Category Archives: Economy

I [heart] America


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…

MUSIC

From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?

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Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?

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As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold

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Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen

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Vivian Maier

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Ansel Adams

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Cindy Sherman

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Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.

ADVERTISING

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Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)

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Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.

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Jean Michel Basquiat

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Edward Hopper

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Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.

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I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.

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I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?

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What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.

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You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?

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Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)

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There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.

 

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An ultimatum to the United States of America and North Korea


You are hereby served notice to surrender all nuclear weapons and ICBMs to the Republic of Daveland. You’re far too immature to play with them.

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If you do not comply within the next 48 hours I… I mean, WE, will be forced to declare war upon the aforementioned territories.

We will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger… actually, I think that quote has been done.

We’ll knock your bloody heads together, you pair of clowns.

While 7 billion people are bricking themselves about an impending nuclear holocaust, you’re too busy comparing cock sizes.

And we all know who’d win that competition.

Melania.

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Happy Eostre, Theresa May.


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Dear Theresa,

I am astonished as to why you would be “outraged” by Cadbury’s and the National Trust dropping the word “Easter” from its annual egg hunt.

As a vicar’s daughter, I would have thought, you of all people, would know that ‘Easter’ was appropriated by Christians from the Anglo-Saxon pagan festival of ‘Eostre’, sometimes known as ‘Ostara’.

Eostre is the German Goddess of fertility and is worshipped and celebrated at the time of the Spring Equinox to symbolise rebirth (of mother nature).Though, it is easy to see why Christians would steal this festival to mark the ressurection of Jesus Christ. (As they did with the Winter Solstice and Jesus’ birth.)

Of course, every God and Goddess needs a pet. Odin had a pair of ravens called Huginn and Muninn. Eostre was no different. She had a wittle, cutesy-wutesy bunny wabbit.

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But what about all the chocloate eggs I hear you bleat? What have they got to do with Jesus?

Absolutely nothing. Again, they are Eostre’s symbol of fertility and rebirth.

So, Theresa, next time you get the hump about a chocolate company ditching an irrelevant ‘Christian’ term from its promotion, I suggest you concentrate on more important things like selling Weapons of Mass Destruction to brutal dictatorships.

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The Insurrection – sample chapter


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Hello again.

Happy New Year and all that.

It’s been a while. A very long while.

Anyhoo, last year I started four novels. (Writing, that is. Not reading.)

And I finished exactly none of them.

I’ve already posted one of them last year, a Viking saga, called Gods’ Cauldron.

I thought I’d share another one with you.

It was inspired by the Brexit vote and the deep division it created across the country.

It’s a comedy-drama set in a dystopian near future where certain northern city-states are at war with the south. A sort of accidental revolution born out of protest.

The initial raison d’etre for the North was for a fairer society.

However, it soon becomes apparent that some northern leaders want full independence.

This will not stand for a salacious orange-faced president of the UK. And he will stop at nothing to exterminate the rebels’ ever-decreasing strongholds.

Will they succeed in creating their utopia? Or will globilisation prevail?

If you have the time, and inclination, have a peruse and let me know if you think it’s something worth pursuing.

I’ll be posting extracts from the other two novels in the next week or so.

Oh, and please share far and wide on the old social media, if it pleases you.

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The Insurrection.

By David Milligan-Croft

Chapter 1
Northern England, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

The country was in a state of chaos after The Insurrection. You could practically draw a line between the mouth of the River Dee in Chester to the Humber estuary in the east, to mark the boundary.

A north-south-divide if you will. With the exception of Cornwall and large swathes of Wales, who had always considered themselves Celtic and unconquered by London. Because that’s what the United Kingdom ultimately was – London. That’s where the seat of power had been for a brace of millennia. And after it had run out of land to conquer in Britain it decided to build some boats and go in search of territories overseas which to ‘liberate’ from their present rulers.

The lands south of our new ‘virtual’ border had decided to stay where the money was. They knew a good thing when they saw it. And that’s pretty much what it all boils down to – money. If you have it – you have power. If you have power – you have friends. Lots of friends. Sycophants who’ll do your bidding regardless of how questionable it is. Until the next highest bidder comes along that is.

