Braking News from St Custards

With my customary apologies to Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.

You may or may not recall that the last time I wrote, St Custards was under the control of a feirce dicktator from the US of A and skool life was going to hell in a handycarton, which as any fule kno is prity much par for the coarse in this neck of the woods. I would like to sa things hav improved but that would be a bigger lie than the one Molesworth 2 told the Chemistery master about what really happen to the skool dog in the fume cupboard (a story for another day, lets just sa that the experimint leave him with a v. high pitched bark and less fur than a skool sossidge. The skool dog. Not mi bro.).

So what hav happen?, I hear you ask. What hav befallen the brave lads and the miserible array of dolts and wets that comprise the teeching staff since the last time I put nib to paper?

The plot, as they sa, thicken agane…

Our old new head (or ‘principle’ as he insisted we call him) was one Ralph N. Geigerhammer the 3rd, an Amurcan from the Deep South and a religous tartre if ever there was one. Once, as I reported before, we found him digging up the skool playing field to make what he call “a mound” rite on a legnth down middle and leg at the oak tree end, which made gillibrand weep and wail and nash his teeth. The only person who was hapy under his rain was the Relig. Ed master becos he was alowed to teech the Old Testerment version of how the mirical of life came to bee. Anyway, as is ushually the case with our heads, one day he was there, the next he was no more. He went away for a special “vaaaaycaaaaayshun” and never came back. Acording to a rumer our History master herd on the grapevine, he had gone to Amurca to storm the capital for presidant Trump on jan 6th and is now helping the FBI with what they call their “ink wiries”. We shall draw a discrete vale over all of that as we have all been sworn to secrisy by the skool lawyer, who was hired by Grabbers pater.

Long story short we hav a new head and he is as bonkers as its posible to be without ackshually being carried off by men in white cotes. His name is dominick cummings and he used to be something in guvverment but had to leeve under a cloud. He look like he hav been dressed by the skool caretaker and he is a man of ideas which he keep warm under a brite green boble hat. Far be it from me (GRAMMER) to be critical, but most of them are ideas even mi mate peason (a well known nutbox) would be embarased to claim as his own. On his first day at asembly mr cummings ask the Relig. Ed master to step away from the piano and he sa to us “boys, you kno how we will make music while I am head?”

We stare at him in polite anticiaption. You never kno what you may get with a new head but it is ushually a bit unexpected, or at leest it tends to be here at St Cs.

He reech behind his lectern and pull out a sledgehamer. “THIS is how we will make sweet sweet music!” he declare, and then set about the piano like a man posesed. Wood shater and fly everywhere, wires go snap and zing past our heads. fotherington-tomas was hoping about and waling like a banshee as ivory keys bounce off his curley golden locks and it all sound a lot like one of those Stockhousing rekords our Musik teacher inflict on we noble lads when he is miserible (most thursdays which coincerdently is the day we do musik. chiz chiz). It was very impresiv and we all cheer and clap like teechers at gillibrands latest sport finale. This was very unushual for Day 1 even by St Custards standerds. Grabber was taking bets that the head wood not last till lunchtime. “he may not even get to taste the skool sossidge!” he sa. “lucky him” we thort.

After a bit all was silent except for fotherington-tomas whimpering like a gurly and the Music teacher saying things under his breath which I canot repeet here, genital reader.

The head put down the sledgehamer, wipe his mitey brow and sa “there you go, boys. Your first leson under mi leadership. To make it, you must first brake it! I want you to brake things, boys! Take a bulldozer to convention! Throw away the old ways and never look back!”

I heard the Woodwork teacher sa under his breath “so no change there then”. The Philosophy master laugh like a drane. “this is going to be interesting,” he reply.

To everyones surprize, three weeks later mr cummings is still head. We also have a new Latin Master, some beanpole called rees-Moggy who wander around the skool coridors saying things like “vainy, veedy, vichy” and “quiz custardiet ipsos custardes” (posibly our skool motto) like some sort of mad Roman talking chrismas craker. He look like he will be a rite on brand addishun to St Custards halowed line of idiot Latin masters. I will update you on his progress in due coarse. In the meantime, I am late for Geog. chiz chiz.

