DAILY      DRONE

LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,

 THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER

CONTACT EDAILYDRONE@GMAIL.COM



SUNDAY 14 APRIL 2024

*

Biden’s worsening cognitive fragility gathers pace. At 81 he is the oldest person to occupy the White House: older than the hovercraft, the barcode and the breathalyser, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic. What’s to be done? My snout on Capitol Hill hints that America’s first woman president is all prepped, waiting to take over and ready for her close-up. Not Michelle Obama (maybe next time) but Hillary Clinton. Surely not, you cry. Mmm. Remember who told you first … and last.

*****

Quel frisson! ‘Matron’ Mordaunt’s at it again. Following last week’s arch strictness at Business Questions, the sort that energises small boys, she mentions the practice of frottage in the Commons for the first time in Hansard history. Oh, do stop it, Penelope!

*****

A ‘strange 10ft monolith’ has just been discovered in Wales, alerts The Indy. The shiny silver object was found by a hiker on a remote hillside near Hay-on-Wye. There were no visible tracks leading to the steel structure which looked like ‘some sort of UFO’. Its discovery is reminiscent of similar objects that have appeared in recent years in the US, Romania and Turkey.

*****

Want to know how the economy’s doing? Licked finger in the air, perhaps. Course not: take the noodle test, says the FT’s Leo Lewis. Developed in the 1950s to feed struggling Japan after the war, the quick snack offers good value.  So when times are hard people buy more of them. Sales have surged in countries hit by high inflation. In 2022 humanity collectively bought a record 122 billion servings.

*****

Cargo ships are slashing carbon emissions by fitting giant rigid sails. British-designed WindWings, 123ft tall and made from the same material as wind turbine blades, cut average fuel use by three tonnes a day. That’s 11.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Or removing 480 cars from the roads over a year.

*****

To those of us who spent long conjugation and declension lessons defacing the name of The Latin Primer to read Ethel’s Eating Primebeef, Mark Zuckerberg’s professed love of Latin makes no sense. But the tech giant says it’s ’very much like coding or math’. He’s right, says Harry Mount in The Oldie. If you can understand the ablative absolute plus the difference between the gerund and gerundive, then ‘setting up a multibillion-dollar internet business is easy-peasy’.

*****

Let’s talk migration to the US over the centuries. Biggest influx? African Americans, Irish, Brits? None of these: surprisingly, it’s Germans, nearly 50 million (16.4%) now identifying thus. African descendants make up 37.1 million (12.2%), Irish 35.7 million (11.8%), Mexican 30.7 million (10.1%) and British 27.4 million (9%). Lowest impact? Chippewa native Americans 115,000 (0.1%).

*****

Continuing our topical series Boring Things To Do On Holiday When You’re Even More Bored: a museum on the outskirts of Milan is dedicated to antique petrol pumps. Its founder, Guido Fisgoni, began his collection in the 1960s when he found an old five-litre Bergomi model abandoned in a quarry and restored it. Now industrial art experts consider his curios ‘unique and particularly rich’. Zzzzz.

*****

StatsLife: Cocaine use is up by a quarter in British cities, says the National Crime Agency. The rise has been caused by a supply glut which cut prices.

*****

HeadsUp. Stuff subbed short, just the way the Boss likes it 

Samsung launches smart Galaxy Ring which can track sleep and activity patterns and may also soon enable contactless payments.


Chinese motor manufacturer BYD unveils luxury hybrid SUV which can float on water.


Homophobes Out: Country Boys In graffito painted on Frame Hampton Village Hall, Wilts.

*****
Unbelievably, the letter, sent in 1530 by British nobles urging Pope Clement VII to grant Henry VIII an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn, still exists. Especially as it survived the sacking of Vatican archives by Napoleon in 1810. Chief archivist Bishop Sergio Pagnano tells AP the letter was rolled up and hidden in a secret drawer as the French rampaged around.

*****

The Guardian gets all excited about being able to name members of the all-male Garrick Club. Which hack won the race to pen the piece? Amelia Gentleman, naturally.

