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Home > Culture and Society

Prime suspects

15 July 2005

By Wednesday the country was ‘aghast’ at the probability that the bombers were not, as Mail readers had been hoping, illegal immigrants, but likely as not four ‘ordinary lads’ from West Yorkshire. Now such alert yet small-minded citizens hoping to avert any fresh tragedy are having to put aside their long-held prejudices with a sigh, and reprogramme their inner radar according to new stereotypical profiles. Glaring openly at meek olive-skinned men with beards and rucksacks will no longer be de rigeur – instead, prepare to get quietly hostile and reach for the nearest alarm when you come face to face with the real well-could-be you-never-know perps’n’traitors.


1) The bombers were apparently from the suburbs of Leeds. Listen out for flattened vowels, look out for flattened caps, and beware of unusually pristine-looking hand-raised pigeons. Such pigeons may blend in almost unnoticeably with the London natives, but may be stuffed full of Alka-Seltzer and ready to explode at any minute.

2) One suspect was said to be a 22-year-old sports science graduate. Look out for pissed-off ex-students upon whom the realisation is slowly dawning that although they know more than most people about tendons, they’ve just got themselves into huge debt for no actual advantage over other job-seekers, resulting in motivation enough to blow themselves, and as many non-graduates with good jobs as possible, to smithereens.

3) This same suspect was said to ‘love football and cricket’. We always suspected it – people who like sport are mad and dangerous. If you see a large gathering of people in a sports ground, pub or park, chanting eerie incomprehensible calls to arms, phone the police. Look out for men with the distinctive physical attributes of beer bellies, slack jaws and rampant sunburn (their religion dictates that protective sun lotion is for poofs). If you hear anyone discussing England’s form in the run up to the Ashes, punch them unconscious. It is your civic duty.

4) Another suspect, 19 years old, was described as being ‘off the rails’, but ‘suddenly changed and became devoutly religious’. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that being a teenage lout, breaking people’s windows and screaming at old people like in the Aphex Twin video for ‘Come To Daddy’ is in fact beneficial to society. If horrid children behave in an anti-social manner, spitting at you and kicking your shins, do not chastise them. Rather, smile indulgently and give them some sherbet. They may not know it, but they’re doing their bit for a safer Britain.

5) Remember – the only way to be sure that you do not miss anyone suspicious is to be suspicious of everyone. Even yourself. The next time someone asks you if you packed your bag yourself, reply: ‘Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bomb in it, does it? I might have packed the bomb myself and could still answer truthfully that yes, I packed the bag myself. Just my say-so doesn’t prove anything. Nor does my passport – terrorists still have identities, you know, and most of them don’t even have any prior convictions before they embark on their final mission. I might not even know I’ve packed a bomb, I might have been under hypnosis at the time. I demand that you detain me just in case.’

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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