audi olympics
'funny, and not a little bit strange' - the guardian; 'an offbeat treat' - web user
Monday, September 30, 2002
Our Galaxy vs Theirs

Boy, am I pleased my beloved Europe won the Ryder Cup. I’ll be supporting Earth in the InterGalactic Trophy next summer, too. And then Our Galaxy against Theirs.

Speaking of Galaxies, my thanks to Ford for building wing mirrors so robust that a single tap from a passing wheelie-bin makes them dangle all over the side of the car. My thanks to the wife for banishing me from the house for only seven nights.

My thanks, also, to the Toyota garage for selling me a car, then hanging on to it for over a week while it waits for a service, and, in an act of unparalleled kindness, lending it to one of their customers for the week. Yes, one of their customers whose car is in for bodywork repairs. Think about that one.

And, of course, many thanks to Tony in Melbourne for working night and day – my night, his day – to fix the Archives.

Coming soon... Ann Widdecombe's 7 steps to eternal youth.

Friday, September 27, 2002
An appeal to Ford Europe

Dr Threapelton Frint*
Director, Pricing Strategy
Ford Europe

Dear Dr Frint

I am writing to you about the Ford Ka. I see that this ‘vehicle’ retails in the UK at up to £12,000. Have you any idea what you can buy for that amount of money? I have made a small list:

· 48000 Twirl chocolate bars
· 20000 bottles of Rolling Rock
· 400 nights of pleasure in Bangkok
· Lifetime fishing rights for Lake Superior
· Six weeks in the emperor suite of the Sheraton Skyline hotel in Jamaica.

Given this evidence, I would suggest that you are failing miserably in your role. In fact, comparable levels of incompetence in other professions would have seen the Egyptian Pyramids made entirely out of chicken feathers, the creation of an index for the Oxford English Dictionary, the giraffes at Chester Zoo being housed in the aqaurium, and a large, expensive and pointless dome being erected in Greenwich.

Not since the day I paid £132+VAT to the Clematis Installers (Self-installation option) has anyone been so badly taken in by such a miserable scam.

I look forward to seeing a more realistic pricing structure put in place in the future. Perhaps, for example, the car could be swapped for Panini football stickers or bartered for unwanted livestock.

I would warn you that I do have the power to effect change. I was, after all, the man who ended the careers of UB40, simply by pointing out to them, in a succinctly worded letter, that they are not, in fact, black men. I believe they are still in therapy.

I look forward to your comments.

Yours etc.

*not your real name
Thursday, September 26, 2002
Motoring head-to-heads: the ‘Ka’

Somehow, Ford’s domination of the UK’s small-car sector continues. This is despite their dreadful reliability, poor craftsmanship, sky-high prices, abysmal return on fuel, appalling comfort levels, shocking safety record, and unbelievably-stupid-office-girl image. But, today, in the second of our motoring head-to-heads, we’re again going to shelve all preconceived notions and put Ford’s little baby – the ‘Ka’ – up against a non-motorised HR girl called Nikki. The results will astonish you. Our attempts at comparisons with an electric milk float, a motor-driven vegetable, and a skateboarding duck named Weggsy ran into legal problems.

Getting around town
We found that Nikki got around town much quicker than the Ka, although she did say that she felt awkward in that squatting position. Replicating the tinny engine noises and massive oil leaks was also tough, she conceded. We felt, though, that the topless cabriolet version brought a great sense of exhilaration, freedom and visual relief.

Driving to the supermarket
We found Nikki's lack of footwells inconvenient when disposing of old crisp bags, apple cores, unspooled tapes, Snack-a-Jack packets and pop cans, although there was ample room in the rear. Naturally, Nikki picked up large bruises on her backside, forehead and fetlocks from over-complex reversing manoeuvres, and the right lens in her glasses broke when she pulled out inappropriately in heavy traffic.

Getting to work
Dawdling in the middle lane of the motorway at 52mph, Nikki discovered the lack of a Ka was a positive boon. Nobody laughed or flashed their lights in agitation, and Nikki’s acceleration through the gears was a damn sight more impressive than Ford’s, particularly in a mini skirt. Nikki put her deep, throaty roar down to a hearty, carbohydrate-filled breakfast and a tempestuous night with Sean, her makeshift boyfriend.

