The shop who loved me

I get that some restrictions on who can claim benefits are inevitable. I may not be keen on every single rule, or the systems that enforce them, but I accept that having rules is a necessary evil.

But it does seem excessive – in my humble opinion – that the government has withdrawn benefits from Debbie Balandis, 40, of Glasgow, on the grounds that they think she’s in a romantic relationship with a corner shop.

Tax officials were suspicious when they saw that the bank statements of this single mother showed payments being made to a bank account which bore the legend “Martin McColl”. Assuming him to be a hitherto undisclosed boyfriend (because who wouldn’t?), HMRC naturally did the sensible thing and immediately cut off Ms Balandis’ only source of income.

Phwoar, look at the doorknobs on that

Phwoar, look at size of the doorhandle on that

What would have been far less sensible, so I entirely appreciate why they didn’t do it, would have been to venture the fifteen or sixteen seconds necessary to the task of Googling the words ‘Martin McColl’ and quickly establishing that is, in fact, a chain of high street shops, rather than a Glaswegian hottie who makes his living by having a series of short-term affairs with single mothers on benefits.

Here’s the HMRC position on the whole matter:


The media have been quick to portray this story as ‘yet another failure by David Cameron’s welfare reforms’ but to them I say this: strong message here

David Cameron doesn’t need to be respected for the quality of his welfare reforms. He’s so over that. He’s so over it because he already has all the legacy that anybody could want: it’s a legacy that, actually, Martin McColl would do well to sell, and that is David Cameron-themed chocolate.

Somerset-based “artisan” company Choc on Choc attributes its recent success to the extreme popularity of David Cameron-themed confectionary. Yes, really. So much so, in fact, that they’re now planning to expand their Parliamentary range of sweets and other foodstuffs (‘ParliaMINTary’, shurely? -Ed.) to include the following:

  • Chief Walnut Whip
  • Iain Duncan Donuts
  • Secretary of State for Health Foods
  • Justine Greenbeans
  • Liz Truffles
  • Patrick Big MacLoughlin
  • Stephen Crabbsticks
  • Chancellor of the Dutch Cheese of Lancaster
  • …and, of course, Cabinet pudding

Sadly they’ve not been making chocolate mosques, though, so they’re still not eligible to win Bake-Off.

Jekyll and Hyde


Private Eye picked up this blog’s exposé of Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley semi-lawfully appointing a sitting local councillor to his team by virtue of incorporating him as a company.

So how excited will the Eye be to know that I’ve managed to obtain a copy of the confidential private personal dairy kept by our esteemed Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Surrey Partnership Ltd.!

And thus we present…

My week: Shiraz Mirza Surrey Partnership Ltd*

Kevin comes into my office and complains that I’ve had a pile of dirty mugs sitting in the corner for more than a fortnight. “That wasn’t me,” I explain, “Shiraz used those mugs.”
“But you are Shiraz!” he replies. But then he remembers.

I wake up very groggy: slept terribly. Sharing a house with Shiraz really is trying. I’m a very important Partnership with very important work to do every morning – and I really do resent having to cope with the aftermath of Shiraz having eaten all that cheese last night.

I find myself leaving the Kingston-upon-Thames Borough Council chamber. I have no memory of having gone in, but I daresay Shiraz had his reasons. I rush back to work contract over at Surrey. I don’t need to worry about speeding tickets because the car isn’t, strictly speaking, registered to me.

Trouble. Shiraz is questioned by tax officers who’d read that outrageous Private Eye piece – and he tries to palm the blame off on me! “All of that income went to Surrey Partnership,” he tells them, “nothing to do with me.”
In revenge I get the words ‘I am an idiot’ tattooed on his face… though sadly this backfires on me somewhat.

Kevin comes into my office and complains that I’ve been killing MPs again. “I can’t keep shielding you from the police,” he says.
“I think this would be a good moment for me to become Shiraz…” I mutter.

*as dictated to Gabriel Webber

A Farthing for your thoughts

Following Sussex Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing’s resignation under suspicious circumstances last month, the uni has started recruting his erstwhile successor by circulating a survey to staff and students:


Text boxes asked for students’ views on Education and scholarship (“No, none of that”), Income generation (“Miserly and yet somehow still willing to accept £280,000 salary”) and Compelling personal qualities (“Must be vindictive egomaniac willing to trample over free speech in order to get own way”).