*****

Those who thought tapping their inner Gloria Gaynor by warbling I will Survive out of tune into a mic in a sweaty club was the key to eternal life have had pause for thought. Shigeichi Negishi, inventor of the karaoke machine, has died, aged 100.

*****

Unfortunate confusion in the Drone over a pic of a former Express hack celebrating his 80th birthday dressed in a garish waistcoat covered in shamrocks, bow tie and natty titfer. Hurtful references to Acker Bulk are made. The giveaway, to those of an inquiring mind, is that the snap was taken on St Patrick’s day — as the nark who provided the photo, and who was also born on March 17, surely knew.

*****

LetterOfTheWeek. Brian Eastty, of Essex, to The Times: I am tempted to give up my landline. But without it what would I use to call my mobile when I’ve mislaid it?

*****

‘Manipulated’ snaps. Quite the thing these days: ask Kate. But back in 2003 US poster companies were in the mire over doctoring the cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road. The iconic Ian Macmillian photo of the mopheads on a zebra crossing had been airbrushed to remove a cigarette in McCartney’s right hand. Apple Corps, which owns rights to the pic, was not amused.


****

Just when you thought it was safe  … a toxic sea slug, the Blue Dragon, has been washing up on beaches in Texas, warns USA Today. The one-inch creature has a vicious sting which can cause nausea, vomiting and ‘searing pain’. Marine biology student Julian Obayd tells The Goss: ‘It’s the most painful thing you can imagine.’ 

*****

Caine’sCorner. Thanks to the advent of the printing press, the number of words written and printed in England between 1000 and 1600 went from a million a year to 100 billion, says The Spectator. NMPKT

*****

University degree?  Better get a plumbing apprenticeship, say career experts. Certainly true in the States where they reckon they’ll be short of 550 plumbers by 2027. A huge recruit-and-train campaign is under way but there’s a way to go. Steady with the wet wipes, gels.

*****

RuralRides. They’ve opened a sex shop on the Frame Hampton bypass. It used to be the Lone Star Diner before it went tits up (sic). Predominantly pink. Huge 24/7 neon sign proclaiming Adult Store. Twee sub deck: Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together. Caleb from the estate workers’ cottages says there are faux fur-covered handcuffs, ‘toys’, paddles and various elixirs, unguents, serums and potions. Whips? ‘Call those whips? Whips, my arse,’ said Caleb, warming to a theme.

*****

A comet larger than Mount Everest will be visible in the night sky over Britain in the next few weeks. The Devil Comet, so called because of horn-shaped haze that surrounds it, passes through the inner solar system every 71 years.

*****

Oooh er, missus! I’ve just been transported back to the banks of the sylvan Wye and the sandstone alma mater of my questing youth. Watching Penny Mordaunt being ever so strict with her Labour and SNP counterparts in the Commons suddenly reminded me of Matron. Oh, frisson! Dark and dangerous waters indeed.

*****

Make love, not war, Sarn’t Major.  Military boffins have seriously considered producing a bomb that would turn thousands of people homosexual, says Le Point. The Gay Bomb was dreamt up in the 90s at the cutting-edge Wright Laboratory in the States. The idea was to release an aphrodisiac so powerful that enemy troops would be overcome by an irresistible desire to have it off with one another. OK, so they didn’t do it but that doesn’t mean they won’t. 

*****

Guess what a new hyper-advanced Google building bristling with green tech and designed to lure back the WFH lead-swingers has not got: decent wi-fi. Unbelievable. Employees have been desperately plugging into ethernet cables or even working outside. Considering they are in the advertising and AI development departments, it’s not a good look, says my man still using the Amstrad CPC 464. Huge swooped roof tiles on the building in Mountain View, California, are being blamed. Google admits there are ‘wi-fi issues’.

*****

The scribbling sisters Brontë may have sounded rather exotic but it wasn’t always thus: Emily, Charlotte and Anne were originally called Brunty. Their father, an Irish Anglican minister, changed his name and, to be flash, added the umlaut in tribute to Lord Nelson, named Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples to thank him for saving the kingdom from the pesky frogs. Bronte was a town in Sicily’s pistachio-growing country which, ahem, the Rev Brunty never actually visited.


