Guy Parker takes you for a ride
Language skills for motorists
Interesting Jobs No 419
How to look hip and cool and trendy and windswept
One of the greatest mysteries of the Anglican faith has finally been revealed. The question of how vicars communicate with each other over distance has puzzled ecclesiastical scholars for centuries. For a while it was thought to be a variation of nun semaphore but now the Church of England has finally answered the question by explaining that it is essentially a form of shortwave prayer.
Whether you believe that prayer gives us a hotline to The Almighty is very much a matter of faith, but it's a fact that vicars have been using it to converse with one another since the reformation. They claim that it's more reliable than modern phone networks, more convenient and the data roaming charges are much more reasonable.
The exact mechanics of the technique have yet to be fully explained but it's understood that before he or she is ordained a trainee vicar will undergo an intensive course of instruction in vicar-to-vicar prayer. By the time they assume their parish duties, each is able to communicate almost instantaneously with vicars anywhere in the world. Some archdeacons can also send images and most bishops support video conferencing.
So far inter-denominational prayer has not been possible, meaning that if a Church of England Vicar wanted to communicate with a Roman Catholic priest, he'd probably have to resort to email. But the introduction of new digital vicars and the gradual phasing out of old analogue models means that this could soon change. There are also plans to turn the Archbishop of Canterbury into a Hub so that anyone within his immediate vicinity will also be able to use the network, as long as they know the security prayer.
...Well what a marvellous spectacle we've witnessed here today at Cheltenham, Lillywhite Lenny, a rank outsider, romped home in the final steeplechase of this April Meeting. A magnificent performance from this horse, the first time this feisty two-year-old has raced at this level. His trainer, I'm sure, will be very pleased. A first, too, for jockey Brendan O'Connell, who is just coming into the press enclosure now, so we should be able to catch a few words. Brendan! Brendan, over here! A few words please. A magnificent performance, you must be very proud.
Oh, well, you know. It was a good race.
Tell us what you were thinking when you were coming down that final straight and the winning post came in sight?
Ah, well, mainly I was thinking about not falling off the horse.
Racing at this level must take a great deal of concentration.
Ah, sure enough. They get awful jiggy, some of these horses. Very easy to just slip off.
Of course. So how do you prepare for a race like this?
Well, there's not really a great deal of preparation needed. It's the horse that does all the work, I just have to stay on it.
You lost some ground in the early stages of the race. What went through your head when you slipped back two places at the second corner?
I was thinking about staying on the horse. I was hanging on really tight, so I was.
Were you considering a change of tactics when that happened?
No, I was just trying to stay on the horse, you know. Just holding on tight and trying not to fall off the fecker.
What was your main concern at that point?
Trying to stay on the feckin' horse.
It must have taken all your concentration to hold back for that final sprint.
It took all my concentration to stay on the feckin' horse. It's a bastard, so it is. But it can run faster than I can, so it's important that I try to stay on it.
What were you thinking during that magnificent final charge?
I was thinking about staying on the bloody thing.
So, all in all, you must be very pleased with Lillywhite Lenny's performance here today?
Ah, if I had my way it would be on its way to the glue factory, the fecker.
Brendan, thanks for taking time out to speak to us. I'm sure you're eager to be off and join the celebrations. Any last words of wisdom for the budding jockeys out there who want to follow in your footsteps?
And they are... ?
Try to stay on the feckin' horse. I can't stress that strongly enough. I'm surprised you had to ask.
Brendan O'Connell, thank you for your time.
We're here today with Sir John Wyndrell, of Wyndrell Holdings.
Nope, sorry, never heard of them.
I beg your pardon?
This Winsome Holdings, or whatever.
Yes, them. Can't say I've ever come across them.
You are the company's managing director.
I don't know who gave you that idea.
Well, when we phoned your office...
No, don't have an office.
... your secretary told us that...
Don't have a secretary. Good job too. Don't have an office, you see, so there would be nowhere for her to work.
Sir John, when we phoned your office your secretary told us that you were the very person we needed to talk to in connection with Wyndrell Holdings.
Can't see how she could have. Apart from anything else, I don't have a phone. No, I'm afraid there must have been some terrible mix up. I'm nothing to do with this Winkle Holdings of which you speak.
But you're listed as a director by Companies House.
Must be some other feller.
You are regularly quoted in newspapers and periodicals as a spokesman for the firm.
I think you must have an overactive imagination.
It was printed on the business card you gave us when you came in.
Well, yes... what? Oh, Wyndrell Holdings! Sorry, I must have misheard. I have an ear infection. Yes, now you come to mention it, I think I do have some slight connection with the firm.
Perhaps, then, you could comment on certain details concerning tax affairs that have recently come to light?
Well, I'm not sure I have those details at my fingertips. Vis-à-vis the company structure, I usually find myself more on the catering side of things.
