cosmic-ordering-service                           In a shock announcement, the largest wish-list provider in the cosmos has been declared bankrupt, leaving many millions of customers unlikely to ever receive their orders.

‘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.





customers struggled to answer its questions

customers struggled to answer its questions

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.





A massive rise in unemployed Daleks is causing major problems at jobcentres up and down the country, swamping offices and threatening to exterminate staff who fail to find them a job.

The problem has been caused after thousands of Daleks were laid off by the BBC, their traditional employer, who have decided to ‘give them a rest’.

‘We don’t want to end up on the scrap heap,’ said Dalek Caan, ‘although as scrap we probably do have considerable value.’

‘It’s an absolute nightmare,’ complained one employment adviser. ‘They wheel around the centre, crashing through walls as they go, and then they insist on applying for jobs that they cannot possibly do. One of them wanted to be a home carer and another tried for a job in a kindergarten. To be honest, the Daleks are not very strong on people skills, but you try telling them that.’

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith insisted the government was doing everything it could to get the Daleks back to work. ‘The great thing about these guys is that they really want to find jobs,’ he said, ‘ok, so they might be threatening to annihilate the entire human race if they don’t find a job, but at least that shows some initiative.’

Meanwhile, former Employment Secretary Lord Tebbit gave unemployed Daleks some advice: ‘My father was a Dalek in the 1930s,’ he said. ‘He didn’t riot. He got on his castors and looked for work.’

However, local jobseekers are less than impressed with the Dalek invasion. ‘They come over here from the planet Skaro, claiming our benefits and taking our jobs,’ grumbled one man, ‘and I bet they go straight to the top of the council house waiting list. They should go back to where they came from.’

Jobcentre staff say that they are working hard to find work for the Daleks. ‘Some of them have already found jobs as plumbers,’ said employment advisor Mrs Maureen Grebe, ‘apparently they have these built-in sink plungers that are absolutely ideal. A few of the older ones also have an egg whisk facility so we got them jobs in catering.’

‘Of course the main problem is that the Daleks have had every emotion removed except that of pure hatred,’ explained Mr Duncan Smith, ‘but thankfully there are still plenty of vacancies out there for traffic wardens.’

New election rules mean that all political manifestos will be required by law to be displayed inside plain white packets with a prominent health warning. Politicians will no longer be able to publicly advertise their manifestos and shops will be expected to keep them hidden away from view under the counter.

‘This is about protecting the public from being attracted to something that is clearly bad for them,’ explained Mrs Maureen Grebe of APH, Action on Political Health. ‘All the clinical evidence shows that people who buy into manifesto pledges are taking a serious risk. It may seem harmless at the time but long term exposure to manifestos will result in anger, a sense of betrayal and ultimately the death of people’s hopes and dreams.’

Under the new rules all party manifestos will be legally required to dispense with any political branding and instead feature a clear warning about the dangers of believing what politicians say. Typical warnings will include: ‘Politics Kills,’ ‘Politicians may seriously damage your health service,’ and ‘This manifesto will create false hopes, crippling disillusionment and cause impotence.’

In addition, all manifestos will be legally obliged to have a disclaimer at the end that reads, ‘The value of pledges may go down as well as up. In the event of a coalition none of this actually counts.’

Politicians claim that the new rules are unfair. ‘This is a question of civil liberties,’ said one anonymous MP, who wished only to be known as Nick Clegg. ‘The public have a right to be taken in by what we say. Anyone attracted to our product already knows the risks.’

However, campaigners say the rules are designed to protect a generation of idealistic young people from being attracted to shiny, branded politicians who have been deliberately marketed to appear ‘cool’, ‘radical’ or ‘trendy’. In the last election it is estimated that many thousands of young people took up politics, not realising the long term dangers of being repeatedly let down.

MPs insist that political branding is necessary to help distinguish between the different parties. However, recent studies have shown that in blind tests the electorate found it almost impossible to tell any of them apart.

The new rules come into force next year although campaigners say they don’t go far enough. ‘This is just the start,’ said Mrs Grebe, ‘in future we want to see an outright ban on politicians making pledges in public. If they really must engage in that sort of thing then they should do it behind closed doors, in smoke filled rooms, where they can only harm each other.’


A suicide bomber has been condemned by rail passengers for attempting to blow himself up in a carriage clearly designated as a ‘Quiet Zone’. The incident, which took place on the 17:42 from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour was witnessed by over fifty commuters, many of whom were trying to read quietly.

Eyewitnesses described the scene as the young terrorist prepared to detonate his payload of doom.

‘He looked like such a nice young man,’ said commuter Mrs Maureen Grebe, ‘One moment he was sitting opposite me silently reading his book, the next he had jumped up from his seat and was shouting “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” at the top of his voice.

‘I looked up from my own book, and said “Shh!” I don’t think he understood and, as he grappled with his rucksack, I told him: ‘Young man, I am trying to read The Time Traveler’s Wife, and this brouhaha is not helping one little bit.’’

The terrorist continued to make a noise as he rummaged around in his bag trying to find the detonation cord but was eventually shamed into submission by a carriage full of passengers staring angrily and pointing at the sign that said ‘Quiet Zone’.

‘I think he got the message,’ said Mrs Grebe, ‘because when he turned round and saw the sign he apologised profusely, gathered up his things and shuffled off to the next carriage.

‘As he left we all looked around at each other, raised our eyebrows and shook our heads in disbelief. Then, a little later on, there was the distant noise of an explosion, although by this point I was so engrossed in my book I barely noticed.’

Speaking after the event, an operative for South West trains said, ‘We have ‘Quiet Zones’ for a reason and we would ask that patrons desist from all forms of noisy behaviour. This includes the use of mobile phones, walkmans and the shouting of praise to God before detonating a bag full of semtex.

‘Anyone who wishes to engage in this sort of thing should proceed to the specially designated ‘Detonation Zone’, although for reasons of health and safety we would ask people not to explode while the train is still in the station.’

Network Rail have also confirmed that in future all ‘Quiet Zones’ will now be fitted with additional signage as shown below.