Beestonia and the Posties, Part 42; BigTonia; Beestonia shows incredible talent for MSPaint AND football stuff.

It was grey, grimy, and gobbing down with rain, but still, they came in their hundreds, and marched on Beeston. Apparently, the 1,000 or so marchers who got together on Saturday to protest about the coalition’s plans to sell off the Royal Mail made history. I didn’t, as I was late due to circumstances out of my control – I was in the throes of a serious bout of Wine Flu- but I did make catch the tail end, and was amazed to see how many people braved the dirty weather and became part of Beestonia’s biggest march for nearly centuries. I’ll allow some pictures to do the talking for me…  

I arrived just as the march completed its route through the centre of Beeston, and past the Conservative Club where much booing ensued, and to the New Venture Club, on the cusp of the Rylands, for a packed meeting fuelled by chips, mushy peas and reasonably priced booze.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt something is in the air, but never before has my spider-sense been so tingled. This may have been a single-issue demo. on the surface; a very important single issue, granted; but its far, far more than that.

An old friend of mine, a mother of one with no real previous political inclination, met me for coffee recently and commented ‘this government really are awful, aren’t they?’ . I was mildly surprised by this admission: and even more surprised with the tirade that followed as she vented spleen on the NHS reforms, the (now back-tracked) forest sell-off, the swathing cuts to public services, abolition of EMA, until I had to calm her down before she took up arms and went on a one-woman mission to Westminster. It did make me think however, that if such a previously political atheist, and all-round mild-mannered woman such as she was so vexed, things were definitely about to get very interesting.

And talking to posties at the rally, that feeling reinforced. All were angry, even self-confessed Tories (I did find two, though they both admitted the ballot box X will be better placed next time). The government, they generally concurred, was pushing through as much radical policy now to ‘front-end’ the pain/ unpopularity….if you are governing with a coalition that could so easily break down, you will want to move fast to legislate. And should they serve out a five-year term, and personally I’ll be surprised if they make even half that term; then they will have had the protests, the uproar, the stark astonishment at the gross awfulness of their policies in the past, and slipping out of public memory.

Unless the people don’t let them get away with it. When I attended the meetings regarding library closures, students from the Uni pledged that they would align with the anti-closure lobby. On saturday, the posties pledged they would back the students in their protests. UNISON, who pledged support to the library campaign, were given support from the CWU who promised not to cross any UNISON picket lines, despite this being against the law. To quote the effusive CWU rep, Lee Baron: ‘We’d rather break the law than picket lines’.

This shows a new coalition forming, one of all who oppose the madness of our Etonion Overlords, and while its glib to compare such a movement to whats cracking off all over North Africa and the Middle East, it’s heartening to see that the British also know when to raise two fingers when leaders go against their mandates.

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Highlights of the meeting included Nick Palmer’s explanation as to why his successor didn’t attend ‘Perhaps Anna Soubry is busy catching up on her correspondence…’ ; CWU top-dog Billy Hayes description of Mandelson as ‘a man you really don’t like when you meet him. But over time,  when you get to know him, you get to really loathe’; Lilian Greenwood’s unrestrained fury at all things coalition, that sent the whole room into a blast of vuvuzela wailing; and Lee Baron’s description of Soubry as the ‘rudest, most ignorant’ politician he’d ever come across.

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I went for a pint with some posties afterwards. As a former Royal Mail employee, I know this is hazardous, but I survived with both kidneys unscathed, but my sides thoroughly torn asunder with laughter. My favourite ex-colleague, the shiny-headed Big Tony was in attendance. Tony, more commonly known as Zog due to his otherworldliness, is possibly the funniest man in Nottingham and I rued not having a pint with him earlier. I have many tales to tell of this man, including one that involves the Reading Festival, leotards and farmyard impressions but decency, space and the fear of litigation means they must remain unsaid.

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He was actually wearing on  of the Soubry masks (see above) when I ran into him.  It was possibly the most disturbing moment of my life. And I’ve been to Long Eaton.