I look forward to reading the responses!

The shop who hated me

Meanwhile at Sussex, activity is apace to open the new University ‘shop’ in Brighton city centre. Oh, hadn’t you heard about this? Yes, since last summer’s “pop-up shop” was such a waste of money success, Registrar John Duffer has decided to establish a permanent presence there.

“And ‘media blackout’ means…” – the shop will ‘display key University messages’ all year round

The proposal document seen by Gabrielquotes notes that “The window display will convey key University messages throughout the year”.

Oh yes, and there’s just one more detail I noticed in the paperwork I glanced over:

The first two years of opreation, excluding staffing costs, will cost £42,000. And there was no evidence of any value-for-money assessment having been carried out.

How times change, eh. How times change.

What do you call a man with a car on his head?

When Mark Palmer-Edgcumbe told councillors in Whitechapel that he wanted to open a museum all about “the social history of women”, they couldn’t wait to give him permission and get the project off the ground.

But over the course of the development, Mark finally reached a decision that he’d been wrestling with for some time:

A more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper.

And thus the only-slightly-sensationalist museum opened.

But then they hired a PR agent, Joshua Walker, who seemed to misunderstand his role. He was engaged to promote the public image of the museum, but he took to Twitter promoting the public image of Jack the Ripper:

“Honest, guv, I was just putting her in the recovery position!”

Oh dear, oh dear. Poor, much-maligned Jack the Ripper. He’s always getting the rap for sexually abusing five women before mutilating and killing them and dumping their bodies in the gutter; whereas in fact, all he did – all he did – was mutilate and kill them and dump their bodies in the gutter. Someone should crowd-fund a defamation lawsuit for the poor guy.

There are other people, throughout history, of course, who’ve unfairly had their reputations savaged by a hostile public. David Cameron has been accused of abusing a dead pig, whereas all he’s actually done is destroy access to justice and the British welfare state. Pope Benedict XVI, of whom it was often claimed he was in the Hitler Youth, actually merely presided over an institution that discriminated against the LGBTQ community and spent decades silencing allegations of sexual abuse.

And, of course, Stalin is often accused of having run a red light in Bracknell in 1957, and we all know how great a guy he really was.

So seriously, people: lay off Jack the Ripper. It’s never good to speak ill of the dead, especially those who can’t defend themselves because we don’t know who they were in the first place.

Legal disclaimer: the comment about Stalin and the red light was intended as a joke and should not be taken seriously.

More Morley

tiny-jpg-sirjt[1]Last week Gabrielquotes ran a story on an academy in Yorkshire that had told parents their children would face punishment if they (ie. the parents) said nasty things about the school on social media. Punishments could include being banned from going on future enrichment visits (ie. school trips).

Following that blog post, I was fairly surprised to receive an email from Sir John Townsley (pictured), headmaster and knight of the realm:

Dear Gabriel,
Thank you for your comments about The Morley Academy.
I do want to mention your mistake regarding the photograph used. It is not actually a photograph of any of the buildings at the academy but is in fact a photograph of the Worker’s Monument in North Korea.
On a separate note and having followed your blog for some time I wondered if you might do us the honour of speaking at our Prize Giving ceremony in January. The theme of the evening is “Social media in the 21st century: friend of democracy or sanctuary of the bully?”
What do you think? We could do it via Face Time.
Sir John Townsley

To be fair, he has great banter. I’ll give him that. So as a special treat, I graced him with a reply:

Dear Sir John
I do apologise for my error regarding the photo: on reflection, the clear sky and presence of greenery in the lower left-hand corner should have indicated to me that the location could not be anywhere within a 50-mile radius of Huddersfield.
Thank you also for your very kind invitation. I will be spending part of January on an enrichment visit to Guantanamo Bay, so if you could confirm the date of your ceremony, I can check whether or not I will be able to participate.
Best wishes


Coma estás?

