PIE FURY on Teeside

Following hot on the heels of other local news stories like GRASS VERGE MESS LEFT and SPIDERMAN ORNAMENT STRUCK IN ARSE BY FIREWORK comes the latest installment of local newspaper gold from the UK:

Mmhmm. How do stories like these get as far as the pixels of the local news websites? Is there really nothing more important or newsworthy going on there?

Look, the story is summed up nicely in the headline, but there’s so much more once you dive into the scary verbiage beneath.

“I wanted eight large sausage rolls and two steak bakes,” said Linda, 62, from Thorntree.
“It was 8.45am and there were no pies at all displayed. I could see bags and bags of pies, all wrapped up on cages behind the counter. The trolley was ready to be pushed out. But when I asked for the pies, I was told: ‘We can’t sell the pies until 9am’. I could have had a fruit pie, but not a meat pie.”

u wot m8?

Morrisons… what are you playing at? Sometimes your bowl of cornflakes just isn’t enough and you need to grab an early morning snack like… well.. like eight large sausage rolls (not technically a pie, but never mind) and two steak bakes (closer to pies, but still a bit dodgy, IMHO).

But not before 9am, it seems.

Look, let’s cut to the chase here. There are three main things we need to address about this situation.

Firstly, what sort of nonsense rule is this “no meat pies before 9” thing?
There’s no need for these petty rules. Not ever. But especially not in the North East of England where meat pies are an important and integral part of life. I mean, I hesitate to use the word “vital”, but it’s really not far off.

Linda added: “They are dictating to me when I can buy pies and when I can shop.”

They are, Linda. They are. Of course, those are actually a couple of the fundamental things that all shops do: telling you what you can buy there and when you can buy it. So you’re right, but your indignation is rather misplaced on that one.

And then secondly, I’ve already posed the How does this get into the newspapers? question – although I comprehensively failed to answer it. That’s probably because I am regularly bewildered by the sort of trivial crap that seems to be classed as important enough to get published. But then, when you think about the details, you realise that Linda (and/or her husband Tony) must have made the decision to get in touch with the Teesside Gazette because they felt this was a big enough story to share.

“I can’t believe I wasn’t allowed to buy a meat pie before 9am. I know who needs to know about this: everyone in Teesside. I’ll phone the local paper.”

You learn a lot about Linda and Tony just by that one act.

But you learn a lot more because of point three.

Point three is all about how the story is written. And local journo Keane Duncan (for it is he), has ticked all of the indignant-local-people-in-a-non-story-in-a-local-newspaper boxes:

Plenty of puns:

It should have been a simple case of pie and sell.
The supermarket chain has now swallowed a piece of humble pie and issued an apology to the couple for the mi-steak.

A dodgy pic of the couple, holding pies and looking sad, disappointed, irritated, angry(?) outside a Morrisons:

Sadly, what Keane giveth us in his wordsmithery, he taketh away with his ‘togging skills. Either that or Tony does actually have some weird, Teletubbie-esque cranial projection. Oops.

And then some wholly unconnected information about Tony that’s actually far more interesting than the actual story:

Husband Tony, who eats fish and chips three days a week and rarely touches pastry, branded the decision “stupid”.

Three days a week? That’s almost half the days that there are in a week. That’s a lot of fish and chips. Which days? Is it always the same days? Do you just eat fish and chips on those days? Morning (after 9am), noon and night? Why don’t you like pastry? And if you’re not a fan of baked goods, who were the ten so-called “pies” for?

We’re left guessing.

And even given Keane’s excellent article, it’s pie-despising Tony  who makes this story work. Not just for the fish and chips but for this remarkable allegation:

Morrisons told The Gazette there is no “hard and fast policy” and meat pies are simply baked for 9am to match customer demand.

But Tony suggested a more sinister explanation.

“There’s more to this,” he said. “Morrisons have got their own agenda. They don’t want people to know about it. They have given too many ridiculous stories about why. They contradicted themselves over and over.”

I wonder how sinister we’re going here? Is this something to do with the Russian Spy Drama in Salisbury? Exactly what agenda does Tony think Morrisons have? Some ideological program to restrict their own pastry sales? Why would they do that, Tony, and why would you care anyway? You rarely touch pastry. I mean, if there was some wild plan to limit the hours during which the retailing of fish and chips was permissible, I could understand your indignation and concern, if not the reasoning behind the original idea. But you seem to be in possession of some information that we simply don’t have.

