Archive for June 2010
Whilst fans of proper regional journalism should always be wary of the adoption of tabloid sensibilities for cheap thrills, you can’t deny this is a good headline.
For a start, it packs the famed ‘who, what, where, when’, in that order, into just one sentence. Skills.
Dublin Evening Herald, 23 June 2010 (story):
Woman in sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex-girlfriend in gay pub after she waved at man dressed as a Snickers bar
A REVELLER at a fancy dress party in one of Dublin’s best known gay bars attacked her ex-girlfriend in a row over a novelty wrestler’s suit.
Sandra Talbot (32) assaulted her ex-partner with a bottle she had hidden under her costume in a fit of rage at the George pub, after more than a year of acrimony following their break-up.
A court heard she lashed out at victim Adrienne Martin in a row that started over a novelty sumo wrestler’s suit that Talbot was wearing. The row developed as the victim tried to wave at a man dressed as a Snickers bar, the court heard.
I bet they’ll have had a laugh about that one back in the jury room.
And indeed, probably about much of the detail in this court case…
She had been in an on-off relationship with Talbot for three years which had ended in March 2007. During the evening Talbot, who was wearing an inflatable sumo suit, bumped into her. When she turned around, the accused said to her: “Keep smiling, c**t.”
Later, a man dressed as a Snickers bar began waving at her and when she went to wave back, Talbot pushed her arm from behind. When she asked what the problem was, Talbot said: “Your arm’s in my way.” [...]
Ms Martin said she saw a Smirnoff Ice bottle fly from the defendant’s sleeve. The State solicitor said the prosecution had no evidence that a bottle was used in the assault other than Ms Martin’s word.
The accused was escorted out and had to be asked to partially deflate her costume so she could get out the door.
Talbot’s barrister Diarmuid Collins argued that it would have been impossible for the bottle to have been in her costume and fallen out as described because the suit worked on an airtight seal.
I wonder how many people study law with the dream of one day being able to debunk myths about airtight sumo suits in the courts.
Thank you to Gez Daring.
Tuesday 19 January 2010 was a very turbulent news day in Hartlepool. As ever, the Hartlepool Mail was first on the scene.
In shocking scenes, the paper reported the day the music truly died…
Hartlepool Mail, 19 January 2010:
CD player left on hob
A CD player was destroyed after it was left standing on a cooker that was accidentally switched on. [...]
Crew manager Stuart Henderson said the occupant of the house smelled burning and had got out of the property before alerting the fire brigade. Firefighters spent around 20 minutes at the scene.
…and it was the day the townsfolk were confronted with the notion that a potato based snack could result in the knocking off of one’s block.
Hartlepo0l Mail, 19 January 2010 (story):
‘Give me your crisps of I’ll punch you’
A SINGLE mum pestered a reveller for crisps before threatening to “knock her block off”.
Mrs Hesse said: “The defendant approached and said ‘what did you say? I will knock your block off.’.”
Gemma Louise Swift, 26, was in the town’s Yates’s bar, in Victoria Road, when she started nagging a fellow drinker for her crisps.
Despite being handed the packet, Swift continued to shout over to her victim asking for more.
When Swift thought she heard a comment made at her, she walked over and hit her in the jaw.
Prosecuting at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court, Joanne Hesse said: “The defendant approached the victim and asked if she could have a crisp off her.
“The victim allowed this but the defendant repeated the request several times.”
She said the injured party gave Swift the packet and tried to ignore shouts for more.
I bet they’ll have had a laugh about these back at the newsdesk.
Warm thanks to Gez Daring.
Welcome to the first part of another doubtlessly ill-judged, ill-fated, ill-timed and ill-mannered series on The nether regions.
In any year, a local newspaper will allow dozens of naive ex-Newsround Press Packers through its doors with the happy intention of exploiting their willingness to work free of charge. This is all done under the banner of ‘work experience’ but, in reality, the tasks delegated to the work experience kid often bear very little resemblance to any form of journalistic ‘work’ or indeed ‘experience’. I should know: during a period of work experience at the semi-iconic Whitby Gazette I was made to assist the paper’s part-time photographer in opening and closing the town’s semi-iconic swing bridge every Friday lunchtime because it was his other job. Great for my biceps, yes, but really no use for developing my shorthand skills.
Crap jobs for the work experience kid #1 : Pretending to burgle houses
(Source: Newbury Weekly News)
Job description: Creation of barely-feasible scenes whereby balaclava-clad youths are depicted attempting to forcibly penetrate the PVC doors of suburban residential properties.
Purpose: To allow the newspaper to develop an archive of library pictures to accompany generic burglary stories about local crime statistics or police warnings about leaving windows open during the summer months.
