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A party political message
Final proof of the existence of cheese
The largest prime number has been discovered by a cleaner at the University of Missouri. "I was mopping behind some sort of computer doohicky and it just fell out," said Mrs Sheila Rutherford, who has worked at the University for over ten years. "A great big long thing, it was, with loads of numbers in it and all sort of wriggly."
Thinking that she might have damaged something important, Mrs Rutherford at first tried to push the prime number back into the machine. When this proved impossible she asked one of the security staff, Kieran McCall, to help her and that was when she first realised the importance of her amazing discovery.
"Kieran 's lovely," Mrs Rutherford explained. "He usually helps me fill my bucket, so I asked if he'd come and give me a hand. When he saw this thing, he recognised what it was straight away. 'It's a prime number' he said. 'It's a what?' I said. 'A prime number,' he said. 'What's one of those?' I said. 'It's one of those things they've been looking for,' he said and then he told me that the University would probably be very grateful and that I'd likely get a reward or something. And I did, which is nice, because it means I can go and see my sister in Florida."
The number has yet to be verified as genuine, but University authorities say that this is just a formality and plans are being drawn up for it to feature in a special exhibition this spring. It will join a selection of hyperreal numbers that were found in an attic in Minnesota in 1982 and Fermat's last theorem which was famously discovered wedged down the back of a radiator in 1995, after being lost for more than 350 years.
Yesterday Westminster saw another high profile resignation from the front benches as Douglas Pocket became the latest MP to quit in protest at the direction his party is taking. The last few weeks have been quite a turbulent time in politics and Mr Pocket has proven to be one of the more outspoken critics of his party's leadership. We were fortunate enough to be able to catch a few brief words with him as he left his constituency office.
Douglas Pocket MP:
It's ridiculous! It's getting to the point where any half-decent Member of Parliament can't make a living any more. I keep hearing all this talk about social justice and a fairer society and it just makes my head swim. I mean, what has all that got to do with politics?
University of the Bleeding Obvious:
Yes, my thoughts exactly. I didn't get into this game to get bogged down in hippy ideology. I was in a policy meeting just the other week and someone starting banging on about social housing. Social housing! I mean, what's that about? I mean really - what is it? Is it where you have to share a toilet?
Well no, social housing is -
Whatever. Who gives a stuff?
I suppose your constituents might -
Your constituents -
Why bring them into it? The next election is ages away and I've not yet got over the last one - pressing all those sweaty palms, listening to their idiot opinions and having to be nice to their mutant children. Yow!
No, it doesn't matter a tinker's tit what they think about social housing. Or the NHS. Or the environment, whatever one of those is. What does Amazon think, huh? Or Google? Or HSBC, or BP, or Volkswagen? That's what matters. That's where the money is.
Of course the money! You don't think I'm doing this for shits and giggles, do you? I haven't spent all this time sniffing round tax dodgers and corporate donors just so some fantasist suffering from an acute attack of 'principles' can piss it all away. Because that's what's happening. Some refugee from cloud cuckoo land comes along and thinks that politics should be for the people and that government somehow has a responsibility to its citizens and suddenly, guess what, my livelihood is at stake.
But surely -
You must -
I certainly do.
Look, what I'm trying to say is -
Damn straight, I couldn't have put it better myself. But they don't realise, of course. Them - the people in charge. But they will, eventually. Ten, fifteen years from now, when they're all washed up, there will be no cushy directorships to sidle into. No stocks and shares to fall back on. No friends in the city to return favours. The brown envelopes and backhanders will be a distant memory, and what do you think they will have to show for their glittering careers in public office?
I imagine that they -
Precisely. A fat load of nothing at all. Nothing apart from an NHS which isn't turning a profit, an environment bursting with untapped resources and social housing full of 'constituents'. Well, it's not for me. If this is your new politics, you can keep it.
Yes, really. I'm no mug - I'm off to somewhere I've got a decent chance of making a few quid. So goodbye and good luck to you.
Thank you to Douglas Pocket MP for taking the time to speak to us and we wish him every success in his new role as President of FIFA.
Now open for business
Following the recent successes of our branches in Morecombe, Grantham and Stoke, we are pleased to announce the opening of our latest outlet in Kidderminster.
