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    Skip forward half a century and inspectors have been replaced by so-called Revenue Protection Officers, by FirstWorstBus, which along with its fellow WorstGroup subsidiary GWR, has a virtual public transport monopoly in the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

  • A bloody portrait

    In today’s attempt to divert attention to the dire political and economic situation of the English Empire/Untied Kingdom, the media are today awash with the story of the unveiling of a portrait of Mr Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor, frequently referred to by the gullible as King Charles.

    Here’s the BBC’s example.

    Here’s what all the fuss is about.

    The new portrait of Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor looking flushed

    The BBC also records varying public reactions to the portrait, as long as they do not stray from the sycophantic.

    Many were initially taken aback by the vivid red colour with some saying it looked like fire. Others described the painting as “unexpected” but “modern”.

    However, not so much sycophancy exists on social media where much more republican sentiment and an alterative reading of history were apparent, as in a post on X/Twitter (or whatever the man-baby called Musk is calling it this week. Ed.) by Sandra Eckersley.

    Post reads - Remarkable painting of King Charles with the unexpected subtext of Colonial British History. Soaked in blood & gore yet with a butterfly on his shoulder. As Bart Simpson once said ‘nobody suspects a butterfly’. Clever piece, beautifully executed. Great Art.

    Your ‘umble scribe believes Ms Eckersley shares his view of colonial English/British history, a series of crimes against humanity lasting several centuries, involving invasion, murder, theft, exploitation, expropriation and slavery to name but a few offences on the charge sheet.

    Needless to say, Mr Mountbatten-Windsor is rather pleased with his new portrait, apparently unworried about being depicted as wallowing in a bloodbath.
  • You couldn’t make it up!

    Opticians chain Specsavers is rightly renowned for its advertising slogan, “Should have gone to Specsavers“, which has been applied to every bad decision ranging from one’s choice of partner to driving ability.

    Talking of the latter, yesterday’s Daily Post carries an article which combines skill behind the wheel with the aforementioned opticians, in which the driver ended before the crown court in Abertawe, which some also call Swansea, for an incident which occurred in Castell Nedd (Neath) in November last year.

    Headline - Driver knocked over elderly couple while on his way to Specsavers

    No further comment is necessary on the headline behind the story. However, your ‘umble scribe is intrigued by the first sentence: “A driver on his way to Specsavers struck two elderly pedestrians with his car while reversing through a pedestrianised shopping area“.

    What was the driver doing in a pedestrianised area – where he should not have been – anyway? Exercising his over-developed sense of entitlement. For his lack of care for other road users, the perpetrator ultimately received a 12-month community order, a two-year driving ban and must pass an extended driving test before he can regain his licence.

  • Deep sea life using robots – exclusive

    This blog has often drawn attention to the inability of modern journalists (or should that be media employees? Ed.) to understand ambiguity, i.e. the quality of a statement being open to more than one interpretation, and how to avoid it by using language as a precision, not a blunt instrument.

    The example below dates back to 2022, comes from India’s Republic and dives beneath the waves to the bottom of the sea. It arrived in your ‘umble scribe’s social medial timeline late last week, so apologies if you’ve already seen the howler below.

    Headline - UK researchers discover over 30 potential new species at ocean's bottom using robots. Byline - In what can be considered to be a breakthrough scientific development, over 30 potentially new species have been discovered by UK scientists at ocean&'s bottom.

    The story was originally published in The Guardian. Republic’s reporter Anwesha Majumdar does not disclose in the rewrite why aquatic life in the deep oceans is using robots.

  • For UK, see England

    For some in England – an it only obtains in England – happens throughout the whole of the island of Great Britain and the occupied six counties of the Ireland of Ireland that suffers under the monicker of the United Kingdom.

    Those in England frequently forget that England isn’t the whole of the UK. It includes Wales, which England first colonised in the late 12th century, Scotland, which has its own system of law and institutions, and the aforementioned occupied six Irish counties, the remnant of yet more colonial activity likewise dating back to the late 12th century.

    People in parts of the UK that are not England frequently view England as the most privileged part of the union, particularly when it displays arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact, especially as the union did not come about voluntarily and secession from which may only be put to the vote if Whitehall is feeling generous.

    However, arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact does not apply only in the political sphere, but in the reporting of politics by the media.

    The following post has appeared on the X/Twitter account of London-based Channel 4 News on 3rd May.

    Post reads Local election results - what we know so far. Below is a screenshot of a video showing a backdrop with the words The UK decides - 2024 Local Elections

    The what decides?

    The only local elections taking place in the UK were mostly in England on 2nd May and involved elections for a large number of local authorities, regional mayors and police and crime commissioners.

    By virtue of Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union, the only electoral activity anywhere else in the UK involved the election of the four Welsh police and crime commissioners for the four regional Welsh police forces. As regards these Welsh elections, Nation Cymru carries an opinion piece advocating the abolition of commissioners due to the extremely low voter turnout.

    The proportion of people on the electoral register who bothered to vote was 19.2% in the Dyfed-Powys police force area, 17.19% in North Wales, 16.58% in South Wales and 15.63% in Gwent.

    This hardly the UK really decides, now is it, Channel 4 News?

  • 60 year-old toddler denied vote

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel JohnsonA polling station in South Oxfordshire had the embarrassing duty of refusing to allow someone with a toddler haircut the opportunity to vote.