A Biden v Trump two-horse race to the White House, eh? Not so fast. Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr (that’s son of, nephew of) is also running. The 70-year-old has caused a stir by confirming that NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota governor (and pro wrestler) Jesse Ventura were top of his vice presidential short list. Both have welcomed his overtures, says The New York Times.

*****

A former colleague and occasional contributor to this whimsy fest, who is about to pass a significant birthday milestone, tells me he will receive a gift from the Department for Work and Pensions: a 25p a week ‘Age Addition’ increase in his state pension. It won’t change me, he says.

*****

Our favourite Hibernian has been contributing to a Facebook chat with others of Erin ethnicity about the merits of Holyhead, the Welsh ferry port that’s Gateway to Ireland. None has been complimentary.  ‘The town’s always been a shithole,’ avers our scribbler. Another critic recalls: ‘Years ago I saw a man leading a horse on to a train at Holyhead. I really did.’

*****

Now it’s Donald Trump, sneaker super salesman. The presidential hopeful has launched a $399 Trump-branded trainer. The so-called Never Surrender footwear, emblazoned with a capital T on the sides, sold out its limited 1,000-pair run in less than a day. Mind you, Trump, fined $354.9 million by a New York judge for lying about his wealth, needs all the readies he can get.

*****

Gen Z may be stubbing out fags but they are turning to pipes, cigars and cigarillos in record numbers, University College of London research reveals. Over the past decade there has been ‘a five-fold increase in non-cigarette smoking’ fuelled by the 18 to 24-year-olds.

****

They’re calling it The Great Gum Slump. America’s iconic habit of chewing gum is fading. Sales rose less than 1% last year, down 32% from 2018. Internationally, it’s much the same story. Covid started a decline so precipitous that some manufacturers have gone out of business.

*****

Wordsmiths of the world, unite! Among the many terms on US dictionary Merriam-Webster’s list of beautifully useless words are abirritate, fleshment, barbermonger and spanghew. What do they mean? You look it up: I can’t do everything.

*****

Dating apps? Sooo passé. Now it’s back to speed dating, says The Washington Post. A website called Shuffle offers a modern take: people pay $25 to spend 10 minutes each with a selection of possible matches then record which dates interest them. Next day they learn ‘whether any prospects return their interest’. Who said romance was dead?

*****

Cruz Beckham might be the only Posh/Becks progeny to outshine his parents, says the Telegraph. The 19-year-old is about to launch his debut album. It follows mum and dad hiring a ‘crack team of hit-makers’,  including a producer who has worked with Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran. Cruz has long been a pop wannabe: he appeared on stage with the Spice Gurls aged three and released a Christmas album at 11. And, if social media hints are to be believed, his album ‘might actually be good’.

*****

Here’s a sentence you might not have expected to read: the £ is outshining rival currencies, including the euro and the yen.  Eh? Sterling is the only major currency to rise against the $ this year, gaining 1.2% since January as the UK economy ‘holds up better than expected,’ says the pink ‘un.

Bank of America’s Athanasios Vamvakadis explains: ‘Suddenly, the UK looks more boring — and boring is good.’

*****

Caine’sCorner. The jockstrap is celebrating its 150th birthday. It was invented in 1874 to protect the Crown Jewels of Boston’s bicycle messengers riding on bumpy, cobblestone streets. NMPKT

*****

At least 12 fans, among dozens treated for frostbite at an NFL game in Kansas City, had to have fingers or toes amputated. The temperature for the playoff clash in January between Miami Dolphins and the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Kansas City Chiefs, was -20C (windchill-33C). Coldest game in NFL history was in Wisconsin in 1967: -25C (windchill-44C)*****

PleaseSayIt’sBollocks. Hadrian’s Wall has just been declared a ‘gay icon’ by English Heritage. For those who don’t dabble in that milieu it may be a surprise but Paul Clements, former editor of Pink Paper, says it’s part of a long tradition: ‘We had great fun declaring that a new breakfast cereal or the game of rounders was a queer icon. But even I draw a line somewhere: a sandstone wall isn’t quite the gay day out English Heritage imagines.’

*****


GOSS ARCHIVE