The Plastic Hippo

March 6, 2012

Saddlers sign Becks and Roo

Filed under: Fiction,Sport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:00 am

By Nick Messitup

In a move that has shocked football, Walsall has swooped to sign two of the best known players in the world in a last ditch attempt to avoid relegation.

With just 13 games left until the end of the season and Walsall languishing in the drop zone, the stunning double signing has sent a clear message that Saddlers mean business. Manager Sean Biff said:

“Well I heard that Davo and Wayno were not happy at their current clubs and a couple of quick phone calls confirmed that they were interested. It`s early days yet, but if they settle, they will give us a bit more depth in midfield and a bit more of a presence in the box. I`m hoping for at least a point from tonight`s game against Sheffield United.”

The behind the scenes deal that secured the two players playing at Walsall on loan until the end of the season has amazed both pundits and fans. Speaking from his luxury villa in Cyprus, Chairman Groff Bonzo said:
“Money is no object at our club and our fans deserve the very best. I`m sure we will get a huge turn-out and gate receipts from supporters who want to see these great footballers play. Sorry, what are their names again?”

The arrival of these football legends has led to great excitement in the town and fans have taken to the streets in an outpouring of sheer joy. One fan from Pleck, who did not want to be named, said:
“Three years, mate, three years and we`ll be playing Barcelona in the Champions League Final.”

The news of the signings has focused the eyes of the world on Walsall. News teams and bookmakers from the USA, Europe, South America and the Far East have descended on the town. Rumours are rife concerning other players being linked to the Saddlers. One Argentine news crew are alleged to have recorded an interview with Lionel Messi as he enjoyed a Campari in the Duke of York pub in Chuckery. Troubled Chelsea star Fernando Torres was reported to be seen shopping for a toaster and a kettle at Walsall market. In Caldmore, neighbours claim that a woman who resembled a former Spice Girl arrived in a limo to view a three bedroom terraced property. Harry Redknapp was spotted getting off the 51 bus and asking for directions to the tax office.

These rumours cannot be verified, but in the spirit of ethical, honest and well researched journalism, we know for certain that Becks and Roo will be playing for Walsall. We know because we heard it from a bloke we know down the pub.

Before leaving Los Angeles, Bescot Becks told the media scrum that the opening of a Primark in Walsall had convinced Victoria that Walsall was the place to be. The couple have arranged interviews with the head teachers of primary schools in Birchills, Chuckery and the Butts.

Willenhall Wayne, so called because his driver took a wrong turn when the M6 was shut on the way to Villa Park said:
“Err, yeah. I like pork scratchings and Colleen likes Tesco. Err, it`ll be great like, y`know.”

Leader of the council and brilliant football player, Mike Bird said:
“This proves, and I keep saying this, that Walsall is open for business. We welcome everyone, and I keep saying this, even if they come from London or Liverpool. I keep saying this.”

George Best was not available for comment.

March 4, 2012

Pay day

Filed under: Education — theplastichippo @ 6:11 pm

School governors are an exotic and rare breed. Unsung, generally unloved and usually unnoticed, this endangered species is now under threat of extinction.

Buried within the growing manure heap of self-interest, insider dealing and corruption that masquerades as coalition government “reforms” is an astonishing piece of work by the new head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Regular readers of this humble blog might recall how this latest mandarin became the regulator of all things education and now the chief inspector of schools has come up with the marvellous idea of paying school governors. Now, before volunteer governors start throwing their hats into the air with joy, it might be best to pause and take a look at the wider strategy being imposed by the hopeless Michael Gove.

School governors freely give their time, expertise, commitment and dedication for the good of individual schools. They can expect employers to allow time off work for the business of governance and can claim legitimate expenses. In reality, the most a governor gets in return for their important role is a cup of tea and, if they are very lucky, an occasional biscuit. Michael, you can call me Sir, Wilshaw wants to change all that.

He told a commons committee:
“My view is that when a school is doing poorly, we need to think about paid governance. And my view is if a school goes into a requirement to improve category, on the first occasion, the secretary of state should intervene and think about paid governance there.”

