Fog of War
[Posted 29th of March, 2003]
ANCHOR: ... and if you're just joining us, welcome to our rolling 24-hour coverage of the War in Iraq. And we're going now to a live shot from a camera in downtown Baghdad where the bombardment began several hours ago.
[Live feed of dark sky and streetlamps and passing cars, for all anyone can tell a shot of the M6 motorway from a Little Chef outside Preston]
ANCHOR: And I think we can talk to our man on the spot, Jack Integument, who witnessed the beginning of the Shock and Awe bombardment tonight.
REPORTER: Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! What am I doing here? I mean, what am I doing here? What was I thinking? My Dad told me to go into accountancy, did I listen, noooo. Why am I here? Why me? Why do you hate me? What did I do? Who do I have to fuck to get out of here?
ANCHOR: Well, it sounds as if Jack Integument isn't quite ready for us yet. Let's go instead to Tim Timpkins in Kuwait City. Tim, any further news on the mysterious noise rumoured to have been heard in the air over Kuwait?
REPORTER: It turned out to be a locust farting.
ANCHOR: Any thoughts on the significance of that? Are the locusts nervous? Do they know something?
REPORTER: If they do, they aren't talking.
ANCHOR: Thanks Tim. Let's go live now to Katy Sprightly in Wrexham. Katy, you're over 8000 miles from the front lines, what's the mood there?
REPORTER: Well, as you know the inhabitants of Wrexham spend most of their time praying for death, and there were hopes here that some stray Scuds or Cruise missiles might land and put them out of their misery, people loitering outside looking towards the sky hopefully, some swaying eerily and mumbling, 'Come, oblivion, come', but so far nothing. Who do I have to fuck to get out of here?
ANCHOR: Thanks Katy. Let's go now to Jeff Wombat in Damascus to try the gauge the reaction of the Arab Street to the start of hostilities. Jeff, what's the mood of the souk now the invasion has begun?
REPORTER: Cheery and imperturbable.
ANCHOR: That's interesting.
REPORTER: No, that was sarcasm. Actually they're dancing around and chanting and burning American flags and shouting things like 'We will rend you, you infidel dogs.'
ANCHOR: I suppose we had to expect that.
REPORTER: Duh. Who do I have to fuck to get your job?
ANCHOR: Jeff Wombat there, who is Jewish if there's anyone watching in Damascus. Well, let's talk now about what's going to be actually happening as the troops enter Iraq. First, though, let me remind you that you can e-mail or text-message your thoughts on the conflict to the address and numbers appearing at the bottom of the screen, and we'll be airing your views from time to time throughout the days ahead. And at the end of the first week you'll be able to phone in to vote for either Saddam or Tony Blair to be evicted. Now, Simon, what will actually be taking place now with the troops going in?
EXPERT [in front of screen with big map] : Well, some will be ferried in by helicopter
[Graphic of helicopter]
EXPERT: and some will be going in via troop-transports
[Graphic of lorry]
EXPERT: When they get there, of course, very often they will have to proceed by foot
[Graphic of foot. It has six toes.]
ANCHOR: Well I'm going to have to interrupt you there to just briefly, security forces all over the world of course on high alert for the possibility of retaliatory terrorist strikes, and there's an unconfirmed report just coming in that a giant metal crab has been spotted rampaging through the streets of Madrid pincering the heads off passersby, I must stress that at this point this remains an unconfirmed report
And we can go now to some footage of speeches made by various military leaders to rouse their troops before the invasion began
'And we few, we happy few...'
'Lock and load, boys, let's go make some widows.'
'G'day, mates, tinnies in Baghdad by Thursday I reckon, last one there's a Sheila.'
Danish submarine commander:
'Ours not to reason why. We go to death or Glory. Full speed ahead into the desert, midshipman.'
ANCHOR: Back to Baghdad now and Jack Integument
[Same shot of darkened Baghdad, or, again, the M6 motorway from the Preston Little Chef. A sound as of fireworks in the distance]
REPORTER: An accountant's life is not so bad. It is, at least, life, sweet sweet life.
ANCHOR: Snap out of it, timid journalist! The bombs are miles off, you wimp. For all the danger you're in you might as well be in a Little Chef on the M6. Let's go back instead to that film of Richard P. Yuperty riding on a tank with an American armoured brigade as they zoom through the Iraqi desert
REPORTER: IS THIS THE SHIT OR WHAT? HOW COOL IS THIS? MY DAD WANTED ME TO BECOME AN ACCOUNTANT! KISS MY ASS DAD! GOD SMILES ON RICHARD P YUPERTY
ANCHOR: That's the spirit. Let's go now to Clive Moomintroll in the Allied Command Headquarters. What's the situation there?
