarter. The remaining 7% think Mr. Brown will surprise the Tories with a shock election before the end of the year, with 3% of those believing the election may even take place on Boxing Day.

Just over 35% of the voting public are expected to turn out at the General Election, with 65% expected to complain afterwards regardless of the result.