6 Sep 2010


It's been quite a while since I last went to the Saturday morning Breakfast Club (a group of us get together to enjoy a light breakfast and discuss that morning's newspapers for those of you who don't already know) so I thought I'd better drag myself from bed and go this week-end. Nothing much in Saturday's papers - they were largely devoted to two of our MP's, ex-primeminster Tony Blair who has just released his autobiography and another who is involved in some kind of a scandal or other - but there were several articles in Friday's Daily Telegraph that caught my eye.

Having gone all POLITICALLY CORRECT here in England certain things have had to change. Some schools are no longer able to call a blackboard a blackboard and long gone is the black sheep in the popular children's nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep - apparently he/she (we don't want to be seen as being sexist here) has apparently been replaced by a rainbow sheep. However the latest casualty in all of this seems to be ......

The kookaburra. Yes, it seems we are not the only nation to be worrying about upsetting people with our use of words - a school in Australia it seems has removed the word 'gay' from the much loved children's song Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree AND replaced it with the word 'fun'.
The headmaster (surely that should be headteacher?) of said school said "It uses gay and I just suggested to kids that nowadays that can mean different things." "Political correctness is very much to the fore in schools, what's appropriate and what isn't, and sometimes we rightly or wrongly err on the side of caution." - Nick Squires.

Sticking with animals .....

 Mice are bad enough, according to the myth, but the creature that really fills an elephant with fear is a lot smaller.
Ants are getting the better of nature's biggest land beast on the African Savannah scientists have discovered. They act as guardians of a species of acacia tree they (the ants and not the elephants I presume) use to nest in, getting up the elephants trunk which is sensitive.
Researchers from the University of Florida noticed the elephants avoided trees that had ants on them "like a kid avoids broccoli."

And so onto my next two articles both involving the police.

Police have spent £1 million on promotional giveaways in the past two years, it has been disclosed. Forces funded thousands of gifts including fridge magnets, baseball caps, cycle helmets and sports drinks bottles to boost 'public confidence' and spread the 'police message'.
(But, wait for it ........) One even unveiled a police tractor which is decked out in police livery and, despite a top speed of 25mph, has a flashing blue light.
Police will display it at farming shows to highlight the fight against agricultural crime. (Surely a cardboard cut-out would have done the job just as well!)
One Assistant Chief Constable defended the total of £68,698 spent by his force. "Following the launch of the campaign, public confidence increased from 44.9% at the end of 2008-09 to 51.7% 12 months later, along with 36,760 fewer victims of crime." (I'm just waiting for the tractor to be stolen and become another crime statistic.)
(However) The TaxPayers Alliance accused police chiefs of wasting public funds on "gimmicks."

As a Second World War veteran who likes to keep fit, 84-year-old James Gresty thought hopping on his bike was a sensible way to collect his pension.
(WRONG!!!!!!!!) He ended up being pursued through a shopping street by (Not one, not two, not three but .....) four police officers, two of them in a van, after they insisted he had ridden on the pavement (something Mr Gretsy denies).
Calling for 'back-up' from two police constables who drove a police van through the precinct (surely more dangerous than a bike) Mr Gresty claims "They were carrying on as if I had been guilty of a serious criminal offense. They were being aggressive, rude and heavy handed all over an issue of whether or not I was cycling on the pavement."
"They didn't even get that right either. God knows why four police had to be involved. I'm an 84-year-old man not a teenage hoodie." - Richard Edwards.
I agree, hardly the crime of the century - perhaps they should offer Mr Gresty a fridge magnet as a way of apology.


Melissa Gill said...

These are great articles. We should start comparing news from around the world to see who has the craziest stories. Of course then I'd have to read the paper, which I normally avoid because of the things that go on here in the US

R. Ramesh said...

good one:)

....Petty Witter said...

A good idea Melissa.

SG said...

Excellent articles. Police bribing the public? ha ha ha. In India, the public bribe the police to get things done.

4 police officers chase an 84 year old man. As you said, they should give him a fridge magnet.

Political correctness is in many countries, especially here in USA.
For example, it is ok to have a "Black Caucus" but not ok to have a "White Caucus".

chitra said...

I liked the idea of the breakfast club , I think it would be nice to join and share info.there.

susan s. said...

Love this post, Petty.

In the US, blackboards became chalkboards when it was discovered(years ago) that green was a better color for the board and yellow was better color for chalk, because it was easier on the eyes. Nothing whatsoever to do with PC.

