Edinburgh Journalist Wars: the gloves are off

Today’s Edinburgh Evening News carries a story on its cover about Edinburgh Council’s Outlook series of local kinda community newspapers.  Michael Blackley lambastes the freesheets, calling them “propaganda” and rallying local readers to pressure the council to “pulp ‘Pravda’.”  Apparently the populist Evening News would divert the money saved into buying school books for the city’s youth, thus holding the council to ransom by implying some sort of anti-education stance manifested in the publication of the Outlook series.  I must say I find this whole angle particularly right-wing despite its ostensible stance as Defender of the Kiddies’ Maths Books.  The comparison is totally arbitrary.

It’s becoming clear that a huge financial bite will be taken out of UK councils, so all of this may be entirely academic in a year’s time anyway, with Outlook scrapped altogether and an unholy haemorrhaging of the school system looming.

I can’t help feeling like the Evening News is playing spoiled child here, attacking a little brother so, despite said sibling’s revenues coming in a little more easily, from the public purse.  My bias is that I’d like to see as many publications as possible because I’d like to have as many writing options as possible!  And I’m sure all the good chappies working for Outlook will be delighted to see this little ‘Scottish Kiss’ from the Evening News which effectively calls for their outright redundancy.  Happy Humbugging Christmas lads.

Maybe the council should re-evaluate, especially in light of the Cameron-Osborne-Clegg clippers chopping their way northwards, but the Pravda reference irks me to the core.  Public-equals-communist is a lazy, below-the-belt rationale that insults our intelligence.  Great reading!  Am I overreacting?

Unearthing the Bethonged Bond

Wow!  The Scotsman has a treat for us today.  For those of you out there who don’t read it, I can’t possibly pass up the opportunity to share this raunchy ne’er before displayed portrait of a be-thonged, pre-Bond Sean Connery, painted by Rab Webster in the 1950s.  During this period, Connery was a struggling actor who apparently posed to help pay the bills.  Webster, who died last month, was an art teacher at Selkirk High School, where Connery was an occasional life model for students.  If you don’t mind me saying so, that must have been one exciting high school!

It’s interesting to notice (to say the least) Connery’s fine musculature, and it’s striking from this that even by today’s personal-trainer-induced Daniel Craig-ish chunky standards, this Connery would evidently still breeze into the role of Bond.  I wonder how long it took Craig to work his body up to the standard set by Connery for the role.

The impressive physique is apparently due to Connery’s taking up body building as a hobby around the time when he was posing for this portrait.

Needless to say, Robert Fairbairn’s piece on the painting in today’s Scotsman is littered with hilarious Bond-themed double entendre.  Allow me to add my own honest contribution:

The Thong is not Enough!

(Please insert your own Bond/Thong response below)

Russian wildfires burn British veterans’ cash

What has Hovis got to do with Napoleon and Hitler?

We all know, after several gruelling, abortive episodes, that it’s a terrible idea to send invading troops eastwards into Russia.  ‘Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia’, you may have heard it said, and we’re lucky indeed that neither Hitler nor Napoleon took heed of this advice, otherwise we’d be living in a Nazi or Bonapartist empire.

And yet the climactic vicissitudes of this very same region have today apparently got the potential to pillory British soldiers’ fortunes.  Remember all those wildfires in Russia over the summer?  The images of suffocating smog which settled over Moscow during that lengthy heatwave?  Well, British Baker, the “baking industry’s food bible,” reports that the summer fires’ disruption of grain supply in Russia and eastern Europe has driven the price of grain up by as much as 50%.

What has this to do with British soldiers, you might reasonably enquire?  Tesco, it turns out, would be damned before agreeing to pass on these inflated costs to its customers and have their cheap basket whatever statistic affected.  As a result of this, Tesco has discontinued the baker Hovis’s Seed Sensations bread range, preferring Hovis to bear the full cost of the grain price change themselves or go to another supermarket.  Naturally, the latter seemed inevitable.

Hovis’s Seed Sensations range’s inclusion of poppy seeds has been seen as an appropriate reason to donate 4p from the sale of every loaf to the Royal British Legion.  Today’s Guardian reports that last year this fund amounted to £130,000 of income for the charity, which is now in jeopardy.

So it turns out that there’s no escaping the Russian landscape, even for today’s British soldiers.  It also transpires, unfortunately, that there’s no escaping Tesco.

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