Beware the Idles' March The Weekly: Maintaining Britain's Standards
"Trapped on island, food low. Please hurry, as I now have no water either"

"I am a sentient piece of paper, and have ingeniously escaped my desert island prison by this method; although I'm not quite sure how I sealed the bottle, and I've suffocated on the journey"

No message, but an impressive model of a tiny ship, with a crew of tiny sailors each in their own tiny bottle

Message unknown: recovered bottle immediately used in bar brawl and contents lost

"Follow instructions to find me: one, drive boat into rocks and sink; two, barely escape with life and swim to island; three, bring spare boat"

"Help! I am under the tree marked in this roughly sketched but adequately accurate map of the island. Global positioning satellite coordinates of island to follow in separate bottle"
10,000 Years Of The Weekly
As long as there have been Britons, there has been The Weekly.

Of course, the magazine that strives to maintain Britain's standards in today's modern space-age atomic world was not always as it now is. The magazine's own archives, unmatched in the world for their comprehensiveness and pedantry, tell the story, beginning with The Weekly's creation approximately nine years after the end of the Ice Age by legendary founding editor Charles Michael "Eddie" Penkethman, with the assistance of two hunter-gatherers named Nash and Millington (house names traditionally adopted by incoming staff as a funny joke), and proceeding through the entirety of the nation's history.

Here, then, we present some extracts from the forthcoming The Annual The Weekly. Bathe in the years gone by.

In its earliest form, The Weekly is a description of the most populated deer routes of the season, passed orally between Britain's first real settlers, hunters who follow the deer herds shortly after the closure of the Ice Age. There is a cartoon, but its quality depends on the acting abilities of the teller, and it almost exclusively deals with variations on the theme of a man killing a deer, only to find he has left his flint skinning tool at the previous camp. The joke never loses its allure, and is revived in 1299 to fond applause. Any attempt to establish a new publication is difficult, and The Weekly undergoes its first test within eight hours of founding, when editor Charles Michael "Eddie" Penkethman goes on a fishing holiday and the original Mr Nash is eaten by a bear.

Neolithic Briton knows the magazine as The Neolithic Briton's Weekly - the editor of the time dabbling briefly in literalism as the magazine seeks a style - which in this period consists mostly of jokes about corn, although there is a serial concerning Stonehenge.

It is really only with the Roman invasion of Britain in 54 BC that the magazine begins to attract widespread notice. A comic strip following the humorous adventures of a wily tribal warrior who outwits the occupiers at every turn is enormously popular with both Britons and Romans alike, but the clever satirical digs prove too much for the invaders, who eventually abandon Britain in 410 AD. The Romans' own records show that this is at least 57% due to The Weekly. From this point, the magazine's steady rise, and influence on history, is assured.

King Alfred defeats the Danes. The Weekly does an Alfred The Great / Great Danes joke. Unfortunately, as Alfred is not widely known by the "Great" sobriquet at the time and the designation "Great Dane" for the breed of dog isn't adopted from the French "grand Danois" until several hundred years later, the joke is taken as insightful political commentary. This particular edition of The Weekly resurfaces in Peterborough in 1512, where the gag is finally appreciated by researchers, although they don't tell anyone else, thinking it to be an in-joke.

" Takers and the staff escapes "
The Weekly's review of The Domesday Book as "humourless and repetitive" prompts a quick response from a furious King William. Relishing the irony (possibly the first time irony is associated with The Weekly), he uses the Book to pinpoint The Weekly's offices and despatches a division of troops with orders to destroy it utterly. However, The Weekly has given a false address to his census-takers, and the staff escapes death.

Edward I conquers Wales, but is later foiled in his attempt to conquer Scotland. He tussles good-naturedly with The Weekly for its insistence on referring to him as Edward I, as it reminds him of his own mortality. The running joke comes to an end in 1307, when Edward dies.

The Declaration of Arbroath, reported by The Weekly as "Probably meaning they've won by an innings, or something."

The Weekly destroys half the population of Europe with the Black Death.

