How the Evening Post incites racial hatred: Part 94

May 6, 2009

This story from today’s Post (May 6th 2009):

Browser title: Travellers children stealing from Lady Chique dress shop in Horfield.

Headline: Bristol shopkeeper – travellers use their kids to steal.

A Bristol dress shop owner fears she could be put out of business by “travellers” who use their children to help them steal.

Susanne Lawson, who owns Lady Chique in Horfield, says she is being targeted by families of thieves who regularly take valuable items.

She says thousands of pounds of dresses and clothes have gone missing from her shop over the last few years and in the last month her business has been hit several more times.

Last Friday afternoon, a family of four with Irish accents went into the shop on Gloucester Road. The mother tried on a gown and a man, presumed to be her partner or husband, went to the till and tried to pay for a different dress.

But the cash card he used had no chip in it and while he distracted Mrs Lawson, the woman and a girl aged about four left the shop with a dress worth £350.

. . .

Mrs Lawson, 57, who suffers from severe arthritis added: “I’m thinking of putting up a sign on the door saying ‘no travellers’. I might be targeted again for speaking out but I don’t care, I’ve had enough. Travellers are not welcome in my shop.

Mrs Lawson has already put a notice on her shop door saying: “We have been targeted by a certain element. These people have stolen from us for the last time.

“This store will only be open to socially acceptable people not those who expect normal people to pay for their existence.”

The last theft happened just before 3pm on Friday afternoon. The woman said the dress was for her sister’s wedding.

“When I was at the till I saw her bend down, give something to the girl and she screwed it up tight.

“It’s really upsetting. I’m struggling as it is and I cannot afford to let these dresses go. They are putting me out of business.

“The people who do this are very sneaky. They have no social graces and no conscience. They send their kids in to steal.

“I just wish they would stay away. I’ve got very bad arthritis so there’s very little I can do.”

Note that nowhere in this story is any evidence offered by either the Post or the shopkeeper to back up their claims that the shoplifters are Travellers.

Even if they could prove that they are Travellers it would still not be acceptable to report the story this way; suggesting that shoplifting is an issue specifically related to Travellers and that these people are shoplifting because they are Travellers.

Of course, the editor would tell us that they are just reporting what they’ve been told; that they are not making any assumptions or judgements; that they are just objective reporters. But anyone with any intelligence can see from they way the story is reported that that is a load of bollocks.

In fact, one has to wonder why this is even a story. Would this be a story if there wasn’t the Irish Traveller allegation attached? Would they normally be reporting a couple of cases of shoplifting? How many cases of shoplifting happen in this city every day?

Jo from Horfield points out in the comments the NUJ code of conduct says, “A journalist shall only mention a person’s age, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status (or lack of it), gender or sexual orientation if this information is strictly relevant.”

The Press Complaints Commission code of conduct says:

12 Discrimination

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Of course, the problem with these codes is that they are virtually useless. The NUJ code is unenforceable. The PCC is a toothless watchdog controlled and funded by the newspaper industry. The current chair of its editors’ code committee is that well know fighter for justice, equality and fairness, Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail.

The other problem with the PCC is that only individuals directly affected by a story can complain to it. The newspapers know this and cause offence appropriately. So, the Post know that their readership is generally middle-aged, middle-class, white and (small-c) conservative. They will be assuming that few, if any Irish Travellers are reading their hate propaganda and so a successful complaint to the PCC is highly unlikely. They also know that the prejudices their story plays on are shared by many of their readers. Just check out the comments online:

“Should allow shopkeepers to keep shotguns for dirty pikey pest control.”

Laura, Bristol

I used to work in a mobile phone shop and we had the same problem, they would come in the store in big groups and steal anything!! Then they would bring it back a few days later and try and get a refund! I was working in my own once in our cheltenham shop, I refused to give them a refund and this guy took his shoe off and tried to hit me…

Adam, Bristol, Voda-Moan

Where i work we have always had blatant thieving by the great unwashed . . .

Seamus O`theavery, Severn Beach

Jo get back in your box. It’s people like you that have led to an influx of illegals and foreigners in this country and not doing anything about it. Lets see how you would feel if some of these robbed your house or place of work.

