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7:53pm on Sunday, 26th January, 2014:

Shades of News


This occupies half the front page of this week's Essex County Standard:

Only in local newspapers do you get such attempts to inflate issues of little importance into something conceivably interesting. OK, so it worked, because I bought the newspaper, but still...

No matter how serious the article is trying to be, the Essex County Standard can always be relied on to deliver a feeble pun. For example, on page 3 the article referred to above has a sub-section headlined "Residents' views swing both ways". At least they weren't tempted to do something with "private members".

Other articles with feeble puns this week include:
"Soon U's will catch the sun". The local football team is getting solar panels installed on its stadium roof.
"A sweet taste of success for town eateries". Colchester has been ranked highly in a national food safety survey.
"Government leaves budget planners in a right pickle". The Council can't firm up its spending plans until government minister Eric Pickles makes a decision about whether or not to freeze council tax.
"Major work is on the right path". A new path is going to be opened.
"Water firm sees a flood of profits". Anglian Water made a profit last year.
"Jobs are in store as family company moves to double in size". A frozen food company wants to increase the size of its shop.
"BMX youngsters on a roll thanks to cash gift". A grant means people can hire BMX bikes at a new bike part. I think this is probably a pun, it's hard to tell...
"Jumper to jumper, he tells a tale". A comedian performing at Colchester Arts Centre has an act which involves two jerseys at one point. Again, this seems to be a pun, but it's so weak that I'm not entirely sure it is one.
"A story woven from royal thread". An author has written a novel inspired by a piece of an historical royal wedding dress made from cloth manufactured in Colchester.
"Vampire baron to rock town". A show called Vampires Rock is coming to Colchester.
"Sweet dreams come true for the scout with Bond ambition". OK, so following his rendition of a song by Scouting for Girls (pun 1) at an audition, a Colchester actor has landed a role in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical (pun 2) directed by Sam Mendes, who directed the James Bond movie Skyfall (pun 3). I think they're hoping for an award with this one.

There are also some entertaining articles reporting actual events. I quite like these:
"Rogue driver caught drenching children". A man went through a puddle and splashed water all over some children on the way to school. A police officer in a patrol car ("PC Hercules") saw it happened and pulled him over. He was reported for careless driving. Actually, to me it sounds as if he should have been reported for assault, given that he probably meant to soak those kids. Still, a few weeks in prison is a small price to pay for the level of glee he must have derived from his actions...
"Drug dealer spared jail as his wares were not actually illegal". OK, so a man bought £80 of ecstasy and broke it into smaller packets to sell to students. Police stopped him on campus and he admitted it. Only, he'd been ripped off and the ecstasy he'd bought was no such thing. He had still broken the law, though, as he didn't know this; he was therefore charged with Attempted Supply of Class A Drugs. If they'd been real drugs he'd have been gaoled for 2-4 years, but as they weren't the judge made him do 100 hours of community service instead.

I also like the way that "Town's dole queue is getting shorter" is right above "More drug dealers are getting caught", as if the latter was consequent on the former.

Add to this the headlines that rhyme (or, in most such cases, almost rhyme), numerous stories about people driving while banned, a strange obsession with the word "eateries" and a report that carol singers raised £61 when they went door-to-door on December 15th, and you have a newspaper well worth a pound a week.

Hmm, I shouldn't perhaps have said that: it's only 80p.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).