In a shock announcement, the measure of the nation’s happiness, the Wellbeing Index, has been downgraded by the emotional ratings agency Moody’s from ‘OK’ to ‘Don’t Ask’.

‘This is very disappointing news,’ said Prime Minister David Cameron. ‘We had recently seen a small rise in the nation’s happiness. Now this. It’s really put a downer on things.’

A spokesperson for Moody’s said: ‘While the UK saw a 1.2% increase in happiness, this was due entirely to unusual factors such as the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and the conviction of Chris Huhne. However much the British public claims to be OK, our analysts believe it conceals a much deeper level of emotional deficit.’

The decision to downgrade was immediately reflected in the markets with a number of bankers throwing themselves out of windows. This cheered the nation back up again, but only represents a short-term solution.

Historically, whenever the nation’s mood dips the Bank of England re-inflates society by using its supply of solid and dependable emotional currency, the English Reserve. However, it now transpires that the Reserve was secretly sold off by Gordon Brown in 2008, leaving the UK with what experts describe as ‘a dangerously quivering stiff upper lip’.

Mr Cameron may now attempt to boost the nation’s happiness by injecting billions of fake smiles into society, a policy known as ‘quantitative cheesing’. However, while cheesing may work in the short term, over time it simply devalues the smile as a unit of emotional exchange. ‘We could end up with emotional stagflation,’ warned psychologist Dr Raj Persaud, ‘a terrible situation where everyone walks round with an inane grin on their face, but they are all crying inside.’

Meanwhile, Number 10’s Behavioural Insights Team has been brainstorming policies to help cheer up the nation. Current proposals include forcing everyone to whistle a happy tune, free fluffy kittens and the public beheading of George Osborne.

If the situation worsens Mr Cameron may be forced to take the ultimate sanction and send in the clowns. The last time this happened was during The Winter of Malcontent when the depressed lay uncollected in the streets while emergency clowns drove round in collapsing cars honking their horns. ‘Nobody wants to see the clowns on our streets again,’ said Mr Cameron. ‘It’s bad enough already with Boris Johnson.’




The thought police are all in your mind

Plans to monitor the contents of everyone’s head came a step closer today with a proposed amendment to the government’s draft Data Communications Bill. Under the proposals all beliefs, intentions and ideas will be gathered using the very latest brain imaging satellites and then stored for 12 months in a vast government database at GCHQ, Cheltenham.

‘There is absolutely nothing sinister about monitoring people’s thoughts,’ said Home Secretary Theresa May. ‘If people aren’t thinking anything wrong then they have nothing to hide.’

The proposed Data Communications Bill already requires service providers to store people’s activity on social network sites, webmail, internet phone calls and online gaming. ‘This is all very well,’ said Mrs May, ‘ but it still leaves open the possibility that people may be secretly storing information inside their heads. All we want to do is close this loophole.’

The proposal already has the support of Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer. ‘Research shows that the vast majority of crimes start off life in somebody’s head,’ he explained. ‘Of course defendants will still have the right to remain silent, but in future anything they think may be taken down and used in evidence against them.’

Civil liberties campaigners are outraged by the proposals. ‘This is a gross infringement of people’s privacy,’ said director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti. ‘Monitoring the contents of people’s minds is totally mental.’

‘Yes, we know these people are outraged,’ said Mrs May. ‘They don’t need to tell us. We’ve already seen what they have to think.’

Responding to criticisms, Mrs May insisted that all proper safeguards will be put in place. ‘Access to people’s thoughts will be restricted to official government agencies,’ she assured, ‘The Police, the intelligence services, HMRC and, to save time, anyone working for News International.’

However, there still remain security concerns following a pilot study of the system in which a civil servant accidentally left the entire thoughts of Nantwich on a train. ‘These are just teething troubles,’ said a Home Office official. ‘We checked the records and nobody in Nantwich had thought anything interesting for a year.’

Mrs May rejected claims that the proposals would end up creating a ‘Thought Police’. ‘This is typical paranoid scaremongering,’ she said. ‘The important thing for people to remember is that the Thought Police are all in their minds.’




Britain’s first hospital built entirely on the power of suggestion is to be opened next week as a cost-effective solution to the rising price of healthcare. The Royal London Placebo is totally fabricated, offers no actual treatments and will be manned entirely by extras from TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City.

‘Each doctor will have a nice white coat, a plastic stethoscope and a range of brightly coloured sugar pills,’ explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. ‘No expense has been spared,’ he said, ‘except the expense of building an actual hospital with trained staff and equipment.’

The Royal Placebo is understood to be the first in a new generation of ‘dummy hospitals’ to be rolled out across the country, allowing the phasing out of the costly old style ‘real’ hospitals of the past.

