Northumberland County Council Approves Berwick Castle Restoration

The Better Together campaign was celebrating last night after Northumberland County Council granted planning permission to restore Berwick Castle to its former medieval glory, to include high spec arrow slits and top of the range murder-holes.

The decision comes ahead of the Scottish independence referendum on September 18, the result of which is expected to come down in favour of Scotland forging its own destiny based on the template set out by Take the High Road.

Berwick supporters of the No movement had been campaigning for the restoration of the 12th-century castle to become a fully functional edifice of terror since Alex Salmond promised to:

“Flow doon frae the purple braes, the rushy glens and sentinel granite to lay waste the Sassanach toon of Berwick and thence work oor way doon in an unstoppable tide of IrnBru-fuelled vengeance.”

I'm sorry, Morag. We've got the go. Get your flats on, hen.

“Isabel, it’s Effie. We’ve got the go. Get your flats on, hen.”

In light of Yes Scotland’s hostility, Northumberland County Council felt that the only viable solution was to reinstate the ruin as a bastion of certain death for painty-faced skirt-wearers from north of the border. However, they were quick to reassure locals that the renovation would be undertaken sympathetically, honouring the ancient bones of the building while bringing the neglected stronghold into the 21st century.

“The Council is mindful that here is a building of considerable historical interest,” said Planning Officer, Jono Jenkins. “We are working closely with English Heritage to ensure that Berwick Castle works both as an elevation from which to rain destruction and as an adaptable space for modern living. With this in mind, we’ve insisted that the outer curtain wall is reinstated in brushed steel, thus clearly delineating the old from the new and continuing the castle’s narrative.”

The Council has also approved triple-glazing and cavity wall insulation to block out the drone of Scottish people complaining, predicted to reach record levels when income tax from a population of 5.3 million fails to cover free prescriptions for a nation of obese alcoholics.


The wild romance of Berwick Castle at dawn

However, with the referendum less than three weeks away and Berwick Castle currently nothing more than a pile of stones by a litter bin, there are concerns that work on the castle will not be completed in time to repel the first wave of Gaelic marauders, a fear that Northumberland County Council says is misplaced.

“Due to time constraints, we’ve given the contract to the Germans. They’ve assured us that Berwick Castle will have its first siege test-run next Friday and have the oil up to temperature Tuesday week. Yes, it is disappointing that we were unable to employ English contractors to work on a building that has played such a prominent part in our great nation’s history, but the budget simply couldn’t stretch to the volume of strong tea and Rich Tea biscuits required to motivate them.”

Many residents of Berwick are puzzled how the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated to such a low that English longbows are now being stockpiled beneath the Ramparts alongside dead and diseased livestock.

Entrepreneur Zac Richardson, owner of McChips on Their Shoulder, a company selling military epaulettes encrusted with semiprecious gemstones to the Scottish diaspora in the United States, said: “I like the Scottish. They seem very nice people. I don’t even mind when they assume my English accent means I’m a capitalist oppressor with my own estate in Dorset. And I like haggis, yum.”

Professor Jonty Hardcastle, Head of  GeoWhinging at the University of Southampton, explains:

“If you live in a climate consisting entirely of drizzle, you wouldn’t expect the other side to be greener but you might reasonably expect things to be a lot less depressing. When continually exposed to leaden skies and a temperature never rising above that of a melting Feast, minor irritants that most people shrug off – like Highland Clearances and Duncan Bannatyne – cause a dissatisfaction out of all proportion. Rather than fading through the centuries, this bitterness and resentment is distilled through the cultural practice of first-cousin marriage, and thus hatred for the English and their ability to stand in the sun without spontaneously combusting is perpetuated through the generations. It’s really not their fault.”

When questioned about the Scottish stance on sharing the pound, Professor Hardcastle said: “Really? They suggested that? Ah, bless.”

Prince Charles and Camilla laughing at shared currency

“Get out, Charles!” “Straight up, Milly. That’s what they said!”





‘Touching’ Great War Play Excuse for Massive Explosions

Sam & Isla Forever, July 2014, playing at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-TweedA touching new play by the Tideline Runners Theatre Company commissioned to commemorate the outbreak of the Great War is a cover to showcase the biggest on-stage explosion since pyrotechnics went badly wrong during the 1945 performance of Run for your Wife at The Confucius Theatre, Nagasaki, that left 73,000 dead and Neil Morrissey’s acting career uncertain, it has emerged.