REPORTER: Well, I have to say that General Armitage is being rather unco-operative at times, refusing to show us his battle-map or his secret orders and so on, we're very much kept in the dark about some aspects of the operation
ANCHOR: The ghastly little man! What's his game?
REPORTER: I suspect he has been nobbled by a rival network. Here's an interview I filmed this afternoon which will give you some idea of what I have to put up with:
[The men's room of Allied HQ. Moomintroll intrepidly knocks on a closed cubicle door]
REPORTER: Can I come in?
GENERAL: Certainly not!
REPORTER: We were promised full access. Why are you being so coy?
GENERAL: Go away.
REPORTER: What have you got to hide? Are you poorly hung or something?
GENERAL: Not at all!
REPORTER: You seem to be pooing a lot. Nervous?
GENERAL: No! Go away please.
REPORTER: Are you skinning up, you shady bastard?
ANCHOR: Thanks Clive. Now, there've been reports of mass defections among the Iraqi conscript army and even the Republican Guard, and an unconfirmed report is coming in that Saddam Hussein's moustache has defected, I must stress that we don't have confirmation on that yet
'Reports coming in that the 11th Calvary Regiment are making swift progress...Calvary Regiment, what is that, is that like a mobile crucifixion unit?'
[Graphic of Iraqi soldier being crucified and question-mark]
'I think that's 'Cavalry', actually.'
ANCHOR: Any more information on the soldier who fell into a latrine trench?
REPORTER: Well, as far as the information we have now goes, it was a freak accident, he wasn't pushed as far as we can tell
ANCHOR: Are we going to be seeing a lot of this sort of thing? Is latrine safety going to be an important issue in this campaign?
EXPERT: Well, it's early days yet, and perhaps we shouldn't read too much into this. But one things is for sure which is that questions will be asked about the preparedness of the British troops for this sort of thing. I mean, by contrast, if you take the American armed forces, they are equipped with multi-million dollar mobile bathroom units which accompany the troops into battle complete with state-of-the-art robotic lavatories which pull the soldier's pants down for him and even wipe afterwards so that they can keep their hands free in case of a sneak attack.
ANCHOR: Well, we'll return to this later, but right now we have a fuller report on that acrimony at the EU dinner, according to eyewitnesses not only did Jacques Chirac refuse to pass the salt to Tony Blair, he turned to Gerhard Schroeder and said, 'Did you hear something? I thought I heard someone asking me for the salt but there's no-one there.' Blair eventually did get the salt but only after a last-minute intervention by Portugal
ANCHOR: Lolita Honeybunch?
LOLITA HONEYBUNCH, 14-YEAR-OLD POP STAR:
Well the kids and that.
For the children.
You can't drop bombs innit?
No blood for oil.
Sag off school and bring down Blair.
US HAWK: You goddam snivelling snot-punk. I'll rip your fucking lungs out, you communist. I'll rip off your head and -
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, I'd like to know if Miss Honeybunch can say 'No blood for Molybdenum', because some of us may fancy a pop at North Korea next and they don't have any oil, they have lead, silver and molybdenum and a fuck of a lot of statues of Kim Il Sung. So go on, you reductionist little cunt, say 'No blood for molybdenum'.
POP STAR: I want my Mum.
ANCHOR: Over now to Molly Bdenum in Waikiki
'...and there she blows. Ka-boom! They really blew the hell out of that...'
'...a strategy apparently based on a book which has become a Bible in military circles, 'Shock and Awe, or How To Effect Regime Change Over a Long Weekend'...'
ANCHOR: ...go now to Jeff Wombat in the Saddam Hussein mosque in Birmingham to get the reaction there to the progress of the war so far.
ANGRY MAN: Infidel dogs! We will rend you! A sea of blood will engulf your children! A pox upon your beard!
REPORTER: Boy. There's a surprise. Who knew.
ANCHOR: Silence, discontented stringer, we take nothing for granted here. Let's join Jack Integument in Baghdad after the latest night of bombing.