The Insurrection wasn’t contained to the United Kingdom. Of course, it ultimately dragged the Republic of Ireland into the mix. While Belfast remained loyal to the capital, Derry and Armagh tried to slip back over the border to rejoin with the south. This brought fierce resistance both from London and the Unionists, the latter of whom had had control over the six counties since Home Rule in 1923.

Unionist atrocities in Derry had compelled militias from Donegal to come to the walled city’s aid. Which ultimately lead to Northern Ireland annexing Donegal. Outcries from Dublin brought the United Nations to the door. But, seeing as though the UK was one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council the chances of sending UN Peacekeepers into the region were zero.

‘Hellions’, as we were dubbed, also had enemies north of the border. Edinburgh had willingly stayed within the Union whilst Aberdeen and Inverness had to be coherced due to the North Sea oil and gas reserves. Glasgow too had to be subdued, presumably due to the proximity of the UK’s only nuclear submarine facility.

It’s not as though we started out wanting independence from the UK. It’s just that we were fed up of poverty. Of the unfair redistribution of wealth. The age old redistribution south. It’s not as though we had much to lose. The north of England had been economically razed to the ground for decades. Mass unemployment, decrepit infrastructure, foodbanks, clothesbanks, shoebanks, furniturebanks. In fact, the only banks we didn’t have were the ones with any money in them.

The Insurrection had largely been contained within the major urban areas of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle and Sunderland. Areas starved of investment since the government’s withdrawal from the European Union. You see, the reason for our protest against the government wasn’t because we were parochial northerners wanting to unburden ourselves from the shackles of our southern overlords. (In fact, a lot of Londoners who shared our beliefs came up to join our cause.) It was because we wanted to embrace multiculturalism and diversity.

It was this last aspect that gave us a lifeline, as we were supplied with medical aid and weapons by our European allies from both the east and the west. We were pretty self-sufficient on the food front, except when government forces poisoned the farm land with chemical sprays and sank our fishing fleet with their gunboats. Food and fuel became currency. Money was worthless. The only thing we didn’t lack for was weapons. There always seems to be enough weapons in the world with which to wage war.

We didn’t have tanks, fighter jets or helicopter gunships like the government, but we did have something they didn’t have – an idea. An idea of a fairer society. An idea that all the country’s wealth should not be held by the top 1% of the population. And that idea was growing like an interminable cancer south of the border as well. Rebellions and protests sprang up in the Midlands – Birmingham, Stoke, Derby and Leicester all had to be brought to heel.

We didn’t want to fight. We wanted to talk. To come to some accord. But, like William the Conqueror’s ‘Harrying of the North’ in the 11th century, London didn’t. It wanted to subdue and subjugate. Because of The Insurrection, Marshall Law was declared, so all elections were suspended until order had been restored, which effectively made the United Kingdom a right wing dictatorship.

The North’s problem was that it was too fragmented. There was no central leadership. No common goal. The Insurrection had almost happened organically in several cities at the same time. Each with their own agendas and mistrust of each other. And the government wanted to keep it that way so that they didn’t have to talk to anyone. We were just little bands of hellions, anarchists, terrorists, that needed irradicating from the good people of the United Kingdom. But we weren’t terrorists, we were accountants and builders, factory workers and farmers.

We knew that to make the government listen we had to unite. Unite with the idea of the fairer society. And that was what the meeting of the Five Regions was about today. It was being held in secret in Cumbria. If London spies knew that all five regions’ leaders were in one place, The Insurrection could be put to rest in a heartbeat. Or, lack, thereof.
The Five Regions comprised of: the North East; Yorkshire; Greater Manchester; Liverpool, Wirral and Chester and finally; Lancashire and Cumbria.

I am military commander of Greater Manchester, and my name is General Alexander Jefferson Carmichael. But people usually just call me Jeff. I’m not a general in the proper sense of the word as I have no military training, unless you count a spell in the army cadets and several games of paintball in my youth. I am lecturer by trade. If lecturing can be defined as a trade. I taught history of art at Manchester Metropolitan University before The Insurrection. Before I swapped a paintbrush for a Kalashnikov. Before I swapped Guernica for Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

I am accompanying our political leader, Christina Gambretti, a second generation Anglo-Italian, former human rights lawyer. Of all the regional leaders, I admire her the most. She has the most international experience, having previously worked for the UN, Amnesty International and the Refugee Council. If anyone can galvanise the Five Regions to get behind our one goal it is her.

