Archive for August, 2011
It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Kirsty Bentley, a part-time teacher from Horsham, West Sussex, was feeding her two-month-old son Liam as usual. Suddenly she felt him go “limp as a rag doll. His skin was turning purple and his lips had gone blue. All I could think was, ‘Please don’t take my baby away from me! Please don’t take him away!’ It was horrible,” she says.
Fortunately, Kirsty had been on a St John’s Ambulance first-aid course ten weeks earlier and the techniques were still fresh in her mind. “Even though I was panicking, I managed to visualise the emergency procedure,” she says.
“I checked his airways and he wasn’t breathing. So I put him in the correct position and gave him some sharp blows on the back.” It worked. Liam started breathing again and she called 999.
As it turned out, her baby had been choking silently and Kirsty hadn’t noticed. Thanks to her swift action, he received the treatment that he needed and made a complete recovery. “As soon as Liam is old enough,” Kirsty says. “I’m going to teach him basic first aid. It’s something that absolutely everyone should know.”
Kirsty’s story may sound extreme, but it is true. According to a recent study by the BabySafe campaign, one parent in four will have to administer emergency first aid to his or her children. In contrast, only 14 per cent of parents would feel confident to do so, and 81 per cent don’t have the correct training.
Parents often don’t get round to learning first aid, the study suggests, because the courses are seen as costly, complicated and inaccessible. In the busy life of a modern parent, it’s often things such as this — potentially the most important things — that can fall by the wayside. Read more on the Times website (subject to paywall restrictions)
It has emerged that Jake Wallis Simons (32), a British journalist and novelist, has been under sustained attack by unscrupulous newshounds. A chain of slanderous reports have dominated the headlines, lifting on his personal hygiene, spelling abilities, culinary tastes, and business plans. Now, in an unprecedented step, he has begun what he calls “a Cameronian fightback.”
“Enough is enough,” he told a group of reporters who were camped outside his home in what has become known as the Simons Village. “This intrusion has gone on long enough. It’s time for me to protect myself and my family.”
According to reports, Simons responded to a Spam email entitled “Reputation Repair – Get Negative Search Engine Results Removed Fast.” He contacted Tiffany Xangreb at Fivestar Services – a startup company based in Lagos, Nigeria – and in a single conversation a deal was agreed. He emailed his credit card details to Nigeria immediately.
“Let’s face it, this is not going to be cheap,” Simons admitted. “But Tiffany assures me it will be worth it. Apparently, Fivestar Services will remove negative content about me, boost ranking of ‘positive’ content, and fix online reputation problems fast. It will be the best twenty thousand pounds I’ve ever spent.”
Simons’ family remained sceptical. “That boy,” said his grandmother, shaking her head sadly. “That boy.”
Simons, however, said that they “just don’t understand” the cut-throat nature of the online world.
“It’s a digital jungle out there,” he explained. “For weeks now, a rogue site calling itself jakewallissimons.com has been producing libellous blog entries, all of which are completely untrue. They have even been imitating my writing style. I’ve never known anything like it.”
A reporter armed with a nightvision telescope has revealed that as a result of this malicious website, Simons has been finding it difficult to sleep. While Simons has neither confirmed nor denied this, he admits that jakewallissimons.com has been “disturbing my peace of mind.”
“All this will change when Fivestar Services get going,” he said. “Those bastards will wish they had never been born. I’ll fight for as long as my credit card lasts. I’ll either be a martyr or a victor. Like that Libyan chap, what’s his name? Gadaffi. Steve Gadaffi.”
Headlines are once again dominated by the conflict in Libya today. News is also coming in, however, that Jake Wallis Simons (32), a British writer, had a shower this morning. According to some reports, he came back from holiday yesterday and found that work had still not been completed on his shower, which had recently been leaking.
“It was a normal shower, really,” said Simons afterwards. “I went down the road to my grandparents’ house, turned on the hot water, and Bob’s your mother’s brother. There’s nothing to it, really.”
