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Fireworks in England

Fresh in from the 'perfect timing' department - not even 24 hours after the fire brigade goes on strike, the south west of England goes on flood watch and a Fireworks factory explodes. For some added fun, the army are banned from driving the modern fire engines and instead drive famous 'green godesses'.

Even ignoring the lack of cover (644 GGs replacing 4,311 normal engines) and lack of equipment the army fire teams have, should emergency services be able to strike?
posted by twine42 on Nov 14, 2002 - 27 comments

Badthoughts

Hate crime police raid 150 homes 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
posted by kablam on Nov 13, 2002 - 14 comments

R.I.P. Squirrel 2002-2002

R.I.P. Squirrel 2002-2002 He lived a short, productive life. Some guy finally shot and killed him to end his reign of terror over Chesire. I'm sure that with a good taxidermist, he will be stuffed and live on in the hearts of all of England. He also spawned an unintentionally funny caption to a picture: "A squirrel, similar to the one shown in this file photo, is spreading terror in a Cheshire town where it keeps attacking people"

I dub thee "Chester the Crazy Squirrel". May he live his afterlife like he lived his life, by attacking people at random.
posted by RobbieFal on Nov 8, 2002 - 10 comments

"The oldest profession in the world"

"The oldest profession in the world" gains a whole new meaning with this 57-year-old woman's spirited account, in The Spectator (est. 1858) no less, of her successful new career as a prostitute. I must admit a part of me said "Hooray! There's hope for us thirtysomethings yet" but the rest remained highly suspicious or (to be honest) whispered "How pathetic!" Is this ageism or are (much) older women really more attractive nowadays?
posted by Schweppes Girl on Nov 7, 2002 - 29 comments

If being a student wasn't hard enough,

If being a student wasn't hard enough, now they want us to sit in a pub/bar, day and night, and all in the name of an education. Its a hard life, but someone has to do it!!!
posted by delboy_trotter on Nov 4, 2002 - 17 comments

Queen's intervention leads to acquittal in Regina v. Burrell.

Queen's intervention leads to acquittal in Regina v. Burrell.
Princess diana's butler, Paul Burrell - her 'rock' - is acquitted of theft from Princess Diana after Queen Elizabeth admits her knowledge of his 'caretaking' of Diana's property. This case has always smacked of a class divide - surely we shouldn't let the hoi-polloi be so close to their uppers and betters? Surely Diana wouldn't really let a mere butler have her precious momentos? Is this farce one more nail in the British Monarchy's coffin? Or, as the popular weakness of the movement towards the abolition of the uk monarchy attests, will the Windsors ride this out, as they did the opposition they encountered after the death of 'The Queen of Hearts'? [More republican links here]
posted by dash_slot- on Nov 1, 2002 - 33 comments

How gay panic gripped 1960s Royal Navy

How gay panic gripped 1960s Royal Navy One sailor reportedly picked up a prostitute who he believed to be female. Realising he wasn't who she appeared to be, the sailor reportedly declared: "Blimey, you're all there!" Nevertheless, he apparently became "infatuated". This kind of incident led admirals to argue that most of the men accused were only inadvertently homosexual, rather than dangerous "perverts".
Just-released documents from the UK Public Records Office show some interesting attitudes among the Navy hierarchy at the time. The rationalising of the various activities uncovered is actually quite creative, and weirdly more tolerant than that in subsequent decades, when gay activity got people summarily thrown out of the forces. Even this particular 'crisis' eventually triggered a new 'education' programme on the evils of homosexuality though. In this instance, the pendulum seems not so much to have swung as to have careered wildly in all directions. A bit like the sailors.... (sorry).
posted by jonpollard on Oct 31, 2002 - 11 comments

City of London Churches

City of London Churches 'The ‘Square Mile’ that constitutes The City of London is a world financial centre where 300,000 people work and nearly 500 foreign banks have an office. Less well known is that amongst the largely uninspired office blocks are hidden around 50 current or former churches and other places of worship, either complete, converted into offices, or in ruins. Once there were nearly 100 parish churches within the City boundaries but the Great Fire of London, the migration of residents to the suburbs, and Hitler’s bombs have done most to reduce that figure. Many of the surviving churches are, famously, Wren churches. After the Great Fire he had the unique opportunity of designing over 50 churches, and he gave full rein to his imagination ... '
A guide to 55 churches in London's financial district; best seen on a weekend, when the City is virtually deserted. Whilst the majority are Wren churches, there are some exceptions - St Bartholomew the Great, which dates back to Norman times; the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in Great Britain; and the Dutch Church, which was drawn by van Gogh and important to the Huguenot community. Particularly worth a visit is St. Bride's, the journalists' church; the design of the wedding cake is based on the shape of its spire.
posted by plep on Oct 30, 2002 - 28 comments

Trial by Tabloid?