[Shot as before of black sky, cars and streetlamps]
REPORTER: All is eerily calm here, the calm before, and after, the storm. People go about their business fatalistically, stoically, but with an underlying expectation of doom. So far the bombs have been targeted with remarkably accuracy on Saddam's palaces and the apparatus of the Ba'ath party, and civilian injuries have been slight, but it can only be a matter of time before something goes astray and innocent civilians, or indeed journalists, are violently wrenched out of a life they find, with all its miseries, incredibly sweet. Jack Integument, nervous but resigned, in Baghdad.
NORTHERN ENGLISH VOICE: Egg and chips, love. Ooh, are you filming?
ANCHOR: What was that?
ANCHOR: Jack Integument, you bastard, where are you?
REPORTER: ...In a Little Chef on the M6 outside Preston.
ANCHOR: Return to Baghdad forthwith!
ANCHOR: Some people! Now, I'll read out a few e-mails we've been receiving giving your opinions on the war. Susan from Somerset says 'Why can't we all live in peace', Edward from Blackpool says 'Saddam must be overthrown', and Tina from Spunknet.com says 'Cum and watch me shave my pussy'...some sort of protest I assume...and a selection of your text messages will be scrolling past at the bottom of the screen...
we r ngaged n a clsh of cvlztions :) Mandy frm Stoke
th mltry-indstrl cmplx rns th wrld - trev
Tny jug-ear so-called Blr is a trchrous pmp - jacques frm Paris
Jhnny Irqi flded lk an accrdion in ww2 nd wll do so agn! - Mjr-Gnl Lance Twistelton-Beamount VC (Retd)
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY:
We must all
We must all
GRAND MULLAH OF LONDON:
We must all
Learn to live in peace
ARCHBISHOP: Ali, you Paki bastard, you came in late again.
'...And there's been an advance by British dragons on the Southern city of...wow, dragons, cool, no wonder we wanted these guys on board.'
'That's 'dragoons', Aaron.'
[Graphic of fire-breathing dragon crossed out]
'....amazing shot of a burned-out tank...we don't know where it is or how it was destroyed or whose it is...but it's somewhere in Iraq, I'm told, as opposed to, you know, frigging Hartlepool, and as you can see it's twisted, mangled...that's one fucked tank, all right...Major Fortescue?' 'Looks like a burned-out Morris Minor to me.' 'Ah. Well. We can go now to some quite amazing satellite footage of the top of George Bush's head as he gives a press conference in...Christ, is that a wire? What's that mark, there's some writing...Tandy?'
'Some quite amazing footage, coming in from CNN I think, of the American military vehicles racing across the Iraqi desert towards Baghdad...going at quite a clip, we can see tanks and trucks and, er... what appears to be an antique saloon car full of 1930s gangsters...' [Aside: 'Imbeciles! This is the cartoon channel! It's Wacky Races!' 'Stall. We don't have anything else.'] 'Errr...there we can see the distinctive lantern jaw of Colonel 'Dick' Dastardly and his subaltern Muttley, tearing past, er, Miss Penelope Pitstop of NBC News...for fuck's sake...'
'...some amazing footage from inside Clare Short's brain of her self-righteousness returning...'
'Well, that's specially manufactured Freedom Chocolate, it contains cocaine and has Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man printed on the wrapper, and they associate the one with the other...'
'We're joined now by Marianne Krantz, Style Editor of Elle Magazine, for an analysis of some of the fashion statements being made by the opposing sides. If I could first ask: Saddam has suddenly started wearing glasses. What's the significance of that?'
'Well, it's an avuncular look, he's trying to say to the world, I'm harmless, I'm an old man, I'm knackered, my rheumatism, don't bug me, I just want to be left alone and shuffle around the house in my slippers.'
'If we could turn to the US side, Donald Rumsfeld is looking well, isn't he? How does he achieve that grey cadaverous skin-tone?'
'Well, it's a preparation called 'Nosferatu' by Max Factor, it's basically a formaldehyde base with a - '
'I'm afraid we're going to have to leave this there for the time being. We've just received some quite remarkable footage from a camera mounted in the nose of a smart-bomb targeted on Saddam's bunker in Baghdad.'
BOMB: Is Saddam there?
GUARD: Who is it?
BOMB: It's, er, Pete.
BOMB: I mean Tariq. Come on, let me in.
GUARD: You're a smart-bomb.
BOMB: No, I'm, er, Tony Benn.
GUARD: Go away.
BOMB: Home and Bunker magazine?
GUARD: Piss off.