I find the fact that the Australian headmaster (head teacher) is the one that pointed out the word gay. . . He thought that up on his own and made it an issue? Brilliant.

I don't understand the use of the word pavement in the story about cops and the 84 year old man. In the US it is illegal to ride on what we call sidewalks that are made of concrete. Our streets are made of pavement and bicycles are considered vehicles and are meant to be ridden in the streets. Please explain the English way! :-)

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I almost never read the paper...but this sounds like fun!!


When my husband I moved to our little town on the Cape we used to read the news blotter. Things like a bird stuck in the fence and a bouse house (which we finally learned was a porta potty or out house) was tipped over were reported as a crime. Shows you what the police have to do in different areas.

Thanks for your concern on Hurricane Earl, just some rain and wind. Wizard of Oz was a tornado. Sorry to rain on the romance of your hurricane. I suppose it could be romantic with the lights out and candles burning, if you didn't have to boys overly dramatic about losing power. You'd think a serial killer had turned out the lights and was stalking us! All is well! School starts tomorrow!!!!

Heather Buried in Books

Nina said...

These are so interesting. I don't know why I still read dutch newspapers, as they are not as much fun as those you read. ;)

Kelly said...

Oh my gosh.... I get SO disgusted about political correctness at times!! (and I mostly tend to be VERY un-PC just on general principle)

When my kids were in school they made the change over to dry-erase boards which are white. Hmmm... wonder if the term "whiteboard" would be acceptable?

As for the nursery rhyme (which was one of my favorites growing up), somehow "rainbow" sheep just doesn't quite fit.

And there they go ruining another favorite...Kookaburra! Why can't kids learn that words can and do have more than one meaning??!!

Thanks (I think) for sharing all this with us.

Jenners said...

You always find such interesting stuff ... but the political correctness stuff just drives me nuts!!!

And my kid loves broccoli ... perhaps he is part elephant. : )

Kate said...

Haha! The strangest things come up in newspapers.

Political correctness (is that the word?) has gone crazy in the UK! It's called a blackboard because it's black in colour, after all. So it's racist to call black black now?

"I'm an 84-year-old man not a teenage hoodie." -insert giggles here- And I'm an almost-19-year-old girl who's going to be careful where she rides her bike. I didn't know you're not allowed to cycle on pavements anyway!

Kate x

brizmus said...

Ohmygod, this whole PC thing makes me sick. It's really just censorship.
If people could really get offended by traditional use of words or traditional songs, then that should be there problem, not ours.
At least, that's how I feel.
Baa Baa Black Sheep, seriously - I mean, c'mon, it's the color of the sheep!

And as for that police tractor, I sort of hope it's stolen.

Lynda Young said...

lol..great collection of amusing (and face palm) stories. :)

W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey


We are celebrating Banned Book Weeks over here in the States- celebrating our right to freedom of speech and freedom of the books that didn't get banned, such as Harry Potter series objection-witchcraft, Twilight Series-religion, sex, many of Roald Dahl's books etc.

Just wondering since we're talking PC, do you have a lot of do gooders trying to ban books and do your libraries have a celebration for winning out over the objectors?

Heather Buried in books

Trac~ said...

Wow - great articles - it never caeses to amaze me though about the political correctness nowadays - to me things have gone so overboard and far out of what it should be. To me it has just made our world even more screwed up than it already is. Just my opinion - I mean seriously - "black board" - give me a break! Sheesh! Hope you've had a great weekend my friend! xoxoxo

Jen said...

He can't ride on the pavement? Where is he supposed to ride?

Mythbusters here in the States tested to see if elephants were afraid of mice. They didn't trumpet and run away, but they gave the mice a wide berth. They do not like mice at all. We were expecting to bust a myth and confirmed it instead.

....Petty Witter said...

Thanks for so many comments - it seems a lot of you dislike political correctness.

Re the whole pavement story. A pavement is really for pedestrians, roads are for vehicles, bikes are classsed as vehicles and should technically stay on the road. The only time it is ok for a bike to be on a pavement is when it is deemed unsafe for it to be on a road and even then you are not supposed to be riding on the path but must dismount and push the bike. Hope that clarifies things a bit.

GMR said...

Good grief! Really, changing an old song like that is just silly....consider the time it was written in? The meaning is easy to see.... *shakes head*
Great lot of stories though....never fails to amaze me...

Lily said...

I am NOT politically correct. Common sense seems to have lost significant ground to political correctness, and I am doing my part to correct that.