Spelling introduced to The Weekly when Geoffrey Chaucer is fired from his position of sub-editor after two written warnings.

Henry IV imports the idea of executing heretics by burning. The Weekly's chief writer misreads the news as "bunning" and composes almost a whole issue based around the macabre absurdity of killing someone with pastry as a religious punishment. Importantly, this marks the first occasion of The Weekly's readers not knowing what the hell the magazine is going on about.

Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded. Accidentally, The Weekly publishes its bet-hedging "Mary, Queen Of Scots, Not Beheaded" edition. This is a turning point for The Weekly - overnight, the reporting of news is thrown out entirely, with editor Wahoopna Bingo famously declaring, "If they want to know what's going on, they can ask my mother." In its place, The Weekly concentrates solely on made-up things, with features moved to a new position of prominence. Old Mother Bingo goes on to establish a highly profitable syndicate of old women, and invents a crude form of semaphore.

The Weekly begins The Enlightenment 100 years early as a promotional drive.

The Weekly uses the "When will this terrible Thirty Years War end?" joke 1,560 times. The day the war ends, the line reads, "When will this... Oh." It marks the invention of the ellipsis, and only the seventh appearance of bathos outside a laboratory.

" From London after three "
The Civil War. Always ill at ease with each other, King Charles I and Parliament fall out completely over who should quell a revolt in Ireland. It is widely suspected that if Charles controls the army, he will go on to dismantle Parliament and be done with it once and for all; religion, of course, also plays a part, with Charles' Catholic sympathies frightening the Protestant Parliament. War breaks out when Charles attempts to arrest five MPs and Parliament responds by expelling the King from London. After three years of haphazard engagement between the Royalists and Parliamentarians, the King's forces are demolished at Naseby, and Charles is arrested. No issue of The Weekly is published during these years, as editor Chank Brisworth is at the shops.

Charles II popularises the new-fangled "newspapers" by placing an advertisement asking after his lost dog. The Weekly, sensing a new form of commerce, hosts its first ad, for a popular medicinal sweetmeat. The text reads, "The Little Briton says - 'My cough is cured, Mother, but my mouth burns so!' - Teach your bairns the value of forbearance with Pyrrhic Victory Vs." Readers mistake the ad for a further hilarious cartoon, and the brand vanishes. The Weekly does not carry advertising for another 341 years, when it is paid a handsome price to promote a new cough sweet, the Pyrrhic Victory V. All laugh gaily at the coincidence, and then discreetly leave the room so the chairman of PVV, Ltd, may shoot himself in comfort.

The section Letters From the Editor is introduced after editor Theolai Broques denounces the readership as "idiots." Circulation doubles as people race to buy the magazine to see if their correspondence will appear in the new section.

The Weekly's lead feature writer, Nipper McNee, is arrested after an article on horse-racing exactly predicts the results of next week's contests. However, the case collapses and, under the name Sheikh Omano, McNee returns to The Weekly later in the year and invents the horoscope. Even today he is still regarded as the greatest master of the form; horoscopal historian Charles Gap notes that Omano / McNee's predictions were always "chillingly specific."

Following a lengthy boardroom struggle, creepy Dr Gascoigne and her supporters are ousted from The Weekly. They flee to the New World and set up, dogged by persistent rumours of Mesmerism and absinthe orgies.

" Hardship a crippling "
The Weekly's publisher, Thos (not Thomas) Wobey, seeking recognition as a patron of science, pays to have Charles Dickens transported in secrecy with the latest equipment to the Galapogas Islands, where he can work in peace on his observations of natural selection which will form the basis of his Origin Of Species. However, Wobey has mistaken Dickens for Charles Darwin, and upon the famous author's return after two years of baffled hardship, a crippling lawsuit is only avoided by Wobey's agreement to publish Dickens' latest novel, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood. Dickens dies before completing the story, leaving Wobey to add the line, "The butler did it," both starting a literary tradition and near-bankrupting the magazine.

Krakatoa erupts. The Weekly's cartoon shows a figure turning to one side and saying, "Christ - what was that?" The panel becomes a humorous tradition, and is wryly reused by the magazine whenever something suddenly and unexpectedly explodes, killing thousands.

