Win a hamper: Guru’s Christmas quiz – a sense of deja vu

Guru is getting a real sense of déjà vu. Is it just a coincidence, or does Christmas happen every year? Yours Truly noticed this repeating trend several years ago and, after some extensive research, carried out by ‘top boffins’, he can exclusively reveal that it has indeed been happening every year for quite some time now.

Quite possibly it has happened enough times to be represented by the delusional graphics team of Newsnight as enough Santas to stretch from here to the moon in a London bus being pulled along by reindeer.

It seems that 2008 has been a year of uncanny happenings all over the place, not least Chez Guru, where Mrs Guru has been repeating herself for decades – and not just in a cucumber kind of way.

One of her mantras is to ‘make do and mend’ and she loves to re-use old pots and pans, plastic containers and clothes – something she spookily has in common with the nation’s head of state, old QEII herself. For in these straitened times, HRH is setting an example to all her subjects by recycling her dresses and actually rewearing some of her clothes, rather that packing them off to some museum after the first outing. Mrs Guru and the Queen also share a love of keeping mountains of hats, bags and shoes… just in case.

Magic boots

Yours Truly settles for one pair of walking boots and one pair of shiny shoes for those hard-to-avoid industry get togethers.

Some of the Queen’s costumes border on the insane bearing in mind the century we’re in. After all, Guru, despite the dangers to the tonsorially challenged of going out without a titfer, dispensed with the pillbox hat years ago, favouring a rich, no-hair tonic of lard and dubbin to keep him warm in these cold winter months. Much of this is down to his semi-secret identity and, in a bout of uncanniness not seen since last December, that other secret squirrel of a fox in sheep’s clothing, Father Christmas, is also out and about this month.

However, unlike Guru, but just like the Queen (spookily), it seems Santa is a one-man job creation scheme each winter, with an army of helpers at his disposal who all nod deferentially and only tell him what he wants to hear, bowing and scraping and generally being subservient. But that’s not the only similarity between Santa and our monarch as they clearly share a love of silly hats and even sillier modes of transport.

So in the week of the Queen’s Speech – the day when Her Maj is wheeled out in a pumpkin carriage to read out some government spiel about what it plans to do in the year ahead – it seems only appropriate that Guru addresses the thorny matter of communications. This is a topic close to the hearts of all of those in HR, Yours Truly hopes to shed some light on its importance.

Silent but deadly

Her Most Royalness doesn’t really say much these days, except when she’s acting out the Queen’s Speech, and even then she cannot speak the Queen’s English – she don’t talk proper like what the rest of us can.

Now, Guru has a suspicion this speech impediment is self-inflicted Germanic stubbornness coming through, but it could be that Her Maj is bona fide disabled and could do with a blue sticker – something Yours Truly has tried to wangle for many years now.

Naturally, Santa doesn’t have such problems, flitting as he does unseen from house to house, not unlike the good burghers… oops, that should be burglars… of Old Liverpool town who will no doubt be gearing up for a festive spree if 2007 was anything to go by.

For it seems our scouse chums have been taking matters into their own hands by stealing from themselves. The end result was a unique job creation scheme that saw Liverpool FC set up its own special security forces. Of course, the trouble with that plan is that we all know that most security guards are either former bent coppers or former lags – either way they are not in it for the good of the nation.

Perhaps this is a route our hapless king in waiting could adopt, although it has to be said that in 2008 he was trying to persuade the powers that be (the government, not his mum) that the way to create more jobs in the beleaguered construction industry was to start building houses out of poo again.

Medal the size of a frying pan

One man who won’t be joining the queue to be top fella is young PM Gordon Brown who mistook the elephant in the room for a real elephant before pretending to notice that nuclear power had sneaked back onto the agenda and would later in the year be branded the saviour of the modern world as it would create loads of (clearly quite dangerous) jobs.

To celebrate sneaking in ‘clean power’ Gordon Brown went all commando, allegedly facing down terrorism at Heathrow airport. According to the Daily Mirror, he “stared death in the face”. But how? In what dangerous situation had Super Gordo placed himself? Was he ambushed by terror forces on an unannounced visit to Afganistan? Did he get trapped under water while examining the floods in Tewkesbury? No, worse – and much more frightening than all those possibilities – the brave prime minister survived being sat on the Heathrow tarmac almost a kilometre away from where a different plane landed a few yards short of the runway and didn’t kill anyone.

