The Plastic Hippo

February 9, 2013

2013 Comedy Awards

Filed under: Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 4:00 pm
Political Wisdom

Political Wisdom

With the year only 40 days old, it looks like 2013 is going to be a bumper year for side-splitting comedy. In these desperate times, it is heartening to know that there are so many comedians doing their best to keep our spirits up with their funny jokes and jolly japes.

First up in the nominations for hilarious buffoonery is national comic treasure Prime Minister Cameron, a master of stand up and delicious irony. His performance telling very wealthy greedy fraudsters that tax avoidance had to be avoided was matched only by the slapstick pizza eating sketch with Bozo the Clown Johnston and Wee Georgie Osborne. Cameron`s tour took him from Davos to Brussels and another triumph. Claiming to have won the hearts and minds of Johnny Foreigner, he returned with tales of historic comic cuts to the budget but hilariously failed to mention that the UK contribution to EU coffers will actually increase. Wee Georgie the Laughing Chancellor himself provided uproarious fun by telling bankers that they should be responsible. The carefully scripted adlibs concerning bonuses and tax cuts for millionaires were sadly inaudible set against the laughter of his invited audience. Bozo the Clown, it seems, has turned down the chance to appear in an extended season of his one man show at the Stephen Milligan Memorial Theatre in the fair parliamentary constituency of Eastleigh. Billed as “a smile, a song, a bin bag, an orange and an excuse me”, Bozo`s show would have brought the house down. Probably on Cameron`s head.

Also in contention for the top award are other giants of the British stand up circuit. Nick Clegg`s charity single “I`m Sorry” is likely to be surpassed by his follow up download “I`m Hopeless”. Chris Grayling is in the running with his very funny monologue about hitting his children; Iain Duncan Smith for his “madman trying to get out of a straight jacket” sketch and Eric Pickles who, like Tommy Cooper, just needs to walk out on stage to make people laugh. Murdoch poodle, Health Secretary and liar Jeremy Hunt had us rolling in the aisles with his “nobody is to blame” shtick and Benghazi Billy Hague continues to raise a laugh and a few quid by flogging weapons to lunatics. The dark horse in the race to be top dog is, however, Michael Gove. The baccalaureate too far routine is in the tradition of Frank “I`ll pay for any damage” Spencer and his recital of logarithm tables in Latin has to be seen to be believed. Not to be outdone, the opposition Labour front bench deserve an honourable mention for their adherence to the comedic principles of Jacques Lecoq. Inspired by Marcel Marceau, all manner of emotion is displayed by facial expression alone and always in implacable silence even as Labour back benchers shout; “Go on Ed, do the funny voice.” In opposition, the shadow cabinet are happy to amuse us by pretending to walk against the wind and then by pressing on the walls of an invisible glass box. (more…)

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February 5, 2013

Fair enough

Filed under: Environment,Politics,Transport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 10:36 pm

Walsall culture
Councillor Anthony Harris, portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and Conservative member for Aldridge North and Walsall Wood, is not very keen on criticism. Brace yourself Tony.

In the midst of the annual farce of council budget setting, Walsall cabinet, including public servant Harris, awarded themselves a considerable increase in their allowances. We all know that savings, efficiencies, working smarter, rationalisation or cuts as they are known to people connected with the real universe are inevitable under inept local and national government. Councillor Harris, along with his cabinet colleagues, is a fine upstanding local representative of the community he serves and does a marvellous job defending the interests of his constituents. Any other reward for this selfless democratic duty is, of course, simply a bonus that is rightly deserved.

In a rather bizarre letter emailed to a constituent who had the temerity to speak out against savage cuts to vital services, Anthony went on the offensive. The invaluable Brownhills Bob has brought to our attention the rather disturbing communication sent to a founding member of the Save Walsall`s Green Spaces and Countryside group, the remarkable Linda Mason. In the letter, Councillor Harris claims that he is: “a strong supporter of community involvement and I applaud any group working to improve our greenspaces and countryside – as your campaign group claims to do.” Clearly with an ear to the ground and a finger on the pulse, it is comforting to know that the noble councillor realises that the word “claims” has connotations beyond the entitlement to cabinet allowances. The brightest and the best that Walsall can offer continues: “However if you are going to continue to criticise the council publicly I think we are entitled to know on what basis these criticisms are made.” Obviously the councillor is working so hard for his constituents and the people of Walsall that he has not had enough time to read the evidence that forms the basis for criticism.

The honourable, worth his weight gold representative of the people is quite right to say that it is unacceptable for any member of the public to talk to the press about anything other than what a brilliant job Walsall cabinet are doing and in future any evidence or criticism should be presented to the council press office for approval and burial. Furthermore, it is totally irresponsible for Brownhills Bob to publish private correspondence that in an open democracy should remain secret in order to protect the public from false, unfounded and malicious suggestions that Councillor Harris is something other than a local hero and a treasured genius. (more…)

February 3, 2013

It takes a train to cry

Filed under: Birmingham,Environment,Transport — theplastichippo @ 1:06 am
HS2

HS2

The entire HS2 proposal presents a huge dilemma. The crooked coalition government want it so it must, therefore, be a very bad idea. However, opposing HS2 means forming alliances with some very, very strange people.

It takes a lot to stop yourself laughing when the very well off and the privileged complain of unfairness. What could be causing such ire in the leafy shires? Beggars, foreigners, tradesmen, the price of foie gras? No, it`s vulgar public transport that is causing sabres to rattle. When HS2 Phase 1 was finally approved, the landed gentry got themselves into a bit of tizzy. Lord Astor, for example, secure in his stately pile in Buckinghamshire, doesn`t want wretched trains spoiling his view or impeding his pursuit of small red mammals answering to the name Reynard. The noble Lord blames “northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed, particularly in Conservative-held seats.” Old Etonian William Waldorf Astor, The fourth Viscount Astor is a former Social Security Minister in the John Major government and is the stepfather of the Prime Minister`s wife.

As inbred and influential as my Lord Astor is, even though his wealth is inherited from vulgar American, hotelier stock, he is not alone in his opposition to HS2. No less than four cabinet ministers and six junior ministers have constituencies that will be dug up to take 30 minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham. Quaking Tories now feel the wrath of retired colonels and the genteel ladies of flower arranging clubs and so the high speed line was hastily redesigned to pass under outraged Tory voters in tunnels. The projected cost went from £28billion to £33billion. Tickets from London to Curzon Street in Birmingham are expected to cost about £200.

Lord Rothschild has also objected, fearing that passing trains might shake the dust from his chandeliers. David Allen, the owner of a large estate in Northamptonshire threatened to stop donating to the Tory party. The route near his fiefdom will now be in a tunnel. The second phase of HS2 connecting Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham takes a mysterious and illogical detour within the constituency of Tatton in Cheshire which, by complete coincidence, is the very posh seat of the very posh Chancellor of the Exchequer. The argument for the HS2 Phase 1 route was that it had to be straight to achieve 225 mph but, in Tatton, the super trains will be forced to slow down to negotiate a six mile dog leg that takes the line away from the affluent Tory strongholds of Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury. With an estimated cost of £93million per mile, that equates to £500,000 to secure each individual vote in an Osborne majority of 1,000 in 2015. Lichfield`s very own Boris Johnston tribute act, the frankly bizarre Michael Fabricant, is screaming about property prices and compensation. Then there is the odious Tax Payers Alliance who are implacably opposed to anything other than tax avoidance by the obscenely wealthy. Given this unholy alliance of self interest, support for HS2 seems to be the only obvious option. However, as with anything touched by the liars and shysters in government, it is not that simple. (more…)

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