end of days

100 (ish) milestones on the road to The End Of Civilisation As We Know It – and the start of whatever comes next.

Signs

Signs

  1. Richard Dawkins and Archbishop of Canterbury agree to disagree.
  2. Death of Peter Stringfellow stuns world. Weeping octogenarian pole-dancers impale themselves improbably. Describing the tragedy as an ‘personal epiphany’, Eric Pickles throws himself into a new career as a lap dancer, killing six.
  3. Faith in the education system sinks to an all-time low when 62% of the BBC Radio 4 shipping forecast audience are found to believe that ‘sea area Rockall’ is a nautical innuendo. Following insistent advocacy by Jonathan Miller, All Soul’s College introduces a master’s degree in stationery. Jesus College, Cambridge retaliates with joint honours in first aid, basketball and woodwork.
  4. In the wake of the latest Parliamentary scandal, calls for greater honesty in public life lead to No.10 being converted to a brothel and the Treasury to an outreach centre for distressed millionaires.
  5. Denying that he was in any way influenced by secret negotiations with a major donor’s twin teenagers, Jeremy Hunt announces a new British national anthem based on Megadeth’s back-catalogue.
  6. The Tea Party’s Dan Quayle is elected President of the United States, opening his Inaugural Address with ‘Welcome to President Bush, Mrs Bush, and my fellow astronauts.’ Under pressure from still-contrite Wall Street, the new President announces that tax-payer subsidies to billionaires will be cut to 28%.
  7. Simon Cowell declared National Treasure. Prime Minister lambasts The Guardian’s TV commentator for describing Bruce Forsythe’s talents accurately.

Straits

Straits

  1. Tesco buys east Africa, converting it to a dwarf bean farm. Company agrees voluntary code limiting farmers’ fees for the right to supply Tesco to $128 per ton.
  2. Tony Blair is arraigned for war crimes, but the case is thrown out on the grounds of sincerity. Tearful judges carry him shoulder-high to the pinnacle of the Barclays Wealth building in Canary Wharf, whence He ascends directly to heaven. In a related move, the court of History is reconvened to rehabilitate Stalin, Pol Pot and the entire the Third Reich. The anopheles mosquito’s death sentence is commuted to community service.
  3. The National Lottery is replaced with variant of pools in which punters try to predict which public service will become the next political football.
  4. The Church of England (newly rebranded godsquad.com) sells St Paul’s to Richard Desmond, Lord Ashcroft and a consortium of Russian billionaires. From his new penthouse atop Canary Wharf, a tanned Dean says he is ‘intensely relaxed’ about the deal, commenting ‘After all, if we want to throw the money-changers out of the temple, it’s only fair that they be able to reciprocate’. The same afternoon the Department of the Environment (newly rebranded EcoBiz) nods through permission to replace the ‘out of step’ cathedral with major new shopping and casino development. ‘It’s what people want’, said a spokesman.
  5. Inventor of Microsoft paperclip ‘Clippy’ held for questioning, but released when, in a shock judgement, the US Supreme Court declares that writing software for Microsoft is not a crime.
  6. Iconic footballer and fashion accessory David Beckham receives his 200th cap. Spritely on his gold-plated Zimmer frame, leading out an England team fresh from trouncing Germany on penalties in both quarter- and semi-finals and hungry for its third successive World Cup, this universally admired – oh no, it’s Spain.
  7. Frankie Boyle forced to apologise. For everything he ever said.