Author of Sam & Isla Forever, Robert Wilkinson, is marketing the play much as a blockbusting holiday read:

“The incredible love story that is born in The Great War and spans six decades.
Set locally in Berwick upon Tweed between 1914 and 1974,
Sam & Isla Forever is the tale of a boy and a girl torn apart by war, whose story would go on to inspire three lonely souls to aim impossibly high in the name of justice.”

However, a source close to the writer/director has revealed that his motives may not be as pure as those of popular novelist, Ken Follett.

“Well, Bob has to say that, doesn’t he? Ever since PTSD was made up, loud detonations are seen as a little outré, vulgar even. People can be very judge-y if you suggest that bombs are actually very good fun and the perfect foundation for a two-hour play.”

This sentiment is echoed by most of the male cast – a cast whose average age is 19, poignantly representative of the doomed youth of 1914 and commensurate with joy found in loud, surprising noises.

“I think when people see Sam & Isla Forever,” said veteran actor, David Simpson, 22, “they’ll realise that there was, like, actually some real romance? People didn’t know if they were going to live or die because of all the explosions and blowing stuff up, so this play is like honouring the truth of explosions… in that they’re, y’know, intense?”

So the bombs are a metaphor for love set against the backdrop of an uncertain future?

“No. They’re explosions. Big fuck-off ones to make your nose bleed. Lovely.”

And it seems that retinal afterimage isn’t the only thing the show’s production team are hoping will draw in audiences for the show’s three-night run.

“If I don’t receive complaints of at  least 11 perforated ear-drums, then my name’s not Enola Gay,” declared the Technical Manager. “Which it isn’t. It’s Steve, but anyway.”

Featuring 20 originally composed songs ranging between folk, rock and ballad, Sam & Isla Forever is billed as the theatre event of the summer. Matthew Rooke, Maltings’ Chief Executive and Artistic Director, believes this is the sort of groundbreaking theatre that will put Berwick-upon-Tweed firmly on the cultural map.

“I’m very excited about the future of The Maltings and its place in bringing top quality blasts to the stage. It’s an area of theatre very much neglected and I plan to rewrite the percussive element of supersonic shock waves for a string quartet so as to suggest the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases. It’s very exciting – certainly something worth wearing heels for.”

Sam & Isla Forever, The Maltings Theatre & Cinema, Berwick-upon-Tweed, 31st July to 2nd August 2014. Really not to be missed! (Bring earplugs. And a first aid kit.) 


Caffè Nero Scene of Racist Incident

Caffe Nero, Berwick-upon-TweedPolice were called to popular coffee outlet Caffè Nero on Marygate earlier today when it became the scene of what appeared to be a vicious hate crime, ahead of the organised racism already crayoned in for Saturday afternoon by the Twottish Defence League and the North East Imbecils.

A 42-year-old woman in ugly shoes has subsequently been arrested and is being questioned over the incident believed to involve a confrontation with the coffee shop’s assistant manager, Ryan Reay. Eye-witness reports suggest language of a culturally insensitive nature came into play more than once, causing one barista to cover his ears and retch over the sink.

“It was really frightening,” said Zac Richardson, 33, a dog demonstrator from Wark. “I was waiting for my chicken panini to be flattened into transparency when I overheard the guy behind the counter asking this woman to repeat herself, like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She did, and then it all kicked off − before we knew where we were the poor guy was replaying his breakfast into one of the jugs reserved for soya milk .”

Mr Richardson broke off, clearly distressed, before adding, “Soya milk is just so wrong.”

Mr Reay, who intervened in an attempt to defuse the situation, explained:

“I heard raised voices and looked across to see a woman in ugly shoes violently gesticulating at Sammy, one of our baristas. I heard Sammy say, ‘Do you mean grande?’ to which this woman replied, ‘No, just a l**ge one, please.’ Sammy repeated ‘Grande?’ as per the training manual, but this just seemed to aggravate the woman further. ‘L**ge!’ she shrieked. ‘L**ge, l**ge, l**ge!'”

Reay went on to say: “We don’t expect to hear language like that in this day and age; I had to send Sammy home, he was so distraught. I gave the woman a chance to apologise but she was beyond reason, embarking on a fury of mime indicating what appeared to be a  grande one-shot cappuccino while all the time unleashing a torrent of  the ‘l’ word. That’s when I called the police.”

