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If there’s one characteristic of the English Empire’s free and fearless press and the news media in general that’s immediately apparent to anyone with more than one brain cell, it’s their usually remote relationship with the truth.
In the last week or so a new word has emerged – pingdemic – in relation to the coronavirus pandemic to describe the large volume of self-isolation warnings issued by the Covid track and trace app (aka pings (pl.), as derived from the computer networking utility of the same name. Ed.).
Thus the terms ping and pingdemic have become part of normal newspaper and news media vocabulary, as shown in this typical example from yesterday’s London Evening Standard.
Whoever wrote the headline Ping threat to our food, tube and bins has clearly not thought the matter through.
It’s not the pings that are the threat but the viral plague which is giving rise to rocketing Covid, aided and abetted by an apology for a government that has removed restrictions far too soon and relinquished – in exemplary Pontius Pilate mode – all responsibility for safeguarding people’s health in the rush to let all their rich mates resume making Loadsamoney again.
All news is to a certain extent manipulated, but if those that right it cannot even get the basic details correct in a headline, is it any wonder that there is deep mistrust in the media?
Still, never mind with all this gloom and doom. Immediately adjacent is a prime example of look over there in the form of the current 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
The staff of the Standard clearly seem to have adopted the comment by Juvenal, the 2nd century Roman poet famous that the common people are only interested in bread and circuses (Latin: panem et circensis. Ed.) as editorial policy
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.
No further comment is necessary.
Yesterday, the right-leaning part of the population who seem to believe that culture as they know it is in danger of being cancelled (whatever that may mean. Ed.), was fulminating against yet another of those left-leaning organisations – English Heritage. Its crime: amending its online information about the children’s author Enid Blyton to reflect more accurately her writing and views.
While English Heritage’s blue plaque commemorating Blyton remains unchanged, the charity’s online information about her now details the problematic aspects of her writing and views.
In particular, the information on Blyton has been amended to describe her writing as including racism and xenophobia whilst lacking literary merit.
To illustrate Blyton’s racism, English Heritage’s online content notes that in 1960 Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. As a child, I can’t say I remember noticing the racism and xenophobia so much on the very rare occasions I picked up Blyton as a child (the golliwogs should have started the alarm bells ringing. Ed.), but the lack of literary merit was clearly apparent to my developing brain. Her work came across as simplistic and formulaic, but my brother loved her stories, a matter in which he persisted despite the mocking and urging from my sister and me that he read something less lightweight.
Although she did not specifically mention Blyton by name, it was clear that actor and comedian Joyce Grenfell clearly had Enid in her sights in her monologue Writer Of Children’s Books, as embedded below.
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. 😀
In 1965 the village of Capel Celyn in the valley of the Afon Tryweryn valley in Gwynedd was flooded to create Llyn Celyn reservoir to supply water to the towns of Wirral peninsula and the city of Liverpool in England.
Needless to say, this act of colonial vandalism met with almost universal condemnation in Wales, represented a pivotal moment and event in Welsh nationalism and gave a huge boost to the Welsh devolution cause.
In addition, the drowning of the Tryweryn valley had a wide cultural impact.
In response to the impending flooding of the Tryweryn Valley, author Meic Stephens decided to paint “Cofiwch Tryweryn” (sic), Welsh for “Remember Tryweryn“, on a rock. Eventually he settled on the wall of a ruined cottage named Troed-y-Rhiw for his artwork. Because the original Cofiwch Tryweryn is grammatically incorrect, subsequent restorations of the wall have repainted the message correctly as Cofiwch Dryweryn, adding the consonant mutation.
The mural has since gone on to be reproduced on T-shirts, pitchside banners at Welsh international football fixtures and replicated at other sites in Wales.
Which brings us to Maesteg and Bridgend County Borough Council.
Today’s Wales Online reports that Maesteg resident Sian Thomas-Ford’s Cofiwch Dryweryn, painted in 2019, had incurred with displeasure of Bridgend County Borough Council, which, in that accommodating manner peculiar to all local authorities, had ordered the mural’s removal.
Since 2019 the Bridgend mural has undergone some changes. Firstly, the two dragons – one red and one white – of Welsh legend have disappeared, whilst the Welsh independence slogan “Yes Cymru” has been added.
Bridgend Council took the attitude that the mural was an advertisement and notified Ms Thomas-Ford last summer that she could be prosecuted if she did not paint over the mural. Furthermore, the council told Ms Thomas-Ford that their highways department found the mural is a “distraction to drivers”. The council’s planning fees for advertisements range from £120 to £460. Ms Thomas-Ford’s response to the council was defiance, stating she did not intend applying for planning permission because the mural is not an advertisement, but rather a celebration of Welsh history and a reminder of an event that should not be forgotten.
Ms Thomas-Ford told Wales Online that the mural had sparked lots of conversations locally about Welsh history and culture.
Some 3,000 people signed a petition in support of keeping the mural.
The council has now dropped its bureaucratically absurd position of regarding the mural as an advertisement. In a bit of municipal face-saving, a council spokesperson is quoted as saying:
From the council’s perspective, advertising consent is required to protect the householder, but we do not currently intend to take any further action. It remains open to the owner if they wish to regularise the matter.
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. 😉
“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.
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.).
With all that vision in use in the country, opticians and their colleagues must be raking in the money. 😀
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! 😀
Courtesy of my old college friend Paddy, I’ve been sent the following clipping from the dead tree edition of the Evesham Journal via social media.
Even though the elderly have had a bath thanks to ambiguity and poor proofreading in the Evesham Journal’s dead tree version, this age discrimination has thankfully been eliminated from the paper’s online version of the report.
No pensioners were harmed – or dunked – in the drafting of this blog post.
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.
Is this an example of illiteracy or bloody-mindedness? Kindly give your answers in the comments.