Dire straits

Dire straits

  1. UK banks agree to accept children as collateral for business loans, but despite the CBI’s extensive criticisms of its anti-business stance, the government limits their use to non-military purposes. Experimentation is permitted, but unplanned deaths must be reported to parent or guardian within 90 days.
  2. In an epoch-making deal, investment bankers JP Morgan sign an agreement with the Catholic Church permitting the meek to lease the earth at attractive prices, subject to the usual credit checks. Mineral rights will be retained by the oil companies.
  3. After Stephen Fry is upset something someone said about him on Twitter, the death penalty is restored for 62 separate offences, from being young without due care and attention to laughing at Daily Express editorials. While key performers are recruited through a brand new talent TV show, Britain’s Got Executioners, the new service is put out to tender across the private sector. Bids are received from G4S, Richard Branson and a consortium of British meatpackers, but the contract is awarded to Sky Sports. To defray costs and ensure justice is seen to be done, the Department of Justice agrees that executions can be broadcast, subject to stringent requirements for taste. ‘Hang ‘Em High!’ begins broadcasting to a daily audience of 17 million, which, owing to scheduling clashes, falls to 3 million in the football season. Rapidly mutating through a number of experimental formats, from variety show (compered by Bruce Forsythe) to soap opera (with hummable theme tune), advertising revenues continue to slump, exacerbated by ‘over-excited’ children weeping in the audience. The show finally returns to popular acclaim with a challenging ‘Roman Arena’ theme, including a sound track of laughter, baying and karaoke. Challenged by liberals uneasy about the effect on small children of witnessing executions by tiger, the makers assure critics that the rending of bodies will be minimised. Liberals relent, while a massively profitable play for a share of the harvested organ market restores margins and delights the markets. James Murdoch receives a second peerage.
  4. In an unexpected gesture of reconciliation to green campaigners, President Quayle uses his State Of the Nation speech to wonder how, if the Amazon disappears, people will be able to buy DVDs.
  5. The USA carpet-bombs Canada, bringing democracy to that beleaguered nation. The Athabasca oil shales are relocated to west Texas for safekeeping. At the height of the crisis, drone kills 44 women and children in Paris toyshop. At first denying all involvement (‘It could have been anyone’, said a spokesman), the Pentagon cites secret intelligence that reveals the building as a known safe-house for militants. In a conciliatory gesture, Congress offers Toys-R-Us $1.2 million in compensation. A grateful Canadian government pledges wide-ranging trade concessions, full reparations and a programme to match US murder rates within 5 years. In a widely praised gesture of reciprocity, the US pledges 125,000 private security troops at competitive prices.
  6. After being overheard referring to the USA as the ‘Leader of the Free World’, the president is offered a stand-up gig at the Edinburgh Fringe. After four days of house-to-house clearance down Princes Street by the CIA, President Sheen arrives in the 11-ton Beast 2 to open the Who Says Americans Have No Sense Of Irony tour. Audience members are hooded, manacled and subjected to precautionary water-boarding. Hecklers are tasered and rendered to holding pens in Upper Volta, where they are entertained by Peter Kay. Hundreds dead.
  7. A MORI poll votes Ed Miliband, Louise Mensch and Baroness Warsi 3rd, 8th and 9th Greatest Living Britons. After launching a special Celebrity Britain’s Got Talent starring Katie Price, the Jedward and that woman off Emmerdale, Simon Cowell narrowly pips Prince Harry for top spot.
  8. Prince Charles ascends to throne. Flares, white court shoes and tank tops return to fashion. French groups sweep UK pop charts.
  9. The few remaining allies of the United States not to have been attacked by an American drone are asked to form orderly queues marked a) ‘British soldiers’ and b) ‘wedding parties’.
  10. Volume four of Jamie Oliver’s autobiographical odyssey, The Song of Cheese, is published to universal acclaim. It immediately knocks its predecessor – Jamie: The Frangipane Years – off the top of the Times Literary Supplement’s best-seller list.
  11. The City of London burns to the ground. Initial street parties prove premature when a group of eight major banks successfully claims £11.2 trillion in insurance. Goldman Sachs announce surprise quarterly profits growth of $27 billion, driven by sub-prime petrol bomb derivatives and an unexpected firelighter bubble. Profits are used to buy controlling interest in HMRC and consolidate embarrassed insurers into a single company based in Liechtenstein. The British Banking Association hail their innovative new approach to corporate transparency and consumer choice.
  12. iTunes downloads cease unexpectedly. Fear and panic grip under-fifties. OECD pay Apple $10 billion to restore normal service.
  13. Decent, hard-working families in the Home Counties start to write to their MPs. Riots shatter Gloucester, Harrogate and Reigate, but subside when the BBC promises to devote a complete new radio station to repeats of The Archers.

