Gambling, Boris’s vanity projects, wombat poo, Trump puts a price on Jamal Khashoggi’s life

25 November 2018

Gambling is addictive and recognised as a clinical disorder.  Recent research by the Gambling Commission found that, in the UK, an estimated 55,000 young people aged 11-16 are ‘problem gamblers’, that 450,000 children (the equivalent of one in seven children aged 11 to 16) bet regularly and most of them have seen gambling adverts on TV.  The audit also found that more children had placed a bet in the past week than had drunk alcohol, smoked or taken drugs.

There’s a gambling firm based in Stoke called Bet365 which is controlled by somebody called Denise Coates who took £265m out of the company last year (about £725,000 a day).  Her company donated £75m, probably from the petty cash box, to the Denise Coates Foundation which mainly funds medical and education charities but not gambling or addiction charities.  In 2012, she was awarded the CBE, presumably for services to Denise Coates.

The three 25-year-old water cannons Boris Johnson bought for £233,000 while he was Mayor of London before checking if he’d be allowed to use them have finally been sold as scrap for £11,000.  The total cost of all Johnson’s mayoral vanity projects is currently about £940,000.

On Tuesday, there was a lovely headline over a profile of Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, CEO and Provost of a new (and rather unusual) university opening in Hereford next year:  “The only gay female Mexican engineer in Hereford”.  It’s a bit like headlining an article about junk food “The only 6-legged goat in Penge” but it was obviously irresistible to the sub-editor who rejected the boringly obvious like “Herefordshire gets its first university”, trusting the Guardian’s readers to enjoy the attempt to offend at least three groups of people in one short headline.

We also learnt this week that the common wombats’ faeces are cubical (it makes you wince just to think about it).  The only reason for this that scientists have come up with is that wombats mark their territory with piles of poo and cubical stools are less likely to roll away.  It’s a good job there aren’t a lot of wild Labradors out there – ours are coprivorous and I’ve never yet seen them check the shape of anything before hoovering it up.

What’s more fascinating is how the wombats produce them and the latest thinking is based on intestinal walls with areas of differing strength so the gut’s contents are not squeezed evenly into the roughly cylindrical shape we’re all used to.

Which reminds me that the president of America, a country which spends billions gathering intelligence on other countries, has rubbished the CIA’s report that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.  In summary, he said that it didn’t matter because America’s relationship is with Saudi Arabia and “They have worked closely with [America] and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.”

Which reminds me that the internet has spawned a photo of Putin and Trump together, with speech balloons added showing Putin asking what the J stands for in Donald J Trump and Trump replying “The J stands for genius”.

Which reminds me of the story about a bored GB Shaw asking the woman sitting next to him at a dinner if she’d sleep with him for a million pounds.  She said of course she would and Shaw said “What about ten shillings?”  The woman looked outraged and said “Do you think I’m a prostitute?”.  Shaw replied “Madam, we’ve already established that.  What we’re doing now is negotiating a price”.

Also this week, a woman who had faked her qualifications and then worked for 22 years as a NHS consultant psychiatrist in Workington was gaoled for five years after forging a patient’s Will in her favour.  Doesn’t this make you wonder about why shrinks bother to waste time qualifying?  In 22 years, her practice record was so good that she was promoted to consultant and none of her officially-qualified colleagues sussed her.

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