Leaderless French Army Unable To Retreat

THE French army was in chaos last night after the resignation of its most senior general left it temporarily unable to retreat.

General Bruno Cuche quit his post after one of his soldiers shot 17 civilians at a military show instead of just putting down his gun and running away.

The general's shock departure left the army chain of command in disarray with senior officers unsure who was now responsible for ordering retreats and surrenders.

Guy Delafarge, a captain stationed in east Afghanistan, said: "We were 'iding in a cave like usual, waiting for ze order to run away, but it did not come.

"I get on ze radio and demand zey pull us out, as Alain was sure he 'ear someone step on a twig. And anyway, we were down to ze last dozen bottles of ze Chateau Gazin '82.

"But zey tell me I 'ave to stay put, take my chances with ze Taleban and drink ze '84. I refuse! I say I will not endanger my men. Ze '84 is ze worst vintage since we surrender to ze Nazis in '41!"

Military historian Denys Finch-Hatton said the current inability of the French to retreat could give them the advantage of surprise.

He added: "This could be the first time since the Battle of the Marne in 1914 that they will have had to fight for more than 20 minutes."

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My Big Gap Year

Despatches from Poppy Spalding

Monday: Sydney, Australia

My first week on the road finds me in Sydney, which is a bit like London, only with more sun and fewer Australians.

It also has more gay bars than any other city in the whole world so it’s a shame that I’m here on a hetero mission to see the totally amazing DJ Rico Henderson. And also to learn all about Australian culture.

I'm staying in the Kings Cross area, which is made up of brothels and backpacker hostels. But the good news is: They sell wacky backy in the sex shops so I got a fifty dollar bag to keep for when I see DJ Rico after his set this evening.

Our connection was so spiritual on the night we spent together after his London show last week, so I'm really looking forward to getting totally out of our nuts on Kings Cross hydroponic. DJ Rico is a complete drugs connoisseur.

"Me too!" I told him. "I've taken, like, every drug you can think of under the sun! If you can name it, I've taken it and probably even been hospitalised!" He asked me if I'd ever taken heroin. "No," I told him. "But that doesn't count, does it? It's not a real drug, like cocaine. I was totally bing-bonged on that shit!" Rico agreed with me that coke was great. We are like soul mates. I think he has to take so many drugs to temper his profound musical intelligence. It must be hell for him to have so much creativity rushing around his head. Anyway, I am definitely going to take cocaine again the next chance I get.

After Kings Cross, I went to the Sydney Opera House, which was a bit of a let down to be honest. It just looked like it does on postcards. Plus, I don't really like opera. I like deep house and German Techno. Some say that classical composers were the DJs of their day, but I'd like to see Mozart trying to match up his beats the way DJ Rico does when he's spinning a blinding set!

On the steps, I met a local girl, whose Dad was Chinese – and gay! I wish my dad was cool like that instead of being into Chris Rea.  She had even heard of DJ Rico and when I told her about our night together, she said, "No way!" I corrected her: "Yes way! So hands off!"(Joke!). She was so funny.

I really feel like I understand the Sydney psyche now, with their big opera house and gay Chinese dads. They are people who love music and say 'Let's have kids and be gay!' It's this joie-de-vivre that really sets the Sydney folks apart from the rest of the world, and totally makes up for their accents, which are a bit nasal.