Yours, as ever


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The Night Before Freedom

Twas the night before Freedom Day, all through the House

Not a Tory was maithered, not a one having doubts.

The sanctions were left far behind without care,

In hopes that Immunity soon would be there.

The MPs were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of shaggable aides filled their heads.

With Boris was Carrie — with Gove? Heaven knows!

In Parliament these days it seems anything goes.

Then from social media arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.

Away to their keyboards they went in a flash

(Except Robert Jenrick, who went for a slash).

The timelines on Twitter held worrying thoughts

That Boris and Rishi had not done what they ought:

It seemed that their pilot was naught but a ruse

Their subsequent U-turn was hogging the news.

With a terrible shiver, the PM felt sickened

He knew in that moment he looked a right dickhead.

More rapid than eagles his sycophants came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Javid! now, Jenkin! now, Metcalfe and Mitchell!

On, Collins! On, Coffey! on, Dorries and Bridgen!

To the Beeb and GBeebies! Take the clarion call!

To Good Morning Britain! Now dash away all!”

As thistles blown hither and thither by gales,

The minions all scattered by road, air and rail

And into the breakfast news studios they flew

Battalions of Tories, and Fabricant too.

And so, in the twilight of dawn, on TV

The prancing and fawning of every MP

Was heard by the nation: a tissue of lies

Not one question answered, to no one’s surprise.

With practiced deflections they blurred every line,

Reputations now tarnished were reckoned to shine

This bundle of Tories had Boris’s back,

And were peddling shit from a bottomless sack.

Their lies – how they twinkled! their similes how merry!

Their stats and conclusions all picked like a cherry!

Their droll little slogans delivered with smirks

You could tell that they figured the audience for berks

“It’s all about Freedom,” they cried, “No more rules!

But please all be cautious, you credulous fools!

Enjoy being maskless! Gather in numbers!

But still remain wary you negligent dumbass!”

“Now you must act responsibly, on that we depend,

As you queue up at nightclubs to dance with your friends.”

And with that jumbled message they gave a free pass

To the likes of that bloke with a flare up his arse.

It didn’t make sense, could it possibly work

This reliance on nobody being a jerk?

Were they trusting our heath to a run of good luck,

While telling the world that they don’t give a fuck?

Then back came the minions, their dirty work done,

And Boris had words of high praise for each one

They heard him exclaim, ‘ere he dropped out of sight,

“You did a great job for our boss, the alt-Right!”

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The Battle Hymn of the Republicans

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is carted round the fairways like some ochrous golfing gourd;
He hath loosed a drive like lightning, for a hole-in-one reward*:
His Lie is marching on.

Glory glory, allez-Q-ya!
Glory, glory, allez-Q-ya!
Glory, glory, allez-Q-ya!
His Lie is marching on.

I have seen him in the chyrons of a hundred Fox reports,
They have builded him an army of believers he exhorts
To answer “leftie” viewpoints with alt-righteous retorts:
His Lie is marching on.


I have read a fiery speech note, writ with Sharpie on a card:
“They have stolen our election, consequences must be hard;
We will storm and take the Capitol, smear shit on its façade!”  
His Lie is marching on.


He has sounded forth the Trump pets that shall never call retreat;
He is doling out the pardons, one last Presidential feat;
He has freed his co-conspirators, so they might kiss his feet:
His Lie is marching on.


In the bosom of a helicopter, Trump was borne aloft,
For his parting shot, a winner’s speech – you’d think he’d never lost,
And he’s fighting that election still, however high the cost

His Lie is marching on!


He haunts his Mar-y-Lago home, an uninvited guest
Crashing other people’s weddings, making speeches nonetheless,
And he hopes for reinstatement soon, delusion at its best:
His Lie is marching on.


His Lie is marching on!

*Allegedly. No one actually saw the ball drop in the hole, but it’s a small detail. He is the Chosen One.

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The Curious Case of the Gove in the Daytime

The continuing absence of Michael Gove is raising eyebrows. It’s the biggest mystery since Cotton Eyed Joes origin and destination. I decided to investigate. In verse, obvs.

