British people proudly held a virtual knob-eating contest

I only stumbled upon this because I got married in Dorset, Vermont, and did a double-take when I saw the headline. Apparently "knob" is a British word for "biscuit" but it's funnier to think about Ye Olde Dorset Dick-eating Contest. As the BBC explains:

The biscuits have been made by Moores of Morecombelake for more than 150 years Originally, they were made from leftover bread dough with added butter and sugar, hand-rolled and left to dry in the dying heat of the oven It is thought their name comes from the hand-sewn Dorset knob buttons that were also made locally They can be eaten with Blue Vinny cheese, dipped in tea or cider, or taken with honey and cream - known locally as thunder and lightning

As far as the exciting events of this riveting contest:

But this year 100 competitive eaters live-streamed their attempts to swallow the savoury spheres.

Kate Scott, from Shaftesbury, necked eight and a half of the thrice-baked treats to claim the crown.

Sure, okay.

The knob-eaters raised more than £1,200 for the local Weldmar Hospicecare. Unfortunately, the knob-throwing festival has been postponed until 2021, as it's more difficult to judge online.

Coronavirus: Dorset knob-eating contest held online amid lockdown [BBC] Read the rest

British Drivers Swearing

This might be the same compilation of British Drivers Swearing that Mark posted in 2016, but that video was copyright-striked by "Bad Drivers of Northamptonshire" so it's impossible to know for sure. In any case, it seems unlikely that there is only one compilation of British Drivers Swearing in existence. So enjoy it, you shitting Peugeot. Read the rest

In coronavirus shutdown, Britain will pay self-employed people 80% of average monthly profit

Wouldn't it be amazing if the United States did this?

Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday all self-employed citizens will receive a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits as part of the government’s coronavirus response plan. Read the rest

$1 million stolen in UK coronavirus scams

Criminals are tricking people who want to buy protective masks

In the United Kingdom, vulnerable people who are afraid of coronavirus have lost more than 800,000 british pounds ($1 million in US dollars) to coronavirus scams in the last month. Read the rest

Night of the Long Boris: several UK cabinet members fired, finance chief quits

British Prime minister Boris Johnson today pushed out five cabinet members and saw another quit rather than accept the terms of staying on, reports the BBC. Sajiv Javid, exiting his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that Johnson demanded he replace his aides with people hand-picked by Downing Street, a condition "no self-respecting minister" would accept. Sacked colleagues untarnished by the remark include Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith and Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom; those remaining to consider their self-respect include Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Javid's replacement is a man who was a junior housing minister barely months ago, described by one opposition MP as a "stooge" of top Johnson advisor Dominic Cummings. Cummings was reported to have already sidelined Javid, who refused to agree to big spending plans and tax cuts that the government hopes to sweeten Brexit with.

He has been replaced as chancellor by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak - who just seven months ago was a junior housing minister. Mr Javid had been due to deliver his first Budget in four weeks' time. The former home secretary was appointed chancellor by Mr Johnson when he became prime minister in July. His resignation follows rumours of tensions between Mr Javid and the prime minister's senior adviser Dominic Cummings.

Barely weeks after a general election victory! Read the rest

What British children's TV used to be like

When I tell Americans what British children's TV used to be like, they just won't believe it. Some might concede that Watership Down offered a level of brutal matter-of-factness seldom found in U.S. programming aimed at youngsters, for example, and I'll shake my head and say, "No, that's not it. You just don't understand." I have related accurate specifics only to be looked at askance, with the clear implication I'm just making it up.

But now I have this clip to show them.

There's not much to know about Mr. Spanky, a deeply memory-holed creation. Here's one description, from Glad You Remember.

We were gobsmacked by the filthy innuendo, the various presenters blatantly taking the piss out of their own personas and the incredible regular characters ...

Mr. Spanky

This character, a velvet-clad man with a mask whom the presenters avoided naming on air, was introduced in episode 1 when he came over to a table laden with Batman prizes and marvelled at the "jew-ells" before revealing his "waistcoat of roast beef" many years before Lady Gaga dressed in meat.

He used to run amok squirting children with "ghee" from a small plastic tortoise, "Naughty Torty". Mr. Spanky was gone by Christmas 1992. In a later episode, Simon and Andy found Torty hibernating in Pat Sharp's head. Following a sneeze, the character appeared as a giant tortoise who squirted audience members and guests with white foam from a doll. Thank you very much to Michelle Davies for most of these details.

Read the rest

UK says OK to Huawei

The UK will allow China's Huawei to build what are described as 'non-core' elements of a British 5G network, but the Chinese company is not allowed to operate at what are defined by the government as sensitive sites. Read the rest

Gin yogurt criticized

A doctor in Britain leveled a complaint against food company Müller over its latest product, yoghurt flavored to taste like gin cocktails and containing a small amount of alcohol.

The yoghurts, which were launched last year, contain 0.5% gin.

A spokesperson for the yoghurt maker said the product was fat-free, high in protein and contained no added sugar.

Dr Wells, who practises in North Yorkshire, said: "Given the problems we have with alcohol as a society - which is very visible in our GP practices and A&E departments - the creation of alcohol inspired yoghurts seems unnecessary and counterproductive to public health.