I'm sure you can fill us in on the basics. We understand that Wyndrell Holdings is not registered in the UK?
Yes it is.
No it isn't.
Well all right, but so what?
In recent days speculation has focussed on your use of a tax haven to avoid paying tax.
Ah, I think you mean evade paying tax.
Evade? Avoid? Which one is it that is legal? Either way, there is nothing illegal about what we're doing. Not that I know what we're doing, of course. We're probably not doing anything.
Don't you think it's rather unethical.
Look I think you're being terribly parochial about all this. We operate in a global market. We have to be based somewhere - who cares if it's Panama or the British Virgin Islands or Timbuctoo for that matter?
Or the Moon?
Yes, well... what's that?
Your company's registered office is on the Moon.
Well exactly... err...
Commuting must be a bit of a problem. Is it actually possible to register a company on the Moon?
I imagine it must be if, as you say, my company is registered there.
So how does it work, then? After all, there is no one there to register it with.
Yes there is. There's a little feller who works out of an office in the Sea of Tranquillity.
No there isn't.
Yes there is.
No there isn't. There hasn't been anyone on the Moon since 1972.
He's been on his lunch break.
All right, we can see that we're not going to get any sense from you.
Yes you are.
Obviously you were determined from the outset that you were just going to be silly.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
I think we'll bring this interview to a close, Sir John.
Sir who? I don't think I've met him, but if I should bump into him I'll let you know you're looking for him. Bye.
Wannabe traffic wardens are being invited to get their applications in early if they want to be considered for this year's North Yorkshire's Got Talented Traffic Wardens competition. Following the success of the recent Bake Off contest to find a new dinner lady, North Yorkshire County Council has once more adopted a talent show format for its latest recruitment drive to fill three part time traffic warden posts in the region.
"We think that this is by far the most rigorous way of finding suitable people for the job," said human resources director, Julian Cyborg. "I often think that traditional interviewing and selection methods don't really give applicants a chance to shine. This way we can really see what our candidates are made of."
The contest will begin with a blind audition presided over by a panel of local celebrities, giving potential traffic wardens a chance to demonstrate their basic observation skills. Shortlisted applicants will then go through to the elimination round where they will be coached by some of the country's top traffic wardens before presenting a display of formation parking meter reading. A public vote will decide who gets through to the final, in which three successful candidates will be chosen to write parking tickets for the Queen at this year's Royal Variety Show.
"We're looking for originality, flair and the dedication that sets them apart from the rest of the pack," Mr Cyborg told us. "And if they happen to have a tragic backstory, then obviously that's a bonus."
See the full list
Stealing horses to order
Was itching powder used in Vietnam?
Talking rubbish for Britain.
Roly Coconut pays a visit
We're very very sorry
A catalogue of catastrophic failure
"Top class swanky restaurants..."
"We might see the major land masses becoming so squishy..."
Entrepreneur Ryan Lockheart has recently been presented with a special award by the CBI for his innovative new enterprise. Lockheart's Emergency Kebabs has been operating for eighteen months now, mainly in the Essex region, providing much needed kebabs for people stranded at crap wedding receptions, christenings and other functions.
"I know only too well the sheer misery of attending some God-awful family do," Lockheart explains. "Weddings, christenings, birthdays - too many people squeezed into some grimy yellow function room, in some country pub at the arse-end of nowhere. The disco's too loud, the beer's too warm, the people are irritating and there's nowhere you can escape to. The only thing you've got to look forward to is the buffet, but ninety-nine percent of the time it turns out to be nothing more substantial than a few curly sandwiches, some shrivelled-up sausages impaled on cocktail sticks and a series of unidentifiable pastry things filled with some variety of seafood. It's at this point, as you look at this pathetic excuse for sustenance, that you realise what you really need is a kebab."
And that's where Lockheart's company comes in. One call to the 'Kebab Hotline' and a greasy doner or spicy shish can be biked over to you in a matter of minutes. The scheme has been remarkably successful, but it's not been without its problems.
"Many of our customers are desperate people," Lockheart explains. "By the time they call us they may have already spent three or four hours listening to inane family gossip, and for some there is nothing they won't do in order to escape. A lot of them try to bribe our couriers to help them get away, or even use his arrival as a diversionary tactic. Just last week, at a wedding reception in Harlow, one of our guys was threatened with a cocktail stick and forced to exchange clothes with his attacker. The attacker was able to escape in disguise, whilst our man was stranded there for the rest of the night and forced to perform the hokey-cokey with some elderly aunt. He's never been the same since."
"What do you do when you find that your parrot's got jet lag..."
"Could you support a helpless pirate?"
"Frogs can jump ten times their own bodyweight..."
"A gentleman never fouls himself upwind of a waitress..."more...
No parkingHighway Robbery
Stolen roadsThe Horse-Drawn Record Player
Gin! Gin! Gin!More...
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.