12 Wonderful Events of 2013

Twelve months, and just 12 of the wonderful things that happened this year!

1. A golden eagle in Indiana breastfed a little baby lamb abandoned by its mother in January.

2. A dog licked a young man's naked butt as he leaned out of his bedroom window to have a cigarette in February, giving him such a fright that he fell out of the window entirely. His death generated plenty of laughs and good cheer!

3. In March, a man gave a waitress a tip. He wrote on a receipt: "Your lifestyle choice offends me. I pray that the Good Lord changes you sexually!" Some tip! So the people on the social media let the dog from the February video get at him. It changed HIM sexually.

4. A 10,000 year old pickle - discovered in a goatskin and clay cask of vinegar in Iran - was consumed by former Iranian president Machhhmoood Armoured-Dinnerjacket, while athletic Harvard lecturer and occasional Arizona rancher Professor Austin Seattle stood watching, at gunpoint, in April.

Thankfully, the expected world domination that the pickle was said to imbue in its eater never took place, the Iranian leader spent the next two days confined to a nearby bathroom, with a sink in close proximity to the toilet, and - even worse - he subsequently lost a general election in August, bringing in a more communicative president, Wayne Rooney.

5. In May, footage emerged from the vaults of a Czech television station showing Adolf Hitler playing what appeared to be a Nintendo Wii. While the footage has yet to be authenticated, Nintendo (est. in 1889) now admits that the prototype console was sent to the Fuhrer as a gift, and that the Japanese games manufacturer has been "sitting on the technology" since at least 1927.

7. June saw the first "switching of the sixes and the sevens". The move is hoped to reduce the world population by at least one billion, as the global population reached seven billion in 2011.

6. In July, the first firebombing of a bamboo forest full of giant pandas took place in western China, wiping out sixty percent of the planet's giant panda population - a total of seven animals - as the World Wrestling Federation started its search for a "replacement symbol". The giant panda (Ursapanda Pronetomaulye) is now regarded as "on the way out". Too much funding has gone towards breeding the deceptively cute but prone-to-maul-ya creatures, which have only one food staple, and seem to avoid anything that will result in its population re-establishing itself.

However, the move is seen as premature by some: Last year an experiment-fond janitor at the Bronx Zoo discovered that panda breeding in captivity was made easier, through allowing the scent of the female panda to be inhaled and exhaled by a mature Yangtze river dolphin, and then exposed to the male panda, as he is suspended above the freshwater mammal's blowhole.

The shortlist for the new animal representative for the wrestling association includes the black & decker toothless frog, the snakeskinned antelope, the thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger), the Yangtze river dolphin, and Edward, the last surviving farting skunk mimic.

8. Mathematics made its first major accidental breakthrough in August for more than 200 years, when the entire month of August - represented by the symbol "8" - fell over on a number of computer systems, and was converted to Infinity.

The result was a very, very extended summer for some, with holiday makers around the planet still stranded at their vacation spots today. Once 2014 begins, it is hoped that the systems will revert to normal, and these over-tanned tourists can get home.

9. The good news story of September involved the loss of a job for exotic animal lover Drucker Hardy. When his Goliath spider Tiny was made aware that they would be moving out of the house Drucker was living in, due to non-payment on the mortgage when he lost his job as an arachnophobe at the local theme park fun house, the spider started work as a male hand-model, picking up his first gig almost immediately for the back-to-school season. Drucker and Tiny got to keep the home, and Drucker has since become Tiny's manager full time.
10. 94-year-old Pastor Scooter Nichols predicted that the world would end for Halloween. Despite an upsurge in vampires, zombies and Obamacare, the suspected end of days didn't materialise.

11. Syria's government forces were persuaded by the international community to give up their chemical weapons, resulting in overt celebrations by the country's dissident groups. The street revelers were subsequently bombed by the Syrian government's artillery, using weapons to which the international community had given their seal of approval.

12. A Navy SEAL won a purple heart in the mountains of Pakistan, laying down cover fire as he returned to a minefield a total of seven times to rescue eight injured comrades, before airlifting them out of the region. The soldier maimed fourteen insurgents, refusing to inflict mortal wounds on two of them when he had the chance. On the helicopter journey back to base, his commanding officer - one of the wounded whom he had rescued - demanded to know why he "had not made any kills". On the removal of his mask, the hero soldier revealed himself to be Pope Francis, before he threw himself out the chopper door into the canopy of a forest below.

Fifth home explodes in e-Cigarettes nightmare

Yesterday, the sole occupant of a house in Navan, County Meath, was killed by a blast caused by his attempt to open an electronic cigarette. It is the fifth such known explosion since the products were introduced onto the market in the Republic. In a phone call to the Tipperary-based supplier of the e-cigarette brand that is believed to have caused the blast, a sales representative was actively discouraging their purchase.

"They don't have good reviews, these ones," he whispered. "Check online. There's been loads of fires from USB charges of them. You connect the e-cig chargers to the computers, and the laptops can't recognise the vapour as data. Can't handle it. Just starts going on fire. It does what the cigarette is trying to prevent, which is emit toxic fumes. We're not supplying them to the shops any more because they're all in dodgy legal territory. The chargers, the refills, the batteries, are all legislatively shady. We're laughed out of the pharmacies! Also, the cherry flavoured ones are so delicious that two people have died trying to drink the liquid."

The liquid is found in the refill or filter section of an electronic cigarette - which allows the e-cig to produce its vapour.

