Power vacuum

Power vacuumOn a more positive note, with Cameron abandoning ship, Labour self-imploding, the Lib-Dems (remember them?) being led by a god-botherer named Tim, the Scotch about to take the high road, Screaming Lord Sutch long dead, and the English electorate having taken total leave of its senses, could now be the perfect time for the Gruts Party to rise from the shadows to save a grateful nation?

Let's face it, we would have massive popular appeal (cat-owners excepted, obviously). I appreciate we don't actually have any policies at the moment, but we could take a leaf out of the Brexit campaign's book and make up random, undeliverable promises as we go along. Who knows, with any luck, we might even be able to rope in former Italian Prime Ministerial nominee Prof. Alice Roberts. She'd be handy in a political fist-fight.

Clearly, we'd need a catchy tagline, but we've got that well and truly covered. Or maybe we should come up with something more jingoistic:

Union flag

Please feel free to leave your undeliverable manifesto pledges, voter-duping scare-stories, and campaign mottos in the comments.

We can do this.

Comparing anatomy


To explain:

  • Alice Roberts is Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. She is a physical anthropologist, author, and popular TV science presenter, and was once nominated for the Prime Ministership of Italy;
  • comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy of different organisms;
  • my use of the phrase ‘on the nature of limbs’ is a reference to a book of that name by Richard Owen (Amazon uk | .com);
  • Richard Owen was a brilliant Victorian anatomist. An adversary of Charles Darwin, he invented the word dinosaur, and was responsible for the creation of what later became the Natural History Museum in London. Owen believed that the anatomies of all vertebrates shared the same basic blueprint, which he referred to as the archetype;
  • Charles Darwin was a total dude, who realised that Owen's so-called archetype in fact represented the common ancestor of all vertebrates;
  • Ernst Haeckel was a brilliant German biologist, who developed his own (mostly wrong) version of Darwinism;
  • Edward B. Lewis was an twentieth-century American geneticist, who co-received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work on fruit flies;
  • Horizon is a long-running, BBC popular science television programme.

Or, to put it another way:

  • Alice Roberts sent me a tweet mentioning Charles Darwin!

My work here is almost complete.

Greecing the wheels of economic recovery

You know me: I like to think outside the box. So try this one on for size. Compare and contrast:

BBC: Greece bailout: Large protests expected against cuts
Greece is braced for large protests against further budget cuts, following a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout deal aimed at avoiding bankruptcy.

BBC: UK public finances in biggest surplus for four years
The government received more money than it spent in January leaving it with its highest monthly surplus in four years.

In summary, Greece is utterly broke, and we have money going spare. So here's my modest proposal…

We put in a reasonable offer to the Greeks for the Parthenon, dismantle it, ship it over to London, reassemble it in the British Museum's fancy new atrium, and re-attach the Elgin Marbles.

Everyone is happy. It's a win-win-win-win-win situation:

  • the Greeks get some much-needed money;
  • the Elgin Marbles are returned to the Parthenon (the Greeks have been banging on about that for years);
  • the Parthenon is finally protected from acid rain by being placed indoors;
  • we get a new tourist attraction;
  • the British Museum frees up an entire gallery, thereby enabling it to display yet more plundered treasure.

Sometimes, I impress even myself. I bet even Prof. Alice Roberts would have struggled to come up with that one.

I'm a one-man think-tank, me.

Gruts in a nutshell

I've just been analysing the 11,270 different Google search-strings that pointed visitors towards Gruts in the last 30 days. They make fascinating reading. Top of the list, obviously, comes ‘Alice Roberts’, whom, before her recent promotion to professor, I wisely tipped to lead Italy. Those idiot Italians must be kicking themselves for not snapping her up when they had the chance!

Far more illuminating reading, however, are some of the more unusual search requests which brought punters flocking this way. Here is a small selection:

  • gay dog
  • george clooney look alike
  • bored shitless
  • difference between kidney and liver
  • spoops
  • heart sausage
  • dick biscuit
  • mnmn
  • run over cat
  • monk fight
  • albatross hat
  • dead as a doorknob
  • fire breathing rubber duckies
  • pee too much
  • porpoise cake
  • scary duck
  • rate my stump
  • holding on to something that isn't there
  • owl communications
  • what is ectoplasm
  • you say france and i whistle angry men
  • fat man waving
  • perfect pubes
  • is fent a word
  • ginger tits
  • freddie mercury vacuum
  • she poo dogs
  • bare botty
  • anonymous helmet
  • nudist beauty pagents
  • evolution of genitals
  • coat hangers
  • my nurse uniform

Yes, I think that sums up Gruts pretty well.

Righ' onarubbuw pukka gen'uwmun

"Jamie [Oliver] for PM," cries online Guardian reader HelenfromCT.

That's crazy talk, HelenfromCT! The slack-jawed Essex geezer should stick to what he's best at: being not as good as he used to be on telly. There is only one person who can sort out this mess we're in.

Guardian readers, huh? As politically clueless as ever.

