Archive for January 2013
The Nether Regions is a blog which loves to dance. What we don’t love is the nagging feeling that maybe we aren’t very good at it. What we need is an objective analysis of our azonto; an external validation of our vogueing. Fortunately, a recent visit to a Lancashire dance studio has allowed us to get certified as fully qualified, professional lords of the dance. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. Nothing can stop us now.
Chorley Guardian, 23 January 2013 (story)
School of dance was just a sham
THE owner of a Chorley dance school duped parents out of thousands of pounds for fake exams and ‘cut and paste’ certificates.
Natasha Jones, who owned The Ballet Academy, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to forging certificates from prestigious organisations, including The Royal Academy of Dance.
The court heard how the 35-year-old would charge anything from £27 to £108 for the exams, despite not being a registered member of the authorities.
Depending on your point of view, this is either a bleak tale involving the cruel deception of innocent children or a humourous reminder that a pushy parent and their money are easily parted.
There are two things that struck me about the story. The first is that parents in Chorley really are thick. As the article makes clear, it’s not like there weren’t hints being dropped harder and faster than drone strike missiles on a tribal wedding.
One parent told the Guardian how he became suspicious of the mother-of-three, from Boarded Barn, Euxton, after she gave him a certificate which looked like it had been made on a home computer.
“We would continuously be asking Natasha for the certificates after she had passed the exams and kids love that kind of thing.
“She would come up with all the usual excuses – that she had forgotten it, that she’d left it on her desk or that it had been locked in a classroom where she worked.
“I thought it was down to her being completely unorganised as she was a lovely lady and a good dance teacher, but when we eventually got one it looked like it had been cobbled together.
“It seemed like someone had just used cut and paste to make it, but even then I thought she probably couldn’t find the original so had made that to make up for it.”
Eventually it was revealed that Jones, who had started the school in 1997, didn’t belong to any of the dance examining bodies she had been claiming to be apart of, including The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and the International Dance Teachers Association
Imagine a parent striding into the local police station, their voice trembling. “I’m here to report a crime” they utter, as they solemnly place a tear-stained piece of A4 on the reception desk.
There were probably murders going unsolved while the police got to the bottom of this mystery.
The second thing that gets me about this is that it really seems like a victimless crime. The ‘fraudster’ had been in business since 1997, and I’m sure a dance school doesn’t survive in Chorley for 15 years without being a fun and popular place for the kids. The parents don’t seem to have had any complaints about the standard of teaching. One mother had her son enrolled for eight years, and I bet he could pirouette with the best of them by the end.
So the kids were having fun learning to dance. None of ever failed the sham exams, and they must have felt pretty good seeing those certificates displayed on bedroom walls and kitchen fridges. Maybe the parents would have them framed, and after their offspring had gone to bed they’d look at the certificates and realise that they had raised a beautiful, capable child.
The fact that the certificates were ‘fake’ doesn’t make little Adam a worse dancer. It doesn’t make young Megan’s pride a less authentic emotion. It doesn’t mean that the children of Chorley were wasting their time. They were doing something they loved. Their certificate had the same appearance as a ‘real’ one, and performed the same function. Why then, is it inadequate?
The real criminal here isn’t Natasha Jones. It’s the parents and the police who pulled at the threads and exposed their children to the true horror: Reality itself.
For a nation of shopkeepers, the British sure know how to bugger up a business deal. The collapse of the Great British High Street. The untimely gold-flogging of Gordon Brown. The transfer dealings of Mark Hughes. And it’s that fetid space where sport and finance mingle which brings us our latest local antihero.
Dorset Echo, 21 January 2013 (story)
I’m stuck with 10,000 Lance Armstrong DVDs to shift
A POOLE entrepreneur is looking for creative suggestions after becoming stuck with 10,000 DVDs featuring disgraced former US cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Karl Baxter of Wholesale Clearance UK at Willis Way bought the discs before the seven times Tour de France winner’s name was fatally tarnished in a doping scandal.
Oh, Karl. You must be rueing that decision.
A rueful Karl said: “I bought the DVDs at a good price. The idea was to sell them in small job lots so traders could go on eBay, Amazon or car boot sales and sell them on.
“There was a slight amount of risk. There was suspicion but he wasn’t admitting to it.
“I was hoping the problem would die down and I would be able to find a home for them. Now I don’t think I would get a tenth of the money back.”
Karl, who sometimes buys bankrupt stock from stores that have gone out of business, said: “This is one of the few things I’ve managed to buy that has come back to bite me.”
Apart from all that clearance stock he once bought from a false teeth factory, presumably.