Beginning of the end

Beginning of the end

  1. George Osborne wins the Daily Mail’s competition to find ‘the person looking most like he was beaten up once too often in the playground’. George Galloway wins ‘person looking most like he did the beating’.
  2. As the crisis gathers in the textile sector, economy measures persuade Islamic women to abandon the burqa and make their menfolk wear blindfolds.
  3. Video footage of Prince Harry having sex with goat while flying a Royal Navy helicopter goes viral. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace puts it down to high spirits. Using experimental new antibiotics, a crack team of international medical experts is able to save the goat.
  4. The security gates at the end of Downing Street are dismantled when it is revealed how frequently, despite a 24-hour police presence, Prime Ministers and Chancellors of the Exchequer are escaping.
  5. As the new banking crisis tightens its grip, investment bankers and pundits hail the innovative deleveraging strategy proposed by Julian Clary’s ground-breaking From Stocks and Bonds to Liquidity. The people of New York demonstrate their solidarity with the beleaguered banking community by chauffeuring them free of charge to tall buildings.
  6. The discovery and cure of previously unrecognised strain of rabies cuts sales of The Sun by 94%.
  7. David Cameron kidnapped by radical dieticians and tied to a chair in a darkened room until he can explain how come he has £30 million. He is finally released back into the wild on humanitarian grounds, when his captors concede that he genuinely has no idea what the problem is.
  8. Parenthood licenses are introduced. Naming baby girls after alcoholic drinks, soap opera characters or French cars becomes punishable by drowning. The new Two Can Play At That Game Act causes all children called Jemimah or Toby to be renamed Syphilis and Bazza, without parole. Publicly announcing that one’s children are being held back by their school becomes punishable by tarring and feathering. Middle class couples having more than two children as lifestyle accessories are deported to tsetse fly country.
  9. Nobel Prize for Economics replaced by a prize for interior decorating. Global economic recovery commences.
  10. The Met’s Territorial Support Group responds to chants from protesting music students by killing every living thing within eight miles of Charing Cross police station, ‘as a precaution’. When the Independent Police Complaints Commission rejects the resulting 12,493,665 complaints as ‘unfounded’, HM Government is persuaded to set up an urgent Royal Commission, scheduled to report as soon as everyone on planet Earth is dead. A bureaucratic error leads the Home Secretary to appoint only members of the Deterritorial Support Group, an ultra-left communist group, to the commission. After the Mail and the Murdoch press brand them ‘dangerous militants’ the public takes them to their hearts, plying members with tea and sponge cake and festooning town halls, factories and office blocks across the land with jolly red and black bunting. The commission reports after only 28 minutes, calling on the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge the Met with both the recent deaths and 749 previous unexplained deaths in police custody since 1993. After extensive prevarication, the Home Secretary is seized, gagged and hooded, and handed over to the TSG as a ‘known subversive’. A police spokesman describes his death in police custody three days later as ‘a tragic accident’. Investigations are on-going.
  11. Sumptuary laws are reintroduced. Spandex and shell suits are criminalised under the Shiny Clothes and White Socks and You’re Not Even French Act. First offenders are shot. Survivors are shot again. Wearing sunglasses indoors becomes punishable by a punch on the nose. The use of the word ‘Cool’ is legally restricted to the mentally retarded. Essex and Harrogate are cleansed.
  12. Being Jonathan Ross made punishable by life imprisonment.
  13. HR directors caught saying ‘People are our greatest asset’ are forced to listen to themselves. People caught in possession of a coffee mug saying any one of ‘You’ve got to laugh’, ‘It takes all sorts’ or ‘You don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps’ are lobotomised.
  14. Nigel Lawson pens the definitive refutation of global warming, but before he can publish he is tragically sodomised by definitive polar bear outside Hunstanton. Waves lap peacefully over the blackened wreckage of the News International offices in Wapping. The polar bear sinks a Greenpeace skiff, eating three.
  15. Paris Hilton is sent to jail after Mori report that most people just want her in jail. A new reality TV format is quickly spawned, and the ducking stool industry undergoes an unexpected revival. The format quickly collapses, however, when the producers of reality TV shows are tarred and feathered by popular acclaim.
  16. The US Congress commences reparations for the illegal use of Kardashians. President Sheen pleads for Andy McDowell, Britney Spears and Dick van Dyke’s accent in Mary Poppins to be taken into consideration.
  17. After drinks are spiked with ketamine and rhinoceros laxative, the last private security force in Britain converts to an edgy Morris dancing troop. The last TSG police squad beat themselves to death.