‘The placebo effect can account for up to 75% of the effectiveness of a medical treatment,’ explained Hunt. ‘Rather than waste billions on the current system we can achieve almost the same results for a fraction of the cost.’

Pilot studies show that half the patients who attended a placebo hospital imagined they were better and went home; meanwhile the other half had a failure of imagination and died on the spot. ‘Either way it’s a win-win,’ said Hunt.

The Health Secretary is a well-known supporter of alternative treatments and is believed to be using the theory of homeopathy to help design a massively watered down health service that operates purely on the memory of the NHS.

However, some placebo doctors are already complaining after being told that they will also be expected to run their own imaginary budgets. ‘I can’t pretend to run a pretend budget as well as pretend to be a doctor,’ said one stressed thesp. ‘I’m an actor playing a doctor, not an actor playing a doctor playing at being an accountant.’

Mr Hunt rejected claims that the new dummy hospitals represent the effective dismantling of the National Health Service. ‘The important thing to remember is that the placebo remains free at the point of delivery,’ he said. ‘The NHS will still exist as an idea, and sometimes that’s all that people really need.’



‘Placebos are the future,’ he insisted, ‘although for many that may be a difficult pill to swallow.’

The prospect of a Third World War came a step closer this week when an attempt by an Isle of Wight historical society to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated out of control.

‘We pride ourselves on being as authentic as possible,’ explained Professor Chesney Benson, president of the re-enactment society The Sealed Nuts, ‘but some of our members probably took things a bit too far by shipping over some intercontinental ballistic missiles from Russia.’

The situation rapidly escalated when a passing American spy plane noticed the missiles en route to the island, sparking a Code Red alert and leading to a game of international brinksmanship between the USA, Russia and the Isle of Wight County Council.

During a 13-day standoff President Obama ordered American forces to blockade Ventnor, Vladimir Putin countered with threats of a nuclear strike against Shanklin Chine, and the Isle of Wight Mayor locked himself in his garden shed and refused to come out.

The crisis further intensified following the intervention of local planning officer Mr Trevor Spatchcock. ‘We may be on the precipice of imminent nuclear catastrophe,’ he said, ‘but it is my duty to point out that the installation of missiles of this size, even as a temporary structure, is in clear contravention of our planning guidelines.’

A full-scale nuclear war was only averted following a last minute deal in which the re-enactment society agreed to remove the missiles. In return they would get a genuine bright red telephone from the 1960s giving them direct access to Washington and Moscow, something that may help to avoid any such crises occurring in the future.

‘We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by propelling the world towards imminent nuclear Armageddon,’ Professor Benson said in a statement. ‘Please rest assured that the missiles have now been removed from the island, safely dismantled and sold on to a nice chap from Iran who promised to get rid of them for us.’

‘This has all been a terrible misunderstanding,’ he went on. ‘It was the very last thing we wanted, especially after the embarrassment of last year’s Bay of Pigs re-enactment.’

New smart glasses developed by Facebook will immediately transform anyone you see into their Facebook page, thus removing the need for any actual social contact.

‘These glasses are an important step towards my ultimate ambition,’ said Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, ‘the complete destruction of normal human relations.’

The new ‘avoidant reality’ glasses feature an in-built facial recognition system that automatically identifies ‘real people’ and superimposes an image of their Facebook page onto the wearer’s lens. However, when faced with someone who is not on Facebook, the glasses emit a high pitch alarm and immediately black out the lenses in order to save the user from ‘unprotected social contact’.

‘These glasses mean that people will now be able to see everything that matters about a person at a glance,’ explained Zuckberberg, ‘their likes, dislikes, friends and relationship status, plus favourite brand of cola and maize-based snack. This liberates Facebook users from the tedious task of actually talking to people, allowing them to focus on much more important activities such as updating their own status.’

Following Facebook’s recent purchase of photo sharing app Instagram, the new glasses mean that the company now has monopoly control over not just every photograph ever taken, but also every retinal image and visual memory.

‘These glasses give people the chance to share everything they see with all their friends,’ said Zuckerberg, ‘but we have also included important privacy settings so that people can restrict full access to their life to just an intimate circle of their closest companions, marketing companies and advertisers.’

Critics claim that the Facebook glasses represent a move towards a sinister new surveillance society in which everyone ends up surveilling themselves. ‘I fail to see what is so sinister about that,’ said Zuckerberg. ‘All we are trying to do is own and control reality. Is that really so bad?’

Facebook have denied suggestions that people wearing the new glasses would immediately surrender the rights to everything they ever see. ‘That is a ridiculous allegation,’ said a faceless Facebook lawyer. ‘We have owned the copyright to everyone’s life for years. If you check the user agreement, people signed away those rights at exactly the same time as they signed away their soul.’






