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Royal gathering that’s so humble it needs a fist-sized gold coin

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Issue 2377

The BBC called it a “low key” ceremony—even if it was done in a palace by an archbishop. Professional monarch-botherer Penny Junor said they were going for “a private, family, normal kind of event.”

So private and low key was the christening of prince George that it took up pages one, two, three, four and indeed 5-15 of the Daily Mail. Its coverage included a photo of murderous tyrant queen Victoria to prove the new sprog’s supposed resemblance.

It helped push the gloomier news from Grangemouth far from the front page.

The Treasury gave the future tyrant an appropriately low key gift by making a limited edition £1,000 coin—actually worth £50,000, and made of a kilo of gold. There’s a slightly more accessible silver version for £2,600, just to help spread the regal joy. The queen was said to be pleased with the design—perhaps unsurprisingly, since it was merely a massive picture of her head.

Elsewhere the press praised the groundbreaking decision of the prince’s parents to appoint his seven godparents from within their “trusted circle of close friends” to keep the baby “normal” instead of the traditional jumble of royals from around the world. These champions of normality include the heir to the mega-rich Duke of Westminster, a princess, the bosses of a design firm and a charity, and William’s ex-squire.

The BBC website reassured its doubtless worried readers that these pampered aristocrats and socialites “are not expected to care for the child”. Nor will the child itself be expected to do very much—other than bask in a life of luxury and privilege at our expense.

Councillor Larsen— convicted for arson

When the town of Denbigh in North Wales was terrorised by a series of bomb blasts in the first four months of this year, it was John Larsen’s time to shine. The Lib Dem councillor, former mayor and neighbourhood watch stalwart emerged as a pillar of the community, speaking out to demand the “yobs” responsible were caught.

“Everyone is jittery, checking their cars,” he told reporters. “Nobody can sleep. People have had breakdowns and been to hospital.” The biggest blast in March destroyed a Land Rover and scattered ball bearings and shrapnel that would have torn through the flesh of anyone unlucky enough to pass by.

One night 40 residents were evacuated. But Larsen knew more than he was letting on. He was the one making the bombs in the first place, and was sentenced to 18 years last week for arson and charges relating to explosives. That’s one way to make a big bang in local government.

A bye-bye bonanza for Boris’s buddies

The end of a contract is a stressful time for many workers. But when seven of London mayor Boris Johnson’s top advisors left in 2012, they were given massive payoffs.

Deputy mayor Richard Barnes got a whopping £73,000 for losing his seat. Those who left by choice for lucrative new jobs weren’t left out. Top aide Guto Harri got £53,000 before taking a senior role at News International.

Even Nicholas Griffin, the “Efficiency Tsar” in charge of saving money, got £34,000.

  • Transport for London (TfL) chief Sir Peter Hendy is not a man to miss a bus with gentle good humour. He was furious when doors closed seconds before he could get on. Once in his black cab he began trying to identify the driver and demand reprisals. Hendy’s cab driver said he was “a little bastard grass”. When asked if he worked for TfL Hendy snippily replied “No, I run it”.

Has Israel’s brutal army got the X factor?

The X Factor’s Simon Cowell was able to raise £600,000 for the “Friends of the IDF”—a campaign group backing Israel’s army and its occupation and attacks on the Palestinians. Billionaire Haim Saban, creator of the 1990s violent children’s programme Power Rangers, handed over the cash in return for Cowell singing the Power Rangers theme tune. The muzak mogul threw in another £150,000 of his own for the right to stop singing.


Jack Straw, Blair’s demon headmaster

  • As home secretary his strategy was to be “tougher” than the Tories 
  • Became foreign secretary in time to declare war on Iraq and let General Pinochet run off
  • Never fails to voice his constituents’ “concerns”—as long as they are mainly concerned about Muslims



The government sold Royal Mail at a discount of almost £7 billion, according to the valuation it was given by US banking giant JP Morgan. Billy Hayes, general secretary of the postal workers’ CWU union, said “In any other walk of life this would be a sacking offence and we call on Vince Cable to resign.”

Standards are slipping at the Department of Education, if the fact-checking in Michael Gove’s speeches is anything to go by. He claimed to have visited schools with more special needs pupils than average but where every child got above average literacy and numeracy. But no such schools exist.

Cops love to boast in the press about the booty they grab in raids. So imagine the excitement of cops in Manchester last week when the haul from a series of over 100 raids included what looked like Britain’s first 3D-printed gun. It successfully got widespread coverage. The only problem was that it may not have been true. The “gun” could have been just a few 3D-printed bits of printer.


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