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Cheers - AE

Friday, 2 April 2010

Not a good day for blogging.

I know I did a couple of posts yesterday (it's the 2nd here now) but really they were the arse end of Wednesday night, but being April Fool's Day I've resisted the temptation to blog because for the last 24 hours because it's so bloody hard these days to spot the wind ups. Mr Eugenides demonstrates this by blogging three stories that ten years ago might have stood out as being as likely joke stories but are in fact genuine. Satire may not be quite as dead as he says but it's not in good shape when you have to go to Daily Mash/Newsarse/Onion lengths to write something that's obviously a spoof, and even then I've felt TDM have been sailing depressingly close to reality on one or two occasions. To give you another example, a very hoaxy looking story bearing a hoaxy looking pun in the headline, and oddly in the wimmin's section despite not having anything especially to do with wimmin as far as I could see, was in The Times today.
Hole sale robbery: how to mend those potholes.

Fed up with all those holes in the road? Then pay for them to be repaired yourself, suggests one council leader.

As mad ideas go, they don’t get much pottier than the pothole solution proposed by the leader of Ashford Borough Council in Kent. Fed up with that crater in the road outside your house? Tired of waiting for the council to mend it? Pay for it yourself, suggests Councillor Paul Clokie (below), and use it as a memorial for a pet.

Is he serious? Apparently. He points out that a scheme is already under way in the German village of Niederzimmern, near Leipzig, where for a mere €50 you can sponsor your local pothole, ensuring not only that it is filled in but that your name, or your company’s, is etched into the asphalt.

Clokie is not alone in taking an interest in Niederzimmern: from New York to Krakow, councils have picked up on the idea and are considering similar schemes. Yet in spite of the concept’s popularity, Councillor Clokie’s idea has yet to get off the starting blocks.

In the wake of the harshest winter for three decades, Kent County Council, the body responsible for mending the potholes, has filled in 45,300 of them this year but has yet to dedicate any of them to deceased dogs or cats. “Councillor Clokie has been saying this for a while,” said a spokesman yesterday, who sounded as though the county wished the Ashford leader would stop.
And so on and so forth. Several commenters pointed out that the date was April 1st and that it had to be The Time's joke article. Could be, I thought, but didn't seem as entertainingly stupid as, say, installing a particle accelerator on London Underground's Circle Line. But then neither did changing the name of Queen Street in Melbourne to Republic Street - oh ha ha chuckle guffaw there goes the other rib.* So I googled the Councillor's name and the word 'pothole' and found two stories in the Kent locals that backed it up, one from March 19th and one from the 11th. Yes, I suppose a determined hoax could have involved planting the story elsewhere in advance in case anyone checked but it seems more likely that the mad bastard is serious about charging for road repairs that people already pay taxes for. And that's what made me think it might not be a joke - because the idea that the state would charge you again for what it's always claimed you pay tax for seems neither amusing enough or fantastic enough to be much of an April Fool prank story.

And even if I'm wrong and it does turn out to have bells on the fact that it seems so plausible for modern Britain isn't funny. Not funny at all.

* I may have mentioned before that I'd cautiously go along with the idea of Australia becoming a republic but I doubt that's going to win much more support that making up something about the Queen feeding orphans to the Corgis.
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