While at face value this seems a straightforward case of hateful intolerance, Professor Jonty Hardcastle from the Department of Applied Culturology at the University of Strathclyde believes that the whole incident is directly linked to a phenomenon known as the ‘Embarrassment Cascade’. First observed in the late 70s among working class men unable to pronounce ‘Quiche Lorraine’ with the correct Gallic inflection, the Embarrassment Cascade is defined as “negative escalating behaviour stemming from an inner awareness of sounding like a tit”.

“It’s actually a very understandable – and therefore treatable – condition,” asserts Dr Hardcastle. “The brain knows when something is vaguely foreign and seeks to reject it, not from fear of catching anything like TB or French, but from the awareness that it is unbelievably poncy. By rigidly sticking to the correct – that is to say, English – term, the brain is preserving dignity and self-respect.

“Of course, while we humans have evolved on a superficial level to embrace anything that smacks of European café culture in the hope that it makes us appear sexually liberated and interested in art, our animal brain still registers attempts at speaking foreign as a complete and utter waste of energy. This woman should be treated with compassion and understanding, perhaps starting with supervised screenings of Wallander. The Kenneth Branagh version, of course, not the one with pretentious subtitles.”

Kenneth Branagh wiping mouth

Kenneth Branagh, regretting the chocolate sprinkles

But outraged mother of dragons, Genevieve Fitzroy, had this to say:

“It was a complete disgrace. That woman should have her tongue cut out. No one should have to listen to language like that; it’s offensive and unnecessary. Caffè Nero may be improbably spelt, but it is still the linchpin of multicultural life here in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Only last week, I was sipping my soya latte – grande, naturellement – and I saw a noble man of colour drive past in a car that looked like his own with James Blunt thumping out of the stereo. Don’t tell me that happens in Eyemouth.”






Conchita Wurst Drafted in to Rescue Town Council

Conchita Wurst Saves Berwick Town CouncilEurovision winner Conchita Wurst has been drafted in by Northumberland County Council to steer beleaguered Berwick Town Council back from the brink of self-destruction as name-calling reached critical mass at 3.15pm last Thursday afternoon.

A statement issued by Northumberland County Council Leader Grant Davey, Labour, stated:

“Owing to the ongoing dispute between several Berwick Town Councillors, we feel we have no choice but to call upon the services of one who has him/her/whatever-self faced adversity and who will understand the particular concerns of small-minded people who can’t bear to be in close proximity with each other.

We would, of course, have preferred to have dealt with this internally, but we’re far too busy doing important things like stopping the over-16s in rural Northumberland from having an education, education, education.”

On hearing of her first major appointment since winning the Eurovision Song Contest, bearded beauty Conchita, 25, declared:

“For me, my dream came true. But for Berwick it showed me that people want to move on, to look to the future. Wish for the moon and you’ll reach at least the stars. The gutter is no place for dreams. Neither is Bonmarché. This is what I will be teaching Berwick Council in our workshops on fabulosity – dare to dream. And wear lamé. The world is a better place in lamé.”

The first stage of Conchita’s strategy will be getting the Town Council to sit quietly at their desks after lunch with their heads on their arms. This will be followed by a stint sitting cross-legged on the storytelling carpet as Conchita teaches them about how it’s nicer to get on with people.

However, not everyone is convinced her methods will work. A supporter of Councillor Hill, Genevieve Fitzroy, who did not wish to be named, has reservations:

“Look, it’s a nice idea but really how practical is it? There are a lot of people exercising their right to get wound up about stuff. You can’t silence us.”

But in view of all council dealings now taking the form of a prolonged and ugly game of so’s-your-mum, does she not think that dignity is being lost on all sides which might alienate the public even further?

After thinking about this for a moment or two with her lips moving, Fitzroy requested that we shut up because we smelled and she didn’t like us any more.

Jonty Hardcastle, professor at the Berwick Institute of Thinking and author of the seminal coffee table book, The Origins of Axe-Grinding as a Form of Self-Comfort, is not surprised.