A picture of events is gradually building up, based on eyewitness reports. Simons, who had already answered some emails at home this morning, left the house at around 10:34am and walked the several hundred yards to his grandparents’ 17th Century townhouse. His grandmother opened the door, and ushered him upstairs to the shower. The water was hot, the pressure high. He used Radox coconut shower gel and a “weird smelling” shampoo called Aussie, which made him smell like “a bag of pic-n-mix.” He then left and walked into town to sit – or rather, write – in his favourite café.
“I can’t see what all the fuss is about,” said Simons bemusedly. “It was just a shower. You know? A shower. It’s really no big deal.”
His grandmother, known popularly as “Mutti,” echoed her grandson’s sentiments. “He did leave quite a lot of water on the floor afterwards,” she told reporters, “and blamed it on the high pressure of the shower. But apart from that, very little was out of the ordinary.”
When asked whether the parallel between his grooming habits and the missiles showering down on Tripoli was intentional, Simons was ambiguous. “Just get out of my face with that notebook,” he said.
His grandmother, however, was more reasonable. She commented: “the boy has always been a bit of a rebel.”
“I have to admit, it may have been ill-judged,” he told local reporters. “But then again, one has to suffer for one’s art. And comedy is certainly an art.”
According to witnesses, Simons had been writing in a café in peace for most of the afternoon. At approximately 4:02pm, however, a woman sat on the next table and turned up her iPod so loudly that he couldn’t hear himself think. “I saw red,” he told reporters. “I was unable to control myself. Second-hand iPod music is one of my (admittedly many) pet hates.”
Simons half-rose from his seat, pressed his finger over his lips and made aggressive facial contortions. When the woman did not spot him, he sat in the seat beside her and tapped her on the shoulder, trying to alert her to his displeasure. “She almost jumped out of her skin,” said an eyewitness who asked not to be named. “Her first response was to say, ‘you pillock, go away.’ To which Simons responded by saying ‘OK then, I will.’”
The writer went straight home, packed his bags, collected his wife and children and bundled them all into a car. “We are off to a secret location where there is no internet access or mobile phone signal,” he cried out of the window as he drove away. “Let that be a lesson to her. Don’t fuck with a Simons. Never, ever, fuck with a Simons. Hahahahahahahahahaha.”
The woman, by all accounts, was left rather confused. “I’m not sure if this is a joke or not,” she said. “It’s the most bizarre turn of events. I need to go home for a cup of tea and a sit down now.” She, too, refused to be named.
As a result of the debacle, Simons will be away until Monday, when #NEWSFLASH updates will resume.
Details are emerging of how an impoverished writer, Jake Wallis Simons (32), was driven to kill a squirrel for food yesterday. “I was having a glass of water in the garden,” he explained, “when I saw a movement in the branches of the tree. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. I was hungry. I just acted.”
He picked up a pebble from the flowerbed and hurled it up at the tree. “In an extraordinary stroke of luck,” said Simons, “it happened to hit him right between the eyes. What are the chances of that?”
The animal dropped, dazed, to the ground, whereupon the writer seized it by the tail and put it out of its misery by swinging it against a fence-post.
“I made a nice pasty,” Simons recalled fondly. “My children dined well that night.”
Animal rights campaigners demonstrated outside his house that afternoon, but then, according to a neighbour, “seemed to lose interest and wonder off.” Simons, meanwhile, is confident that the squirrel did not give its life in vain. “That influx of protein allowed me to survive as a writer for another 24 hours,” he said. “It gave its life for another 1,254 words of my new novel.” He admitted, however, that there is a chance that these 1,254 words will end up being edited down to one.
A spokesman for the squirrel community was unavailable for comment.