Just like the Ka, Nikki can really go some. In fact, on just seven Bacardi Breezers and a couple of WKDs, Nikki found that she could go all night, with a variety of passengers, and in a number of driving positions. Nikki’s small size also enabled her to get into the tightest spaces imaginable. Certainly, our reviewer felt that Nikki handled extraordinarily well.

Olympics verdict? Yes, we definitely would.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
New series: motoring head-to-heads

Ford have, for years, been the butt of jokes in the UK motoring industry, mainly because of their poor-quality engines, dreadful reliability, shoddy workmanship, bad value-for-money, frightening depreciation, terrible performance, appalling safety and comfort levels, gross-out colours and pig-ugly designs. Well, we at the Olympics have decided to forget all that, wipe the slate clean and put them to an impartial test. In the first of a new series of motoring head-to-heads, we compare the company’s latest offering in the small, cheap ‘n cheerful car market – the ‘Fusion’ – with a top-of-the-range, convertible, 5-litre Mercedes SL500 worth over £100,000. The results may surprise you.

No contest, here. The throaty purr from the bonnet of the Merc hinted at the thoroughbred that lay beneath. The SL500’s V8, 5-litre, 5-speed, auto-touch, multi-point, variable-valve engine offers 300 horsepower, and an outstanding compression ration of 10:1. This turbo-aspirated beast, made from galvanised, triple-tested aluminium steel, will surely last forever. The Fusion’s engine, on the other hand, was built entirely from Kerrygold butter.

The Fusion was admittedly poor on the winding Austrian roads, but did replicate very well that white-knuckle, theme-park feeling that you just don’t want. The difference was a subtle one: it's the difference between feeling glad to be alive and glad to still be alive.

Standard equipment
The SL500 offers anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability program, power steering, air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette stereo with bose acoustimass, power windows, mirror and locks, remote locking, cruise control, 12-acre estate, intermittent wiper with rain sensor, heated outside mirrors, floor mats, auto-dimming rear view and driver's side mirror, leather upholstery, maid's room, tilt-telescoping steering column, Olympic pool, integrated portable phone, Xenon headlamps, heated front seats, working farm and paddock, integrated CD changer, aerodynamic bumpers and side sills with integrated-projector-beam fog lamps, 18-inch tyres and wheels, jacuzzi, exterior and rearview mirrors tied to your seat memory position, fart-diffuser, a button inside the trunk that will raise the already-stowed roof for easy luggage access, a nice holiday in the Maldives, 32 professional Philippino girls, and suspension that lifts the vehicle a few inches to keep from damaging the spoiler on steep driveways.

The Fusion has four wheels and some seats that feel like broken biscuits under your arse.

Blew the little sod away, again.

Monday, September 23, 2002
Time fails to improve Yaris man

When folk from work have been away on holiday, they leave indigenous sweets and chocolates on the desk next to me. I'm going to go off sick for a week and pile a load of paracetamol and Beecham's powders on the desk.

Like the shorter blog thing? Hmm?

Looking through a teenage diary of mine recently, I came across some bizarre entries. Like, 'The cameras didn't catch me at the match last night, for three reasons. The cameras weren't at the match last night. I didn't go to the match. And there was no match last night.' And, 'Do I love my girlfriend or am I just using her for her full-size snooker table? She has no full-size snooker table, therefore I love her. QED.' And they say time is the great healer.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Now it's the Yaris Olympics

It's small. It's green. It costs buttons to run. It's my new car. And it's only done enough miles to have gone halfway round the planet, rather than the 16 times you could have circumnavigated the globe in the Audi. I'm seriously looking forward to saving money - 55mpg, Insurance Group 2, small-car road tax, £80 for a full dealer service. Bring it on.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
Film reviews: sensual tale without a sweet centre

Film: Chocolat
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Juliette Binoche, Juliette Binoche
Cost: free-ish, on Sky Movies

Chocolat is a bittersweet tale of temperance or, rather, a story of the struggle to achieve temperance when the Catholic Church meets a formidable adversary in a 2,000-year-old recipe for hot chocolate cooked up by Juliette Binoche. While the church tries to repress carnal nature, cocoa is the aphrodisiac that unlocks primordial passions. That said, this is a film (starring Juliette Binoche) without a sweet centre. Despite it starring Juliette Binoche.

This is a sensuous, sumptuous, sweet feast, featuring Juliette Binoche. Juliette Binoche stars as Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), the single mother of Anouk (Juliette Binoche's daughter). Juliette Binoche is at her striking, startling Binochey best, although most of Juliette Binoche's attributes are left, frustratingly, in the lower tray among the lemon cremes.

