Oddities

Geographical confusion plagues local Reach title

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If there’s one thing that characterises Reach plc’s regional newspaper titles it is lack of attention to detail, whether that is their use of English, captioning of photos, geographical location and so on.

Earlier this week visitors to the Bristol Post website (aka BristolLive. Ed.) were treated to an exemplar of this poor quality media production.

It’s not unusual for newspaper sites to encourage their visitors to sign up for newsletters as a marketing tool and thus increase their traffic.

However, the Bristol Post’s latest effort, which is posted on a page that seems to be syndicated across several different regional titles, appears to have been mistargeted, landing a direct hit on the banks to the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber estuary, rather than the banks of the Bristol Avon.

Screenshot of Bristol Post web page inviting readers to sign up for the HullLive newsletter

Hull – Bristol’s newest suburb?

This is not the first time (and definitely won’t be the last. Ed.) that Reach titles have played fast and loose with geography. Four years ago, the Bristol Post magically transformed into the Manchester Evening News (posts passim).

This action raises a number of questions, i.e.:

  • Is Hull Bristol’s newest suburb?
  • Are HullLive readers being invited to sign up to the BristolLive newsletters in the interests of balance if nothing else?
  • How many seconds would the average modern Reach employee have survived in post if magically transported back to the days when all regional newspapers employed sub-editors?

If you know the answer or can provide further elucidation, please comment below. 😀

Christmas cancelled?

It’s that time of year again, when the rumour circulates that Christmas has been cancelled to avoid upsetting members of other faiths.

This is of course pure nonsense whipped up by fearful and over-sensitive right-wing commentators in the media and has been debunked every time it’s been mentioned.

Who’s to say that adherents of other religions don’t enjoy the Christmas celebrations as much as followers of Christ? Jesus was after all born Jewish and under the name of Isa, is regarded as one of the twenty-five prophets of Islam

As proof that this year’s Christmas has not been cancelled by the anonymous PC Brigade, here’s a shot taken of the window of my nearest butcher in Roman Road, Easton. Please supply your own stuffing and cranberry sauce. 😀

Poster reads place your fresh halal turkey order now

Cancelling Christmas has a long history in this country, stretching back to the mid-17th century when, following the English Civil War, the the Commonwealth of England was governed by a parliament dominated by Puritans, who objected to certain practices they viewed as unbiblical, including the long-established feast of Christmas. In 1647, the English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification“, as well as a time of wasteful and immoral behaviour. Protests followed: pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and indulged in other practices bound to annoy the killjoys who have been with us ever since.

All of which brings us to the infamous Winterval. Frequently cited as the ultimate Cancel Christmas event, Winterval was nothing of the sort, but a mere two events held in successive winters in November and December 1997 and 1998 to encourage people to return to the newly rejuvenated city centre. These featured secular and religious events marking religious and other occasions, including Christmas, during those two months. Winterval has since become popular shorthand for misrepresented events to “rebrand” Christmas so as not to exclude non-Christians.

Another day, another dreadful Reach headline

Another day, another dreadful headline from a Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror. Ed.) title.

Today’s comes courtesy of Wales Online and features 2 regular features: firstly the desire the pack the entire story into the headline (instead of that anachronistic practice of giving the odd hint about it. Ed.); and secondly ambiguity.

Headline reads The town at panic stations every time there's a flood warning which is being left at the mercy of climate change

In my first job after graduating, part of the introduction to the company’s house style involved avoiding ambiguity at all costs.

This is evidently no longer the case in large swathes of the local press, especially where the titles are owned by the two big players: the aforementioned Reach plc and Newsquest Media Group Ltd.

By-election special

Owen PatersonFollowing the resignation as a backbench MP of the disgraced former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, a by-election has been called for the North Shropshire constituency (where your ‘umble scribe was born and raised. Ed.), the Tory virtual one party state which has returned a Tory member in every poll bar one* since implementation of the so-called Great” Reform Act of 1832.

