Negotiations continued this morning that will determine the fate of this newspaper and its associated media empire as the Chinese make up for the disappointment of missing out on Hinkley Point by buying up absolutely everything else in the country.
Men in dark suits were today standing behind every member of staff on this newspaper to make sure no-one googled ‘repressive one-party state’, ‘female swimmer pumped full of steroids’ or ‘daily human rights violations’.
Staff were, instead, invited to look up ‘cute Chinese kittens’, ‘economic miracle’, ‘rich cultural history’ and ‘it’s the Russians doing doping now’, which made us all feel a lot better about our new, munificent, formerly tyrannical dynasts.
It was all going quite well until that smart arse on the picture desk who has a history degree suggested that the Great Leap Forward was more of a Pathetic Stagger Backward to the Middle Ages and, moreover, that he wasn’t keen on crispy duck.
Then someone else chose that moment to announce that his pet turtle was called Tiananmen Tim. Despite the fact that the rest of us hurriedly agreed that prawn crackers were quite nice and that the production values on Raise the Red Lantern were, like, amazing, things got a bit frosty between staff and our new beneficent potentates who decided to turn our computers off with their baseball bats.
Which was a wholly reasonable and measured response to a difference of opinion between workers and management, they told us to write.
Directors then advised staff to take their entire annual leave allowance right now to allow negotiations to continue without disturbance or further bloodshed.
As we are all on zero-hours contracts, however, our entire annual leave allowance ends at around tea time, so the Mercury will be back tomorrow with its usual mix of local and international news, Olympic reports and lots of stuff about modern, forward-looking societies, free, happy trading nations and nothing whatever to do with Genghis Khan, Asiatic hordes or contaminated baby milk. Or human rights lawyers. Or show trials.
We might be allowed to do something about Kung Po Chicken, but they’re getting back to us on that. We asked about Hong Kong Phooey, but they said definitely not.