When into view he did not hove

The whereabouts of Michael Gove

Became a complete mystery:

Was Michael G now history?

No sight, no sound, no press, no briefings,

That’s not the way he tends to leave things.

We watched for days, without a sign:

Had Govey withered on the Vine?

His lack of visibility

Was there (or not) for all to see –

For someone of such Tory salience

T’was rare to go without surveillance.

As time went on the rumours grew,

Of who’d done what to whom – who knew?

Had Cummings had him taken out

And buried ‘neath some roundabout?

Or was the answer much more simple:

He’d taken vows and donned a wimple?

Dear gentle reader, as I write,

The minister’s still out of sight,

Perhaps he’s plotting sweet revenge,

Or making plans to steal Stonehenge,

Or maybe he’s just out there prancing

And set to be on “Strictly Dancing”?

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A Short Script for Populist Leaders and Their Supporters

Populist leaders: We are going to do X because X will do Y!

Supporters: Yay! We love you for promising to do X and making us Y again!

Populist leaders: Our plan for X is a great plan and it’s not our fault that bad thing C is forecast to happen. There are those in the media who want us to fail and are trying to pin bad thing C on us if it happens.

Supporters: The media hate you! Keep on doing X so we can get the Y we deserve! We are not worried about bad thing C, it is just Project Fear!

Populist leaders: We have done Z. It is a great plan, and totally oven-ready. It was never our intention to do X. X was FAKE NEWS invented by enemies of those of us who wanted Y!

Supporters: Shame on the enemies of Y who lied about doing X when Z was clearly the way to go! Lock them up! LOCK THEM UP! By the way, did you know it was thing A that caused bad thing C, and thing A is a conspiracy by the enemies of Y? It must be true because Q said so.

Populist leaders: It is incorrect to say that Z has not made Y happen. Y is happening. Figures for Y have never been so high. Stories that Y is not happening are FAKE NEWS put out there by people who hate it that we’re so great at doing Y! If only those people weren’t doing thing A, for which we have absolute proof that we will definitely provide at some point in the future, trust us! These liars are TRAITORS who should have horrible thing D happen to them! If you don’t believe us, listen to Q who has been saying it for years!

Supporters: BOOOOOOO! Death to the traitors who say Y is not happening and are doing thing A which is making bad thing C happen! Horrible thing D should happen to them. I know! Let’s do what Q says and form an unruly mob and make horrible thing D happen! How about tomorrow at big event N? I hear there’ll be speeches and we can bring our own weapons, as is our constitutional right.

Populist leaders: Thanks for turning up, folks. Who reckons it’s about time the enemies of Y got taught a lesson they’ll never forget? Here’s an idea: why don’t you all march on big event N and carry out your constitutional duty? We’ll be right behind you, we just have a couple of things to do first, but we’ll be right along shortly. Allons-y, mes enfants!

Supporters: Here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go, here we go-oh!

[Horrible thing D happens at big event N]

Populist leaders: We never said anyone should ACTUALLY DO horrible thing D. It was clearly a metaphor. Our great supporters are merely enthusiasts who let their high spirits and righteous anger about the lies of the traitors who say Y isn’t happening get the better of them. Getting all cross about a bit of misguided horseplay by people who listen to Q (did we get that name right, because frankly we’ve never heard of him?) is ridiculous! We appeal to our enemies on the other side of the aisle to stop this disunifying behaviour now!

Supporters: Yeah! Stop calling us D-Doers! We are patriots! And we’ll D-Do anyone who says otherwise!

Populist leaders: In any event, we never did Z in the first place. Why does everyone keep saying we did Z?

Supporters: Yeah! They never did Z. Z was never an option. Stop talking about Z! That film of them saying they were going to do Z is a deep fake put about by the same people who support thing A and built that giant space laser thing M you hear so much about these days.

Populist leaders: Speaking of giant space laser thing M: new plan, people, listen up…

Supporters: Ooh! Exciting!

