Saturday, 8 January 2011


Commons speaker John Berscow welcomed our new year of restraint by throwing a champagne party for MPs on the terrace of the House of Commons. With their guests Lesley Garrett, Ross Kemp and singer-songwriter Duffy, they danced to a rock band and watched a £35,000-a-minute firework display. Could have been worse. The organisers saved £70,000 by cutting two minutes off the show.

The firework display was followed on New Year's Day by a Grand March of 10,000 musicians. According to London's deputy mayor Richard Barnes, it was “a good bang for your buck”.

Sadly some MPs missed it. An all party group, the British Swiss Parliamentary Group, left for Switzerland to take part in a skiing competition against Swiss Mps.

The taxpayer has not been forgotten. The Government has arranged for us to win £50 of rice and frozen green beans. It will cost £256 million, underwritten by industry food giants who presumably have gluts of beans and rice and will welcome a reduction in their tax bill. In turn, that will be £256 million that won't reduce our national debt.

BBC Wales spent £149.94 on chocolate biscuits. In excessive spending habits, however, we have much to learn from the Americans. According to the New York Times, the United States spends almost as much on the military as every other country in the world combined.

Although America leads the world in the money it has borrowed from China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that America spends more than six times as much as that country. China is the country with the next highest budget.

The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C. The U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its employ.

The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than it spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined. Among its new lethal toys is a rifle that seeks its target and has a range of 2,300 feet, making it possible to hit targets which are well out of the reach of conventional rifles.
All this in a country where 42% of American children live in low-income homes and a fifth of those children live in poverty. And what about unemployment numbers and the plight of the homeless in the US of A, a number that keeps rising?

Other institutions are more careful with their bawbees. I have been corrected over my story of the Prince of Wales last week. It is not every wounded soldier who enjoys a bottle of royal Scotch from him. He only sends letters and Scotch to casualties in the nine regiments under his command. The Royal family's escape from the Civil List into more rewarding pastures will make the Prince the richest king in history. Perhaps he might extend his kindness to the 1,500 who were wounded last year. Cost a lot less than his domestic staff of 150. Oh dear, I said I wasn't going to be rude.
Sometimes it DOES take a Rocket Scientist!!

Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch standard
4 pound dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets
and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is
to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to
test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the
windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made,
and a gun was sent to the British engineers. When the gun was fired,
the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel,
crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens,
blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest
in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an
arrow shot from a bow.

The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the
experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the US
scientists for suggestions.NASA responded with a one-line memo -- DEFROST THE CHICKENN


An oxymoron, surely. The Guardian's Mike Selvey gets carried away...
“Thrillingly, as the shadows began to lengthen across the Sydney Cricket Ground, and Australia began to falter, it was Jimmy Anderson, brilliant Jimmy Anderson, indisputably the bowler of the series with daylight second, who plunged the knife into what life was left in the twitching carcass of the Australian cricket team. The old ball reversed, as it always seems to do for England – the same England, said the sages here in the pre-series propaganda war, that would not know how to use a second hand Kookaburra - and not for Australia. But Anderson did not just use it, he had it talking, gabbling away, a ball with verbal diarrhoea.”