Additional purpose: To create a middle class sense of fear and suspicion of others in society in order to either divert attention from the local police force’s underperformance or to justify public funding for expensive police operations. This sense of fear and suspicion is partly achieved through the use of photographs of models/work experience kids dressed in socially-stigmatised clothing such as ‘hoodies’ and baggy jackets.
(Source: Hounslow Chronicle)
Required props: Standard issue balaclava or other stereotypically menacing headwear; well-fitting gloves; newspaper editor’s garden patio doors.
‘Genuine journalistic work experience’ rating: 2/10. If you’re an aspiring news reporter you’re supposed to want to cover the story, not look like you’re part of it.
Associated societal risks: Encouraging young people to sample the thrill of breaking and entering other people’s homes is a slippery slope. Especially as burglary pays better than local journalism.
Additional associated societal risk: Inadvertent zombification of the work experience kid. See photo below.
(Source: Reading Post)
Thank you to Ellie for the photos.
The title of ‘Sunderland’s Most Judgmental Man’ is a fiercely contested accolade, but there’s little chance of it being taken away from Mick “The Pen” Brown any time soon. Further to his previous coverage here, it’s time to gently prod the brain of the Sunderland Echo‘s most dedicated reader-who-treats-the-letters-page-like-a-personal-diary a little further.
Arguably the fairest point ever made by a mentally-unhinged letters columnist: two world wars weren’t fought so folk could prowl around supermarkets in their pyjamas.
Sunderland Echo, 7 August 2009:
Ban these people
ON the day Harry Patch, Britain’s oldest First World War veteran died, the Echo printed a letter from a Mr Joe Plush telling us he had witnessed folk shopping in Asda clothed in pyjamas.
I wonder what people of Mr Patch’s generation would have thought if they could see what they fought for?
It would appear that anyone, no matter how they dress, can shop in a supermarket. But how long before we see people walking through The Bridges in night gowns and slippers?
I know people have had a go at me for using a Harrods carrier but I am merely trying to keep the standards up and what’s wrong with that?
My carrier is almost a statement like an Armani suit or a Gucci watch and, let’s face it, you do not see many in Sunderland.
It’s about time supermarkets and The Bridges had a strict dress code which banned people in certain attire from these areas.
In the old days men used to wear a tie every day. In fact many old fellas still do and the older women in Marks and Spencers are always well turned out.
Mick “The Pen” Brown
I’m not sure two world wars were fought for Harrods carrier bags either, mind you.
I should think the Seaburn tourist board will be livid about this one, but let’s face facts: the man’s uniquely brusque eloquence and inquisitive prose makes him hard to argue with.
Sunderland Echo, 20 May 2010 (full letter, six from top):
Seaburn? Give me the countryside
WHEN I was very young I used to love visiting the Seaburn fairground. I used to particularly admire the fairground worker who jumped on the back of the dodgems and held the pole.
He was always trying to get off with the young lasses who were normally seated with their boyfriends in the dodgem. He normally had a spotty face and a tatoo of an eagle on his arm, which he probably thought made him look tough.
However, as I grew older I soon realised that being a dodgem operator was a naff job, but I still miss the fairground. I think that it’s an essential part of any coastal resort. [...]
Some things never change, however. Take, for instance, the OAPs who sit motionless like Capodimonte figures on the seats facing the Marriott hotel. They don’t seem to speak, just slurp the ice cream, and have you noticed they wear coats in the middle of summer? Why is this? [...]
I suppose on a hot day you cannot beat the seaside – fish and chips, candy floss and all that.
Or are you the type who is too mean to buy them, relying on some home made cheese sandwiches that when eaten you can taste the grit of the sand as you bring your garden furniture to sit on and enjoy them? I really think that this completeley lowers the tone of Sunderland – stripey sun loungers and a scout’s tent that blows away in the wind.
So perhaps Seaburn is not so good after all. I prefer the countryside.
Mick “The Pen” Brown
It appears that he is not loved by all, however. The anti Mick “The Pen” Brown riposte below was published just a few days after the publication of the series of letters covered in the previous post. These variously laid into the long-term unemployed, the bingo-playing underclass, women who wear Scholls, and those who swear.
Czar Kazum just isn’t having it. It’s wonderful when war breaks out on the letters pages of regional newspapers; it must have been where people argued before the internet.
Sunderland Echo, 6 May 2010:
Swearing at Mick
MICK “the pen” Brown has us good folk believing that he is well-to-do, yet in the majority of his letters he is either hanging around a bingo hall, in all probability where he actually makes his money, with appalling smoking women, (perchance smoking himself?) or wandering around Southwick falling for uncouth women and complaining when the aggrieved lady remonstrates with him for knocking her precious groceries all over the pedestrian area.
However, I believe the good lady’s footwear is basically irrelevant and you were too busy getting your ears bent. Had I been knocked flying by a clumsy oaf, I would have expleted at you as well good sir.