Mary, Bristol

Fucking assholes.

You can of complain directly to Post about their story; but don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply. We are aware of several cases of people complaining to editor Mike Norton about breaches of the PCC code and not receiving even an acknowledgement of their complaint, let alone an explanation or correction.

Update: Now the idiot-hole shopkeeper has wadded into the ‘debate’ on the Post website in an attempt to prove she is not a racist idiot. Her barely-literate ramblings include:

What some people need to accept is that I am not the one targetting Irish travellers’ (that’s travellers NOT Gypsies), Irish Travellers are targetting ME. . .

Why would these individuals support these, thieving Irish travellers? Or any thief, of any colour?, for any reason? I challenge ‘Jo’ to invite a family of Irish Travellers into her home, (the kind that steal from my salon) see what you have left when they leave. . .

Irish Travellers … mostly devoid of social graces and behave with the life motto – ‘I didn’t work for it, but I’m going to steal from someone who did!
Susanne at Lady Chique.

Susanne, Lady Chique, Filton Rd, Horfield

Yeah, I ain’t no racialist, but . . .
Meanwhile, there’s also a debate going on over at Bristol Indymedia about this story.


Bristol Evening Churn

April 1, 2009

Investigative journalist, Nick Davies, in his brilliant exposé of the news media, Flat Earth News, describes how cost cutting and profit chasing has turned journalism into ‘churnalism’, and newsrooms into ‘news factories’. The results of the ‘news factory’ approach to journalism are clearly on display in two stories in the Post this week.

On Monday (March 30) the Post carried this ‘story’,

The force isn’t with Bristol police

Monday, March 30, 2009, 07:00

A bizarre request under the Freedom of Information Act reveals there are no police officers in Avon and Somerset who are following the Jedi faith.

Jedi holy warriors are the heroes of George Lucas’s ever-popular series of Star Wars films who defend the republic from the evil Sith.

The request read: “How many current police officers and police staff in your force have declared their religion as Jedi?”

The reply read: “Your request for information has now been considered and I can confirm that Avon and Somerset Constabulary have no police officers or police staff who have declared their religion as Jedi.”

When the last national census was taken, a national campaign was launched telling people that if 10,000 people put their faith as “Jedi”, it would become an official religion.

. . .

Notable Jedi include Obi Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor, and of course the green-skinned Yoda.

But what Bristol lacks in Jedi, it makes up for in Sith with our very own Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original trilogy of movies.

. . .

As you may have guessed this exclusive ‘cops don’t follow made-up religion’ scoop was not the product of hours of investigative digging. I was the result of an overworked Post hack in need of a story to fill up space resorting to the dregs of the police website’s Freedom of Information pages.

Is this the lowest, cheapest most desperate waste of ink excuse for journalism to have ever soiled the pages of a ‘serious’ newspaper?

Then, Tuesday (March 31), we get this,

Bristol protestors off to G20

Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 07:00

Coachloads of protesters will travel from Bristol to march through London on Wednesday before the start of the G20 summit when world leaders meet to discuss the global downturn.

A number of different groups and networks are planning to protest including the Stop the War Coalition, CND, climate change activists, trade unionists, religious groups and anarchists.

Thousands of people are expected to join a climate change “flashcamp” in the Square Mile which is being co-ordinated by text message.

The Camp for Climate Action will be promoting the idea that the failed economic system has not just created the financial crisis but is responsible for climate change.

Organisers argue that a radically different economy is needed, not one based on endless growth, and that governments will not be able to bail out the climate in the way that banks have been saved.

Click here!. . .

The Stop the War Coalition, focused on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are holding a rally at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, at 2pm tomorrow as well as a protest at the Excel Centre on Thursday.

More than 35,000 people – including many from Bristol – are estimated to have taken part in a London march organised on Saturday by a coalition of environmental, religious and trade union groups called Put People First.

They want the UK government and other countries to start building an economy that puts people and the planet first.

One activist who attended, writing on the Bristol Indymedia website, said: “I’ve started to question these marches I go on, normalised as they are for Londoners, protesters and police alike.