"But c'mere," the supplier went on. "Those who don't break open the filter successfully to get at the lethal dose of cherry vapour to suck it out and die, they don't realise that the e-cigarettes are lethal death traps. They're wired funny! They just explode, a lot of them, if you try to open them, bringing apartment blocks and houses and offices along with them. You're only reading about the explosions that are proved to be caused by e-cigarettes. I'd say that the electronic cigarette industry is responsible for ninety percent of the construction work carried out in Ireland at the moment, as the construction workers have to rebuild homes that have been brought down in all these so-called gas explosions or electrical fires that the electronic cigarette industry won't acknowledge as caused by their products!"

When asked for further details, the sales rep baulked.

"If they knew I was telling you this, they'd have me killed," he said. Then he added helpfully: "Oh no! Oh God no! I have to run!"

Gunshots could then be heard over the line, followed by approaching footsteps. Then a different, deeper voice asked:
"Hello? Hello? Who is this?"
"Hi, I was just talking to your colleague there about the cherry flavoured e-cigarette refills, and whether they're available at any retailers in Dublin? I see you have coffee ones as well?"
"Yeah. The coffee flavoured ones. The... you know? I see they're available in the UK, from the UK site. But I was just wondering if they've come into Ireland at all, or maybe even I could pop up to the North?"
"Sorry...who am I talking to?"
"Oh - look - I've got a call coming in here - it might be the shop here in the shopping centre down the road!"
"We don't supply to any shops in Dublin. We have stands at various locations."
"No. Yes. No. I just - this is for a different brand. Sorry. I'll have to get back to you."
"None of the manufacturers can supply to the shops. Who is this?"
"Ehhh... Coffey. Martin...Coffey. Thank you! I'll get back to you."

Dogs in Distress - a good cause and a great experience Part Three

Continued from Part Two

"Look at you," I could see him thinking. "You're here RIGHT NOW! We could go out and explore RIGHT NOW! Can you explain that one, Mister?" And sometimes he would bark at me.

He didn't really like his dog food. He often ate on the go - he explored a bush at one point, and before I could stop him, he had consumed an entire spare rib bone that he had sniffed out. Job done, he wiped his little paws in the grass, as if coming into a house on a Welcome mat, and he sprang back out of the bushes onto the street again to continue on our way.

Marie and Kathy at Dogs in Distress were very helpful. I probably spent more time detailing the dysfunctional dynamic that was developing between myself and my charge over email, than I actually spent sitting down with the little guy, telling him to behave. I should have been more common sense about it, as I said.

I was messing the little guy up, when there were any number of things I should have and could have tried to get him feeling happier with his circumstances. Hobo was going to leave the apartment once he found a good home anyway. But his frustrations started to manifest themselves in stopping on our walks, refusing to go in the direction I insisted on. We would stand together at one spot, each of us as stubborn as the other.

On his last day here, at 7.30 in the morning, he saw me waking up, and he started barking immediately. The tyke had already been out on the balcony, looking at activity going on like jogging, and dog walking, and I imagine he'd been looking out for an hour or more, as he had slept like a log while I had been at the keyboard the night before, writing my psychological assessment journal to Dogs in Distress.

Getting dressed quicker than a Lothario fleeing from the home of his lover whose husband has just arrived home unexpectedly, I threw him into the car, and drove him to my parents', making clear how very unhappy I was with his attitude, not letting him avail of the potential steering-wheel burn of which he was so fond. He had spent a lot more time napping than I had, I told him, and one of us needed some more sleep.

He knew he shouldn't have been barking so early. In fairness, I had seen a look like he had wanted to bark in the dead of night on occasions. He hadn't done it coz he knew darkness and night-time weren't barking time, even in the uncivilised world in which he had found himself plonked. But at 7.30 am, the sun had been splitting the stones for an hour already at least, and I had had him out on previous mornings at 8 a.m. He didn't know which way was up with me. He couldn't be expected to sense the mood any more than the forum readers would have in the next paragraph.

I put him in my parents' back garden where he could bark to his heart's content, without fear of reprisal or reprimand. I uploaded a post to the charity that was probably more mean-spirited than I had intended. But the other forum readers probably wouldn't have appreciated the tone. The post fell deadborn from the press, politely ignored by the administrators.

My departure from my parents' house, abandoning Hobo for a few hours, was probably a very bad idea, as I had spent every waking and sleeping hour with him for a couple of weeks. But he knew my parents, and he liked their wonderfully ordered home and garden, as he had been there twice before.

My mother spent some time with him while I went home, texted Kathy at the charity to give her the details of what had happened, and submitted the post which was rejected. I explained to Kathy that I hadn't wanted to reward this early morning barking with a walk. I could've actually taken him to a friend's garden around the corner from where I live, but I was unsure if there would be somebody there all day, and he hadn't met my friend yet, and I didn't want to give Hobo the impression he was going for any kind of a constitutional for being a little Narky Barky McBarksters.

I turned up again in the afternoon at my parents'. Mother told me that with every noise in the house, he had pricked his ears, as he thought it was me returning. Poor little guy. And he was delighted to see me, but I was conscious as I took him home that the accommodations were unfair, that he was forcing himself to be happy in a place where he wasn't, that ideally he needed somewhere else to stay, or I needed to sort out our arrangement and let him know quick-smart that he was being a bit of an Aretha.

Then Kathy - wise to all of our Odd Couple frustrations, maintaining contact all the way through his fostering - texted me with the details of a fosterer a mile down the street, the wonderful Amy, who worked at a pet-shop and had a bigger house with more than herself in it, with a garden and a second small dog, to accommodate and befriend Hobo. I told Kathy I was sorry I didn't get to sort out the issues for which I had ultimately been responsible.