Olympics verdict: Not enough Juliette Binoche (did I say Juliette Binoche stars in this film?)
Friday, September 20, 2002
Doing my level best

As a 6th former about to leave for uni, I wanted one last shot at the school cross-country-running championships. I was good at cross-country but, although I’d done well all through school, I’d never actually brought home any bacon. This was different, though. I’d trained like a demon. Fifty miles a week over the West Pennine Moors. I was going to leave the school as cross-country champion, or die trying.

I’m off to a great start, up with the leaders throughout and, with four-and-a-half miles gone and only half-a-mile to go, I take the lead. I’m away and free, the training has paid off and it’s going to take a freight train to stop me. Which is ironic. Because, as I ran towards the rail track that bordered the back of the school, the gate came down on the level crossing. I waited for fully 90 seconds for a small goods train to trundle past. The gate lifted and I dashed through, with nervous glances over my shoulder. Further down the track, I recrossed the train line and came pounding home, elated and victorious.

In fourth place.

Being unfamiliar with the course, I hadn’t realised that you weren’t meant to cross the rail track twice (or even once). While I waited for my train to pass, I was gazumped. I relate this story because, the other day, someone accused me of not being unlucky. I have never since been able to wait at a level crossing.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
The Foundation for Pointless Research

Every day on the news, I hear things like this:

A report out today says that children whose parents smoke are more likely to play truant from school.

New research says that children whose parents are unemployed are six times more likely to get involved with drugs than children whose parents work.

People with serious drug problems are far more likely to produce children who smoke before the age of ten, new research says.

Teenage girls whose parents keep Rottweilers and have tattoos are much more likely to become single parents before the age of 18, a new report claims.

History states that teenagers whose parents smoke, keep big dogs, are covered in tattoos, are unemployed and bringing up 11 kids and 35 grandchildren care of the taxpayer, do hard drugs, ‘glass’ people in pubs, falsify insurance claims, and generally cheat and lie their way through life, will probably end up doing exactly the same thing, says a report from the Graber Foundation for Pointless and Expensive Research.

The Foundation, which has also discovered that trees grow upwards, that puddles form when it rains, and that polar bears get angry when you push them, receives huge bursaries from the tax-rich Government, and intends to carry on doing so.

Which brain-dead nonce is commissioning this ludicrous research? It achieves nothing, it costs us lots and lots of money, and it must end.

Incidentally, my views on women drivers have won some support over at Foxinternet. Cheers, mate.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Babies lack time-telling skills claims report

I want one of these footballing squad systems to operate at work. You have a squad of, maybe, 3000 people, but only 1500 work at any one time. If you’re feeling a bit rough, like I am, you can just lounge around at home and still be paid.

Interesting stat out today. Half of under-eights in the UK can’t tell the time. Well, blow me over. Could that possibly be the half who are aged up to four? That really belongs in the meaningless stats bin, alongside the women drivers thing. You know the one. Male drivers have more accidents than women drivers. Of course they do. Next time you’re in your car, take a look around you (carefully, mind). How many cars are being driven by men? Probably 80-90%.

How many accidents per mile do men and women have? Truth is, women are appalling drivers. So are some men. But women are worse. They’re the ones who won’t budge from the middle lane on motorways, the ones who can’t use roundabouts, the ones who block off side roads when they’re in traffic queues, the ones who don’t know which way to turn the wheel when parking.

It’s not their fault. Driving is a motor-coordination thing. Put a football in front of a bloke and he’ll usually be able to kick it. Put a ball at a girl’s feet and she’ll fall over. Driving requires similar hand-eye coordination, and it’s not well-developed in women. You’ll find the Comments button below, ladies.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Inaudibly ill

I am inaudibly ill. My head is killing me, my sinuses are aching, my nose is running. But, unfortunately, there are few outward signs - not much sneezing or coughing or snivelling, so it's not an audible illness. This means I get no sympathy and (probably) no one believes me. Well, I believe me. I'm off to bed. I may be some time.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Only the semi-conscious use semi-colons

Yes, I'll have to refine my notes for the training course I'm delivering on Friday. 'Only the semi-conscious use semi-colons'? What was I thinking?