“Structured around a standardised route, only tourists bat an eyelid now. How many marches and how many people are necessary for change to occur. And that change is probably the major problem.

“With so many disparate groups of anarchists, socialists, unionists and greens appearing side-by-side, it can be difficult to work out exactly what form these changes must take.

” There is passion in the ranks, there is energy, but is there collective focus? Can there be?

“The lack of coherence of the groups will, inevitably lead to splintering and frustration.

“There will undoubtedly be violence in what has already been dubbed the coming Summer of Rage, probably starting at the further G20 protests this week. We can all feel it in the air.”

Avon and Somerset police said they would be sending a “small contingent” of officers to help out the Metropolitan force in policing the protests.

The G20 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the US and the EU.

Now, in what school of journalism is it acceptable to report a serious and contentious political story without speaking to any of the participants? How can it be right that the only quote in this story (other than two words from the cops) is cut and pasted from a pseudonymous, critical, contribution to a website?

There were at least four coaches from Bristol to last Saturday’s protest, all organised by major trade unions. The organisers of the march included trade unions and NGOs like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, many of which have offices in Bristol. The coaches have been advertised on websites and posters across Bristol for weeks along with contact details; we’re not talking about secret, underground anarchist cells organising this.

Why are Post journos incapable of picking up the phone and speaking to the local organisers and participants of this campaign?

And why pick only the critical and contentious bits from their anonymous quote? Why not this,

Having met my activist friends and been handed dozens of creatively produced flyers and spoof newspapers, I trailed out with the excited crowd to wait for the start of the march. We had no idea how many people would attend, and anybody who’s ever been to a protest knows how difficult it is to estimate numbers during the event. I heard afterwards the police estimated 35,000. Bodycounts in all their forms obsess mainstream media reporters. Sometimes a wonderful party atmosphere prevailed, fuelled by Anarchist drums and trade union brass bands.

And why have the quoted this,

“There will undoubtedly be violence in what has already been dubbed the coming Summer of Rage, probably starting at the further G20 protests this week. We can all feel it in the air.”

But left out this,

. . . it can be difficult to work out exactly what form these changes must take. My mind wandered as Tony Robinson, the poster-boy (!) of the protests appeared on stage again. I wondered how bystanders can be convinced of anything when protests are becoming the norm. I wondered how these large collections of people can actually make their complex points in the mainstream media when reporters don’t care about anything but violence. There is passion in the ranks . . .

This is churnalism. It’s Google researched, cut and paste reporting with ideological spin for good measure. And it’s only going to get worse if Northcliffe get away with pushing through their latest round of cuts and layoffs.

Local newspapers in turmoil

March 14, 2009

From Channel 4 News.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Evening Post advertises fascist BNP

March 7, 2009

We’ve been wondering how long it would take for the new Google “contextual” advertising on the Post’s website to cause embarrassment.

Here; an interview with former Bristol East Labour MP Tony Benn talking about Barak Obama, fighting racism in Bristol in the 60s and Bristol civil rights hero Paul Stephenson.

So, where better for an advert for the racist, Nazi British National Party (BNP).

Well done Evening Post. Or perhaps they’re not embarrassed . . .


EP - Benn - BNP

Whadda we want? Chicken broth for under a fiver!

February 17, 2009

EP - Somerfield comment

Today’s (Tuesday 17 Feb) front page splash is headlined “End of an era as 800 jobs face axe – Shutting up shop”. The story is the  announcement by Co-op Group, new owners of the Somerfield supermarket chain, of the closure of Somerfield’s Whitchurch HQ and up to 800 redundancies within the next 18 months.

The Post covers the story in some depth on pages 2 and 3 and also looks at the local roots and history of the Somerfield chain.

This announcement came on the same day that that 850 workers at the Cowley BMW plant in Oxfordshire were sacked with just an hour’s notice. Video footage quickly emerged of outraged workers heckling, booing and throwing missiles at bosses and the union reps they blame for selling them out. Apparently sacked workers later vandalised the brand new Minis they had just been sacked from producing.

There is clearly a growing sense of anger as well as fear as the the economic crisis begins to strangle ordinary people. There is obviously a potential for a fightback.

