DON'T EXPECT your Xmas stocking to be filled up with goodies this year. Santa has been sacked and his elves are picketing in solidarity. The dispute started when Santa Robert Nisbert complained that his grotto in Bromley in Kent was too hot to work in. At first Santa's boss did put in air conditioning and provide some glasses of water. But when Robert again complained that it was too hot, they gave him the boot. They then sacked two of his elves on the pretext that they were just three minutes late.
Hannah, one of the elves, said, 'I could see Santa needed breaks but I was told to mind my own business. Yet if an elf doesn't look after Father Christmas, who else will?' The other elf, Sinan, said, 'It was a sweatshop, not a workshop.' The elves then set up a picket line outside the grotto, holding up a placard saying, 'Save our Santa. We've been given the elfbow.' Grotto boss Melanie Bryan is a fat cat of the Santa world. She runs 25 grottoes across Britain.
The Sun responded to the dispute predictably. Just days after Tony Blair praised it, the paper despatched a scab Santa to burst through pickets and take over the role. He was not a great success. 'Go easy on the 'Ho, Ho, Ho'. You sound mad,' said one of his customers. There is no truth in the vicious rumours that union leaders have told the elves to wait until a ballot in January before taking further action.
THE council in Birmingham is going out of its way to become the Scrooge of the Year this Xmas. The council has enthusiastically announced a campaign of evictions throughout the Xmas and New Year holiday.
The council announced the campaign after research revealed that tenants spent money on Xmas presents. The council would rather see poor families and their children cast out on the streets instead of unwrapping a few presents. The council even implies people use rent to buy presents out of greed.
A poster produced by the council shows a well dressed couple in the park with their possessions and a pet dog. It warns, 'Park life. We evict tenants who will not pay their rent.'
Hunting we like
A NEW video game in the United States is proving a hit. What's the secret of its success? In the 'virtual reality' type game, workers get the chance to hunt down and 'shoot' their own boss!
First fanfares, then the dole
THE GOVERNMENT has denied reports of slow ticket sales for the Millennium Dome. Yet Dome bosses have laid off three quarters of the telestaff operating the nationwide ticket hotline. Out of 200 workers taken on at the Dome's call centre in Manchester, some 150 workers have been 'let go' after just six weeks because ticket sales were too slow. Many operators were waiting up to three hours between calls.
The operation is run by telesales company Broadsystem. A worker revealed last week what it was like: 'The whole thing was launched with this great fanfare back in September. Then a few days ago 75 percent were sacked. The calls they'd expected just weren't coming in.'
Horrors made in England
TORTURE equipment made in Britain is still on sale around the world. The government promised to outlaw such sales in July 1997 as part of its 'ethical foreign policy'. But two and a half years later leg irons are still being exported, disguised as 'oversized handcuffs'.
The leg irons are attached by a 14 inch chain and stamped 'Made in England'. They are made by Hiatt, a firm in Birmingham which was founded in 1780 and once sold 'Nigger Collars' to slave traders. In Britain's ally Saudi Arabia the leg irons are used to hang prisoners upside down while they are beaten.
Lords a' thieving
HEREDITARY peers finally kicked out of the House of Lords recently tried to make us feel sorry for them. But the peers, some of the richest people in the land, didn't go away empty handed. They went on a spree of petty theft and grabbed as much as they could from the House.
The theft came to light when the Lords ran out of ermine fur for the first time ever on the day of the Queen's Speech last week. The departing lords had grabbed the furs plus a whole range of other items including books, table mats, linen napkins and Lords notepaper.
THINGS THEY SAY
'THERE WAS a widespread belief that the courts serve the interests of the wealthy, and that judges are old, inconsistent and out of touch.'
Report of the biggest ever survey into what the public thinks about the justice system in Britain
'I'M DELIGHTED to have this opportunity to congratulate the Sun on its 30th anniversary. The Sun has made its reputation by informing and entertaining readers.'
TONY BLAIR in the Sun on 17 November
'I'M HAPPY to join in celebrating three decades of the Sun. The Sun was invaluable in its public support for the vital changes necessary in order to make Britain great again.'
MARGARET THATCHER in the same issue of the Sun
'WE GOT rid of the GLC in the 1980s.. one reason was that Ken Livingstone was its leader and he represented an uncontrollable left wing influence. I wanted to get rid of Livingstone. They want to get rid of Livingstone! The only difference is that I succeeded and they are going to fail.'
'KEN'S proposal is that London raise bonds for the Underground. Yet in New York, when the city produced bonds for the subway, the city went bankrupt.'
TONY BLAIR, interviewed in last Sunday's Observer
'AN absolute and utter untruth.'
ROSEMARY SCANLON's response to Blair's interview in the Observer. She was the former deputy state controller for New York City
'To cut a Long Story Short.'
The title of JEFFREY ARCHER's next book - he'll have plenty of time to write the next one after that