Oddities

The ultimate cheese toastie?

Earlier this week, Bristol City Council’s licensing committee voted to ban the sale of toasted cheese sandwiches in a north Bristol park due to concerns about anti-social behaviour (posts passim).

Whilst doing background research for that post, your correspondent discovered what must count as the world’s ultimate cheese toastie, particularly if the main metrological criterion for the snack’s assessment is its cholesterol content.

Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Desperately seeking Vivian

One of the more interesting aspects of running a website is dealing with stuff that the ordinary visitor doesn’t see, both the bad (spam comments posted by bots) and the good.

As regards the latter, read on.

For instance, over Christmas I was contacted by a gentleman who’d attended Avonvale Road School (posts passim) in the 1960s as a primary pupil and wrote to me to see if I could update him on its fate.

Unfortunately, I had to tell him that the buildings he knew had been demolished to make way for the modern school that now occupies the site.

Earlier this week I was contacted via this site by Louise Allum, sister of the late Viv, who was on our BA Modern Languages course in Wolverhampton.

Louise read my write-up of the last reunion* (posts passim).

Louise was wondering if any of her fellow students from the course had any photos from their student days featuring her, which they would be willing to share in some form as she has no pictures of her from that era.

If any of my former BAML colleagues happen to read this and can help out, please get in touch and I’ll put you in contact with Louise.

* = In the course of trying to help out Louise, I got hold of a fellow alumnus and received the news that the next reunion is in the early planning stages.

Cheese toastie shocker

Yesterday’s online version of the Bristol Post (now renamed Bristol Live. Ed.) carried a shocking item about a hitherto unknown catalyst for violence: the toasted cheese sandwich.

According to the Post, this humble snack may not be served at a proposed catering concession in Monk’s Park in Bristol’s Southmead district “amid fears a proposed hot food van could attract booze-fuelled anti-social behaviour and motorbike gangs“.

The Post continues:

Councillors have agreed to grant a provisional licence for cold food, such as ice cream, and tea and coffee in Monk’s Park, Biddestone Road.

But the vendor would be barred from selling hot snacks following dozens of objections from residents, a ward councillor and the headteacher of a nearby secondary school.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by tomato soup.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by not quite so provocative tomato soup. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However, the fear of violent behaviour was not the only concern for banning hot food: councillors on the city council’s public safety and protection committee also feared children from the next-door school would be tempted to skip lessons due to the lure of grilled fermented curd.

Following the committee’s decision the concession will now be put out to tender.

However, the story does not end there. When your correspondent posted about the article on Twitter, one person to respond was local artist Dru Marland, whose response about fermented curd addiction was hilarious.

XDru's tweet reads they start 'em on Dairylea slices, and before you know it they're mugging pensioners for their next fix of Stinking Bishop

For a more complete understanding of the violence-inducing properties of cheese, I should have asked the committee about their opinions of more exotic varieties of fermented curd, such as Roquefort or Graviera, but pressure of time dictated otherwise. πŸ™‚

Update: Not forty-eight hours after Bristol was opened to national and international ridicule over this affair, Bristol Live reports that residents of Bristol’s Cotham district have branded a hot food catering van an “appalling idea“. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

Morrisons – bottom of the class in Welsh

It’s always good to see Welsh being promoted in Wales.

However, it does help if one uses a professional translator and native Welsh speaker before committing any money to doing works on the ground.

This has clearly not been done by supermarket chain Morrisons with the car park markings shown below at its supermarket car park in Caernarfon.

picture showing bilingual no entry markings with incorrect Welsh wording

Picture courtesy of Richard Jones (@lluniarich)

The error was brought to the attention of non-Welsh speakers by Twitter user Rhysew, who tweeted

C’mon @Morrisons, sort this out! Your Welsh translates as “Arse record” Correct it as DIM MYNEDIAD.

screenshot of tweet

This is not the first time Anglophone companies have treated Welsh – a far older language than English – with the respect it deserves.

