Voice of Postman Pat, charming British claymation series, dies at 83

Postman-Pat

Ken Barrie, narrator of the British kids' show Postman Pat, died age 83 this week.

Barrie, who was born Leslie Hulme, provided the voice for Pat and many of the other characters in the animated series, as well as singing the famous theme song. His daughter, Lorraine Peterson, told the Press Association that he died peacefully at home in Denham, Buckinghamshire, of liver cancer.

The show concerned the mundane yet charming adventures of Pat Clifton, a postie in rural England, and his black and white cat, Jess. Most all episodes set out with him delivering mail to the timeless English village of Greendale; his rounds would inevitably be interrupted by some local concern: a lost puppy, sheep clogging a country road, plumbing trouble at the pub, etc.

Wouldn't it be awesome if they did a new series that homed in, in child-friendly fashion, on the vaguely haunting aspect of all this. Pat just delivering the mail when Cthulhu happens. That sort of thing.

"Pat stared at the writhing mass of tentacles under the old flint bridge for a moment, then remembered he'd only yesterday delivered a box of powerful hexes and charms to the coven up by the old windmill. "I bet they know what to do about this," he said to Jess. "Otherwise Mrs. Miggins won't be able to get her subscription to Country Living." Read the rest

UK gives OK to Amazon for drone delivery exploration

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Amazon.com says it has entered into a partnership with the British government to get the nation's aviation authority approval for deliveries via small drones.

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You've met the man designed to survive a car crash, now meet the Natural Born Smoker

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Pesco posted about "Graham," a man remade to survive car accidents, replete with blemmye-like head and disgusting air-sacs rippling around his ribs. A device to remind us of the fragility of our feeble human bodies, it reminded me of the Natural Born Smoker, a similar effort in the 1980s.

Like Graham, he's grossly adapted to resist physical damage. But instead of the trauma associated with high-speed road accidents, NBS is all about dealing with smoke. Above is the classic; here's the lesser-spotted sequel to Barry Myers' Blade Runner-esque public information film:

Ah, good old British childrens' TV! Read the rest

Surprise revival in UK printed book sales, with ebooks dipping

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Ink on paper is a better product, at least for now, and it's showing at British tills. Sky UK's Lucy Cotter reports the first better year for print since 2007, and the worst one for ebooks since 2011.

Last year saw the first rise in sales since 2007, while digital book sales dropped for the first time since 2011.

Betsy Tobin, who runs the independent bookshop Ink@84 in Highbury, London, offers her customers a personalised service.

The bookshop offers coffee and alcohol and runs events and special author evenings.

Diversifying is part of her success but she says her customers also like buying in person rather than online.

They take pleasure from handling and owning books, she said.

I wonder if this has something to do with how well-run major UK bookstore chains are (small stores in high-traffic areas) compared to American ones (strip-mall big boxes, full of trashy ancillary merch and empty of foot traffic.) The literary retail culture there makes people want to drop in and fuss around with books, while the one here just means no-one is ever in a bookstore in the first place, so they just order stuff on Kindle. Read the rest

Claim of "dramatic deterioration" in UK economy since Brexit vote

Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson,  delivering his speech in London, Britain June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

According to one financial services company, Brexit bites—and it hasn't even been officially announced yet. According to Markit (good enough for fussy Tory broadsheet The Telegraph), economic shit's back to 2009 levels already, yo.

Speaking about the data, Markit's chief economist, Chris Williamson, said (emphasis ours):

"July saw a dramatic deterioration in the economy, with business activity slumping at the fastest rate since the height of the global financial crisis in early-2009.

"The downturn, whether manifesting itself in order book cancellations, a lack of new orders or the postponement or halting of projects, was most commonly attributed in one way or another to 'Brexit.'"

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British PM resigns early to make way for Theresa May, hums strange tune

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters)

Though he'd planned to stay on for two more months while his party chose a new leader, Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down Wednesday after opposition to Theresa May evaporated. What's getting everyone's attention, though, is the odd little tune he hummed after making his announcement.

Believing himself off the air, Cameron's mic was in fact still hot as he turned from the podium in Downing Street to retreat into Number 10.

"Do doooo, do doo," Cameron hummed, to a tune suggestive both of ironic victory and melancholy detachment.

Then, as he closed the door, he paused a moment and added a stout "Right"—the customary rhetorical punctuation mark of a British man who has completely and irremediably ruined everything around him.

The video above was captured by ITV journalist Vincent McAviney. Read the rest

Theresa May all but certain to become Prime Minister after foe quits

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In the confusing but exciting battle over who will become Lord Protector of Albion during its difficult negotiations to leave the Continental Breakfast, all but one of the challengers has dropped out.

Minister of Hot Messes Andrea Leadsom bungled a Smarm Charm over the weekend so badly that her credibility as a candidate collapsed. This means that Secretary of Secrets (Other People's) Theresa May is running unopposed to lead the ruling Conservators faction and thereby become the next Premium Minister.

Meanwhile, the sinister yet plucky Shadow Cabinet is itself embroiled in intrigue, as a former member, Angela Eagle, announced her intention to replace Jeremy Corbyn upon the Rust Throne, still standing thanks to augmentation with Bankers' Plastic by the mad king Tony but beginning to glow strangely, as if about to melt or explode. Read the rest

#Brexit pusher Boris Johnson drops his run to be next Prime Minister of Britain

Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson,  delivering his speech in London, Britain June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

It's been a day of “intrigue and betrayal” in UK politics, as the New York Times puts it. The man widely predicted to be a solid candidate as the next prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, says he won't run. This appears to be a response to today's unexpected news of a candidacy launch by Michael Gove, a key Boris ally in the Brexit campaign. It's hard to keep up, I know.

