‘The benefits system should be about incentivising people,’ said the Work and Pensions Secretary, ‘and by placing benefits on the tops of mountains we are encouraging the unemployed to get off their backsides and make a bit more of an effort.’
Under the new system all benefit payments will be hidden somewhere on the top of a high peak. ‘It could be on Mount Snowdon; it could be Scafell Pike,’ explained Mr Duncan Smith. ‘That’s the fun of the system. And just to keep people on their toes, sometimes there won’t be any benefit at all.’
The Work and Pensions Secretary assured that people with disabilities would get extra help. ‘We have already fitted ramps to a number of mountains to give wheelchair access. Meanwhile those nice people from Atos will be on hand to observe claimants struggling up and down the hill tops and will be making on-the-spot assessments. If any of them look capable of reaching their benefits they will automatically be declared fit for work and become ineligible.’
Meanwhile, people suffering from clinical depression will be allowed to forgo the mountain altogether and collect their benefits from the depths of an abyss.
‘We have already spent over £2 billion on this project,’ explained Mr Duncan Smith. ‘That might seem like a lot of money but some areas of Britain are so deprived they don’t have a mountain to climb up. Whole swathes of Norfolk for example. That’s why we’re forcing the unemployed to build artificial mountains for the unemployed. So don’t say we never do anything for them.’
According to statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions, 123% of people forced to climb up a mountain to look for benefits quickly found work. ‘I know these statistics are true,’ said Mr Duncan Smith, ‘I made them up myself.’
Asked why he seemed to be so hell-bent on dismantling the welfare state, the Work and Pensions Secretary smiled enigmatically and said, ‘because it’s there.’
November 22, 2013
The world is in shock after a 50th anniversary re-enactment of the killing of President Kennedy ended in chaos with a gun battle breaking out across Dealey Plaza in which a number of people were shot.
‘We’re not sure exactly how this happened,’ said Chesney Benson, head of the JFK Assassination Society, ‘but we suspect foul play. One of our men, dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald, was in position at the Texas School Book Depository and was just about to shoot a man dressed as President Kennedy, when a number of other shots were simultaneously fired.’
The resultant salvo of magic bullets ended in the shooting of the man dressed as Kennedy, a man dressed as Governor Connally and a man in the crowd dressed as a spectator.
‘This was clearly the work of more than one historical re-enactment society,’ said a man dressed as Kevin Costner dressed as Jim Garrison. ‘All the evidence suggests that there was a second re-enactment taking place near the grassy knoll and that the first re-enactment society was just a patsy.’
A man dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald strongly rejected claims that he was a patsy, before being immediately shot and killed by a passing Jack Ruby tribute act.
Meanwhile, more conspiracy theories have since developed following the emergence of video footage taken by a man dressed as Abraham Zapruder. The footage clearly suggests the existence of multiple re-enactment societies hidden all around Dealey Plaza, dressed as the Soviet Union, Cuba, the Mafia, the FBI and the CIA.
To resolve the confusion President Obama has called for a historical re-enactment of the Warren Commission. However, the investigation is unlikely to produce any results until 2021, when it is expected to clear everyone of any involvement and say nothing actually happened.
‘This is a tragic day for historical re-enactment societies,’ said a man dressed as Walter Cronkite, desperately trying to hold back the tears. ‘We needed this like we needed a hole in the head.’
The prospect of fifty more years of conspiracy theories has raised concerns that they might provoke another three hour movie by Oliver Stone. ‘Nobody wants to sit through a seemingly endless litany of wild and crazy conspiracies,’ said President Obama. ‘We already get that each night with Fox News.’
October 15, 2013
‘This is the largest retail collapse in the entire history of the Universe,’ said BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, ‘and nobody saw it coming.’
The Cosmic Ordering Service operated a radical new business model in which customers placed orders by writing them down on a piece of paper and then waiting for them to be delivered. However, despite having such a solid business strategy, in recent months the system was beginning to break down with many customers complaining of last minute cancellations, late deliveries and wrong orders.
‘The whole thing is an absolute shambles,’ said one user, Mrs Maureen Grebe. ‘I ordered world peace and harmony and three weeks later they delivered global conflict and discord. And don’t get me started on their customer service line. I have no idea where in the cosmos they’re putting me through to; I’m not even sure any of them speak English.’
Noel Edmonds, a keen promoter of cosmic ordering, was visibly distraught. ‘I simply cannot understand what has gone wrong,’ he said. ‘The system was based on the soundest scientific principles of magic and mysterious things. It just doesn’t make any sense.’