Most recently, there was comedy train operating company First Great Western, which will have no Welsh language announcements on its services between South Wales and London (even though it manages to embrace both Welsh and English train announcements at Newport station. Ed.)

Last year there was also Santander, which seems to have problems with Welsh customers expecting transactions in the vernacular despite having a clear Welsh language policy.

In the meantime, would any Welsh-speaking reader care to ask Morrisons if the “arse record” will be available on vinyl. πŸ˜‰

Post exclusive: fire brigade incident at non-existent tower block

One thing is certain about life in Bristol: it’s quite unlike living anywhere else and can sometimes be well beyond the borders of the surreal.

This feeling is enhanced by reading the Bristol Post, city’s newspaper of (warped) record.

Just skimming casually through the Post website, readers may easily miss some real exclusives, such as this fire brigade incident reported yesterday by Heather Pickstock, who is alleged to be the paper’s North Somerset reporter.

As shown in the screenshot above, Ms Pickstock informs readers as follows in this fine piece of creative writing:

screenshot of part of article

Crews from Southmead, Temple, Kingswood, Hicks Gate, Bedminster and Pill were called at 9.46pm yesterday to reports of smoke billowing from the sixth floor of a high rise block a Littlecroft House, Pip Street, Eastville.

There’s just one thing wrong with the above sentence: it’s completely incorrect; there’s no Pip Street in Eastville and no high rise block called Littlecroft House either.

A research technique known to ordinary mortals, but not to Ms Pickstock, affectionately known as “5 minutes’ Googling” reveals there’s a a council tower block called Little Cross House in Phipps Street, Southville, a good four miles across the city from Eastville.

The Bristol area can breathe a sigh of relief that Ms Pickstock does not work as a call handler on the 999 emergency switchboard. πŸ˜‰

Driverless vehicle turns to theft

This blog has previously documented the carnage on the highways caused by driverless vehicles (posts passim).

The Bristol Post, the city’s newspaper of warped record, has now discovered that driverless vehicles are not only responsible for so-called “accidents“, but have now turned to theft – or attempted theft – as well.

Headline reads Police stop 4X4 on motorway with fake license plates after it tried to steal a caravan

If there’s one crumb of comfort to be gained from the above report, it is that our brave boys and girls in blue would have had no trouble spotting the offending vehicle with those American “license plates“. πŸ˜‰

Exclusive: Bristol Post changes name to Manchester Evening News

It’s official: the Bristol Post (or is it BristolLive? Ed.) is changing its name to the Manchester Evening News.

And the revelation comes in a piece from no less a personage than Mike Norton, the title’s editor in chief himself, and is hidden away in the details about the implications of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The relevant section is outlined in red in the image below. Click on the image for the full-sized version.

relevant sentence reads: However, the GDPR is not just related to emails. It affects every industry, business, including publishing and therefore ours here at manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Whether production of the Post will be moved up north from the Temple Way Ministry of Truth is not mentioned.

Is Mike Norton guilty of copying and pasting without checking the actual wording?

In Private Eye’s immortal words: we should be told! πŸ™‚

What about the pictures?

Read the screenshot below and do so carefully.

headline reads: Β£250 reward offered after giant Ironbridge duck is thrown in river - with pictures

After reading the actual story, I found no mention of pictures being thrown into the River Severn in Ironbridge by vandals.

Did it actually happen? Or did the dread ambiguity that plagues so much modern journalism strike again?

When I was learning/being taught to write so many decades ago, we were always advised to steer clear of anything that could be misconstrued.

That concept is now obviously regarded as old-fashioned and no longer worthwhile by those who write today’s media (sometimes with the digital equivalent of a crayon. Ed. πŸ˜‰ )

The thoughts of Michael Gove

Today’s Graunaid reports on the establishment of a new Tory think tank, erroneously called “Onward“.

However, it is firmly denied that this anodyne moniker is meant in any way to be an echo of “En Marche!“, the movement that propelled the right-of-centre Emmanuel Macron to power in France (and Andorra; he’s also the ex-officio co-prince of the Pyrenean principality. Ed.).

