Fun in the pun

Top Gear, eat your proverbial heart out

First up, pun action.

Van-cy a trip? Van-tastic voyage. Just TWO of the excellent puns to be found in this story from New Zealand about two blokes driving a van (who would have guessed) across the Cook Strait. (An amphibious transport story can never have enough puns.)

But this is not just a tale of boating larks and derring-do. Hell no. Says Dan, one half of the van-driving duo: "We are definitely pretty stoked. It [the crossing] has got to be up there. She's pretty high in New Zealand achievements." Really Dan? What about Everest, or Lord of the Rings, or rugby? They're sort of OK as massive global triumphs go. But, having said that, did any of these great events/people/achievements allow for the following to take place?

By 6.27am, each had their first beer in hand and breakfast was being prepared.
"Mint mate . . . we might have a sneaky pie heated on the exhaust."

Clearly not. So, for the pie on the exhaust alone, I eat my words. This is great. Oh, and Dan's message to the youth of today?

Get off the PlayStation and go and turn something into something stupid.



Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs


The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.


For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming


With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.


On the Middle East:


To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 


We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”


In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.


America will start winning again, winning like never before.


On trade


This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  


We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland