Exclusive! The news of 2006 - before it happens

Russell Crowe stars in a gay blockbuster, moles invade Wembley and Wayne Rooney takes on the Pope in 'Celebrity Big Brother'. John Walsh looks at the really big stories of the coming year
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Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announces drastic new "traffic calming" measures on the nation's roads. Motorists driving at more than 30mph in London will no longer be flashed by speed cameras. Instead, metal flanges studded with nails will pop out of the roadway and shred their tyres.

Charles Kennedy holds a "Who Says I Can't Keep My New Year Resolution?" press conference on 10 January, followed by a bring-a-bottle party.

Boris Johnson gives his maiden speech as Shadow Spokesman for Higher Education. "Universities are the crucible of tomorrow's ruling generation," he tells the audience, "except for the redbrick ones and the former polytechnic thingies, which aren't."

Multiplex, the company rebuilding Wembley Stadium, announces: "Everything's going according to plan for England's World Cup warm-up game on 27 May. Except the seating."


The papers are full of shock reports that Cherie Blair has been boosting her income again, this time by becoming a celebrity hairdresser in Chigwell. Favourite conversational openings are: "Going anywhere nice for your freebie?" and "That's a lovely frock. Were you thinking of giving it away?" and "Do you know of any human rights abominations in your part of Essex?"

The Tory leader, David Cameron, discovering that his surname is an anagram of "Romance," releases Valentine's Day single, "My Heart You Steal, My Life You Sweeten, I'll Put Our Son's Name Down For Eton." It hits the charts at No 86.

At the Oscars, Brokeback Mountain, the "gay western", wins 10 awards. Miramax immediately announces it's starting work on Gaylien, in which Sigourney Weaver is stalked in outer space by a terrifying monster in a fuchsia bandanna.

In a friendly curtain-raiser to the World Cup, England lose 3-1 to Qatar Athletic. Multiplex confirms its Wembley Stadium construction schedule is "on target for 27 May. Apart from the floodlights, obviously."


David Cameron throws the Conservative Party into turmoil by creating a Shadow Cabinet post (Spokesman in Charge of Being Nice) for Carol Thatcher. Fears that this signals the party's return to There-Is-No-Alternative Thatcherism are quelled when he signs up Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball as Spokesmen in Charge of Being Northern.

England's footballing fortunes continue their downward slide, beaten 4-1 by South Guadeloupe Unathletic. Wembley project managers voice fears that "some details might not be quite ready" in time for kick-off in May "but only small things, like the lavatories".

Warner Brothers announces its new $90m blockbuster, Gladiator to be Gay, in which Russell Crowe forms a passionate attachment with Vin Diesel. "I am Maximus Decimus Meridius," grates Crowe, in a climactic scene, "and I will have my moiré silk scatter cushions, in this shade or in that."

Wembley construction is reportedly "near as dammit completed. Apart from the Astroturf, naturally."


More bad news for motorists. Westminster Council announces that, from 10 May, drivers of cars whose tyres are touching the road will be stopped, slapped very hard on the wrist and have their vehicles painted blue. "There is no justification for cars clogging the roads," says Alistair Darling.

In Washington DC, Laura Bush is bitten by a Dalmatian on her way to see the smash-hit new movie, Gay of the Triffids, a remake of the horror film in which the Earth is menaced by lethal plants armed with Shirley Bassey LPs.

Sporting disaster for England as, with only weeks to go before the World Cup, they are beaten 9-1 by Easter Island Downright Unhealthy. At Wembley Stadium, the final touches are being put in place. "Everything's ready to go," says a spokesman. "Apart from the turnstiles, of course."


Among the luminaries attending the Hay Festival is Saddam Hussein, who wows the audience with readings from his book I Do Not Recognise This Court, a compendium of clever evasive tactics for those facing prosecution. A sequel, Just Who The Hell Do You Think You're Talking To?, is now with his publishers.

The opening ceremony of the World Cup at the newly refurbished Wembley Stadium ends in disarray when 2,487 moles are discovered burrowing through the playing surface. The contractors blame global warming. The international warm-up game, England vs Hungary, is relocated to a corner of Clapham Common, with the teams using sports jackets as goalposts. England lose 9-1.

President Bush orders the bombing of Dalmatia, sends an invading force of 20,000 marines to the border, and asks Tony Blair to back him in "bringing these here terrorists to justice. No one assaults the First Lady with impurity, and you can quote me on that."


Tony Blair pledges to send 5,000 British troops to the Dalmatian border, "if that's what the situation demands". Jack Straw offers to explain to President Bush that his wife's assailant was a breed of dog, but Mr Bush finds a link between Dalmatia and al-Q'aida, and war is therefore inevitable.

