HS2 to bring UK roaring into 1980s

David Cameron has today announced that he has given the go-ahead for an ambitious railway project linking London with places that already have perfectly good rail links. And Toton.

The Prime Minister delivered a thundering address proclaiming the end of the steam locomotive to make way for a new-fangled contraption utilising the majestic power of electric current. He hopes that this will pave the way for a new economic boom based on the northern steel and cotton industry after reading a book, which aides were too embarrassed to tell him was from the 19th century.

"Onward, to the future!"

“Onward, to the future!”

“When I consider the major needs of the British people, I always land at the conclusion that what is starving this country is the inability of Londoners to visit Wigan in less than three hours”, he declared.

“We will be the pride of Europe, with the exception of all of the countries that built this sort of thing 30 years ago.

“We will be the pride of Britain!

“With that in mind, I have set aside a quite extraordinary amount of money which I will use to build an express train service linking several already well-connected towns.

“I plan to use half of the £30 billion on a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to persuade the public that this represents good value and vaguely sound logic, and the other half to lay the rails, which will be made of gold.”

He added, “I am also using the opportunity to direct a line towards Toton, which is where my favourite hat shop is. What is politics without perks, after all?”

Public reaction has been a typically English mixture of anger, fear and confusion. Some over-zealous Londoners have already begun erecting barricades at Euston station to prevent gangs of northerners infiltrating the capital, although this is thought to as much to do with the recent release of Les Miserables as anything: people are always looking for an excuse to erect a barricade.

In the north, people are confused as to why they should go to London in two hours when they already live in Manchester, which takes them no hours to get to, is quite a bit friendlier and has cheaper drinks. There is also some consternation that the scheme is costing £500 for every soul in the UK, whereas Megabus will take you to London for £1 plus 50p booking fee. For £500 you can get to Spain, and it’s hot there.

Petitions are being signed to inquire as to whether the train can go to Spain instead.

Finally, in the bit of the UK which doesn’t have any stations but does have a 250mph steel tube about to go racing through it, there is outrage at the controversial plan to lay rail lines through the back of absolutely everybody’s garden.

Leader of the influential ‘Stop HS2 and all other forms of change’ pressure group, Steven Haynes, is unconvinced by the scheme:

“I’ve looked at the artist’s impression of the railway line and they’ve actually drawn the route going directly through my infant son’s knee.

“I mean, what if there are paedophiles on those trains? Who will protect my son’s knee?

“Also, if I had £30 billion to blow on a new transport system – I’d have gone for hoverbikes. Just saying.”

Concerned individuals may relax though. The scheme is scheduled to arrive in 2026 – but if it is anything like every other British train, and it will be, it’ll probably arrive around 2140, make an unscheduled stop near Lincoln, and smell of piss.

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“I’ve lassoed the kettlebell weight. Do I win something?”

It’s been over a week and I’m still doing exercise. I think this may be a sign of deep-seated mental illness. Every time I train I effectively forfeit my right to walk properly for the next couple of days. This is not a good trade in my view. In fact, two of three gym sessions have resulted in me not being able to slump on the sofa properly. Like now. That’s just plain unacceptable.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I could make a solid living from charging entry to watch my sessions. Even the man who runs the gym, who must be used to seeing comedy workouts by now, can’t help but chuckle along as I wheeze and make random, sporadic movements. He thinks I can’t see him laughing but I can; there are mirrors everywhere.

There is no suitable picture today, so here is a confused owl.

There is no suitable picture today, so here is a confused owl.

I’ve also realised that when I work out I look very, very silly. My face contorts into a mixture of pain and confusion as my body is ravaged by unexpected movement. I begin to throw juddering, erratic and slightly disturbing shapes which are in no way in time with the background music. In truth, it looks exactly like when I try to do dancing – and I’ve realised that this is another one of the reasons I don’t have a girlfriend. In future I shall refrain from dancing.

Two incidents really stuck out today as blindingly, hilariously incompetent.

First, after a few sets on the arms where my motions made me look a bit like a constipated cod, Deepak tried me on skipping.

For the record, I am not a skipper.

Skipping was something the girls did while us boys went and fought with sticks. When I was 7. It is not, I maintain, a healthy activity for an adult. As a result, I could not get the hang of skipping. Every time I managed to get the rope over my head I celebrated, forgetting that I had to move my feet. Split seconds later, my cheering mind would suddenly shout “Warning! Something’s coming towards your feet”, and then the rope would hit my feet.

Often I couldn’t actually get the rope around me in a suitable arc. Once I managed to somehow snare a nearby kettlebell weight, making me feel tough like a cowboy. It was the best thing I did with the skipping rope. I did not manage a single actual skip. We did resting instead.