Nevertheless, your “ban all swearing in the street” is admirable, but I feel the local police has enough trouble trying to catch proper criminals. Anyway, we would have to build prisons the size of Ireland to house all the miscreants who swear out loud after stubbing their respective toes or have somebody knock their groceries flying.
I believe that he should broaden his horizons and take his gambling habit to a good bookies, as the female of the species tend to populate bingo halls and ignore the bookmaker side of gambling.
Thank you to Michael Laverick, Sunderland resident and close personal friend of Mick “The Pen” Brown, probably.
Never underestimate the determination of moon-faced, flag-toting cretins to get themselves in the local paper when England actually manage to qualify for a major international tournament.
Families fly the flag for England – York Press
Sneaky sons fly flag for England in a big, bright way – The News (Portsmouth)
Grove Hill family gripped by World Cup fever – Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough)
Thank you to Nick Henegan.
This is the news… former journalist puts up tiny England flag in window of his new tearoom. In Germany. Wow.
Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 15 June 2010:
Former T&A man Simon Orrell flying the flag for England
A former Telegraph & Argus journalist is flying the England flag with pride at his tea room in Germany during the World Cup.
His brother said: “He’s certainly pushing England over there and telling everybody England is going to win the World Cup.
“But I think he might be a little bit outnumbered!”
“Might be a little outnumbered!” Banter!
Cumbrian house gets England makeover for World Cup – Cumberland News
Hmm, ‘makeover’ could be pushing it a bit...
With the on-pitch action in South Africa a mere distraction, the York Press sticks to the really big questions… in York:
Is John Lansbury York’s top England fan? – York Press
IS this the most patriotic England fan in York?
“I got some snooker cues and painted them white, and then screwed some attachments into the wall, and screwed the poles into them.”
Ooh: Blue Peter-style innovation and mindless nationalist fervour all in one man. Quite a catch.
We’ve covered York’s Biggest Fan and it was great fun. Dear York Press, please can we have a news story about York’s Biggest Flag? Thanks.
Turf Tavern claims biggest flag in York as part of World Cup celebrations - York Press
THIS must surely be the biggest St George’s flag to be unveiled in York as part of the World Cup celebrations.
“It must be the biggest flag in York,” Linford said.
He said there had been a big reaction from customers. “People come up and take the mick, saying: ‘Can’t you get a bigger flag?’” he said.
“Can’t you get a bigger flag?” Banter!!
But dear readers, did you know there are forces of evil at work determined to stamp out all forms of good-natured, harmless Anglophilia?
Council jobsworth told us to rip down bunting - Southend Echo
A PUB landlord is furious because he says council jobsworths have scuppered his patriotic support for England’s World Cup campaign.
The Exhibition Inn, in High Street, Great Wakering, has fallen foul of health and safety rules by stringing England flag bunting around the pub and across the road.
Landlord Les Gue said: “It is absolutely crazy. I was only having it there for a couple of weeks for the World Cup.
“If there was a crack in the pavement it would take three months to do something about it.
“I asked the council woman how many people had been killed by bunting falling on their head in the last 100 years. She couldn’t answer me.”
“Killed by bunting falling on their head!” Banter!!!
Hats off to the Croydon Guardian and Wagg Foods for working together to combine the holy trio of Englishness – local heritage, national pride and fondness for vile dogs – in just one news story.
Hunt begins for heroic South Norwood World Cup hound (story):
The hunt is on for a heroic hound to fill the paws of legendary pooch Pickles, who found the stolen World Cup trophy while trotting through South Norwood in 1966.
Wagg Foods is searching for a ‘relative’ of Pickles to become the face of its new trophy-shaped dog treat, and win a year’s supply of dog food in the process.
Sales and marketing director Tom Page said: “Hopefully a descendent of Pickles can help us go all the way in South Africa and become a modern day doggy hero.”
Advice to sales and marketing director Tom Page: grow up.
Leeds firm’s World Cup coffin – Yorkshire Evening Post
Surely the most appropriate and pertinent expression of the nation’s footballing hopes yet.
The job cuts, low pay and unsociable working hours affecting workers across the regional journalism industry have really taken their toll at the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen.
If headlines sell newspapers, I’d love to know how many copies they sold that day.
You hear a lot of scare stories about buying goods from backstreet dealers but, frankly, there’s rarely anything to worry about.
Ealing Gazette, 25 May 2010 (story):
Bargain laptop turns out to be bag of onions
A SCAM victim thought he was buying a laptop at a bargain price was horrified to discover he had actually purchased a bag of onions.
He was approached by two con artists in Station Parade, Acton, and followed them to their silver Ford Fiesta where he was shown the brand new computer. He handed over the £200 they asked for but was given another box which contained the vegetables.
I bet this will have led to a bit of onion-related argy-bhaji.