They know their stuff, though, these charity peeps, and they really, really care for the dogs.

I drove down with Hobo and all his stuff - his toys and the great, tasty, high-quality food from the charity, his doggy treats, and his big dog bed cushion (very little cost associated with the fostering, all provided by D-in-D) - and I parked in a square near enough to his new home. Amy came out to meet me with her dog, and she took the lead while explaining where I ought to actually park. I drove up the street while she and the two dogs walked back to the house. I parked and waited at her house door with the stuff from my car. Amy arrived a half minute later than I had expected, carrying the little guy in her arms with her dog still on the lead.

"He refused to walk, so I had to pick him up," she explained.

See? There's the difference between a good fosterer and a bad one. I would've been standing there waiting for him to realise the error of his ways. It would've made more sense to scoop him up, instead of giving him equal footing as a decision maker on where we went walkies.

I didn't say goodbye to Hobo. Whatever minimal closure I wanted, I didn't feel it would have been fair on Amy trying to get him to settle. I told her to contact me to meet if he was upset, but I didn't want to confuse the little guy, and I certainly didn't want to trouble them with an insistence that I see him again. So I resisted the urge to take up her more-than-generous offer to visit if I wanted to. Maybe that's me overthinking things again.

It was unfortunate that I couldn't give him more routine, and that I didn't have the time to iron out the problems that had manifested themselves: If I was out late at night, he was with me.

Our latest night out had ended at four a.m. on a weekend visit to friends, and that can't have been good for him. He had gone everywhere, my best little pal. I'll know to do things differently if I have the privilege to foster again.

Amy found a new home for him. She claimed that he seemed to prefer the name Bobo, which might explain why he had so little interest in answering to "Hobo!" when I called him.

The charity does need fosterers, and they will match the right people with the right dogs, and if it doesn't work out, they find somewhere else. That isn't easy. It doesn't happen just like that, in the words of Tommy Cooper. But sometimes it has to happen, as in my situation. And the pool of potential fosterers needs to be a deep one. Kathy had said that another dog - maybe a few years older than Hobo's estimated four years, and a bit more chilled - would've probably been perfectly happy at my place. And there are various circumstances - bad weather, say - where Hobo might have been happier a little more indoors. (He had been a little put out by thunderstorms, hiding under my desk, and had required cuddles. And he seemed to understand and agree with me that going out in rain was just silly.)

I encourage people to volunteer for this cause or to make a donation - whether it's simply to try out pet ownership, or to take in one of the lovely animals as a permanent family member. I think, from what little research I've done, it's one of the best organisations of its kind around, in terms of how it goes about its work. So do it! Do it now!

Dogs in Distress - a good cause and a great experience Part Two

Continued from Part One.
There was no car accident. If there is, it's metaphorical. I learned a few things about myself when I took the dog in. I consider myself a patient enough individual. But when it comes to dogs, I need to be a bit less of the psychoanalyst, and more commonsense. For instance, I was instructed by Kathy at Dogs in Distress to ignore him when he barked at me. The advice paid off, and he would stop barking within a minute of realising I was ignoring him. It was a concern, as pets are frowned upon at my place, and he was taking too long to stop the yapping.

Honestly, I have found difficult toddlers easier to appease than my little guy. But no toddlers have stayed as long with me as Hobo had.

I had few answers that appealed to him, other than his insistence that we get out of the apartment when he saw other dogs in the park, or other curiosities to investigate further. Rolling a ball towards him indoors would be met with his own tokenistic chase after it, as if he were the one entertaining me. He loved his cuddles, and he loved play once we were outside the confines of the apartment. My dilemma was either frustrated overstimulation for Hobo, as he observed things passively from the balcony, or curtains drawn and darkness, with the telly on, which I wasn't willing to even test, given the glorious weather.

I had noticed that he was so impressed with my own barking that he initally hadn't believed it came from me. He looked around, thinking there was another dog present. It's not in the handbook - and maybe it's not advisable - but perhaps when he barked at me, I should've barked back to see if that would shut him up, out of sheer surprise that I could respond to him in his Warrior tongue. Kaplah!

I had to get him out of the apartment for fear of complaints from the Residents' Association or the apartment block management company. There was a missive from the management company in August, discussing pets generally and loudness. It was after Hobo had been with me.

I had asked Kathy if I could hit him, or tap his nose or something. I have no doubt that she thought I was the spawn of Satan, even asking that. But she also understood I needed a quick fix, and crushing a Valium into his dog food wouldn't do the trick. I felt like a resident of wartime Amsterdam, trying to hide members of the Jewish community in my attic.

"Sshhhh! You'll get us both killed!"

The dogs that come from shelters are sometimes somewhat dysfunctional, as they have suffered the trauma of abandonment or perhaps bereavement. That's not my excuse. Hobo was FINE before he encountered me. He was a gorgeous, shy, agreeable little chap. I was warned that he might forget his bathroom manners, and I was told to expect him to be sick. None of this happened. He did do a fake wee on a black bin liner at one stage, placed there for that just-in-case purpose. But I think by that stage he was actually just telling me what he thought of me and him being at home when we could've been out. (I could tell by the way he glanced at me when he did it. He cocked his leg and glanced at me as if to say "Now, I didn't do a whizz just now, but that's what I could do if we don't get out of here, buster!")

Most of the time, he really showed his love and affection. But he wasn't happy in a first floor apartment. He loved HOUSES with GARDENS, and he was reluctant to leave them if we visited one.

