Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 26 November 2007

Read All About It

This is an ocassional series about some of the carefully selected Links on my page to show you why they're there. First up is the purveyor of all the news local to where I live, the Gazette & Herald (G&H). I've been a regular reader of this award winning newspaper since NAH and I moved down here over 23 years ago. I'm sure it's typical of most local newspapers - the usual mix of local events and festivals, that all important first day at school, local sports fixtures etc. etc. There's also plenty of campaigning and fundraising on local issues, such as the current Kev's Van Appeal (target reached this week - hurrah!). Wherever possible, it also comments on international and national events, as long as there is that all important local angle of course. It manages to do all of this in a quirky style that I find most endearing and most importantly, keeps me reading. We've even made our own minor contributions in the past, me as a "Fed up Commuter" and letter protester re the upcoming proposed changes to the Donkey Field, and NAH for his prowess at swimming at both local and master's levels.

I was a tad disappointed when the paper went tabloid a couple of years ago. Whilst I fully understand the reasons for doing this, I feel the editor didn't carefully consider the needs of us cat owners. The rustle of a newspaper is second only to the lifting of a can opener in attracting a cat to your side. In the days of the broadsheet version, cat and owner could co-exist peacefully - cat plonked down on one page and I able to continue to read the other. Now it's war each time I settle down to read the paper. We used to read the G&H's sister paper, The Chippenham News, but could never understand why the property pages seemed to concentrate on Corsham's housing market, until we discovered a few years later Chippenham's were in the G&H instead - doh!

This week's paper has the usual treasure trove:
  • The benches moved from the town centre's bridge at the police's request because they were a gathering place for troublemakers, are to be restored back to the main high street. This means the elderly will have their much needed shopping rest point available again. A triumph of sense and pensioner power over the troubles of today's yoof!
  • Our local MP continues to struggle with his political reputation after his 'love rat' antics during the last general election. This week saw him win the latest vote to keep his selection as parliamentary candidate. I'm glad I'll be in a different constituency to his the next time round as Chippenham is to be separated from North Wilts - ironic really as Chippenham was one of the original Rotten Boroughs
  • There's continuing High Street woes - parts of the covered car park continues to excude a corrosive substance after 18 months and we're also due to have 15 weeks of roadworks early next year, hot on the heels of a similar period of misery earlier this year
A much closer inspection of the paper was as rewarding as usual and revealed:
  • The name of the man who's been jogging around Chippenham in a Spongebob Squarepants hat singing Amarillo for at least 2 years. Apparently he did the same at the New York Marathon recently - well done. However, I'm considering whether to ask him if he does requests to inject a little variety - Avenues & Alleyways anyone?
  • A repetitively worded article - there's usually something where nearly exactly the same thing is reported twice, often including the same quote from the interviewee, in adjacent paragraphs. A regular variation is the publication of exactly the same article in at least 2 parts of the paper
  • The Regular Events listing continues to have the imaginatively titled "Two Left Feet" dance evenings at £5 per couple. Unfortunately NAH is only known to dance when extremely drunk, so I'm unable to avail myself of this bargain evening. Perhaps I should join "The Sahara Sisters" for a spot of solo belly dancing instead?
  • The fact that the last-minute substitute speaker's subject at Hardenhuish WI was "Unexpected Events"...

I also read various national newspapers from time to time, but fail to recall a single article I've read. This is not the case with the G&H, so I'll leave you with my particular favourites from over the years:

  • The picture of Charles and Camilla's banns posted at Chippenham Registry Office (the nearest one to Camilla's home at the time): revealing Camilla as a year older than her beau and not working plus Charles' occupation as 'Prince of the United Kingdom'
  • An earlier article on Camilla being bombarded with bread rolls at Sainsbury's in Chippenham by Diana supporters when her dalliance with Charles was revealed in the national press
  • An objector to a local eyesore when interviewed describing it as 'Like lipstick on a gorilla'
  • A burglary thwarted by the fact that the lookout's deafness prevented him from hearing when the shop's alarm had gone off

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