Tuesday, December 21, 2004


In the national newspapers and on the telly at this time of year you see the same highlights of the the past 12 months repeated over and over again - but what bearing do they have on the lives of real people, the man on the Clapham omnibus, the salt of the earth, the people who are the backbone of this country, Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs, the man on the street? (By the way, these are all different sub-strata of what are known as D, and E3 groups, for all you would-be sociologists out there. This means lazy, smelly, overweight people who sponge off the state and don't make any attempt to better themselves.)

No, there are real issues out there which affect the people out there, and they are only dealt with in our great local newspapers. So here is my heartfelt Christmas tribute to the free papers which are put through my letterbox every Thursday (well, I say "every Thursday" but sometimes you can go for months without them being delivered, then 4 turn up in the same week. You can't trust the paper delivery people, because they are in the D and E3 social groups).

These are the top local news stories in the Utility Room's local papers for 2004.

1. Lisa Scott Lee, formerly of Steps, having been dropped by her record label, played at our
municipal park festival in the summer. The local papers built up this epoch-defining
event for about two months. The very lovely Lisa took to the stage as the sun was setting, to
mime a couple of numbers and dance at the same time. It was deemed a triumph by all
privileged enough to witness it, who will always have those memories to look back on if
misfortune should occur in their lives. Mind you, the local papers' build up of the event
left us in such a frenzy of anticipation that, rather like in an Anais Nin short story, we
thought we would go mad with desire ... oh dear, I seem to have gone off at a

2. The News Shopper gave the people what they wanted and grasped the zeitgeist with their
Shop A Yob campaign. As anyone who reads local papers will know, yobs are the cause
of most of the evil in society, with their reigns of terror on housing estates and their
graffiti spraying upstairs on buses. Well, I say, why don't the people they are terrorizing get
themselves a job, move to a nicer area and buy a car, which means they will avoid any
of the problems caused by yobs at all! There is nothing like self-improvement and
self-reliance. It means that society becomes much more nicer and it sets the yobs a good
example!!!! Anyway, the News Shopper was full of pictures of sullen-faced youths
in baseball caps who all looked the same. People were asked to get in touch with the
police if they recognized anyone from the photographs - this meant that all teenagers
are at risk of being locked away for their own good, even if innocent of any charges,
simply because they all look like JJB-clad clones if each other these days. Still, lots
of ASBOs were issued, which means we can all sleep that bit easier in our beds at night.

3. A letter to one paper complained about the dreadful decline in standards under "this
so-called New Labour government". I can't remember the exact words, but the gist
of the complaint was "there has been a shooting up the Broadway - possibly two, if I
remember rightly, plus there is all the litter and the leaves". He's got a point, but I
think people should be allowed to gun each other down. That's their perogative. But,
God spare us from the leaves, the leaves ...

4. The council's re-cycling initiatives were deemed a great success, as endless bins and
stackers were sent to houses to gather dust outside the front door in most cases.
On a personal note, we only used the composting wheelie bin once - then they took it
away from us, as if we had done something wrong and were being punished for it,
because it is the only language our sort understand. Can't wait for next year's press
expose of the dark forces at the heart of local council, though.

5. The local Christmas lights were switched on by former "Eastenders" star Dean Gaffney.

The last one wasn't necessarily true.

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