Bristol

Daily Mail – east Bristol comments

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Seen today at the junction of Clarence Road, West Street and Trinity Road where Easton meets Old Market.

No further comment is necessary apart from reminding readers that Wikipedia classified the Daily Mail as an unreliable source in 2017, a move which was confirmed in 2019.

Poster of Daily Mail masthead with bullshit emoji beneath

Whitehall BS5 sends a message to Whitehall SW1

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This blog has written before about the changing messages that appear on a garage wall at the apex of the junction of Russelltown Avenue, Cannon Street and Whitehall Road (posts passim).

The message has now changed again and reads as per the photo below.

Text in photograph reads Boris is a big bumbahole

According to Urban Dictionary, bumbahole is a synonym of arsehole in British English and asshole in American English.

One can safely assume that the Boris being referenced is none other than the superannuated Billy Bunter-like figure of one certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has been inexplicably promoted beyond his competence to the office of Prime Minister of the English Empire, a job he fulfils to his own satisfaction on a part time basis.

Among the less favourable characteristics of Bunter’s personality are gluttony, laziness, racism, deceit, sloth, self-importance and conceit, all of which have been extensively documented down the decades by others more eloquent than your ‘umble scribe (e.g. his former employer Max Hastings) as also being present in the part-time alleged prime minister’s character.

Electrifying

One of the staples of local news reporting is the activities of the emergency services – police, ambulance, coastguard, fire service – and in this regard Bristol Live – formerly the Bristol (Evening) Post is no exception.

Yesterday’s online edition reported on the fire service’s attendance at a possible incident on Colston Street (soon to revert to its original name of Steep Street after the city’s Victorian great and good renamed it after a slave trader. Ed.).

However, once again the reporter’s poor English is disappointing to read.

In the second paragraph readers are informed that

The alarm was sounded after what was believed to be an electric fire in Colston Street at around 8.22pm.

Where was the said domestic appliance left? In the roadway? On the footway/pavement?

Clarification was helpfully supplied by the fire service, whose spokesperson commented as follows:

Upon investigation, the issue was determined to be under the pavement and originating from an area of recently excavated electrical works.

So the fire, if it ever existed in the first place, was electrical, not electric.

As an aid to passing hacks wishing to improve their vocabulary, there follows below a handy pictorial guide to the difference between the two. 😀

An electrical fire

An electrical fire. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Electric fire

An electric fire (aka electric heater). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Weston’s water problem

Bristol Live, formerly the Bristol (Evening) Post, aka the Temple Way Ministry of Truth, has an enduring reputation locally for the poor quality of some of its reporting.

The reputation was not diminished earlier this week with a report from the paper’s North Somerset correspondent on the temporary closure for improvements of the Water Adventure & Play Park, a facility managed by Weston-super-Mare Town Council.

The report gets off to a bad start with the headline boldly and falsely proclaiming Popular Weston-super-Mare seafront water park to close this month, making it sound as if the attraction is to close permanently, not temporarily.

Note too the use of popular, a term normally reserved by Bristol Live for failing cafés and restaurants.

However, the real howler in the piece occurs in the obligatory quotation from a Town Council spokesperson. In his second sentence he is quoted as saying:

We apologise for the incontinence and look forward to welcoming you back with new improvements ready for the summer holidays.

Whether the specified incontinence originated from any communication from the council, erroneous predictive text or any other source is unclear. Nevertheless, earlier in the piece readers are informed that “the water has remained off due to covid [sic] guidelines“, so the origin of any incontinence is unclear.

When the facility reopens, we are informed that the cost of admission is £2.50 per child.

In view of the purported incontinence, perhaps that ought to be raised to a Tena. 😉

Tree catches train?

One of the joys of reading the Bristol Post/BristolLive website is their hidden exclusives – the ones that are really newsworthy, but are buried in other pieces, such as in this example from Wednesday.

Headline reads Woman died after being hit by branch leaning out of train window, inquest hears

The flippant side of me wants to ask the journalist about the circumstantial details implied by the headline. What was a tree doing on the train in the first place? What kind of ticket was it sold? Where was it travelling from and to? Did it pay full price for the ticket or was it a railcard holder? Did it buy anything from the buffet during its journey? And ultimately why did it feel the need to stick a branch out of the window when the train was travelling at 75 mph, particularly as it resulted in a person’s death?

The tragic story of a life cut short by a moment’s carelessness has been turned upside down by sloppy headline writing, which implies that part of the tree was poking out of a train window was the cause of death, rather than the deceased being careless, leaning out of a train window being struck by lineside vegetation.

However, despite my flippancy above, I do realise and appreciate that it must be very distressing to the victim’s friends and family to have the read the circumstances of the incident so misrepresented by someone allegedly supposed to be working for an organ whic is supposed a trusted source of local news.

As the victim came from Penarth, WalesOnline, the Reach plc’s South Wales equivalent of BristolLive, has also carried the story, but with a clear and unambiguous headline.

Please take note, servants of the Bristol’s Temple Way Ministry of Truth.

Bristol on the buses

Buses are Bristol’s major mode of public transport and as your ‘umble scribe is now in possession of a geriatric’s bus pass, he might actually get around to exploring their possibilities.

One linguistic peculiarity of using the city’s buses which must be perplexing to outsiders and visitors is the use of the term drive to denote the person in charge of the vehicle. This normally takes the form of the grateful form of address “Cheers Drive” as passengers get off at their intended stops.

This phrase was last year used to name a new street in the BS5 postcode area, as reported at the time by BBC News.

Bus destination board sign reads: Sorry me babbers. I'm not in serviceIt now seems that the buses themselves have also taken to addressing potential passengers in dialect, as per this photo courtesy of the WeLoveKeynsham Twitter account.

Of course, it’s not always been a smooth ride on the city’s buses.

Back in 1963, there was a boycott of the city’s buses led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and others over the Bristol Omnibus Company’s shameful and discriminatory refusal to employ black or Asian people.

Furthermore, the reliability of quality of services has been a perennial problem and formed the subject of Fred Wedlock’s song, Bristol Buses.

Cheers drive!

The vision thing

The vision thing” is a comment made by George H. W. Bush ahead of the 1988 United States presidential election when urged to spend some time thinking about his plans for his prospective presidency.

The embracing of vision – with or without the thing – is widespread in public life in Britain at both local and national levels. Every party leader is expected to have one; and any plans for the wholesale remodelling of large areas of our town and cities are expected incorporate vision too.

An investigation into the prevalence of vision in the organs of the British state reveals just how ingrained use of the term is. A quick Google search for items containing “vision” on websites within the .gov.uk domain is revealing.

Screenshot of Google search revealing 2.3m uses of vision on central and local government websites

No, your eyes do not deceive you – 2.3 million instances of use.

Looking more locally, a recent search (mid-April) of the Bristol City Council website for the term returns a total of over 4,200 hits. It has probably risen since last month (and with all that evident ocular deployment, one would have thought that the inhabitants of the Counts Louse – which some refer to as City Hall – would realise there’s a major cleanliness problem with the city’s streets. Ed.).

Screenshot of Google search of Bristol City Council website for use of vision

With all that vision in use in the country, opticians and their colleagues must be raking in the money. 😀

Helmut Schmidt

Sie hatten Recht, Herr Bundeskanzler!

Or is it necessarily opticians and associated practitioners that should be profiting from this phenomenon? There is some scepticism about the benefits of visions.

George H.W. Bush was mentioned at the start of this post. One of his contemporaries was the former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Schmidt was very dismissive of visions and is on record as stating the following:

Wer Visionen hat, soll zum Arzt gehen.

This translates into English as:

Anyone who has visions should go to the doctor.

Will those working for the British state be visiting their GPs en masse soon?

I doubt it.

Finally, when someone summoned up the courage to ask Schmidt what his big vision was, he is reputed to have referred them to Bush! 😀

May blossom

We’re now in May and one reliable natural occurrence of the time of year is the flowering of common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), which is also known as the oneseed hawthorn, or single-seeded hawthorn.

Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw.

The Woodland Trust have produced a short video depicting one year in the life of the hawthorn.

The specimen below can be found in the Easton section of the Bristol & Railway Path near the Brixton Road access point.

Hawthorn tree on Railway Path in Easton

Hawthorn is amongst the first trees to start budding in the spring (the above specimen first put out leaves in late January. Ed.) and is also a fast-growing plant. This may explain the alternative name of quickthorn.

As it forms a dense, thorny mass of branches, it is often used for hedging, particularly where livestock has to be contained.

