A hearty greeting unto you,
I wonder if The Independent Newspaper of Great Britain would get behind my "alternative" Sports Relief Day that I am promoting for the good of man/woman/beast kind. My aim is for it to REPLACE the existing Sports Relief Day.
Why? Because my idea is much much much much much much better!
It involves the major stars of British on-screen comedy (well, not actually "on-screen" as it would break!!) all performing some wonderful never-seen-before, and sometimes DEATH-DEFYING acts!
I aim for ROBIN COOPER'S GREAT BRITISH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SPORTING RELIEVING DAY (AND NIGHT) (RCGBNAISRD(AN)) to replace the existing Sports Relief Day –- and to be televised and radioised on all television and radio channels all day – and all night.
So, here's the full and exciting schedule for RCGBNAISRD(AN).
5:45 am: Cast of the BBC programme, Miranda (excluding Miranda) to perform a sports-themed dance routine in the studio, with a specially built ice-rink. Cast to perform under ice.
6:15: Ice rink to be melted by June Whitfield (Box of matches to be supplied by Richard Briers from The Good Life comedy show).
9:00: Lighting team behind the comedy My Family (And Other Animals?) to climb out of a large tub of water, and then to perform a synchronised drying routine. Music by Barbara Dickson and any offspring of Abba who are musical.
9:55: Basil Fawlty (from Basil Fawlty's Towers) to showcase a new sport called "Billy Ball". The aim of the game is to keep a ball off the ground using nothing but a shelf, whilst telephoning people called Billy. (Call charges may apply) (Well, they will apply, as every phone call costs something!) (Oh, to live in a world free of telecommunication charges.) (Perhaps one day, we will.) (Until then, we can only live in hope...).
11:00: Rob Brydon to change his name by deed poll to Bob Bydon. Live!
11:02: David Baddiel and Frank Skinner from the programme about sarcastic football, to perform a sort of sporty dance, while counting sideways from a million. So, Mr Baddiel counts sideways from a million to zero, whilst the other man counts sideways from a million to infinity. At the end, there is a mini "explosion" in the studio (mercury fuses will be required).
16:00: The cast of Little Britain (minus the two main performers) to do a magic trick involving a squash racquet. They have to make the racquet PHYSICALLY disappear and then reappear - either inside a special 60ft x 60ft box made from gold, or inside each other. (NB: Item may be dependent on cost/safety.)
16:30: The accounting team behind the programme, Mrs Brown and Her Boys to discuss some of the financial issues faced during the making of the programme.
21:00: Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders from Saunders and French to do high wire act with Norman Tebbit. Mr Tebbit to act as sturdy wire.
21:36: Martin Bayle and Juliet Nickleby to perform new script, The Strawberry Inquiry (a new "pilot" comedy written by R Cooper). At the end, audience to vote on whether The Strawberry Inquiry shall be COMMISSIONED as a television series for ALL channels at ALL times. Audience who vote to be made up of specially invited guests (R. Cooper and friends/non foes).
22:06: BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, to present lecture entitled: "What will British broadcasting actually be like in the year 90000?" whilst on fire.
02:00: Jonathan Ross to attempt to break the 100 metre-underwater-hurdle-somersault-high-jump LIVE in the studio. If he succeeds, he will be presented with £100,000. If he fails, he will be given a special wax effigy of his soul. Presentation to be carried out by the Mayor of Lincoln.
03:10: Partial closedown of all television (to allow time for cleaning of cameras/studio floors etc), although maybe we don't need to do this? Do we need to do this?
03:20: Lenny Henry and the man in Seinfeld (his last name is just "Seinfeld" I think) to saw a box in half that contains a woman. BUT the woman will not be harmed!!!! It is all an "illusion". However, people will be told it is "magic". After trick, box to be broken down and recycled, (we will film the recycling process), followed by lengthy studio discussion on environmental issues, conducted by Sir Mervyn King and/or Twiggy.
05:45: Repeat of all previous items, but done live again, i.e. everyone will have to re-perform everything they've done EXACTLY as they did before (we can issue fines for errors).