The short list for the Turner Prize is announced at Tate Britain. Among the exhibits by the conceptual artist Django Bore is one simply entitled John Prescott. When asked what he is doing there, a pugnacious Mr Prescott replies: "Ah'm 'ere to show that art isn't joost for t'snobby classes, it's for t'everyone, including me, and if Ah have to stand 'ere all bloody day to make my point, Ah'm prepared to go the extra mile."

As the Wembley fiasco worsens, David Cameron suggests that the Government appoint a Minister for Moles.


In what the Meteorological Office describes as "truly freakish weather conditions... bizarrely unseasonal", the sun shines in the UK, in July, for two whole weeks. "If this continues," says a spokesman, "there's a danger that the British public will become deranged."

Viewing figures for Celebrity Big Brother hit an all-time high of 55 million, as the nation watches Wayne Rooney, the Duchess of Cornwall, Pope Benedict XVI and Hurley, the fat guy from Lost.

A motorist who parked his car near London's Regent Street and hesitated while introducing £1 coins into the meter was surprised when the vehicle was swung into the air by a magnetic crane and pulped, before his eyes. "You call it brutal, we call it effective," said a Transport for London spokesman. "People must learn that possessing a car is a dying privilege. And we are proud to be spreading the word."


Mr and Mrs Blair take their holiday at Dunshootin, the glamorous holiday home of the businessman Mr Nicholas van Hoogstraten. After two days they abandon it for Topshop Sur La Plage, the attractive holiday home of the retail billionaire Mr Philip Green. After three days, they leave for Mr Noddy Holder's appealing Long Island retreat, Wolver Hampton, and stay there for weeks. Mrs Blair manages to supplement her lawyer's salary by offering members of the public guided tours of her husband's suitcase.


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is nipped on the finger by a pedigree Pomeranian held by a guest during a White House reception. The President is informed.

In the final Test match at the Oval, Sri Lanka are 894 for 2 at the end of the third day.

In a bid to make The Last Night of the Proms more "edgy", the BBC asks Mr Ozzy Osbourne to take the baton for Walton's "Fantasia on British Sea Shanties". In the ensuing carnage, the third violin is rushed to the Chelsea and Westminster hospital to have a trombone slide extracted from her ear.

In the Commons, David Cameron congratulates the Prime Minister on his lovely tan and hopes he will share with him the brand of his sunscreen.

In a new reality television show, Pushing Up The Daisies, six gullible members of the public are encouraged to believe they have been buried alive and have subsequently woken up in a coffin six feet underground. Their feeble tears and piteous soliloquies, captured on camera, are priceless.


As 50,000 Navy Seals are mustered for the invasion of Pomerania, Kofi Annan pleads for calm reason and cool heads. Tony Blair agrees to send a division of infantry to the Polish border, "should that be what the President requires". Stanfords, the cartography shop in Long Acre, London, reports mass buying of maps of eastern Europe by members of the press.

The Booker Prize is won by Xanthe Fellatio, a beautiful Anglo-Brazilian first-timer, with her scorching novel, Blimey I'm Gorgeous. The judges' decision is roundly condemned by The Independent's literary editor as "undermining the very temple of Western civilisation".

At the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, Charles Kennedy rallies the troops with a lachrymose burst of "I'm Nobody's Child" and a rousing "Glasgow Belongs to Me", complete with hand gestures.


Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant, the Portly Widgeon, opens in Guildford to rapturous praise. Singled out for special mention are his TCP Soup, Brake Fluid Pannacotta and Creosote Walnut Cake.

Transport for London announces swingeing fixed penalties for any travellers saying aloud anything disparaging about London's "bendy buses".

Cherie Blair QC is discovered to be supplementing her income by exotic dancing at the Randy Rabbit, a club located beside Ealing Common. "It is nothing short of outrageous for a Prime Minister's wife to be conducting herself in this way," says David Cameron at Prime Minister's Question Time, "although I think that she's a very nice person, and she does give excellent value for money."


Wembley Mole Conservancy, formerly Wembley Stadium, opens to the public. A new film in the unusual "gay wildlife" documentary genre, Mince of the Moles, packs in the crowds.

Professor Colin Pillinger holds a press conference to announce that his space probe has been located on one of the moons of Alpha Centauri, where it has been converted into a fast-food restaurant by local life-forms.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announces, "not before time", a complete ban on cars being used for "any form of forwards or backwards travel" anywhere in the UK. "They're nasty, smelly, noisy, brash and ugly things and have no place in a modern society," said Darling. "Unlike our exciting, all-new bendy buses."