British celebrity Freddie Starr "definitely dead"

Freddie Starr, a stalwart of British light entertainment most famous for a fabricated news story alleging he ate a hamster and lately implicated in historical sexual abuse scandals, was reportedly found dead today at his apartment in Spain. He is "definitely" dead, according to a person who has seen the body. The Guardian reports:

At the height of his fame, Starr was known by fans for his eccentric and often unpredictable behaviour.

In 1986 he was famously at the centre of one of the best-known newspaper headlines when The Sun splashed with: “Freddie Starr ate my hamster.”

The story claimed Starr placed the creature between two slices of bread and ate it at a friend’s home after returning from a performance in Manchester. But in his 2001 autobiography Unwrapped, Starr said the incident never took place.

Read the rest

Brexit Crisis: Church of England to host Emergency Tea Parties

With the Prime Minister's Brexit deal failing for the third time to receive Parliament's blessing and the looming possibility of crashing out the EU without a deal, or a snap general election, or a second referendum, or another series of Parliamentary votes, or a general-purpose popular uprising, or alien intervention, the Church of England has a plan: tea parties.

Churches are being encouraged to host “informal café-style meetings” over the weekend of 30 March “to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion.” The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have today backed newly-commissioned resources to invite people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future”.

Under the slogan “Together”, the packs include specially-chosen Bible passages, prayers and questions designed to prompt conversations. The introductory notes urge participants to have “respect for the integrity of differently held positions, encouraging communities which feel the same about the issues to use their imagination to consider the viewpoints of those who feel differently.”

Photo: AS Food studio / Shutterstock Read the rest

Man stops in traffic to steal parked car's catalytic converter

Watched and filmed by the other drivers he has delayed, a man in East London slowly, laboriously, loudly removes and steals the catalytic converter from another vehicle.

If you have plans to be in Britain any time after March or thereabouts, maybe just cancel them. Read the rest

Prime Minister's Brexit plan defeated by 230 votes

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan was not expected to pass, but it was brutally murdered in a far larger margin of defeat than was expected: 432 to 202. This is the largest parliamentary defeat for a sitting government in history.

The options for the Brits now include a no-deal Brexit on March 29; desperate negotiations for a new plan; or asking for an extension from the EU while a fresh hell is organized, such as a new referendum or a general election.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately tabled a no-confidence vote in May's government.

"Time is almost up," wrote EU chief Jean-Claude Junker on Twitter within minutes of the lawmakers' vote.

May's plan, assuming she wins the no-confidence vote, will be to stall until all parliament can do is choose between a no-deal Brexit (widely expected to be a disaster) or a largely-unchanged version of this dead-on-arrival deal. And then they'll pass it, because misery is preferable to mortality. Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

More posts