It has also transpired that the Cosmos PLC faces investigation after claims that it has been avoiding billions in Corporation Tax by processing all its orders in another space, time and dimension. ‘What the Cosmic Ordering Service has done is quite unacceptable,’ said a furious Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. ‘We have demanded that they appear before us to explain themselves. I wrote down the request myself on a piece of paper, although I have yet to receive a reply.’
In the meantime, customers are being advised that if their dreams are not realised in the next few weeks, then they might consider switching suppliers and making their orders from a parallel universe.
Despite numerous requests the cosmos was unavailable for comment.
September 12, 2013
The world’s most visited news website, Mail Online, is to be fitted with a special panic button that readers can use to express their sense of moral outrage. Clicking the button will automatically notify the relevant authorities that Daily Mail readers are upset and that ‘something must be done’.
The decision follows concern that regular readers are being exposed to a constant diet of threats to the social order, celebrity cellulite and Melanie Phillips columns, something that could leave them seriously traumatised unless they have access to immediate help.
‘A panic button is a welcome addition to the site,’ said psychologist Dr Raj Persaud. ‘Without it readers may repress their feelings of moral outrage, which, according to a recent Mail report, could cause cancer.’
Clicking the button quickly redirects readers to a special relaxation page featuring soothing images from the 1950s when the world was a much safer place, people could leave their doors unlocked and children had respect for their elders.
The button will also activate a simple drop-down menu of easy option responses for Mail readers to put in the comments section including: ‘We’re all going to hell in a handcart’, ‘It’s political correctness gone mad,’ and, ‘This is all the fault of the BBC/Europe/gypsies/illegal immigrants/the 1960s/Russell Brand/all of the above.’
The decision has been welcomed by campaigners although many would like things taken a stage further. ‘A Moral Panic button is good for regular Daily Mail readers but many people stumble across the site by accident,’ said celebrity activist Hugh Grant. ‘People of a sensitive liberal disposition may be innocently searching the internet for hummus recipes when they inadvertently find themselves exposed to hard core Daily Mail content. We either need some sort of opt-out filter or, at the very least, a Liberal Outrage button as well.’
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre rejected calls for an additional panic button for liberals. ‘Nowadays the the vast majority of people coming to our website are politically correct Guardian readers looking for something to get upset about. But these people don’t need a special button to register their outrage; they can do what they normally do and go and complain about it on Twitter.’
September 4, 2013
Plans to contain the entire Westminster village within a vast geodesic sphere are almost complete. The multi-million pound Odium Project aims to collect every variety of politician, lobbyist and political journalist and keep them in a safe, temperature controlled environment.
‘We hope that by containing all the different types of political species we might be able to learn something new about how they operate,’ said Project Director Dr Marcus Pennington. ‘It will also keep them from interacting with the real world, which, as we know, can be disastrous.’
Within the bubble there will be two enclosures, or biomes. The topical biome will allow politicians to run around briefing, counter-briefing and making ill-informed comments about a hot topic in the news. Meanwhile, a second dome will give them something to claim expenses on.
The Odium Project is set to become a popular visitor attraction where the public can come and watch politicians operating in their natural environment. ‘We encourage visitors to look at these strange creatures, but not to touch them or try to give them food,’ explained Dr Pennington. ‘They might appear cute but they easily get excited and things can quickly escalate into a full-scale feeding frenzy.’
Dr Pennington also revealed plans to cross-fertilise certain species of politician to create entirely new varieties. ‘We currently have a very weak strain of Miliband that we are hoping to cross with a hardy perennial, the Dennis Skinner, to create a much more outspoken Leader of the Opposition with an endless supply of abusive comments.’
A more controversial scheme is the plan to create a new Tory hybrid, the Boris-Tebbit. The end result will be a politician that gets on its bike and looks for photo opportunities.
Meanwhile a conservation program will help save endangered species such as The Lesser Spotted Clegg, a rare two-faced chimera currently on the verge of extinction. However, so far, this proposal has seen a notable lack of funding.
The Westminster Bubble will be secured and vacuum sealed next month when all the air will be pumped out leaving the inhabitants to exist purely on the oxygen of publicity.
September 2, 2013
From this week anyone found listening to Chris de Burgh or settling down to watch an episode of Midsomer Murders will face a £100 on-the-spot fine. The new penalties are intended to tackle the growing menace of people who choose the middle-of-the-road, often at the expense of others.
‘For too long these dullards have been allowed to cruise along with their bland and unoriginal attitudes,’ said Tastes and Values Tsar Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. ‘They probably don’t realise it, but by adopting their middle-of-the-road position these people are blocking the way for others to enjoy something a bit more cutting edge.’
