This week in Mash history: The Virgin Mary comes up with a cover story quick, 1BC

EVERY December, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of a baby who invented Christmas presents and made sure nothing bad would happen again, ever.

But did you know the magic tot’s origins were not due to a miraculous plan, but a teen mum’s genius excuse when put on the spot? 

Until now, no one has ever doubted Mary’s account that she was literally a virgin impregnated by a divine spirit, but new evidence is making experts think having a baby may require sex to take place.

In a previously disregarded Gospel draft, known as ‘Luke’s Rough Version’, Mary is praised for her ability to ‘think on her feet’ despite the fact that ‘no one thought Joseph would fall for that’. This is what it says:

“And lo, in Nazareth there was a young woman whose name was Mary, who let out a terrible oath when she realised her Holy blob was late. 

“For Mary was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, who was dim of brain and personality, but did maketh plenty of shekels from his woodworking business.

“And Joseph came unto his betrothed and said: ‘Hail Mary, how hast thou missed thy blob when we have only done but some kissing and hand stuff?’ And Mary, filled with immaculate cockiness, joked unto Joseph: ‘I am surely still the Virgin Mary, even though I have no blob and am up the sacred duff.’ 

“And Mary marvelled, for though she knew Joseph to be thick of head, she had not expected him to believe this porkie.

“But Mary did runneth with it, and told of a ‘Gabriel’ who was an angel that delivered unto her the Good News, who was in no way the same Gabriel who worked on Jerusalem market and spilt his seed with many ladies.

“And God in heaven did witness Holy Mary’s impressive shit-chatting, and rewarded her with a baby with cool powers, and the honour of being made into statues displayed in grandmothers’ houses forever and ever. Amen.”

And that is how Our Lady attained supreme sainthood for winging it successfully, joining other sacred figures like John the Baptist, patron saint of swimming lessons, and Saint Patrick, patron saint of stag weekends.

Next week: To 1773, when Charles Dickens realised the best way to sell shitloads of books is to make them Christmassy.

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The land of potatoes, pissing rain and terrorists: The gammon food critic visits an Irish pub

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who’s actually googled whether great white sharks could survive in the English Channel

I’VE never had time for the Irish. A race of gypsies who are either flogging you lucky heather or strapping a bomb under your car. But there’s a lads’ piss-up in Dublin in spring, so before I commit I thought I’d see what I’m letting myself in for culinary-wise. Mostly bloody potatoes at a guess.

So it’s off to a traditional Irish pub that does food in Birmingham’s Irish Quarter. Just hoping my English accent doesn’t get me blindfolded and executed.

I know some topics of conversation are best avoided. Brexit. The IRA. That potato famine they’re still trying to blame on us. I’ll probably keep my thick Paddies jokes in the locker too. They’re hardly known for their sense of humour are they? Sinead O’Connor. Gerry Adams. Roy Keane. All miserable as fuck.

First things first, I get a drink in. And when in Rome – well, Digbeth – I decide to keep it authentic and order a Guinness.

I’ve not touched the black stuff in nearly 30 years. One sip and I remember why. Like gluey, cold soup that tastes predominantly of soil. A few too many of these and I’ll have a shit like treacle in the morning, like the first one newborn babies do. That’s what my ex-wife told me, anyway. I never did nappies.

I ask the barman for a ‘proper English pint’ of Stella instead. He smirks for some reason. There’s a live band on too. All that diddly-aye shit about binge drinking and getting dumped by your woman. I can relate to that but I’m worried they’re going to start singing about Semtex.

I peruse the menu and my initial fears are confirmed – potatoes with fucking everything, and not even as chips. And everything’s ripped off from us English. Irish stew? That’ll just be stew then. Colcannon? Potatoes and cabbage, or as we call it, bubble and squeak. Boiled bacon, which is nothing more than classic English gammon. Talk about cultural appropriation.

There’s also a choice of either black pudding or white pudding, and frankly I’m impressed there’s a savoury pudding for people like me who are sick of having Black History Month rammed down our throats.

I decide to go with the stew and, by now, my fourth Stella. It comes accompanied by soda bread, which I’ve never tried before, and won’t be doing again. Like trying to eat a fucking brick.

The stew is so bland it makes English cuisine look adventurous. At least there’s no garlic or chilli or any of that other foreign bollocks in it. Small mercies and all that.

It’s a passable meal if you’re into hospital food, but hardly fills me up. Looks like the chippy on my way home again. Sensing I’m rather pissed and a bit off my guard, I decide it’s prudent to pay up and leave before one of them tries to steal my wallet.

Verdict? Let’s just say I’m skipping that trip to Dublin. I’ll spend the weekend in Blackpool instead. Feels like I’ve dodged a bullet here. In more ways than one.