And so, we turn to the Evening Post’s “Bristol Fights Back” campaign against the effects of the recession. What do they have to say on the job cuts at Somerfield? Um . . . fuck all actually.

Today’s fightback page features an ad for an Evening Post owned shopping website and a recipe for chicken broth (“under a fiver!”).

We turn to the Post’s editorial comment on Somerfield (left) and we get this,image

What the Somerfield staff need now is the best possible advice and the opportunity to plan a future beyond the 18 months or so in which the Somerfield operation will be wound down.

They will need to be told how to best use the skills they have built up over years of loyal service to Somerfield and they will need advice on getting back into the jobs market. For some, it may be many years since they applied for a job.

Looking beyond Somerfield, these are difficult times for south Bristol.

On Saturday, we reported large areas where primary schools are undersubscribed. And last night, a public meeting was held to discuss the impact of a proposed Tesco Express store on Broadwalk centre in Knowle.

For some time now, the new regeneration project at Hengrove Park has been seen as the shining beacon of hope for what is an often neglected part of the city.

That’s right South Bristol, the Post says “don’t fight back”, just accept your fate. The best you can hope for now is some patronising Job Centre skills training before you are tossed onto the 2 million strong scrapheap of the unemployed.

But, hey South Bristol: You might be unemployed but at least you’ll have a nice new hospital to check yourself into when it all gets too much.

What utterly patronising shit from the Post’s editors. At least the local rag in Oxford seem to be condemning BMW for those job cuts and giving some space to serious fighting talk.

Of course the Post’s editors may have their own reasons for not wanting to encourage a fightback against job cuts, what with 45 redundancies on the horizon for the paper’s editorial staff.

Oh, and don’t be fooled by that “People Power” headline at the bottom of that editorial column. That’s a reference to a campaign in Stokes Croft to replace bill boards with street art. Very admirable and worthy of support and that. But when it comes to real people power, a real fightback, the Post will just smack you down.

Plastic hacks & plastic cops

February 13, 2009

EP - On the beat 1

Back to the topic of what the Bristol Blogger calls the Evening Post’s “comedy columnists”. Let us introduce PC Martin Hudd, AKA PC Derkhead Dud, and his weekly “On the Beat” column of police propaganda.

PC Dud is the Post’s second “On the Beat” columnist, having taken over from PC Lee Kerslake at the beginning of this year. As you can see from PC Dud’s first column (I’m raring to get writing, left), there was nearly no more “On the Beat” after illiterate-Lee quit last year. Dud tells us that none of the cops down at Trinity nick wanted to take over the column – presumably they were worried about exposing themselves as dumbass, boot-licking, ignoramuses like PC Kerslake did every week for a year.

So, here we have a whole column in a major local newspaper joking about how no one wants to write the fucking column. Is the Post that desperate for contributors? Well, no, obviously not. But they are desperate to fill their pages for free. And with the threat of redundancy hanging over yet more professional Post journos, we can only expect more of this drivel.

So, how has Dud been getting on after two months in his “second career as a journalist”. We just picked up this week’s column (PCSOs prove their worth, Thursday 12 Feb, below right) to see what he’s been up to with his new box of crayons.

We’re not sure what the fuck Dud’s getting at in his intro here, but he seems to be comparing his PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) plastic-pig colleagues to some kind of vermin. Fair point, but I’m sure people have been arrested for lesser crimes.

So, it turns out the column is a bit of puff for some new PCSOs in East Bristol. PC Dud gives us some examples of the great police work done by PCSOs such as organising “clean-up days” and “fun days”. And ain’t that exactly why we pay council tax to the cops?  For them to clean the streets and organise fun days? (And shit, don’t that just sound like a FUN day, organised by a cop.)

Dud says, “Whatever your views on PCSOs, it cannot be denied that they have enhanced the service given to the public.” EP - On the beat 2

Really? Well just one week ago on 5th Feb there was a story all over the press about PCSOs.

The Telegraph reported “Bored police community support officers are committing crimes”,

Bored and unmotivated police community support officers (PCSOs) in the country’s largest force are committing criminal offences, a report has disclosed.

