Operation Worst Kept Secret

Recently, there’s been quite a bit of hubbub around what will happen when that kindly old lady in the big house in London decides to shuffle off and be Queen of the afterlife. However, that being said, there will be many queens in the afterlife, so many queens that not even RuPaul could wrangle them, and competition for her to be supreme Queen of the afterlife will be tough.

Plans for the Queen Elizabeth’s funeral sound awfully bombastic and expensive, but hey, that’s the royal family for you. But that being said, when I die, I just hope I’ll be trim enough to be thrown in the bin, who cares, I’ll be dead, can’t smell things when you’re dead.

But the one thing that really stuck past the words ‘bank holiday’ is the secret phrase officials will be using to secretly signal that the Queen is secretly dead. In order to keep the news of Madge’s majestic mortality on the hush hush until an official announcement is made via a series of emojis and an on-trend meme, Palace officials will say that “London Bridge has fallen”.

Now, this code phrase is secret for a reason, so that royal switchboard operators and filthy serfs are unaware that the Queen has died, and we’re not supposed to know about this secret phrase, because obviously, being the smart buggers we are, we’ll know that the Queen is dead. That, or London Bridge has fallen, and the open top bus tour around London just got a hell of a lot shorter.

Can you image if the Queen died and London Bridge fell down on the same day? It’d be chaos and before we know it, pallbearers are carrying a giant bridge past crowds of mourners down the fucking Mall and we’ve got the builders in to assess the damage to the Queen, working hard to erect her.

However, if “London Bridge has fallen” is the secret code phrase, then it’s not a secret any more, is it? A secret, to most people, is well, a secret. It’s something that the general public or certain people aren’t meant to know? Your PIN code? Secret. Your Twitter password? Secret. Your browsing history? Oh boy, that’s a big ol’ secret. For all we know, this could be a dummy phrase and the real secret phrase to announce the Queen’s passing is something so ridiculous that not even Donald Trump could conceptualise it, and he believe that his microwave is spying on him and the toaster’s been laughing at him. Sad!

But if we now all know the secret phrase, then I’m sorry, but you’ve royally fucked up there. The whole point of a secret is that you’re meant to keep it. The worst kept secret in London isn’t some weird artisanal pub with beers that people pretend to like, it’s now the phrase to keep the passing of our head of pissing state on the down low. Not that we really have a state any more, Norn Iron wants to get back with its ex, Scotland wants to understandably deny our existence and Wales is just really here because it’s got nowhere to go, but anyway, head of state.

Make the plans for the Queen’s funeral public by all means, because it was genuinely interesting to read the sheer amount of work that’s going to go on behind the scenes to make sure that Mrs Queen gets a proper send off after successfully being the Queen for so many years. A lot of it sounds quite pompous, old fashioned and downright confusing, a bit like Boris Johnson, and much like Boris Johnson, you really have to question if we really need it all.

Maybe we need all this to slowly come to terms with the fact that the Queen, a solidly reliable monarch has made way for Charles, a man who strikes you that if you asked Rowan Atkinson to play the King in a film, he’d come up with Charles.That man will soon be the King of however many countries still want to be friends with us. Chances are it won’t be a lot, but hey, you’re the King, dude! Have a wander round the palace, get some heads chopped off, sort the garden out, maybe stop for a beer along the way, it’s your country, buddy.

Back to the topic at hand, whoever was in charge of the code phrase has really screwed the pooch on this one. Literally, you had one job, and that was to make sure that us common idiots would have no idea the Queen had died because you were speaking in riddles. We’d have all dashed out of our hovels to check on London Bridge to make sure that it hadn’t fallen into the river, but now we’re smart, cunning peasents, who will know that the bridge is fine, the Queen is dead, and it was all a simple lampoon. You were lampooning us.

It’s like that website, secretescapes dot com. They’re not secret escapes because we all know about them, they’re regular escapes. Less Colditz, more whenever Coldplay come on the radio. Though, in mitigation, they did run with the slogan “The Worst Kept Secret in Luxury Travel”. They acknowledged their secret escapes weren’t so secret, and they secretively ran with the secret ball. Good on them, but still, shit idea, because the escapes weren’t secret. We should have received coded phonecalls about how the rooster had nested in St Moritz, all inclusively, instead of a widespread marketing campaign.