I can't just live anywhere, I would try to explain. We have to go home. And he would look at me when we were leaving a house, thinking: "I'd rather stay here than go back to the apartment, you know. Just sayin'."

About two days into my canine friend's stay, a long required spring clean took place in the apartment, while he mostly sat on the couch watching me, amused at my scrubbing and mopping. I really should've done this before his arrival, or on the day he came, but I had devoted a lot of time after he did arrive to making sure he had a little bit of routine, involving walks and plenty of attention and massages, and scratches and backrubs - although even that ended up backfiring, as my own routine was too haphazard.

On the evening when the big clean was finished, we were sitting at the balcony door, watching the park across the street. He looked up at me while I held him, and he got up and then he put his front paws up on my knees and gave my face such an aggressive, minute-long licking, that I laughed at his gratitude and pushed him away several times before holding him again.

He got frustrated sitting on the balcony, rather than having a garden. When we came home, he would often sit or stand at the bottom of the stairs - although well able to mount them - and look up as I looked back, while I was asking him to come up to the first floor. He sometimes flat refused, and I had to carry him up. The expression "flat refusal" would be a perfect way to describe his displeasure at his foster accommodations.

He would come in off the balcony in the glorious summer heat when we were at home, and look at me in the kitchen or the living room, and to say that he seemed curious as to why we couldn't go out and about - when we were both physically present in the apartment - would be an understatement. I have a few guests who like to stay, although I often have a lot of mess and disorder. But this little house-guest wasn't too pleased.

Continued Part Three.

I don't get it...


There was a discussion on Irish television last night that I don't even want to acknowledge. I will generalise here. I won't name names, or talk ill of specific bishops. But I don't get how a group of adults, or a figurehead, or a religious leader of any description, has the horrific audacity to try to explain to anybody else that they think that what they are doing is a sin - whether they forgive them or not.

But how about I forgive YOU, for being a disgusting asshole, which is probably the terminology some of the people who AGREE WITH YOU would use to describe the very rectal regions of the people you attack? The Russian so-called majority, and the African government ministers educated by your missionaries, and their Christian competitors, in their schools? How about that?

That anyone can suggest to others - in complete armchair sincerity - that their choices are actually flawed - if no one is getting hurt by those choices, and - actually - people would get hurt if those choices were reversed - is ridiculous. Do these people want reverses in society? Go back to Russia!

The first point in any conversation of this kind, from anyone on any side, should be as an advocate of freedoms and rights, however concessionary that seems, howsoever that weakens an argument. Like much of the content on this blog, discussions of the kind from last night are not "authentic dialogue". Anyone at a station that's privileged enough to express a view that includes the possibility of the denial of the Eucharistic sacrament - and who is honest and dumb enough to express that opinion - is wasting everyone's time. Do they deny heterosexual murderers the sacraments? Wife beaters? Which other groups of social pariahs could we list here that would be relevant to the discussion? Anyone?

It's an unnecessary parody of serious conversation. It shouldn't have to take place.

There was another talk, on the radio earlier in the evening, about transgender people, and the need to encourage and support them, and certain details of their surgical and medical treatments, and the lack of facilities for same in Ireland. Now, I don't get myself a lot of the time. But I certainly don't get transsexual lesbians, just as an example to pick on. I mean, even in Iran, they recognise gender dysmorphia. But I'm sure that the Iranians would look at transsexual lesbians and feel that they're pushing the boat out a little too far. This is one minority group I'm sure we can all agree that we can target! Let's round them up, people!

Dogs in Distress - a good cause and a great experience Part One

So I've heard a couple stories lately about the closure of a dog shelter in Ballymun due to the loss of its premises, and also, the far more (prohibitively expensive) medical assessments and treatments that will be required, on animals traveling to the UK from Ireland.

I haven't seen anything further on this second story since I read a piece about it a few months ago, but the legislation coming in is in part because of the horsemeat scandal, and the faking of documents and passports for old nags that were being sent to the glue factory by unscrupulous burger people. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo...I'm lovin' it!

These new laws are going to have a major impact on the animal sanctuaries and charities and homes and pounds here in Ireland, because the British sure do love their pets. Hot dayum! I didn't realise this but a lot of the pets fostered here - after they've been abandoned or been found homeless - are often adopted by - I hate to admit it, so I'm gonna just look at the floor as I touch type - those bloody, warm-hearted, animal-loving, humane, kind, bloody Englanders. With their accents that can cut glass, and their corgis. In their portraits of elderly and soft-spoken, modest, regal noblewomen. Owaoight, guv'nahhhh!
At the height of this year's blazing summer, I took in a little foster dog for just a couple of weeks. I got the little chap from Dogs in Distress. Marie runs Dogs in Distress, with help from Kathy, and a plethora of excellent fosterers, such as the incredible and beautiful Corinne, whose acquaintance I made when I dropped some stuff to her home from the charity, as a bit of a lark one afternoon. A fair skinned, naturally Gothic-looking angel, she would qualify as the most beautiful creature in Tim Burton's entourage, if she were on his management team. But she does very good work in both personal and professional capacities. No quirky barber musicals or kid movie remakes for her.

After emailing Corinne, writing a piece about animal care, and asking her about the charity, I went up to Meath, having filled in the pertinent deets on my own life, residence, how much time I had, yadda yadda yadda, in a quite detailed application form, to see if the Dogs in Distress people could find a matching pooch for me to foster.