It might seem like an insignificant detail to most people. But according to Jake Wallis Simons (32), a novelist and journalist, the device one uses to write on is vital. “To me, it’s all about the aesthetics of the thing,” he said. “The type of keyboard, operating system, and so on has a direct knock-on effect on my work.”
The first line of his latest novel, The English German Girl, was initially written on an ancient Toshiba PC, but then re-written on an iMac. The sentence – “the grand city of Berlin lies milky in the morning light” – used to be “Berlin was like milk in the daylight in the morn.”
“This clearly illustrates my point,” said Simons. “If you write on a shit computer, you’ve got no chance.”
For this reason, he continued, he could “simply not write another word” without first purchasing an 11″ MacBook Air. “This has nothing to do with consumerism or materialism,” he told reporters. “It’s a purely artistic consideration. Any serious writer will appreciate that as one types, the timbre of the keys influences ‘the flow.’ It mean the difference between good writing and clunky europrose.” (Though he declined to define the word “europrose,” commentators have extrapolated a link to “Europop” and “Eurovision.”)
Currently, Simons writes on an iPad with an attachable Zaggmate keyboard. But something about the screen, however, hurts his eyes and makes him feel dizzy when used for long periods. He dismissed suggestions that he borrow his wife’s Macbook. “The link between a writer and his machine is one of symbiosis,” he explained. “It is actually a spiritual concern. When the machine is right, a sense of the numinous descends. It’s like those airborne beasts in Avatar, you know, the ones you plug into with your hair-tentacle.”
When one reporter suggested that he write longhand, Simons spat on his shoe.
Details are emerging this morning of what is being hailed as a “socio-economic technological breakthrough.” Jake Wallis Simons (32), while eating his cornflakes at breakfast, was hit by an idea that may provide the solution to the extreme social unrest that has sparked rioting in recent days.
“It was obvious, really,” said Simons to a growing number of reporters gathering outside his three bedroom home. “All the best ideas are like that. You find yourself wondering why nobody thought of it before.”
The idea, which has already been patented and copyrighted, takes the form of an iPhone App which will be called the “Extermahoodie.”
“The way it works is very simple,” Simons explained. “On its mildest setting, the Extermahoodie will cause your iPhone to emit a powerful, high-pitched frequency that will be inaudible to adults, but agonising to the ears of teenagers. At the tap of a screen, you can clear your area of hoodies to a radius of four metres.”
Setting number two will add a high-voltage electric charge to the emission which will cause minor burns to the teenagers’ inner ears, while setting number three – the most extreme – will instantly “kettle” the troublemakers by calling up a unit of Blackwater (XE) mercenaries, who will be on the scene within ten seconds and beat the youths to pulp.
“I’ve already had two hundred thousand orders,” said Simons smugly. “What with this and the Zapp App I invented last week, I’m well on the way to riches beyond my wildest dreams.” He bridled, however, at suggestions he was profiteering. “People just want to be safe,” he said. “You should be levelling that charge at people like Blackwater.” Then, spotting the loophole in his argument, he slunk away.
#JWSNEWSFLASH: The Word “Manoeuvre” Is Spelled Correctly Without Spellcheck For First Time Since 1884
In what is being widely hailed as an early sign of optimism for the London Olympics, Jake Wallis Simons (32), was writing in a café yesterday when he managed to spell the word “manoeuvre” correctly, without the use of a spellcheck. As word spread, people started applauding the writer wherever he went, celebrating his magnificent achievement. “It was a magical day,” Simons recalled afterwards. “I don’t know how it happened. It’s all a bit of a blur.”
According to a chap called Steve, the owner of the cafe, it was “one of those days when you know something special is going to happen.”
“Rain had been forecast,” he said, “but as it turned out, it was sunny. We had more customers than usual, and they were all giving us hefty tips. There was a tangible feeling of bonhomie in the café. I think all these things contributed to Simons’ success. It was a charmed afternoon. And of course, he has been training very, very hard.” While his staff applauded, he immediately sought Simons out, in order to shake him by the hand in congratulations.