The secretary of state, the aforementioned Michael Gove, has publicly stated on many occasions that he intends to make every state school in the country an Academy or a Free School. Here`s the interesting bit. Under the current legislation, there is no compulsion for Academies or Free Schools to have parent, staff or local authority representation. Indeed, the term “governor” will disappear to be replaced with the term “trustee”. Much is made of the new freedoms being given to governing bodies and reassurances given about a “transition period”, but with a Chair of Trustees given the power to appoint and dismiss trustees, it is not difficult to see where this is going.

Governance in sponsored Academies is undertaken by trustees appointed by the sponsor and are usually employees of the private company or Academy trust. Converted Academies can appoint whoever they like and Free Schools seem to be above the law. Given Wilshaw`s plan, the door is open to trustees being paid to turn up and approve whatever Michael Gove demands.

The sublime beauty of this strategy is twofold. Firstly, it gets rid of those troublesome governors who for years and without financial gain have put the interests of schools and children before the egos and ambitions of deluded politicians. Secondly, it allows the minions of megalomaniacs to scoff a bit more wonga from the trough.

In his address to MP`s, Sir Michael Wilshaw expresses the boredom he experienced when reading the latest Ofsted annual report. He said:
“I just think we need to present the data differently and the judgements differently, and I`m in discussion with the executive board at Ofsted about changing the format of the annual report to make it easier to read”.

It is, of course, entirely coincidental that the data previously used to justify the bullying of head teachers and governing bodies is now showing that Academies are not doing as well as Gove and his pals in the Department of Education keep telling us. So, the data will be quietly dropped because it is too hard to understand. Strange then, that the Department is still demanding an improvement in standards of literacy and numeracy. You can read more of this rubbish here.

All this is clearly the work of the hand of Gove, possibly the most inept education secretary since Sir Keith Joseph. Ed Balls was useless in the job, as was Ruth Kelly and Charles Clarke. In recent years, only Alan Johnson, David Blunkett and Estelle Morris came anywhere near competency and they did not last long. Compared to Gove, however, these lightweights have the authority of Aristotle.

Gove rampages through education, lying, cheating and bullying, blaming failing schools, inadequate teachers, incompetent heads and “Trot” governing bodies in the hope that people will not notice a failing, inadequate, incompetent and extremist secretary of state. This pathetic excuse of a man is harming children.

Gove, having been judged to have acted unlawfully over the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme, would now probably not receive a clean CRB check and so, technically, be forbidden from entering a school. Little Michael has thought of this and has decided to do away with the red tape of checking people who are able to come into contact with children.

Gove`s unlawful activity, though, might just come back to haunt him. The former News International journalist used a private email account with the wonderful alias “Mrs Blurt” to conduct government business. Incriminating evidence, it is alleged, has been deleted and Gove might find himself, once again, up before the bench.

One can only hope that Sir Michael Wilshaw will join Gove in the dock. Until then, they will continue to join each other at the trough.

March 3, 2012

Church of the poisoned mind

Filed under: Media,Society — theplastichippo @ 1:40 pm

The career, lifestyle and oeuvre of a Ms Charlotte Church have not previously been of much interest to the author of this humble blog. However, following her statement regarding the settlement she received from News International, I think I may have fallen madly in love with the woman.

As a child, the former voice of an angel and the favourite of Popes and Presidents managed to avoid the attention of frightening old men in silk slippers and even Bill Clinton and grew up to be something of a celebrity chanteuse. Shenanigans with rugby players, a foul mouth and the over exposure of too much embonpoint has kept her in the public eye. She has very cleverly played the fame game by transforming herself from child star to ladette coquette and now to affronted working mother. Her dismantling of the Murdoch Mafia was stunning and she deserves every penny of the 600 grand the old bastard has had to cough up.

Rupert, though, is in such a position that he is hardly likely to miss the cost of buying off the songbird of the valleys or the rest of the legion of wealthy yet wronged celebs. In the pragmatic and rather weird world of News International, he might also not miss his idiot son`s stewardship of his stable of newspapers.

