It seems to be à la mode these days for media outlets to appoint inept political has-beens called George to senior positions, so Gabrielquotes is delighted to announce its new Editor-in-Chief, Sir George Campbell MP, lately of the Bengal Civil Service. He brings to this new role a whole raft of important qualifications, such as deep knowledge of the ills of Mohameddanism; having visited America on one, relatively recent, occasion (1879); and much much more.
Oh, sorry, what’s that George Osborne? You’re envious and want a go too? OK. You can have a quick song, but then we have to get on with the blog.
The UK’s equivalent of 24
It’s never a good sign when a newspaper article has to explain simple concepts in sensational terms. Nor is it a good sign when a newspaper can only explain something happening in Britain by comparing it to better-known things happening in the United States (I visited there in 1897 you know! -Ed.)
So it was a little surprising to read the following sentence in The Guardian:
The National Crime Agency, the UK’s equivalent of the FBI, took the unusual step of confirming its investigation…
As it happens, the comparison is entirely inaccurate (the FBI has a huge range of functions ranging from national security, ie. MI5, through to prosecuting inter-state mail fraud, ie. your local copper), but that in no way means that life as an agent in the National Crime Agency is in anything but the fast lane.
For instance, the organisation is currently recruiting an employment lawyer…
When the ’phone of Jack Bower QC rings at 11pm, something tells him he’s in for a long night. NCA is facing its biggest challenge yet: a new EU directive on sick pay threatens to cause chaos and panic [in the human resources unit]. With only twenty-four hours to go before the legislation comes into force, can Agent Bower get an interim injunction in time?
We all know how annoying it is to be in a public toilet and find that there’s no paper left.
So it’s great news that the Beijing city council has taken stern action against the rising tide of toilet paper hoarders (also known as bog hogs), in the form of a massive surveillance operation.
According to reporters:
Those in need of paper must stand in front of a high-definition camera for three seconds, after removing hats and glasses, before a 60cm ration is released. Those who come too often will be denied, and everyone must wait nine minutes before they can use the machine again.
While it’s a little odd that China safeguards its loo roll more assiduously than it safeguards its democracy, I’m sure this will be welcome news to the bladders of Beijing’s citizens.
Article 50 update
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 got its royal assent a week ago, but Theresa May has held off excising her power to invoke Article 50. She’s told the country that she will trigger it by the end of the month, making this period subject to one of the most significant trigger warnings in history.
The government’s latest plan for a red, white and blue Brexit is to haul in Britain’s anchor and let the country float off around the world, searching the high seas for new partners to trade with, Mortal Engines-style.
No wonder they’re worried about obesity: it’s sink or swim time, Brits! A competition to name this new floating Britain recently decided it should be called Country McCu (And, move on again. -Ed.)
Smile you’re on the World Happiness Index
What seems like about three times per year, a story appears in newspapers about some ‘annual’ (I swear it happens more than that) survey of “the world’s happiest country”, and people look at it with mild interest for about three minutes, then realise it must be bollocks, methodologically speaking, and move on with their drab, wretched lives, not as bitter about not living in Vanuatu or New Zealand or Argentina as the researchers would have wished.
This year’s/ quarter’s annual index reveals Norway to be the happiest place in the world, closely followed by Denmark and Iceland (whose top-three place no doubt owes a lot to its special offer on fish fingers this week).
The bottom ten countries – out of 155 – include Guinea, Syria (Which is not bottom! I knew all those refugees were just faking it! -Ed.) and Yemen, and I’m sure it’s just pure coincidence that most of them are failed or semi-failed states dwarfed by the task of clearing up the mess they were left by various Western empires.
The “veritable procedural imbroglio” of Gabriel Webber v Cabinet Office continues a[very slow]pace, with at least two things happening in the last four months.
First, the Cabinet Office’s barrister, glamorous Matthew Hill of Hillsborough inquest fame, has filed a second appeal in the government’s attempt to have the decision overturned. His main ground is the somewhat whingy “it’s not fair that we forgot to take part the first time round so pls can we have a second bite at the cherry kthx”, and he made the following rather witty introduction:
There is a lengthy and unfortunate procedural history to this matter. This is set out in some detail in the hope – possibly forlorn – that it will assist rather than hinder an understanding of this application.
There followed a comprehensive summary of the whole saga, running back to June 2014. The fact that the lengthiness and unfortunateness of the history is entirely the Cabinet Office’s fault, Matthew Hill chose not to mention…
The judiciary is having none of it, however. Upper Tribunal Judge Wikeley has indicated that he is likely to find against the government on my separate appeal, and restore the original decision, thus resetting matters to how they were, er, a year ago.
I’ll keep you posted over the next few decades.