Maybe the codeword for the Queen should be some gubbins about “secretescapes.com”. Unwitting Palace switchboard operators will think that either the footman is looking for an all-inclusive in Malaga, or that he’s trying to get a city break sorted for ‘er maj for a few days. Just her and Phil, in Barcelona for a bit, few pints of Estrella, maybe a tour of the Nou Camp. Lovely.

But, in a world where the secret sauce that goes into Big Macs is still secret, and we still don’t know whether Barack Obama can hack into microwaves, one of the biggest secrets has been allowed to become common knowledge. It’s not exactly going to compromise the security of the nation, but for fuck’s sake, it’s the secret password. I bet everyone got into your clubhouse when you were younger because they all knew the password, you absolute dunderhead, even the Queen thinks you’re a twat.

Furthermore, who chose this codeword? Does the Queen get to choose it, and why would she decide to say “London Bridge has fallen”? Moreover, what is the codeword for Prince Philip, will the “wheels on the bus go round and round”? If the Queen got to choose her secret phrase, why didn’t she have a bit of fun with it. If were the Queen King, my code phrase would be “The King is fine and not dead at all” to really screw with people. They’d hear that I was fine and not dead, when in actual reality, I am very dead. Ha! Peasents.

That being said, in whichever guise, code phrase or discount holiday website it may take, Operation London Bridge sounds awfully cool. Instead of slowly, quietly and peacefully passing on into the next life, it sounds as if the Queen will rappel down the side of Buckingham Palace before speeding off in an Aston Martin with a gaggle of SAS soldiers in tow. Quite how a woman that’s 90 years old will be able to rappel down the side of a building and perform a j-turn in a high performance vehicle is another matter all together, but the principle of it remains the same, Operation London Bridge sounds slick as hell.

So, if at any point you hear on the down low that London Bridge has fallen down, fallen down, fallen down, do not rush to see an entire bridge floating down the Thames, because you will have been mislead by fake news.

 

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Jumping on the Banned Wagon

This weekend just gone, revelers, ravers and rapscallions attending the Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridgeshire were given the option to have their drugs tested for free.

Whilst all samples of drugs tested were destroyed afterwards, it gave festival goers and drug users a chance to see whether or not what they were taking was safe, or whether or not it was actually drugs. From the data supplied by The Loop, a community interest group, festival goers could see exactly what they’d bought, and make their mind up as to whether or not they wanted to take it.

Every year, around festival season, we see numerous stories about festival goers being found dead in tents, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out just how they died. Whilst overindulgence is always a problem when it comes to drugs, we hear every year about how someone died because they were sold dodgy drugs at a festival/house party/nightclub.

Whilst those of a Mail disposition will cluck their tongues and say they shouldn’t have been taking illegal drugs, it’s always going to happen. Legal or no, people will take drugs, and for the most part, that should be a safe experience. You can still die from drug use, alcohol included, but dropping down dead because you had a couple of dodgy pills shouldn’t be a factor.

Yes, long term drug use can cause you serious health problems, same as booze, coffee, and McDonalds, but I can double fist a Big Mac and a large Americano whilst thinking of a bottle of whiskey without repercussion.

But the real question is – do you know what you’re taking?

The black market & drug trade is hardly open to regulation, aside from a couple of burly coppers in Clarkson-esque jeans knocking down front doors at 6am, and the Cocaine Ombudsan sounds like one of Jez and Super Hans’ bands in Peep Show. So without anybody controlling what is and isn’t safe to go into your drugs, that little baggie you just bought could have anything in it.

Your cocaine could have rat poison in it and your pills could be pesticide, but how the bloody hell would you know unless you had them tested? You might well know who you bought it from, but I’ll bet you anything you’ve got no idea where it came from. Dealer’s aren’t exactly gunning for five stars on Feefo and to enhance the customer experience, they want fat wallets, by any means necessary.

I’m not trying to put a downer on your uppers here, by all means, take as many drugs as you want. I mean, just look at Keith Richards, for fuck’s sake! Plenty of people over the world have a whale of a time with a sack of whizz, but they’re one dodgy drug away from death.

The bad thing is when someone of the age of 16 drops down dead because some nasty bugger sold them a bag of dodgy pills. It’s a front page tragedy with subtle hints of villainisation for the deceased, police are quick to warn everybody that taking this certain pill can kill you, but it’s far too late. People die, people wind up in hospital but we’re back in the same position in a few months. Nobody knows what they’re taking and nobody with an iota of power seems bothered.