Now you too can experience what it is like to be in a coma: just look at this picture

Now you too can experience what it is like to be in a coma: just look at this picture

A man in Swansea has been jailed for 14 months for perverting the course of justice, after spending two years pretending to be in a coma in order to avoid a fraud trial.

Alan Knight and his wife Helen were eventually caught after CCTV footage emerged of the couple visiting Legoland, an activity which is apparently statistically improbable for a man in a coma.


Coma man Alan Knight joins a long line of individuals who have pretended to be comatose in order to avoid being held accountable for their actions: Gordon Brown… well that’s about it actually.

One of the best


In tonight’s episode, the strong message was delivered by Jeremy Corbyn and Debbie Balantis’ benefits weren’t delivered by HM Revenue & Customs. The musical accompaniment was provided by Rupert Willis. Surrey Partnership Ltd killed Sir Danvers Carew, and Sir John Townsley killed the author with his banter. Jack the Ripper killed nobody at all, according to Mark Palmer-Edgcumbe and Joshua Walker. Michael Farthing and John Duffy behaved like silly people. This was an Gabrielquotes production!

Morley Academy, Pyongyang

On condition you promise never to send me a libel threat, you can sign up for email blog updates: use the box on the right.


The Morley Academy's new science block

The Morley Academy’s new science block

A secondary school in Leeds, Morley Academy, has apparently been taking PR advice from Kim Jong-un, after it sent a letter to all parents warning them not to criticise it on social media or else their children would be punished.

The letter told parents there had been too many “inaccurate and deeply offensive” comments made about the school by parents on social media, and that consequences would follow including “full withdrawal of privileges” from pupils.

In particular, it threatened that children of naughty parents would not be allowed on school trips in future, although sadly, in what for me is the worst part of the whole episode, it didn’t use the term ‘school trips’ and instead called them “Enrichment Visits”. (Can you wait while I take a quick vomit? -Ed.)

In other words, they visit the sins of the father on the children, unto the third and the fourth generation. Or in other words:


The school is obviously behaving outrageously but I think the best comment on it has come from former pupil Joe Mitchell:

FireShot Screen Capture #814 - 'Morley Academy, Pyongyang I Gabrielquotes' - gabrielquotes_wordpress_com__p=5892&preview=true&preview_id=5892&preview_nonce=635a492654&post_format=standard

Meanwhile, that other great defender of free speech in an educational setting, Sussex University’s Vice-Chancellor Michael ‘Wackford’ Farthing, has resigned. Details of the precise scandal for which he’s leaving don’t seem to have made it into the public domain yet but watch this space because they’re sure to eventually…

Ministry of Defence, North Korea

220px-Night_GeneralsAs if to cement the UK’s transition into a totalitarian state, an anonymous army commander has threatened a military coup if Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister by the people of Britain.

They told the Sunday Times that the army would “use whatever means possible, fair or foul” to pursue its own vision of security, regardless of the Labour government’s policy.

Fortunately, though, the security services don’t have to face the terrible menace of democracy quite yet; fortunate because, in the mean time, they have other threats to be dealing with.

For example, officers at Staffordshire University mercifully apprehended a student who was reading a book about terrorism… although on further investigation, it transpired that he was reading it to help him complete his Masters’ degree in Terrorism and Global Crime.

Islamic State's finest

Islamic State’s finest

And a school in Islington was quick to question a 14-year-old Muslim boy who knew a suspicious amount about the aggressive tactics used by some environmental activists… in a lesson on environmental activism. Although quite why this prompted staff to ask him, “Do you have any connection to Isis?” (and quite why they thought that any genuine Isis agent would answer, “Yes I do: bah, foiled again!”) remains unclear.

And, of course, now that I’ve written this blog post, I’ll be picked up and interrogated over my extremist beliefs, then whoever interrogates me will be questioned on their connection to people like me, then their questioner will be grilled, and so on, and so on, getting more and more senior, until eventually whatever General it was that threatened Jeremy Corbyn gets involved, and we find out who it was.

That’s my cunning plan, anyway.

