Miles Kington: Strange new alliances ... and the mystery of China solved</I>

The Old Vic announces that it has almost certainly secured Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Buttons in its Christmas panto
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The Independent Online

Today the final instalment of Old Miles's Almanack, which peers tremulously into the future and reveals the truth about the last four months of the coming year!

SEPTEMBER 2008

* Gordon Brown confides to friends that after he leaves Downing Street he intends to ask to be received into the Calvinist Church. His friends confide to him that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as the Calvinist Church. They also confide to him that, entre eux, shouldn't he become a duly elected Prime Minister first, before moving on to a firm religious footing? Mr Brown reminds his friends that their job is not to give advice but to tell him what he wants to hear, and that a Prime Minister can always find new friends, you know.

* Analysing the French character, scientists think they may have identified the French Syndrome. This involves having the most prestigious prizes in the world (Cannes Film Awards, Michelin rosettes, etc) but always having to give them to foreigners.

* The Old Vic announces that it has almost certainly secured Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Buttons in its Christmas panto.

* Autumn gales sweep across the country. Flooding. Some villages submerged. Yarmouth is swept out to sea and lost.

OCTOBER 2008

After the first few matches of the football season, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn every game. They are tied on eight points each. "Top Three Tie!" say dreary headlines.

* Vladimir Putin accuses England yet again of interfering with Russian internal politics, and as a reprisal offers the hand of friendship to a nation he can do business with: Scotland. He proposes a dissolution of the Union Treaty, to be replaced by a new Russo-Hibernian Alliance.

* The Old Vic announces that in their panto the part of Abanazar will almost certainly be played by Osama bin Laden.

* In the Premier League, Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal are still drawing every match and are level on points. What nobody knows is that on the far-off Planet of Subor, the superior civilisation which controls all our destiny has decided for a laugh that all top Premier League matches will be drawn till Christmas.

* Storms. Gales. Flooding. Yarmouth makes landfall in Norway, but is refused permission to land and is sent out to sea again.

NOVEMBER 2008

* In the US elections, the man they all forgot suddenly re-emerges: Jeb Bush. Don't worry, say experts, nobody called Jeb has ever won. Yes, say others, but he is up against people called Barack and Hillary. Go figure.

* Yarmouth tries to land in Fife, but is refused to do so by the Red Watch, a newly formed Russo-Hibernian Alliance regiment.

* On the Planet of Subor our controlling masters have come to feel sorry for Liverpool, with the collapse of their Year of Culture, and have decided to let them win all their matches, even though the Big Three will go on drawing.

DECEMBER 2008

* Scientists say they are near a breakthrough on the ultimate mystery of human existence: what makes the Chinese tick? They have cracked the secret of the Americans (who are perpetually inspired by the urge to take over other people's ideas and make them their own, such as pizzas, hamburgers and remakes of good French movies), and of the Scots, who can only be allies with people far away (the Italians, the French and now the Russians) but never with neighbours (ie. the English), but the Chinese? It's a mystery. Unless . . . yes, unless the Chinese have been masters of the universe all along and are actually from the Planet Subor! This, although true, seems so unlikely that no scientist dare mention the possibility.

* The town of Yarmouth has meanwhile gone right round Scotland and made landfall in Morecambe Bay. It seems right at home there.

* Christmas. Gales. Floods. No snow. Bankruptcies.

Old Miles's Almanack to be continued next year!

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