Although pigeons are and always will be the most evil form of the avian species, The nether regions expresses sincere and heartfelt sympathy with those currently facing the menace of this crow in Catford, south London.
Mind you, people who jog in public are mildly cretinous, so they’re fair game.
Thank you to Bad Journalism.
Catford and Lewisham News Shopper, 28 May 2010 (story):
Crow attacks leave blonde joggers in a flap
WOMEN joggers are under attack from a vicious crow with a long memory and a grudge against blondes.
Five runners in the space of ten days have fallen victim to the bird which has been diving down from the heavens to peck at their heads. [...]
Louise Morris, 43, of Gourock Road, Eltham, was one of the crow’s first victims.
She said: “It took off and caught the top of my head.
“As I came back round a second time it was dive-bombing at me.
“I changed direction but it kept following me so I started using my water bottle to try and fend it off.”
It would be lovely to see a crow killed stone dead with a bottle of water. Rather than the avian species, it would then be considered one of the Evian species (insert multiple excalamation marks here).
The saga took an interesting new twist last week when an ‘elderly dancer’ decided she also wanted a bit of attention in her local paper to satiate her demented levels of self-worth.
Catford and Lewisham News Shopper, 9 June 2010 (story):
Elderly dancer reveals crow attack horror
AN ELDERLY dancer is the latest person who has fallen victim to an horrific crow attack.
Last month, News Shopper revealed how blonde joggers in an Eltham Park were being terrorised by a crow.
Now 75-year-old great-grandmother Edna Lunt, of Nelgarde Road, Catford, has revealed how she was recently attacked by a bloodthirsty bird in her own garden.
She said: “I pulled my sunchair towards the light. As I sat down on it, it tipped up backwards.
“While my legs were up in the air this crow came down and started dive-bombing me and making screeching noises.
“It was like a horror movie.
“I got up and started running. I shouted ‘It’s after me,’ and then I fell in the flower bed.” [...]
She said: “Scared would be an understatement. I had to pour myself a brandy.
“It was determined to have a peck at me and it wouldn’t go away.”
It’s best to take this story with a pinch of salt. Edna Lunt strikes me as the type of person who believes anything that moves is determined to have a peck at her. Never trust an egomaniac.
The multitudinous hurdles encountered by The Great British Public in attempting to exercise its vote in the recent general election have been well documented in the national media. But the turnout on 6 May wasn’t only limited by the damp weather, understaffed polling stations, or the neoliberal-economic political elite’s deliberate disenfranchisement of the working class since the 1980s.
Oh no, there was something altogether more sinister going on that day near Staines. But then again, isn’t there always?
Staines News, 11 May 2010 (story):
‘Swan eyed polling card like a piece of bread’
VOTERS at a Thorpe polling station had more to contend with than trying to decide which party to vote for on Thursday (April [sic] 6).
A group of unruly swans that rest on Truss’ Island during the day caused consternation to several voters, who had to negotiate the orange beaks on their way to the small polling station hut, situated in the car park.
The swans are regularly fed on the riverbank here so view any humans arriving, as a potential source of food.
One voter, who did not wish to be named, said: “It was a bit intimidating as they all gathered around me when I got out the car. I thought they were going to peck at me, one kept looking at my polling card – I think he thought it was a piece of bread.”
Rumours are rife that election returning officers will soon be required to declare the number of spoilt batch loaves.
While we’re here, this article concludes with a baffling observation from one voter:
The swans dispersed to the water later in the afternoon, leaving people to cast their votes hassle-free. Asked what he thought about the potential for a hung parliament, one voter said it was a ‘mute’ point.
Does the Staines News reporter know there’s no such thing as a ‘mute’ point, and therefore they’ve employed the inverted commas in order to mock the voter’s error? Or have they themselves made the classic error of mishearing and misunderstanding the concept of a moot point? With utterly hilarious consequences for all of us, obviously. We’ll probably never know now; most frustrating.
You know that awful feeling when you arrive home in a taxi but realise you’ve got no money on you?
The Bolton News, 13 April 2010 (story):
Machete-man who chased taxi driver down the street disappears
A TAXI passenger who chased the driver down the street wielding an 18- inch machete is being hunted by police after he skipped bail.
The 37-year-old brandished the weapon at the terrified driver after an argument broke out over payment of a fare in Willows Lane, Deane, earlier this month.
The drunken passenger is understood to have refused to pay, instead asking the driver to come inside his house for “jiggy jiggy with wife”. [...]
The drunken passenger, who is thought to be Polish, reacted furiously when the driver explained that sex with his wife would not be an acceptable payment.
He became aggressive and threatening, prompting the driver to press his panic button, and a number of Metro drivers quickly arrived on the scene.
The man shouted at them and hit their cars, before running into his house and emerging with the machete.
Placed in the same situation, I defy anyone to react differently.