Banks' Notes 06.01.06

By David Banks

It was reading about Kerry Packer’s death on
Boxing Day that got me to thinking about Phil Swift and – stay with me
on this one, it’s a tortuous path I’m beating – the former Postmaster
General, John Stonehouse, who famously faked his own death.

Just
like Packer’s death, the ‘Stonehouse Found!’ story broke to a skeleton
staff on a Boxing Day (1974, if I’m not mistaken) and in Australia,
too. From that day forward the famously lugubrious Phil Swift, later my
deputy editor at the Mirror, but in 1974 the skeleton sub on the Mirror
middle bench, believed unshakeably that ALL great stories broke in Oz
on a Boxing Day.

Swifty was, and is, a great believer in foresight: if only, he would argue, we could see what was around the corner.

With
that in mind I have dragged out and studied my crystal ball through
which I present, in the form of an Old Bore’s Almanac, my major
predictions for the coming year: JANUARY: Lord Falconer announces that
a revised Freedom of Information Act will release only data cleared by
a Public Interest Select Committee to be headed by Lord (Ali) Campbell
of Turf Moor.

FEBRUARY: DC Confidential author Sir Christopher
Meyer wins Booker Prize for sequel No Socks Please, We’re British,
which is made into a ballet called The Red Socks, starring Moira
Shearer.

Wapping attempts to repair the recent rift with New
Labour by announcing that Sun editor Rebekah ‘Right Hook’ Wade
(pictured) is challenging the party’s deputy leader, John ‘Punch-Up’
Prescott (pictured) to a unification bout to be refereed by David
Blunkett (if he can get a babysitter).

MARCH: Jamie Oliver wins Queen’s Award for Industry, after trebling the sales of the previously unheard of Turkey Twizzlers.

APRIL:
Prince Harry wows the crowds at State Opening of Parliament by
commanding the Queen’s Honour Guard wearing one of his greatgreat-
uncle’s SS leisure shirts. Buckingham Palace blames the 24-hour Green
Park Laundromat for the mix-up.

MAY: The seven-inch vinyl, last
year’s multimedia retro must-have, completes its life cycle as Blue
Peter recommends soaking records in hot water and making them into
plant pots.

JUNE: Carole Thatcher gives up journalism and jungles
to run for parliament under slogan “Now I’m A Celebrity Get Me INTO
There!”

JULY: Smutty Slickers Publications publishes the latest
volume of my memoirs, DB Confidential: The Incontinence Years, whose
revelations of VIP toilet habits are criticised by (former) Press
Complaints Commission chairman Sir Christopher Meyer as “sensationalist
trivia better suited to the more lurid type of Cabinet papers”.

AUGUST:
Gravitas-laden newsman Michael Buerk, (pictured)n whose claim last year
that male TV journalists were “mere sperm donors” led to thousands of
applications for donations by female Media Studies students, is
photographed leaving the Baby-In-A-Bottle massage parlour in
Cockfosters.

SEPTEMBER: New Labour holds a party conference at which 83-year-old outsider Walter Wolfgang is elected leader.

OCTOBER: Conservative party holds a conference at which David “I’m In the Chair”

Cameron announces a new spin on Michael Howard’s election slogan, which now becomes ‘Are You Drinking What We’re Drinking?’

NOVEMBER:
Lib-Dems hold a party which confirms that former leader Charles Kennedy
was always drinking what we were drinking… only more of it!

DECEMBER: After the success of last year’s ‘Who Runs Britain?’

poll,
the Radio 4 Today programme’s 2006 listener vote asks ‘Who RUINS
Britain?’ only to find the top spots occupied once more by Rupert
Murdoch and the EEC.

WHEN I was a lad, all newspapers gave away
were bingo cards, scratch cards and ferry trips to France. Now it’s all
DVDs and, if you listen to Rupert, ever more temporarily inflated sales
figures.

But, while we’re stuck with DVD mania, three questions:
Who ensures that the viewing classification attached to each film by
the British Board of Film Censors is adhered to? Do newsagents,
supermarkets and garages refuse to sell newspapers with attached DVDs
classified as 15 to under-age children?

Why not include the option of subtitles for the hard of hearing?

Geeks tell me the extra cost would be peanuts compared with the squillions already spent on the average red-top run.

Has
any national daily considered boosting the viewership of Britain’s
struggling short-film makers by cheaply distributing a DVD of quick
looks? How about it Indy, Guardian, Telegraph, Times?

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