End of the end

End of the end

  1. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are sighted stuck in traffic on the M1, mumbling that the job isn’t what it was. Cornered briefly by storm troopers from the Health and Safety Executive, they are released on presentation of correctly completed risk assessment. Mugged in Newport Pagnell services by the Six Horsemen of Television, Football, Celebrity, Shopping and GCSE Maths, Death loses his wallet, mobile phone and iPod, including his entire Bee Gees collection.
  2. Midnight avalanche engulfs World Economic Forum, Davos. No survivors except entire local population, all visiting relatives that night. On receiving news, Socialist Workers Party enters monastery en masse. Persistent reports surface of an ‘Angel of Davos’ over the town, waving fiery Treasury bills. Investigators discover explosive residues above the town: shares in Swiss precision controls sky-rocket.
  3. After Goldman Sachs engineer a monopoly in perforated paper, loo roll supplies decline to a dribble. Lacking goslings, Londoners start wiping their bottoms on Boris Johnson’s snowy locks. After several weeks chained up in a succession of local public conveniences around the capital, his remains are interred. Demand is unabated, however, and he is exhumed, reburied and re-exhumed as required for eleven more months. Eventually queues and street parties have to be dispersed to reduce traffic jams on the North Circular. Meanwhile, the Goldman Sachs building is burned to the ground and members of its partnership pursued across north London until they are lost track of in the rodent house, London Zoo. The Goldman building is then rebuilt by public subscription, so it can be burned again – ‘It’s what people want’, said a spokesman.
  4. Committees of Public Safety assemble. James Murdoch, Simon Cowell and the editors of The Sun and Daily Mail are garrotted by popular acclaim. Mass arrests of journalists, bankers, MPs, television pundits, policemen and personal shoppers, all of whom are sentenced to proper jobs.
  5. A reinvigorated Committee on Standards in Public Life order George Galloway and George Osborne to wrestle to the death nude in fresh fish in Wembley Stadium, watched by a record national television audience of 43.8 million. 94% switch channels before fight ends in the deaths of both contestants from simultaneous illegal use of haddock.
  6. Banker hunting is legalised by the EU and 32 American states. Hunting with guns is outlawed as excessively humane. After initial public enthusiasms for massive cocaine enemas, burial alive in US Treasury bills and stuffing mouths with molten gold pass, walling up in newly evacuated sink estates becomes the preferred mode of sanitary disposal.
  7. The People’s UnAmerican Activities Committee (PUAC) culls Washington. 67 senators, 271 Representatives, 11,298 lawyers and 1,422,731 lobbyists are stuffed into a sack and thrown it into the Potomac.
  8. Last advertising executive strangles the last spin doctor with entrails of the last talkshow host. (Traditional.) The last bewildered investment banker accidentally commits suicide by trying to eat his credit cards with a rather good Montrachet.
  9. The City burns. Full stop.
  10. Paul McCartney allowed one final performance of Hey Jude before being returned to Peter André Home for the Culturally Dubious. For his own peace of mind, Mr McCartney is kept unaware of the sheer scale of the death threats.
  11. Radiohead write a happy song.

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