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I recently made my debut appearance on the spankingly wonderful eighteensixtyfive podcast (if you’re a Forest fan, you need to be reading it. After you’ve read this, of course) as a post-match analyst. Since the sacking of Keys and Grey, I thought there might be a good chance of a job, yet alas, it was rather ruined by

  1. Me not knowing an awful lot about football
  2. Having a horrendous cold that made me sound like I was talking via a tuba.
  3. Missing the crucial goal as I was blowing my nose.

So I was surprised to be invited back, and you can listen to my masterclass in soccer analysis on the podcast -click the link above and go to the first article. It proves beyond doubt that it’s not only politics I can clumsily bang on  about despite being so out my depth I’m jogging down the Marianas Trench.

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Beestonia: February March; Snout-Pusher to join the BS?

Sometimes a story won’t go away, much to others dismay. Soubry had hoped the misrepresentation of the postal workers would eventually drift out of the public’s minds, and we’d all forget that she deliberately stood up in the Commons and told an outright fib to the House.

A mealy-mouther explanation followed, as did a strained meeting with the offended postworkers, who turned up at her door with a giant postcard. I have had some inside info on that meeting: apparently she got agitated, interrupted them constantly, and at one point, banged on the table in anger. I’d seen her earlier, and she did seem in a narky mood: when the Beeston Express tried to snap her holding the over-sized postcard, she snarled at the camera and was purposely beligerant, to which I heard the normally mild-mannered lady from the Beeston Express utter some very choice words.

But the story rumbles on. Feelings are running strong, and now shops in Beeston are displaying posters demanding the post be kept public. And tomorrow, Saturday the 19th February, there will be a march from Padge Road sorting office, which will take in a rally, then entertainment and drinks at the New Venture Social Club. As an ex-postman myself, I often went drinking with other posties, and can say conclusively they are by far the most fun people to get messy with.

All my readers, including you, Ms Soubry, really should attend, otherwise we’re likely to see TNT take over your post. As this rather piss-poor, overpriced company recently admitted they couldn’t guarantee delivery of first-class mail within the Netherlands, where they have a  monopoly, for FOUR days, losing Royal Mail will be a terrible, terrible thing.

More details here: click

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I’m still all excited about the joyous Big Society, and decided to check to see if the local MPs were also throwing themselves into the volunteering lark. We have four Nottinghamshire Coalition MPs: all Tory:  Patrick Mercer (Newark); Mark Spencer (Sherwood); Kenny Clarke (Rushcliffe); and our own redoubtable Anna. I was sure they would embrace the BS, and dive right in, but alas! Not one of them has any declared voluntary contributions to Cameron’s brainchild.

Fair enough. MPs are incredibly busy, despite having 20 weeks a year off. Nick Palmer forged a reputation over his tenure as MP for Broxtowe through his legendary workload: constituents from all hues of the political spectrum were in awe at his ability to write back promptly, and explain his reasons for voting one way or another. Soubry, judging by the amount of stories I’ve heard here, or read in the Beeston Express /Nottingham Post, has a less tenacious approach. As in just-doesn’t-reply. She probably will blame the post…

How about Clarke ? The most senior of the local Tories holds several non-parliamentary positions: hes a non-executive Director at Unichem, holds a Directorship at The Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust (a £2.5 billion investement /Private Equity company); hes also a member of the advisory board of Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership, a Canadian farmland investment fund. Oh, and better mention his advisory boardroom position of a London-based Hedge Fund Management Company, Centaurus. And in his spare time, he acts as Deputy Chairman and director of snout-giants British American Tobacco, a company that charmingly advertises its products in the third-world directly at kids (Nigeria is presently seeking a $42.4 billion settlement for the damage its done to the nation’s juvenile lungs).

So Kenny is a busy boy, no doubt. But surely he could pack in at least one of the roles and swap it for a shift down Oxfam? Or maybe, as a veteran of the Major government and its awful cringe-worthy initiatives- the Cones Hotline,’Back to Basics’ – knows an albino pachyderm when he sees one, and wisely chooses to not dip his toe in.

