The column which beats as it sweeps as it cleans

The continent of Australia, already devastated by unprecedented bush fires, is now apparently on the brink of running out of question marks. Our antipodean correspondent Kylie O’Reilly spoke to Prime Minister Bruce Wonga at an informal cabinet meeting and barbecue in his underground bunker in Sydney, “Time is running out?” The worried PM warned, tending to the kangaroo sausages sizzling on the barbie, “We have to face some hard facts? There’s a limit to the number of questions which can be asked before the supply of question marks starts to run dangerously low? We estimate that at current usage, the Australian punctuation stockpile will have used up its entire quota of question marks by 2022?” We paused briefly so that Mr Wonga could assist in hauling Bob Biggot, his controversial Foreign Secretary from the hot charcoal grill, where he had fallen, face down, drunk. “The Police Federation have expressed alarm about this as a matter of national security?” He said, rearranging the squashed sausages. “Wally Bruce, the Chief Superintendent has already pointed out that the interrogation of witnesses and suspects could be seriously put at risk should a national shortage of question marks occur? Do we really want to go back to a nineteenth century Australia, with transported pommie convicts running wild on our streets, swigging beer and taking pot-shots at the abbos?” A slurred voice, which appeared to be emanating from the blackened face of the Foreign Secretary, was heard shouting “Yes! Those were the days!” Casting his narrowed eyes around the smoke-filled room, Mr Wonga contradicted him. “Noy!” he insisted, ”That’s why I’m calling on all the people of this fair and dinkum land to make some sacrifices here? Because starting now we have two stark choices? Pull together, tighten our belts and make an effort to reduce the upward trajectory of our sentences? Or continue as we are, and frankly? Condemn Australia to a flat, uninquisitive future?”

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Professor Gordon Thinktank, Hastings’ crack scientist and inventor has put in a patent application for a new material which, by a process of precision moulding, will replace the universally loathed and ubiquitous plastic bottle. The white-coated polymath could scarcely contain his excitement as he led me through the gates of his secret research facility, to where I was driven, blindfolded, in the back of an unmarked van. “For the moment, I call this material new plastic.” He explained, “It’s manufactured using the same process as ordinary household windows, so it’s quite safe, however there are critical differences.  Once moulded into a bottle shape, new plastic’s inherent transparency means that whatever is contained therein may be observed by potential customers from the outside. But more importantly,” the professor assured me proudly, tapping on an imaginary bottle, “it can be rinsed and re-used by simply running it under a cold tap.” Thinktank, his bushy eyebrows fighting each other for supremacy, began performing an elaborate bottle-rinsing mime involving an imaginary sink. When I pointed out that what he was describing was in fact simply a traditional glass bottle, of the sort first produced in South East Asia around 1 AD, and used more or less universally ever since, the professor’s eyes glazed over. With an expression of disappointment bordering on despair, he turned off his imaginary tap and gripping my arm rather too tightly, led me into his laboratory. Opening an apparatus cupboard, he showed me a litter of delightful week-old kittens gambolling playfully in a silk-lined radar dish. I watched the cute little fur-balls for what could only have been a few moments and when I turned around, he was gone.

Wensleydale Parsimony, the Bexhill-based film actress, appears to have consciously uncoupled from reality. Her company, Fool and his Money (FAHM) advertises services such as bipolar exploration, sustainable hypnotism, and collateral irrigation. It also promotes personal grooming products like candles scented with Ms Parsimoney’s lady smells, soap made from her own faeces and something called psychic zombie repellent. Her online TV show Ladies Who Lynch, is beamed from FAHM’s steel and glass headquarters in Dockland, where visitors are greeted in the lobby by a well-drilled team of dark-suited faith healers led by top psychic Roger ‘Roger’ Rodgers, who offer to cure all manner of ills by shouting in tongues or waving seaweed above your head. The 2-week course in astral planing, which involves wilfulness, tantric steaming and mud enemas costs £3,OOO +VAT and includes an introductory vegan goat curry.

Sausage Life!

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