“The problem with ‘manoeuvre’ is the order of vowels,” said Dr Johnson, professor of linguistics at Fernham College, Oxbridge. “These days, the general standard of spelling has plummeted and people struggle with words like ‘badinage’ and ‘echt’, not to mention ‘stultify’ and ‘reconstitution’. Words with complex vowel patterns are way out of the reach of your average writer of today.”
The last documented time that “manoeuvre” was correctly spelled without the aid of a spellcheck was in March 1884, by Charlotte Dickens, Charles’ little-known sister. According to documents, her reaction was to “reward myself with a pint of good ale and a plate of meat.” And she was likewise met with applause wherever she went.
“I don’t know how I did it,” Simons reiterated once the celebrations have died down. “My general approach is to punch the vowel keys at random. Normally this produces abberations such as ‘maneuvre,’ manoeuevroe’ and ‘maneueuoueuvroiue.’ But this time it actually worked! It has made me completely reassess my opinions about creationism – the monkeys on the typewriters and all that.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, did not comment that Simons’ extraordinary achievement is just what the UK needs at the moment. “Not only does it give a ray of light in the blackness of the London Riots,” he did not say, “but it is a great morale boost for the upcoming Olympics. I wish him, his kin and people like them every success.”
The alarm was raised by one of his neighbours, a chap called Steve, who, according to witnesses, murmured to his wife the single word “no” before closing the curtains. Rumours followed, circulating around the local community before going viral on Facebook and Twitter.
When approached by a reporter earlier today, Simons admitted the “sartorial faux pas,” saying that it was due to a “momentary lack of self awareness.” His team is currently focussing its efforts on “damage limitation,” he said.
The cravat, a forerunner of the modern necktie, originated in 17th-century Croatia. It was later popularised by colourful characters such as Oscar Wilde and the modern-day porn mogul Hugh Hefner. “I think it’s great that this British writer – Wallis Simpson did you say? – is re-awakening the tradition of the cravat,” commented Hugh Hefner yesterday. “What a stud. It makes me feel very proud.” (He didn’t really.)
Although the British public have been united in their condemnation of cravat wearing for the under-50s, they have expressed their support for Simons’ bold move in the context of the London riots. “I think it’s admirable,” said Mary (54), a housewife from North Lancashire. “At times like these we all need something to put a smile on our face. We have Simons to thank for that.”
Over the past few days, the eyes of the media have been fixed on the rioting in Tottenham, North London. Today, however, attention is turning to Jake Wallis Simons (32), who has responded to the unrest with an act of violence of his own: lighting a small fire in his garden.
“I guess I was mainly inspired by the aesthetics of the thing,” Simons told reporters. “I totally condone violence in all its forms. Sorry, not condone, I mean condemn. Well, most of its forms. I think we can agree that in some instances it is warranted. When someone breaks into your house, for instance . . .”
After a lengthy digression, he continued: “so what I’m trying to say,” he said, “is that I got inspired by the aesthetics of the thing. I was not on the side of the rioters; neither do I identify myself as a policeman. But the sight of all those flames, and masked youths hurling missiles at armoured robocops, made me feel that I had to get involved.”
He went out into his garden and collected some twigs and small shrubs, which he eventually managed to set ablaze. “At its height, the fire was about a foot tall,” he told reporters. “It took me a while to get it going, but it was totally worth it. Now I feel that I can really empathise with what people are going through in Tottenham. Also, it got something out of my system.”
A source in the Metropolitan police was sceptical. “It is important for members of the public to appreciate that this is not a game,” it said. “Real people’s lives are being ruined by these widespread public order offences. The police views Simons’ actions as both irresponsible and in very poor taste.”
His neighbours, however, are taking it with a pinch of salt. “We have got used to his habit of acting out the news in the garden,” said a chap called Steve who lives nearby. “You should have been here for the Royal Wedding.”