After the madness of the last fortnight or so, it is my pleasure to announce that it is Sensible Week at Scaryduck. If it's laughs you're after, I suggest you seek professional help. I did, and let me tell you that after a couple of sessions with a head doctor, it took me ages to stop him laughing. The bastard.
In the words of the late, great Bob Monkhouse, "When I said I wanted to be a comedian, people laughed in my face. Well - they're not laughing now."
Sensible, then. Straight face. Try not to laugh. Let's see how long I can keep this up...
Smug Update: I got a passing mention in yesterday's Observer article on blogging (registration required), where I am apparantly A Big Name in bloggery. Not big enough for a link, mind you. Punks.
Murky conspiracy theories surround the death of local squillionaire Stephen Curtis, managing director of Group Menatap, a multi-billion dollar holding company with interests in the Russian oil business, as the battle to control Russia's massive oil reserves hits the local rag with a story that could have come out of a Bond movie.
Curtis lived with his wife and daughter in Pennsylvania Castle atop the Isle of Portland, and was well known in the area as all-round good egg and hard-nosed businessman. On 3rd March, his Augusta helicopter crashed at Bournemouth Airport, killing him and his pilot in a fireball so severe they were only recently formally identified by DNA records.
Now listen carefully, 007. Curtis, through Menatep, was a business associate of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich through a mutual interest in the Sibneft company. He was also a close associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former owner of the YUKOS oil company, richest man in Russia, currently doing time at Vladimir Putin's pleasure on charges of tax-evasion. This is an arrest which has been debated in the US Senate and is subject to hearings in the European Court of Human Rights, while seemingly politically motivated arrest warrants are issued for others involved in the YUKOS affair.
Khodorkovsky is a known critic and rival of Putin, and his arrest is widely seen as a ham-fisted attempt at payback for his funding of the Yabloko political party and opposition media groups at a time when Putin has been moving to stifle press criticism and cement power in Russia. Curtis was the sole signatory for Khodorkovsky's bank accounts while he's been in prison, while the vultures have been gathering round YUKOS and Menatep.
Meanwhile, to keep himself out of trouble, and in the newly re-elected President's good books, Roman Abramovich has bought up the assets of another disgraced Russian oligarch - Boris Berezhovsky, who is hiding somewhere in London. There's Sibneft, the oil company, which will come in handy one day and Russia'b biggest TV channel, because David Hasselhof isn't on the box enough these days. A bit of a diversion, but when you're threatened with a detailed look at your tax affairs, you do as the President says, even if you're worth 300 billion dollars...
Curtis himself is known to have said that he feared for his safety just days before his untimely death. Yet, for all the talk of conspiracies, sabotage and Russian spooks crawling round the undergrowth at Bournemouth, this tragic incident seems to be nothing but an unfortunately timed accident. But then, with all that money, oil and engineering contracts up for grabs, there's no point angering our good friends in the Kremlin, is there?