What Karl needs is a bit of entrepreneurial flair. That’s what’s going to get the country out of this economic crisis, after all. A successful small businessman would be able to turn this crisis into an opportunity. With the right idea, he could secure enough investment to dig himself out of this hole. So let’s hear it.
I could make a tower or build a big dominoes track for my three-year-old.
Thanks to @davidjamesevans
We’ve all heard of farmers diversifying, but providing an unsolicited car scrapping service is going too far. No doubt the farmer will use the Tony Martin argument that this was somehow an act of self defence.
Leicester Mercury, 23 January 2013 (story):
Horror as car left in snow is speared by farmer’s forklift
A driver forced to abandon his car in a snow-filled ditch was horrified when it was taken away and wrecked – after a farmer speared it with a forklift truck.
Dan Neal, 24, left his black Citroen C2 with a note on the windscreen, after sliding off the road near to Wistow Grange Farm. When he returned to collect the car the following day, he discovered it had already been removed by farmer Edward Gilbert.
He skidded off a bend and into the ditch next to Mr Gilbert’s land. The RAC was unable to attend and Dan was advised to leave the vehicle with a note on the dashboard. He was then horrified to find the farmer had moved the vehicle to a barn by piercing the twin blades of the fork-lift through the bodywork.
When challenged, Mr Gilbert claimed it was Dan who owed him £250 for the minor damage to his fence.
Dan, who lives in nearby Fleckney, said: “He said, ‘I’ve confiscated your car because I’m sick of people driving into my fence’. He was very matter-of-fact about it. He even said I owed him £250 – I couldn’t believe what he was saying.”
His eight-year-old car was towed away. He is now stuck in Fleckney with no transport.
Stuck in Fleckney with no transport: enough to drive anyone round the bend. If they (a) had a car and (b) the conditions weren’t too treacherous.
In the interests of being fair and balanced, we should really hear the farmer’s side of the story. As expected, he’s banging on about his ‘rights’.
Mr Gilbert, 38, has defended his actions, saying he was “within his rights” to remove the car.
“We get fed up with people going through the hedges and abandoning their cars. If it had been a £50,000 Bentley I might have left it in the ditch.”
A perfectly reasonable, logical standpoint.
Thanks to Nick00031.
It’s been a while, so it’s time to delve back into the world of facial redundancy that is the Gazette Face.
Thanks to the procession of sods willing to stare vacantly into the lenses of local press cameras around the country, the Gazette Face marches on triumphantly (but without a hint of triumphalism on its empty face, of course).
ID thieves target bins (Morecambe Visitor)
£16,000 of pigeons nabbed (Hartlepool Mail)
The remaining £3-worth of pigeons behind him aren’t smiling much either.
Saltburn residents protest over parking charges (Middlesbrough Evening Gazette)
Kid Gazette Face > Adult Gazette Face.
Drivers ignoring one-way system (Bridlington Free Press)
Ramraiders steal guinea pig (Morecambe Visitor) (story)
11 January 2013:
A GUINEA pig called Del Boy was stolen along with hundreds of pounds worth of animal supplies after a shop was ram-raided in Morecambe.
Lorna Bird, one of the company’s directors, said: “He’s my little man, and I would appeal for his return.
“They’ve taken sacks of rabbit feed, sacks of mixed grain, Bob Martin dual action spot ons (flea killer), Johnson’s wormers, dog toothpaste, horse supplements, but they’ve not taken any dog or horse feed.
“It’s like they’ve had a shopping list.
But what a shopping list, to be fair to them.
Christmas wrecked by raiders (Whitby Gazette)
MP criticises council for rejecting hotel plan (The Northern Echo)
This is the Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Wharton. Just for your information, he’s a right knob.
Post Office in sex change row (Morecambe Visitor)
Nursery is graded as ‘good’ (Whitby Gazette)
GOOD. That’s as GOOD as it gets. Although I’m not sure what the two on the left are doing, letting the side down with their forced smiles. Has that nursery education taught them nothing?
The real question is, would this small Whitby nursery have been able to find enough kids for the photo if it had been graded as ‘SATISFACTORY’?
The headline of the story below refers to a ‘garden fall horse’. To the uninitiated this might seem like three completely unrelated words thrown together into a nonsensical string of headline, but is in fact an example of a very sophisticated formula often deployed to great effect by local newspaper sub-editors.
