• Blakey’s discourteous successors

    Cyril 'Blakey' Blake played by actor Stephen LewisFrom 1969 to 1973, ITV aired a comedy entitled On The Buses. One of the main characters in this mixture of sexism and misogyny that passed for humour at the time was Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake (right) played by actor Stephen Lewis. One of the duties of inspectors in those days was to check passengers were travelling with valid tickets.

    Skip forward half a century and inspectors have been replaced by so-called Revenue Protection Officers, by FirstWorstBus, which along with its fellow WorstGroup subsidiary GWR, has a virtual public transport monopoly in the Greater Bristol area. GWR also employs Revenue Protection Officers.

    Your ‘umble scribe had the misfortune to encounter two of these successors to Blakey yesterday afternoon, when they board a no. 24 service on the Stapleton Road. Dressed like pound shop police officers but with the words Revenue Protection Officers embroidered on the back of their uniform, the larger of the two proceeded to address the bottom deck of the bus: “Hi guys. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection”.

    Guys? Neither we the travelling public nor you are American! Besides that, guys in this country normally end up on bonfires every 5th November or thereabouts.

    That was informality bordering on the discourteous, which got your correspondent thinking of a more courteous and appropriate form of address, after a long discussion with others on social media yesterday and more especially bearing in mind the fact that some degree of formality is required when dealing with the public in a formal/official capacity.

    First of all the Hi! needs ditching. Far too informal. As an interjectory greeting, it dates to the 1860s and originates in the American Midwest. It should be replaced by a Good (morning/afternoon/evening) (delete as appropriate. Ed.).

    That’s the easy bit done. In these enlightened times ladies and gentlemen might not cover how everyone chooses to identify, e.g. the non-binary. Everyone would therefore seem to be the most apposite way to address a diverse inner-city busload of passengers. So, for the benefit of any passing WorstBus successors to Blakey, my suggested form of greeting when doing your job would be: Good (morning/afternoon/evening), everyone. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection, please!

  • Whitehall says ‘F*ck the Tories’

    That’s Whitehall BS5, of course.

    Whitehall SW1 and the rest of the Untied Kingdom* are saddled with the Tories until unelected pretend prime minister Rishi Sunak decides he’s had enough of ministerial limousines and borrowing other people’s private aircraft and finally decides to call a general election.

    Wording on gable end reads Fuck The Tories

    This is not the first time the artist painting the wall/custodian has taken aim at the Tories. Past targets have included disgraced former alleged party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the Conservative Party in general, fascist former Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Conservatives’ economically suicidal act of Brexit.

    * = The mis-spelling is deliberate.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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