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Cracking the Cheese Genome

Final proof of the existence of cheese

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Animals

Better adapted to eating chips

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Sir Barnaby Tonk Shines a Light

Introducing lamp posts to Europe

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Gerald de Scooter's Restaurant Guide

I've been stuffing myself silly in dozens of top class swanky restaurants.

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'Ello 'Ello 'Ello

The Metropolitan Police Choir in concert

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Out now from Obvious Books

Books what we made up

19 September 2014
Alien space sharks

From the makers of Invisible Karate Sharks and Pirate Sharks of the Caribbean


18 September 2014

Auto-Response

Medical history was made this week when doctors attempted to decipher the brainwaves of a coma patient. The Amazing Garth Pendulum, a stage hypnotist from the north east, entered into a comatose state in December 2012 after uttering the words 'I'm just nipping out for a while'. Doctors have been unable to determine any biological cause for his condition and have concluded that Mr Pendulum's state is voluntary, suspecting that there may be some sort of publicity angle.

It is partly for this reason that investigators chose The Amazing Pendulum to test out their cutting edge brain imaging apparatus. Their equipment can detect and decipher brainwaves, which finely tuned software algorithms then assemble into messages.

Upon first connecting the machine to Mr Pendulum, researchers received what they have termed an 'out-of-body auto-response'. The message explained that Mr Pendulum was currently out of his body, taking a vacation on another astral plane. He then goes on to say that he will shortly be taking bookings and gives a list of tour dates for next year.


17 September 2014

Travel by Conga

It might seem like an innocuous party activity, but the conga is now being seriously touted as a genuine transport solution for some of the planet's most crowded cities. The roots of the idea go back to one particularly boisterous wedding disco in 1962, attended by a young college graduate called Mervyn Fingle. Fingle had spent much of the evening failing to impress one of the bridesmaids and had just come to the conclusion that, bizarrely, she didn't really appreciate his chicken impressions, when he was inadvertently dragged into a conga line as it swept past his table. At first he struggled to escape but found he was unable to because of a) the momentum, b) the middle-aged lady brushing up against him, and c) his own advanced state of inebriation.

However, no sooner had he been incorporated into the conga than it rejected him and he found himself sprawling around in a damp alleyway several miles away. He immediately realised that in order for him to have travelled such a distance the conga line must have been moving at about sixty miles an hour.

Actually, that's not strictly true. What happened 'immediately' was that he threw up and passed out behind a dumpster. It wasn't until he awoke that he reached his startling conclusion. Well, to be fair, it wasn't until he'd gone home, cleaned himself up, had a few cups of coffee... Okay, maybe it was a few weeks later. The point is that his calculations clearly demonstrated that a line of about forty people seemed capable of reaching speeds that a single person could not even contemplate. This was remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that he forgot about it for the next fifty years.

Until he was stuck in traffic one day in 2012, to be precise. As he sat there, listening to soft rock ballads on the local oldies station and becoming more and more annoyed by the bumper stickers on the car in front of him, his mind drifted back to his youthful conga experience. Surely there was potential here for a better way of moving people around? Someone, he thought, really ought to look into the possibility of the conga as a transport alternative. Then he remembered that he was head of the technology faculty at the University of Columbia and figured that that someone might as well be him.

So Mervyn Fingle - now Professor Fingle of course - set about testing conga lines in the laboratory and was astonished when, during his very first experiment, the conga clocked up a speed of forty miles an hour and punched a hole through the laboratory wall. He decided that it would be wiser to carry out future experiments in the car park rather than the laboratory, but after he wrote off the bursar's Mercedes and the history faculty's minibus, he moved his operations to a field on the edge of town. It was here that he discovered two interesting things. Firstly, that cows get really freaked out by conga lines. And secondly, that the potential speed of the conga line increases exponentially according to the number of people in it.

But can this really be a viable form of urban travel? Professor Fingle thinks so. A conga line takes up less space than a car, is more manoeuvrable and produces fewer emissions, although this last point is subject to diet. The Professor believes that the infrastructure already exists, so it's really just a matter of legislation and traffic management.