Paterson decided to resign and leave what he called the “cruel world of politics” (if you want to see how cruel the world of politics is, Paterson’s voting record is online. Ed.) after public outcry following a botched attempt by part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to save his pal from 30 days’ suspension from the Commons for what the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards termed an “egregious case of paid advocacy“.

The full list of fourteen candidates for the by-election has now been released, including for the Tories one Neil Shastri-Hurst, a barrister parachuted in from Birmingham into what should for them be a safe seat.

Given its history, the contest should be a shoe-in for the Blue Team, given that the disgraced former member had a majority just short of 23,000 and that the large number of candidates standing will inevitably split the anti-Conservative vote.

Campaigning has already begun, with prominent and less prominent occupiers of those green leather benches in Westminster turning out to support their chosen candidate, in this case that Brummie barrister.

At which point step forward the honourable Mr Edmund Frances Hughes, who owes his position to the gullibility of voters in the constituency of Walsall North.

Except for the fact that Eddie did not so much step forward as trip over his own two feet and end up flat on his face on social media with one tweet.

Yesterday afternoon in a tweet featuring not only the Brummie barrister, but also Oliver Dowden MP, the former Secretary of State for Culture Wars, Eddie wrote:

Very positive day campaigning in Wem for the North Staffs. by-election.
Dr. Neil Shastri-Hurst would be an excellent MP, and already has a proven track record of public service.

Yes, you did read that tweet correctly. Eddie has moved Wem from the rural acres of north Shropshire to somewhere in the vicinity of the Potteries conurbation, which might have some effect on voters as regards the competence of the Blue Team.

However, it is not just the Conservatives’ drafted-in support that seems to be having problems knowing exactly where above the centre it is. That affliction also extended to their candidate himself, Mr Neil Shastri-Hurst, if a tweet by Harry Taylor is to be believed. Harry writes:

Just read that a voter in Wem was shocked that the Tory candidate thought he was actually in Oswestry (20 miles away!). This coming after Eddie Hughes MP thought he was in North Staffs – a constituency abolished in 1885 – is sending quite a message to voters.

High Street of the ‘North Staffordshire’ town of Wem. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After all, if members of the governing party don’t even know what county or town they are in, how can they possibly be expected to cope with far more difficult stuff, like the complicated legal text of draft legislation?

*=In the first election held in the new constituency in 1832, North Shropshire was a two-member seat, returning one Tory and one Whig MP. After becoming a single member seat, the only time a non-Tory was elected was in 1904, when it was a Liberal Party seat for a mere two years.

‘Concrete’ Mike pwned

Your ‘umble scribe is not a listener to Rupert Murdoch’s TalkRadio channel, being as it is top-heavy with right-wing presenters and commentators.

Furthermore, its audience compared to other national broadcasters is tiny, with Rajar figures revealing an average national number of listeners of 433,000, i.e. less than the current estimated population of Bristol.

One of those right-wing presenters had a bad day at the studio yesterday.

Step forward one Archibald Michael Graham, otherwise know as ‘Iron’ Mike, former editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Mirror and former assistant editor of the Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.).

Yesterday he’d invited Insulate Britain spokesperson Cameron Ford, onto the TalkRadio breakfast show, where he is currently deputising for the dreadful Julia Hartley-Brewer, ostensibly to discuss Insulate Britain’s latest protest action, but more likely so that Ford could give him a good verbal kicking for the entertainment of the station’s none too large audience.

However, matters did not progress entirely to plan, leaving Iron Mike’s carapace pitted with rust as he ended up displaying his own stupidity, which has now gone viral around the English-speaking world.

Graham’s stupidity was so egregious that the hashtag #ConcreteMike is trending on Twitter today.

The interview, which lasted less than one minute in total, starts with no style at all. Graham launches straight into an ad hominem attack on his guest – a carpenter by trade – claiming that wood is not a sustainable product, before trying to assert that concrete is a sustainable product, before being politely corrected. There then follow a period of silence before Graham ends the interview thinking he’s embarrassed his guest, whilst not having the nous to realise he has opened his mouth and inserted his foot up to the ankle, as per the video clip below.