Jobs I’m not applying for, Episode #2

  • Role: Intelligence Officer
  • Employer: Police Skills (security contractor)
  • Salary: £24-30k
  • Entry criteria: “Broad appreciation of organised criminality”
  • Advantages: Season ticket loan, access to company taser
  • Disadvantages: Not only do I not have a broad appreciation of organised criminality, I actually kind of resent it

Court reports

There have been many thrilling developments in the legal world since last time we spoke, my friends:

Firstly, a judge in California has ruled that the lyrics of that well-known Eurovision-winning classic, Happy Birthday to You, are not copyrighted to Warner Brothers. As the judgment was delivered, lawyers for the successful plaintiff skipped around the room, skipped around the room.

argument-clipart-btyezpjtl[1]Secondly, an Australian employment tribunal has found that being unfriended on Facebook can constitute workplace harassment. Presumably it’s also frowned upon to giggle and smirk, or to look at someone in a funny way.

Off to court: Naruto refuses to rule out pre-emptive injunction against David Cameron

Off to court: Naruto refuses to rule out pre-emptive injunction against David Cameron

But by far the most exciting, a monkey has become the first ever non-human to take legal action. Naruto the crested macaque is suing wildlife photographer David Slater (pictured left) for stealing his copyright to the infamous ‘Monkey Selfie’.

Naruto’s lawyers – working for animal rights charity PETA since Naruto’s grasp of copyright law is but rudimentary, for some reason – have filed suit in America saying that since the monkey pressed the shutter, the monkey owns the rights.

This follows a long line of litigation including the well-known ‘dolphin human rights’ case previously covered on this blog.

Apparently nothing in US law says that monkeys can’t hold photographic copyright. And apparently it’s not really, really obviously implied that they can’t, by dint of, well, being monkeys.

But it really does beg the question… Can a six-year-old crested monkey really own a copyright?


Pork-barrel politics

david cameron

Cameron: “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!” (Yuk. -Ed.)

Last week, Lord Ashcroft revealed something horrendous: that the British care more about David Cameron’s indecent acts against a dead pig in the 1980s, than about David Cameron’s indecent acts against millions of living people in the present day.

Yes, this is the news that in a university custom even more unusual than those followed by Sussex, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland allegedly had a steamy romp with a deceased porker, as prophetically written about by Charlie Brooker for the sci-‘fi’ series Black Mirror.

Although, The Guardian reports, “Conservative sources” deny the allegation (but come on, how do ‘Conservative sources’ know anyway? They can’t have been there throughout his entire time at Oxford), David Cameron is likely to have had a rather awkward time at his weekly audience with Her Maj last week. Still, gives him a break from launching semi-pornographic video channels.


For police tip-offs, press the hash key

This is Kingston, not Hempsted Garden Suburb...

This is Kingston, not Hempsted Garden Suburb…

OK, so it turns out there’s a cannabis farm the size of a football pitch just a few roads away from my house. It’s clearly nothing to do with me.

In fact, this blog has been at the forefront the fight against drugs ever since its the release, back in 2012, of its groundbreaking guide on how to discover dealers living in one’s own neighbourhood.

In relation to the Kingston cannabis haul, police seem to have had the time of their lives taking photos next to the plants. They told the media:

Anyone who has any information about the cultivation of these plants should call police on 101.

So they’re interested in learning how to cultivate the plants themselves! Cunning devils.

from the desk of sir georgeOf course, it’s not the first time in history that agents of the British state have got involved in the narcotics trade. Our very own Sir George Campbell MP recorded, in his Memoirs of My Indian Career, an earlier episode…

In other druggie news (Are you sure you want to branch into this? -Ed.), a kennel in Arizona has been destroyed by a £6,500 bundle of marijuna which somehow fell from the sky. Or that’s what the house-owner says, anyway…

Detectives suspect that it dropped out of a smuggler’s aeroplane, in what I think is technically – and, in this case, ironically – called a ‘dead-drop’. Either that or ‘getting high’.

According to The Telegraph:


Tsk, what a painfully sheltered life he must lead.


I recommend that people buy Private Eye this Thursday. No particular reason… *innocent face*


In tonight’s episode, Naruto the monkey was played by PETA (basically). Happy Birthday was liberated from the shackles of copyright. Kingston-upon-Thames introduced a new, less restrictive economic policy. Morley Academy opened a new branch in North Korea, and the British Army went to join them. This was an Gabrielquotes production!