Breaking News: Bank Customers Lose Confidence “In Everything” 

The recent financial distress of the Northern Rock bank has had a massively detrimental effect confidence, experts have concluded. It seems that this is not constrained to money matters: many people have lost faith in practically every aspect of their lives.

The trouble began last Friday, when Northern Rock announced it had received emergency loans from the UK central bank, as it was temporarily struggling to access cash following the credit crunch last month. Savers responded immediately to news that Northern Rock was short of available cash by asking for all their cash back. Falling confidence in the operations of the bank caused many to question other taken-for-granted areas.

Agriculture was the first to be affected – most farmers and gardeners have dug up all their seeds over the weekend. “We’re supposed to trust the soil to keep our seeds safe and turn them into food? It’s too much of a risk – we might never see them again,” said one gardener, hacking into the ground with a spade. On Monday morning, parents were seen queueing outside of schools, hoping to retrieve their children from the public education system. “The whole system could fall apart at any time,” one concerned parent told Breaking News, as she hacked into the school walls with a spade.

Most concerning has been the dramatic fall in self-confidence. The government has issued strong statements of support, telling everyone that they are really good, but so far these have mainly been disregarded. “How can the government be so sure that we are really good? I, for one, don’t feel like I can trust myself right now – I feel like I’m going to make a stupid, rash decision at almost any moment,” said Martin Trunkett, a Northern Rock customer who was queuing up to close his account. An interesting side-effect of this event has been the increased attendance at churches – the Anglican faith in particular has a long tradition of providing support to people who don’t want to believe in anything any more.

Thankfully, the panic in the north of the country has yet to reach the south, where people are more sophisticated and drink mocha lattes. Slight cracks in this outlook were seen earlier today, however, when one person’s coffee cup was accidentally hacked into with a spade.


The World Explained #9: Bees…Explained 

There are more questions in this world than answers. Sometimes, the sheer weight of all the questions attached to one answer becomes too much, and they fall off, drifting away into the atmosphere where they build up a layer of uncertainty which traps heat and may well be contributing to rising global temperatures. Scientists have told governments that in order to avoid long term damage to the planet, we need to think of new solutions. To this end, Project Brainstorm presents The World Explained, a column packed with answers to those Earth burning questions. Today, we look at bees.

When most people think about bees, they immediately conjure this image of a flying insect with yellow and black fur that makes a buzzing noise and produces honey. This is accurate, and reflects the extent to which people study bees at university. Many textbooks will suggest there are many species of bee, and give them different names – bumblebee, honeybee, spellingbee, and so on. In fact, all bees are the same. Arguing otherwise would be akin to saying black men are a different species to tall men.

Certainly, the role of the bee in the production of honey is well documented. Bees fly from flower to flower, usually in that order, and collect pollen, which they take home and fix into a scrapbook or album. Honey is made when the pollen combines with the paper adhesive. Collecting pollen is the most popular leisure activity of the bee, and some honey collections are very valuable – top collectors have samples that date back to historical times. Unfortunately, because of the economic prospects of the bee, many have to sell their collections to beekeepers. As this is a very upsetting process for bees, sympathetic beekeepers will often dress up as Stormtroopers to raise their spirits – Star Wars is the favourite movie of bees, who provided voice-over for the light sabres.

The coat of a bee used to be highly fashionable commodity, not only for its distinctive colour, but also because it came already with zips. The plight of bees has improved greatly since the early 1990s, when bee hunting was first made ridiculous and then, two years later, illegal. Bee hunters were only allowed to search for their quarry in designated bee reserves, which were usually located inside saunas, and had to sing Depeche Mode songs non-stop throughout. This practice was stopped when two inexperienced bee hunting apprentices were killed in successive months due to these extreme conditions: the first was found dehydrated and shrivelled in the sauna, looking for an off-switch; the second accidentally choked to death on a bit of a Depeche Mode lyric that got caught in his throat.

The importance of bees throughout British history cannot be underthought. For instance, the term ‘Beefeaters’ apparently comes from the traditional meal given to Yeomen of the Guards, and reflects their regular culinary habits. In these more enlightened times, however, most people think it is cruel to serve up the feet of a bee, which are needed as part of the bee’s distinctive walking style. Today’s Guards tend to prefer a more ethical bee foot substitute that, while similar in appearance and texture, is made of young cows.

It is hoped that this has been useful and that the reader will be motivated to learn even more about bees. We do ask you to do this responsibly, so as to help Europe meet its target of being question-neutral by 2020. Every question requires at least one answer, or possibly more if the answer comes from someone who speaks in broad generalisations, such as a religious leader.