Every woman in Britain can now receive a free, independent evaluation of her body simply by sending The Daily Mail a photograph of herself wearing a bikini. The body appraisal service, which has previously been limited to celebrities, will be made available to every woman so long as she agrees to have her picture published alongside a list of ‘constructive criticisms’.

‘We offer this service as a gift to womankind,’ explained Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre. ‘In our age of political-correctness-gone-mad most men are too frightened to tell a woman if her bottom looks too big. But if you send us a picture of your bottom we will be more than happy to tell you it’s a national disgrace for which you should be thoroughly ashamed.’

Body appraisals will be conducted by the Daily Mail’s team of ‘experts’ who have years of experience scrutinising women in bikinis and identifying any imperfections.

‘If there is even the tiniest sign of cellulite our panel will spot it,’ said Dacre. ‘We will tell women how good they look for their age, point out their bingo wings, highlight their muffin-tops and tell them if they should ever be allowed out in polite society again.

‘We promise to give women the truth about their bodies. That is what a free press is all about.’

The new service has received universal praise from all women. ‘The Daily Mail has provided an invaluable service,’ said feminist author Germaine Greer. ‘At long last women can finally get an honest answer to the question: ‘does my bum look big in this?’

The Daily Mail has rejected claims that their constant focus on women’s body shape might be in any way psychologically damaging. ‘We certainly don’t want to encourage any eating disorders,’ insisted Dacre, ‘but if you do happen to suffer from one then please send us a photo.’







The Government has stepped up its plans to increase monitoring of people’s activities by unveiling plans to introduce into every home 24-hour surveillance telescreens that will beam out the massive face of David Cameron.

‘We were planning to monitor everyone’s phone calls, texts and emails but this system is so much simpler,’ said the all-seeing widescreen Prime Minister. ‘Telescreens are the best way for me to personally oversee the Big Society and to make sure that everyone is doing their bit.’

Under the scheme all homes will be fitted with a government-approved CCTV, or Cameron Controlled Television, a combined TV and security camera that will allow ‘Big Dave’ to keep a watchful eye on people’s behaviour at all times.

‘Every telescreen will be HD ready so people can enjoy my big fat face in all its glorious detail,’ said Cameron, ‘and very soon we hope to be rolling out the 3D version so that I can loom menacingly into your living room and tell you not to panic.’

Until recently the telescreens had been restricted to the homes of Inner and Outer party members, and were used primarily to keep an eye on Nick Clegg and make sure he was maintaining his Doublethink. This is the first time that the telescreens will be made available to the Proles, and the news has already been warmly welcomed with a celebratory ‘Two Minutes Hate’.

‘Yes, these new telescreens are fantastic,’ said one random member of the public, a Mr Winston Smith. ‘To know that Mr Cameron is watching over us at all times is very comforting. I feel so loved.’

Concerns expressed by civil liberties campaigners that the country was rapidly turning into a ‘Big Brother’ state were dismissed by newly-appointed Minister for Truth Mr O’Brien. ‘These people are adding two and two together and making four,’ he said, ‘when everyone knows that the real answer is five.’

‘People will soon get used to the telescreens,’ he assured citizens. ‘Let’s face it, most of the time they are on Facebook or Twitter telling everyone what they’re up to anyway, so I fail to see what all the fuss is about.’

The Prime Minister rejected claims that the plans were ‘Orwellian’. ‘I really don’t think that this can be said,’ he insisted, ‘especially since the term ‘Orwellian’ has now been reclassified as a thoughtcrime.’



The art world is in crisis today following the theft of art collector Charles Saatchi. Police believe he may have been stolen to order and could already be in the hands of a private collector collector. ‘This is the art theft of the century,’ said BBC arts editor Will Gompertz. ‘Saatchi is one of the nation’s greatest treasures and is probably worth more than all of our other artworks put together.’

The reclusive collector is understood to have been stolen from his London gallery by a team of burglars who disguised themselves as works of art by cutting themselves in half and hiding inside a tank of formaldehyde. During the night they emerged and carefully navigated their way past a sequence of alarms and laser trip wires that surround the multi-millionaire at all times. Saatchi was last seen being wheeled away on a trolley with an inscrutable expression on his face.

‘We couldn’t believe that he had been taken,’ said gallery custodian Arthur Grimes. ‘When I arrived in the morning there was a big gap in the room where he normally stands. The thieves had replaced him with a cardboard replica, but even to my untrained eye it was an obvious forgery.’