The decision was practical on my part. Dogs are brilliant. If there's a dog to take walking, gimme the leash and off we go. I wanted to see if a canine would enjoy my company, in the wonderful weather, when we could go out and about, and most of the work I do is from home anyway. These are all considerations that I outlined in the form, and the subsequent talks and vetting procedures, to make sure I was alreeet and a dog would be happy.

I picked him up from Marie's place, where there was a large back-room with half a dozen dogs or more to greet me, tails wagging. Her latest arrival was my little guy, a beige terrier mix of some kind, a gorgeous ball of fuzz who biddingly popped out for a quick walk up the country road before we set off on our way.

Marie said my dog's name was Hobo. He didn't seem to like the name when I called him that once we got home. She agreed it was a horrible name but it was the one the pound had given her.

I said "But he looks like a Hobo!" I think Marie was appalled at my insensitivity, as she had just taken him for a shampoo and a haircut, and he was looking quite the dapper charmer. What I had meant was, he looked a bit like Benji, the little terrier type mix or whatever it is, from the tv show in the 80s.

I had got Benji mixed up with The Littlest Hobo. The Littlest Hobo was a German shepherd Alsatian wolfdog huskie sort in his various guises - I think he was first played by David Niven or Bob Holness. And in all fairness, there are undoubtedly smaller HUMAN hobos than the Littlest Hobo. That's false advertising. Getting Hobo mixed up with Benji could've been a source of contention. I cleared up my mistake with a text message to Marie discussing North American canine-centered 1970s and 80s dramas, a few days after bringing Hobo home with me.

Marie is the founder of Dogs in Distress. She doesn't strike me as a self-promoter, but she does some necessary and very wonderful work from her base in Meath. The animals she looks after are often a little broken, traumatised, or hurting. None of them deserve to be put to sleep. As with the vast majority of such pooches, all they frequently need is some temporary TLC before they find somewhere more permanent to live. And they do need homes, now more than ever, given the details of the opening paragraph, and the added expenses that will be incurred in overseas transport. As I said, Marie has the quiet, assiduous humility of a charity leader.

She puts out fires caused by abandonment and whatever else, rescuing dogs that would otherwise be put to sleep, with the limited resources she has available. Corinne assisted me with a piece I wrote on animal welfare here in Ireland, where I suggested that international animal-loving students - here for a year or more - might think about fostering dogs or cats during their stay. And I gave Dogs in Distress a shout out in the piece.

We got home and Hobo seemed a little shy. I gave him some dogfood and water, which he only half finished. I showed him around the place. We went out onto the balcony. He liked it, and sat down, looking out onto the street and the park across the way, glancing at me. We went for a walk.

Over the next couple of weeks, I took the little guy everywhere with me, which was a blessing and a curse. Only because no time alone meant his dependence was more acute, although I loved his company and had no professional obligations that couldn't be done virtually. On our walks, he was one of these little beggars who didn't realise how small he was, and he would bark at huskies four or five times his size, like Benji barking at the Littlest Hobo.

If he had had a garden to explore and some alone time, he might have been better off. He was getting plenty of activity - long, two to four hour walks, and drives in the car, where he often insisted on at least my hand to hold as we drove around Dublin, but he was fond of seating arrangements that were clearly illegal. He had an uncanny knack of freeing himself of his lead while on our journeys, either by slipping off his collar, or loosening the lead from the passenger seat. It was easy enough to accommodate him if a friend was there with a free lap, but by golly, when you're alone with him there, trying to take a sharp turn, and you realise that there is potentially such a thing as "steering wheel burn", it makes driving quite difficult.

Read about the massive car pileup we caused on the M-50 in Part Two!

New Apple iPhone factory staffed entirely by undercover journalists and reporters

In a recent series of exposés, it was discovered that a new Apple phone manufacturing facility established in Detroit Michigan just three months ago was staffed entirely by journalists during its first quarter.

The reporters from a variety of media companies and publications - including Variety - were eager to establish if the working conditions in the factory would be on a par with the shoddy conditions that were exposed at a plant run by one of Apple's Chinese contractors in the Far East. Although people are still suffering at that plant, it's not even today's "fish and chips wrappers". If health and safety were to continue to allow the British tradition of chips wrapped in newspaper sheets, it would be the chip wrappers that are now at the hypothetical dump, under heaps of other detritus and waste that has been piled on top of it for the last six months.

The Variety reporter - a screenwriter working on a movie trilogy starring Rutger Hauer and Fiddy Cent - wanted to explore the potential for a script on poor working conditions at the Phone Mill, as it is known.

He laments the fact that he won't get an interesting story for a movie from his Apple experiences, as everyone else at the factory was also working undercover, with fabricated back-stories suggesting hardships that writers and reporters have yet to experience, working - as journalists often can - for free.

The city of Detroit declared bankruptcy earlier this year, against the backdrop of a questionable future, compounded by unfair rumors of the development a Beverly Hills Cop re-boot starring Eddie Murphy. Murphy's character in the franchise, Detective Axel Foley, works in Detroit before pursuing a lead in an investigation to California.

The reboot will be a re-imagining in an alternate timeline, as Detroit's entire police force has gone into liquidation.

Toilet Humour

Seen in a bathroom:

So I had to do a sh*t in the sink!

Claim: Complaints about Breakfast Television still high

Complaints about breakfast television from individuals in the UK and Ireland are at a plateau, claims a new statistical report - if population increases are taken into consideration.

Per head of capita, the number of people who have been disturbed by breakfast television crews, woken at five a.m. in order to take part in a "street scene" in the local village at some time between six a.m. and 9.30 a.m., has remained static.