New figures show that PCSOs are responsible for half of all cases of gross misconduct in the Metropolitan Police, including drinking and driving, despite representing only 20 per cent of the workforce.

The BBC told us that the Met Police’s director of human resources had said that PCSOs were committing crime because of boredom and that many “felt akin to glorified security guards”.

(See if you can get away with that “I was bored” excuse next time you’re down at Broadbury Road.)

The BBC report also quoted the Police Federation (which represents rank and file cops like PC Dud) who called PCSOs “policing on the cheap”.

The Police Federation has in fact always been opposed to the use of PCSOs and in the past have called for them to be scrapped and called the scheme a “failed experiment”.

So, PC Dud, you shouldn’t actually have to go that far to find people who do deny that PCSOs “have enhanced the service given to the public”. In fact, there are probably a quite few sat in your canteen right now.

The obvious point is that whatever PC Dud tells himself and his daughter, this bollocks ain’t journalism. And, to be fair to the Avon and Somerset PR department it hardly passes as propaganda either, does it. It’s just filling pages on the cheap with superficially uncontroversial trash.

And if the Post are still having trouble filling up their pages why don’t they demonstrate their commitment to that journalistic shibboleth “balance” and run a weekly column by a convicted criminal? Now that would set the letters page alight.

Bristol fights back (one bowl of cous cous at a time)!

February 12, 2009

Recognise this pathetic little pound sign logo? Yep, it’s the mascot of the Post’s “Bristol Fights Back” campaign (his name’s Bill, geddit?). Launched last December with the backing of Bristol City Council, this campaign is the Post’s attempt to “guide readers through the economic downturn.”

Yes, people of Bristol; you may be facing redundancy, repossession, homelessness, pay cuts and an all-round economic shafting but don’t fear, the Evening Post is here to lead the fightback.

There are a few problems with this campaign, though. Firstly, the Post seems to be in complete denial about the seriousness of this economic crisis (or “downturn as they euphemistically call it). They take every opportunity to bring us head-in-the-sand reports that everything’s gonna be fine. So even in the article introducing the fightback they are determined to tell us that Bristol’s gonna be OK. And why wouldn’t we with an economy based on financial services, retail and the service sector, oh, hang on . . .

Council leader Councillor Helen Holland said: “Some assessments think that we might be better placed than a number of other authorities to weather the storm.

People in business have also expressed optimism about Bristol. Andrew Forbes, Bristol spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “I have no doubt that we can pull through the current difficulties. “I know only too well the doom and gloom that is too prevalent on our news screens. However . . . I have no doubt that we will weather the storm and press on to build an even more exciting city in the next 25 years.”

And John Rushforth, deputy vice-chancellor at UWE, said: “The University of the West of England is looking forward with optimism. “We’ve recently announced the purchase of land formerly owned by Hewlett Packard . . .  In a smaller, but no less important way, we are holding a ‘Feel Good Week’ starting on Wednesday (3 December) as a preview tofor our Feel Good February.”

The other problem the Post has with leading a fightback is that they absolutely no fucking idea what a fightback is or who the fuck they are supposed to be fighting.

If they really wanted to start a fightback against the economic hardship many Bristolians are facing there are some obvious targets. They could campaign for the council and government to begin an emergency council house building programme; they could demand the council takes possession of some of the hundreds properties sitting empty and turn them over to those in need; they could lead a campaign against First Group’s crippling bus fares; they could call for a freeze on council tax.

But no. What do we get instead? The first couple of months of daily fightback articles were little more than free advertising for local businesses. Far from serious advice for those suffering the effects of the crisis, the articles were mostly puff pieces about how well “our” local businesses are doing.

Been made redundant? Why not set a business making kids’ suitcases-with-faces-and wheels like this dick from Clifton who’s been on Dragon’s Den. Or start selling power generators to BT like these smug bastards from Warmley. Look, look, these Bristolians are rich, why aren’t you? Why aren’t you rich like these people? Why are you poor? What recession? What are you doing wrong?

It’s just rubbing salt in our wounds really.

Then of course there have been the incessant consumer and shopping advice articles; where to find a bargain (M&S!), how to make money by switching your credit cards about, how to drive slowly to save fuel, blah blah blah.

