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Worzel Gummidge, the British Prime Minister, has responded to criticism in the press regarding his “shabby” and “disrespectful” appearance, and that he “couldn’t even do his hair” when making a statement in Downing Street about the death on Friday of Philip Mountbatten-Windsor, aged 99.
Speaking from Chequers, a visibly shocked an astounded Worzel Gummidge apologised to those who had expressed their anger on social media and added: “Anyone would think I always looked as if I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, like former London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson!”
One fascinating aspect of the country’s foolhardy departure from the European Union is the fate of Britons in the 27 member states of the European Union; and more particularly how they are depicted here now that the “free and independent coastal state” of Brexitannia has “taken back control“.
Keen observers of the British media will note all foreigners seeking to come to the English Empire (which some refer to as the United Kingdom. Ed.) to settle are referred to as “migrants“. When used by the right-wing press or politicians, “migrants” has a clear pejorative tone to the effect that these people are not as good as us.
However, in line with British exceptionalism as Brits seeking to or having taken up residence abroad are termed “expats” by the fourth estate, as per this typical specimen from yesterday’s Daily Brexit, which some still call Daily Express.
Of course, what the Daily Brexit forgets is that even in Greece and Cyprus, holders of those nice, new and allegedly blue British passports will still be classed as third country citizens by the Greek and Cypriot authorities; and if they try staying there for longer than the maximum period without applying for a residence permit, they’ll be regarded as illegal immigrants, just as they are now finding out on the Costa del Sol.
“Expat” is of course a truncation of the term “expatriate“, with the shorter form’s first recorded use in the first half of the 1960s.
When people move for work, settlement or other reasons, the language used about them is always full of meaning. In earlier, less judgemental times those who left British shores to settle abroad might have been referred to as “émigrés” or “emigrants“, whilst those coming here for permanent settlement were “immigrants“, which had more than its fair share of negative connotations in times past.
Nowadays all those negative connotations are to a certain effect by “migrant“, which, unlike “immigrant” or “emigrant” is not specific about the person’s direction of travel.
Nevertheless, I can see the exceptionalism continuing and am not expecting the Daily Brexit to refer to Brits resident abroad as “British immigrants” at any time soon. 😉
PS: Apologies to Robert Browning for this post’s title.
Having been brought up in rural Shropshire, I normally wouldn’t have paid a lot of attention to corvids when I lived there.
However, things are different now I’m an inner city resident and appreciate all the birdlife I see.
Indeed, the only members of the resident 8 strong British corvid family that I’ve not seen locally over the years are the chough (which tends to prefer sea cliffs as habitat. Ed.) and hooded crow, which is more readily found found in N and W Scotland, N Ireland and on the Isle of Man as a replacement for the carrion crow.
Monday was a lovely sunny day and returning from my constitutional, I was passing down Croydon Street when I noticed a crow alight in a nest in a roadside sycamore tree. A crow’s nest is best described as a roughly crafted collection of sticks in the fork of a tree. Most corvids are not builders of complicated or artistic-looking nests.
As I was attempting to get a halfway decent shot of the nest, the other bird in the pair turned up with fresh nest material in its beak. It can be seen in the picture below. Apologies for the wobbly camera work: I was leaning back and pointing the camera straight up at arm’s length.
Update: there’s also a crow’s next in a tree in the pocket park on Chaplin Road.
The BBC reports that Tesco is to introduce collection points for soft plastic packaging such as crisp packets, pet food pouches and bread bags at its stores in England and Wales.
This follows a successful trial in 2018 at 10 stores.
The roll-out will start with facilities being installed in 171 stores in south-west England and Wales.
Tesco is hoping to collect 1,000 tonnes of soft plastic a year and customers may return packaging from other retailers as well as its own packaging provided all packaging presented for collection is clean.
Soft plastic is notoriously hard to recycle and most currently ends up going to landfill or being incinerated.
Given Bristol’s wide range recycling collections, this type of plastic makes up the majority of my residual waste collected by the refuse lorry.
With this move, Tesco is finally living up to its “Every little helps” motto.
Yesterday, like 8th March every year, was International Women’s Day, this year focussing on the theme #ChooseToChallenge.
To quote from the IWD website:
A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
So let’s all choose to challenge.
How will you help forge a gender equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.
Easton Way in Bristol was yesterday sporting some new challenging stencil art in celebration of IWD near its junction with Easton Road.
The inspiration to write this post was what an old friend referred to on social media as the Town Planners’ Little Book of Tired Clichés.