Alongside such street scenes, people are often otherwise harassed in the middle of the night by the "Daybreak Doorsteppers".

"We have a cat and a dog here," said one recent complainant from Bristol. "We were called on to get ourselves up, and our family up - the pets included - at four a.m. Pots and pans were involved to wake the children. They wanted us to contribute to a discussion about house dogs and house cats and how well they get along, and specifically how well our Pepper and Tramp get along. I wanted us all to get dressed, but they insisted on dressing gowns and pyjamas and mugs of tea and coffee. And we were forced to put the dog and the cat together in our living room with the whole family, and the pets don't really like being so close - I mean, they just about tolerate each other to be honest, which is what I was going to talk about. Tramp was snapping at Pepper the whole time, and Pepper tried to scratch Tramp twice, and the reporter was just laughing all the time when we went on camera and going 'Ooh! How jolly! They're certainly not morning pets!' Tramp was looking at me like he was going to kill Pepper. But the crew didn't care once they got their two minutes of live footage at twenty six minutes past seven! Then we still had to bring the kids to school and go to work. We didn't, like, get the day off or anything, from the BBC."

A police officer and a traffic warden were recently interviewed by another crew, about the problems of phone use among drivers.

"The crew had us hanging around from five in the morning," said the police officer, as the traffic warden nodded along. "I saw at least a dozen drivers on the blower - and I could have stopped them while I was sat in the makeup chair at the side of the road, waiting for the tan to dry. I wasn't allowed to move and I was accused of skewing up my whole face because I tried to scratch my ear. When I coughed with the microphone on, I was told that I was throwing the levels out of wack and to just shut up till I have to talk. It was said in a nice way. 'If you could just be quiet till you have to speak, please.' Like that. Then they had us out of our chairs and they chatted to me for ten seconds at about ten past six in the morning, about road safety. Then they said they would have us back in an hour for more chatting. 'I promise you', the smiley girl said. I stupidly agreed. But they had the exact same question an hour later. Exact same ten second interview!"

Some complainants are taking their criticism beyond the Independent Broadcasting Commission.

Woken up by an aggressively cheery knock at the door with a live camera and lights pointing at her face, a woman was recently told: "We're here in the town to talk about World Mental Health Day." The woman agreed with all of the general questions put to her before closing the door again. Two hours later, she contacted a solicitor over the undue stress that the encounter created. She has consistently declined subsequent interviews from the media - and there have been hundreds of requests to her in the last month.

The days of entire streets and extended families being forced to get up early for the delivery of a massive cheque, or for the birthday celebrations of someone exceptionally ancient, appear to be on the decline. But occasionally - even today - people are forced to line up to do street dances or to take part in processions of which they had no prior knowledge an hour earlier when they were sleeping.

Doctor Who to Rescue JFK in LIVE 50TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW

Enhancements in High Definition TV will tomorrow evening see actual events from the past change for the first time, as history and fiction merge. The BBC's Dr. Who hopes to travel back in real time in the first live broadcast of its kind.

The TARDIS will arrive on the day before the first episode of the time travel serial's broadcast, in 1963. It is thought that the current and eleventh incarnation of the Doctor (played by Matt Smith) will throw Lee Harvey Oswald from the window of the Texas Book Depository building, from where it is believed he assassinated President Kennedy - moments before the assassin carries out the deed. He will be assisted by the first Doctor (played by the late William Hartnell).

So how will the new technology enable time travel?

The fiftieth anniversary of the show will be broadcast live from 1,500 cinemas around the world - as well as on the BBC and numerous other channels in various territories - starting just before 8 pm GMT on Saturday night. As part of the TARDIS's sound effects, the cinemas will, for the first time, broadcast Fourth Generation sonic vibrations (provided by stentorian Who incarnation Tom Baker, at a Shepherd's Bush studio). The use of satellite technology will take into account the effects of time dilation above the Earth. Employing atomic clocks and real time updates will achieve the necessary synchronous amplifications from all of the theater houses and television networks.

The current Doctor (and whichever companions and characters accompany him to Dallas in November, 1963) can then assist the First Doctor in dispatching Oswald. A secondary storyline deals with current companion Clara Oswald, as she addresses her ancestors' personal history.

Online leaks have suggested that the attempt to thwart Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of JFK will involve the sonic screwdriver being driven up and into Oswald from behind, and a quip including the term "book suppository" from the current Doctor as he falls to his death.

The events will be watched live - but half a century later - by the Obama administration from the White House's situation room.

Public sector salaries still too high, insists watchdog

The public sector salary controversy continued through the week. As physician consultant consultant physicians at some of Ireland's public private public hospitals were forced to justify their salaries, further revelations are set to hit the government next week.

It was revealed yesterday that former IRA terrorist Gerry Adams is currently drawing down a salary as a member of the Irish parliament. The leader of Sinn Féin - who has been spotted occasionally in the Dáil chamber by television cameras, while making points and asking questions of the government - has been paid by the Irish taxpayer, at least since his election to the Dáil in 2011. Remarkably, a search of Adams's biography reveals that the leader of Sinn Fein has effectively been "hiding in plain view" as he went about his work in Ireland, with a constituency in County Louth, and a willingness to express views without having his voice hidden through that of an actor.

 Meanwhile, a super injection prevents reportage about Adams's former IRA terrorist friend - currently employed as a parliamentarian by the UK government. The curly haired sixty three year old has held a ministerial position at Belfast's Stormont Assembly for even longer than Adams has been working in Dublin.

The rusty-grey haired man - occasionally seen wearing spectacles - first took up the Education portfolio in Northern Ireland in 1998, and today, Martin McGuinness has the role of Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland.