Postscript: Oh, I see, 'HelenfromCT' is short for HelenfromC[ape]T[own, South Africa]. In that case, fair dos, HelefromCT: you could do far worse than the mockney wide-boy.

Gone phishing

"Hello, my name is Alice…" said the woman at the other end of the phone.

My heart skipped a beat: I thought it must be Dr Alice Roberts phoning to thank me for my vote of confidence the other day. Those crazy Italians sure missed an opportunity there! But then I realised that this lady did not sound at all like Dr Alice Roberts: she did not have Dr Alice Roberts' low, slightly nasal, West Country accent. I am by no means an expert on accents, but I would put good money on this particular Alice's accent originating somewhere on the Asian subcontinent.

Before I could ask Alice whether, by any chance, she happened to know my good friend Jackie Chan Singh, Alice explained that she worked in the IT Support department of the company named Microsoft Windows, and that the computer which was attached to my telephone had reported to them that it was about to crash.

Yikes! I said that sounded very serious and asked Alice if there was anything she could do to help me. Fortunately, there was.

While I waited for my computer to boot, I asked Alice where she was phoning from, as the quality of the line was appalling, making it very difficult for me to hear what she was saying. Alice explained that she was calling from Manchester. I told her that I had heard of the place. It did not occur to me to ask Alice how my computer had managed to report that it was about to crash when it had been turned off for the last 24 hours. Computers are so clever these days!

Alice then proceded to give me some instructions in order to prevent my computer from crashing. They were awfully complicated. It took me a good few minutes to locate the first key she wanted me to press. It turned out that she wanted me to press the Windows key. I think she must have been trying to avoid using technical jargon. Then she wanted me to press the ‘R’ key. The responses I was giving were not at all what Alice expected. It turned out that she wanted me to press the Windows and ‘R’ keys at the same time. Stupid me!

I explained to Alice that I could now see a box which said Run at the top and Open underneath. Now we were cooking on gas! This was exactly what Alice was hoping I would see. She then got me to type in a whole pile of letters one after the other: "E for Edward, V for Victor…" and so on. I was still having great difficulty hearing what Alice was saying, so I ended up making lots and lots and lots of mistakes. It took me ages. I have to hand it to Microsoft Windows, the people in their IT Support department have the patience of saints.

After what seemed like an age, Alice finally managed to get me to type in the word EVENTVWR and to press enter.

"What does it now say on your screen?" asked Alice.

"OH MY GOD!! IT SAYS I'M UNDER ATTACK!!" I almost shouted. "WHAT SHOULD I DO?!!!!"

"I'm sorry, I did not hear you properly," said Alice. "What does your screen say?"

"There's a big warning box on my screen. It says: ‘You are under attack: a very naughty woman calling herself Alice is trying to get you to do very silly things on your computer as part of a scumbag phishing attack!’" I gasped. "I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounds really bad! Do you have any idea what it means, Alice?"

Alice was still struggling to hear me and asked me to repeat the message.

I repeated the message. Before I could ask Alice whether she was in any way connected with News International and my sworn enemy, Murdoch, however, the line went dead. Those damned dodgy Manchester telephone exchanges!

So I thought I'd better post this quick update before my computer crashes.

Normal disservice will be resumed as soon as possible.

The Italian job

Guardian: Berlusconi's replacement as Italy's PM: will it be the fixer or the technocrat?

Profiles of contenders Angelino Alfano and Mario Monti, one from Sicily's poor south, the other from the rich north.

Mamma mia! That's just what we need: another Italian running Italy. Look what happened last time.

Remember when those chaps ran the biggest empire in the world? No, me neither. But they did, believe me. The Roman Empire, it was called. It had a right mixed bag of emperors, some good, some very, very bad. Remember Nero and Caligula? No, me neither. They were very bad emperors. Berlusconi was cast from the same mould. But the Roman Empire had some pretty good emperors too. In fact, a group of five of them is actually known as the Five Good Emperors. And guess what? Of those five good emperors, only two were born in Italy!

It's time to think outside the box, Italia! You can sort out this mess, but, let's face it, you're going to need some outside help. It's time for you to put pride to one side and, for the sake of western civilisation, pick a non-Italian as Prime Minister. Someone intelligent, charismatic and incorruptable. Someone who will stand up to the French, has their head screwed on, has an excellent knowledge of history, and knows how to balance a budget.

Now I know what you're thinking, but I'm afraid I have other commitments at the moment.

If you want my advice, it seems to me you could do far worse than to elect Dr Alice Roberts as your very first Primera Ministra:

Alice Roberts

Dr Alice Roberts, prospective Italian Prime Minister.

TV anatomy's loss would be international finance's gain.

We're in this together, Italy. This one is on me. You can keep the customary referral fee. I appreciate you're a little strapped for cash at the moment.

(Incidentally, her name is pronounced A-LISS, not A-LEE-CHAY.)


STOP PRESS [10-Nov-2011, 13:16 GMT]: In related news, Greece has just chosen a new Prime Minister in the shape of former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos. No, me neither. I can't help feeling that this is a huge mistake. Personally, I would have gone for the Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce.