• Single news day, double ambiguity

    In his first job after graduation at Bristol’s Imperial Tobacco, your ‘umble scribe was coached in writing in the company’s house style, which included writing clearly to avoid any ambiguity, i.e. the quality of a phrase or sentence being open to more than one interpretation.

    This avoidance of ambiguity is something that clearly needs to be instilled in what passes nowadays for the journalists at the Bristol (Evening) Post/Bristol Live, who yesterday demonstrated that Bristol’s Temple Way Ministry of Truth is quite capable of serving up double helpings thereof.

    Firstly, have you got a few spare quid? Do you fancy buying a foreign city, especially one where property prices are so low that the whole metropolis will only set you back a mere £18?

    Headline - The city 3 hours from Bristol that gets 300 days of sun a year and costs £18

    What can one complain about? A nice cheap price and 300 days sunshine per year. When can I start packing? And are other similarly priced settlements available nearby? I really do feel I can afford to build up a property portfolio. 😀

    The day’s other bit of ambiguity is far more grisly and disturbing involving two deaths, one of them violent.

    Headline - Woman finds body of sex offender wanted for murder in her caravan

    Did the murder take place in the caravan? Thankfully, the byline provides reliable information where the headline, by trying to cram in the whole story in one phrase, merely serves to sow confusion.

    Language is a precision tool, capable of imparting detailed information. However, those employed as ‘journalists’ by Reach plc titles like the Post/Live, only seem capable of using it like a crude, blunt instrument. 🙁

  • Asda vs Asbo

    British supermarket chain Asda is well known for the lime green livery of its grocery delivery vans, as per the photograph below.

    Asda delivery van and driver
    Photo credit: Asda

    However, there is now a serious rival to Asda’s dominance of the lime green delivery van sector. The vehicle below was spotted last week outside the Chelsea Inn at the junction of Chelsea Road and Bloy Street in Bristol’s Easton area.

    Asbo van outside the Chelsea

    Both Asda and Asbo are acronyms, i.e. abbreviations formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. Asda is a truncated version of the first part of its original name of Associated Dairies and Farm Stores , whilst Asbo denotes an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, a past form of sanction for naughty boys and girls which has now been replaced by two penalties – the Community Protection Order (CPO) and the Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO).

    Note that the Asbo van is parked on the footway (which some refer to as the pavement (posts passim). Ed.); how apposite! 😀

  • Bristol’s Roman Road

    There’s a Roman road that runs across Durdham Down in the Clifton area of Bristol.

    However, it’s not the one near the top of Blackboy Hill with the modern name plate and the posh BS9 postcode. That ‘Roman’ road is an imposter, albeit a short but straight one.

    There is a real Roman road that crosses Durdham Down, but it’s much harder to spot on the ground since it consists of just the agger, the raised bank upon which the road was laid and its two accompanying side ditches. Your ‘umble scribe actually had to lie on the ground to spot it, as the lumps and bumps on the ground can be measured in mere centimetres. The sharp-eyed may be able to discern the differences between the agger and side ditches in the photograph below.

    Agger and ditches of Roman Road on Durdham Down

    It’s somewhat easier to spot on a Lidar scan of the area. It can be seen in the 2 faint parallel lines depicting the ditches on either side of the agger, which are enclosed by the red ellipse in the photo below.

    Plot of Roman road across Durdham Down on Lidar scan enclosed by red ellipse

    This section of Roman highway is a scheduled monument. Its official listing reads as follows.

    The monument includes part of the Roman road which originally ran from Bath to Sea Mills, situated on a wide plateau known as Durdham Down. The road survives as a length of flat-topped bank measuring approximately 100m long, 10m wide and 0.6m high with a visible although largely buried ditch on the south side.

    The Sea Mills mentioned above is a modern-ish suburb of Bristol. It was, however, also home to the Romans who established a settlement called Portus Abonae there. From Portus Abonae, travellers on the road would have had to take to water to continue their onward

    In between the surviving section on the Downs and Portus Abonae, part of the original Roman road’s alignment is still in use today, its course being followed by the current Mariner’s Drive/Mariner’s Lane.

    Mariner's Drive/Lane following line of Roman Road

    The map below shows how this Roman Road, known as the Via Julia, fitted into the general system of roads in Rome’s province of Britannia.

    Major Roman roads in Britannia
    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Total failure for Bristol City Council campaign

    Rather than waste sending any officers out from their cosy bolt-holes in the Counts Louse, Bristol City Council – along with their colleagues in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary – favours a policy of legal enforcement by public notice.

    This has been applied in recent years to the authority’s duties under the Environmental Protection Act covering littering, fly-tipping (posts passim) and the like.

    In recent months, the fly-tipping hotspots of Easton and Lawrence Hill wards have been subjected to not one, but two rounds of public notices being added to the already cluttered and confusing street scene: the first consisting of the well-known red NO FLYTIPPING [sic] signs which long been known to be totally ineffective; and the second consisting of the newer so-called lamp post wraps as shown in the photograph below which was taken in Ducie Road in Barton Hill this morning.

    Scene showing two fly-tipping enforcement notices being ineffective at halting fly-tipping in Ducie Road, Barton Hill, Bristol
    Do two enforcement notices work better than one?
    Note also the large volume of litter between both signs.

    The lamp post wrap informs anyone who cares to read it that someone has recently been penalised fort dumping rubbish here. Between it and the traditional red sign, are a black waste sack and a catering size white plastic tub in the corner of the city council’s public car park in Ducie Road.

    A couple of conclusions may be drawn from the above picture, as follows:

    • Enforcement by signage is not effective against fly-tipping; and
    • The city’s fly-tippers are either illiterate or don’t bother reading materials meant to dissuade them; or
    • They consider their chances of being penalised by a local authority constantly pleading poverty and cutting staff numbers are so close to zero that they can be discounted.

    Just around the corner from Ducie Road, there’s another lamp post wrap on the bridge carrying the A420 over the railway line at Lawrence Hill. It too has been remarkably ineffective at preventing fly-tipping by the 1600 litre general waste bin that shares the railway bridge’s footway.

    As a footnote, your ‘umble scribe did take the time and effort to report the incident mentioned above.

  • 90s boy band gains haloes & gilt picture frame

    Today’s Bristol Live/Post has added another object of religious veneration, i.e. an icon, to the already burgeoning modern pantheon engendered by lazy modern ‘journalism‘ with news of a forthcoming gig in Almondsbury in South Gloucestershire, as shown in the following screenshot.

    Headline reads Iconic 90s boyband will play pub festival near Bristol
    I expect to find icons in an Orthodox church, not a suburban boozer…

    The boyband [sic] in question is Five, who spell it 5ive and it originated from the same stable that sired the Spice Girls, although I can’t imagine they’re doing that well if they’re gigging at a nondescript suburban West Country boozer.

    However, the band is just the latest object to be saddled with the I-word, about which your ‘umble scribe has written critically before (posts passim).

    However, your correspondent is not alone. Over in the USA, professional writer Garry Berman is equally not enamoured with the adjective, writing a post in April 2022 entitled Can we please stop describing everything as “iconic”?.

    In it Mr Berman expresses his frustration with this extensively and lazily used adjective.

    The word seems to have become the favorite go-to adjective of newscasters/reporters, commercials, documentaries, magazines, newspapers, and wherever the English language is found in our culture.

    US dictionary publisher Merriam Webster has even added the note below to its definition of the I-word.

    The original meaning of iconic was essentially “resembling an icon,” but today it often describes what is so admired that it could be the subject of an icon. And with that use, iconic has become part of the language of advertising and publicity: companies and magazines and TV hosts encourage us to think of some consumer item or pop star or show as first-rate or immortal or flawless—absolutely “iconic”—when that person or thing is actually simply widely known and—they assert—distinctively excellent.

    Many decades ago, your ‘umble scribe recalls being taught at school that one of the secrets of good writing was to have a good vocabulary. This naturally entailed having a good stock of synonyms – words having an identical or similar meaning, so that specific words do not get overused.

    Over at the Word Hippo website, there’s a wealth of synonyms for the I-word, of which a small selection is given below for the benefit of passing, journalists, reporters, broadcasters, etc.

    • archetypal
    • epochal
    • exemplary
    • quintessential
    • emblematic
    • seminal

    It is not known whether Five/5ive will be performing wearing haloes, or if the stage will be surrounded by a large gilt border reminiscent of a picture frame, now the band itself has gained the status object of religious veneration thanks to the local press. Perhaps the Reach plc ‘journalist‘ who wrote the piece or the venue itself could clarify matters in the comments below if they happen to be passing. 😀

  • Commemorative Carcassonne culinary cock-up

    Aerial view of medieval CarcassonneThe French city of Carcassonne in the département of Aude is best known – and rightly so – for its medieval citadel, which actually has a history dating back to the Gallo-Roman period and is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

    However, in recent days Carcassonne has become equally well known – in the Francophone world at least – for the poor quality of the local council’s spelling and its subsequent mockery on social media and in the mainstream print and broadcast media, as Midi Libre reports.

    Like any French town or city, some of Carcassonne’s street names commemorate prominent local and/or national figures.

    Pierre Curie. Image courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsOne of those luminaries so honoured in Carcassonne is the physicist Pierre Curie (1859-1906) In 1903, Pierre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics along with his wife, Marie Skłodowska–Curie and another French scientist, Henri Becquerel, the man who discovered radioactity, all of them being jointly honoured in that year for their contributions to science and knowledge.

    As stated by Midi Libre, the cause for the outbreak of mainstream media and social media mockery, not to mention the presence of red faces at the local mairie, can be summarised in one single sentence.

    Cette semaine, deux panneaux ont été installés sur l’avenue Pierre Curie, dans la cité audoise, sauf que le célèbre physicien a été rebaptisé… “Pierre Curry” et a donc été orthographié comme la célèbre épice indienne.

    Which is rendered in English as the following:

    This week, two road signs were installed on Avenue Pierre Curie, in the city in Aude, except that the famous physicist was renamed… “Pierre Curry” and was thus spelled like the famous Indian spice.

    Street sign for Avenue Pierre Curry

    The erroneous signs were quickly removed yesterday (Saturday). The council has stated that signs with the correct spelling will be installed from this coming Monday.

    The mockery on social media took two forms: firstly, the culinary (it is not known whether Pierre and Marie invented the radioactive tandoori. Ed.), whilst Jo Zefka provides a typical post mocking the council’s poor orthographical skills.

    Screenshot of tweet by Joe Zefka

    Zefka asks:

    “Avenue Pierre Curry, physicien”.
    Demain, la “rue Arthur Rambo, poète” ?

    English version:

    “Avenue Pierre Curie, physicist”.
    Tomorrow, “rue Arthur Rambo, poet”?

    Your ‘umble scribe is pleased to note the speed with which Carcassonne town hall will be replacing the error-laden road signs. Here in the fair city and county of Bristol, the council – which is not known for its alacrity (except when pursuing council tax arrears .Ed.) – took all of four years to replace an erroneous road sign reading Morton Road (instead of Morton Street) in Lawrence Hill, perhaps because it lacked to comic cock-up quality of its Carcassonnais counterpart.

  • Situations vacant: woodland builders

    Reach plc local titles are an excellent source of exclusives, mainly due to the poor quality English of some of their employees.

    Today’s Bristol Live/Post has one such exclusive, which also doubles up a secret classified for for very specialist workers in the construction trade, namely woodland builders, as per the screenshot below.

    Biggest woodland in a generation to be built near Bristol

    Your ‘umble scribe is glad to see that the generation of greenery has been modernised. Building woodland sounds much more contemporary and organised than just letting the shrubbery sprout naturally. It will also ensure more employment for those in the construction trade, which is always the first to suffer and the last to recover in any economic downturn. 😀

  • And now, a message about the prime minister…

    As seen yesterday on the fringes of Bristol’s Broadmead shopping ‘quarter’.

    Sticker reading Rishi Sunak is a pussy hole.

    As it bears no imprint, your correspondent doubts this is official party political campaign material.

    However, it is on a par with former Scottish First Minister Nicola Surgeon’s assessment of one of Sunak’s predecessors in the post, namely disgraced former party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    Further less than complementary appraisals of senior Tory politicians, including one comparing lettuce shelf-life prime minister Mary Elizabeth Truss to a marzipan sex toy, were subsequently revealed to be spurious.

  • More writing on the wall

    Yet more Bristol street art, this time from the wall of the Coach at the junction of Braggs Lane and Gloucester Lane in the St Jude’s area.

    Aeroplane with weapons plus the wording Stop Killing People You Tucking Fwats

    Your ‘umble scribe is unaware whether the Twats being referenced are involved in Israel’s latest slaughter in the Gaza Strip, the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine, the US and UK attacks on Yemeni Houthis for their targeting of Red Sea shipping or any one of the manifold armed conflicts – whether international or internal civil wars/insurrections – which seem to afflict the world at any given moment.

    Perhaps the artist Merny would like to comment below as to her/his motivation.

  • The writing on the wall

    Bristol has a reputation for radical politics; a reputation that stretches back to the riots of 1831 and the 1793 Bristol Bridge riot. Some might even say its radical history dates back even further: in the 11th century, Bishop Wulfstan made it his mission to end the practice of selling Christian slaves to the Vikings Ireland and spent months preaching to the people of Bristol against the practice.

    This radical tradition is continued by a new piece of street art which has appeared on St Mark’s Road in the Easton district in the last few days and clearly emphasises the area’s attitudes.

    Graffiti with words Easton Feminist Antifascist on black border
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