The Queen - a betting woman herself - has thumbed her nose at the bookies and named rank outsiders Chelmsford, Perth and a small, roped-off area in Wales called St Asaph as new cities as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. In Cheltenham Festival week, anybody who might have had a punt on these three romping home would have made a pretty penny, and no mistake.
In fact, the odds on all three were so long that we couldn't help but notice that 'novelty bet' bookmakers of choice Paddy Power hadn't even bothered listing them. Naturally, we're not suggesting anything. Nothing at all.
Anyway, rooting through the bins behind the offices of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, we found among the Tesco Meal Deal wrappers and discarded Smile Yourself Happy self-help books the official briefing papers on the winners and losers, which we summarise below. Damning reading for Reading, we think you'll find...
- The winners: Congratulations to Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph on your city status. Government officials will arrive today to discuss ghetto construction
- Southend: Not a chance. Her Majesty's had it in for Southend ever since she threw up on the Kursaal Flyer back in the seventies after a dodgy hot dog. Also, nobody had the wit to tell her that "a quick walk down the pier and back" on a Saturday afternoon would take three hours and cause her to miss four of the ITV Seven.
- Reading: We don't blame Her Majesty for her decision. She's had a downer on Reading ever since Prince Philip had a dodgy kebab down Cemetery Junction in the seventies, and that film's brought it all flooding back. Then there was the time she visited the futuristic "Metal Box" building. Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, she was locked in an actual metal box for three hours, and never forgave the place after that. Also, poor quality local celebs (Gervais, Winslet, the bloke who's writing this rubbish).
- Bournemouth: Her Majesty has always had a downer on Bournemouth, ever since she was served a poor breakfast during a B&B stay during the 60s. She spends her spare time writing middling reviews for local hotels on TripAdvisor, telling would-be holiday-makers that establishments are "reasonable, but tea facilities leave a lot to be desired" and "Lovely owners, but once got a dirty towel and floorboards squeaked".
- Goole: Her Majesty took one look at your application and said "I say, aren't people from Goole called Goolies?" Nick Clegg agreed, and that was that. Sorry. Painfully aware that this was a joke stolen from Jasper Carrott, but there's no changing her mind.
- Milton Keynes: You'll ALWAYS be a city (to any producer of a TV series that needs somewhere that looks like America, but isn't America), so no point letting you win.
- Tower Hamlets : Nice try, but the clue's in the name, isn't it? City of Tower Hamlets just sounds stupid and would just confuse foreign tourists looking for somewhere quaint on their London holiday experience. Why not just hold a council vote and change to MEGA CITY ONE? I'd pay good money to visit anywhere called Mega City One.
- Corby: And we quote Her Majesty: "Shouldn't they just stick to the trouser press business?" The dogs just came in from the garden, and she's making a terrible fuss of them, we honestly don't have the heart to tell her.
- Bolton: Never in the race after Her Majesty accidentally nutted the mayor in the face in the face outside Wetherspoons. Also, Her Majesty - a keen follower of the Arsenal - never took to Big Sam's tactics while he was manager of the local football side, and has not changed her opinion since.
- Dudley: In retrospect, the town motto of "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" didn't help matters much.