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• A GROUP of Japanese Transport officials are receiving stand-up comedy lessons in attempt to improve their ability to speak to clients.
What a waste. Why didn’t they just send them to Blighty, where politicians have had the country in hysterics (if you can’t cry, you might as well laugh) for months now?
Claiming taxpayers’ money for moat repairs was a beautiful tribute to the comic height of Monty Python.
And Gordon Brown’s subsequent handling of the palaver recalls Frank Spencer at his best. And the fact that Dave ‘Trendy’ Cameron’s delightfully manicured fingers are wrapping slightly more tighter around the sceptre of power really is the piece de la resistance.
Back to Japan though. More than 100 transport ministry officials in their 20s got tips this week from professional comedians as part of training in communication skills.
“By experiencing comedy routines, we hope they can learn more about how to speak to clients and how to manage their staff as they begin to have more management responsibility,” said Atsuya Kawada, deputy director of the ministry’s personnel division.

• FLYING is grim at the best of times (ed – don’t worry, we’re not doing any Air France jokes).
What was a luxury experience decades ago has turned into an airborne Tube trip, complete with looming Deep Vein Thrombosis, chipper air stewards and recirculated arse air.
Generally, the best and most employed coping mechanism is a copious dose of red wine and the safe retreat of several iPod playlists.
And that’s just for one or two long hauls.
Spare a thought for the American comedian Mark Malkoff who has decided to tackle his fear of flying head on.
“A lot of people have a fear of flying, including myself. I have been trying to get over my fear for a long time. So what I am going to do is stay on a commercial airplane for an entire month,” Malkoff says in a video on his website.
He is going to fly back and forth on budget airliner Airtran flights.
Don’t know how he is going to wash himself, or, if he is at all.
You can follow his mad journey on his website: www.markonairtran.com.

• DEATH: it’s not great is it? It hangs over our heads like a sword of Damocles.
Who is to say for example that you won’t die today in some type of horrible accident?
Not us certainly. You could be killed by a bus, murdered and cut up and buried in a forest, or maybe you’ll just have one of those fits, shit yourself and quietly slip into the nether. It’s all possible.
You’d hope that you’re dealt with compassionately after your passing – a few nice speeches, some triangular sandwiches at the reception, that sort of thing.
What you would not hope for is for your legs to be chopped of so that your body fits into the coffin.
Unfortunately, that’s what happened to James Hines of California.
An employee of Cave Funeral Home used an electric saw to remove Mr Hines’ legs from mid-calf and placed them inside the coffin. His family were a bit upset.
Mr Hines’ wife, Ann, said she heard rumours about his legs soon after he was buried in October 2004.
She said Cave Funeral Home agreed to settle outside of court, but the workers never apologised.

• NOWADAYS, more and more people are waiting until their thirties to get married or have children.
Not Desmond Hatchett though.
The 29-year-old Tenessee man has got a round a bit, to say the least. He has 21 children, with 11 different women.
The prolific procreator was taken to court recently for failing to make child support payments.
“The children can’t all be supported by Desmond, so the state of Tennessee has had to step in,” said his lawyer.
The residents of Knoxville, where Hatchett also lives, are so sick and tired of his antics that they have called for him to be castrated.
All in all, a well-adjusted town then.
Hatchett’s defence for his out of control bad fathering and shagging was that ‘it just happened’.
Well, it ‘just happened’ 21 times. A couple of indiscretions might be put down to bad luck.
A total of 21 occasions suggests the brain capacity of a lobotomised Paris Hilton.