Trial by Tabloid? Top BBC presenter Angus Deaton has been sacked after a sex & drugs scandal. He has presented comedy news quiz Have I Got News For You for over ten years. So, is ti right for him to be sacked after trial by tabloid? Do we actually care what our T.V. presenters get up to after the cameras are turned off?
posted by prentiz on Oct 30, 2002 - 16 comments

Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes;

Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes; Big Brother goes retro. In the artistic tradition of classic London Transport poster art comes this sinister-looking campaign. Reminiscent of these parodies, but the art is better and they're not kidding.
posted by George_Spiggott on Oct 28, 2002 - 29 comments

One of Our Inflatable Tanks is Missing.

One of Our Inflatable Tanks is Missing. The UK has been returning to normal operation today after our latest storm (apart from the power, oh, and the trains but a state of disruption is 'normal' for the trains). The saddest story is of Christopher Vince, who died saving his brother. The silliest is that of the army and their lost inflatable tank.
posted by anyanka on Oct 28, 2002 - 12 comments

Actor Richard Harris dies

Actor Richard Harris dies "Don't let it be forgot - that once there was a spot - for one brief, shining moment - that was known as Camelot..." Such a sad day all around. R.I.P., Richard.
posted by dnash on Oct 25, 2002 - 21 comments

Centre of Great Britain

Centre of Great Britain The BBC (God bless 'em) are running a series of "Centre of ..." stories. No-one in the UK seems to care, do other nationalities care more about their country's centre of gravity?
posted by daveg on Oct 21, 2002 - 12 comments

"I've halved my motoring costs since I started running my diesel Subaru on cooking oil. The car runs just as well and even smells a lot better than diesel."

"I've halved my motoring costs since I started running my diesel Subaru on cooking oil. The car runs just as well and even smells a lot better than diesel."

The police 'Frying Squad' are on the case and "home in on any car smelling like a mobile fish and chip shop". Other than the dreadful puns, are there other reasons why we shouldn't all run our cars on Mazola?
posted by niceness on Oct 10, 2002 - 42 comments

Frank Keating

Frank Keating, one of the UK's finest ever sports writers has retired from the Guardian. Mathew Engels appreciation concludes with links to ten of his finest pieces. This is brilliant writing which happens to concern itself with sport, so there is no need for any "doesn't this belong on Sportfilter" type snideness.
posted by Fat Buddha on Oct 7, 2002 - 4 comments

Blue man runs for Senate

Blue man runs for Senate Stan Jones, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana suffers from argyria, a condition in which the skin becomes stained a permanent shade of blue. How do you come down with it? You drink lots of colloidal silver. Jones started mixing his own shortly before Y2K to help boost his immune system in the antibiotic-short apocolypse he was sure was coming. No word if he is now engaged in weird behavior involving metal tubes.
posted by agaffin on Oct 3, 2002 - 27 comments

Anyone go to the anti war protest in London today?

Anyone go to the anti war protest in London today? The number of the people has been estimated from between 3000 (by the police) to 350,000 (by the organisers). I reckon 200,000. Either way, its the largest peace protest ever in the country. Me and my friends sign was a great success, with many people commenting on it/photographing it. It was the only black one we saw, so easily stood out. It said 'Its all about the oil' on one side, and on the other there was a picture of Bush looking stupid, and 'No to War'. The protest was peaceful (or was when I left) and on the whole, a success. The only question is, will Bush and Blair take any notice?
posted by Orange Goblin on Sep 28, 2002 - 130 comments

Looks like Verisign

Looks like Verisign forgot to renew their UK domain name.
posted by timeistight on Sep 28, 2002 - 15 comments

In the new LRB, a pretty good attempt to answer the pressing question - why do the Bush people want to attack Iraq so much?
posted by Mocata on Sep 25, 2002 - 20 comments

Finally released, The British Government's Dossier On Iraq appears, after two hours of reading, to be quite remarkable in it's - well - unremarkableness.(.pdf link from mainpage)
posted by Doozer on Sep 24, 2002 - 28 comments

Cooking the Books

Cooking the Books The Office of National Statistics feels that the UK population is a little too small - so they're inventing one million people to fill the gap. Why did they do a census if they were going to make it all up?
posted by tabbycat on Sep 23, 2002 - 9 comments

Earthquake hits the UK.