We are travelling at night, by road as all commercial aircraft have been grounded by London. Any private planes or helicopters detected by radar over the no-fly-zone will be intercepted and shot down by RAF interceptors. However, this doesn’t make travelling by road risk free, as the skies are continually patrolled by Apache helicopter gunships bristling with rockets and machine guns and aided by night-vision. So we are travelling by ‘tour bus’. If stopped by enemy forces, we are tourists on our way to the Lake District.

Whilst we do control the large areas from Hadrian’s Wall in the north to the southern border, it is not unheard of for London to land Special Forces units by chopper to intercept any vehicles they deem suspicious. Or, indeed, to carry out covert strikes on valuable assets, such as reservoirs and energy facilities. Or even kidnappings. SK4 security services, a private company that took over from the police force, are believed to be responsible for abductions of prominent politicians, activists and dissidents who are never seen or heard from again.

Our areas of influence are dwindling by the week. Only yesterday, Crewe defected back over the Cheshire border to rejoin the UK. The government makes a song and dance about it on the media, but you never see what has become of the political leaders or the Hellion Militia. Just lots of images of the public with shiny happy faces being embraced by our orange-faced El Presidente.

The rendezvous was arranged in the Lake District because of in-fighting between the various regions. Manchester would not meet in Liverpool, Newcastle would not go to Sunderland, Leeds wouldn’t entertain the idea of going to Manchester. And, Yorkshire as a whole, would tend not to want to go anywhere outside of its borders. Most of these objections originated from old sporting rivalries rather than political differences, which made it all the more frustrating getting all the factions to be taken seriously.

We had booked a conference room in a Kendal hotel under the pretext of a sales conference. We were on pretty safe ground up there with a partisan crowd. Though we would have to sweep for listening devices and the like. And my security detail would have to keep a low profile. I had deliberately chosen three men and three women so that they could easily pass as couples wandering the grounds.

Each of the Five Regions was bringing two delegates, one political, one military. In the hope of us thrashing out a cohesive and unified plan militarily and politically.

‘You know,’ Christina said, as we wound through the dark, winding roads. ‘I don’t think it’s enough to demand a fairer society.’

Christina was very good at this. She would go along with a particular plan or suggestion, then take people aside individually and propose something else. Perhaps an amendment or two. Or, even something completely different.

‘What? You want an unfair society instead?’

She smirked. ‘No, we have that already. I was thinking that it’s not really about us coming together to share common ground. It’s the fact we’re completely different types of peoples, with different values. We don’t like what they represent and they certainly don’t like what we represent.’

‘You’re suggesting full independence for the North of England?’

She shrugged her slender shoulders and tucked a slither of auburn hair behind her ear.

‘Why not? If Scotland can, why can’t we?’

I frowned, ‘You know I don’t need to answer that.’

‘Okay, okay,’ she whispered. ‘What about Sudan and South Sudan?’

‘Yeah?’ I raised my eyebrows. ‘’Cause that turned out brilliantly for everyone, didn’t it?’

Christina eyed me contemptuously. ‘You get my point,’ she said flatly. ‘Besides, isn’t that what we’ve really wanted all along?’

I looked out of the coach window as rain streaked diagonally. Was that what we really wanted? I wondered. When I’d worked abroad in my youth, I had often found that when I told people I was from Britain, or England, they eyed me with caution, or even suspicion. But when I told people I was from Manchester they immediately brightened and opened with, ‘Ah, Manchester United!’

Northerners were certainly treated differently in some countries. Almost as though we were as oppressed as some of Britain’s former colonies. I particularly found this in Ireland and Australia.

‘What about the NHS and the welfare state?’ I asked.

‘We’d still have those,’ she said.

‘How’d we pay for it?’

‘Same as we do now, through taxes.’

‘How’d we pay to rebuild the infrastructure?’ Our cities had become fortresses and our infrastructure had largely been pulverised by the enemy.

‘EU subsidies,’ she smiled.

‘Army and airforce bases?’

‘Negotiation.’

When we had rebelled against the appalling atrocities and brutal overuse of force by SK4 Security, the army had been called in and had disobeyed direct orders to open fire on their own citizens. Local army units were subsequently confined to barracks. Then, when national regiments were drafted in, and they also refused. The army left it up to the government and local law enforcement, which was primarily owned by members of the government anyway. The police force had been outsourced to SK4 Security Services five years previously.