Perhaps the coup de grace of today’s session was when Deepak cracked out the medicine ball. He lay on the mat, feet facing me, in a sit up position. I threw the ball to him, he reclined, touched the ball on the mat behind his head, threw it back to me. A simple idea.

One of the things they don’t tell you about medicine balls is that they’re particularly smooth. This one sailed through my attempted catch,  accelerated towards my body, and struck me square in the plums. I went down like a sack of potatoes and that was when we decided that the session had reached a natural end.

In other news, I found this flythrough of one of the zones I’ll be up against in May. It’s one zone out of 15.

Help! I’m going to be killed!

Shoppers ‘outraged’ by low horse content in Tesco burgers

Appalled supermarket customers today expressed their disgust at revelations that supermarket giant Tesco has been selling frozen burgers containing as little as 30% horsemeat.

The BEEF (bits, ends, effluent, foals) burgers had previously been thought to contain at least 80% gangly, carrot-addicted beast, and today’s news has left many wondering what the fuck else is in their dinner.

Consumer Jane Phipps voiced the concern of a nation: “30%? Is that it? From those lovely pictures of happy, hay-munching horses they put on the front you’d think it was mostly, y’know, horse. So what else is there? Stoat? Fox? Knee? I’m just not sure I’ll be able to sleep at night until I know what horrors I’ve been feeding my children. They’ll be eating KFC from now on, I can promise you that.”

Up to 9% slow loris

Up to 9% slow loris

It is understood that Tesco, after a scrambling apology, are rigorously investigating how their burgers could have ended up with so much ‘mystery’ content. There are thought to be two main theories:

  1. Somebody has deliberately put ‘surprise’ meat in the burgers
  2. Magic

‘Foodies’ have also weighed in on the debate. Jeff Smyth, owner of fashionable Hackney pop-up hedgehog fondue restaurant SlagBantam, believes that more must be done to stop the dilution of horse burgers:

“I’m a foodie, and as such I enjoy buying and eating things which taste exactly the same as other things but are nine times the price but are served on a napkin made of sick. Which is why I’m sad that we’ve seen horsemeat, which for all kinds of factors must be quite expensive to produce in the UK and Ireland, being watered down with cheaper, less tasty and more unhealthy meats like beef.

“I’m waiting on Tesco to announce a new ‘Finest’ horse burger – 100% horse mixed with a bit of pure gold for texture, for me and my ilk to discuss loudly and at length in public spaces.”

Other consumers have adopted a more relaxed view of events. Gerald Nunn, a long time connoisseur of ‘value’ produce, remarked: “Who cares?” before adding, “Let’s be honest, I paid eight pence for this burger, I’m actually just grateful there’s any meat in it at all.”

In other news, Lidl and Aldi have been found doing exactly the same thing, but it transpires that they’ve only been selling it to the Germans, so nobody minds.

Wait for it…

The mood is tense in Britain tonight as it emerges that snow has fallen and the country is still functioning.

The UK traditionally has a fractious relationship with snow – the two are believed to have become intimate several centuries ago before snow disappeared for much of the early noughties without even leaving a note. Now the annual return of snow is marked by the island nation throwing an absolutely massive tantrum and refusing to move for 6-8 days.

"Oh look. Snow."

“Oh look. Snow.”

Last night however snow arrived in the dead of night, the rat, and has been gently caressing England’s green and pleasant lands for almost 24 hours. Whereas this would normally cause all trains services to instantly terminate just outside Reading and the M25 to turn into a mass game of ‘crash the car’, in 2013 Britain seems to have just, well, got on with it.

Speculation is rife that Britain has not actually noticed that snow is falling – instead believing that the large white flakes falling from the sky re part of a guerrilla marketing campaign by Daz – and that as soon as it clocks on that the wintry cad is here again large swathes of Dorset will immediately explode.

Some optimists believe that this is a new dawn for the UK, and that finally we can all move on from turning into absolute loons the second the first flake lands. Perhaps now we’ll stop stacking it on pavements which aren’t even slippery, perhaps we’ll be able to drive in a straight line without screaming and swerving into the nearest lake. Perhaps the tubes will admit that they’re called the fucking Underground for a reason and don’t need to shut down straight away because snow does not, in fact, have the ground-penetrating powers it is often claimed to possess.

Realistically though, none of that will happen, we’ll all realise it’s actually snowing at some point, and all kinds of incompetent, hilarious hell will break loose.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I love this country.

PS: Exercise update. On a high protein diet, or direct quote, “Just eat more mate”. Still haven’t regained full arm function. Second session tomorrow. Help me.

Help! I’ve taken exercise!

Dear Doctor,

I took a heavy dose of exercise yesterday and am presenting symptoms of extreme pain, reduced movement and a mild sense of pride and self-fulfilment. I admit to dabbling with exercise in my teens, and I have to say that it was widely available at school, but my past experiences indicate that I might well be dangerously allergic to it.