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Britain warns LGBT travelers about visiting North Carolina, Mississippi

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The Independent writes that the U.K. is warning travelers about new anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi.

Dr Felicity Daly, director of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust said: “It is heartening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work, it’s a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK, but most people who identify as LGBT in the UK will already be aware of the nature of certain states.”

Matt Horwood of Stonewall charity said: “What’s happened in Mississippi and North Carolina proves that equality is never secure.

"It’s positive to see the UK government recognise this need and update its travel advice pages accordingly."

Read the rest

Angry people in local newspapers

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Angry people in local newspapers is a blog that celebrates pictures of people posing angrily by unpatched potholes, inadequate signs, dog excrement, etc. This is the prevalent form of local news journalism in the United Kingdom. Previously: Local People, Arms Crossed. Read the rest

Britons vote to name $287m research ship "Boaty McBoatface"

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After asking the public to decide upon a name for a $287m research ship, Britain's Natural Environment Research Council is feeling stupid, because they've picked "Boaty McBoatface."

“The storm that has been created has got legs of its own,” Mr. Hand told the BBC on Monday, and added that he had submitted Boaty McBoatface in another competition. (For what it’s worth, Mr. Hand voted for the name R.R.S. David Attenborough.)

The research council would not comment on whether it would override the Internet’s suggestion, but Alison Robinson, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the group was “delighted by the enthusiasm and creativity” of people vying for names like Boaty McBoatface. The ship is scheduled to set sail in 2019.

“We’ve had thousands of suggestions made on the website since we officially launched; many of them reflect the importance of the ship’s scientific role by celebrating great British explorers and scientists,” Ms. Robinson said. “We are pleased that people are embracing the idea in a spirit of fun.”

There's something particularly British about "Boaty McBoatface." The way it thinks it's funny and lighthearted and a bit subversive, but the teeth are pressed together just a little too hard for it to be any of those things.

(Just leaving it as "Name of Vessel", on the other hand, would be British in a good way: sarcastic, passive-aggressive, likely to confuse/irritate foreign maritime officials, etc) Read the rest

Pound sinks as Britain weighs EU exit

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Britain is to hold a referendum this summer on whether to leave the EU. Proponents of "Brexit" want to see less immigration and more self-determination; advocates of staying in the union anticipate horrors both economic and human if the country becomes, once again, an "island".

Polls are running neck and neck. Britain is important enough that its departure could deal a mortal blow to the European Union; the Scots and Irish, in particular, are uneasily tied to England's destiny. Meanwhile, the pound is headed south, presumably in search for warmer climes. Read the rest

UK tabloid publishes 1933 film of Edward VIII teaching Nazi salute to Queen

The Sun keeps it classy.
God save the Queen.

Police admit falsely arresting teen rape victim: "this is what happens when you lie."

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A 17-year-old rape victim, treated with callous indifference and arrested by UK police who accused her of lying, has been awarded £20,000 in a settlement.

Hampshire Constabulary apologized for refusing to properly investigate the victim's complaint, and admitted liability for false imprisonment and assault.

The girl was attacked in April 2012, reported it immediately, and provided her clothing for forensic analysis. But police decided within two days that she was lying and threatened her, The Guardian reports, with charges of her own should she pursue the matter.

When she did so, she was arrested on suspicion of "perverting the course of justice," and was told by one detective that "this is what happens when you lie."

The police failed to test the evidence and, reportedly, were told by a supervisor to "fucking nick her."

"I was horrified," her mother told the BBC. "A woman comes forward and tells the police authority she has been raped: You expect them to do everything they can to put the rapist away."

The case only proceeded months later after an official complaint was made, prompting prosecutors to ask for thorough tests on the garments.

The attacker, Liam Foard, was subsequently identified. After denying any sexual contact at all with his victim, he was convicted and jailed for five years in 2013. But it's taken another two years—and a lawsuit filed under human rights legislation—for Hampshire Constabulary to say sorry.

In the meantime, one of the officers responsible for the girls treatment was given a written warning, and three others allowed to resign or retire before the investigation into their conduct could be completed. Read the rest

How to swear British-style

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With historical references and details of cultural and regional texture, Anglophenia explains how to utter terms like "bloody", "sod off" and "bollocks" with the proper mix of joy, irritation and indifference. Read the rest

Britain's new pylons look like scales of justice

The UK is to see its first new electricity transmission tower design in nearly a century, reports the BBC.

The new design abandons the traditional "Mutant Eiffel Tower" style in favor of a sleek "T" shape.

This renders obsolete all those weird British science fiction TV shows from the 70s and 80s, where the regressed medieval future was illustrated with pastoral landscapes studded by the obsolete but still-looming pylons of the barely-remembered 20th century.

The new ones, however, are far more obscenely symbolic of totalitarian self-regard, and surely have a great future in spooky hauntological sci-fi where leather and sack-clad villagers worship science and its manifestations.

This is already most of West Sussex, yes, but just imagine everyone doing it. Pictured above is new pylon, with some classic pylon in the background. Read the rest

Making egg nog for the British

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Did you know you can enjoy raw eggs relatively fearlessly in the UK? As an American often found hiding out in England, I was surprised to learn that they don't have egg nog here. Read the rest

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