You could easily see why the generals, (the proper ones, that is), wanted nothing to do with instigating a civil war. After all, they swore allegiance to the Queen, not a despotic, orange dictator with a penchant for underage girls.

Chapter 2.

EL PRESIDENTE

Please feel free to point out any typos, punctuation and grammatical errors. It’s a first draft and these things happen no matter how many times I proofread it. I won’t be offended.In fact, I’ll be pleased!

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Dear EU, a love letter to Europe.


Dear EU,

I am so sorry, I have some bad news. It’s not you. It’s not even me – It’s them!

And, by ‘them’, I mean the 52% who voted to leave the European Union.

I guess they’ll say I’m just a sore loser and that democracy won the day. But it’s hard to see it as democracy when their decision making was based on a litany of untruths and fear.

You see, I was one of the 48% that wanted to stay with you, because I love you. I’m a complete Europhile. I love your rich, colourful, cultural diversity. I also love the fact that we can come and go as we please. Not just for holidays, but for work or to study.

And it’s that cultural diversity that leads to understanding, respect, tolerance and unity.

The world needs fewer borders, not more.

Sure, it’s not always been plain sailing and we’ve had our ups and downs. But I think we’ve had more ups than downs over the years, don’t you think? You’ve let us keep our own currency and border controls. And you’ve made the prices of things much cheaper. And made sure workers’ rights have been protected.

You’ve been very kind and patient with us these past few months while we’ve tried to make up our minds whether or not to dump you.

The problem was, the Vote Leave campaign told so many whopping big lies about the economy and immigration that they managed to get 52% of people to believe them.

Only this morning have they reneged on one promise to spend £350 million pounds a week on the NHS! I bet the Vote Leavers feel like a right bunch of suckers right now.

I have to be honest, and say that the Vote Remain campaign didn’t cover itself in glory either.

A lot of folks over here are saying that the people who voted leave are ‘stupid’. But they’re not, are they? They were just lied to on a monumental scale. The fact is, the Vote Leave campaigners played on people’s fears. They managed to convince them that all the problems we’ve been having these past few years are the fault of the EU and immigrants rather than the financial crash of 2008 and Tory austerity measures.

Unfortunately, they’ll soon find out that they were spoon fed a pack of lies.

The other big problem is that a lot of people in England are becoming ever more racist. They don’t want you ‘foreigners’ coming to our country and nicking our jobs and sponging off our welfare system.

But you don’t do that, do you? You create £6 billion worth of wealth for the UK economy. And withdraw a paltry few hundred million in welfare by comparison.

All the clever people wanted us to stay with you. People like Stephen Hawking, Richard Branson, Lord Sugar and Posh & Becks. (Maybe we should have got someone from the Big Brother house or Geordie Shore to be a spokesperson instead.) Whereas, all the right-wing scaremongers such as Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Katie Hopkins wanted us to leave. And, because people are becoming more and more right wing, they believed in the harbingers of fear, hate, division and intolerance.

Maybe there is a way for us to stay together. Me and you, that is. Not Britain, it’s too late for that. And, the irony is, the ‘Great Britain’ Vote Leavers so desperately coveted will probably lead to it being dismantled. (Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain with you.)

Poor-little-England will have to take on the world single-handed. It’ll build a grand new fleet of galleons made from the finest spruce and oak. England shall once again, rule the waves, sail the seven seas and plunder, rape and subjugate all in its path!

Until, it sinks and drowns.

We’re not all racist, nationalistic, xenophobic, imperialistic, unrealistic, gullible Luddites, you know.

I still love EU. And I always will.

Yours,

David.

P.S. Can I please come and live with you?

 

 

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That’ll do, Dave. That’ll do.


Old farmer Cameron has been bandying about the insults at today’s Tory Party Conference.

 

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Okay, let’s try to dissect what David Cameron actually meant when he accused Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, of being: “security threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating”.

Let’s take “security threatening” first. 

Corbyn wants world peace.

He doesn’t want to bomb Syria.

