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12 March 2014

The NS Competition No 4314

By New Statesman

Set by J Seery
After David Cameron remarked that the floods in Britain were of biblical proportions, we asked you how the government would have handled an actual biblical disaster.

This week’s winners
A very popular comp. Hon menshes to Chris O’Carroll and John Boaler. The winners get £25 each, with the Tesco vouchers going, in addition, to Bill Greenwell.

Night of the locust
Last night, the government played down the latest plague to hit Egypt: locusts. “Hebrew leaders claiming that this is a manifestation of their God’s power are talking through their kesuts,” said the pharaoh’s spokesman. “Locusts are common in this locality and their tendency to eat everything is well known.”

He insisted that patriotic Egyptians had responded commendably. “We have captured 126,158 locusts,” he said. “And we can assure you: they are not only in custody but are regarded in many parts as luxury comestibles. We will be holding gourmet sessions for all those affected and we are well on the way to becoming the world’s leading locust exporter. They are the new langoustines.”

The Department of Health is also expected to report that last month’s boils, although painful, have been found to be curable. “We are fine,” said ministry officials. “It’s not as if the country is about to be plunged into darkness.”
Bill Greenwell

Ark attack
Government officials visited Ashdod today, after an outbreak of tumours and other afflictions on the genitals of a large number of citizens. The Health Standards Agency was quick to dispel rumours that these lesions had resulted from supernatural causes, following the theft of the Ark of the Covenant by a group of breakaway Philistines. The officials announced a programme of initiatives to reinforce the current safe sex campaign, including the distribution of free condoms to all households and homeless shelters.

The Prime Minister said: “We should be absolutely clear about this. The theft of the Ark was a dreadful error of judgement on the part of the Philistines but there are lessons to be learned about many other things here.”

The Deputy Prime Minister was seen admiring a replica of the Ark built by a minority community of Israelites, while the leader of the opposition said that a grown-up debate was what was really needed.
Carolyn Thomas-Coxhead

Brutalist Babel
“Far from being in any way destructive,” a housing minister declared, “this act of divine intervention marks a serious and practical contribution to the debate on high-rise development.”

“The unanticipated outcome notwithstanding,” a Treasury spokesman clarified, “this landmark infrastructure project has transformed Babel beyond recognition, creating jobs at many levels, albeit briefly, and acting as a beacon in a newly diverse global market.”

A Department for Education source added: “The project has vastly increased opportunities in language teaching, almost all of which wouldn’t have arisen without it.”

The Culture Secretary declared that the ruined tower was “a work of elemental brutalism”, insisting on its classification as a World Heritage Site, while officials at the Department for Transport regretted indefinite delays to the completion of a direct route to Heaven, blaming “unconducive atmospherics”.
Adrian Fry

Apocalypse now
The Apocalypse is a disaster of “truly Somerset Levels proportions”, the Communities Secretary said. “Our thoughts are with those inconvenienced by the stars falling from heaven, the sun being darkened, and so on.” He added: “We were clearly at fault for trusting the Environment Agency – it had 5,000 years of warnings in which to prepare a contingency plan – and for trusting the scientists who

told us that this catastrophe was brought on by human activity.” This, he said, clearly cannot be the case.

However, the Environment Secretary was keen to stress that, while we may have incurred God’s wrath on occasion, broken nine or ten commandments, worshipped Mammon just a touch, oppressed the poor a little and even condoned the odd genocide, “We have reduced immeasurably our use of plastic bags, curbed our habit of leaving the TV on standby and even started recycling yoghurt pots. So it’s not the end of the world . . .”
David Silverman

The next challenge No 4317 By Leonora Casement
We all remember: “An owl in a sack troubles no man.” We’d like some even newer and better proverbs for today.
As many as you like by 27 March comp@newstatesman.co.uk

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