“In scientific circles it’s called ‘closure by proxy’, but it’s more commonly known as ‘I’ll hold your coat’. It’s a condition affecting people boiling with rage about some person or event in their past for which they’ve been unable to achieve closure. Their sense of corrosive fury redirects itself towards another focal point, usually one with merit and legitimacy, which then acts as a lightening rod for their thwarted hopes and desires. So, by urging a punch-up in a car park between others, they feel they are receiving satisfaction for past hurts. It’s all terribly Jungian and fucked up.”

Hippos fighting, like members of the Berwick Town Council

An artist’s impression of hard-working Berwick Town Councillors.

With such behaviour evident in both councillors and supporters alike, Professor Hardcastle is doubtful of a reconciliation.

“These poor creatures are even known to turn on their own, like hippopotamuses at a family get-together. They’re now so blinded by emotion that logic has become another bitter casualty, like my wish for a market without three stalls of hi-vis work wear. “

But sultry songstress Conchita remains upbeat.

“I really dream of a council where it’s not about your political persuasion or personal antipathies. I will really show that we are all part of the same family, not of separate communities. I know it sounds cheesy but we are one! Let’s make Berwick more like me, more fabulous! Let’s all rise like a phoenix!”


Party Atmosphere Greets Free Parking in Berwick-upon-Tweed

A party atmosphere descended on the Border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed this week as parking became free for the first time since King James III ceded the town to Edward IV after losing a game of Nine Men’s Morris to him in 1482.

Riot police managing a crowd with tear gas and batons

Even the omnipresent North Sea haar didn’t spoil the fun.

Revellers congregated at Palace Green before parading Mardi-Gras-style down Walkergate and Church Street in a pincer movement of liberated parking delight. Spirits were high as the crowd swept beneath Scots Gate and urinated good-naturedly against the now defunct tariff notice situated in the Co-Op car park.

“I’m not one easily given over to public displays of micturition,” admitted Zac Richardson, a contemporary kazoo player from Cockburnspath. “But I see it as a way of expressing both my optimism for the town’s bright new future and contempt for the cretinous councillors who thought parking charges were a way to boost trade and tourism. Plus, I had quite a large cup of tea before I left the house.”

Grieves, Home Bargains and W H Smith all reported a shortage of whistles, hula skirts and steel drums, while Greggs announced a run on their special edition “Reverse Parking” sausage roll. This is the same as a normal sausage roll only placed in the bag at a slightly awkward angle and a fair distance from the edge.

However, some people remain to be convinced by Northumberland County Council’s act of apparent largesse. Henna artist and part-time chemical traveller Genevieve Fitzroy believes that the abolition of parking charges signals a move by the council to open negotiations with Scotland about taking Berwick off their hands once more.

“Look, I’m not saying that’s what they [the council] are doing, right?” she giggled. “Totally not. But what I am saying is, like, beware Greeks carrying gifts in the mouth. F**k me, but this doobie’s strong.”

According to Dr Jonty Hardcastle, Professor of Speculative History at Glasgow University, this idea isn’t as wild as it first appears:

“Free parking is an obvious way to tempt Scotland to relieve England of the responsibility it has towards Berwick,” he said. “Historically, Scotland loves free stuff — whether it be prescriptions, bus travel or a university education. Faced with the prospect of offering something for nothing that it can’t afford, Scotland is going to find Northumberland County Council’s flirty overtures difficult to resist.”

Dr Hardcastle went on to say: “From the council’s perspective, Berwick has always been the unwanted child from a first marriage. Sure, they make all the right noises about promising to love and look after it just like their real kids, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty they’d rather chain it to a bedstead and feed it Chappie.”

Berwick Mayor and Lib Dem Councillor Isabel Hunter vehemently denied the allegation. “I haven’t heard anything so ridiculous since Councillor Hill suggested that Berwick Town Council should be more open and transparent. Don’t write that down. Are you record… no, don’t take my picture, give me that…”

Spare change requisitioner Claire Strong, 22, reacted with delight at the news of free parking, declaring the new policy would at last reverse the effects of psychic damage wrought by charges on residents and visitors alike.

“When people need to find fifty-pee for the ticket machine rather than for throwing at someone sitting on a square of cardboard with a dog wearing a jaunty neckerchief, it damages them inside,” she explained. “Hopefully, free parking will enable people to reflect on the impermanence of life and the futility of material attachment. I’ve taught Exocet a new trick to help them with that.”

Dogs begging holding little baskets


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