    The toddler in question was 60 years old and rejoiced in the title and name of disgraced former party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    According to the BBC, former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was turned away from his local polling station after forgetting to bring acceptable photo ID. However, he returned later with the necessary ID and was able to vote.

    The irony of this occurrence is that the production of photo ID to vote was introduced by Johnson’s government in the Elections Act 2022 in a deliberate act to suppress votes for the opposition. How so? there are far more forms of photo ID acceptable as proof of identity that held by older people than those held by younger people. Furthermore, younger people are generally less inclined to vote Conservative.

    The justification given at the time for introducing photo ID was to eliminate personation, i.e. assuming the identity of another person with intent to deceive, particularly within the scope of an election. Nevertheless, this is a non-problem in Britain. As Andy Beckett helpfully points out in today’s Guardian: “According to the Electoral Commission, at the last nationwide elections before voter ID was introduced, in 2022, only seven people were accused of the crime that the new system is supposed to end – impersonating another voter at a polling station – and none of these allegations led to police action“.

    So why did Johnson turn up at the polling station without valid photo ID? There could be a couple reasons. Firstly, for all his erudition and love of quoting classical mythology and ancient history,Johnson isn’t all that bright. Even when one examines his use of classical references, they too can fall apart under the most cursory examination (posts passim). Could he simply have forgotten the impact of his legislation? Hardly likely, considering how the need to furnish photo ID is printed in bold characters on every poll card. Secondly there’s Johnson’s arrogance and sense of entitlement. He believes rules are for everyone else and don’t apply to patrician types like himself. This was amply demonstrated by the Downing Street Partygate affair during the lockdown for the Covid 19 pandemic.

    Tom Hunt MPFinally, the disgraceful Johnson was not the only high-level Tory to be caught out by falling foul of the photo ID requirement.

    Step forward Tom Hunt, the Conservative MP for Ipswich. According to The Independent, Mr Hunt asked local members to act as his “emergency proxy” after he found that he had no appropriate ID to vote in the local council elections. The paper goes on to explain that under certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you can’t vote in person, you can apply for an emergency proxy. Such emergency proxy applications can be made up to 5pm on polling day. Unlike Johnson, Mr Hunt has been diagnosed with both dyslexia and dyspraxia, which could explain his predicament.

  • 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.

  • Avian neighbours

    Your ‘umble scribe is spending a few days beyond the confines of HM Open Prison United Kingdom staying with family in the Campo de Gibraltar. It’s his first time in the country for a few decades and a good chance to brush up on rusty spoken Spanish, as well as get some much-needed sun after a long, wet English winter.

    Being out in the countryside, your correspondent has been amazed by the local birdlife, which features species that are never or rarely seen back home.

    Firstly, let’s introduce the biggest of the local avian species, the Eurasian Griffon Vulture. These are described by my trusty half a century old Collins bird book as having a flight outline like a “tea tray in the sky“, stand as high as 1.22 metres high and have a wingspan up to 2.8 metres.

    They are spotted throughout the day on the crags behind the house, as well as riding the thermals in large flocks.

    Three vultures sunning themselves on a rock
    Three vultures perched on crags. Very easy photographic subjects at rest, but testing the phone camera’s technical limits.

    It’s rather difficult to get a decent photo of them on a phone, so here’s a close-up from elsewhere.

    Griffon vulture in flight
    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    The other 2 very impressive local birds are more colourful but slightly smaller: the golden oriole and the European bee-eater respectively.

    Golden oriole in a fig tree
    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Orioles are truly spectacular, flitting across the valley in a flash of gold and black. Although they do migrate to Britain, their distribution is rather limited, whilst your ‘umble scribe had four sightings in a couple of hours one afternoon.

    Where the oriole impresses with its two-tone plumage, the bea-eater has colourful plumage reminiscent of a member of a 1970s psychedelic rock band.

    Bee-eater on a bare branch
    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    These birds are not regular migrants to Britain, but have bred on several occasions in recent years, according to the RSPB. Down in southern Spain, it can sound as if there’s one in just about every shrub at times!

  • The importance of proofreading

    Within minutes of each other, two occurrences reminded your ‘umble scribe of the importance of proofreading, i.e. the process of finding and correcting mistakes in text before it is printed out or posted online.

    If nothing else, it proves the person or company involves knows what it’s doing and writing, providing evidence of professional competence

    The first was spotted on a change machine in Terminal 1 of Manchester Airport in the early hours of this morning.

    Sticker on machine stating this machine accepts new £20 note. On the image of the note is the printed word SPECIMAN.
    SPECIMAN? What’s one of those?

    According to Wikipedia, a specimen – not SPECIMAN – banknote is printed generally in very limited quantities for distribution to central banks to aid in the recognition of banknotes from a country other than their own. Furthermore, To avoid use of specimen banknotes as legal tender notes, the banknotes are deformed, typically by being overprinted and/or punched (perfin) with an inscription such as “SPECIMEN”, “SPECIMEN NO VALUE”, “CANCELLED” or the equivalent in one or more other languages.

    The second turned up a couple of minutes later on your correspondent’s social media feed.

    Ingredients list for a roast beef and criminalized red onion relish roll
    Should those with a poor grasp of English be gaoled?

    A reverse image search reveals that the original image first emerged on social media some 4 years ago and originated in the United States. Note that the snack is accurately defined as having caramelized onion relish its long description. Y’all have a good misspelt sandwich now! 😀

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