Donkey Apocalypse

I don’t know about anyone else, but these days I’m beginning to suffer from Severe News Overdose Reaction Trauma ( SNORT). Among today’s headlines that have caused me to inhale sharply:

“God Help Us” – British Army Readied In Case Of Hard Brexit (1)

Is it “God Help Us” in the event of a hard Brexit? Or “God Help Us” if the British Army shows up? Or both?

It had me fantasizing this morning that the streets would soon be filled with army trucks delivering hot tea and tins of bully beef and spam. And Dad’s Army characters with fixed bayonets changing all the road signs around.

What is bully beef anyway? Will they let me try a slice of it before delivering my allotted ration? Do they have a vindaloo flavour?

Trump Declares State Of Emergency As “Apocalyptic” Wildfire Devastates Northern California (2)

Maybe they need the British Army more in Northern California? They could drive round San Francisco delivering bully beef and spam, and changing all the street signs around.

London weather forecast: Temperatures will soar back up to 30C by Friday as UK heatwave returns after washout weekend (3)

Will that mean wildfires across Britain?

And just when I was really enjoying all the wonderful rain and cloud.

Donald Trump is the greatest threat to human life since the Black Death. (4)

Did he start the wildfire in California?

HOTEL HORROR Brit mum-of-two, 37, dies on Greek holiday after eating just ONE mouthful of raw chicken from hotel restaurant (5)

Who eats raw chicken? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any. Why didn’t she bring a few tins of bully beef or spam?

Clade X virus ‘could wipe out 900 million people,’ experts warn… (6)

I always ignore what experts say.

Greece breeds new donkey type to carry overweight tourists… (7)

That’ll be all those overweight tourists eating raw chicken, I suppose.

I find that in Severe News Overdose Reaction Trauma, all the news headlines I’ve just read blend together into one headline, something like:

Wildfire horror emergency forecast: donkey apocalypse.

On days like this I think it would be much better to read a good book than read all these news headlines. Something light and humorous. Perhaps something by P. G. Wodehouse? The Luck of the Bodkins has a promising opening line:

‘Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.’

I know the feeling of being about to talk French. I was in Boulogne’s docks many years ago, and I couldn’t figure out which ship was the ferry back to Britain. But I spotted a gendarme on the quay, and so carefully composed a question to ask him. I can still remember the question, which I revised and recited several times before summoning up the courage to approach him and declare:

“Est-ce que sais que ce bateau-ci est le bateau qui parte á Angleterrre?”

The impassive gendarme immediately replied with a single word:


I wondered whether, as a courtesy, he was replying to me in English. And further wondered whether I had missed something he’d said. Had he said, for example, “No way”? Or, worse still, “Go away”?

But I didn’t have a carefully-composed follow-up question to ask him. I had in fact completely exhausted my French vocabulary with my single utterance. I had shot my bolt. If I was going to ask another question, I would have to sidle off somewhere, and laboriously compose a new question, and practise asking it a few times, before coming back to confront the gendarme with it.

But it also occurred to me that he had in fact replied in French, and had mis-pronounced the word “Oui.” Could gendarmes mispronounce French? Maybe it was not different from an Englishman replying “Yeah” or “Yup” rather than “Yes” to the same question.

But what if the gendarme had come out with a long and fulsome response, such as: “Les hommes ne croient jamais les autres capables de ce qu’ils ne le sont pas eux-mêmes”? That would have sunk me completely. I should have been grateful for his monosyllabic response: he’d presented me with a single word to puzzle over, rather than twenty or thirty.

In far retrospect, I can now see that I had asked the gendarme an almost existential question that prefigured Brexit by 30 or 40 years: I was an Englishman trying to find my way home.

Suddenly decisive, I lifted the two heavy suitcases I was carrying, and turned towards the nearest bateau, but not before smiling confidently and declaring:

“Merci beaucoup.”

…and then climbing aboard a ship that would take me I knew not where.