But its probably more the money. Like the fags he pushes round the world, filthy lucre is awfully hard to quit.

Beestonia and the Big Society; Beestonia Backs Bouffanted Boffin.

I have a great idea, and I have to thank the 2010 Conservative Manifesto that I recently read, cover-to-cover,  for inspiring it.

Many thought I was mad to even contemplate the masochism of subjecting myself to the inane witterings of Philip Blond (Head of the Tories favoured think-tank, ResPublica) styled with the deft PR-savvy hand of Cameron. They were mainly right, it was a horrific experience, as the above picture shows.  No, I couldn’t find any mention of a privatised Royal Mail, or the dismantling of the NHS, or mention of the woodland sell-off…well, to be honest, theres not much policy  in there whatsoever. Its done on beautiful paper though. And it has gave me a plan that is so Big Society I hope Soubry and Cutts are willing to put our previous differences aside and embrace my brainchild as if they had birthed it themselves.

I envisage a scheme, part-paid expert, mostly voluntary. It will require little money, and will save loads in the greater scheme of things. It will require premises, say, at Broxtowe Borough Council offices, but they’ll not take up much space and will be polite and tidy. Its quite a large building, after all.

People in Broxtowe over the next few months are likely to be poorer, unemployed and deeper in debt. This will cause all sorts of problems: as avaricious energy companies buy in more red ink to adorn their reminders with, and prices climb relentlessly in the shops, the vulnerable are more likely to fall out of their budgets and into trouble. Debt leads to homelessness, ill health, crime and increased suicide levels. All very bad things, which cost a hell of a lot to remedy. Best to nip it in the bud. But how?

I plan to set up a drop-in centre, where people can go and get help when debt starts to bite.  Voluntary staffed could be trained up in the basics, to ‘triage’ the enquiries, and mop up the easier obvious cases, with highly trained, paid Debt Advisors tackling the more complex issues.

Advice would be dispensed free, and without prejudice. It would help people to establish their legal and statutory rights, prevent debt building up and arrest the slide into poverty many families and individuals presently face, and free from the greasy hands of the vultures setting up perches all over Beeston right now: the pawn-brokers, the gold buyers, the money shops. It would stop banks exploiting the weak, and maybe scare them a little into being more understanding when their customers suddenly stop being so attractive to them.

I imagine it would cost a few quid to run: but its an investment. The County Council has millions in reserves, and is putting more aside this year: a cynic would say this is to try and build a slush-fund for the next round of council elections: use it to bribe voters by dropping council tax beforehand; but no, its obviously because they are just waiting for Big Society ideas like mine.

So come on Kay, are you in? We can even name it together, I’ll be over County Hall in a bit, can you call me a CAB?

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I have oft professed (ho ho) my adoration of Britain’s Best Scientist, Professor  Martyn Poliakoff, a Beestonian resident who does his mad scientificating at Nottingham University, and sticks some wonderful stuff on YouTube, while looking like a scientist should: He’ll be presenting a public lecture this Thursday, to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry. It’ll be free, intriguing and you should go. Really. Its better than Eastenders, 762 times better, and thats scientific FACT. Clicky here:

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/chemistry/internationalyearofchemistry.aspx

and as a taster, have some prime-cut Poliakoff. You’ll be in your element:

Angelic Beestonia; SoubzNewz; Beestonia2.0 (soon); Post goes Marching: Marchers go Postal?

Do you believe in Angels?

‘Pah’, I hear you cry ‘As a modern, post-Dawkins rationalistic Beestonian, I do not indulge in such supernatural concepts, and shame on you good Lord B for even questioning my intelligence’. But they exist, and they will be descending on Beestonia very soon. March 11th, to be precise. Around about nine pm. Its a Friday.

Before you go scuttling into the confession booths to convert before Apocolypse, I best point out that the angels are certainly Christian, but not winged, halo’ed or attracted to Lynx deodorant.  No, these people are flesh and blood, and are here to aid you when your blood looks likely to escape in big heaving gulps from your flesh.

