There is quite a lot of stupidity in this week’s collection of stories.
For a start we have a rather stupid interpretation of how hazardous a child’s birthday cake may be which left the birthday boy in tears.
Then we have a rather stupid prank which saw a child trapped inside a washing machine and we get to witness the panic which followed.
However we balance things up a bit with some news about one of my former bosses from my life as a journalist and we end with a picture of a great sunrise – taken just this morning, by me.
Why police were called out to a three-year-old’s birthday party
Here in the UK our slavish devotion to the cult of health and safety often leads to common sense being thrown out of the window.
Sadly it is becoming more and more common. I used to think it was funny but now I find it increasingly sad.
Take this example.
Recently police were called out to a three-year-old boy’s birthday party at a play center called Rumble Tumble in the English midlands. But why do you think this happened?
- (A) Because some of the older children started fighting and a member of staff got injured
- (B) When one of the mothers got angry with her ex-husband and smashed the windscreen of his new car or
- (C) When one of the parents lit the candles on the boy’s birthday cake.
I suspect that you have correctly guessed that the answer is (C) because lighting three tiny candles on a child’s birthday cake is insanely dangerous in modern-day risk-adverse Britain.
The child’s parents were told they could not light the candles because it was against health and safety rules. If the parents wanted to light the candles they were told that the cake would have to be moved to a ‘special area’ and that the whole process would have to be properly supervised.
The child’s mother said all they wanted to do was to sing “Happy Birthday’ to their three-year-old son and watch him blow out the candles on his cake.
They tried to reason with the staff member but it was no good.
The member of staff accused the parents of bullying her and the police were called.
The police “gave advice to all involved” and then left but by then it was too late.
The birthday boy ended up in tears and the whole party was ruined.
Sad isn’t it?
Hey, not so fast with all the funeral stuff guys.
Over in Egypt there were many tears as friends and family prepared for the funeral of 28-year-old waiter Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi.
Hamdi was declared dead after collapsing of a sudden massive heart attack at work.
Family members had already washed his body, according to Islamic tradition, in preparation for burial when the local doctor was called in to sign the death certificate.
However the doctor discovered that the body was still warm to the touch and declared that Hamdi was still alive.
Efforts to revive him were successful and the funeral was quickly cancelled and replaced with a ‘resurrection party’ instead.
This is the second time in a couple of months that someone has made the headlines for ‘coming back from the dead.’
Recently in China a 95-year-old woman climbed out of her own coffin after she was pronounced dead following a fall.
The coffin was still at her house so that family and friends could pay their last respects but visitors called at her home to find the coffin empty…and the woman at the stove in her kitchen, cooking a meal.
Oh dear, I think we might have annoyed the neighbors with our noisy bedroom antics.
Sometimes neighbors just don’t get along at all.
Most disputes are about seemingly trivial things but time and time again the issue of excessive noise is a cause for concern.
It may be loud music, the sounds of DIY hammering, dogs barking or sometimes even parrots squawking which drive us to distraction.
However over in Manchester in northern England 26-year-old Lee Moore was being kept awake by an all-too delicate matter…the sounds coming from the bedroom of the couple in the flat below his.
So he did what any frustrated neighbor would do in the same circumstances…he recorded the sounds on his smart phone and uploaded the clip to YouTube.
Now the 30 second recording is something of an internet hit however, on this occasion, I shall not post the link to the video.
There is stupidity, gross stupidity and then this…
Every now and again you hear a story of a child which somehow gets trapped in a washing machine.
Maybe the infant manages to get inside and can’t get out or is helped inside by an older and equally curious sibling.
Things like that happen. After all children will be children.
But can you imagine an adult putting a child inside a washing machine for a laugh?
How many times have you been at the laundromat and wondered to yourself: “I wonder what would happen if I put a young boy in there and closed the door?”
Never, I suspect.
But it did happen in this laundromat in the USA.
Luckily the child survived the ordeal with only very minor injuries.
There was a YouTube video of the incident but the video has been removed for breaching YouTube’s terms of service.
Newsreaders as eye candy – why do female newsreaders have to be oh, so pretty?
During my career as a newspaper journalist I worked for many news editors and even worked as a news editor myself.
For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of a newspaper, the news editor is the person who decides what stories the team of journalists get to work on. He or she assigns stories and then either sends them on their way to get published or sends them back to the journalist when they are lacking some important fact or other.
