Strange Times 1: Here’s What You Missed
This morning’s round-up of bizarre Brexit stories include the ‘Leave’ voters who live in Spain but have just changed their minds upon discovering that their pets will have no passports. One said, ‘Oh, I’m definitely voting Stay now,’ seeming to assume that the binding nature of the democratic process is not applicable to them. And there was this national press story, ’85 year-old Korean war veteran sat on burglar taking antique train set’, which reminded me that for years I collected odd little news headlines and stories from around the world. I put them in files, intending to do something with them and never did.
Some of them are a reminder of a specific time and place. The most outrageous stories came from America, land of tall tales (Paul Bunyan and the blue ox springs to mind), England and Japan, and many were juxtaposed for maximum effect and outrage. Over this week I’ll be publishing a selection of specific events that you’ll probably be able to date. Be warned, they make for quite depressing reading!
In Stockton-On-Tees, a poverty-stricken family succumbed to heroin use, and as her son died, the distraught mother went to bingo to try and win money for his gravestone. Ironically, George Bush chose her neighbourhood for a visit at this time, and his security operation cost the British government a million pounds.
Pat Robertson, the US Christian evangelist, appeared on national television suggesting it would be a good idea for American hit squads to murder the president of Venezuela for his oil.
In London, a Big Brotherhouse member simulated masturbation with a beer bottle on a channel subsidised for its contribution to quality television, and garnered more column inches in the national press than the US government’s final refusal to cut CO2 emissions.
In Japan, internet suicide groups were infiltrated by bogus suicidees planning to kill their fellow members for cash, which had the effect of making teenagers think twice about killing themselves in groups.
In Britain, an eleven-year-old girl was rushed to hospital suffering from a heroin overdose, while on the same day another announced she was pregnant and looking forward to being a pre-teen mum. It was revealed that half a million UK children, most from fatherless backgrounds, belonged to street gangs.
In Plymouth, four mothers filmed themselves goading their toddlers into fighting each other. They did it, they said, to make their children hard and stop them from turning into ‘faggots’.
In America, where an estimated 43 million citizens currently live below the poverty line, one Christian Right group decided to improve the world by financing trips to locate the remains of Noah’s Ark, while another threatened to kill cinema owners for agreeing to book Brokeback Mountain into theatres.
The suicide business returned to normal in Japan, and the new year’s death toll tripled.
Endemol, the makers of Big Brother, produced a season casting mentally ill contestants in the hopes that they would humiliate themselves and hurt each other on live television. With racism shown to be endemic on the programme, public opinion finally started mobilising against them, but the producers felt that its export market had been ‘fantastically improved’ by the sight of burning effigies in India. It emerged that the show was most popular with schoolchildren. Meanwhile, a show called ‘Darts & Fights’ started on Nuts TV.
Hollywood turned the World Trade Center attacks into an upbeat action movie, and the director toured the awards circuit with the fireman pulled from the wreckage, thus rendering the film impervious to criticism. US presidential advisors announced that they would solve global warming by ‘inventing something’, even though they wouldn’t directly acknowledge it was happening. Belize pressed the United Nations World Heritage Sites Committee to acknowledge that climate change was destroying its famous reef, but the US decided to reject the petition because it would ‘damage harmonious relations with the committee’. Meanwhile, the Northern hemisphere posted the highest average temperatures in over 2,000 years.
More tomorrow, if you can stand it.