31 August 2008

What's wrong with Bolton?

Actually, there's nothing at all wrong with Bolton. It's a wonderful town and I am proud to be a resident.

However, anyone from outside Bolton, who is unlucky enough to read the online version of the local newspaper, would think it is the most dreadful town in England. The paper specialises in little but bad news, and the standard of the reporting is, at best, poor. It concentrates on trivia and the only thing that makes it interesting for the ordinary person is the liberal use of poor spelling and grammar, giving fodder to the regulars of the online forum.

It is very rare that they have many 'good news' stories (with the notable exception of the recent Olympic success of Jason Kenny), and this weekend, it seems as though they were so short of stories that they have approached our excellent fire service for statistics and then made each item into a drama. There is a part of me that thinks that publishing all these stories of bin fires is just giving bored teenagers bad ideas.

A selection of headlines from the past two days:

  • Man stabbed in Bury
  • Arsonist target bin
  • Fire in derelict house
  • Den destroyed in arson attack
  • Rubbish set alight
  • Arsonists target van
  • TV sparks incident
  • Dryer blaze
  • Pan sparks blaze
  • Call to end SATs fails at council meeting
  • £40,000 damage as boyfriend drives car into bungalow
  • Man to be sentenced for animal cruelty
  • Woman jailed for attack on baby
  • Post delivered to empty house
  • Developers face ASBO threat over illegal signs
  • Vehicle destroyed in fire
  • Car destroyed in blaze
  • Arsonists target car
  • Boy suffers burns
  • Man admits raping teenage schoolgirl

Yes, folks, come to Bolton, but don't use the paper as your guide.

27 August 2008

Lancashire's Sacred Landscape: From Prehistory to the Viking Age

I have had the priviledge of reading some of the draft pages of this book, and it's excellent. Get out there and buy it!

21 August 2008

Exam results are out - quick squeal for your life!

What is it with teenagers these days? You see the news reports on the telly of successful young folk receiving their exam results, and they celebrate by squealing and screaming and jumping around and hugging their friends. What drugs are they on?

Don't get me wrong, I'm really chuffed for all of them. They've worked hard for their results, and good luck to them.

What's all the screaming about though? When I got my GCSE results, we were just handed a thin strip of paper with the list of results on and told "there they are, bye then" and that was it. Go home and find a summer job. When I got my A-Level results, we were taken, one at a time, into a private room where a tutor would tell us our results and then, those of us who had applied for university places, were told which universities had accepted us and which had rejected us. (I still can't believe I chose Hull over Durham though!) There was no screaming, no hugging the tutor or our mates, it was a business-like affair followed by a swift half in the pub before going back to our summer jobs.

I really can't be doing with all of this childish demonstrative celebration and it worries me that these highly-strung teenagers are the future of this country.

Or maybe I'm just a boring old bastard with nothing better to do than sit here and whinge.

19 August 2008

Baba O'Riley

When I was a kid, my parents bought me an electronic keyboard. I had great fun with it, and discovered that I could play a brief, meaningless twiddle, and then play it back, speed it up and loop it. My mum hated it, and used to get really annoyed, and I used to giggle and do it all the more.

Recently, Rock Radio has been playing Baba O'Riley by The Who quite a lot, and now I understand exactly why my mum used to get annoyed. Baba O'Riley has to have one of the worst intro/backing tracks ever. It sounds just like the stuff I was doing when I was 8 years old - a tuneless twiddle speeded up to add extra irritation. Every time that track is played, I have the urge to throw the radio through the window.

I'm sorry mum, I truly am. Now I understand the hell I put you through.

18 August 2008

Junk mail ... ?

Why does our office cleaner seem to think that my 'in' tray is a holding bay for junk?

Every day, I put the work I need to deal with into the 'in' tray. Logical, eh? So why is it that every morning when I sit at my desk, I have to clear out random objects such as coasters, used stamps, pens, scraps of paper, used envelopes and bulldog clips? Grrrrr. Maybe I should invest in an addition tray and mark it "Random Shite".

Even better, this morning, I found that my paper recycling box was full of tin cans and bits of plastic. Marvellous.

I just love spending the first 15 minutes of each day putting things back where they were the previous evening. You'd think that after 5 years, the cleaner would realise that I put stuff where I want it, and leave it there.

13 August 2008

Loony Right strikes again

Apparently it's so grim up north, that everyone should move south. Stupid buggers. Can't they see beyond Watford Gap?

The people at 'Policy Exchange' have said that people should be told the "reality" to avoid them becoming "trapped" in less prosperous parts of the country. Oh yeah? So they'd rather just overcrowd the south with people who don't want to be there? How would towns become prosperous at all if people moved out? Surely to make towns prosper, people should move in?

Occasionally, I have to go to London for work-related reasons, and I hate the place. It's full of people rushing around everywhere, and I always get the impression that it's grimy and sweaty. Well, it is on the tube anyway. You get off the train and are swept away in a fast current of people plugged into mobile phones and music-producing devices, too busy in their own little worlds to smile, or even notice when they're shoving other people out of the way. No thanks, I'd rather stay up here.

I wonder how much time these loonies spent discussing this topic before making this ridiculous statement? I had a quick look at their website and saw a quotation from Oliver Letwin, praising them to the heavens. I would be very reluctant to take seriously any group endorsed by that twit.