Location + verb + identity = a headline which tells the story on its own. ‘Garden fall horse’ clearly means a horse has fallen in a garden. See? Almost no need to bother reading the story. See also:
- CLIFF PLUNGE MAN (man in tragic death plunge from a cliff)
- BAKERY CURSE GRAN (grandmother hurls steak bake vulgarities at Greggs staff)
- GYMNASIUM DECAPITATION PIGEON (pigeon gets neck lodged in crosstrainer)
Anyway, I know it’s unfashionable to criticise horses, but how the hell do you slip off a field?
Whitby Gazette, 18 January 2013 (story):
Fire crew rescues garden fall horse
A HORSE was left bloodied and battered after slipping from its field into the yard of a cottage near St Mary’s Church on Friday morning.
The three-year-old cob named Flash escaped from the Donkey Field over a low fence and slipped into the back yard of a property behind East Abbey Terrace at around 2am.
As it fell the animal banged its head against the building, smashing a double-glazed window and suffering deep cuts to its head.
The cottage owner said she was awoken by a loud bang at around 2.30am. She said: “I kept hearing noises and thought it was the neighbours.”
You have to wonder what kind of noise this lady is used to hearing from the neighbours if it’s similar to the sound of a distressed, head-mashed garden fall horse.
A crew from Whitby were called at around 8am and while a plan was formulated to get the animal out of the yard, firefighter Jay Fildes kept the cob calm, nicknaming the animal ‘Sid’ due to its likeness to a colleague.
Terry Naylor, who keeps horses nearby, arrived on the scene and was able to slowly guide the horse through an outhouse and down icy steps.
Two things: (a) I’m reeling from the criminal lack of elaboration about this ‘Sid’ character back at the fire station, and (b) guiding a horse through an outhouse and down some icy steps really ought to be a game on ‘The Cube’ (pull your finger out, Schofield).
Everybody can relax: there is a happy ending to this tale of near-equinogeddon.
While owner Jason Anderson was sought, Flash was placed in another field and assessed by vet Libby Beck, who said that the animal would make a full recovery.
Hooray. So then, a much-celebrated stay of execution from the Tesco beef burger production line for our brave Sid.
The Great British High Street is in decline. Not just an economic collapse, but a slide into full-blown moral degeneracy. You might have thought that Boots was a brand you could trust but, as this picture shows, it’s causing some very serious faces in Bracknell.
Our modern-day Mary Whitehouse is acupuncturist mum-of-three from Crowthorne, Alison Savory (or ‘Savoury’ as we say in England). Well this moral crusader might be ‘Savory’, but her story is quite the opposite.
Get Bracknell, 14 January 2013 (story)
Horrified mum boycotts Boots after children pick up sex toy
A disgusted mum is boycotting high street chemist Boots after she found her children playing with a sex toy near the checkouts.
Alison Savory wrote to Boots chief executive Alex Gourlay after her sons, aged six and eight, picked up a purple Durex vibrator displayed ‘prominently’ in the store.
When a headline begins “Horrified mum boycotts Boots after children pick up sex…”, you should really count yourself lucky when the next word is “toy”. It could have been worse.
I don’t know how a shop might display a giant purple phallus in a non-prominent fashion – perhaps they would have been better hidden amongst the electric toothbrushes. If you want to see a more subtle display of vibrating erotica, you could always check the pub toilet vending machines (between the condoms and the breathmints). Anyway, Mrs Savo(u)ry undertook the only course of action available to the outraged: a stern letter.
She wrote to say she was ‘deeply disappointed’ a family company was contributing to the ‘erosion’ and urged him to consider whether the products and product placement were appropriate.
It’s spelled ‘erection’.
Unfortunately it all proved to be a total waste of time, effort, and paper. Boots replied to explain that the items were displayed to “demystify customers”. This prompted an alarmed Mrs Savo(u)ry to declare:
I don’t want my children demystified in Boots.
Well nobody enjoys being demystified in Boots, but that’s why they provide private consulting rooms next to the pharmacy.
So now the boycott is on, and Alison will have to go elsewhere for her paracetamol, holiday first-aid supplies and reasonably-priced lunchtime meal deals. As an acupuncturist by trade, you’d think Mrs Savory would be familiar with the medicinal deployment of pricks. Maybe she’s just worried about the competition.
Local newspapers are certainly not prone to understatement. That’s why this little photo and caption in the Bolton News letters page took me by surprise…
Whilst Hitler certainly wasn’t to be trusted, I’m not sure that as a caption it properly encapsulates the murder of millions. Perhaps MASS MURDERING PSYCHOPATH or VEGETARIAN PAINTER would have been more apt.
I’m just looking forward to the NOT TO BE TRUSTED series featuring Mussolini, Pinochet, Ceauscescu and Thatcher.