British shopping center creates Christmas tree out of Remembrance Day poppies

Britain, like most of western Christendom, celebrates Christmas with ornamented trees. The British mark Remebrance Day for World War I on November 11 by wearing paper poppies. A shopping mall in Salisbury, England, has ingeniously combined the two events by making a giant Christmas tree out of paper poppies.

One tweet described the red tree as an oddity, saying: "Christmas and Remembrance Sunday, together at last in one oddly conceived package."

Another comment described it as "tasteless", while a further tweet said it was "disrespectful". But the Royal British Legion said it was "grateful to all individuals, as well as any shops, pubs and other commercial enterprises, which choose to show their support for the Armed Forces Community".

There's something about the way monumental paganism remains an emergent property of the British condition, even (especially) when it's trying to do blithely inoffensive corporate promotional material.

MARKETING CONSULTANT: George, something's come up about the sign by the poppy tree. It's Selfridges. They object to some of the text.

GEORGE: What now?

CONSULTANT: It's the line that reads "KNEEL BEFORE THE BLOOD TREE! FUCK BEFORE THE BLOOD GOD!" They're wondering if it could say "copulate" or "make love" instead of "fuck".

GEORGE: (sighs angrily) There's always something. Read the rest

Welcome to the grim new car-dependent exurban villages of housing-crisis Britain

The UK's housing crisis is much like the one in certain American cities — nimbyism, runaway housing prices, political paralysis — but with a British flavor of madness that allows for deeply unpleasant solutions. The local delicacy: car-dependent exurban developments made of uncanny cookie-cutter housing clusters in the middle of nowhere, with no shops, pubs, schools, cafés or public transport, surrounded by highways and austerity.

Jenny Raggett, researcher at Transport for New Homes, said: "We were appalled to find so many new housing developments built around the car with residents driving for almost every journey.

“As those cars head for our towns and cities they clog up existing roads. Commuter times get longer and longer. Car-based living of this kind is not good for our health or quality of life.”

Pictured above is a street view of Prior's Hall Park, near Corby, a new subdivision surrounded by three industrial parks and apparently inspired by childrens' drawings of bricked-up Victorian tenements. Welcome to the center of the venn diagram of J.G. Ballard, Minecraft and $6-a-gallon gasoline. Read the rest

Spiders blamed after broken siren played creepy nursery rhymes randomly at night to UK townsfolk

Floating in on the wind, yet again, the sound of It's Raining, It's Pouring being sung by a child on the creepiest siren in Britain. Read the rest

Britain publishes Brexit advice guide for the likely event of a "no deal" divorce from Europe

The British government, veering toward a "no deal" exit from the European Union, has published "practical and proportionate" advice for citizens in the event of this taking place. The BBC posted excerpts.

• Pharmaceutical companies have been told to stockpile an extra six weeks' worth of medicine to ensure a "seamless" supply • New picture warnings will be needed for cigarette packets as the EU owns the copyright to the current ones • Britons living elsewhere in Europe could lose access to UK banking and pension services.

The government says the economy will shrink 7.7% under a no-deal Brexit scenario. It's shocking to imagine even in the abstract, but then you realize how unevenly that suffering will be distributed. It's no wonder Prime Minister May had to promise not to put the army on the streets.

I'd like to see a BREXIT SURVIVAL GUIDE along "Scarfolk" lines.

42. How to skin a rabbit43. Unguents and potions...42 (appendix). How to skin a human

UPDATE:

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Man charged after walking pig off-leash in Norwich

A Norwich man who took a pig for a walk without a leash was charged with "having a pig untethered and loose", reports the BBC.

Norfolk Police were called to Prince of Wales Road on Wednesday and found the untethered pig "running around" with a dog, which bit one of the officers ... The pig was taken away by the RSPCA and the man will appear in court later. Officers were called to reports of a man being abusive to members of the public at about 10:10 BST on Wednesday.

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Trump on the UK: "They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts."

It is important to remember that the President of the United States of America is plain stupid: "I have great respect for the U.K. United Kingdom. Great respect. People call it Britain. They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts."

For the record, the part formerly known as England is still known as England, the United Kingdom is no— oh, never mind.