Michael Gove's official Defra photoThose at the centre of the launch in the Gruaniad’s eyes are Scottish Tory leader Ruth “tractor quotas” Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, and Michael Gove, the man with the most punchable face in British politics and alleged to be the UK’s current Secretary of State For Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Leaving aside the sordid details of the think tank’s launch, which were given far too much attention for my mind by the Gruaniad, what struck your ‘umble scribe was the following phrase relating to the boy Michael:

Gove, the environment secretary, who has long been one of the party’s most influential thinkers,…

The plain truth is that thinking doesn’t come naturally to Michael. In a previous incarnation as Secretary of State for Education, he’s on record as not understanding what an average is or how it works in this oral reply to the House of Commons Education Committee in 2012:

…we expect schools not only to be judged on the level of raw attainment but also in terms of making sure that children are on track and are not falling back-and, indeed, do better than the average.

Meanwhile in his present post, he has in the past had difficulty in remembering which country he’s in, singing the praises of Welsh lamb in a press release for a visit to Northern Ireland (posts passim).

Furthermore, there are also times when Michael Gove doesn’t think at all. He didn’t think of his son when he and his wife thought it acceptable to leave the 11 year-old at a hotel to go to a party.

Thinking is a skill that can be taught and acquired, but your correspondent has yet to see that Gove has gained sufficient quantities thereof in his education at public school and thereafter at Oxford University.

Then again, lack of talent has never been an obstacle to achieving high office for the Blue Team…

More thoughts on monarchy and the royal family by Keir Hardie

Jame Keir Hardie photographed in 1905Today, 19th May 2018, uncelebrated blues artiste Mumblin’ Harry Wales (posts passim) weds US actor Meghan Markle in Windsor.

Whilst I have no particular axe to grind against anyone wishing to get married and wish Mr Wales and Ms Markle every happiness, I do have objections to the undemocratic nature monarchy and the idea that the heads of state of this country should come down the birth canals of one particular family and one family only.

Then there’s the whole concept of the so-called royal family being somehow special or better than the rest of humanity.

In these objections I’m in fine company.

One of those who share my republican ideals was James Keir Hardie (15 August 1856 – 26 September 1915), socialist, politician and trade unionist, who rose to become the first leader of the Labour Party.

In “Keir Hardie: His Writings and Speeches” edited by Emrys Hughes and published by Forward Printing and Publishing Company Ltd, Glasgow in 1928, Hardie is credited with writing the following on the occasion of Victoria von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha’s diamond jubilee in 1897. However, his remarks are still relevant today and reveal how far ahead Hardie was of the conventional establishment thinking of his time.

Even under a representative system of government it is possible to paralyse a nation by maintaining the fiction that a reigning family is a necessity of good government. Now, one of two things must be – either the British people are fit to govern themselves or they are not. If they are, an hereditary ruler who in legislation has more power than the whole nation is an insult. Despotism and monarchy are compatible; democracy and monarchy are an unthinkable connection.
If we are for the Queen we are not for her subjects. The throne represents the power of caste – class rule. Round the throne gather the unwholesome parasites who cling to the system which lends itself to their disordered condition. The toady who crawls through the mire of self-abasement to enable him to bask in the smile of royalty is the victim of a diseased organism. No healthy, well-developed people could for one moment tolerate an institution which belongs to the childhood of the race, and which in these latter days is the centre, if not the source, of the corrupting influences which constitute Society.
The great mind, the strong heart, the detestation of wrong, the love of truth whether in cot or palace will always command my respect. But to worship an empty form, to make pretence to believe a gilded mediocrity indispensable to the well-being of the nation – where is the man who will so far forget what is due to his manhood?
In this country loyalty to the Queen is used by the profit-mongers to blind the eyes of the people. We can have but one feeling in the matter – contempt for thrones and for all who bolster them up.

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