And for the past couple of weeks the whole fightback campaign seems to have degenerated into a cookery advice column. We’ve been told that own-brand is cheaper than brand-name food and that some supermarkets are cheaper than others. We’ve had recipes for corned beef hash, “feed four for a fiver spiced cous cous”, budget pork and potato pie and pork curry brought to us by “Celebrity Masterchef winner and pop singer Liz McClarnon”.

There have been the odd debt and job-hunting tips as well, but a fightback? Nothing.

So what would a real fight back look like? Well, one of the first signs of the crisis affecting ordinary people came last year with the combination of rapid inflation combined with government imposed pay freezes, below inflation rises and job cuts for some of our most important public sector workers.

And they tried to fight back. Last April teachers and low paid public sector workers staged a one day strike against job loses and pay cuts. 2000 strikers and their supporters marched through Bristol.

How did the Post respond to these Bristolians fighting back? Here’s their editorial from April 22nd 2008,

Many teachers use words like “vocation” and “dedication” when they talk about their profession. Yet some of these same people will on Thursday refuse to work. Just a week or so before tens of thousands of children face SATs tests, and days after returning from the late Easter holidays, their school week will be disrupted. This is a wholly selfish act by members of the National Union of Teachers .
These are people perfectly able to understand the budgetary restraints on schools, perfectly able to appreciate that we live in difficult economic times, yet seemingly unable to accept the responsibility they have for educating children and apparently unwilling to apply some common sense  to their situation. It is like listening to car workers’ unions from the 1970s. They resist change, they complain about conditions and they bleat constantly about their workload. Yet they are blessed with working conditions that have continually improved.
They get more help in the classroom than ever before. They get so-called inset days tacked onto the end of holidays for extra training.
And don’t forget they get the most generous holidays of any profession, anywhere.
If there are teachers who don’t like any of that, why don’t they just resign? Their action on Thursday shows they are interested only in themselves.

That’s right, people of Bristol; the Post says these are difficult economic times and you must shut up and pay the price demanded by the government. The Post doesn’t give a fuck about a fightback.

Perhaps the editors are also scared that their journos, facing redundancy and increased workloads, might get some ideas and start their own fightback . . .

If or when there is real resistance to the crisis the Post will be on the other side.

Oh, and this is the latest in the fightback campaign. Advice to shop on a new website run by . . .  The Evening Post.

EP pays to shop


February 11, 2009

As the Bristol Blogger pointed out recently, with the Post laying of yet more journos we can expect the paper’s pages to be filled with more tedious columns from local “slebs”.

Anyone reading this could write these opinions-by-numbers columns the day before they are published.

Things are so bad it looks like they’ve begun taking inspiration from each other. But hey, at least old Phil ‘Space’ Cooper’s no longer about to recycle the bullshit all over again.

Here from Monday 10th Feb is Steve Scott’s column (apparently he reads the local ITV news)

Bring on more snow for Bristol week and maybe, just maybe, another dump of snow on Bristol. Well if it does, I for one can’t wait. There’s something about a thick layer of the white stuff that brings out the best in all of us.

The impact on how easy it is to get around can be very irritating, especially if your trip to the sunshine falls victim to the closed runway at Bristol International or you’re late for that vital meeting because of the snarled up traffic. But ask yourself, how much it really matters?

For every business deal that couldn’t be done, for every holiday slightly delayed or every school closed, there was a family building a snowman in their back garden.

If we had to put up with the disruption every few days it would be beyond ridiculous but surely we can handle the inconvenience once every 20 years or so.

In and around Bristol last week, by and large, most people seemed to be smiling. Durdham Downs was teeming and I imagine most Bristol parks were too. I’ve never seen so many amateur scupltors, lovingly creating everything from little animals to giant igloos. There were snowball fights breaking out everywhere – when else could you throw a missile at a stranger’s head without fear of being beaten up?

Click here!

For us adults it brings out that inner child, as proved by my wife as she chased me down the road in her dressing gown, snowball in hand, screaming like a banshee! An American friend told me she was amazed how many grown ups she had seen playing in the snow, In up-state New York where they get it every year, you seldom see anyone over the age of 10 with wellies on, mucking around knee deep in a snow drift.

