BORIS Johnson earned his journalistic spurs writing fantastical stories about the EU, much to the delight of the spluttering Majors and permanently indignant schoolmarms among the paper’s venerable readership.

The straightening of bendy bananas, the banning of London double-decker buses and the downward standardisation of European condoms to suit smaller Italian penises were among the regulatory obscenities that Brussels was to inflict on Merrie Englande – nonsense, of course, but not total nonsense as the best journalistic nonsense is always built on a platform, either of sand or cardboard.

‘Abnormal curvature’ of bananas is discouraged in EU regulations, but so is abnormal shaping of a range of fruits, which is why they all look exactly the same in the shops – and bendy bananas have never gone away.  And there was indeed a move to standardise condom sizes, but within a template encompassing the entire range of male endowment and without reference to Italian men; oh, and the group responsible for the work had nothing to do with the EU. 

Sammy ‘Sausages’ Wilson did a Boris at the weekend, and the Belfast Telegraph was happy to play the Daily Telegraph in giving the light of day to Sammy’s entertaining but utterly vacuous assault on the preposterousness of the EU.

‘Sticky situation: Disbelief at EU’s plan to rebrand jam as marmalade in Brexit reforms’, read the headline.

Story précis: Jam in loyal Ulster is to be renamed ‘marmalade’ in ‘EU-derived reforms’ in a move East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson branded ‘madness’.

EU-derived reforms? thought Squinter on reading the story. There’s a distinctly odd turn of phrase. Why not just EU reforms? The answer quickly coming when Squinter remembered that the EU no longer has any power to effect reforms in (most of) the UK.

And so, far from being the ‘EU’s plan’, here's the reality: The British Government could, if it wanted to, carry out its promise of a “bonfire of EU regulations”, but reality has bitten and it has realised that it’s much easier – in terms of time, resources and cost – to simply cut and paste EU regulations into British law. The ‘EU Breakfast Directive’ – which lays down certain rules in relation to honey, fruit juices, jams and marmalades, coffee and chicory, and so on – is one of hundreds such cut and paste jobs. Trouble is, the EU is updating its Breakfast Directive and the Brits are torn on whether to copy the update or ignore it.

“This is just a good example of the kind of madness we expected to be free from when we left the EU,” Sammy told the Tele. The “madness” that Sammy refers to is the substitution of the words ‘marmellata’ (Italian), ‘marmalade’ (German) and ‘mermelada’ (Spanish) for jam. But the words ‘marmellata’, ‘marmalade’ and ‘mermelata’ mean jam in Italian, German and Spanish. And so Sammy’s terrified that the Italians, Germans and Spanish are going to start calling jam jam.

British ministers considering the mooted EU Breakfast Directive update could throw it in the bin tomorrow, but they are reluctant to do so because it’s in their interests to allow the EU to keep doing certain regulatory labours for them for free. However, the update will apply in the North because of the Windsor Framework, brought to us – altogether now! – by Brexit, which was brought to us – altogether now! – by Sammy’s party, the DUP. A Windsor Framework which was co-scripted and signed by – altogether now – the Brits. Who are now calling the EU all sorts of horrible names for calling jam jam and drawing up amendments to their own regulations which London is free to ignore but which London agreed will apply in This Here Pravince.

Brussels, eh? Drawing up poxy rules of their own which we might steal for convenience sake, a copy of which we placed on the twitching body of the DUP as it lay under the bus we threw them under. 

Bloody foreigners.

Who needs a toy when you’ve an XL bully?

XL bully

XL bully

DELVING deeper into the mystery that is the XL bully dog (above), Squinter learns that the fearsome creature is not recognised by the Royal Kennel Club – the foremost dog breeders’ association in the United Kingdom, which is on the cusp of banning the breed.
And because not a single XL bully is registered in the UK, authorities have literally no idea how many there are. But given the spat of horrifying attacks – some of them deadly – in recent weeks, it’s a fair bet that there’s more than a few.

The derivation of the breed is rather a confused one, but what most experts (ie the internet) agree on is that the template for the dog was the Staffordshire bull terrier and the first XL bully was seen in the 1980s when the bog-standard Staffy was cross-bred with a number of other breeds to produce a beast that could perform well in canine strength competitions, notably weight pulling. This ‘sport’ involves mutts pulling carts or sleds laden with weights, and as a low centre of gravity and heavy musculature were desirable, breeds that were joined with the Staffy included the pit bull, bull terrier and bullmastiff. Going by the some of the pictures Squinter’s seen in the past few weeks it appears a rhino or a hippo – or both – were at some point thrown into the mix.

While we know there are no reliable statistics on how many XL bullies there are in the UK, we do know that the breed – or close variations of it – has been responsible for 70 per cent of the deaths caused by dog attack in the past two years. Squinter can’t claim to have a degree in zoology, but he’ll go out on a limb here and say that means that XL bullies are a big problem. As fear of the ‘devil dogs’ increases in direct relation to the amount of terrifying stories and videos we’ve been exposed to lately, so we’ve seen a fair amount of ‘dog lovers’ spring to the defence of not only the bully, but their owners.

That defence takes two forms:

•There are no problem dogs, only problem owners.

• XL bullies are in fact wee dotes and they’re great with kids.

The first argument – like most nonsense arguments – has a scintilla of truth. When Squinter’s having a sandwich on the towpath and a big slabbery labrador with no lead wanders over to sniff his sandwich, that’s not the dog’s fault – that’s the fault of the owner who lets it roam free, because dogs follow scents. And if you step in a dog turd while you’re out for a dander, that’s the fault of the owner who doesn’t pick it up, because dogs are trained to take a dump outdoors.  But when a dog takes down an adult male and rips his throat out, that happens because the animal is trained to pull a ton dead-weight and has a pounds-per-square-inch-bite of a saltwater crocodile. And if a beast like that decides to go after somebody, it’s going to do it, whether it’s restrained or not, hence the number of attack videos that feature berserk XL bullies trailing leads behind them.

But the ‘great with kids’ argument has no truth to it – scintilla-sized or otherwise –  because if you have an animal in the house that could rip apart your washing machine if it felt like it, the case for letting it snuggle up on the settee with with the wee ones becomes a rather questionable one.

– Two weeks to go now, love. Look at the size of you!

– I know, it’s so exciting. A little girl of our own – just what we’ve always wanted.

– Why don’t we get her a dog? I’ve heard a lot about how protective and affectionate dogs are.

– What a great idea. It can snuggle up to the baby, play with her when she’s a toddler, go for walks with her when she gets older…

– How about a Labradoodle?

– What’s that?

– A mixture of Labrador and poodle. Gorgeous. Big dote of a dog.

– They shed hair like crazy, don’t they?

– What about a wee shi-tzu? Dead easy to maintain, lovable as anything.

– I hate those handbag dogs.

– A spaniel? Big floppy ears, daft as a brush, full of love and energy.

– You need to walk those things 20 miles a day, don’t you?

– I’ve got it – what about an XL bully?
– I don’t know anything about that one.

– Head the size of a space hopper, teeth like a great white, built like a brick shithouse.

– Sounds perfect!