The report itself was written up from a press release issued by the literary geniuses employed in the Bristol City Council Newsroom down the Counts Louse (which some people now call City Hall. Ed.).
Whilst avoiding clichés has long been a given as advice for good creative writing, the various actors quoted in the Temple Meads piece seem to relish in their use.
Thus the surrounding area “will be rejuvenated with housing, shops and hospitality outlets creating a new area of the city where people can live, shop, visit and socialise”.
Note the exemplary use of rejuvenated.
In addition, how a new area of the city can be created by covering an existing but derelict city area in architecturally contrived arrangements of building materials is beyond me. If you have any clues, dear reader, please enlighten me via the comments.
Then there’s that essential element for anything involving urban planning – the vision thing. This is ably provided in this case in a quotation by Network Rail’s spokesperson: “We are delighted to be working with our partners on this significant regeneration project and Bristol Temple Meads station is at the heart of this vision.”
Helmut Schmidt, who served as the West German chancellor from 1974 to 1982, had a thing to say about visions: “Wer Visionen hat, sollte zum Arzt gehen“. In English: People who have visions should go to the doctor. Genau! Sie haben Recht, Herr Schmidt.
Needless to the whole glossary of hackneyed phraseology seems to have been upended into the phraseology mixing bowl to create something not only unappetising, but indigestible: ambitious; innovative; rejuvenate/rejuvenation; regeneration; gateway; transformation/transformative; integrate; blueprint; showcase.
And on the clichés go, marching tediously across and down the page.
There are nevertheless a couple of absolute gems in the piece to compensate for all this guff.
Firstly,there’s the timescale for the plans. We are are informed that “work is not expected to start for another decade with the expected completion not until 2041 at the earliest“. Thus all that hot air is being expended on something whose actual implementation is two decades in the future; if not more.
A well-known adage springs to mind: pigs might fly.
Secondly, there’s the promise of an integrated transport hub. Basically this means creating a major public transport interchange (as seen in sensible city’s where the local bus/tram serve the railway station). To my knowledge, there’s been talk of a transport hub/interchange at Temple Meads for at least 3 decades already, so for it actually to become a reality within 5 decades would entail the city’s infrastructure planning process moving at more than their usual slower than tectonic plates speed.
Walls made of stone blocks are not unknown in Bristol. Since medieval times the local grey Pennant sandstone has been a common building material, as in the wall shown below, which is situated in All Hallows Road in the Easton area.
Please note the second block down in the centre of the photograph; the purply-black one that isn’t Pennant sandstone.
It’s a by-product of a formerly common industry in Bristol and the surrounding area that only ceased in the 1920s – copper and brass smelting. Brass goods in particular were mass-produced locally and traded extensively, especially as part of the triangular trade during when Bristol grew rich on slavery.
Indeed it’s a block of slag left over from the smelting process. When brass working was a major industry in the Bristol area, the slag was often poured into block-shaped moulds and used as a building material when cooled and hardened.
Stone walls were frequently capped with a decorative slag coping stones, as can be seen below on one of the walls of Saint Peter & St Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Ashley Road. Otherwise the blocks were just used like ordinary stone blocks in masonry as above. In some instances, the blocks have been used as vertical decorative features in masonry.
The finest example of the use of slag as a building material within the Bristol area is Brislington’s Grade I listed Black Castle pub (originally a folly. Ed.), where slag has been used extensively.
So if you see any slag blocks in a wall in Bristol, you can be sure it usually dates to the 18th or 19th century, more usually the latter, when Bristol underwent a massive expansion.
Moreover, these blocks are apparently referred to as “Bristol Blacks“.
There’s a link between Bristol’s brass industry and my home county of Shropshire in the shape of Abraham Darby I.
In 1702 local Quakers, including Abraham Darby, established the Baptist Mills brass works of the Bristol Brass Company not far from the site of today’s Greek Orthodox Church on the site of an old grist (i.e. flour) mill on the now culverted River Frome. The site was chosen because of:
- water-power from the Frome;
- both charcoal and coal were available locally;
- Baptist Mills was close to Bristol and its port;
- there was room for expansion (the site eventually covered 13 acres. Ed.).
In 1708-9 Darby leaves the Baptist Mills works and Bristol, moving to Coalbrookdale in Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In Coalbrookdale, Darby together with two business partners bought an unused iron furnace and forges. Here Darby eventually establishes a joint works – running copper, brass, iron and steel works side by side.
Below is the site of Darby’s furnace in Coalbrookdale today.