It was a funny old February for News International. Following a Saturday morning dawn raid, an assortment of Sun hacks found themselves carted off in paddy wagons to assist the Old Bill with their enquiries. This resulted in Trevor Kavanagh, Murdoch crony and Associate Editor of, guess what, the Sun, to wail about a “witch-hunt” and a heavy handed “over the top” police investigation. He told the BBC that “police had rifled through children`s underwear drawers looking for information”. He expressed outrage that vital police resources were being diverted away from the fight on terrorism to oppress and harass the innocent. No mention from Trev of a murdered schoolgirl or the harassment of her family.

Even the odious Michael Gove leapt to the defence of his former employer with all the agility of a slug. He talked of the “chilling” implications that the Leveson Inquiry will have on the freedom of the press and has decided to rubbish the judicial review even before any findings are announced. The government are clearly worried and it seems unfair to ask Gove to perform back-flips, forward rolls and hand stands to entertain the gallery. Slugs, you see, are not in procession of a backbone.

The news that Murdoch Senior was flying in to sort out five, or ten, or now eleven single bad apples must have sent a chill through Wapping. The last time the digger turned up, he closed the News of the World and hacks at the Sun were probably clearing their desks, deleting emails, shredding expenses claims and placing buckets of whitewash above every half open door that Rupert might walk through. Ever the showman, instead of closing the Sun, the Australian born American announced the Sun on Sunday and lifted the suspension of the alleged wrong-doers. The minor details of bail conditions are of no consequence when a major Sunday newspaper is to be launched in seven days and the accused were allowed back to the alleged crime scene and allowed access to the alleged shredding machines.

The launch of the Sun on Sunday seems to have been a huge success according to the Sun and the Sun on Sunday and champagne corks popped in Wapping and at New Scotland Yard. Sadly, the party was short lived as another songbird in the shape of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers told Leveson that the Sun and News of the World journalists arrested on suspicion of corruption, conspiracy and aiding and abetting misconduct in public office were closely linked with the Metropolitan Police, the MOD and other civil servants.

After sitting Junior on the naughty step, Dad had had enough and banished the young yob back to his room in New York and grounded him for a month with only BSkyB to play with. Poor James Murdoch. His CV is not looking that good with one closed title and proven, systematic and widespread illegality rife within daddies` empire.

If all this wasn`t farcical enough, the tale turned surreal when the Met released a story regarding the lending of a retired police horse to Rebekah Brooks. Only the most cynical and muck-raking low-life would dare to suggest that the horse trading between the Met and News International was intended to blinker the possibility that News International told the Met to reign in an active murder enquiry because it might implicate people who did not want to be implicated. This kind of gossip and rumour is, of course, complete horse manure. Unfortunately for both the Met and News International, that particular stable door has not actually been fully bolted.

It got funnier. Rival newspapers discovered the real identity of the horse and exclusively revealed that the beast was now dead after being returned to the Met in “poor condition”. Even better was the revelation that our own Prime Minister had mounted the horse for jolly rides with his old Etonian chum who happens to be the husband of Rebekah Brooks.

It`s not certain how often Cameron rode the old nag as Rebekah Brooks is unavailable for comment. Similarly, the remains of the old mare, which went by the name of Raisa, cannot give her side of the story because those said remains are now gluing down envelopes containing letters telling people with disabilities that they are scrounging liabilities and the government cannot afford to keep them.

It would be foolish to predict where this will all end. Leveson might conclude that the unhealthy relationship between the press, the police and government goes back to Brown, Blair, Major, That Woman, Callaghan, Wilson and Heath. The common denominator is Murdoch.

The whole issue might best be resolved by staging an Olympic Celebrity Come Dancing Special. Rebekah Brooks could be partnered with Tom Watson, Andy Coulson with the mother of Millie Dowler, Cameron with his old mount Raisa, Murdoch the younger with Sienna Miller and Murdoch the older with Charlotte Church. That would be worth watching.

Sadly, it won`t happen. The old bastard will die soon and, like Raisa, be dragged off to the knacker’s yard. With News International`s vast wealth of experience in crime and crime investigation, the next logical step would be for News Corp to tender a bid to run the newly privatised Metropolitan Police. That way, all this trivia will be conveniently forgotten.

However, the poison will still remain.

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