19 March, 2009

The children of Dunblane and the Express

I'm spitting about this one, really spitting. The British press have always been a shower of shitheads but they've sunk to an all time low.

Dunblane is a small town in Scotland. It has four primary schools and one secondary school. Most people had never heard of Dunblane until the morning of 13th of March 1996. That was the day that Thomas Hamilton, a 43 year old local man, walked into Dunblane Primary School and shot 16 children and their teacher dead before turning the gun on himself. The children were in the gymnasium. Some of them tried to run away. Some were injured. They were aged between 5 and 6 years old.

I still remember where I was when I heard the news. I cried that day for those children, their teacher, their friends and family. Thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. I can't begin to articulate how I felt and still do. Anniversaries have been and gone and I've wondered about the parents of the murdered children. I've also wondered about those who survived, hoping they've been able to get on with their lives after such unspeakable trauma.

Seems I'm not the only one who wondered. There's a shitstorm brewing over a venomous - and pointless - article which was published in the Sunday Express. The front page story alleged that survivors of the massacre had "shamed" the memory of their dead friends by boasting about drunken nights out on social networking websites.

Paula Murray, the Express hack in question, used the headline "Anniversary shame of Dunblane: internet boasts of sex, drink and violence as youngsters hit 18". The article was published on the 8th of March, one week before the anniversary. Its premise was that some of those who witnessed the massacre first-hand had "posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath of the atrocity".

The main crime committed by these private citizens who had one suffered the trauma of being shot at whilst in their PE kit seemed to be that one of them - who had been injured in the massacre - making posts on a networking site, which it claimed showed them making "rude gestures" in pictures and boasting of "drunken nights out".

Well, fuck me. Teenagers acting like teenagers. Who'd have thought it? What did Paula Murray think they were going to do? Don sackcloth and ashes? Spend the rest of their lives in quiet contemplation? Stay home and cry every day?

The Express has since quietly withdrawn the story from its website but the cat is out of the bag and it's screaming its head off. Here's a link to an excellent piece by Graham Linehan, including a PDF of the original front page. Here's another cracking piece where a Blogger examines the personal life of the author of the pile of shit. There's also a Facebook group with over 3000 members.

Quite why someone thought it would be a good idea to publish a story about a group of eighteen year olds drinking alcohol, having sex and generally behaving like teenagers is beyond me. I would imagine that both Paula Murray and the editor of the Express will have plenty of time to reflect on whether it was worth invading the privacy of young people who had once feared for their lives at an age where the rest of us were worrying about whether or not our mothers had remembered to pick up our favourite comic from the newsagents.

17 March, 2009

Oh Happy Day

I have loved these women for years. Years and years. Female comedians in a mans industry and not only that but really, really funny female comedians. From their early work on The Comic Strip Presents to Girls on Top and then to their own series French and Saunders I watched with pride as they became high profile comedians up on the same level - if not higher - with some of the boys at the time. They were my favourites on Comic Relief. I remember watching the original sketch which was the inspiration for Absolutely Fabulous. I loved the Vicar of Dibley. I loved it all.

Now they've announced the end of their touring days and predictable tickets are rarer than hens teeth. I spent fruitless hours on the internet yesterday trying to get through but to no avail. Today I thought I'd give it one last go.

Guess who's got two tickets to see French and Saunders on the 1st of July at 8pm then?

12 March, 2009

Chocolate is an everyday food. Discuss.

A report of a most alarming nature caught my eye today. I don't mind telling you, dear readers, that I'm quite distraught. If Dr David Walker gets his way we're all doomed.

David Walker? Who's he? He's a Scottish GP who wants to bring misery to millions by taxing chocolate.

Oh yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. This white coated wowser wants to make us pay more for what is essentially an entire good group.

'Dr Walker, who is also a trained food scientist and nutritionist, told the BBC news website: "Obesity is a mushrooming problem. We are heading the same way as the United States.
"There is an explosion of obesity and the related medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes. I see chocolate as a major player in this, and I think a tax on products containing chocolate could make a real difference."

Difference to the tax coffers, yes. Does he really think anyone is going to think twice before buying that bag of Revels or that delicious Twix?

Not surprisingly the idea has ready met with some resistance.

'Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "Introducing regressive taxes on the foods that consumers love would result only in lighter wallets, not smaller waists - particularly as we already have to pay VAT on all our chocolate purchases. '

But don't panic. Dr Walker will be taking his proposal to a British Medical Assocation meeting in Scotland where it will be discussed then pushed to one side. I can't really see it going anywhere.

You might want to stock up at the weekend, though. Just in case.

05 March, 2009

Fast Food - It's an Emergency

Anyone here ever called 999? 000? 911? 112 (or whatever the European number is)?

I have. I called for the fire brigade once. I was just leaving the Alfred Hitchcock pub after having a couple of medicinal G&Ts and some cheese & onion crisps when I noticed what seemed to be a medium sized fire on the land straight opposite. Oooh, I thought, a real emergency. I dialled 999 and a very nice person answered, I told them what I needed to and they sent a nice, shiny fire engine. That was that.

So, what would make you call? A fire? A car accident? Someone having a heart attack? What about if the people at McDonalds took your money and wouldn't give it back?

That's exactly what this woman did. Twenty seven year old Florida resident Latreasa Goodman resorted to calling 911 when a transaction at her local McDonalds failed to go her way. Apparently the cashier took her order for chicken nuggets as well as her cash but refused to refund the money when the nuggets ran out, offering an alternative meal instead.

When told by the police that failure to obtain the junk food hit of her choice was not an emergency, the young chicken fan replied, "This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one. This is an emergency."

It wasn't the nuggets, it was the principle. "When you feel that you've been mistreated or misused or robbed out of your money, you have the right to call 911," Goodman opined. "That's the purpose of 911, so I thought."

Sometimes you just can't make it up. She's twenty seven years old and she's using the police in a way that an eight year old would use their mummy. I'm sure I'd be annoyed if the staff wouldn't give me a refund but I'd have to be either wildly hormonal or incredibly stoopid to call the emergency services to sort it out. Imagine the call.

"Help, I need an urgent response from the police. Ronald McDonald has got my $2.50 and he won't give it back. Send a SWAT team and maybe get them to stop by another McDonalds. I need me some chicken nuggets."

Apparently she's facing a fine for inappropriate use of the emergency services. She called 3 times. Three times. Must've been really hungry.

03 March, 2009

Just popping in

Sorry, everyone. I've been rather slack.

I don't have anything to say today, I was sort of formulating a post in my head today when I was walking along the beautiful coastline (had to get that in) but I don't have an ending.

I can't even post a LOLcat. My skills have all deserted me. I'll try and come up with something by the end of the week.

Anyway, how are the rest of you?