Meet Tokyo’s litter samurai

In Tokyo there’s a special team of you men and women who help keep the streets clean with some elegant and graceful moves they perform whilst dressed in traditional Japanese robes and Western trilby hats.

Known as Gomihiroi Samurai (“litter-picking Samurai”), these environmentally conscious individuals have a unique approach to clean streets, as can be seen below.

The group have gained popularity on social media site TikTok, where they have gained over 300,000 followers, as well as on InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

They’re all street performers and one of them, Naka Keisuke, told France 24 that the group thought they’d like to welcome visitors from around the world to a clean city when it was announced that Tokyo had been chosen for the last Olympic Games.

Given Bristol’s love for street performers, they’d go down a storm in the litter capital of the West Country… if they weren’t worn out by the sheer amount of filth.

Daily Brexit: promises versus reality

The Daily Express, aka the Daily Brexit in some circles, was one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.) to leave to European Union, which if not promising a land flowing with biblical milk and honey, it was at the very least holding out the prospect of one where cake could both be had and eaten.

However, the reality of being a third country and the spite, nastiness and xenophobia that have exemplified the British government and media’s attitude to our European friends and partners (© part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) and development since 21st December 2020 have made the Daily Brexit’s mission of being upbeat about the country’s splendid isolation more difficult, as shown by evidence from its own post-Brexit headlines.

How it started How it’s going
On the left pre-referendum headlines. On the right post-referendum reality headlines

A very special bus service

One of the phrases guaranteed to dismay every regular user of Britain’s chaotic and overpriced railway network is rail replacement service. This involves taking the scheduled service off the rails (usually for engineering works at busy holiday periods when everyone either wants to get away and/or visit friends and loved ones. Ed.) and substituting the rolling stock with buses, with the inevitable increased journey times and a reduction in passenger comfort.

However, these rail replacement services do not serve Stapleton Road railway station, where the sign shown below is affixed to the Frome viaduct wing wall on the station approach.

Sign title reads rail replacementment buses

As the station is under the management of First Great Western, an alleged train operating company, you ‘umble scribe assumes it was their staff who designed, wrote and approved the final signage.

For any passing First Great Western signage design drones, here’s a wee tip: a spellchecker now comes as a standard feature of all popular office productivity suites. 😀

Thank you Viz

When Viz comic first emerged onto the British media scene in 1979 its content was based on parodying British children’s comics, notably The Beano and The Dandy (both of which your ‘umble scribe read as a child. Ed.) – of the post-war period with the extensive use of obscenity, toilet humour, black comedy, surreal humour and generally sexual or violent storylines.

It is therefore no surprise that Viz has been taking aim at – and having fun with – part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his government of high-functioning imbeciles (the only funny-bone ticklers having a hard job mocking Bozo and his clowns are the satirists. Ed.).

Viz's targeting uses as its vehicle the long-running classic British Carry On film franchise series.

Spoof cinema poster for Carry On Covid

Nevertheless, there seems to have been some mis-casting in the Viz version: Sid James has more competence in his little finger than Bozo the Clown has in his whole anatomy, whilst Priti Patel is more noted for her lack of humanity than an ability to deliver a double entendre.

Only one resident at a time

The flats at Combfactory Court in Easton have a capacious car park with at least 6 or 8 spaces.

However, owing to stringent restrictions imposed on its use – as shown below on the notice on its railings – only one resident is allowed to park at any one time.

Notice reads Resident's Only Parking

Resident’s only? Not a chance for greengrocer’s then!

Whoever is in charge of the car park has contributed to public view a textbook example of the greengrocer’s apostrophe. This is an informal term in British English for the non-standard use of an apostrophe before the final -s in the plural. It would appear the efforts of examinations body the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority since 2006 have been in vain.

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