My favorite news editor, by far, was one of my first – Claire Wolfe was her name and she gave me one of my biggest breaks in journalism as I made the transition from weekly newspaper reporter to daily newspaper reporter.
There is a huge gulf between life on a weekly and life on a daily and Claire gave me a job on the (now defunct) Birmingham Daily News. I remember being so nervous for that interview that when I opened my briefcase during the interview, much of the contents spilled out onto the floor.
Now Claire is a university lecturer and is subject leader for journalism at the University of Worcester. You can read her profile on the university’s website here.
She has recently had her first academic commentary published in the Journal of the Association for Journalism Education and it deals with the issue of the pressures faced by women newsreaders to look good on camera.
It seems that being glamorous is a real requirement for a female newscaster even though audiences do not necessarily think this is a good idea.
As Claire and co-author Dr. Barbara Mitra say in the abstract to their commentary:
“[O]ur research suggests that where women are glamorised they are belittled in terms of intelligence and their abilities.
“The audience for television news are aware of the narrow versions of beauty that are being presented and note that they would like to see more diverse representations of women reading the news.”
The report goes on to say that while older male newsreaders “tend to enjoy prestige” their female counterparts “…are devalued or lose their jobs.”
Just from my own experiences of watching television news here in the UK, I can see that this trend is indeed happening.
Personally I think the convention that female newsreaders have to be young and pretty is old-fashioned and nonsensical. Older newscasters, whether male of female, give a news program an air of gravitas and authority.
Is this the same where you live? What are your views on the subject?
There must be a word for that somewhere
Back in the land of TV’s The Apprentice my favorite ‘reality’ show has reached the half way mark.
The latest task saw the would-be business leaders asked to come up with an internet and TV campaign to promote English sparkling wine.
When people think of sparkling wine they naturally think of French Champagne. I am English and I had no idea that we had a sparkling wine industry to speak of. In fact if us English make sparkling wine I couldn’t even hazard a guess at a single brand.
So the teams were trying to come up with a generic name for English sparkling wine. A name which, I guess, would have to say quality English fizz in much the same way as Champagne says quality French fizz.
Chink is out
One of the teams, I forget which one, got their thinking caps on.
“I’ve got it!,” exclaimed one of the team members. “Chink – let’s all have a glass of chink!”
“Chink?” said one of his horrified team members and, very quickly this idea was dropped.
Grandeur is in
Much thinking time later and they had settled on a new word to sum up the very essence of high quality English wine…’grandeur.’
What a fine word grandeur is.
It simply oozes quality from both of its perfectly formed syllables.
There is only one tiny problem with using this word to describe English wine.
Grandeur is indeed a word which is commonly used in the English language but it is a word which comes to us from, er, France.
Somehow I wish they had stuck with ‘chink.’
I can picture the scene at some stuffy country club right now:
First English gent: “Another glass of chink old boy?”
Second English gent: “Oh how awfully kind of you Clarence old chap.”
First English gent: “Waiter. Two glasses of chink over here in the corner please. And make them large ones.”
Waiter: “I’m terribly sorry sir but we are all out of chink. Could I interest you in a couple of glasses of grandeur instead perhaps?”
First and second English gents: “Certainly not! We don’t want any of that foreign rubbish in here.”
Oh how I continue to love The Apprentice. Business-based reality and comedy served up in equal measure.
What is funny about a cat ‘falling’ down the stairs?
Video Credit: petsitecom/YouTube
Red Sky In the Morning.
I happened to be up very early this morning – just before 5am – so I was able to grab my camera and capture this rather beautiful sunrise.
It was also raining slightly as I took these pictures so there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky too – however that was not bright enough to be photographed clearly.
However these are a selection of the sunrise pictures I had taken.
The funny thing is that about an hour after I took these pictures, all the wonderful colors had gone from the morning and the sky was back to its usual blue/gray color which is typical for around here.
I didn’t see a single other person up and about as I took these pictures so most of my neighborhood were sleeping through this spectacular display of nature.
Red skies in the morning often herald storms later in the day so we will have to wait and see what the rest of the day brings.
Now check out the photos below:
Photographs: © 2012. Patrick Griffin.
Q. What time is it?
A. Not sure, I think it is nine something.
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