Earthquake hits the UK. 'Big one' too, 4.8 on the Richter scale, so not quite California standard. Anyone want to share their experience?
posted by derbs on Sep 23, 2002 - 28 comments

Shazam!

Shazam! The Media have been talking about it for a while, but this Music Identification Service for British (nyt) mobile phones is finally here. For 50p, you can place your mobile phone next to any machine playing groovy unidentifiable music, and within a minute, it'll text and tell you what's playing. So far, I've worked out that it's great at identifying Sheryl Crow and Bush tracks, but it's not so good at identifying traditional Greek folk music.
posted by seanyboy on Sep 17, 2002 - 11 comments

The Bolan Tree.
Today is the 25th Anniversary of the accident in which folk-singer turned glam pioneer Marc Bolan died. The tree his car hit - driven by his partner, soul singer/producer Grace Jones - has been purchased by a fan group [T-Rex Action Group], who have also contributed a bust sculpted by Canadian Jean Robillard (with Quebec Government Cultural Attaché to Great Britain attending the unveiling today).
You may not think you know his music, but if you've seen Velvet Goldmine or Billy Elliot, watched the NBA Playoffs on TNT [using 'Get It On/Bang A Gong'], or ever wondered where the ubiquitous '20th Century Boy' [with the definitive power chord + squeal opening burst] comes from, now you know.
Marc inspired devotion in his fans, and respect from the likes of Bowie, the Damned and Billy Idol in his own lifetime - and influenced musicmakers like The Strokes & The Red Hot Chili Peppers [according to this article in The Philidelphia Enquirer].
Dandy's in the Underworld, indeed.
posted by dash_slot- on Sep 16, 2002 - 34 comments

Think of the children.

Think of the children.
posted by metaforth on Sep 14, 2002 - 37 comments

MOD Selects The Carlyle Group as Preferred Bidder for QinetiQ. In a move that seems to be going ahead with very little coverage, Britain's military research agency is being sold off to a foreign company. Given the important role Qinetiq plays in Britain's Defense, and the type of business The Carlyle Group is, this is perhaps surprising...
posted by chill on Sep 8, 2002 - 12 comments

A hot rod hamster

A hot rod hamster caused quite a stir when he was caught racing along the promenade – in his dragster car. More Friday Funny.
posted by Grod on Sep 6, 2002 - 21 comments

Stalin, Hitler, Guilt, Finger-Pointing And Friendship:

Stalin, Hitler, Guilt, Finger-Pointing And Friendship: Timothy Garton-Ash reviews, a trifle superciliously but fairly, a very lively and soul-searching polemic between two consummate, consuming and irresistible writers, Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens - who also happen to be old friends. Funnily enough, I'd suggest reading Hitchens's review in the Atlantic Monthly first; then the three [1] extracts from [2] Amis's book [3] and, finally, Hitchens's reply to them. All in all, it's that rare thing: a long, juicy, well-written and passionately argued polemic with plenty of insights into how generations come to terms with the honest indiscretions and oversights of their youth. Oh and there's a lot about communism, nazism, totalitarianism and the Sixties too...
posted by MiguelCardoso on Sep 5, 2002 - 15 comments

The British Empire in Colour -- a three-part documentary series from the producers of the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award-winning Britain at War in Colour will air this month. The series is supposed to include "a treasure-trove of early colour movies filmed before 'technicolour' transformed film making in the 1930s. Unique colour footage of the Edwardian splendour of 1906 British India, soldiers of the First World War and class divided Britain in 1926 as seen for the first time by a modern visually sophisticated audience." Apparently, it also includes Horrifying footage of last days of Raj.
posted by Bixby23 on Sep 2, 2002 - 17 comments

Amina Lawal Must Not Face Death by Stoning

Amina Lawal Must Not Face Death by Stoning says UK Amnesty International. Nigerian woman, divorced & single, with 3 kids, to be executed by a Sharia Court for giving birth outside of wedlock. Other pregnant unwed mothers, such as this computer student, are seeking asylum outside of Nigeria to avoid being stoned to death by a Nigerian Sharia Court in accordance with Islamic law principles. Amina's whole convoluted and horrible story is laid out nicely here. Sharia Courts, and their ilk, punish sexual and "moral offenders" through stoning, amputation, crushing the victim with walls, hanging, or even rape.