That's IT! I think you'll agree that Robin Cooper's Great British National and International Sporting Relieving Day (and Night) (RCGBNAISRD(AN)) is a surefire billy boy hit! All I need from your newspaper is the front cover for just one year, advertising this FANTASTIC event. Plus funding of £780,000.
So – what are you waiting for? Get the printing presses a-going, and start a-rattling your piggy banks! Let's make this a Robin Cooper's Great British National and International Sporting Relieving Day (and Night) (RCGBNAISRD(AN)) we never EVER forget!
I look forward to hearing from you. All the billy best!
The voters won't forget Osborne's Budget betrayal
It seems clear after the Chancellor's Budget that the groups who are going to pay a high price for deficit reduction are many and varied.
Students have seen university fees soar and now face unprecedented levels of youth unemployment and a freeze on the minimum wage. The elderly have had their pensions effectively reduced. Workers in the public sector will suffer a continued wage freeze. Motorists face escalating fuel prices that eat up an ever-larger chunk of family budgets. Those on low incomes have lost tax credits. The disabled and the weakest members of our society have had their benefits slashed and means tested.
The Chancellor though has made a "special case" for those earning over £150,000 and cut their tax bill so now some will be better off to the tune of over £40,000.
The rank hypocrisy of this decision will not be forgotten by the electorate.
Simon G Gosden
Full marks to John Day (Letters, 21 March) for giving reasons why the rich will stay in London, rather than be driven out by "punitive" rates of taxation.
This is even more important in the light of George Osborne's Budget tax reductions for such people.
Osborne seems to assume that we live in a static world in which other countries will not now make reductions in the taxes which they levy in order to make their countries more hospitable to the rich and entrepreneurs than ours. The eventual outcome of such competitive actions will be to either increase the taxation on those who are not well-off, or to reduce public services for them at the international level, or both, as is happening in this country.
It is shocking, though thoroughly predictable, that George Osborne should rob pensioners to fund tax cuts for the wealthy (reports, 22 March).
The most disturbing element of his package for me, however, is the potential introduction of regional public-sector pay awards. This represents the latest move in a clear government strategy of the engineered ghettoisation of the poor.
Housing-benefit changes have already ensured that many poor families will be forced to move to areas with cheaper housing. By definition, these cheap-rent areas will have fewer job opportunities.
If regional pay is introduced in the public sector, the effect will be that it will become impossible to recruit high-quality staff as teachers and nurses and in benefit offices in deprived areas.
Rising travel prices, fuel poverty, tuition fees and library closures will, no doubt, help cement the plight of those on benefits or low incomes.
With the poor forced into ghettos, these constituencies are most likely to be Labour safe seats, leaving previously marginal wards populated with more affluent voters more likely to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat.
The Chancellor has chosen pensioners – particularly those working-class pensioners who are lucky to exist on £10,000 a year, having worked all their lives but never earned high enough to accrue any meaningful savings – to be the milch cows who provide the money for tax rebates to the wealthy. However, he may have chosen the wrong group to provide the rebate.
A straw poll among a good cross-section of the 4.5 million affected indicates that the people at No 10 and 11 should get the milk into their afternoon lattes while they can, since they don't have a long-term future.
M A Owen
Isn't it strange that when a Chancellor decides to remove anomalies from the VAT system, VAT is always added to items anomalously excluded rather than removed from items anomalously already charged?
At least half of us in this household are pleased to see that it's a "Granny Tax" and not a "Grandad Tax".
Lyme Regis, Dorset
I think what George Osborne really meant to say was "You're all in this together."
A great asset to us all
My grandmother has loved, and been loved by, three generations of her family. She has always been available for her children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren, wiping away tears with a hankie, sticking plasters on knees, steaming roly-poly puddings, remembering birthdays.
But she is getting a little slow, now, as the years catch up with her, and she isn't quite the woman that she was. Do you think Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Clegg have any friends in the City I could flog her to?
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
The nub of the jest eluded Matthew Norman (21 March) in his reference to the two most irrelevant things in the world. It's an old theatre joke and usually alludes to The Stage newspaper: "The three most useless things in the world are the Pope's balls and a review in The Stage."