For God’s sake, Tony. What is Morrisons’ agenda here? I ask, because while not selling meat pies until 9am might not seem like a big thing, the hyperbole employed in your response here and your actions reminded me of Martin Niemöller’s infamous, salient words:

First they came for the Early Morning Meat Pies, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Early Morning Meat Pie eater.

Which begs the question

Which leaves me wondering: what are they coming for next?

Is it apples, Tony? It had better not be, because I like apples. Although the whole meat pie thing is of limited concern to me, I shall speak out for the meat pies if they’re planning to cut the times when I can buy apples.

Or beer. Or lettuce.

Or cheese. I mean, I rarely touch cheese, but if anyone tries to stop me buying a Camembert before noon, there will be real trouble…

Funny, not funny

Nuclear disasters aren’t very amusing. Fortunately, they only happen very, very occasionally: so much so that you can probably only name the same Big Three that I can.

This story references a nuclear disaster that hasn’t happened yet. Indeed, there’s no evidence or suggestion that it ever will. And that’s why I feel that I’m allowed to find it a bit amusing.

First off, in the event of a nuclear accident at Koeberg (Koeberg being our local nuclear power station (the only one in Africa, nogal)), my first instinct would not be to head to the city centre anyway. Given that Koeberg is pretty much in the bottom corner of Africa, I would hesitate to head further into the bottom corner of Africa should there be any sort of radioactive leak.

That’s not where you want to be. Especially if it’s going to take you three hours to get there.

Additionally, should Koeberg go bang bang, residents in (Uns)Table View will surely not be the only ones anxious to vacate the general area. I reside in the much more gentile, verdant, pleasant surroundings of the Southern Suburbs, but in the unlikely event of Koeberg going off, I’m not going to hang around to see what happens next: I’m heading out of Cape Town along with everyone else. I’ll review the situation from the interminable queues in godforsaken Somerset West or something. I shouldn’t really have to say this, but Table View’s local traffic congestion is really just one small part of a much, much bigger problem if one or both of our local nuclear reactors happen to meltdown.

But then, why would you drive anyway?

Another resident, Cindy Welch, said it recently took her an hour to reach Table View High School, which is four kilometres away from her home, due to traffic congestion.

You’re not stuck in the traffic, Cindy; you are the traffic.

Four kilometres is entirely walkable. Or jogable. Or cyclable. Especially if the motorised alternative is going to take an hour. And even more so if there’s a big explodey mushroom cloud lighting up the sky behind you. I reckon you’d be shocked as to how quickly you can get yourself 4km from your current location with just the gentle persuasion of an impending nuclear catastrophe for assistance, Cindy.

Of course, all this is assuming the worst case scenario, which is a full reactor core meltdown at 8am on a wet Monday morning in August.

And that’s a rather pessimistic approach, isn’t it?

There are many other days, other times and other prevailing meteorological conditions on and under which Koeberg might conceivably explode. For example, it might happen 3am on a Sunday and the roads of Table View might be completely empty.

In which case, a quick getaway is almost completely guaranteed.

So why are we spending millions and millions of Rands on bigger roads, just in case the apocalypse happens during morning rush hour? Madness.

I’m here to suggest a controversial – but actually rather reasonable – alternative. Instead of building more roads connecting Table View to everywhere else, why not just build a Big Wall and isolate Table View from everywhere else?

Hear. Me. Out.

Firstly, this will clearly benefit anyone living outside Table View. Remember that:

approximately 40 500 people use the R27 from Table View to the city each day

well, they’ll immediately be taken out of the equation and will be unable to cause congestion on the other major escape routes out of the city, meaning that other, normal people will have more chance of survival.
Additionally, if the wall is big enough, it might actually contain some of the nuclear fallout from any Koeberg disaster.

Double bonus.

And as for the unfortunate residents of Table View, well, are they really any worse off?

No. Not at all.

As this news article clearly states, they were never going to successfully make it out alive anyway. You’re never going to outrun a deadly cloud of enriched uranium particles going at four kilometres an hour. It’ll take you an hour to even get to the High School, which – like you – will be completely and overwhelmingly contaminated by the time you get there. You might as well just stay where you are and see if you develop any (more) interesting mutations ahead of your inevitable death.