From Brilliant Maps, with the caveat that Ireland is actually much closer to Britain:

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Matt Berry covers classic British TV themes

Matt Berry, of Darkplace and IT Crowd fame, has produced a covers album of 70s- and 80s-era British TV themes. His rendition of "Are You Being Served?" signals delights to come on October 5.

"Self-consciously naff, but this actually results in it being kind of cool", says Robin Murray from Clash Magazine. Ffff! Here's nothing naff about it!

Tracklisting:

Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)The Good Life (1975-1978)LWT (1968 – 1972)Blankety Blank (1979 – 1990)Top Of The Pops (1963 - 2005)Picture Box (1966-1990)The Liver Birds (1969 – 1979)Thames Television (1968 – 1992)Rainbow (1972-1997)Doctor Who (1963- present)Wildtrak (1979-1984)World In Action (1963-1998)Sorry (1981 – 1988)Open University

I am alarmingly eager to hear Berry's cover of Rainbow. Here's the original, completele with the inappropriately melancholy bit in the middle they never used in the show.

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Map of Britain's roads... and nothing else

jamaps created a map that shows all the main roads in Britain and nothing else, giving the vague impression of something weirdly biological.

Data: Ordnance Survey (2014) Tools: QGIS

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Wakefield Rural police in West Yorkshire threatens to prosecute anyone who mocks its epic drug bust

Covering Airedale, Altofts, Castleford, Crofton, Featherstone, Ferry Fryston, Glasshoughton, Normanton, Ryhill, Walton, Whitwood and surrounding areas of West Yorkshire in England, the Wakefield Rural Police scored an epic haul at Walton Colliery nature park: a "small quantity of Cannabis" seized from a "young man who was parked up alone" and subsequently sent on his way without charge.

After announcing the drug bust on its Facebook page, however, the department found itself being mocked by locals who made fun of it posting such a trivial incident.

Such insolence will not stand!

Unfortunately we have had to ban a number of people from using this page today. I would like to remind everyone that this is a Police page and whatever your thoughts on one of my officers seizing drugs in the community, being insulting, abusive or offensive can and will result in a prosecution under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

We will not overlook the significant harm that illegal drugs cause to our communities. We know from experience that this can progress from using what are perceived to be recreational drugs to more addictive and harmful substances and the resulting criminality used to fund their continued use.

Please use this page with respect or you will be banned and maybe even prosecuted

Police Inspector Martin Moizer.

***Cannabis Seized***

PCSO 687 Ian Campbell and PCSO 882 Ben Hughes attended Walton colliery nature park and seized a small quantity of Cannabis from a young man who was parked up alone.

Walton Colliery nature park will be firmly on our patrol plan in the future to prevent this behaviour.

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Old UK military film about Belize incredibly smug and insulting

Whoever scripted this hated Belize almost as much as they hated Britain -- it's so sanctimonious, condescending, self-loathingly offensive you suspect it's dark comedy and start looking for Peter Serafinowicz to show up. But it's an old explainer for upper-crust military officers, apparently, a glove that certainly fits all the above. It's gone viral as an artifact of the 1980s, but by then Belize was independent, so it's probably older. The political backdrop: Belize was supposed to become independent in the 1960s, but Britain knew Guatemala would invade if they left, so things got very complicated. It's one of the funny little secrets of decolonization that Britain was responsible for Belize's defense well into the 1990s and never really left. Read the rest

Russian nerve agent attack may leave Skripals with 'limited mental capacity'

The military-grade nerve toxin attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may have left the victims with 'compromised mental capacity,' a British judge said on Thursday. It is unclear whether the former Russian double agent and his adult child will recover from being poisoned with what the UK says was a Russian chemical weapon known as 'Novichok.' Read the rest

Unsettling British pork advertisement

The aptly-named "Scarred for Life" Twitter account posted this remarkable ad for British pork, dating to some indefinitely creepy moment in the 1970s or 1980s. There should be a corollary for Poe's law ("it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken for the thing parodied") for parodies of British advertisements. Be sure to click through to the thread for more high-quality horrors of UK product marketing.

Previously: KFC Commercial, by Peter Serafinowicz.

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Cheggers dead at 60

A headline meaningful only to Britons of a certain age, and for all others a momentary visit to the strange alternative reality of UK childrens' light entertainment in the 1970s and 1980s. Keith Chegwin is dead at 60.