BOMB: Fuck it. [Zooms into old people's home and explodes]
[* Note to American readers - I honestly hadn't seen the Saturday Night Live 'Land Shark' sketch when I wrote the above - MK]
'...rumours abounding that Saddam may already have been killed in an early missile attack.' [Graphic of Saddam kicking a bucket, with question mark.] 'However there are of course numerous Saddam Hussein doubles. How are we going to know if we killed the right one? Or suppose you have a situation at the end of the war where we capture two of them, Saddam and an impersonator, and they both deny being him, which one do we put on trial?'
'Well - and I must underline that this is merely speculation - it's possible that the Allies may try the cat trick which James Bond used to unmask Blofeld in "Diamonds Are Forever".'
'Does Saddam have a cat?'
[Graphic of white fluffy evil-looking cat with question mark]
'No, but he is reliably reported to have a pet barracuda, Derek, that he feeds cats to. So you would throw it at the alleged Saddam, and if he's a double the barracuda will bite him, and if it's the real Saddam he will bite the barracuda.'
'What makes a man go into that line of work, doubling for Saddam?'
'Well, very often they started on the cabaret circuit, or the Iraqi equivalent of Stars In Their Eyes. I mean you have to bear in mind there are a lot of perks with the job, I mean, er, Saddam has had problems with it, actually, there are drawbacks. There have been situations where, for example, very often he will ring down for a sandwich, and the servant bringing it will meet one of the doubles and give him the sandwich, and the double will say, 'Oh, what a nice thought', and then later on, you know, Saddam will yell, 'Where the hell is my sandwich?' and the staff will say, 'I just gave it to you,' and he'll say, 'Idiot, that was a double, bring me a sandwich,' and again the servant will meet an impersonator and say 'Here's your sandwich' and the double will say, 'No thanks, I just had one' and then Saddam will say, 'What's the hold-up with the sandwich' and the servant will say, 'You just cancelled it' and so on. And then Saddam will get very angry and say, 'Look, I'm going to tie a piece of blue ribbon to my ear, you only give the sandwich to the person with ribbon on his ear, all right?' But sometimes a greedy and cunning double will overhear this, and he too will tie a ribbon to his ear, so then Saddam will wear a tartan golf hat to identify himself, but then the doubles will get wind of this and do likewise, and then...'
'We're going to have leave this there.'
[A bunker in Baghdad. A group of Iraqi leaders and a Saddam Double]
COLONEL: 'The worst has happened. The last bomb struck true. The Leader is incapacitated. He lies in a coma severely injured and may not survive. He was due to go on TV in two minutes to rally the nation. You must take his place.'
DOUBLE [Aside]: 'Five years in the shadows...five years as an understudy...And all the time yearning in my most secret heart for such a chance as this. And now it comes and I am almost unmanned. Do I dare seize the hour? ...Yes, I dare. Now I, Achmed Pfizer, am leader of Iraq, but no-one can ever know. I will not let them down. I will give such a speech as will rally our people to victory...how strange, the servant is become the man...ironic if I, a lowly human shield, should now become the new Saladin who will throw back the Infidel hordes...' [Aloud:] 'Come, Gennlemun, we 'ave 'eestury to moiiiiik.'
'What the frig??'
'What the hell was that? What's with your voice?'
'Moy voiiiiis? Wut is wrung wif moy voiiiis?'
'What are those sounds you're making? Talk properly, fool.'
'Oi ayym talking prupperleee.'
'You've got some terrible rural accent...and your voice is reedy, high-pitched...you sound nothing like The Leader...the people will think he's brain-damaged...do him, do his voice.'
'Oiii never aad to do 'is voiiiiis, Oi just aad to stayynd arowwnd and look Sadaaayym-loik.'
'Well start now! Do the voice! Be commanding, inspiring!'
'Oi caayn but troiii...Ahem. "Yow must rusist them thur Ameyrucun dawgs wiv orl yor aaarts."'
'Fuck me ragged! That's one woebegone accent... Depart, yokel. This one's no good, get the others, quick, all of them...We're on air in 60 seconds...Right, doubles, quick, which one of you can mimic Saddam's voice? That man shall lead our nation and be showered with riches and glory. You, there, come on, do The Leader.'
'Err...sure...okay...erm...I am Sssaddaaam Hooseyn, I weel keel you, haha.'
'That's fucking Peter Lorre! Next! You, come on, just get the right accent at least.'