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50 Ways To Fake The Death Toll


Watching Donald Trump bluster and wave charts around in his interview with Jonathan Swan, I couldn’t help but feel that, at any moment, the latter would zone out in a Randy Rainbow style musical reverie. But which song? There can be only one…


“The problem is all inside your head”, he said to me
“The answer is easy, do it Presidentially,
I’d like to help you in your struggle how to see
There must be fifty ways to fake the death toll”

He said, “It’s really not my habit to speak truth
Furthermore, I hope the facts will all be lost or misconstrued,
But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude:
There must be fifty ways to fake the death toll.
Fifty ways to fake the death toll.”

“You just leave out the facts, Jack,
Talk a new plan, Stan,
You don’t have to be right, Dwight,
Just lie through your teeth.
Sharpie the chart, Art.
You don’t need be that smart,
Just fudge a few stats, Matt,
And lie through your teeth.

Ooh leave out the facts, Jack,
Talk a new plan, Stan,
You don’t have to be right, Dwight,
Just listen to me!
Sharpie the chart, Art,
You don’t need be that smart,
Just fudge a few stats, Matt,
And lie through your teeth.”

He said, “It grieves me so to see you don’t believe,
I wish there was something I could do, to once again deceive.”
I said, “I appreciate that, and would you please reprise
About the fifty ways?”

He said, “Why don’t we both just tweet on it tonight,
And I believe in the morning you’ll begin to see the light.”
And then he dissed me, and I realised he probably was right
There must be fifty ways to fake the death toll

Fifty ways to fake the death toll.


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A Tale of Two Moralities

trump corona

President Trump is putting non-medically-trained “experts” in charge of the COVID 19 problem. What could possibly go wrong?


Night was a clammy blanket over the jungles of Nambia. In the poorly-constructed corrugated tin hut that passed for the medical centre in the town of Mabula, crisis was never more than the next patient away. The team of medical specialists, who had once served here so proudly, was now reduced to a skeleton crew. Tired minds and tired bodies worked around the clock to keep up with the constant stream of emergencies: malaria, ebola, cholera, typhoid — each had done its worst. Epidemics had come and gone, but the funding? The funding had mostly gone. Nambia was, after all, a shithole: in the brave new world of medical aid you didn’t fund shitholes when you could be funding insurance companies’ dividends.

Doctor Shaw, a one-time army medic and a veteran of more years in so-called “shitholes” than she cared to remember, wiped the sweat from her eyes and tried to concentrate on intubating the emaciated baby before her. A precision job, given his tiny airway, and one not made easier by her stinging eyes and the unreliable light grudgingly thrown by the ancient generator. At last she succeeded: another Phyrric victory, probably — the baby would almost certainly be dead by the morning. Too little, too late. Just one more small body to add to the ever-deepening grave in her conscience.  As she hooked the child up to as strong an antibiotic as was available, she shrugged the feelings away. Self pity wouldn’t help her patients. She went to find the boy’s mother, to offer what small words of hope she might be able to excavate from a barrel that had long since been scraped dry. Hours later, as she fell into a restless sleep, she could not escape the despairing hope in the mother’s eyes.


A few hours later, in Washington DC, a President — whose most major contribution to medicine had been his own consumption of pharmaceutical products down the years — was looking forward to receiving large donations from pharmaceutical companies. He had a meeting with them later that same day and he could almost smell the opportunities. He congratulated himself on his knowledge of plague. One of the Four Horsemen, right? Useful, in the right hands.

In Nambia, a doctor, whose entire career had been dedicated to fighting actual plagues, awoke to find that real science had wrought a minor miracle and brought a young child back from the brink. Savour the victories, she told herself, as she relayed the good news to the boy’s mother: fighting plagues, be they viral, bacterial or Presidential, was a forever war.







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Wokeness: Elitism, Compassion or What?


‘Wokeness is elitism

masquerading as compassion’



Laurence Fox’s foray into Question Time’s chicken run, and the subsequent fallout, has certainly set the cat of disdain among the pigeons of wokeness.

Wokeness, it seems, is a problematic condition, because those who suffer from it are making racist/sexist mountains out of molehills: they are “virtue-signallers”; they are “smugly righteous”; they are “perpetually offended”.