Presenting training courses gives me the heebeegeebies.
Fears associated with giving presentations:

1) Standing up when everyone else is sitting down.
2) Kacking myself when everyone is smug in the knowledge they've got half a day off work.
3) Failing to speak for more than five seconds and being devoured by the silence.
4) Sounding like a small boy in a big room.
5) Stammering.
6) The evaluation form.
7) Trying to eat-up time by providing over-long exercises. They know...oh, they know.

Friday, September 13, 2002
Olympics offers new film review feature

Announcing a great new feature on The Audi Olympics: film reviews. Yes, on an ad hoc basis, we'll be bringing you balanced, non-judgmental opinion on the movies of the day. We'll aim for lengthy, reasoned argument, so that you'll know whether it's worth parting with your cash and stocking up on popcorn. OK, first one up is...

Film: Moulin Rouge
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman
Cost: £3.50 (Sky Box Office)

Background: Moulin Rouge is a myth about idealism and adulthood. It's the recognition that life throws up things beyond our control: the death of loved ones and relationships that don’t last. According to the Orphean myth, this will either destroy you, or you’ll go into the underworld, face it and return, having grown from the experience.

Olympics verdict: Utter shite.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Meter running on Ste’s life

I’ve got to stop typing instead of when I’m checking the site’s stats. One day, I’m going to get a detailed analysis of Ste’s mental state on my screen.

‘Ste awoke at 6.55 this morning following a fitful night’s sleep spent hallucinating after an evening meal of cream crackers and rotten fish heads. After several hours’ painful self-doubt, during which he asked his family doctor to surgically remove his soul, Ste was buoyed by a hearty dinner of kedgeree and budgerigar, and rallied in the early afternoon. By teatime, his long, difficult drive home through the River Thames was illuminated by popular Kylie Minogue numbers sung in a tremulous falsetto baritone that surely hints at the soundtrack to Tom Jones’ final hours on the planet.

Ste spent the evening quaffing kerosene and paraformaldehyde before brandishing a motor-driven saw, while howling like a banshee and watching reruns of Dad’s Army.

Thank you for your concern and for logging on to’

Unforced smiles in last hour 0
Barely controllable homicidal urges 7

On an unrelated point, the good old Daily Mail has reported the story of some contractors painting white lines down a Somerset A-road. Faced with the difficult prospect of moving a dead badger by the roadside, they took the easier option of simply painting over it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Great physicians through the ages, number one: Samuel Webmaster

Dr Samuel Webmaster, born in 1782, and again four years later, redefined the expectations of a generation, taking the evaluation of neuropsychological performance of rabbits in chronic fatigue syndrome to new levels. For three years, he also held the national record for rapid HIV treatment, posting a time of under 11 seconds at an evening meeting in Oslo.

Born in Ireland to parents of mixed sense, he never knew his mother, even though they lived in the same house until the age of 18. His father was a foul-tempered village blacksmith, who, in a fit–a-pique over a burnt croissant, violently gelded himself.

At 18, Webmaster was ready for university. He passed for Oxbridge but, unable to find the place, gave up and settled for Dublin instead. He initially studied typewriting, sewing and timekeeping, until someone pointed out there were machines that did these jobs perfectly well.

On graduation, he worked as a publican’s assistant, a police frogman and an escapologist, until a chance purchase of a new pair of glasses clarified the writing on his degree certificate. For Webmaster, this was the turning point.

His love of philosophy and of medical research was to be his downfall. Working round-the-clock shifts, pausing only for marshmallows, he was able to disprove his own existence, and thenceforth referred to himself only in the past tense, a situation that made life intolerable, particularly when applying for a passport or booking sports events.

Monday, September 09, 2002
Audi man stung by Hitler jibe

Well, I was going to provide a report from the remainder of my match tonight, but the rain put paid to that. I am, however, considering a masterplan. If you remember, last Thursday Simon took the first set 7-6. He has since offered to play the rest of the match indoors, in view of the weather. This would give him a big advantage (he plays indoors a lot). But here's my proposition: I agree - we play indoors... but start from scratch! OK, yes I know, he'd tell me where to get off. Why do I have such bad ideas?

The social club noticeboard on the Intranet at work continues to amaze and amuse. Here’s a string about local solicitors:

A: Can anyone recommend a solicitor for conveyancing... has anyone used Benny's (not their real name) of Macc?