Critics are already quick to claim that testing drugs legitimises the use of them, but to those, so what?

Whilst drug use might not be the most legal thing in the world, people are doing drugs. Poor people are doing drugs, rich people are doing drugs, politicians are doing drugs, rockstars are doing drugs, and that makes it a Legitimate Thing indeed. Drugs are a thing, doing them a thing, and doing them safely is an Even Bigger Thing.

Testing lets you know what your drugs have been cut with, and also lets you know how potent it is. If you know that your bag of unnamed substance is strong enough to turn you into a human rocket, you might think it’s a good idea to do less. If you know that you’ve actually got a bag full of flour and rat poison, you’ll know that you’ve been royally mugged off – but you won’t get sick & die, and that’s a very good thing.

Despite the fact that buying, selling, doing and making drugs are illegal, it’s happening right now, and despite what the Home Office try to jam down your throat, it ain’t gonna stop any time soon. The chap next door’s sparked up a joint whilst watching Jeremy Kyle, and your mate is furiously trying to sort out something for the weekend. It’s happened for always going to happen, but nobody talks about it.

 

Drug use needs to become transparent. Whilst it’s doubtful that all drugs will be legalised, the use of them can be made safe. And although researching what you’re taking and testing to see it’s safe isn’t exactly the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll, it might be the difference between the time of your life or a Very Bad Time indeed.

I know you can’t quite imagine Keith Richards reading a pamphlet on heroin and sticking a sample in a test tube before shooting up, and Ozzy Osbourne tossing a silver platter of cocaine in the bin because it’s no good, but sod it, it’s safe.

Whilst you can’t expect former Home Secretary, Theresa “I Only Have a Small Sherry at Christmas” May, to give her blessing on widespread drug testing at festivals and clubs (and if you do, what’s in your fucking drugs?!), but volunteer . Speeding’s illegal and deadly, and we plow a few quid into campaigns to make sure people drive safely.

In an ideal world, you’d rock up, hand over a little bit of drugs to be tested, and make your own assumptions from what you’re told. No questions are asked as to who you are and where you got the drugs from, no further actions are required. If you’re found out by the sniffer dogs, stewards, bouncers and police officers beforehand or during, that’s some bad luck, or if it’s been cut with cyanide and talcum powder, it’s some good luck.

Informing drug users of the potential risks that come with taking drugs shouldn’t be a topic that’s swept under the mat. Forewarned is forearmed; if you know what you’re taking, what’s in what you’re taking, and what you’re taking will do to you, you’re in a much better position than the person next to you sticking baking soda up their nose. Maybe snorting baking soda isn’t dangerous, but you can buy it for less than £20 a gram.

Drug testing is already commonplace in Dutch and German nightclubs, and such practices should become the norm in Britain’s clubs, festivals and maybe even our homes. There’s a negative stigma around drug use, and in order for that stigma to go away, we need to make it transparent, we need to make it safe to do drugs. Criminalise it all you like, you won’t stop people from buying, selling, doing and making drugs, but you can make sure that nobody’s needlessly dying because of them.

But, until then, please enjoy responsibly.

Hello, it’s me

Ha ha ha, I’ve called my new blog Hand Shandy. That’s a euphemism for wank, which is what this glorious, syrupy user-generated content is going to be. Total pish.

“But Butler, why are you blogging again? You’re about as enticing and interesting as a prostate exam!” I hear you cry. And you’re very right to make that assertion, but if I hit that sweet spot, you’ll go off like an errant garden hose.

However, for whatever reason, only known to whatever benevolent force controls my arms and legs, I’ve decided to get back into the ropey old game of half-arsed op-eds and professional swearing. Whilst this blog may be about as sane and subtle as Theresa May’s nuclear strategy, it probably will result in fewer innocent casualties.

In this we’ll discuss a lot of topics, sticking to an infrequent and disjointed timetable, with six blogs in a week, then nothing for four months. It’s how it goes. It’s how it’s always gone, and as far as I’m aware, how it always will go.

But for now, I’ll be back soon, or not at all, to subject you to my opinions, which you don’t want, but you’re here anyway. What am I going to talk about? If I knew, I’d tell you. I can drive now, couldn’t do that before. I could review cars. It worked out quite well for Jeremy Clarkson, er, Chris Evans, er, Autocar magazine.

Lovingly yours,

Butler