Meanwhile, in another universe, the Nigerian 419 scam has mutated into Amina Lawal's "barrister" spamming the net with pleas for cash. Instead of that, sign the open letter to the President of Nigeria asking that death by stoning be stopped.
posted by filchyboy on Aug 31, 2002 - 14 comments

Essex

Essex is the New Jersey of England, but is trying to change the public perception of my beautiful home county. Not all Essex girls are slappers and it's not all industrial wasteland. But why tell the rest of England about our beautiful secrets?
posted by essexjan on Aug 30, 2002 - 31 comments

Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation.

Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation. Is this really a scandal? Or typical tabloid pabulum? Yes, it is hypocritical, but is it worse than rich people who don't claim to give a damn about the poor eating caviar and swilling champagne? Matt thinks it's "sick".
posted by goethean on Aug 26, 2002 - 27 comments

Holidays cut into UK growth...

Holidays cut into UK growth... Wow, so much for National Slacker Day being a good thing! Although honestly, I cannot see where they have more National Holidays than the US does... Must be all our 40 plus hour work weeks.
posted by gloege on Aug 23, 2002 - 10 comments

Adam Ant, who once assured us that "ridicule is nothing to be scared of", admits pub affray & has been remanded on bail, after using a fake gun to take revenge on pub-goers that took the piss out of his clothes!
Adam seems to have suffered quite a lot - both before and after - his heyday, and his behaviour has led to him being compulsorily detained on at least one occasion.
Quite apart from the fact that Police do not seem shy of killing anyone who could be a threat and might be armed with a pistol, has there ever been such an exact fall from grace for a celebrity - whose personal 'philosophy' came back to haunt him like a Shakespearean tragedy?
posted by dash_slot- on Aug 13, 2002 - 34 comments

Can Dumbing Down Save Our Libraries?

Can Dumbing Down Save Our Libraries?
An intersting story from The Sunday Herald that says libraries are facing a stark choice: modernize or die.
The author say we just can't win, if we put in a bank of computers we are accused of dumbing things down, if we demand silence in the reading rooms and purchase books that aren't "popular" we find ourselves charged with elitism.
He says the public library has an altruistic purpose of making knowledge freely available through the printed word. The trouble is that those high principles were undermined by the librarians themselves. Facing a revolution in communications, they tried to become all things to all people.
He focuses on England, but I think many of these issues are international. Are public libraries out of date?
posted by Blake on Aug 12, 2002 - 26 comments

The UK Parliament Site

The UK Parliament Site gets a new design, with live webcasting. They want it better to serve "grazers" as well as "hunters". For comparison, the US House and Senate, and the French Assembly and Senate.
posted by liam on Jul 30, 2002 - 14 comments

Big Brother is here!

Big Brother is here! Close to a thousand Brirish schools have collected their student`s fingerprints via library scanners; all this without the consent or knowledge of the parents. Please commend my success in refraining from oversentionalizing the story. YES!
posted by ( .)(. ) on Jul 23, 2002 - 15 comments

The Burqa Incident.

The Burqa Incident. British freethinker Sarah Lawrence dresses in a burqa to make a point at the US Libertarian Party Conference, and causes a hotel-wide security alert. Looks like one of those systemic sense-of-humour failures that conspire to spiral out of control these days. But isn't it a bit worrying when even Libertarian Party officials start threatening to report their own conference speakers to the FBI for suspicious dress sense?
posted by ntk on Jul 21, 2002 - 17 comments

Best British Blog.

Best British Blog. The Guardian has launched a competition to find the best British weblog. Is this another case of the mainstream media not really understanding what blogging is all about?
posted by crayfish on Jul 18, 2002 - 18 comments

Britain to Relax Laws for Millions of Dope Smokers.

Britain to Relax Laws for Millions of Dope Smokers. The theory is that this move will free up officers and money to deal with more serious drug problems. As far as the classification goes, cannabis will now be grouped with anabolic steroids and growth hormones, two substances that I think are more dangerous than pot. What was it grouped with before?
posted by Miss Beth on Jul 9, 2002 - 18 comments

Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot?

Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot? A video promoting opposition to the UK joing the Euro has been critisized for including a spoof of Hitler praising the currency. It's attracted publicity for the campaign, all right, but has it unmasked the "No" campaign as anti-Europe "little Englanders"? (Guardian link)
posted by salmacis on Jul 3, 2002 - 23 comments

Stranger is as stranger does

Stranger is as stranger does Lets see, the older I get, the more eccentric I become. Boy, am I in trouble.
posted by thekorruptor on Jun 28, 2002 - 12 comments

British papers

British papers seem to be the only place we can find out what goes on in the US these days. Probably has to do with the liberal media, wouldn't you say?
posted by nofundy on Jun 18, 2002 - 36 comments

Spider-Man "too violent for kids"

Spider-Man "too violent for kids" The British Board of Film Classification has given the Spider-Man film (which opens here in the UK today) a '12' certificate because of its violence, meaning no one under that age can see it. Some local authorities have exercised their power to reclassify it as a 'PG' to open it up to younger viewers.
The BBFC's argument runs that "The violence is set in a modern urban setting with a clear message that the use of violence is the normal and appropriate response when challenged." In fact, I'd say, the film suggests that an appropriate response when challenged is to put on an armoured exo-skeleton and fly around on a jey-powered glider. How can the BBFC not get the concept that this is a fantasy?
posted by jonpollard on Jun 14, 2002 - 45 comments

"British Liberty, RIP"

"British Liberty, RIP"
A leader article on the danger represented by the British Government's new Statutory Order and the need for Parliamentarians to step in and resist. (The Order will allow a wide range of organisations access to phone and internet records - The Guardian's own story with details is here.)
Ben Franklin has been quoted here many times before, but I have no hesitation quoting him again: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
posted by jonpollard on Jun 11, 2002 - 10 comments

The Queen's Golden Jubilee in the UK

The Queen's Golden Jubilee in the UK - did anyone see it? If you were in the UK, it's likely you would have seen at least some of the amazing celebrations of the Royal Family - four days of partying, including a huge pop/rock concert with loads of famous names, a classical concert, pomp and pagentry in a 4 ton gold chariot and a huge carnival drew 14 million TV viewers a night, and millions more went to see the royal knees-up, knocking the royal critics for six. Even Ozzy Osbourne sang a number, bless him. The final royal flypast rounded off the most amazing scenes I've ever seen. Brits - does this show of affection make your bosom swell with pride? Others - are you jealous, or thankful you weren't there?
posted by wibbler on Jun 5, 2002 - 54 comments

UK Kids to Get £40 a Week to Stay in School.

UK Kids to Get £40 a Week to Stay in School. Schoolchildren are to be paid £40 a week to stay on at school as part of a multi-billion-pound revolution in secondary schools in England and Wales.
posted by ncurley on Jun 2, 2002 - 37 comments

Stephen Byers resigns

Stephen Byers resigns (finally). Here is a profile of the man. Do politicians have to fall into the same pattern everytime something like this happens? Press: You've done something wrong. Politician: No I haven't. I'll admit to no impropriety on my part. Prime Minister: I'll stand by my minister. Press: But we can prove he did something wrong. The Public: I'll go with what they say, and he should resign. Prime Minister: Look mate, it's about the voters. Politician: I still don't believe I've got anything to hide but save the government embarassment, I'll resign.
posted by feelinglistless on May 28, 2002 - 7 comments

Mystery Illness

Mystery Illness such a mystery? Help needed! (old news, new information?) OK, I'm going to try and do this without naming names... The British troops in Afghanistan have been struck down by a mystery illness recently, with an investigation finding that the illness was just a "winter vomiting" bug.
I've heard different. The source may have been an Al Qaeda terrorist who had been captured. The 'mystery illness' may have been caught when the British or US government used biological warfare to make it easier to find and capture members of Al Qaeda. Can anyone help verify this? I should stress I only have word of mouth from a friend of a friend. All very speculative, but I've not been able to find anything else on this... yet...
posted by snowgoon on May 21, 2002 - 13 comments

Man cleared after taking pig's head into court.

Man cleared after taking pig's head into court. Also a garden gnome. Sadly, the article doesn't actually say what he was doing there in the first place. I'm glad your back Metafilter. It's been strange without you.
posted by feelinglistless on May 19, 2002 - 4 comments

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