In many ways the town of Kidderminster is the spiritual home to the lemon, as well as being the weekend cottage of the pomegranate and the domain of the plum. Unfortunately, its citizens have had nowhere to exchange their tired, outmoded and expired lemons... until now! At last, thanks to our secure 24-hour lemon swap point, the people of Kidderminster need never be bothered by an out-of-date lemon again.
No appointment needed. Just look for the sign.
No Mangoes. Bananas by prior appointment only.
My name is Hugo Weevil and I'm speaking to you today to ask for your help with what is a very noble and important cause. The British are, as it has often been said, a nation of animal lovers and it is for this reason that I feel certain you will be willing to dig deep in order to maintain the welfare of our furry friends. And not just the furry ones - we're also worried about the slimy, scaly and feathered varieties as well.
Here at Shepton Bassett Zoo we care for all manner of creatures but, like many similar institutions, attendance in recent years has been in decline. It hasn't helped that we were never a particularly affluent establishment in the first place and have been unable to match the investment of our competitors. Our elephant has a wooden leg and a trunk made out of cardboard, our monkeys are notoriously ugly, the paint is peeling off all our parrots and our hyenas have nothing to laugh about. Both of our ostriches are bald and one of them probably isn't even an ostrich. Our collection of rare and exotic snakes is just a jumble of differently sized lengths of hosepipe, which has never fooled anyone. And, continuing in this spirit of honesty, I have to admit that there is a very obvious reason why none of the stick insects in our insect house has ever been observed to move.
All of which has contributed to falling revenues, to the point where we are struggling to find the funds to care for many of our animals. Most of our penguins need to be waterproofed and the tortoise has dry rot. None of the lemurs have been PAT tested for at least four years, the zebras' stripes have still not been converted to metric and the gorilla is a twat. Add to that the fact that we need to find money to pay for new guttering for the giraffe and you can see that we really do need your help.
In fact, it's got so bad that we've had to lay off some of the animals. For the last three years our orangutan enclosure has been completely empty save for two old tyres and a kitchen chair. Having said this, I must admit that it has continued to be one of our most popular attractions and as a result we have added several other items of furniture to our collection. You can now visit the sofa pen where Ben, our grizzled leatherback divan, can be seen wallowing in his mud pool or sunning himself on a rock. Or maybe a visit to the aviary is in order, to catch of glimpse of the majestic winged armchairs as they swoop and dive amongst the branches. And no trip is complete without a tour of the park where, if you're lucky, you might just catch sight of the free-range footstools or a herd of bookcases.
But, obviously, this situation cannot go on forever. Admittedly, a chest of drawers doesn't need feeding quite as often as most animals, and nobody ever has to face the onerous task of mucking out the sideboard, but these are no substitute for the real thing. We need your donations! Your cash can help us to respray our butterfly collection. Your money can go towards getting the tigers insulated or paying for a new damp course for the leopard. And, who knows, if we've got enough left over, we might even be able to extend the coffee table enclosure and invest in some more scatter cushions.
Thank you in anticipation of your generous donation.
Hey there! Ever considered a career in...
Being a printer is a great profession and now that you're in your final year at school it's time to start thinking about what you want to do with the rest of your life.
I know: jobs, huh? Booooring! But seriously, getting into the printing industry can be a very rewarding move. But don't take our word for it! Let's hear from Harry Starbuck - he's been a printer for over forty years. We stopped by to ask him a few questions and here's what he had to tell us.
Hi there Harry. So tell us, when did you first get into printing?
When? Ooh, now you're asking. Must have been 1971... No, I tell a lie, it was the year after. I went straight into a local print firm when I left school. I was only a gopher then, of course; just making the tea and sweeping up as I learnt the ropes.
Hmm, I bet that was challenging.
I'll say. There must have been a dozen guys and it was a bugger to try and remember who had sugar and who had milk.
That's great, Harry. Wow, awesome. But we kind of meant that learning the trade must have been a challenge. But I bet you had a great start, with plenty of qualifications from school and so on?
No, not really. I was thrown out of school for setting fire to the chemistry teacher, Mr Kline. He was a very dry man - he went up like tinderbox. No, I got the job at the printer's because my uncle was knocking off the director's wife.
Woah, too much information! But seriously guys, in spite of what Harry says, those qualifications are important. Yeah, we know - boring old exams, urgh! But they really can make a difference. We can't all be lucky and get our experience on the job, like Harry.