Am I going to die?

Best regards,

Mark

That may sound melodramatic, largely because it is, but allow me to elaborate slightly. Shortly before Christmas an email went round at work asking people to sign up for an ‘adventure race’ in May. Not really bothering to read the details I immediately put my name down. Great outdoors, bunch of mates, camping, bit of larking about, how hard could it be?

Some weeks later I read some of the informational blurb about the event. If you want a really good, soul-cleansing laugh at my expense then have a look here. Maybe watch the little video at the start. They use encouraging phrases like ‘world’s biggest assault course’ and ‘totally apocalyptic’ and ‘certainly more than a marathon’. For the more concise version, this sheep sums up the event quite nicely.

In short, I’m fucked. Those of you who know me personally will understand how much I am not built for strength or endurance events. Those that don’t should understand that I am NOT BUILT FOR STRENGTH OR ENDURANCE EVENTS.

My diet consists largely of cheese and mini kievs, interspersed with crisps. My daily routine involves sitting on a tube, sitting at a desk, sitting on another tube, lounging on the sofa and then having a well-deserved lay down. I’m a horizontal person. The vertical is foreign to me.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

I’m also skinny. My arms are like thin wisps of cloud. I’ve seen dead cats with bigger biceps than me. If I try to run I become light-headed shortly after I start thinking about running and have to sit down with a large camembert to bring myself around. The only bulky area of my entire torso is currently my stomach, as a direct result of every single one of my lifestyle choices. I’m a skinny fat person. Everybody knows one.

So, in an effort to avoid certain death in May, I have enlisted my friend and colleague Deepak as my personal trainer. We had our first session yesterday. Deepak’s a great guy, but one of the things I have recently learnt about him is that he is criminally insane and possibly fundamentally evil. As I lay in a crumpled, weeping heap on the gym floor trying to work out if all my limbs were still attached he appraised me with a cool gaze and remarked that I’d done well because I’d pushed myself to failure.

I pushed myself to nothing. He pushed me to failure. I would have been happy doing one chest press. Not 10. Certainly not 3 sets of 10. Definitely not 3 sets of 10 interspersed with arm rows. Absolutely not the aforementioned plus about 4 other weird and wonderful torture methods. And some boxing.

Deepak has put me through one 45 minute session. Today I can barely fucking move. I’m typing this with my teeth. I’m going to bed and it’s 9pm. My muscles have gone on strike and been replaced by fire. I’m still wearing a t-shirt because my arms won’t go above my head.

He’s trying to kill me. I thank him for it.

Oddly, I’ve agreed that this can occur twice a week for at least 5 months, plus some running and cycling and swimming and badminton and dodgeball and climbing. I will keep you all updated with doubtless hilarious tales of my own ineptitude and physical agony. All I ask is that you eat a large tub of ice cream every time you read these posts, so that at least one of us is enjoying ourselves.

I’m scared.

“I’m never drinking again!”, declares man holding drink

As part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to total annihilation and an early, gin-soaked grave, millions of Britons have started 2013 by lying loudly about never, ever drinking again.

The absolute stone-cold fallacy comes in the wake of New Year’s Eve, where otherwise modest alcoholics traditionally attempt to drink a unit of alcohol for every year since the birth of Christ in a grim attempt to forget the horrors of the previous pointless lap of the Sun whilst wearing something nice which we always think won’t get ruined, but which always does.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

This ritual of drunken carnage is, by law, interspersed with questionable decisions and at least one person wondering aloud why nobody has started kissing as soon as the first firework bursts over the London eye. In my own personal case our party strolled down to a nearby bridge to watch the side of the London fireworks. There was merriment all round in the large crowd, who began a good old-fashioned singalong. Sensing his opportunity, one of my more vertically impressive flatmates raised his arms and screamed ‘ORGY!’ to the crowd of families and young children. At least five hundred million similar incidents were recorded on the night.

Waking on New Year’s Day to be greeted by a hangover the size of France, questions like “Who am I?”, “Why am I?” and “Is that beer in the washing machine?” and, often, a bewildered moose shitting in the living room, 97% of people immediately forswear alcohol and vow to lead a quiet life of meditation, running and lying to themselves.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It's lying.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It’s lying.

I predict that this newfound sense of inner peace, in no way driven by shame and a throbbing liver, will last until roughly Friday, when Dry January will experience it’s first light shower – roughly coinciding with people realising that they really bloody love drinking. From this point, Dry January will be dry in the way that 2012 was dry and as such will likely result in the permanent ‘Atlantisisation’ of large swathes of the West Country. Hurricane Brandy is expected to make landfall no later than January 9th.

Pint?