NEWS MONKEY

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The Independent Online
WAR IN EUROPE. One minute you're sitting in your local gastropub banging on about the single currency, and the next minute World War Three sneaks up and bites you on the bum. Our generation knows little of war, but with the US running low on cruise missiles and support for the deployment of ground troops growing steadily, it looks as if we may soon have a jolly big stink to call our very own. Media types who complain about missing out on the sobering and formative experience of a just war are now quietly checking to make sure they're too old to be conscripted.

WOODHEAD AFFAIR. It's hard to believe that someone with the surname Woodhead would ever choose to become a teacher. Chris Woodhead did, however, and back in the Swingin' Seventies the perks were even better than those had by window cleaners and driving instructors. The chief inspector of schools insists that his affair with a former pupil began after she left the sixth form, but hardly anyone else seems to remember it that way. It's difficult to see how such relationships can be "educative", as Woodhead famously described them, unless they take place during actual class time. There are also reports that he once stripped down to his underpants for a sixth form river frolic. Crazy name, crazy guy.

MONKEY MAN. A new definition of what it is to be a man means that one of our earliest ancestors is technically no longer a relation. Homo Habilis, the handy man of two million years ago, is in fact no homo, and is actually more closely related to John Prescott. Luckily Homo Habilis is extinct so he hasn't heard the bad news, but if he were around today and he'd seen any of Sex And The City, he might not mind so much.

NAZI GUILTY. The life sentence handed down to 78-year-old Anthony Sawoniuk sends a strong message to any war criminals who might be thinking of coming to Britain to live and work for 53 years. The message is: we'll get round to you eventually. If that Arkan is thinking about getting out of the ethnic cleansing game to set up a little sub-post office in Norfolk, he should think again. And nice old General Pinochet had better not make any big plans for his 136th birthday.

NUNAVUT. The self-governing Inuit homeland of Nunavut is only a few days old, but it's never too soon to ask them if they're willing to commit ground troops. There's only 25,000 of them in the whole place, but that should be enough to make a start. The troubled young people of the frozen northwest could learn a lot from the formative experience of having one's head blown off in central Europe. Good show.

CORNER SHOP. The best April Fool's joke of the week was the one played on David Blunkett, who accompanied Health Minister Tessa Jowell to a new corner shop on the Longley estate in his Sheffield constituency. The shop is part of a social exclusion unit scheme to bring healthy eating and fresh fruit and veg to neighbourhoods abandoned by retailers. Photographs showed a smiling Mr Blunkett positioned directly behind a shopping basket containing only a box of chocolates, and directly in front of the cigarette display.

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