Sweat shop managers step up grey and wine jumper output thanks to Minister Quinn

Ireland's Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn forced hundreds of sweat shops in Laos, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia to increase their output of XXXL grey v-necked sweaters and XXXL wine v-necked sweaters yesterday, in response to his announcement that parents ought to be polled about the possibility of a reduction in the costs of Ireland's school uniforms.
Quinn wrote an international draft for €25.00 - made out to "The Sweatshop Boys" - which management and staff at the clothing factories will be forced to scrabble over. Quinn made a few doodles on the envelope into which he placed the money order. The scrawls - rendered to look like an approximation of Thai script -  were given the imprimatur of what appeared to be a genuine South-East Asian postal address, through Quinn's clever use of a stamp and an AerPhwisshhhht sticker, in the top right hand corner of the envelope.

At a press conference, Minister Quinn insisted that "the cheque will get there", nodding convincingly. He holds a personal hope that the money will ultimately reach the laundry and recycling facility in Lockahore Province that he had recently seen a report about on Upworthy. The video - which nearly brought him to tears, and compelled him to watch a compilation of kitten rescue operation videos afterwards on the same site "for a bit of a break from the compassion fatigue" - showed how unmarried mothers are provided with employment and accommodation at the facility. The women are taken off the streets of the city of Bangahore - where they are found to be filthy dirty, filthy, dirty filthy women - and set to work stitching, sewing and ironing clothes. He left the press conference to head up a Dail committee which is researching possibilities by which each national school in Ireland could adopt a cat.

Your Orthodox Problems Page, with Baba Rabba Aristotle Ghanoush

Today I want to address in my sermon just some of the problems faced by the Orthodox Church community that are related to tassels and fire safety awareness. And perhaps even provide some solutions!

Among the many thousands of converts to our Church every year - whether they are at home, in hospitals, in hotels or motels, in bedsits - or if they're lying on the floor, halfway under the bed for the last two hours, their poor hip broken, as they try in vain to reach the telephone cord with the hand that isn’t trapped in all those tassels between the bed frame and the mattress, with the laptop before them as they read my wonderful sermon, wondering if they will die there - there is a common expression among ALL of these converts. And that expression is:

"Tassels are Hassles!"

Why these unnecessary accoutrements in the Orthodox Church, you might ask?

We don't know. The reasons for tassels certainly go beyond hiding nipples! We will address just a few of the issues faced by our devotees now.

Xrastina asks:

Baba Ghanoush, my husband is a strict Orthodox Christian! 

But when he smashes our plates and champagne glasses in the fireplace after the evening meal, he doesn't even notice that he sometimes sets fire to the ends of our rugs because the sparks often bounce out of the fire and land on the tassels!

Let me tell you, Baba Ghanoush, tassels are not on the fire officer's acceptability list! 

He has destroyed four tasseled rugs now smashing the dinner plates, and two family homes have burned to the ground!

I don't want to get a non-tassel rug, as this is a mortal sin according to the Book of St. Vladimir. But how do I stop this rug and floor burning destruction?

Any tips from the Orthodox tradition will be of great help!

Baba Ghanoush responds:
Any man of the house is eager to eat and drink right, but this plate smashing can be done with a little less song and dance! It is the wife's role in the marriage to place the fireguard over the fire hearth. If you put that guard over the fire each time your husband smashes a plate or a glass into the fire, this will help to prevent the flying sparks. When he is finished his plate smashing and he goes to bed, make sure that the fireguard stays in front of the fire.
And remember, you don't have to replace the rugs - you can just let the tassels grow back. Keep the tassels that are burnt out of direct sunlight so that they can heal - trim back any blackened ends as far as the knot - but do not break the knot. Unlike plants, tassels grow back better with touch. Rub the tassels and use a brush. And above all else, chat to the tassels. A few kind words to a frayed tassel will go a long way to helping it to grow back out.

More problems to address next week!

Shameful man forced to commit to thoughts of bestiality

An embarrassed local resident has described how his girlfriend accidentally forced him to think about sex with a horse while he was alone. The confession came in hushed tones in a pub setting to a friend last night.

'Frank' described what led up to the event one recent morning.

"We'd been sexting each other dirty pictures the night before - Melissa had texted me a couple of photos of her breasts. I had sent back a willy pic. You know yourself. The next morning I was lying in bed and a multimedia message came in at 8 a.m. from her. I had been, you know, just working my way up to things. I reached for the phone, figuring, you know, her new picture would help."

'Frank' opened the picture message moments before his imminent "arrival". The photo was accompanied by the caption:
"Look what I saw while out for my morning constitutional! Majestic! XXX Melissa"
'Frank' laments the fact that he was already "fully committed". He came to a split second decision - and it was a decision that he says he had very restricted choice over. If he had opened the image even a moment earlier - he claims - he could have averted the sexually aggressive thoughts that consumed him regarding the photo.

"I saw the picture and I thought 'Oh no!' My heart sank. I had to make a determination with limited options, so I just gritted my teeth and I let it all out!"

Have any of our readers had similar experiences? What would you have done in Frank's situation? Let us know in the comments below!

Nicky Soft Touch Gravano

Nicky "Soft Touch" Gravano would like to make absolutely clear that he's out of the business.

That's right! If you ignore the surgical gloves in the photo above - which (I'm sure you'll agree) have perfectly legitimate uses - badda bing - you'll see that Nicky's going straight, with his amazing range of top grade toilet papers!

