Dave Allen was an Irish comedian popular in the UK from the 1960s until his death in 2005. His reputation is as a cantankerous irreligious fellow, but this family-friendly moment is widely held to be his best sketch. Someone on YouTube thinks it's the best British TV comedy sketch of the 1970s. There's some pretty stiff competition on that front, if you ask me. (Mastermind, from The Two Ronnies, is the best British comedy sketch of the 1980s. Dead Parrot was 1969.) Read the rest
Marmite is a popular, exceedingly British food product spread on toast, crackers or directly onto one's tongue. It is dark, sticky, and delivers a stark "love it or hate it" kick to the tastebuds. Marmite originated in the thick, yeasty dregs generated by beer production; Bovril, its great enemy on the British condiment aisle, was made in similar fashion from slaughterhouse goop. And thanks to Brexit, there is a Marmite shortage and pricing run.
When a nation’s currency suddenly falls in value, as the pound has since the Brexit vote, imports cost more. This means prices in the shops will inevitably rise. Most people can grasp that simple, frictionless, model. Yet the Marmite affair highlights that there are many other economic factors involved and that things are (rather like the polarising “yeast extract” itself) stickier in practise.
Marmite is manufactured in Burton upon Trent. This fact prompted provoked accusations of “profiteering” from some Tory MPs and right-wing newspapers. “How can a falling pound justify a price hike for a UK-made product?” they demanded to know. Some suggested that this must be a plot by Anglo-Dutch Unilever to discredit Brexit.
But Unilever does not solely manufacture Marmite. It has reduced its transaction costs and increased its profit margins by bringing a wide range of consumer products into a single multinational business.
Photo: Kent Fredric (CC-BY-2.0) Read the rest
This is what happens who you trust tabloids and rich politicians who say you can have your cake and eat it. What they mean is they can have their cake, and you eat it. Today's shit sandwich is for Brits who thought that leaving the European Union, and preventing people coming into the UK, wouldn't mean reciprocal movement controls. As Nigerian Chibundu Onuzo puts it: Welcome to the world of restricted travel, British people!
The proposed scheme wouldn’t require Britons to have a visa, but intentions for travelling would need to be clearly stated online and applications could, in theory, be denied. It would, in essence, be a curb on freedom of movement: a freedom I have never fully experienced because of my nationality.
I’ve always needed a visa to legally travel out of Nigeria to most places in the world. There are other ways to do it. My cousin walked across the Sahara and slipped into Europe via the Mediterranean, but he was later deported.
Every time I fly into Heathrow, I am reminded that a plastic visa card is the only thing stopping my presence in London being a crime. I often see the other travellers who have been ushered to the side, their lives deemed illegal, only that thin square of plastic separating us. ... who knows? Maybe filling out forms to travel might make Britain more sympathetic to immigrants. I bet Nigel Farage didn’t think of that.
Just imagine the bloviating Harry Enfield rage of lumpy English holidaymakers denied entry to Spain or Ibeefa because they forgot to register their trip with the Proper Authorities. Read the rest
This ad for UK chocolate brand Maltesers—like Whoppers, but edible—is airing during the paralympic games. When there is so much about British media to appreciate never having to see again, this reminds me of what I miss most. Read the rest
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."
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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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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
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
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.
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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.'"
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
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.
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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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The Independent writes that the U.K. is warning travelers about new anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi.
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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."
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
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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
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