Besides its agricultural value as hedging, common hawthorn can support more than 300 insects. It is a food plant for caterpillars of numerous moths. Its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The haws (berries) are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by migrating birds, such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals.

Furthermore, the dense, thorny foliage makes fantastic nesting shelter for many bird species of bird.

Green Man ceiling boss, Rochester Cathedral

Folklore and symbolism

Hawthorn is a pagan symbol of fertility and has associations with May Day stretching back beyond written history. It was the forerunner of the Maypole and its leaves and flowers provided the source of May Day garlands as well as appearing in the wreath of the Green Man.

In medieval times hawthorn was never brought indoors as it was generally believed that bringing its blossom indoors would result in illness and even death. In those times it was also commonly believed that hawthorn blossom smelled like the plague. In more recent times scientists have discovered the chemical trimethylamine (which smells like ammonia or rotting flesh. Ed.) in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in rotting animal fish, hence the tree’s traditional linking with illness and death.

In spite of the beliefs and symbolism outlined above, the young hawthorn leaves, flower buds and young flowers are all edible. The leaves are often described as having the flavour of bread and cheese. They can be added to green salads and grated root salads. The developing flower buds are particularly good. The haws can be eaten raw (beware a stomach upset. Ed.), but are most commonly used to make jellies and wines.

A final personal note

In my own life, the blossoming of the hawthorn always reminds me that spring is giving way to early summer.

In particular, it reminds of when I was 8 years old and my mother took my 2 younger siblings and me by train all the way from Stafford to Harling Road in Norfolk – the nearest station to my grandmother’s home. The journey took the best part of a day (showing how difficult it was to travel cross-country in England, even in pre-Beeching times. Ed.). The fields on either side of the railway lines on which we travelled were thick with hawthorn blossoming pink and white.

Whenever I see hawthorn in bloom these days, I’m immediately reminded of that one train journey, even though it’s now almost 6 decades in the past.

Update: After writing this post, I asked both my siblings if they remembered that journey and if so, what they recalled. My sister replied that she recollected the journey as being interminable and her chief memory was all the trackside telegraph poles, whilst my brother – the youngest of us – responded with a question as to whether that was the railway trip during which he was sick. He obviously had other matters than lineside shrubbery on his mind. 😀

Illiteracy or bloody-mindedness?

It’s now 10 years since TidyBS5 was inaugurated by local residents with the support of local ward councillors to campaign for a more pleasant street scene in the Bristol council wards of Easton and Lawrence Hill.

During all that time, both residents and councillors has persistently call on Bristol City Council to increase both the presence and visibility of enforcement action, but our efforts have only been rewarded in the last couple of years with higher fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for environmental crimes in 2019 and the recent recruiting of more enforcement officers (posts passim).

Largely as a result of the actions of local residents raising awareness of environmental blight, the streets of Lawrence Hill and Easton are now marginally freer of fly-tipping than they were then, but problems still persist, not helped by the lower footfall due to lockdown and the amount of DIY and building works being undertaken.

This was spotted at the junction of Walton Street and Chaplin Road.

Photo shows fly-tipping beneath sign advising no fly-tipping, CCTV in operation

Is this an example of illiteracy or bloody-mindedness? Kindly give your answers in the comments.

Greens take impressive lead in recycling box poll

It’s one week to go to the elections for Bristol City Council, the elected Mayor of Bristol (with 2 of the 9 candidates standing for election to the office vowing to hold a referendum with a view to abolishing the autocratic post. Ed.), the West of England Combined Authority Mayor and the Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner.

My recycling box is rapidly filling up with election materials as the parties all vie for my cross against their candidates’ names on the four ballot papers (Hint to canvassers: don’t bother with my house any more; I’ve already voted by post! Ed.).

Following the arrival on the latest leaflet on the doormat, the poll has been updated and now shows the following state of the parties.

Screenshot of spreadsheet showing Greens with 4 leaflets and other parties with 1 each

The Greens seem determined to win Lawrence Hill ward and are pulling out all the stops. As they’re normally in fourth place, the Tories have managed on token leaflet as have the Liberal Democrats, who were once renowned for their zeal in bunging up letterboxes with their literature.

Why has there only been one Labour leaflet? Is this a symptom of lower levels of activism in the wake of members deserting the party after the election of Keir Starmer (whom some unkindly refer to as Keith. Ed.)?

All will become clear next week.

Maybe.

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