For the real kids it’s not only a lot of boisterous fun but a bonding, character-building experience with friends and family and for one day only, I reckon they get more out of it than they would if they’d have been at school. If parents have a logistical nightmare for a day or two then so be it, although more schools should make a bigger effort to stay open – not to teach, but to provide a haven for children whose mum and dad really can’t avoid work. After all it’s an opportunity that doesn’t present itself very often as our climate warms up at a frightening rate. Or maybe we’ve got that one wrong too and from now on all winters will be like this.

Let’s hope our councils stock up on their salt supplies.

And here from Wednesday 11th Feb is George Ferguson’s (local architect and Merchant Venturer) attempt.

Snow makes it all magical

Snow makes it all magicalThe view on Thursday morning from the top of the Tobacco Factory was magic, with the Clifton Suspension Bridge, below, hanging like a frosted “cat’s cradle” over the Avon Gorge.

The supermarket car park below me had turned into a winter wonderland for the kids in the area.

I love the way the snow temporarily silences the city of cars and brings the cheerful noise of children’s laughter in its place – I wish it lasted longer. Maybe I should curse not being able to take my tiny car out, but to me the snow is an opportunity for us to play and to dream.

I lived in Norway as a young teenager, where we used to take snow in winter for granted. There it enveloped the great little city of Oslo and its surroundings and transformed the way we did things. It was never seen as a problem but as part of normal life – and we made the most of it.

Even the boring occupation of food shopping became an adventure, with my mother taking her “spark”, a sort of pushbike with runners, that we would shove uphill and ride and glide downhill.

So let’s just accept that snow is a blessing and that if it changes our lives at school or work, or my takings at the bar go down, so be it. There are, of course, some individual horror stories, but the overall psychological benefit must be enormous. My office had great fun using our professional sign boards to race down Brandon Hill.

I remember when we were working on the rebuilding of the Grade I-listed Prior Park school some 20 years ago after it was badly damaged by fire, the main contractors were in despair at the artist craftsmen knocking up a sledge out of waste wood and breaking off early to take advantage of a snowfall. They were asked how they could take time off with such a tight programme, only to answer that tomorrow the snow may have disappeared, but tomorrow the building would still be there.

Maybe that is what is so special about snow – it can cause chaos but it can make a dreary place seem magical and turn a car-dominated street into a playground. Snow seems to bring the child out in us all, at least those of us who still have a child hidden in there.

Let’s hope that with climate change we do not lose this very special pleasure, and let’s stop grumbling about the buses or the grit – or lack of them – and grasp the opportunities when they are here, as they may be gone tomorrow.

Now your turn at home. See if you can write your very own Evening Post column using our journalism-by-numbers instructions.

Remember to include references to:

  • Local landmarks
  • Bristol traffic
  • Childhood nostalgia
  • How little middle-class folk like us worry about taking days of work
  • Climate change
  • Salt / grit
  • Blah blah blah . . . snowmen . . . snowballs . . . (That’s enough snow-bollocks, Ed)

Evening Post to cut 45 jobs – Defend Evening Post journalists

January 23, 2009 Guardian reported this afternoon that Bristol News and Media (the Evening Post’s publisher) have announced a “reorganisation” of the Post and Western Daily Press which will include 45 redundancies.

The announcement confirms local speculation as reported this morning by the Bristol Blogger.

Despite our criticism of the Post we hope that NUJ members at the paper resist this attack on their jobs by the corporate money-men of the Daily Mail and General Trust. An Evening Post run with even fewer demoralised staff will surely be an more malign influence on our city than it is already.

We hope NUJ members at the Post and Press take action as they did in 2005 when journos took voted for strike action against job cuts and forced management to recognise the union.

Lets hope Post journos become part of the real fightback against the bosses attempts to make workers pay for their economic crisis.

Evening Post: Soft on (real) criminals

January 23, 2009

Oh to be a well paid middle-class Evening Post editor; sat moralising, judging and damning the poor to sate your middle class readers’ appetite for bigotry and vengeance.