B: We used Benny's and weren't hugely impressed. They missed part of the garden, the shed, the cherry orchard and most of the house off the title deeds. We had to get the plans redrawn by the land registry office, which delayed the sale. You can use Benny's, but check everything very carefully yourself because the level of due diligence leaves a lot to be desired. And the office smells, too.

C: I have also used Benny's and she was a bit of a nightmare – very rude and didn't really seem bothered about explaining anything to me. Just wanted her money. Suggested to my elderly father-in-law that we were itching for him to go tits-up so we could pay off the mortgage.

D: Stay away from Benny's - I had exactly the same problem! And my wife's old man promptly died in the office. Very embarrassing.

B: Forgot to mention that they were very rude (answered the phone by barking 'YES?') and dismissive ('It's no skin off my nose if you don't buy the house”). They made the whole process more stressful than it needed to be. They even constructed a philosophical treatise that drew heavily from Plato, arguing against the existence of the house. Trouble is, we believed them and signed the whole thing over. Then they ate my cat.

E: We used Benny's, and they set fire to a wax effigy of my father, turned my granny into a velodrome, pinched our life assurance policies, signed me up to the Mormons, and forced us onto a Quaker's Snacks complimentary factory tour.

A: I think I'll give Benny's a miss.

OK, I added a few bits, but you get the idea.

Incidentally, someone has written to me suggesting that my views could be considered a touch right-wing. In fact, his precise words were 'PS, by the way, why don't you emigrate, you fascist b@#@*#d?' All I would say to that is that I have no political affiliation whatsoever. I find all the UK political parties as uninspiring as each other. I just believe that people should work, or be willing to work, that they should treat others as they would like to be treated, and that people who are unwilling to put as much effort as others into society shouldn't be granted the same privileges. Is that so unreasonable?
Sunday, September 08, 2002
Sucking functionality and the judicial system

Just back from cleaning out the people carrier. Great, those Dyson cleaners. Just think how much better they'd be if they'd added some sucking functionality, too. Try saying that after a couple of tinnies.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. Things that suck. Like the British judicial system. OK, so where else in the world would you get 12 happy amateurs to decide your fate in a court of law? In what other profession would a dozen folk pulled in randomly off the street have any say in what went on? Say, for example, in microsurgery. You're on the operating table and there's the doctors, the nurses and so on. The neurosurgeon is doing his last-minute inventory with the nurse: "OK, scalpel? Clamps? Forceps? Catheter? Twelve curious passers-by? Right, let's get cracking."

Agassi-Sampras tonight...can't wait.

Saturday, September 07, 2002
Gripspeed gets to grips with grammar

An old schoolmate of mine has written to me with the story of his brother (see 'The bank job'), wrongly imprisoned for trying to prove the incompetence of a large financial institution. It makes scary, grisly reading. As the site's home page says, British justice amounts to little more than a witchcraft trial.

Onto happier matters. I have, today, received a short reply (yes, genuinely) from Professor Cumulus Gripspeed (not his real name), Section Head, Centre for Applied Excellence, at a university in the Midlands (see TAO, 23/8).

Here is a summary of his explanation: 'I appreciate that you have taken the trouble to write to was under construction by a member of staff who has since left..put on the web mistakenly...not processed through normal vetting has now been deleted...students are not charged for our services, which are of a high professional standard...normally'.

Hmm, let's have a look, then... 'The CfAE pages are currently being revised and will be available from the start of the 2002 academic year.' Heh heh! Looks like I sorted out one problem, at least. Now, if I can just remove the Government from office and revise the legal structure.

On a personal note, I'm missing my (big) little girl. Hannah is in the Lakes on her Brownie pack holiday. She's 7 and it's her first time away from home. I left work early yesterday to get home for a hug and a kiss before she left, only to be defeated by the British traffic. I had quite a sad evening.

Linked again
I've promised to do this: Jimmy Jam is not only up-and-running, but has linked to TAO. Promising start - keep it up, mate. Just wait till you're nearly into your sixth month and you have to write to MPs just so you can have something to blog, though.
Friday, September 06, 2002
Better Britain one step further away

Well, tickle my toes. I have - genuinely (unlike TAO, 3/9) - had a reply from our MP in the House of Commons. Let me provide a brief synopsis of his letter. Punctuation supplied by a medical editor of some repute.