At an emotional press conference a visibly shaken Damien Hirst appealed for the safe return of Saatchi. ‘Whoever has taken Charles, please bring him back,’ he pleaded. ‘We rely on men like him – people with vast sums of money and a questionable taste in art.’

Meanwhile, Tracey Emin has announced that she will be holding an all night vigil for the return of Saatchi in which she sits naked in a tent wailing her displeasure, which, incidentally, forms the centrepiece of her new retrospective at Tate Modern.

‘Saatchi is far too famous to be sold on the open market,’ explained DCI Jack Regan of the Stolen Art Collectors Squad. ‘It’s much too early to speculate but I imagine he is already in the hands of a billionaire collector collector, perhaps some crazed Russian oligarch who will keep him locked away in a secure room to stare at for his own personal pleasure.’

As the search continues, the empty space where Saatchi once stood is now being auctioned at Sotheby’s and could be worth millions.






Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron will now be charging a fee for anyone to ask him a question in the House of Commons.

‘This is all perfectly legal and above board,’ said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Lightning Conductor General, ‘but it’s only reasonable that Mr Cameron is fairly remunerated for his work at PMQs, especially now that he has to pay for his own dinners.’

The revelations came to light when former party treasurer Peter Cruddas was secretly filmed hanging around outside the House of Commons offering MPs a chance for a ‘quickie’ with the Prime Minister, plus the possibility that ‘Samanfa might watch’.

Under the scheme MPs can choose from a range of packages. The entry level Toady Club offers members a chance to ask sycophantic questions such as, ‘Wouldn’t the Prime Minister agree with me that he is doing a simply marvellous job?’ Meanwhile, The Wannabe Leader’s Group offers the opportunity to ask Mr Cameron questions about his record or personal integrity, with prices starting at only £10,000 each. Questions by Dennis ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Skinner have been set at a modest £250,000.

‘I shouldn’t have to pay good money to hold the Prime Minister to account,’ said Opposition leader Ed Miliband. ‘Given my performance, if anything, he should be paying me.’

However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he thought the charges were quite reasonable. ‘If I had known it was this cheap to get access to Mr Cameron I wouldn’t have needed to sell my soul.’

People watching PMQs at home will now also be subject to charges. Under the new Prime Ministerial Paywall, subscribers to the basic package will get access to all of PMQs plus repeats of classic Cameron on Dave Ja Vu.

Meanwhile an adult channel, Cameron Blue, will offer viewers the chance to see the Prime Minister in his Downing Street flat performing a sexy pole dance and talking dirty about tax cuts. This service is expected to be very popular among merchant bankers.

Mr Maude denied that Cash for Prime Ministerial Questions would undermine the democratic process. ‘While people will be paying for the chance to ask Mr Cameron questions he won’t be providing any answers,’ he promised, ‘and there is absolutely no way we would ever allow a question at PMQs to actually influence government policy.’

The Church of England has confirmed that the new Archbishop of Canterbury will be selected via public phone vote on a TV talent show hosted by Ant and Dec.

‘Bishops Got Talent will bring the Church of England into the 21st century,’ said executive producer Simon Cowell. ‘It’s high time people got to choose their Archbishop according to who can perform the best song and dance routine. I’m no theologian but I’m pretty sure it’s what Jesus would have wanted.’

Bishops from around the country will compete for the coveted title by performing in front of a panel of religious experts: Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and regular ‘grumpy judge’ Professor Richard Dawkins. Poor performing bishops may be ‘buzzed off’ by the panel: each buzzer illuminating a holy cross above the bishop’s head. Three crosses in a row and the bishop will be forcibly dragged off stage by a giant crosier.

Favourites for the title include Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu who will ride around on a unicycle while simultaneously attempting to cut up his dog collar and juggle a number of hot potatoes, including women bishops and gay marriage.

Meanwhile Bishop of London Richard Chartres will perform a break dance routine alongside his crew of street dancing clergy, Ecumenical Diversity. ‘The ability to body pop is crucial for the role,’ said Chartres. ‘Every Archbishop of Canterbury needs to be able to spin on his mitre and perform an endless number of backflips.’

However, many believe that Cowell has already rigged the contest with his own choice, a bishop boy band called One True Path. ‘I think it is only right that young people get a chance to be Archbishop as well,’ said Cowell. ‘The Church of England need some fresh faced young boys at the helm. It would certainly appeal to the teenage market and would probably put a stop to a lot of priests converting to Catholicism.’

Bishops Got Talent begins next week on ITV1 but will be going head to head with a new BBC show, The Holy Voice, in which another group of bishops perform a sermon for Tom Jones. ‘We hope people will stick with Bishops Got Talent,’ said Cowell. ‘Ratings are important and the last thing we want is a schism.’