The Weekly campaigns tirelessly for justice, insisting that Jack the Ripper is "merely a scapegoat" and that at least three assassins committed the Whitechapel Murders, stabbing the victims from different angles.

A typographical error leads to the front page of the special Monarchy Gonearchy Week issue reading "Queen Victoria Is Dad." The Weekly's offices are burned down by an angry mob who believe the apparent gender confusion / nonagenarian siring joke to have gone too far. A public apology suffers from further typesetting problems, notably in a line that should have read, "We all viewed her passing with distress," and the ruins of the offices are furtherly burned in protest.

Following countless deaths from exhaustion, football's chiefs finally relent and introduce "goals" into the sport. A The Weekly sports column rages, "And who will 'foot' the bill for enlarging our footing-ball grounds to accommodate these reticules?" After a brief Government enquiry, The Weekly is made to foot the bill.

With the outbreak of war a patriotic The Weekly immediately reverses its editorial policy and stands full-square with our troops against Hitler. Legendary founding editor Charles Michael "Eddie" Penkethman returns from his fishing holiday, "marvellously refreshed."

The Weekly publishes an entire four-month run of issues in a made-up language that no one can understand. By the second month, readers are hospitalised from laughing so much. Everyone expects the joke to be finished in the third month, but Penkethman presses on for a further term, making it all the funnier still. Also, something happens in Ireland.

Credits page introduced.

 May 3rd, 1999 
" Nothing at all is wrong "
An online version of The Weekly is prepared, celebrating Britain in the atomic space age world of ten thousand years further on. A reunion of The Weekly's staff is held in the vicarage at Hobs End, which houses the giant switch that, when thrown, will cause The Weekly to reproduce itself across the international wireless computer network. Individual issues are referred to among the staff by the affectionate nickname of "neurons." Penkethman marks the occasion by saying, "At last, all is ready for Stage D." Any troubled feelings among the readership are quelled by an ingenious disquiet-dampening phrase inserted in the text. The switch is closed, and, once again, for the edification and improvement of the world's faces, The Weekly maintains Britain's standards.

 Midnight, December 27th, 2000 
The Weekly is blown up by a big black bangy bomb planted in an earlier letters page by the Science Combine's nemeses, The Black Quorum, and set to go off in the next issue. Flames race through the magazine, the situation worsened by the explosion's occurrence at the start of the irresponsibly eccentric Flammable Chemicals Week. Rubble crashes down on all sides, and on everyone's sides. Impenetrable smoke smothers the magazine. Her Gracious Majesty despatches a telegram saying, "Still on for the pictures tomorrow?" having missed the catastrophe through mending a peacock.

Who lives? Who dies? The question springs to the lips of the entire population of the country.

 12:02am, December 27th, 2000 
It is strikingly apparent that everyone has been killed and is dead.

A quiet time for The Weekly.

 September 3rd, 2001 
The Weekly emerges once again from the village of Hobs End, in a new, absurdly more frequent form. "Mr Nash and Mr Millington of the The Weekly Science Combine! I thought you were dead!" gasps a passer-by. "True, but they reckoned without our BRITONS' RESOLVE," is the reply. "Hurrah!" comes the response. "Yes," is the answer. "Well, I'm off to the shops," comes the return. "All right then, cheerio," is the acknowledgement.

It is with these historic words that the magazine to which Britain owes so much, whether gratefully remembered or puzzlingly slipped away from all mental grasps, returns to the country it has come to regard as its own. Let a resounding cheer ring out - not even atomising death can stop The Weekly's maintenance of Britain's standards.

 December 2001 
The Science Combine goes on a fishing holiday.
See also:
We Are Britons | A Bit Of A Chat With Constable Dan | 10,000 Years Of The Weekly
Bedroom for child

Prison for cackling murderous cousin

Train set and plaguey pigeon

Bedroom for cackling murderous cousin with redeeming social command

Machinery for castle's deathtraps, and abandoned Scalextric
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