But Professor Fingle admits that he has no real interest in such piffling bureaucratic matters. He is far too busy trying to build a conga line that can reach the magic figure of 88 miles per hour, as he believes this will finally enable him to travel back in time so that he can stop his younger self doing his idiot chicken impressions in front of that bridesmaid at the wedding reception back in 1962.


16 September 2014

More Vampires, Please

What the world really needs is more teenage vampire movies. Or at least that's the opinion of Katie Orifice, Professor of Dubious Internet Qualifications at the University of Adelaide. It is Professor Orifice's view that modern entertainment media is lacking generic two-dimensional coming-of-age dramas thinly disguised as supernatural fantasies.

"We're not just talking teen vampire shows," says Professor Orifice. "We are also short on adolescent superheroes, juvenile psychics and boy wizards. I turned on the TV the other day and was quite shocked by the lack of werewolves. How can we expect our kids to grow up to be well adjusted adults unless we constantly bombard them with formulaic paranormal dramas in which they can subsume their own perfectly normal pubescent insecurities?"

Professor Orifice argues that the average teenager can learn to conquer their feelings of isolation and self-doubt if they are encouraged to fantasise that their obvious shortcomings are actually some sort of supernatural gift which makes them 'special'. Thus, a fourteen-year-old boy riddled with chronic acne and the frequent victim of neighbourhood bullies becomes, in his mind, Zit Man - who must rapidly come to terms with his awesome ability to defeat his persecutors with his powerful 'pus ray', while at the same time struggling to understand his feelings for his older sister's best friend.

"It's bullshit," admits Professor Orifice. "But it's bullshit that serves a purpose, and for this reason we need this sort of fiction to flourish. It's just a shame that we don't have a TV and film industry that is dominated by a bunch of geeks who grew up reading comics in the seventies and are now desperately seeking to compensate for a youth in which they were intimidated, ridiculed and ignored by the opposite sex, by investing in fan-wank that seems solely designed to shield them from ever having to leave their childhood behind."


15 September 2014

Gin!

The new play from celebrated playwright Herman Frogspawn has premiered to fierce criticisms about its depiction of nineteenth century medicine. Readers can judge for themselves whether such opinions are justified, as the author has kindly allowed us to reproduce an excerpt from this dark Victorian melodrama here.

The scene is the drawing room of the Duchess of Caerphilly. Her niece, after choking on a grapefruit, falls down in a faint and neither the footman nor the boot boy can revive her. Luckily, professional help is on hand.

DUCHESS:

Good lord! Help! Help! Somebody do something.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Stand aside please. I am a doctor. Please, give me some space here.

DR GRUMBOLD KNEELS BY THE PROSTRATE FORM OF MISS PHILLIPS AND BEGINS TO LOOSEN HER UNDERGARMENTS.

DUCHESS:

Whatever is the matter with my ward?

DR GRUMBOLD:

This man has fallen down, your ladyship.

DUCHESS:

But this man is a woman.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Yes, yes, I know. I'm a doctor. That was one of the first things they taught us.

DUCHESS:

Is it serious?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Being a doctor? I should say so. The training lasts a whole week and they make us read a book.

DUCHESS:

No - this 'falling over'. Is that serious?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Oh yes, your ladyship. Very serious indeed. Luckily I am well acquainted with the condition. I have treated people who have fallen over before. You there!

FOOTMAN:

Me, sir?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Yes, you sir. Don't just stand there like a blithering idiot. Go and fetch some gin at once.

THE FOOTMAN DEPARTS. DR GRUMBOLD PROCEEDS TO LOOSEN HIS OWN UNDERGARMENTS.

DUCHESS:

Can she be revived? Only we have somebody coming to clean the carpets this afternoon.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Never fear, your ladyship. I have to tell you, this is one of the most severe cases of falling over that I've seen, but I'm confident that with care, patience and gin she can be revived. Oh, where is that fellow with the gin?

THE FOOTMAN RETURNS HASTILY, CARRYING A SMALL BOTTLE OF GIN.

FOOTMAN:

Here sir. Will this do, sir?

DR GRUMBOLD TAKES A SWIG FROM THE BOTTLE.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Well, it's not medical gin but it will have to serve. I only hope that this young lady is not gin intolerant.

BOOT BOY:

Is there anything I can do sir?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Yes more gin.