“Have you noticed how few benefit cheats get sent to jail?”

This Post editorial (Cheats prosper, Jan 9th 2009) was the paper’s considered response to the case of master criminals Tracey and Anthony Eddolls. The Post’s report in the same edition screamed “£24k benefit scam couple spared jail” (Although the headline has been changed for the online version: A common practice by the Post where they don’t want their hysterical headlines and comments available to the world for eternity.).

The story is about a couple from Hartcliffe who were dragged off to court for benefit “fraud”. They were both found guilty of falsely claiming £24k in housing and council tax benefits over a period of six and a half years; about £300 per month.

Mrs Eddolls works part-time in a supermarket and is raising the couple’s three children. Her relationship with her husband is described as unstable; he “comes and goes as he pleases”. Basically, this sounds like a fairly typical state of affairs for millions of people in dysfunctional relationships trapped by economic circumstances.

Mrs Eddolls’ crime was to not inform the council every time her on-off husband stayed the night. Then, of course, she would have had to reapply for the benefit every time he left again. Have any of the Post’s editorial team been through the process of applying for benefits? Have any of them had to rely on benefits because of their shit wages and fucked up relationship?

If only we all lived in nice, moral, stable, cereal-packet families where Daddy goes out to work to provide for the family and earns a nice regular wage in his nine-to-five job. If only we all lived like the moral middle classes of newspaper editors’ imaginations.

But we don’t. And so Mike Norton and his Post cronies want to put this couple in prison, bang ’em up. 150 hours community service, a suspended sentence and the stress of a court case just ain’t enough for these blood thirsty shits. They want to ruin these people’s lives; ensure they’ll never get a proper job; fuck their kids up so they become dysfunctional. The Post demands vengeance.

What the fuck do they think prison would achieve? Set an example? Force people to stop being poor? Fuck off.

Have you noticed how few bankers get sent to jail?

And where are Norton and gang when it comes to the real fraudsters? Those bankers, traders and other corporate pigs who are bleeding us dry and destroying lives? What about those fraudsters and cheats, Evening Post? The ones who look like you and talk like you and went to the same public fucking schools as you? Those cheats really do prosper.

Have you noticed how few corporate killers get sent to jail?

Compare and contrast. Here’s the Post’s editorial from January 8th, the day before the frothing rant above was published (the Post’s frothing rant, not mine). The story is the death of a pensioner at the Concorde visitor attraction in Filton, Bristol. Mr Livall’s death was caused by multinational aerospace corporation Airbus (annual turnover £1.8bn) and its contractor BAC Trading Ltd who admitted installing an unsafe gantry walkway to the Concorde.

71-year old Mr Livall, a Concorde enthusiast, was killed in September 2004 after falling seven metres to his death through a gap in the gantry. The companies both admitted breaches of health and safety laws in court.

The Post report quotes the judge,

“Airbus should not have let the exhibition open without a safety assessment which would have made the risk glaringly obvious.

“They provided an unsafe structure in the first place and then handed it over to BAC, who were lulled into a false sense of security, expecting that what Airbus provided would be safe.”

The judge said the tragedy was “an accident waiting to happen” and Airbus could and should have done something about it after concerns were raised on three occasions about gaps in the gantry.”

The judge then handed Airbus (annual turnover £1.8bn) a fine of £200,000 with £58,000 costs. He also fined the group involved in running the attraction £10,000.

So, what does the Post say? Does it demand jail for those responsible for this pensioner’s death? Does it decry the injustice and the soft-touch court system? Does it ask why so few corporate killers get sent to jail?

No. The Post says that the investigation and prosecution were unnecessary. It says that Mr Livall should have accepted before he visited this attraction that there was a risk he could end up dead.

They say that a fine of £250,000 won’t make any difference to a multi-billion-pound company like Airbus, so they shouldn’t be fined at all.

Corporate killers prosper

That’s right, the Post thinks that if you are a rich corporation not only should you be able to get away with killing people, but you shouldn’t even be put through the hassle of an investigation.

Anyway, we couldn’t possibly bang corporate killers up in jail. We need the cell space for all those benefit scroungers, don’t we.