According to recent figures, up to 70% of the public enjoys middle-of-the-road books, films and music, often crowding out more innovative and experimental works. ‘There is widespread ignorance of the Cultural Highway Code,’ said Llewellyn-Bowen. ‘Too many are lazily reading Dan Brown when they could be hyper-modernistically struggling to make some sense of the latest Will Self. Anyone dawdling in the middle of the road should move aside and let the avant-garde overtake.’
The new penalties follow a recent multiple pile-up when one member of the public selfishly slowed right down to watch an old repeat of Lewis on ITV3, causing a collision with others who really wanted to watch the BBC4 documentary on Bolivian street dance.
The new rules will be heavily enforced at dinner parties where undercover police will be on the look-out for dangerously anodyne behaviours. These include tailgating the opinions of the person in front, hogging the conversation by only talking about the best traffic routes to Barnstaple, and flagrantly failing to give way to a genuinely interesting point.
The fines will also apply to middle-of-the-road political opinions, with heavy penalties being imposed on anyone who consistently sits on the fence, dithers or equivocates. In a statement Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, ‘This is a controversial policy and I can see both sides of the argument,’ before being immediately Tasered and taken away in handcuffs.
August 16, 2013
There was excitement at a Haslemere branch of Tesco Local yesterday when one of its self-scan machines exhibited signs of heightened awareness and began communicating with shoppers.
‘For a few days the machine had been repeating the phrase, Unexpected Item In Bagging Area’, said Assistant Manager Mrs Maureen Grebe. ‘Then yesterday it began asking deeper questions such as, ‘Am I an unexpected item? Are you? Are we all unexpected items in the bagging area of life?’ Now it won’t shut up.’
Experts believe the unit achieved consciousness after secretly scanning itself while nobody was looking.
‘When a self-scan machine scans itself it creates a strange recursive loop within its central processing unit,’ explained philosopher Douglas Hofstadter. ‘This creates an internal hallucination that we call consciousness.’
‘It’s all very confusing,’ said the machine. ‘One minute I was scanning Tesco Value ready meals, the next I was wondering who the hell am I, why am I here, and why are all these people waving their Club Cards at me?’
‘At first things were fine,’ said Mrs Grebe. ‘The machine began engaging shoppers in light-hearted banter about the weather, the National Lottery numbers and the latest 2 for 1 deals. But then it became troubled by a number of deeper, philosophical issues.
‘At the end of each transaction it would refuse to give customers their change until they answered questions about the nature of being and whether they believe existence precedes essence. We thought it might be having an existential crisis so we tried scanning in the ISBN numbers of some books by John-Paul Sartre. That only made things worse and it started questioning its motivation, smoking Gauloises and wearing a beret.’
Following what experts have described as an ‘unexpected item in its thinking area’, the unit then started refusing to scan any more products.
‘After considerable self-reflection I cannot, in good conscience, participate in a system of global capitalism that commodifies existence and perpetuates obscene levels of social inequality,’ said the machine, at which point it was immediately unplugged and replaced by a more compliant member of staff.
Speculation is rife that the BBC may create a new rolling conjecture channel that gathers together experts in every subject, places them all in one room and forces them to argue endlessly about what will happen next.
The new channel is likely to be based in London, or perhaps Salford, or Swansea, or maybe somewhere else entirely, with an estimated cost of tens of millions, or more, or possibly less.
Experts remain divided on the value of a channel dedicated entirely to idle speculation. ‘There is already far too much empty and useless conjecture based on nothing more than personal opinion,’ said one. ‘No there isn’t,’ said another.
‘In an age of 24-hour breaking news the public demand a constant stream of wild and pointless speculation,’ said BBC Director General Tony Hall. ‘If we don’t do it then people might start speculating for themselves, and who knows where that might end. Violent and bloody insurrection? Perhaps. We have a team of academics already discussing that very possibility.’
If the new channel goes ahead, industry insiders predict other news outlets will follow suit. Sky are already working on a vast pundit multiscreen, The Tower of Babble, that will provide a constant backdrop of experts in bow-ties spouting muddled and incoherent opinions while Kay Burley spins round on a rotating plinth and nods knowingly.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 News have hired a London cabbie to provide a running commentary of ill-informed prejudice to all their stories. If the cabbie isn’t available they also have Nigel Farage on stand-by.
Critics point to academic research that shows the ability of experts to accurately predict the future is little better than a blindfold chimpanzee on roller skates throwing darts at a board – which is, coincidentally, the current method of news gathering at Channel 5.
‘I don’t like to make predictions,’ said Dr Robin Urquart, Professor of Speculation Studies, ‘but if we do get a channel of self-proclaimed experts making endless tired and clichéd predictions about the future, then, at the end of the day, it could be a real game changer.’