Brexit Gin Yogurt is my new punk band name. Read the rest

Britons and some Irish head to the polls

The United Kingdom's general election is underway today, with voters headed to the polls across the nation. After years of single-issue deadlock and minority government, Conservative Party leader and lame-duck Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to win enough seats to form an effective government and "get Brexit done." Despite his obvious shortcomings -- he's a liar, a racist buffoon and notoriously incompetent -- pollsters think he's got it in the can.

The Conservatives have recovered the populist vote that drifted to the flash-in-the-pan Brexit Party, while the opposition Labour Party has been slower to recover from its summer slump. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's indifference to claims of antisemitism (fair and otherwise) and his "neutrality" over Brexit itself make him cheap meat for Britain's psychopathic tabloids.

And the Liberal Democrats have withered once again, as they always do when its right-leaning prefects are in charge and the party's crunchier base turns off.

The Greens, which seemed poised to break out after a strong showing in the European elections, evaporated in the polls as the election heated up. So too has the Brexit Party, which all but stood down to enable a Conservative majority and, with it, a quick and hard Brexit.

For Remainers (and anyone else who dislikes the idea of five full years of Boris) the last hope might be the Scottish National Party, whose domination of Scotland might deny him a parliamentary majority.

Even less likely, but fractionally less unlikely than normal and the most perfectly outrageous possible result: "Sinn Fein takes their seats at Westminster to give make Jeremy Corbyn PM." Read the rest

Conservative politician apologizes for saying people on welfare "needed putting down".

Francesca O'Brien, the Conservative candidate for the Gower constituency in the forthcoming UK elections, said that people appearing on the TV show "Benefits Steet" needed "putting down".

In the posts following the broadcast of the first episode of Benefits Street five years ago, Ms O'Brien said: "Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!"

Responding to another user's comment, she said: "My blood is boiling, these people need putting down."

In a statement released on Sunday, Ms O'Brien said: "These comments were made off the cuff, a number of years ago.

"However, I accept that my use of language was unacceptable and I would like to apologise for any upset I have caused."

Benefits Street was a Channel 4 documentary about people on welfare, broadcast in 2014, criticized at the time for "vilifying and misrepresenting benefits claimaints" in tabloid fashion. O'Brien neglected to delete her social media history before launching her bid for office. Read the rest

UK Supreme Court rules parliament shutdown unlawful

In a unanimous 11-0 decision, the UK's Supreme Court today ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's supension of parliament was unlawful. Parliament is therefore still in session as Brexit looms and BoJo has to deal with it.

Mr Johnson suspended - or prorogued - Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, but the court said it was wrong to stop MPs carrying out duties in the run-up to Brexit on 31 October. Commons Speaker John Bercow confirmed MPs would now return on Wednesday. Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme."

A raft of MPs have now called for the prime minister to resign - Downing Street said it was "currently processing the verdict".

Breakout star today is Lady Hale, the court's chief justice, and her House Baenre spider brooch.

Read the rest

Video of UK cops ramming suspect's scooter, then the suspect

British cops have an (unearned?) reputation for restraint. So it's always wild to see them do things that even the rootin'-tootin' murderers of America's thin blue line would balk at. Here's one simply ramming a suspect with his cruiser, on foot: "There's a myth that if they take their helmet off or take to the pavement, we won't pursue them," says officer lawnmower.

Met police use "tactical contact" to take down a moped rider who escaped by riding at speed through a park and down pavements. Officers also sprayed DNA identification spray in the incident in case the offender escaped and then potentially could be identified later. Rider arrested for failing to stop for police, theft of motor vehicle, possession of Class-A drug with intent to supply, failing a road-side drug test, and dangerous driving.

Police have gotten in trouble for 'tactical contact', but the sands are shifting underfoot thanks to Brexit rage, the normalizing effect of documentaries such as this one, and of course to posts like this one, inevitably experienced as facile entertainment irrespective of any sentiment or framing I might apply to it.

"We recovered your stolen scooter, sir! What's that, sir? No, actually you'd best come get it in your car." Read the rest

Why Essex is crap, or at least why everyone thinks it is

I lived in the county of Essex for two years as a teenager. It's unique in the English imagination, a place once rural but colonized by Londoners fleeing Germans during the war and Immigrants after it. A sprawling exurban development park, it's held to be trashy yet conservative, its villages surrounded by shabby modern projects and its market downs gutted by them, all inhabited by criminals, sluts and people so stupid their behavior dances on the margins of sanity. That's the nasty charicature, anyway, immortalized in the 1990s by the novelty song embedded above. Tim Burrows narrates the history behind this myth of Essex, "the crudest, stupidest symbol of Englishness."

...before Essex was a punchline, it was a dream. A place that offered hope to working-class Londoners in the form of “new towns” such as Basildon and Harlow, which were built by the state to meet dire housing, sanitation and civic needs after the second world war. As the century progressed, however, parts of Essex came to represent the dismantling of this dream, as Thatcherism, the UK arm of the global new right movement that believed in lower taxes and lower public spending alongside deregulation and privatisation, became indelibly linked to the county. In 1990, a new term, “Essex man”, was coined by the Sunday Telegraph journalist Simon Heffer, to describe a new type of voter: a “young, industrious, mildly brutish and culturally barren” worker in London’s financial centre, whose roots lay in east London, and whose political views were “breathtakingly rightwing”.

Read the rest

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

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