Or like my uncle.
Or like your... Anyway, I'm sure you knuckled down to some hard work. With a little bit of dedication and a whole lot of chutzpah, you must have graduated to the printing presses in no time!
Well, it doesn't happen overnight. You learn one letter at a time, upper and lower case. Then you repeat the whole thing again in italic and bold type. Finally you round off with three weeks on punctuation. In my case it took about eighteen months, but that was because there was a holdup after someone lost the 'p'.
Ha, ha! That's brilliant, Harry.
No, I'm being serious. We only had one of them. This was in the seventies, remember, when many letters were in short supply. Our consonants had to be shipped in specially from Sweden and they weren't cheap. We staggered on with an upside-down 'd' for a while, but it wasn't fooling anyone. Fortunately it was eventually found in a filing cabinet, misfiled under 'Q'.
Ah, the ups and downs of the printing industry. That's fascinating, Harry. But then, after seeing it through for eighteen months, you eventually became a fully trained printer, didn't you?
No! No, I didn't. I may have been competent with English characters but give me an umlaut or a caret and I wouldn't know where to start. To be honest, there was only one guy at our firm who could do those - or at least, he said he could do them. He was injured in a ballooning accident and retired to Penzance, and after that we had to get specialists in from the continent whenever we needed to print foreign characters. That's when we found out that this guy had been making it up all along. He had no more clue than the rest of us. I suppose we should have realised when he kept referring to them as 'weird squiggles' and 'funny hats'.
Well, that's great. So are there many opportunities to specialise within the printing industry?
Yes there are. I decided that I was going to specialise in colour.
Yes. I specialised in the colour red. Red is a good colour to specialise in because it's one of the top colours that customers ask for. Of course, for full colour printing you need specialists in green and blue as well. That's how we were taught, anyway. A lot of modern printers use fake colours now - things like cyan and magenta. What's cyan? Who has ever gone into a DIY store and asked for cyan paint? Who's ever given cyan crayons to their kids?
Wow, well that's a lot of things for us to think about, Harry. So in conclusion, what would you say is the best thing about being a printer? The sense of pride in your craftsmanship? The chance to exercise your skills?
The stationery. Oh yes, without a doubt. You wouldn't believe the amount of stationery that I've knocked off from my employer over the years. You should see what's in my garage. I can happily say that I have enough paperclips to last me for the rest of my life. To be honest, I've got too much stuff, really. You don't know anybody who needs four hundredweight of Post-it notes, do you?
So there you have it. Being a printer is great fun and gives you a chance to provide a real service to the community. Why not give it a go!
From The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2016
or read online
See the full list
Courtesy of the ladies of Melton Mowbray
Rise of the machines
We quiz a famous celebrity
The latest in laser eye surgery
Across the Atlantic by land
The XII Fish Olympiad
"A brutal and vicious game..."
"...boxes have been found to contain small canoes..."
The National Meterological Front (NMF), the para-military wing of the Met Office, have stepped up attacks on civilian targets following broadcasters' recent refusals to acquiesce to their demands. The NMF is disatisfied with five minute weather bulletins following the news, and wants these expanded into full half hour programmes with higher production values, special guests and dancing girls. It wants all its presenters to be accorded similar status to other TV stars and given their own dressing rooms and parking spaces. It is also looking for funding for a film based loosely on the day-to-day life of an ordinary TV weatherman, who gets involved in a mob shooting whilst forcasting a belt of low pressure over Scotland. If they don't get what they want, the NMF promises further outrages, similar to the recent thunderbolt attack on a shopping mall in Lincoln. There may also be severe hailstorms moving in from the west, giving way to scattered showers later in the day - so be sure to wrap up warm, won't you.
"You're a miserable old sourpuss..."
"The fenny bentleys all dropped dead..."
"The caverns were closed to the public for their annual hosing down..."
"A gentleman never fouls himself upwind of a waitress..."more...
The UK's most notorious villainsUrban Fox Hunting
21st century pest controlStick World
Sticks for all the familyGeoffrey Clanger
Stuffed with new material and old favourites, Recalled to Life is 280 pages of plumptiousness and very probably exactly what you need to prop up that wonky old table in the kitchen.
Find out more here.
of the Bleeding Obvious
All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2015, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.