You may have seen Hope Nottingham on the streets of our weired city already. They style themselves ‘Street Angels/ Street Pastors’, and spend weekends tending the weekend wounded: the drug casualties, the drunks, and those whose mates have abandoned them and they just spent their taxi money in the 24 Hour Greggs. Its a newish thing, starting in Halifax five years ago with the intention of absorbing the shockwave that hits town after a weekend of Alcopopageddon.

I’m thoroughly atheistic, despite allegations of being in possession of a Messianic Complex (as if! Jesus and I differ MASSIVELY. He had nepotism on his side. I’ve worked my way up), so should find something cynical to say about this, but I genuinely think its a good thing, a selfless act and one I could have definitely done with in the days when I could still see the prospect of a Night in Nottingham as a glowing wonder of adventure and potential, and not a thing to be feared, as it would break my very nice Horlicks/Two malted milk biscuits/ Radio 4 play off iPlayer routine. So many nights I found myself in gutters, casualty, scary ladies houses as there was no one out there to cushion me from such horrors.

But…Beeston???

I’m not saying we’re some sleepy hamlet, but we’re a MASSIVE step down from Town. I’ve had a few problems after a night on the sauce-about a year ago I had a potato headed hoody whisper in my ear he was going to stab me when I walked home; I witnessed the aftermath of a stabbing eighteen months ago, but its hardly Sodom and Gomorrah on the streets of Beeston. Not since The Barrel closed, anyhow.

So the Angels will be underemployed, I imagine.  They don’t possess police powers, so there wont be replacing Notts bobbies (well not yet, if The Big Society gets wind of this I’ll possibly see Beeston Police station in the queue at the DHSS). So what will they do?

Outside the Vic, they’ll shepherd the middle classes, unused to a third glass of wine, into their designated drivers Volvos, tending to customers at the Crown they’ll assure them that yes, the wonderfulness has to end as the staff have to go home, and outside the Last Post they’ll be sitting them down and gently explaining that Wetherspoons are the armpit of the earth, and there are other pubs in Beestonia, many of which have seats that haven’t spent the last 12 years marinating in alky-piss.

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As you may have heard, MP Soubry’s pet project, to legislate on the protection of anonymity of those arrested for a crime, didn’t do so well and was dropped. I sort of agree with her proposition, but with reservations, so won’t be mocking her failure, and actually feel a slight sympathy for her. Plus, the debate made for bizarre reading:

Mark Spencer, Conservative, Sherwood: …… When I was a teenager in Nottingham in the 1980s, there was a real issue with the red light district in the city. Nottinghamshire police ran a great campaign to arrest people who were kerb crawling. The Nottingham Evening Post would then print the names of the individuals who had been arrested, and I could never resist buying it just to see whose names were in it that week.

Philip Davies, Conservative, Shipley: Was my hon. Friend looking to see whether his name had been published?

Sadly, Spencer didn’t reply ‘Why, you cheeky twat…’ and swing a punch but replied he was merely a 15 year old and his scooter wouldn’t get him into town….

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Beestonia, i’m sure you agree, is due a refurnish. So for spring, there will be some changes to here, which will broaden Beestonia from just me yabbering away on WordPress blogging software to something a lot more interesting….more later.

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Just in case you thought I was being too nice to our incumbent MP, I recently had a chat to an employee of Beeston APC, AKA Rylands Royal Mail.

It seems they are still livid that Soubry hasn’t  apologised for her outrageous claims to the House (see Beestonia passim, circa November), so are planning a march on Beeston in a few days time: Saturday  February 19th…more info here:

http://www.cwu.org/keep-the-post-public-march-and-rally-in-beeston-nottingham.html

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Then again, to her credit,  Soubs is campaigning in the House for Broxtowe CAB. This is good news, if she means it. Though to raise such issues while whole-heartedly supporting the cuts smacks of crocodile tears….. what do you think?

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Beestonia Borrowers / LibDem Cock up?