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19 Responses to Donkey Apocalypse

  1. Rose says:

    Army prepare for no deal Brexit as emergency plans REVEALED
    Jul 29, 2018

    “EMERGENCY plans have been drawn up for the Army to help deliver vital supplies if a no-deal Brexit results in shortages, it emerged on Sunday. Ministers are ready to activate procedures for the Armed Forces to assist in the provision off food, medicines and fuel, particularly to vulnerable people at risk of missing out.”

    Are the French planning to impound all our lorries at Calais? I think we should be told.

    • beobrigitte says:

      “EMERGENCY plans have been drawn up for the Army to help deliver vital supplies if a no-deal Brexit results in shortages, it emerged on Sunday.
      My tobacco is a vital supply, so hopefully the army will deliver this, too….

      • Rose says:

        I’ll be stockpiling.
        It was about six weeks before my favourite tobacco came back in to stock after changing the packing from blue to random pictures. I don’t want that to happen again.

  2. Rose says:

    Suddenly, I’m very much reminded of Y2K.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Oh – lovely post Frank. I feel better now!

  4. beobrigitte says:

    Wow!!! Just reading this post causes immediate onset of SNORT!!!

    Randomly picked:
    HOTEL HORROR Brit mum-of-two, 37, dies on Greek holiday after eating just ONE mouthful of raw chicken from hotel restaurant
    This seems a little weird until one stumbles across:
    She was rushed to hospital where her husband, Stewart Rawnsley, said she was bleeding heavily.

    She eventually died after blood clots formed all over her body, blocking the blood vessels.
    The lady died of DIC,
    which can be a complication of a few things.

    Westminster Coroner’s Court also heard the couple’s insurance company insisted Natalie would not be moved from Corfu to a mainland hospital.
    The Sun is not quite fair here, it seems to be trying to elicit a kind of public outcry whilst having omitted to do a little research.
    1. DIC in young people is fatal. Old people have a small chance of surviving because of all the age-related changes occurring in an ageing body.
    2. Who in their right mind would be moving a very sick person who is bleeding from about every orifice and internally and externally?

    Perhaps this:
    The inquest heard that Natalie, who was otherwise fit and healthy, probably became so seriously ill from food poisoning because of her genes.

    Infections expert Professor Sebastien Lucas said: “It depends on what your genes are. It seems like Mrs Rawsley had the wrong genes – to put it crudely.
    could be a little more elaborated on?

    ”Assuming it is an E-Coli infection – coming from uncooked chicken seems a very reasonable theory….
    …The coroner recorded a verdict of death by the accidental consumption of E-Coli infected chicken.


    Clade X virus ‘could wipe out 900 million people,’ experts warn
    Clade X?:
    A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University simulated the spread of a currently unknown virus which they called Clade X.

    In their simulation, the pathogen was similar to SARS and shows just how difficult an outbreak could be to control.

    The virus gave the infected a fever, cough and confusion. It later mutated in patients and cause encephalitis — swelling in the brain – which left individuals in a fatal coma.
    Ah, ok. A bit like SARS, the next level.

    After 20 months the virus, which was difficult to cure, had killed more than 150 million people and there was no sign of a vaccine being created.
    20 months and the “experts” lament the absence of a vaccine??? Perhaps they should have done their homework first and looked into how long it takes to develop a vaccine, how much that costs and how many fails such a project clocks up.

    It would be a good idea for governments to stop worrying about tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt etc. etc. and concentrate on the ever mutating (naturally stimulated) or engineered micro-organisms. We already are dealing with quite impressive ones, such as MRSA and Ebola. They can kill us very fast and in many different ways and very indiscriminately, so no lame “20-year lag-phase” blah-blah needs to be cooked up.