'I am Saddam Hussein, look you.'
'That's Welsh! Jesus! You, come on, do the Leader.'
'Oh, shite, half of them had their tongues ripped out for stealing his sandwiches...Come on, someone with a tongue, please.'
'Oiii can do eet, Oi tells yee.'
'Fuck off, bumpkin. There must be someone who can do him. You've done nothing for the past ten years but listen to the man declaim, for Christ's sake, don't you keep your ears open? You, you try. Come on, it's a deep, virile, manly voice.'
'Good Evening, Ladiesh and Gentleman, I am Shaddam Husshein, ah, Mish Moneypenny, oh, shit, no, wait, wait - '
'For fuck's sake! Surrounded by idiots! We're on in thirty seconds!'
'Wait, wait! I have found a tape of the beloved Leader's voice! The double can mime and we'll play the cassette-'
'Excellent! Genius! Come on, we're on air now, go, go, into the studio - '
[Fanfare and anthem: 'Hail to the chief or he'll cut your fucking nuts off' ]
'Citizens of Iraq, western dogs, the president speaks.'
'Hello, I am Saddam Hussein, and I'm not here right now. Please leave a message after the beep.'
...'Please leave a message after the beep.' Chilling words of defiance from the Iraqi leader there. Professor Dongalonga?'
'Well, the beep may be some sort of secret weapon, a sonic device of some sort which will fry our troops' synapses until their eyes roll round in their heads and their brains leak out of their ears.'
[Graphic of a soldier's head afflicted thus, with question mark]
'Worrying. It certainly seems as if the war is not going to be the fun weekend abroad it might have appeared from the first couple of days. In fact, many people are now asking, Is this the end of the world? Will there be any survivors anywhere on Earth and will they envy the dead? How can we make our peace with God? With us to discuss this we have the Archbishop of Chorley, Frank Oz who played Yoda in the Star Wars films, and, via satellite, the Miracle Yiddish-Talking Fish of Gotham. If I could start with you, Talking Fish. Your appearance was regarded as something of an omen. Is this the end of the world?'
TALKING FISH: Oyy, I should be so lucky. You think I can talk, you should only hear my wife. If she would zug nischt for once, that would mean the world was ending. You think you got troubles? The closest I get to sex is when my wife leaves some eggs for me to masturbate over. I wouldn't mind but she seals them in Tupperware. And you should meet her mother, or as I call her, Orca the killer whale. She sank a trawler the other day. They could have avoided her, but they didn't have enough fuel to drive round her.
ANCHOR: The Miracle Kvetching Fish there, whom some believe to be the voice of Jackie Mason.
'...Iraqis have taken to attacking Allied supply lines with gorilla tactics...presumably, thumping their chests and shitting peanuts everywhere?' 'That's "guerilla".' 'Oh.'
'...In a savage blow to coalition forces, Donny the Dolphin, used by the Allies in minesweeping operations, has been captured by the Iraqis and put on display at the Baghdad SeaWorld...this is a clear breach of the Geneva Convention...some have been complaining that Donny appears to be enjoying it, though, and is jumping through hoops for the Iraqis...should he be tried as a traitor post-war?' 'Well, Dolphins are essentially freebooters...the Hessians of the deep...I've never trusted them...'
some amazing footage of an abandoned desert-boot...oh, there's a foot still in it...if you recognize that ankle please call our helpline on
ANTI-WAR PROTESTER: ...Sickened, I've been sickened, the TV news coverage is just Allied propaganda and pornographic fetishization of the war machine, you biased turds
PRO-WAR PUNDIT: Oh, I can't believe you just let him say that! You're churning out nothing but pacifist drivel and sentimental dwelling on corpses, you biased turds
ANCHOR: Ah, fuck the pair of yiz! You go out there and get your arses shot off trying to cover a story ya whining bastards. Carpark, now, the two of yer, I'll give you balance, I'll rip a frigging arm off the both of yiz
TALKING FISH: Ehh, the goyim! Vilde chaya
PRODUCER: Down boy! Simmer!
ANCHOR: Well, I mean. I've got segs on me arse sitting at this desk all week and that's the thanks I get
ARCHBISHOP: Well I think it's a lovely programme
ANCHOR: Ah, shut up, hat-face, you've been shite
'...Reports coming in that the siege of Basra has ended when the Danish submarine surfaced under Ba'ath party headquarters...'
29th March 03