By contrast, here is what occupies the site of the brass works in Baptist Mills – junction 3 of the M32.
Nearly 80 years ago, Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin laid into the press on 17th March 1931 accusing them of wanting “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages“.
When it comes to harlotry combined with lack of responsibility, it’s hard to emulate the Express.
For years these purveyors of xenophobia have actively campaigned for the country to leave the European Union, telling all manner of lies in the process.
Since achieving that aim the xenophobia has not abated in the slightest; and neither have the lies.
Yesterday the Daily Brexit – as it is otherwise known – reported (if it can indeed be called that. Ed.) on the the progress post-Brexit UK-US trade deal; or rather the lack of any progress.
However, anyone expecting a rational, balanced account would have been sorely disappointed.
‘It’s a CON!’ Britons react with fury after Biden puts brakes on post-Brexit trade deal‘ screamed the headline.
What? All Britons? Hardly.
In total, five Britons were quoted, all of them Express readers, hardly a scientifically selected cross-section of British society.
There is no input to the piece from the alleged government, not even a nudge or wink from the usual unidentified Whitehall source.
Not that such a minor detail matters to the bigots in the Express’ editorial office, who just wanted another opportunity to rant at these beastly foreigners and whose readers were more than happy to assist, especially as a trade deal with the USA was a major objective of Johnson’s Vote Leave government and, if achieved, would represent a major face-saver for a hardline administration whose tanking of the economy by its extremely poor deal with the EU has so far been masked by the damage done by coronavirus.
Furthermore, the piece is an opportunity for the Express to put the boot in on Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nomination for United States Trade Representative, both of whose parents were born in China, so enabling yet more causal bigotry from the Express.
Finally, it’s been a matter of general fact even before his election as president that Joe Biden does not regard the clinching of a trade deal with a post-Brexit United Kingdom as a high priority. Whereas previous US presidents have tended to use the UK as a bridge when dealing with the EU, a UK outside the EU is of less utility to Washington, since Biden has already bypassed the UK and has already been talking directly to Brussels.
If there has been a con, it’s been all the lies and British exceptionalism nonsense that the Express – exercising its power irresponsibly – has published for years.
Here’s a wee update on the bike I reported on Lawrence Hill (posts passim).
Since reporting, a member of Bristol Waste staff has been out and affixed a removal notice to the bike, giving the owner – if any – a fixed period, in this case 21 days (3 weeks), in which to recover their property before it is removed.
I trust when it is removed, the 2 redundant D-locks also affixed to the stand are likewise removed at the same time. 😀
How many of us pay that much attention to road signs when out and about on our daily business on foot as pedestrians?
I mean really pay attention, not just to the instruction being given or the advice being offered by the road sign itself, but the actual words used.
Take the two examples below, both taken during this past week on the streets of Bristol. Both are on a part of the highway used by pedestrians and generally referred to by the general public as the pavement (on which more anon. Ed.). But which – if any – is the correct term? Are footways and footpaths the same?
To answer the second question first, no; they are not the same.
If there’s one thing many decades of being a linguist has taught me, it is that terminology is important – the correct word used in the right context.
One generally has be a legislator, highway engineer or transport campaigner to know the difference between a footway and a footpath.
Fortunately, it is clearly defined in legislation, in this case the Highways Act 1980, which provides the following definitions:
“footpath” means a highway over which the public have a right of way on foot only, not being a footway;
“footway” means a way comprised in a highway which also comprises a carriageway, being a way over which the public have a right of way on foot only.
In addition, Cheshire East Council provides the following information on its webpage entitled “What Are Public Rights of Way?“
You should be careful to distinguish between ‘public footpaths’ and ‘footways’. Pavements beside public roads are not public footpaths – it is better to refer to them as footways or simply pavements.
Footways are not recorded on the Definitive Map as Public Rights of Way. A footway is really a part of the main highway which has been set apart for pedestrians.
Nevertheless, a caveat needs to be added to the clause where Cheshire East Council advises that “it is better to refer to them as footways or simply pavements“.
The caveat is that there’s a world of difference between what “pavement” denotes to ordinary mortals and professionals such as civil and highway engineers: for the former it’s the footway; for the latter more specialised use, Britannica gives the following definition:
Pavement, in civil engineering, durable surfacing of a road, airstrip, or similar area. The primary function of a pavement is to transmit loads to the sub-base and underlying soil.
Who would have thought two words on two such simple temporary road signs deployed for road works could be such a terminological minefield? 😉