Friday, 4 January 2008

For a while I'm going to take as my subject that which is also my hobby: watching television.

I'm going to start with a few pet hates and at the minute what I find most annoying is the lazy writing, particularly the verbs, used by the BBC in their news bulletins. For example, the volcano in South America that's currently having a grumble is constantly described as "spewing". Fine, once perhaps, but every volcano every time? Then there was the description of yesterday's momentary glimpse of winter when half an inch of flurry drifted over the Cairngorms but the country was said to be "in the grip" of the weather. No we weren't, some people enjoyed it, some found there car windscreen needed clearing and some others got a bit parky when they took the dog for a walk. No-one was "in the grip" of anything.

Then there's the price of something, say gas or a train ticket. If ever these prices go up they aren't 'increased' they are 'hiked'. And God forbid if it's an 'above inflation increase', we can all expect the world to end as we're overrun by sodomites. It's bad enough that there's an increase without all the hyperbole.

Tangentially, I also hate the way the BBC uses the news as a springboard for shows it's airing later that day. How many times does the morning news run a 'reports say that nurses work too hard' story only to find that there's programme on that very subject at 9 o'clock on BBC1? As the programme is already made then it comes under the heading of 'magazine' or 'current affairs' but not 'news' so don't dress it up as such.

To close I have to point out the latest bit of government speak. Remember it started with 'it's all the tories' fault' then (although they aren't above still trying that one occassionally) they moved to saying questions about their competence were 'plainly daft' or even 'silly' and 'would you just let me answer the question'. Now it's either 'a review is underway so don't ask us about it' or 'we are just getting on with the job'. I'm not political but I wish they'd all try just that bit harder to bamboozle me, let me feel as if I'm worth the effort!

Friday, 7 December 2007

I didn't vote for this.

Sorry for the prolonged absence but I've been away from my desk for a while.

I wanted to resume by looking at something that's happening locally, seems really important, but no-one's yet noticed. There's a body in Thanet called the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) that seems to be closely lin ked to the council, has power over millions of pounds but has people on there from the police, Thanet College etc who are unelected. I don't hold much truck with those who are elected but at least we know who they are and we can get rid of them when we want to.

The strange thing is that the LSP is going global, or at least joining up with Dover, Canterbury and Shepway to form an East Kent LSP. So what? Well it means that those four councils are going to work together and pool their money to the greater good. Fine if you're on the receiving end but what if you're not and our own council tax goes to support the darker recesses of Dover or an alternative arts centre in Folkestone for example? And that is exactly what could happen according to an 'interim report' on the whole issue that was launched this week.

East Kent is about a third of the county and would give us a lot of pull but given that Ramsgate are still looking for their own town council (then what, St Lawrance?) are people aware of the imminent change and what it might mean? The whole thing's got the green light and goes live from April next year. How do unelected people make such large political decisions and why don't the voters know about it?

I promise not to leave my next posting quite so long!

Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy New Year

New Year, new resolutions. This is my first posting, I've decided to start a blog after reading other local bloggers such as Dane Valley Ted, Eastcliff Richard and even the political ruminations of Dave Green's Eastcliff Matters or Dr Moore's Thanet Life.

I'll write about whatever's on my mind (not much most of the time) so I thought I'd start with an issue that is national but put it in a very local perspective.

I know this happens everywhere but here at Tesco Extra in Broadstairs they insist on having a checkout dedicated to people with "Ten items or less" in their baskets. You don't have to be a business making millions a minute to know it should be "Ten items or fewer". (For those of you who might not be sure but care enough to read on ... generally you use 'fewer' when the items in question can be counted, and 'less' when they can't. For example I might take fewer holidays a year than you but where you go might have less air pollution. Not a great example but you see what I mean.) Sticking with Tesco's, although I think Asda just down the road are every bit as guilty, they sell "womens" and "mens" clothing! Let's see how this works; one man, two men, and three or more mens? They employ the best business brains in the country and they can't put an apostrophe in the right place. I ought to boycott the place but a man's got to eat.

The randomly scattered apostrophe rains down liberally on Thanet. There's a shop in Margate High Street that has a year round sign in its window proclaiming it has "video's for sale". If that wasn't bad enough, and it is, there's a temporary sign near the Boundary / Hereson Road junction offering "Christmas Tree's"! At least they didn't go too wild and slip a quick apostrophe into Christmas just to be on the safe side.

Just popping back to the shops for a minute there's a longstanding gripe I have with some of their promotional literature. First, why give us products that are '100% extra free', 'buy one get one free' and 'two for the price of one'? They mean the same thing, choose a description and stick with it, I'm easily confused. Plus they say "when it's gone, it's gone", dear me, as opposed to what, 'when it's gone don't worry it's just hiding, give it a minute and it'll be back? Put the sign over the cage of a recently deceased hamster and I could understand that you're trying to teach a child the truth held within the circle of life but seeing it over the top of a pyramid of cheap beans leaves me wondering.

Signs which are thoroughly well intentioned but just miss the spot by a touch are some of the funniest (big shops should know better). There are a couple of beauties of the 'looked fine at the time' variety in two of the island's church halls (for people unfamiliar with the geography of Thanet it was an island during Roman times and is still often referred to that way). One, in Broadstairs and widely used as a community centre, said on a sign pinned to the door "Wednesday evening slimmer's group, please use large double doors at side of building." Not so great for the members' self esteem but at least they put the apostrophe in the right place. Also, and this one was in Cliftonville when the building in question was having some work done, "Toilet out of order, please use floor below". I laughed so much I almost did exactly that!

To close (I'm not sure how long a blog posting ought to be) I'll mention a sign that's meant to be funny - and is. I see this on the rear doors of a van driving around Thanet and it says simply "We repair what your husband fixed". How true.