Chegwin was known for hosting programmes including children's game show Cheggers Plays Pop and Swap Shop. ...

He went on to make infamous Channel 5 nudist gameshow Naked Jungle, appearing naked except for a hat, and also starred as himself in Ricky Gervais show Extras....

The larger-than-life character, described by his family as "a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend" leaves two children and his wife Maria. He had been cared for at a hospice in recent weeks.

Photo: BBC

Here is footage from the nude game show.

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British road barriers, modeled on children, stare into you

A town in Buckinghamshire, England, has repositioned road barriers made to look like children after a resident said they were too creepy. The toddler-sized safety posts were designed to be more attention-grabbing than the standard poles, and are.

There are eight of the child-shaped bollards outside four primary schools in Iver and Iver Heath. Iver Parish Council said the bollards cost £5,395, excluding installation. In September, local resident Jonny Baker said the bollards were "creepy and hideous". "I look out of my window every morning and these are what I see. They're absolutely terrifying," he said.

Here's video of the bollards.

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Report: Trump visit to Britain canceled

The Telegraph reports that Donald Trump's visit to the UK has been canceled -- at least for now. A planned "working" stop in the near future, mooted as a compromise to keep Trump away from the symbolic and prestigious trappings of an official state visit, unraveled after Trump retweeted islamophobic videos posted by a British fascist group, then harangued Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter when she issued mild condemnation of his actions.

More forceful in his condemnation was London mayor Sadiq Kahn, who openly said Trump was unwelcome in his city.

Neither the working trip nor a state visit were ever scheduled. May's invitation riled many in Britain, where Trump is widely loathed. The scaled-down "working visit" would have allowed the president to avoid losing face should the state visit not quickly materialize. Read the rest

Casual sexism, British-style, in the Houses of Parliament

In Britain, a mirror-world scandal of harassment and abuse is unfolding. Like its American counterpart, it reaches into high levels of entertainment and government. But unlike America, the "jocular contempt for women" that Richard Rorty feared would return is already on merry display in Parliament itself.

"When I met the Israeli deputy prime minister, he stormed out of the meeting. The Secretary of State got a much more cordial reception," said Sir Desmond Swayne, a conservative MP. "Is it just because she's a lady?"

The smarm! The transparently false detachment! The bad comic timing! The sublimated, sneering rage! Affectation as the failure state of eccentricity! If all this is your cup of tea, be sure to check out the latest from Peter Hitchens.

Update: more from this charming "Sir Desmond" character:

The current ‘feeding frenzy’ of allegations where the most minor risqué remark is reported in the same breath as a very serious criminal offence is just absurd. It is just about as proportionate a reaction as the Junior Anti Sex League in George Orwell’s 1984.

As, I tweeted last week, I recall my housemaster’s advice when he reminded us of the rule that no boy be alone with a girl in his study “believe me boys, this is for your own safety”. I suspect that a number of parliamentary colleagues wish that they had had that advice, and taken it.

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Report condemns British police over failure to investigate stalking and harassment

In 112 recent cases of stalking and harassment reviewed by UK police watchdogs, "not a single one was dealt with properly," reports the BBC. The report, "Living in Fear," found that victims of harassment and stalking were widely disregard and left at risk, and often told that the harassment they received was their own fault.

One in five women and one in ten men report being stalked in the UK. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (as quoted by the BBC) reports 4.6% of women and 2.7% of men aged 16-59 were victims in 2015-16.

One victim said police made her feel she was to blame for receiving abusive messages on social media. "It was my fault for being on Facebook," she said.

The report also said police officers were failing to recognise repeated signs of a stalker, by treating each complaint in isolation rather than being part of a pattern.

That, in turn, meant police and prosecutors did not see the bigger picture and appreciate the full scale of the harm suffered by the victim.

Helen Pearson, from Devon, reported her stalker to the police 125 times over five years.

"They literally didn't want to know," she said. "I was a nuisance."

One victim publicly refused to accept an apology from Devon and Cornwall Police after being attacked by her stalker with a pair of scissors.

Helen Pearson, 34, suffered neck and face wounds when her neighbour Joseph Willis attacked her with scissors in an Exeter graveyard.

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