BOOT BOY:

More gin, sir?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Yes, yes, more gin I say! This young lady is in a critical condition. Without a steady supply of gin we could lose her. Well, what are you standing there for? Go! Go, I say!

THE BOOT BOY DEPARTS.

DUCHESS:

I say, doctor - should she be that colour?

DR GRUMBOLD:

What colour is she normally?

DUCHESS:

More sort of pink. Less sort of blue.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Then this is more serious than I thought. Oh, where is that blasted boy with the gin?

THE BOOT BOY RETURNS WITH FOUR LARGE BOTTLES OF GIN.

BOOT BOY:

Here sir.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Where in Hades have you been boy? This man is...

DUCHESS:

Woman.

DR GRUMBOLD:

...this woman is at death's door. She needs a constant supply of gin.

BOOT BOY:

Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Sorry be damned. Go and get more gin!

BOOT BOY:

Sir, I -

DR GRUMBOLD:

Gin! Gin! Gin!

THE BOOT BOY DEPARTS.

DUCHESS:

Is everything all right?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Everything depends on getting as much gin into her as quickly as possible. It's touch and go.

DUCHESS:

Good, well if you've got everything under control, I'll just sit here and get on with my needlework.

THE BOOT BOY RETURNS WITH MORE BOTTLES.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Gin! Gin! Giiiiiiiiiiin!

BOOT BOY:

Gin's all gone, sir. We've got a two bottles of brandy and half a jug of cider.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Intolerable! Are you trying to kill this woman? We must have more gin! Your ladyship, I think we're losing her.

DUCHESS:

Good, good. You carry on.

DR GRUMBOLD:

You there!

FOOTMAN:

Me, sir?

DR GRUMBOLD:

Yes, you sir. Do you have a gin-pump?

FOOTMAN:

I believe that we have such a device in the cellar. It hasn't been used for years, but we might be able to get it going.

DR GRUMBOLD:

Then what are we waiting for? Let us fetch it with all haste!

DR GRUMBOLD, THE FOOTMAN AND THE BOOT BOY DEPART. THE DUCHESS CONTINUES WITH HER NEEDLEWORK FOR A WHILE BEFORE GLANCING DOWN AT THE STIFF AND MOTIONLESS FORM OF MISS PHILLIPS.

DUCHESS:

I saw that Mrs Thompson in the chemist again, yesterday.

MISS PHILLIPS CONTINUES TO REMAIN IMMOBILE ON THE CARPET.

DUCHESS:

Don't slouch, dear.

 

Murder Up The Gasworks will be running at The Old Abattoir Theatre until the building is demolished next Tuesday.


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Recalled to Life Recalled to Life: The University of the Bleeding Obvious Volume 3

Stuffed with new material and old favourites, Recalled to Life is 280 pages of plumptiousness and very probably exactly what you need to prop up that wonky old table in the kitchen.

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Baby

 

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The History of Rock

The Bubble Bloke

"He coughs up something unpleasant..."

Sounds of Nature

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We quiz a famous celebrity

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Stealing horses to order

Piffin: A Mediterrean Paradise

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Archive 1

February 2001
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Sci-Fi

"Was North America once home to an advanced society..."

Skydiving

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Random Kevin

"...abuse and ridicule in the comfort of your own home..."

Not Funny

"Comedy is something that occurs at a sub-atomic level..."

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Karate

A soon-to-be-released report suggests that Karate can make you blind. The report also names Judo as a major cause of deafness, and reveals that prolonged exposure to Ju-Jitsu can cause uncontrolled defecation. It has long been suspected that excessive Aikido can cause ulcers, and now most doctors are aware that Tae Kwon Do is a major contributing factor in cases of premature baldness. However, there is still no firm evidence that Kung Fu makes you fart.

Invitation to a Monks' Tea Party

"...dedicated to St Jemima of the Holy Rock, the patron saint of gravel..."


Wensleydale

"The caverns were closed to the public for their annual hosing down..."

10 Things You Never Knew About Frogs

"Frogs can jump ten times their own bodyweight..."

Optimum Leaning Angles

"It's always best to rest against something solid, such as a small horse..."

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All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2014, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.


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