Well done, Beestonians. Loads of you did the right thing on Saturday, and got your arses down to the library for 11am to tell Kay Cutts that cutting the library service in the County was a daft idea, and was in need of a rethink. It was all very polite, a few choice excerpts from books and poems was read to a large crowd, as queues to withdraw books snaked right round the shelving. I even got on Central news, albeit briefly, and looking so glum strangers have been pushing bags of Prozac into my hand since.

Was nice to see some familiar faces there, and I’m sure this isn’t a one off.  I have wind of lots of anti-cuts protests on the horizon, more on which later.

I made one withdrawal myself, which I’ve decided to read over the next few days in an act that can only be described as masochistic torture. Yes, I’m going to plough through the shiny, glossy Conservative Party Manifesto 2010, which I  found, with some measure of surprise, in the non-fiction shelves. This could go either way: I could realise that Davey C does actually have a vision for Britain that will deliver us into a new golden age of prosperity; or be reduced to a fuming mass of unbridled rage, and return the book shredded and smelling suspiciously of wee. Let the experiment begin.

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I’ve got some Soubry News, and some other stuff, but it will have to wait till next time as I got tipped off by something of such magnitude it cannot wait. This is a screenshot from Broxtowe LibDems latest online newsletter (available at http://broxtoweliberaldemocrats.blogspot.com/ )

Now, theres Liberal, and there is Liberal…...

 

(thanks to L&L for spotting that)

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Far Eastonia; Read- In Festival; Usual Thing About Soubry Not Listening; Radio Beestonia, Putting the N into Cuts.

Happy New Year! Yes, Beestonia is first with the news again. A day early in fact, for tomorrow is the first day of Year of the Rabbit. If you’re Chinese that is. And as one in five of all humans are, thats 20% of my readership, or 0.7 of a person.  The growing Far-East  influence on Beeston is well documented: The University of Nottingham has strong links in Asia, even to the point of having a mildly unsettling copy of the campus built in Ningbo, with palms replacing Highfield’s willows:

Thus, Broadgate is transformed into a mini-Chinatown, with fantastic shops selling heartbreakingly delicious produce (try the Char-sui sauce from Fresh Asia. It makes ANYTHING taste good, except Marmite, which is beyond redemption), to the not-so-delicious (I feel slightly queasy when I contemplate cooking a bowl of steamed pig uterine for lunch, forgive my vanilla tastes). Chinese and Thai cuisine has become Beeston’s predominant take-away and eat-in choice, with even the Durham Ox recently becoming the Thai Pink Wing,  serving bowls of steaming green things where previously red-faced men sat listlessly gazing at Sky Sports, sipping on grubby lager.

Its not just Chinese though, there are also lots of Malaysian, Thai, Korean and Japanese here too. They are generally quite shy, polite, and seem to be enjoying the weirdness that must be how they perceive Beestonia and its residents. I myself have first hand experience of such students, albeit many years ago, when I was in my early twenties and living exactly opposite where I reside now, with two lovely Japanese students, Mitsu: a neat, impeccably dressed man from Tokyo,  studying Fashion at Nottingham Trent; and Kayo, all wide smiles and infectious giggles, from Kyoto and studying Environmental Science at the Proper Uni.

After initial awkwardness, we became good friends, and they introduced me to the delicate intricacies of the tea ceremony, I explained the difference between how Southerners and Northerners drink tea*. They then suggested we have a full weekend of cultural exchange: they would make an authentic Japanese meal on the Friday night, I would make a British equivalent on the Saturday. I agreed, and they went into a flurry of activity, sourcing foodstuffs from all over the world, while I got distracted and totally forgot.

So the weekend arrives, and I come in from work to find a Japanese banquet laid before me, gorgeous gloopy soups, hand-prepared Sushi, dainty sugar-crusted cakes, washed down with regular shots of warm Saki. Lots of Saki. Enough to ensure that the following day, my hangover rendered me unable to remember I had to return the favour in a few hours.

So it came to be that Mitsu and Kayo took away from their time in England the concept that the very apex of our national cuisine is Humber Road Chippy Cod and Chips, polystyrene cups of mushy peas, and two litres of warm Strongbow.

