Forging a new Britain

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A stamp of approval from Sir GeorgeGeorge Osborne cunningly distracted everyone from the horrors of his latest budget by revealing, the day before, the design for Britain’s new fraud-proof £1 coin, with its 450 sides, CCTV system, surround sound, Bluetooth compatibility and south-facing garden.

It’s so far cost only £2 million to design, and replacing every vending machine and parking meter in the country will cost an additional £15-20 mill. Absolute bloody bargain.

The coin was developed by the Royal Mint, which was founded in the year 886. As the world’s oldest manufacturer of currency, the organisation existed throughout the good old fashioned days when the sun never set on the British Empire without asking permission first; which presumably makes it a Mint Imperial.

It also lived through those dark pre-decimal days when pounds consisted of 20 shillings. The new £1 coin is based on the old thruppenny bit (value: 3p, obviously). Other new coinage based on retro currency includes, of course:

New pound coin…with a value of £280,000.

Of plebs and Pakistan

the_peacock_by_fatimahpantophag-d3ldskj[1]Pakistan has had its own version of the Plebgate incident, and three police officers who were guarding the Prime Minister’s residence have been suspended.

What did these three do wrong? It wasn’t fabricating a lie about a government minister. No, their misdemeanour was to allow a cat to “devour” one of the Prime Minister’s official peacocks.

According to national newspaper The Express Tribune, 21 officers were questioned over the incident. 18 were cleared of all charges but three “admitted they were on duty but did not anticipate a cat eating the peacock at night”. Perhaps it conflicted with the cat’s usual schedule.

Anyway, after the incident was seemingly over, along came a dog that bit the cat: fancy that, to bite a cat.

Blue lights

The Metropolitan Police this week admitted that it costs them £100 a throw to replace lightbulbs. Gilbert and Sullivan were like well unimpressed by this.

Dispatch from Durham

Durham is also home to the north east's only native population of pandas.
Durham is also home to the north east’s only native population of pandas.

An unpublished independent review into the governance of Durham University, conducted by the attorney-general of the Falkland Islands (obviously), has found that there is “a real culture of fear has developed in the university” and that “personal relationships can have undue influence over the outcome or expediency of decision-making processes”.

Peter Judge’s report also reported that university managers inappropriately dominate Senate, the main executive body of the organisation, and the Vice-Chancellor tends to act unilaterally as “the only voice” in making senior appointments.

According to Times Higher Education, Durham managers also attempted to dissolve the university Ethics Committee, which was apparently not needed in such a stellar institution.

Thank goodness I’m fortunate enough to attend a university which is nothing like this at all.

Prisoners’ right to read

sized_39846071-5830349[1]Chris Grayling has decided that prisoners don’t need access to books, so should not be allowed to receive them by post at all.

His decision is vaguely reminiscent of the California authorities’ ruling last year that prisoner Andreas Martinez should not be allowed to read the novel The Silver Crown. When that case reached the California Court of Appeals last year, a slightly bemused senior judge ruled:

We cannot simply dismiss the work as nonserious literature because it deals with werewolves and other paranormal creatures and activities. For better or worse, some segment of the population is fascinated by werewolves and other mythical beings. […] Whether contemporary readers drawn to this genre actually believe in werewolves [or] whether they see in such works a metaphor for some kind of human transformation […] the fact remains that werewolf literature retains a place in modern American and European society.

[… The book] does not advocate or tend to incite violence. Werewolves attack humans. Werewolf hunters kill werewolves. There is no morbid fixation on violence Most of the violence in the book is committed by or against mythical creatures, not humans.

[…] ‘The Silver Crown’ is a group of 12 elite and especially powerful werewolves, one of which has been killed by Iris. Mistakenly believing he was killed by Alfie, Iris’s werewolf boyfriend, the remaining 11 search for Alfie, ostensibly to put him on trial as a traitor. Witches, meanwhile, have prophesied that Iris will kill the Silver Crown.

Whoever said that reading court judgments is dry and uninteresting? One gets the impression that m’lud had never read a werewolf-related book before but found himself thoroughly enjoying it!

Those banned-from-prison books in full:

  • The Book Thief (obvs!)
  • Diary of a No Body Was Ever Found
  • Bleak Housebreaking
  • An Inspector Calls for Reinforcements
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Concealment
  • 50 Shades of Grey Stripes
  • The Coded Message of the Woosters by PC Wodehouse
  • Harry Potter and the Chamberpot of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firearms Convictions
  • Robberson Crusoe
  • Charlotte’s Web Access
  • The County Court of Monte Cristo
  • Catch 22 on the Third Window on the Right is Loose
  • DNA: The People’s Princess
  • A Hacker’s Guide to the Samsung Galaxy S5

Prisoners’ right to vote

winnfield louisianaMy dissertation research threw up the astonishing 2002 election dispute of Nugent v Phelps. Benji Phelps was police chief of Winnfield, Louisiana, a city of 6,000 people which elects its senior police officers.

Anyway, Mr Nugent lost the election, and Phelps was re-elected by four votes. Then some interesting details began to come out…

Phelps had set up a $100 tab behind the counter of Winni-Mart, a grocery store, with instructions that anyone who voted for him would be entitled to $5 of free convenience goods.

One lady “said she had planned to vote for Mr. Nugent but instead sold her vote for two packs of cigarettes and voted for Mr. Phelps,” and it’s hard to tell which suffered more, democracy or her cardiovascular system.

katy-bourne-criminalPerhaps more to the point of a police-related election, incumbent police chief Phelps had arranged for three Nugent campaigners to be imprisoned throughout the entire poll, preventing them from voting and going door-to-door canvassing others’ votes.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I think that directly electing senior leaders in the police service is quite a bad idea.

All I say is… if I’m imprisoned shortly before Katy Bourne stands for re-election in 2016, you know why!

Five of the best

Tonight’s denominations
In tonight’s episode, George Osborne broke Britain. The Met said, “Let there be light!”  Michael Farthing provided management consultancy services to Durham University. Chris Grayling started railing. Benji Phelps ruled Louisiana with an iron fist. And Andrew Mitchell ate the Prime Minister’s cat, or something. This was an Gabrielquotes production!


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