'...fully agree with your desire to improve standards in society and promote the things people do well instead of punishing the bad...should take pride in our local communities...I do fear that a system of financial incentives such as you suggest may cause more resentment and trouble. Should you be denied credit if your child makes one error or gets into trouble with the police?...I agree that parental responsibility is important, but sometimes it is not always the parents' fault...likewise, with holding a job down, many people are made redundant through no fault of their incentives such as you suggest could cause much annoyance when agree we should do more to promote responsible behaviour and reward those who play a meaningful role...I will, of course, bear your comments in mind for future reference.'

So, then, what do we deduce from this? That we have a society that is completely without accountability, where no one is to blame for the things that go wrong? Fab. Cos, frankly, I do feel that you should be denied 'credit' if your child gets in trouble with the police. That's what it's about. Accountability and responsibility. Maybe the children themselves could be rewarded for keeping out of trouble.

Instead, what we have is a society where people can live on benefits, rent-free, in a £200,000 house, while others work a 50-hour week struggling to pay mortgages and bring up the 'respectable' adults of tomorrow. Where asylum-seekers get free driving lessons, where people get punished and sued for striking back against those who do wrong. Where you get a £50 fine from your council for putting out your dustbin at the wrong time. Where you get parking tickets for leaving your car beside the recycling bins. Where the police won't turn out for live robberies, but are happy to make bags of money from well-hidden speed cameras. Where the Lotteries Commission pays for refugees to fight deportation, but won't fund a group of old soldiers paying a sentimental visit to the town in Holland that they heroically liberated. Where litigation and bad manners rule. I could go on. How can all that be good or right? Can someone tell me? Eh?

The Middle-Class Revolution has begun. Watch this space.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Vile-snacks war takes sinister new turn

Not to be outfoxed by their Brit and Aussie counterparts, Italy’s Bedetti have hit back with their fantastically inventive brutti e buoni. Despite being identical in appearance to a fake dog turd, these little peanut biscuits are unfortunately quite palatable and have the added advantage of entertaining the kids, who can place them strategically on the pavement.

In a moment of rare childishness, I left a small Bedetti outside reception at work. Unfortunately, this was witnessed by the MD and the Director of Finance. My subsequent attempts to pass myself off as a UPS delivery boy by thrusting a pen at them and getting them to sign the piece of paper I was carrying could not dilute the magnitude of the offence. Obviously, I'm now looking for a new job.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Westminster rejects snack-pollution bombs

Constituency Office
Market Street

Dear Mr Graber

Thank you for your recent e-mails conveying numerous ideas for the betterment of our society.

I found your idea for rewarding Good Citizenship thought-provoking. While the concept has some merit, I fear that it is some way short of being implementable. On a practical level, your proposal requires a standing body to assess the worth of every member of society. This would be not only time-consuming and expensive, but also potentially open to subjectivity.

Similarly, whilst I appreciate the cost-effectiveness of protecting the judicial system, a tax rebate for everyone achieving a Good Citizen award would be prohibitively expensive. In short, this is not a matter I feel I can raise in the Commons.

As for yesterday’s e-mail concerning the ‘Hawksbee and Jacobs’ show, it is not within my remit to bring pressure to bear on private broadcasting organisations regarding their programme scheduling. However, I too enjoy the show, inbetween constituency duties, and have written to the Director of Programming expressing my huge disappointment.

I have given considerably less thought to the other suggestions that you make. I think it impractical that every public toilet be soundproofed, nice though that would be. As for the idea that the Government should instruct the Royal Air Force to conduct armed assaults on the Quaker’s Snacks factory, I can only treat this (presumably) tongue-in-cheek comment with the contempt it deserves. I also reject the notion of ‘snack pollution’ out of hand. Personally, I am quite fond of Snack-a-Jacks, particularly with some feta cheese, perhaps a slice of onion or garlic and some plump Roma tomatoes.

I also consider your suggestions concerning the influx of asylum-seekers into the UK to be hugely politically incorrect and inappropriate. You should note that personal slavery, thankfully, died out in this country with the death of the Empire, something for which we should all be grateful.

Your concerns about 'HR girls' have also been noted. However, I must point out that, in an equitable society, the right to bear children is an intrinsic human freedom that should not be denied to anyone.

Finally, you will appreciate that I am a busy man. I receive many hundreds of e-mails and letters each week. It would be very helpful if you could restrict your suggestions and comments to more local, more implementable, and more sensible matters. Thank you.

Yours etc.

Linford Hogg MP

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