One witness said: “The pilot deserves a medal the size of a frying pan.” What? Surely such if such a large medal exists, it should be given to, say, a war hero, a human rights activist or a reality TV show winner, rather than someone who landed a plane pretty badly?

Naturally, Yours Truly got to the bottom of things in double quick time. The pilot was none other than BA Baracas from the 1980s reality shoot-em-up show the A-Team. To use his real name (because it is so much more sensible, obviously), Mr T is well known for his love of bling and a frying pan-sized medal would not look out of place hanging around his 94-inch neck.

Barackas Obama

To add to the coincidence quotient, BA Baracas is remarkably similar name to BA Barackas Obama, US president-in-waiting.

Guru is pleased that some level of equality has finally found its way through the dumb land that is the good ol’ US of A. However, is it just Yours Truly, or does Barack Obama bear an uncanny resemblance to Iggle Piggle from children’s TV show, In The Night Garden?

Like Mr Piggle, Mr Obama has a long face and must have endured years of horse gags before becoming comfortable with his own features and being voted into the most powerful job in the world.

Of course, now he’s gonna teach the world some good ol’ horse sense, and to help him he’s enlisted the help of Hillary Clinton. Remarkably, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Iggle Piggle’s main squeeze, Makka Pakka, and as she’s going to be jetting around the world (hopefully on a Ninky Nonk) cleaning faces, it will prove to be an inspired decision when she fronts up to Robert Mugabe, with her spongebag at the ready. Quite what Upsy Daisy (AKA Mrs Obama) will make of it is anyone’s guess, but Yours Truly is putting money on the flannel waver.

The Big O

While the election of the new US president is important in its own way, for HR surely the more critical appointment was that of Jackie Orme to the top chair at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). And like the Iggle Piggle president, Orme has her own number two right behind her, the superman of the HR world, global statesmen and CIPD chief economist John Philpott.

Guru is not worried about losing business to the young Mr Philpott, but he did solve the credit crunch all by himself when he called for the US Senate to pass President Bush’s $700bn bailout package, and for the Bank of England to slash interest rates (they duly did), before moving on to demand employer national insurance holidays to help tackle unemployment in the UK.

Philpott told Personnel Today that there should be “a time-limited cut in employer National Insurance contributions, targeted at employers in the private or voluntary sectors to enable them to retain, and to provide training for, any member of staff who would otherwise be made redundant because of short-term trading difficulties”.

Imagine Guru’s open-mouthed, cornflake-spitting surprise soon after when he saw none other than David Cameron outlining almost exactly the same plan.

Cameron said that the Tories would slash firms’ National Insurance bills if they took on staff who had been jobless for three months. Unbelievable. Guru immediately rushed off to phone Philpott and ask him who will win next year’s Grand National.

And if anyone deserves a medal ‘the size of a frying pan’ it must be Philpott for his uncanny ability to predict events that have already happened.

There’s clearly magic in the air at Christmas, and Yours Truly can’t wait to hear what gems Philpott will brazenly adopt as his own in 2009.

Christmas quiz



  1. Which hairy ‘rock god’ found a bear in his American house?
  2. What book was Guru reading when confronted by a plate of roustons?
  3. What alternative career does the Queen plan to take up once she finally falls off the throne?
  4. Guru discovered the real reason for the Heathrow Terminal 5 debacle. What was it?
  5. Whose ideas have failed to ignite Russian passions despite his obvious genius for seeing things in black and white?
  6. Who is no longer allowed to deliver lectures on business management?
  7. Which big-foreheaded clown keeps throwing rocks despite living in a ‘glass-roofed palace of unattained potential’?
  8. Where are the police embracing sex-change colleagues by undertaking truncheon realignment training?
  9. Which Brit slackers take the most tea breaks?
  10. Who was unavailable for comment when India launched its first lunar mission?
  11. What did the CIPD do when confronted with the news that one of its own was a BNP activist?
  12. How many brussels sprouts has Mr Christmas allegedly eaten since July 1994?

Simply e-mail your answers to guru@personneltoday.com before close of play on 19 December for your chance to WIN A FORTNUM & MASON HAMPER – delivered to your door before Christmas!!!

To help the less photographically memoried of you to answer the quiz visit Guru’s annual round-up of 2008, which includes many (but not all) of the answers.

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