Top Issue 1-2024

1 May 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Top Gun fun

IN an age when boy racers are excoriated for their juvenile showing off, it must fill the British public with pride that a future king, Prince William, is ‘just one of the lads’.
Willie (25), who has been fast-tracked through pilot training with the Royal Air Force, has been using one of the RAF’s heavy lifting helicopters, the Chinook, as personal air taxis. Who needs hand-brake turns, sub woofers, bonnet vents and wide tyres to impress the top totty when you’re showing off in a huge helicopter that’s 99-foot long, weighs 23,400 lbs, carries 50 combat troops and does 196mph?
One of Willie’s jaunts was to drop in on his girlfriend Kate Middleton, landing in a field behind her house. When all the family came out, Willie practised taking off and landing several times. My, how her daddy must have been impressed, especially when it costs £15,000 an hour to fly a Chinook.
Then he flew from the south coast to north-east England for a wedding party. Another important mission was to pick up brother Harry at Woolwich Barracks so they could dash over to the Isle of Wight for a stag party. Two other joy-rides in Chinooks are also under the microscope as part of Prince William’s £300,000 fun runs in nine days in March.
The RAF brass argues that the flights were good training for war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan (Hampshire Downs = Sadr City and Khyber Pass – discuss) but others (including RAF pilots who don’t get to take their choppers home) beg to differ.
One Top Gun pilot said of Willie’s silly sorties:
“If the Middletons had been tooled up with AK47s to resist the landing, it might have had training value.”
They obviously weren’t the Middletons of south Armagh.

Bertie’s nonsense

BERTIE AHERN was complaining to Adam Boulton on Sky News in the last fortnight about the planning corruption tribunals being dragged out for 11 years because the laws governing them are “a load of nonsense”.
Eleven years. That is a long time.
Remind me how long Bertie Ahern has been Taoiseach and leader of a Fianna Fáil-dominated Dáil which passes the laws. Eleven years?

Not a dry nose in the house

TAIWAN’S ‘colourful’ Education Minister won’t be missed when he steps down this month after four years in office.
Tu Cheng-sheng gained notoriety for his frequent absenteeism from parliament. When he did turn up there, he either screamed at lawmakers or went to sleep. Questioned by reporters, he shoved them against a wall and picked his nose at them.
Somehow I don’t think Caitríona Ruane will be sending her Taiwanese counterpart a goodbye card. A hankie might come in handy, however.

Eddie Hobbs’s choice

EDDIE HOBBS, celebrity accountant and self-styled watchdog against waste, rails against unnecessary public expenditure. So when can taxpayers expect a refund from him?
The ‘consumers’ champion’ is so committed to our cause that, between May 2005 and the end of last year, he didn’t bother showing up for nine of 24 board meetings of the National Consumer Agency, of which he is a director.
That  didn’t stop the very part-time director pocketing €31,286 in fees paid by the public purse though.
Eddie used to present the RTÉ TV show, Rip-Off Republic.

Getting it up for Young Fine Gaelers

LAST week’s item about Young Fine Gael’s ‘saucy seaside’ (i.e. too tacky even for me) pro-Lisbon poster campaign showed a young woman clutching a pair of melons to her chest with the slogan: “Increase your prospects: Vote Yes to Lisbon.”
In the interests of balance, this week we show the male version of the poster. It’s of a posh boy tugging at his jocks (I blame all that public school education) under the slogan “Enlarge your opportunities: Vote Yes to Lisbon.”
Fine Gael’s ‘Yes’ campaign is all pants.

Lewis for Livingstone

INSPECTOR Morse’s sidekick, Lewis (aka actor Kevin Whately), caused a bit of a stir amongst TV fans when he was out canvassing tube stations with Ken Livingstone to get him re-elected as Mayor of London (the vote’s this Thursday, 1 May).
The Garda Special Branch detectives who were always on the canvass trail with Sinn Féin candidates were never as popular as Inspector Lewis for some reason.

Police escort

ON THE JOB took a whole different meaning for a London police sergeant sent to investigate a suspected brothel.
The Bobby entered the east London premises and didn’t come out for quite a while. It was later discovered that he had, in the words of the Independent Police Complaints Commission last week, “engaged in sexual activity with a sex worker” during the search three years ago.
The shame-faced sergeant handed in his helmet and his truncheon last week.

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