I know these things because there is ample testimony on Twitter from those who self-identify as wokeness experts. These stalwarts can spot wokeness at a hundred paces, and, having spotted it, they safely ignore whatever take was being expressed, secure in the knowledge that it is irrelevant to their worldview.

Take this tweet, commenting on criticisms of Meghan Markle, as a case in point:

Woke Drones

The “woke-drones” keep “banging on” about racist criticism. How do we know they are woke-drones? Well, it’s obvious: as the author points out, he hasn’t seen any examples of actual racism against her. QED.

Helpfully, he then provides us with a clear definition of actual racism in this context: “specifically criticising her because of her ethnicity”. Case closed! Disregard the woke-drones!

Well, not quite so fast. At the risk of being considered a woke-drone myself, is it true that racism requires specific examples of criticism, mentioning race, nationality, colour or ethnicity? Do commentators have to tie their racism or sexism up in a neat little bow by making blatant references to ethnicity or gender? Should we disregard a vast array of alternative scenarios, where racism or sexism is presented in a more passive-aggressive manner? Should we draw a discreet veil over an entire class of discrimination described in the Equality Act as indirect discrimination? Would pointing those out be a case of “banging on”, or merely the introduction of much-needed perspective into a widely misunderstood area of debate?

In a nutshell, “woke” seems to have become the pejorative term of choice for dismissing those who might draw the demarcation zones of racist behaviour more judiciously than others. Following Question Time and the subsequent Twitterstorm, a common view seems to be “Thank God for Laurence Fox. He’s speaking up for the common man, at last!”

I beg to differ. What he’s doing is conveniently blurring the edges for those who don’t much care for introspection. He’s packaging potentially valid concerns as bleats or whines, rather than encouraging deeper thought around a difficult and complex issue. He calls thoughtfulness “elitism”. In this post-truth age, he is essentially saying don’t trust the educated. Where have we heard that before?

Those who insist that some debaters are over-sensitive whiners are really just saying “accept our rough and ready best guess”. Don’t ask questions. Don’t rock the boat. Think like us. Columnists like Piers Morgan are, as someone pointed out to me today, paid to stir the pot, and they do it well. The question is, though, to what end? Whose interests do they really serve?

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Have I Got News For You

The snow is with us once again, so I felt this dig at GMB deserved another run out. This was written before Piers Morgan stamped his mark on the programme; it’s quite nostalgic remembering those days when female presenters got an opportunity to contribute.

Kind of Lime

The current spell of cold weather seems to have put the media into an all-round tizzy. This morning I watched Good Morning Britain to see how they would report it. What follows is, I’d like to feel, the essence of what they did. Names have been changed to avoid litigation.


“Welcome back to the Good Morning Britain studio. My name’s Amanda Periwinkle…”

“…and I’m Cornelia Scruffgrunter…”

“Later we’ll be meeting Britain’s most talented dog, Buster, who has memorised the complete works of William Wordsworth in just over a week…”

“…and at seven-forty Doctor Bob will be telling us why it’s most unwise to eat unpasteurised horse manure…”

“…but, first, our main story: you’ve have been tweeting literally in your thousands to say how alarmed you are by the strange weather.  Well, we’ve been investigating, and apparently the strange weather is all due to a disturbance in our weather patterns that…

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Back to the Eighties


I set myself the task of writing a song that evoked that most tasteful* of popular music decades, the Eighties. Here’s the result. I’d be interested to see which influences you spot.


Why Don’t You Need Me?

Your e-mail made no sense at all

And now you won’t return my calls;

A less secure man would be crying

It seems that you ain’t even trying

To look at it from my perspective,

What am I, a love detective?

The point I’m making’s elementary:

Ditchin’ me’s the crime of the century.

This hard-to-get thing’s getting stupid,

I ain’t no good at playing Cupid,

Your silent treatment’s worse than torture,

Just think of all the flowers I bought ya!

Don’t listen to your best friend Geri,

I didn’t steal them from the Cemetary

I’m Mister Romance, like Morten Harket,

I got them from the supermarket:

So come on babe, pick up the phone

Can’t stand these evenings on my own.

So come on babe, all those nights we dated!

It cannot be that complicated!



*or not, depending on your point of view

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