He wants nuclear disarmament.
Yes, he sounds like a real threat to me.
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Next, we have terrorist-sympathising”.
Corbyn thinks we should open a dialogue with all interested parties in conflict. These could be governments, political parties or terrorist organisations. A bit like we did with the IRA when it came to the Good Friday Agreement.
Talk, before bombs? Who knows, it could work.
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Lastly, Britain-hating”.
Like me, Corbyn has no-truck with the monarchy.
Indeed, I would like my daughters to have the chance of being the democratically elected head of state. Instead of the out-dated, eternally privileged, palace dwelling, tax-dodging, freeloaders we have now.
What I hate about that ‘kind’ of Britain, is that the public school educated elite believe they have the right to lord it over plebs like me ad infinitum.
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So, Babe, before you start dishing out the insults, I suggest you take a leaf out of Mr. Corbyn’s book, and try a fresh approach to governance to create a New Britain. One that protects its citizens, (yes, even the poor ones). A country that educates its children and takes care of its sick. A nation that welcome diverse cultures and strives towards a peaceful world with fewer bombs and more dialogue.
And, no Dave, HP Sauce is not a lube.

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The Ethics of Crowdfunding Assassinations. Or, “How I topped a Toff”. (Part 1.)


I was sitting on the bus the other day, on the way to collect my dole money, (being the work-shy scrounger that I am), when I happened to earwig in on a conversation by two assassins sitting on the seat in front of me.

I could tell they were assassins because one was dressed like a ninja and the other like a navy seal but without the military insignia.

Anyhoo, they were discussing whether they thought they could get crowdfunding to assassinate George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, as they didn’t reckon their Job Seekers Allowance would cover it.

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Whilst I obviously don’t condone murder per se, my ears pricked up, as I had never heard anyone discussing the finer points of crowdfunding for such an endeavor – even if the targets in question were totally deserving of such a fate.

First of all, they went through a “wish list” of things they might need to carry out their task: a high-powered sniper rifle; a couple of Glock 9mms; ammo; some ninja throwing stars; a super-fast getaway car, (along the lines of a Nissan Micra); some factory workers overalls; some waiters uniforms; and two bags of cheesy Wotsits just in case they had to do a stakeout.

This final point caused quite a kerfuffle, as the ninja said in no uncertain terms that Wotsits tasted of belly fluff and that he preferred Monster Munch. The seal compromised and a bag of each was added to the list. (Along with a can of diet Coke and an Innocent smoothie.)

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It turns out the factory workers’ overalls were for the hit on Osborne. As he would no doubt be on a factory visit at some stage. The waiters’ outfits were for the hit on IDS as he would invariably be having a champagne breakfast at some swanky hotel at the taxpayers’ expense.

They also reckoned they would need about half a mill to bribe a government official to get info as to the whereabouts of the two miscreants during the year.

All in all, these two would-be Lee Harveys totted up that they would need about a million quid to successfully carry out their mission. (Excluding a couple of Easyjet flights to the Costa del Sol afterwards.)

I didn’t think a million quid was too bad to pop a cap in the bottoms of two of the most nefarious politicians since the rise of the National Socialist Workers’ Party.

They even drew up a list of funding options, ranging from a tenner for a, “I topped a Toff” t-shirt, to a hundred quid for an invite to the afters street party. (This they reckoned would be a big seller.)

They also talked of being able to attend the actual assassinations for a grand per person. But weren’t too sure about the practicalities of this, as a large, cheering, placard waving mob following them around might not be best for covertness.

After a time, they began to doubt the logistics of it all and whether people would get into the spirit of things and chip in. So they turned to me and asked me what I thought.

I said that I absolutely and utterly did not condone murder and, had my iPhone not run out of battery, would’ve probably reported them to the police, (which they empathised with, being upstanding citizens an’ all).  However, hypothetically, I asked, wouldn’t it be easier for the two little tykes to simply do the whole lot of them in at once and take out the entire cabinet?

They complained that this was a risky strategy and that they’d never in a million years get access to the cabinet.

So I says, give the million quid and a bomb in a lobster thermidor to Iain Duncan Smith, he’d sell his own mother for a sturgeon canapé. Sure, hasn’t he been sponging off his missus for the past thirty years?

“But he’s top of our list!” the ninja said.

“Yes,” I said. “But you can do him in afterwards. When he’s under the viaduct kicking the shit out of a homeless person.”

They seemed to think this was a good idea.

Anyways, my stop was coming up, so I bid them adieu.

I don’t know what the legalities are of crowdfunding the assassination of high-ranking politicians, but it has to be worth a shot.

Or, perhaps, two.

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