Lots of stuff cracking off round Beeston this weekend, for a full schedule, check here: http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4760

*You sip the former, chew the latter.

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Lot of stuff in the local and national media of late regarding the protests against library cuts, so you’ve probably heard that Beeston Library will be the focal point for a big read-in on SATURDAY FEBRUARY 5th : thats this saturday. This is only the first of several events planned against the cuts, have a gander at http://nottssos.org.uk/ for more info. You may notice the very lovely people who run that site have made me ‘Blog of The Month’, so if you have stumbled across here because you were sent there by them hello! Pull up a seat! I’m Matt and I am your friend. Now press ‘subscribe’ above, and start addressing me Lord Beestonia and we’ll be friends forever.

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Soubry’s latest email missive thuds into my inbox and contains such enlightening news such as her recent meeting with Boots, where she stormed down to Thane Road, enraged that they have now shamelessly switched their business address to a PO Box in Switzerland to dodge tax*. Except she didn’t, she went there and came back bleating on command that the A453 needs widening, presumably  as the trucks of money being delivered to the senior management were getting delayed, and that the Workplace Parking Levy was unfair. Predictable, but no less shit. She also tried to justify the cuts by blaming Labour’s legacy (Tories are so fond of the word ‘inheritance’ , I’ve noticed). And then moaning that its not as bad as people think, Notts has more libraries than Derbyshire and Leicestershire, so stop complaining, plebs. If you disagree, feel free to drop in on her in Stapleford (February 12th) or Beeston (March 19th).

Or maybe not. I received this  comment from the last piece I wrote, which might put you off:

Beestonia blog may well be interested in my experience of lobbying Anna Soubry on tuition fees at her open surgery at Inham Hook library last November.

As a Broxtowe constituent I wanted to understand her position on tuition fees and for my cheek in asking pertinent questions about marketization of Higher Education I was variously labelled a (i) Marxist; Labourite; and (iii) time waster because her surgery was meant for constituents with genuine problems not some (iv) academic in a cosy job.

I was also accused of not understanding ‘grown up politics’ and when i enquired why she had not mentioned tuition fees in her email circular to constituents I was told that no-one in Beeston was interested in her writing an essay on tuition fees hence she wasn’t going to put any comment on tuition fees in her email circular to constituents.

The experience of ‘debating’ in surgery with our parliamentary representative was akin to what i imagine is the unpleasant (‘dirty’ even) experience of being stitched up by a lawyer in a courtroom whose strategy is to take a single spoken word and then proceeds to rubbish whatever point you are trying to make.

Sadly, predictable, and typical of our incumbent’s attitude. Perhaps its time for an official complaint that she is failing to fulfill her obligations as our elected representative.

*they claim its something to do with putting the business deep into Europe, which is stupid excuse and if I’d have been more placated if they’d just gone for the all out outrageous lie, and said it was so they could get cheaper Toblerone).  Jesse Boot, spin in that grave.

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Being Lord of Beestonia isn’t all just glamour and glitz, y’know. But it mainly is, and thus I recently was invited by Nottingham Forest’s best blog, http://www.eighteensixtyfive.co.uk/, to attend the recent home game against Bristol City. I accepted, and despite suffering from a nasty cold that had me hacking my throat into ribbons throughout the match, had a good time. Until Rish, the editor of the blog, decided that he wanted to sprinkle some stardust onto his site by having me guest-star on the match podcast.

I may have a face for radio, but not a voice, as you can witness in this excruciating attempt to provide a level of insight as Rish grows more exasperated at my failure to respond to his prompts… http://www.eighteensixtyfive.co.uk/2011/01/brizzle-in-the-drizzle-nottingham-forest-1-0-bristol-city/

I don’t think Richard Keys / Andy Grey should fear for their jobs…oh, hold on.

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I thought my mind, often an open sewer of depravity, was misleading me into hearing something very, very wrong on Newsnight earlier this week, but after a quick check on youtube, I was relieved to find my ears are in tip-top condition… *warning: rude words*

Strangely, I have the same confusion with the two words when I think about dear old Kay, Leader of Notts County Council….

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