Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Thursday 28 February 2013

FOR SALE: One Pontiff, barely used.

THE POPE walked into the JobCentre.

Everyone ignored him, which was unusual. Two women were shouting at each other, lots of people looked worried and sad, and a man with an unhappy Staffordshire bull terrier just stared.

The Pope stood there for a bit, and when he realised a cardinal was not going to help said to the man with the terrier: "I would like to see someone."

The man with the terrier pointed with his head at a machine dispensing numbers on bits of paper but said nothing.

The Pope took a number. It had slightly too many sixes in it. He sat down.

Three hours later, the Pope had learned lots of new swear words and overheard things which made him think the British welfare state was rather slower and poorer than he'd been led to believe. His number was called, and he went over to a desk and sat down.

A woman tapping at a computer threw him a clipboard without glancing in his direction. "Fill that in," she said, pointing at a form.

The Pope used a biro tied to the clipboard with a chain and handed the clipboard back. The woman read the form.

"Are you taking the piss?"

"I'm sorry?"


"Is there something wrong?"


"Yes. I am fluent in German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Portugese and Latin, and I can read Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew. Also, I am not deaf."

"And which of those languages did you fill the form out in?"

"Oh. Latin. Sorry, force of habit."

The woman sighed and tapped at her computer. "You're down here as... Mr Joseph Ratzinger, yes?"

"Oh I'm known as Benny these days."

"I'll need proof of your change of name to update our system. Please send two forms of ID to this office, passport and driving licence normally do."

"Oh. I don't think I have any of those."

"Well you'll have to stay as you are then. Now, how can I help you, Joe?"

"I need a job."

"Everyone here needs a job. Haven't you retired, you're what..." more tapping... "...85 years old."

"Well sort of, and I was expecting a nice retirement home with some cardinals to look after me and my every need catered for, but it turns out my pension was all put in RBS rather than British Gas as I'd hoped."

"If you need an emergency loan I can give you the number of a call centre it will take you two weeks to get through to, and details of some online forms you will need to devote a few days to downloading, filling out by hand and putting in the post."

"Is that your idea of an emergency? Anyway, I don't really like the internet."

"It's an important skill to have in the current jobs market. So. What are your skills?"

"I'm good at languages."

"We don't have jobs for air stewards at the moment. Anything else?"

"Oh, shame. I led an organisation with about 417,000 employees and 1.16billion customers, daily increased by a growth strategy which involved banning them from using contraception or being gay. We had revenue of over $355million a year, have 177million hectares of land around the world, and own 15 per cent of all shares traded on the Italian stock exchange."

"And you were the boss of all that."

"Oh no. I was just picked by the boss to run it day-to-day. I had a car, though, and a nice hat."

"I'll put you down as 'line manager'. Did you enjoy it?"

"Sometimes the sun shone, there was a gentle breeze and an abundance of fish, but there were times when the sea was rough and the wind against us, and the boss seemed to be sleeping."

"Oooookay, well, let's look at our current vacancies and see what might suit. There's nothing in fisheries I'm afraid. Um, they're looking for a replacement for Tulisa on the X Factor. It'd be between you and Robbie Williams. Fancy that?"

"I'm always happy to replace a female boss, but the big man's told me to steer clear of that Cowell chap. He fell, apparently."

"Well, how about being the new leader of the Liberal Democrats? It's a much smaller organisation of course but they've got a strange sort of sex scandal and perhaps an older, dignified and experienced man like you could sort it out for them."

"Oh. Oh dear. Well, I'm not very experienced at that sort of thing. And besides there was a bit of a sex scandal at my last place too."

"Really? What happened?"

"Absolutely nothing. What's the next vacancy?"

"They need a new MP for Eastleigh. The last one was a millionaire adulterer who liked bisexuals and driving too fast, and disliked admitting things. You're probably over-qualified for that one. How about looking after a lovely young couple's new baby? They'll need a nanny come July."

"I'm not qualified to work with children. Anything else?"

"I've another vacancy here, it doesn't have much of a description. It just says 'would you like to f*** Jason Manford?'


"I'll take that as a 'no'. We're not doing very well, are we? OK, last one. Someone's looking for two people, preferably a couple, to go to Mars on a 16 month space mission. You'll be living in a tin can and sharing a very complicated toilet."

"Hmm. I'll ask Keith. He probably wants to go away for a bit."

"Well that's the last I've got I'm afraid. There might be a job coming up at the Treasury soon, your financial experience might come in useful there, but they haven't got round to making the necessary redundancies yet."

"Oh. Well I'm afraid that despite my organisation's vast wealth and massive customer base we often ran at a loss. Our investments failed to return what we thought, we spent twice as much as we earned last year, and we suffered the effects of the global financial crisis like everyone else. There were dodgy dealings and accounts shrouded in secrecy, too many bureaucrats, and after eight years in charge I left it in a worse financial state than when I'd found it."

The woman rolled her eyes. "Well, why didn't you say? We can get you in at the Royal Bank of Scotland, no problem! They love that sort of thing. You'll even get a bonus."

"Really? Keith will be pleased. Is there a hat?"

"You won't like what they do to the hats."

"If they'll have me, I'm in."