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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Party Favors

n "Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?" -- Huck Finn, or rather, Mark Twain, or actually, Samuel Clemens, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Forget Labour and their creepy choir-boy honcho, Tony Blair. Never mind the terminal Tories and their clueless captain, John "Dead Man Walking" Major. Surely the electoral hour has finally come for Britain's most venerable political sage -- Lord Screaming Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Sutch, for 33 years the Loony standardbearer, gathered his forces this week for a grand pre-election conference in the bar of the Golden Lion Hotel in beautiful downtown Ashburton. Amongst beer-swilling delegates sporting everything from platform heels and studded leather body armor (this was a bearded delegate) to humble Gandhi loincloth, Sutch -- arriving late, and hung over -- mounted the stage in a gleaming tiger-striped suit.

There, beneath blazing disco lights, he exhorted the faithful to "prepare for power" and predicted a Loony landslide of 200 seats in Parliament -- an optimism well-meriting the Loony label, as the party has failed to win a single seat in 37 local and general elections since 1963. Lord Screaming blames this immaculate record of failure on the party's unfortunate propensity for, well, holding conferences.

"Our supporters wake up late with enormous hangovers and forget where the polling booths are until it's all over," he said. Undaunted by this, however, the Loonies are pushing an ambitious program for national change that far outstrips Blair's short-pants socialism or Major's sleaze-please status quo.

Their plans call for towing Britain 500 miles south into the Atlantic, to improve the climate, compelling dogs to eat phosphorescent food so their leavings will be more easily spotted at night, and putting Parliament on wheels so the Nationalist Scots, who want their own legislature, can borrow it whenever they want. And free sex, of course, would be supplied by the National Health Service.

In Poor Taste

You suspected it all along, of course; the signs were plain to see: Twiggy, the tabloids, TV's Ab Fab, the Windsors. Well, now it's official, scientific, even: The British have no taste.

No sense of taste, to put it more exactly, according to a blazingly important, searingly relevant scientific survey conducted by the Tropicana chilled juice company. Tropicana -- perhaps wondering why their bottles of Cold Kiwi Cocktail aren't flying off the shelves -- found that 70 percent of British-type persons could not even recognize the taste of mashed carrots when blindfolded. (The persons, that is, not the carrots.)

What's more -- if you can stand it -- a full one-fifth did not even know what mashed potatoes were when they had them in their mouths. And 68 percent failed to register the provenance of cooked pears. Most shamefully -- especially for an island addicted to mass consumption of the grape -- more than a third couldn't tell the difference between white wine and red.

"What is certain is that recent discounting of food and drink products has led to the use of poorer quality ingredients and a loss of natural taste," said Lynda Worthy of Tropicana.

Or as Mark Twain once so aptly remarked: "Training is everything; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

Oh, Baby

Surely it was Mark Twain who once said, so appositely, "Familiarity breeds contempt -- and children." No doubt the old riverboat pilot and Confederate draft dodger was thinking, prophetically, of Madonna, who had both subjects -- children and contempt -- on her mind this week.

The noted singer-actress-exhibitionist fretted to a swank magazine this week that she was afraid her arduous labors during the making of the movie of "Evita" would harm her unborn baby, now scheduled to premiere on Oct. 15 (but presumably not on MTV).

Madonna called a doctor to check the fetal heartbeat after a particular dance sequence that she -- with her incredible talent -- had to repeat only 15 times. "OK, I didn't kill it," she recalled thinking, maternally, after the test. "I can go back to the set now."

Selfless as the budding mama may be, she still found time to fling a poniard or two at Sean Penn, who was her husband many years ago and who married actress Robin Wright this spring after a long-term relationship and two children. Madonna said she thought Penn's marriage was "some sort of knee-jerk response to me, if you must know. When it was revealed that I was pregnant. My reaction was, this is Sean trying to be dramatic.''

Which is, however, more than she has ever been on screen.

True Bleu Believers

n "In Paris, they simply stared when I spoke to them in French," Mark Twain was once heard to remark; "I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language."

Be that as it may, there is one phrase that almost half the French population expects to hear and understand one day very soon: "Take me to your leader."

According to a new poll, some 48 percent of the French believe there is life on other planets. (And a few, reportedly, even believe there is life in other countries.) What's more, a goodly portion of these credulous folk are expecting war with extraterrestrials sometime in the next few years. No wonder far-right leader -- and genuine loony Jean-Marie Le ("Poison") Pen is making such headway with his foamy-mouthed campaign against "illegal aliens."

Or as Mark Twain once said (or was it Jerry Falwell?), "Let me make the superstitions of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws, or its songs either."