The City of Cape Town don’t have a great record in listening to my amazing ideas, but I suppose that they might have seen the whole iceberg thing as being a bridge too far. Simply diverting funds which have already been allocated for road building on the West Coast across to wall building on the West Coast really doesn’t seem too difficult, especially given the evidence I have presented here.

I’ll sent Patricia an email – I’m sure she’s not got much on her plate at the moment.

Displacing Bob. Neighbourhood Service.

It’s the last day of the school holidays today. That means that from tomorrow, all hell will break loose on the roads of the Southern Suburbs and (more importantly for the purposes of this post) I will have to get up an hour earlier than I have been for the past couple of weeks.


This is significant, because it means that I will no longer have to displace Bob.

Bob is our local Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus). He’s bloody annoying.

Egyptian Geese mate for life, but it would appear that within the last 12 months, something awful has befallen Mrs Bob. She is no longer with Bob. It could have been that she has chosen to fly off with a more handsome Egyptian Goose, but that does rather flutter in the face of that ‘one partner for life’ promise. So I think that it’s entirely more likely that she’s thrown a seven at some point recently.

RIP Mrs Bob.

Bob is either distraught or he’s too thick to have noticed anything except that suddenly, there’s no-one on his wing to do the rumpy-pumpy dance with.

Either way, he lets us know his feelings of sadness and/or frustration by honking very loudly early in the morning from his chosen roosting position on one of the local neighbourhood chimneys.

Bob is bloody annoying.

Tomorrow, Bob won’t wake me up. The combination of the later Autumnal sunrise and my enforced earlier alarm time means that his honks will be drowned out by the sound of the kettle and the kids getting ready for school.

It also means that this evening, I won’t have to take Florence the drone on a spin around our vicinity at dusk in order to locate Bob and then displace him, gently convincing him to select a more distant roost by using an advanced technique known as “flying relatively close to him”.
It takes a couple of minutes to locate him and then literally 20 seconds to get him to sling his metaphorical hook. Easy.

I’m fully aware that this might be classified as “disturbing wildlife”, but in my defence there are two important mitigating factors at play here:

Firstly, he has premeditated plans to disturb me in about 12 hours time, and:
Secondly, if I wasn’t gently moving him on with the drone, I would be throwing stones at him until he left the area. Dangerous to him, local residents and their windows.

This is a quick, easy, painless method of ensuring that everyone locally can get a extra hour in bed each morning. It’s a neighbourhood service that I’m more than happy to provide.

ZumaBalls 1?

Many of you will remember the 6000 miles… popular PistoriusBalls blog post series, with twitter offerings amassed from several (or more) journalists at that infamous trial.
Given the likely length and complexity of the Zuma trial, I have no plans to do a similar series for JZ, but if I did have such plans, I’d be starting right here:

I’d be concerned about that too if I were him. The shit has really hit the fan.

This is a nice image

I spent a lot of time awake last night wondering about writing a blog post. It was to have been a contentious blog post, and would have required some defence against forces of ignorance and prejudice. I don’t mind stepping up to the plate for this sort of thing, but it does require time and effort. I really don’t have the time at the moment and the effort would have been mainly used up shouting at a brick wall. I have better things to do with my effort right now. I’m not writing that blog post.

Part of the post was going to relate to how the opposition party (and/or anyone else who criticises corruption in SA) cannot afford to bend any rules at all, even when it would clearly make good sense to be able to do so, for fear of losing the moral high ground. We’ve already seen examples of how this can hold us back as a community – for example, the protracted time for the tender processes for aquifer drilling and desalination plants. The blog post was going to feature another example.

For me, this is a sad situation which has been exacerbated by the rampant looting of the state over the past 9 years. In my opinion, Jacob Zuma has caused immeasurable damage to this country and set us back in so many ways. So this was a nice image to log on to this morning:

Yes, that’s our ex-President in the dock on 18 charges of Racketeering, Corruption, Money Laundering and Fraud. The likelihood of him ever going to prison for these crimes is, at best, slight. The wheels of justice may be turning, but they turn very slowly. There will be appeals upon appeals, and every legal delaying tactic will be used. That’s his right, and that’s how justice works.
In this case, it’s unlikely ever to be done.
We’re looking at years and years and years.

His court appearance today took just 12 minutes.

But it was very important that those 12 minutes took place.

This is a nice image.


Addendum: I’m getting a lot of interest in the subject of the original planned blog post. See here, and do the maths. Don’t @ me. 🙂