Barbara Windsor’s Death Highlights “Urgent Need” For Real Props at the BBC‏

            People are expressing disbelief over the sudden death of Barbara Windsor, killed by an Islamist faction in the BBC canteen as she tried unsuccessfully to rescue Alan Titchmarsh, Len Goodman, Cheryl Tweedy-Cole, Adam Hart-Davis, Fearne Cotton and Sir Terry Wogan, among others, from a hostage crisis that escalated into a murder-suicide bombing late yesterday afternoon.

            When close friend Kelly Brook was asked to comment, she claimed that the radicalisation of young Muslims was certainly a problem. Brook is shocked at the scale of the carnage. She admitted that only a fortnight ago she had been sharing a plate of lasagne with Windsor in the very dining hall where at least fifteen household names, and a further thirty well-known faces, yesterday lost their lives. The deaths occurred after an extremist group, who had been expected to appear on BBC’s Newsnight later in the evening, chose instead to take control of the canteen in BBC’s London studios to protest their inability to “kill our own wives in a so-called free society”. Windsor, famed for playing no-nonsense matriarch Peggy Mitchell on the BBC’s flagship soap until last year, was the perfect candidate to thwart the misogynistic extremists. She tried to prevent an atrocity by initiating a shootout with the gunmen that could have succeeded were it not for the “dud” weapons that she had borrowed.

            “Barbara was so full of life, and so full of ideas. And you could tell her anything,” Brook admitted. “While we were eating that plate of lasagne two weeks ago, I very discreetly asked her if she had a spare tampon, and she looked at me with those bright, helpful eyes, and she suggested that I try the Props Department.”

            Unfortunately, the sanitary towel Brook eventually sourced from the BBC’s Properties office failed to function effectively, resulting in the “blood gate” incidents experienced by Brook and her three fellow guests, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Sean “Puffy” Combs, on a recent edition of Graham Norton’s chat show. The show, which is recorded on Tuesday before an audience, had a number of glaring continuity errors, with all four celebrities showing large red stains on the seats of their trousers or skirts at various points during the programme. The couch itself is the place that most of Brook’s menstrual effluence was unwittingly deposited.

            Further problems with BBC properties were tragically highlighted yesterday when the late Windsor turned up in the canteen to rescue work colleagues from the terrorist madmen. Windsor was armed with an AK-47 and an Uzi, both taken from BBC Properties. Although she had ample opportunity to kill all five Islamo-fascists, neither of her weapons discharged properly as both were made entirely out of rubber. Windsor, 72, gamely shouted “Bang! Bang!” on realising that the guns didn’t fire, but the fundamentalists weren’t fooled. She was mortally wounded and fell to her knees in the middle of the canteen, her iconic breasts riddled in a hail of bullets, before making the ultimate sacrifice, throwing herself atop a detonator plunger box connected to C4 charges* placed throughout the canteen by the Islamist group. The explosion ended the hostage crisis, with the emergency services only deeming it safe to enter the building when they saw Norton, at first unrecognisable wearing fellow Irishman Terry Wogan’s wig, struggling to emerge from the bombsite with Ben Elton’s leg in his hands, shouting for medical assistance.

An inanimate representation of Windsor, ironically striking a pose similar to the one she herself took moments before she became inanimate, in yesterday's Islamo-fascist murder suicide bombing at the BBC's London headquarters. Photo courtesy Karen Roe

            Brook, meanwhile, has recently been spotted partying with former boyfriend Billy Zane. Rumours that the pair are reconciled have not yet been confirmed.

*C4 charges are in no way related to the Channel Four television network.

The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum at Custom House Quay Dublin

“One hundred and sixty years ago, we were a broken land,
Phytophthora, phytophthora, phytophthora infestans…”

I just made those lines up, but phytophthora infestans is the name for the potato blight that wreaked havoc across the island of Ireland in the late 1840s. Given that the potato was the staple of the Irish peasant’s diet, the result was starvation and disease resulting in death for at least a million people. I’ve read somewhere that the kind of spud farmed in Ireland at the time was one of the most nutritious: Today’s taters won’t come close. It meant that the rural Irish diet was said to be better than that of the typical European city dweller’s, even though that diet was far more varied. There are gardeners today planting seeds of this type of potato in allotments, but you won’t find it in the supermarket or the fruit & veg store.

Anyhoo, the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship is a replica of a cargo vessel that delivered the Irish trans-Atlantic from their broken land to North America. The vessels transporting their human freight earned the nickname “coffin ships”. There was a lot of disease and death on the overcrowded ocean crossers, but – as you will learn on a tour of the museum ship on Custom House Quay – the original Jeanie Johnston had an unblemished record, with no deaths onboard either during or after the Famine. She had a competent doctor about whom you’ll learn quite a bit, and the ship’s captain was an aberration at the time: A humanitarian who encouraged his steerage class passengers to – among other things – leave the hellishly overcrowded hold and get a bit of fresh air every day.

On the tour, you get an idea of the cramped conditions on many of these ships a century and a half ago. It’s an interesting hour or so, and there’s plenty of detail specific to the Jeanie Johnston you’re unlikely to glean from the history books. So check it out!