    Greece breeds new donkey type to carry overweight tourists
    Social engineering in progress…. “Oi, fatty, look what you’re doing to the poor animals…..”
    Fat tourists are crippling donkeys that carry them on holiday in Greece
    What about the animals carrying very heavy loads outside the tourist seasons?
    UK-based The Donkey Sanctuary has called on the Greek government to meet with them to discuss the welfare of the animals.
    They said: ‘With the holiday season coming into full swing, exhausted donkeys and mules are spending long days in the scorching sun, carrying tourists or heavy and harmful rubbish loads, with little to no water, food or shade.

    So the animals are already exhausted when the tourist season begins?

  5. Does anyone know what happened to the Nuclear Winter hullabaloo of the 1980s?

    • Rose says:

      I seem to remember something vaguely. This one?

      When Carl Sagan Warned the World About Nuclear Winter

      “The nuclear winter chapter of history began in the late 1970s, when a group of scientists—including Sagan—entered the nuclear arms fray. These weren’t nuclear physicists or weapons experts: they studied the atmospheres of Earth and other planets, including dust storms on Mars and clouds on Venus.

      In 1980, paleontologist Luis Alvarez and his physicist father Walter presented evidence that an asteroid had hit Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period. They argued that the impact had thrown so much dust and debris into the air that Earth was blanketed in shadow for an extended period, long enough to wipe out the last of the non-bird dinosaurs. If true, this hypothesis showed a way that a catastrophe in one location could have long-term effects on the entire planet.

      Sagan and his former students James Pollack and Brian Toon realized this work applied to climate change on Earth—as well as nuclear war. Along with meteorologists Tom Ackerman and Rich Turco, they used computer models and data collected by satellites and space probes to conclude that it wouldn’t take a full-scale thermonuclear war to cause Earth’s temperature to plummet. They found average global temperatures could drop between 15º and 25º Celsius, enough to plunge the planet into what they called “nuclear winter”—a deadly period of darkness, famine, toxic gases and subzero cold.@

      Typically, the BBC seem to have made a particullarly horrifying docudrama about it and reading the synopsis I’m very glad I missed it..


      “Threads is a 1984 British television drama jointly produced by the BBC, Nine Network and Western-World Television Inc. Written by Barry Hines, and directed and produced by Mick Jackson, it is a docudrama account of nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in Northern England.”

  6. waltc says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Frank. And footnote 4, btw, is worth clicking. (I think, however, you meant “c’est” not “sais” but in any case, he answered “way” as a rhyme–those ever-poetic French. )

    • Frank Davis says:

      As a matter of interest, I put my French question to Google Translate, and it said it meant: “Do you know that this boat is the boat going to Angleterrre?” To which the gendarme’s reply would have been “Oui” : “Yes, (I do know, but I’m not telling you.)”

      Interesting that you think I got a poetic gendarme.

  7. Rose, thanks for the update on Nuclear Winter

  8. Dmitry Kosyrev says:

    D’you know which herecy is even more dangerous for you than saying that smoking doesn’t necessarily kill you? It’s claiming that mass media has degenerated into a distinct threat to societies’ mental state.

  9. jaxthefirst says:

    Well, Frank, reading these stories I’m just very, very glad that the MSM are urging the Government to clamp down on all that naughty fake news so that we can all remain focussed on level-headed, well-informed, coolly-evaluated stories like these, produced by them. I mean, honestly, all that fake news is just scaremongering stuff designed to whip people into a hysterical state of panic, isn’t it? Unlike these stories which are all true – true, I tell you!!

    Love the Speller poster, by the way, especially Mandatory Clown Service. Hilarious!

  10. Rose says:

    Things must be nearing the end, Peter Mandelson has popped up again.

    “In a snub to the 17.4 million who voted Leave, the Labour peer sneered they were nationalists, not patriots like him who want the best for Britain. Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg hit back, citing the arch-Europhile peer’s reputation as the master of political spin, saying: “The dismissiveness of Brexiteers by the metropolitan elite is condescending and inaccurate.

    “Lord Mandelson epitomises this, and when in office his approach to managing public opinion led to a corrosive distrust between elector and elected, and his failure to realise this shows a remarkable lack of self-knowledge.”

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