So try Nicky Soft Touch's new luxury toilet roll and wipe your ass today! Or else!


Continued from the end of Chapter 26.
          We left Dyll’s apartment within a half of an hour, and we returned a full twenty hours later, after a day of fun and frolics. Being on terms enough with Dyll to keep a spare leg in her house, my cousin Barney was actually better acquaintered with her than I had ever been, having been only charged with having to impart the details of the death of her paramour, Eaglekins, during what we called in Ireland that bloody period of the Irish Civil War, and the War of Independence, before I after having fled, I did, to England, with the explosion of Ireland entirely and its ongoing repair.

          Coming in through the door with the day’s footage, what with Dyll being in the industry, we popped the tape into the projector and watched our exploits, going to ride on the bouncy castle and dodgems at the Mayfair, some trunk patting and petting at the Elephant & Castle, and a visit to Piccadilly Circus, where we did all of the tourist adventures, such as having a go on the bouncy castle and the dodgems, before meeting the animals for a bit of a petting and a patting of their ultra long noses. The laughter on the footage gave us much joy. Dyll pulled a little sticker out of the tape so that it wouldn’t be recordered over and shouted:
          “That one’s a keeper!”
          Then we all fell on the bed, and went to sleep.
          A slobbering bark and the charge of the Russian Fokov Mastiff, bounding into the bedroom to greet Dyll in the morning woke us all up. I roared with the dog looking over the posters of the bed, in at the three of us. Barney also woke and roared. Dyll got changed into her Havisham like wedding dress, and stood before the full length mirror holding a bouquet in her hands.
           I befriended the big hairy beast, tickling him under the chin. We were firm friends before breakfast.
          As if mirroring the day before, there was another deathly and ominous knock on the door.

To be continued here...

Fake Teacher fools her way into school

A 27 year old journalist who applied for substitute teaching roles at a number of schools - without qualifications or any form of police vetting - can now reveal that she gained unsupervised access to a classroom of seven- and eight-year-olds.

She spent a total of three hours masquerading as a substitute tutor. The headmaster of the school at which she found the work had got her details from an open jobseekers' site, on which she claimed to have a higher diploma to teach at primary school level. She doesn't.

Over the three hour time period, she didn't teach a single lesson to the children. Instead, she introduced spanking paddles - claiming them to be ball bats - and rocket shaped toys to her pupils, and went so far as to squeeze nine sets of buttocks and pinch three cheeks - only one of them facial.

She then got the class captain to handcuff a pair of her fellow students to each other and go to the corner and rub each other's noses, "Eskimo style". She subsequently encouraged the first child to swallow the handcuffs key, which had already been placed into a toasted cheese sandwich prepared by the entire class in a more than family-friendly, not safe for work fashion, using a portable camping stove which the "teacher" had sneaked into the class.

The journalist then used the same stove to heat up some wax, threatening to remove the hair from the belly of Peppers the class gerbil, getting the children to come to the top of the class to ask if they should "wax the fat mouse" while she licked her lips and winked. None of the children wanted to wax Peppers, some of them declining tearfully before being sent back to their seats.

After forcing some of her charges to write the words PLONKER, GUMMY CHOPS and POOPER FACE on the whiteboard with indelible markers, the journalist promptly left the classroom to return to her newspaper's offices, where she filed an exposé on her day.

An Early Childhood Chapter 26 Part 6: A Visit to Middlesex

An Early Childhood Chapter 26 Part 6: A Visit to Middlesex


          Dylly Oblong got out of bed and stretched her lithe, nightclub singer’s body.
          “I have to feed the pooch,” she declared.
          I stayed on the bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking.
          There was a thump on the door below, and Dylly came back into the bedroom. She was dressed in a wedding gown.
          “What are you wearing?” asked myself.
          “My wedding dress, Sugar Plum,” she said. “I want you to see my blushing bride look, so that you know what you’re missing out on!”
          She winked.
          The knocking continued. An ominous knocking that made us both be looking at each other like startled rabbits, right on the apartment door, rather than the hall door below.
          “Who could that be at this hour?” Dylly asked. “All of my gentlemen caller friends keep night club hours!”
          She stripped out of her dress, putting it into the wardrobe, and walked to the door in bra and knickers – which were granny pants.
          Opening it, and there stood my Cousin Barney no less!
          “Heya Dylly! I’m just in town right now and I thought I’d give your door a crack, wha’?” he said.
          Cousin Barney was an old man now. He had spent his early years in the British Army, serving in a tedious conflict in South Africa.
          He stepped into the apartment and saw me lying on the bed.
          “Barney! What are you doing here?”
          Barney limped into the apartment, and came over and all three of us sat on the bed.
          “Well, Ireland’s only after exploding! So I fled to the British mainland here to try to get a bit of work while they’re carrying out repairs over there!”
          Barney removed the leg made of teak he had strapped onto the stump that remained of his real leg which he’d lost during the war in South Africa. He handed it to me and he said:
          “Hold this,” in his gravelly and hoary voice. Clearly familiar with Dylly Oblong’s apartment, he hopped over to the chest of drawers and opened the bottom one. He withdrew a second wooden leg and he shouted out:
          “Leg fight!” and the spare leg whirred through the air, struck me across the temple and felled me to the floor. I got to my feet quickly, howsoever dazed, and I said:
“What was that in aid of?”
          Barney whipped the fake leg over his stump and had it attached with alacrity.
          “Be prepared for anything,” was his response. “Now,” he said, as he put his shoes on and tied his laces with alacrity. “What’s for breakfast?”

To be continued at the top of Chapter 27...