I'd give my last Dime bar for the smelly fringe

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The Independent Online
There seems to be a bit of a stink about Jill Phipps's funeral being held in Coventry Cathedral. Some newspapers are taking the line that she doesn't deserve such a good send off, having done little else with her life but sponge off the state, have her nose pierced and cause criminal damage to other people's property. I find this attitude a teeny bit negative. Ms Phipps was part of that group of people who choose to live off the state rather than look for conventional employment so that they can dedicate their lives to publicising such issues as cruelty to animals and environmental destruction. This group is tiny, and it probably costs every gainfully employed adult one tiddlyeth of a penny each year in income tax to sustain the lot of them. For this, they increase our awareness of many issues that would otherwise pass us by. Without them how many of us would know about veal calves, or pigs being blown up by the Army, or the M11 link road, or the M3 extension on Twyford Down? Even if some like myself find these people quite smelly, surely, we can't deny that they are a necessary part of our society, and if they're paid for by the state, well, they probably cost the taxpayer less in total than both sides of the Maxwell case.

Every time you buy a Dime bar, with its delicious smooth milk chocolate on the outside and surprisingly crunchy caramel stuff on the inside, a tiddlyeth of a penny of the cost of that Dime bar, with its delicious smooth milk chocolate on the outside and surprisingly crunchy caramel stuff on the inside, goes towards paying my fat fee for advertising. Dime bars on television are increasing public awareness of their deliciously smooth milk chocolate on the outside and surprisingly crunchy caramel stuff on the inside. My annual fat fee for providing you with this service is probably roughly equivalent to the amount Ms Phipps received over her entire lifetime from the DSS. Ms Phipps had a conviction for damaging property worth thousands of pounds, and one of my Dime bar ads has been banned, probably because it was thought I was damaging thousands of children's teeth.

Who performs the more socially useful function? The person who increases our awareness of the plight of veal calves or the person who increases our awareness of the deliciousness of Dime bars? The question is rhetorical, of course. I want my funeral in York Minster.

I'M GLAD the American software manufacturers and their government are taking a stance against Chinese piracy in protection of their workforces, and I hope that we, too, can soon have a trade war with China. It seems to me that while big business might benefit from China's rush towards the market economy, the rest of us can only suffer. In the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher taught us all that we had to become more productive and accept lower wages for longer hours if we were to become competitive in the world market. But the world market isn't a level playing field. How can British workers who, despite Mrs Thatcher's efforts, still enjoy a limited amount of freedom to withdraw their labour in pursuit of tolerable wages, be expected to compete with their Chinese counterparts who earn, on average, £5 a month and, if they complain, are liable to be sent to slave-labour camps or get bullets in the back of their necks? If, after the coming death of Deng Xiaoping, the new Chinese leadership manages to sustain a transformation to free- market economics in conjunction with total "Communist"- style repression of its labour force, then I don't see how international capital will be able to resist its lure, or how the manufacturing bases of Western democracies will be able to compete with it. Investment funds will rush eastwards and we will all be on the scrap heap, with Socialist Workers scampering round our streets singing gleefully, "I told you so!"

I remember reading in the papers a couple of years ago about some students who brought Cambridge traffic to a standstill by claiming that an ancient by-law from fourteen-umpteen gave them the right to take over the main street on that day of the year and arse about. If you dig up old long- forgotten laws, there is always someone who will use them as an excuse to arse about. An ex-student recently dug up an ancient rule committing the political party he leads to nationalising the means of production.

Cue all the old lefties in the country finding themselves with a splendid opportunity to get on telly and have a good arse about.

Before Tony Blair dug up Clause IV, everyone in the country thought Labour was united, had shut up the old lefties and wasn't going to nationalise anything. Now everyone thinks it isn't united, that the lefties certainly haven't shut up and Labour is going to nationalise everything.

CONSIDER the facts. Two weeks ago I write a column for your favourite Sunday paper, droves of you write to the editor to complain, but the hard- hearted Scotsman ignores your pleas and I appear again the following week. The next night my posh mansion is burgled for the first time ever, the thief tippy-toeing into my study and making off with my word processor. Nothing else was stolen. One of you lot out there, the nicely washed masses of Independent on Sunday readers, resorted to this form of Direct Action in a desperate attempt to banish me from your paper. Well, it hasn't worked. I have borrowed my girlfriend's machine in order to utterly and totally condemn this callous act of cowardly nastiness, and to iterate - I can't reiterate as I haven't said it before - in the strongest possible terms that I will never ever surrender to terrorism of this sort, unless the burglar fancies peace talks. I've also written to Auberon Waugh, whose house was also recently broken into, to see if he wants to form a pompous- people-who-sound-off-in-papers-and-have-been-burgled support group.