UN headquarters in London was under siege today amid rumours that Islamic militants in Kandahar had yesterday burned one, and perhaps even dozens of, copies of the book which many see as having the greatest influence on English life today; Three Men in a Boat.
Jerome K Jerome's meandering classic, charting the epic journey of 'J', George, Harris and Montmorency along London's great river is seen as the holiest of texts by many in the UK and never fails to spark passions among its followers. Certainly, the vast majority of true Englishmen consider this document to represent the very epitome of English culture and strive to model themselves in the image of its enduring characters. It was little surprise to anyone, therefore, when hoards of privileged, educated young men in blazers and straw hats laid siege to the UN compound in London in their rage at the destruction of this holy work. Riot police were this morning drafted in from seven counties in an attempt to control the hoards but were forced back by the hail of petrol-bombs and the risk of dropping the beefsteak pie. Many of the rioters had also brought along their little dogs who snapped at the heels of the authorities and presented them with gifts of small rats they had caught.
As the cost and destruction mounted in London, however, clerics in Kandahar were quick to distance themselves from any responsibility for the events unfolding in Britain's capital. Anjem Qatada, the hard-line cleric who masterminded yesterday's book-burning was unrepentant, saying through an interpreter "I have caused nothing. These Englishmen have no sense of reason or moderation. They are just using our protest as an excuse. If they didn't use this then they would find some other reason. It's only a book for heaven's sake".