Preston shocked by appearance of sun

12 02 2011

Preston residents were left confused this week after the city endured two sunny days in the space of less than a week, with some reporting “holes in the sky”.

Scientists are in serious talks with the Met Office to establish why the city had what other places in the country apparently call: “Nice weather”, which Preston experienced on Thursday 10 and Saturday 12 February, 2011.

Temperatures soared to pleasant, leading to many residents being confused whether to wear their coats or not. One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Well, I’ve been wearing me big coat and scarf every day since the beginning of October last year, but on Thursday and Saturday I went out to buy a loaf of Greenhalgh’s wholemeal bread and I were just too hot – it’s ’cause of this global warmin’. So I had to go into a furniture store and sit down for two minutes so I could cool down.”

But the problems were far more serious for some. Prof Madeu Pname, a university academic, said: “People were calling the Preston Weather Emergency Helpline throughout the day, wondering what the holes in the sky were.

“After speaking to our colleagues who don’t live and work in Preston, we have established that the holes actually show ‘the sky’, and that what we formerly perceived as ‘the sky’ is, in fact, something called cloud. On Thursday and Saturday, we experienced a phenomenon known as sunlight.”

The bright light caused havoc on the roads, as drivers were dazzled by the sun. Hundreds had to stop, close their eyes and wait for nightfall before they could continue.

The appearance of the sun in Preston left some drivers dazed, confused and stranded

Some shoppers were delighted with the weather, though. One market stall holder put out extra seating so people could sit down. “I put some in the shade and some in the sun, so people could have a choice of being slightly warm, or a bit nippy,” he said.

Extra seating was provided by market stall holders

One shopper suggested the sunny weather could save locals trillions of pounds: “That Dave Cameron and his sidekick are making everything expensive aren’t they? Well, I’ve got one up on ‘em now. Why? ‘Cause I’ve just cancelled my holiday to Dubai. No taxes from me! Sunny enough ‘ere int it? It’s grand!”

The last time Preston basked in sunshine was before Charles Dickens visited in the 19th century. Following Dickens’ glum portrayal of Coketown in Hard Times, Preston, on which Coketown was partly based, has been predominantly cloudy. Comforting cloud and rain are expected shortly.

The sunny weather was used by some to dry out dog poo, presumably for art


Why UCLan is right to urge students not to report on Preston EDL march

26 11 2010

It’s caused a minor furore on Twitter and on blogs: “Concerned over safety, UCLan urges journalism students not to cover EDL march”. But why are people getting so wound up about it?

To be clear, I’m not writing this on behalf of UCLan’s journalism school (the school’s position was made clear in Laura Oliver’s article, linked to above), or even trying to represent a different view.

The reason I am writing this is because I think the criticism levelled at the decision is starting to become a bit unreasonable, I get the impression that some people believe the story is somehow an indication that UCLan is denying its journalism students the opportunities to practise journalism. I think this is nonsense.

I understand (as does the UCLan journalism school) that the EDL march will receive regional, and possibly national, coverage. For those that attend, there’s the chance to get a brilliant story.

But is it really so irrational of the school to say: “we cannot allow students to cover these events for any assignment or reporting exercise and we will not allow our equipment to be hired out”? The reasoning is clear and explicit – the department spoke to  practising industry professionals who will be there on Saturday. The school has clearly been warned of the potential dangers that students could encounter.

Telling students not to report on the march for university work passes absolutely the onus of responsibility onto the student. Through refusing to accept work about the march, UCLan is removing the possibility of students taking unnecessary risks in order to look good and get good marks. There is no reason for a student to take risks in order to attain good marks for their portfolio.

As I said in a brief exchange on Twitter to one of my peers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), if a student goes to the protest and gets injured, it was their idea, not the university’s. It was their own decision to go, for their own personal reasons.

While the school has told students not to report on the protest for university work, and have advised students to stay away following warnings, the department has NOT completely banned students from going, as some people seem to be inferring.

Do I plan on going to the EDL march? Yes I do, and I intend to take some pictures.

Of course, it’s a frustrating situation, but the alternative (ie. NOT to tell students not to attend for university work) is open to a lot more scrutiny, and it would be unprofessional of the university to be seriously warned about the dangers, and not to make their position unequivocally clear.

Sport Relief Mile: The training

21 03 2010

Preston Beer Festival 2010/Sport Relief training

My training for Sport Relief 2010 was exemplary. It was regular, intense and demanding. Look at what Michael Phelps did to win lots of Olympic gold medals, and what Lance Armstrong did to keep on winning the Tour de France, and I’m not too far behind these magnificent athletes.

My training regime began three days prior to the event. On Thursday 18 March 2010, I went to play badminton. But badminton was just my warm up. Oh yeah, I was taking my training very seriously. I played and won three games, and then moved on to the real training.

After leaving badminton practice, I had a shower, and then embarked on a journey, accompanied by my other half and one of my housemates, to a church.

Whether God was in residence or not, I felt like I was in exercise heaven. Dozens of ales and bitters and ciders lined an entire wall. The training began: we drank beer and cider and ate Lancashire Hotpot and I was an ‘appy bunny.

This was my training regime (apart from the badminton/exercise) on Friday and Saturday night too.

As you can tell, I was well prepared for the six-mile Sport Relief run.

NOTE: Sorry, I’ve just remembered something. On Monday 15 March 2010, I was late for my Journalism Practice workshop, so I ran to it. The run lasted about three minutes and I was absolutely knackered at the end of it.

Sport Relief: Six miles of pain

17 03 2010

Peter (sober) and Ceri (drunk)

On 21 March 2010, I, and my housemate Ceri, shall be running six miles for Sport Relief.

Giving to charity is an excellent idea. Many weeks ago, the challenge of running six miles seemed like an excellent challenge.

Now, it seems like a very stupid idea. University work and general laziness has meant I have done the following amount of training:

Total hours of training: 0

The nearest I’ve got to training  is adopting a brisk walk if I’ve been late for a lecture or seminar. But the last time I covered a distance of six miles on foot was in the summer in the Lake District, and that was walking.

Below is the ‘story’ of how I’ve ended up in this disasterous (yet charitable position).  Also, this is the link to mine and Ceri’s fundraising page.

Any amount of sponsorship is welcome. Obviously, it’ll provide some form of motivation/consolation for me when I’m shuffling along the tarmac after two miles. But most importantly, it’s going to an excellent cause, and that, fundamentally, is why I’m willing to run weakly and pathetically six miles around a park in Preston. So go do it, please sponsor…


Once upon a time, in a mouse-infested house in central Preston, a student called Ceri was talking to her housemate, Peter, online.

The night before, Ceri had seen an advert for Sport Relief before watching Survivors. She enjoys watching Survivors – her favourite characters are Tom (because ‘he’s badass’) and Al (because ‘he’s funny’), but she does not like Sarah (because she’s a bit promiscuous) and Naj (because he’s a liability. He is though – he’d be much better going to school. Idiot).

Ceri, though, had been captivated by the Sport Relief advert. So, early on the afternoon of Wednesday 10 February, 2010, when she was talking online to Peter, she asked: “Wanna run a mile mate? For charity innit.” To which Peter replied: “Ooo! That sounds mightily spiffing! Let’s do it!”

They then had to make a serious decision: one mile, three miles, or six miles. Such is Peter and Ceri’s genius, they opted for six miles.

However, fear not dear reader. Peter and Ceri are extremely active people. They are very ‘outdoorsy’. Every day, at least twice, Ceri does her smoke-a-cigarette workout. It involves smoking a cigarette. Most da

ys, Peter ventures outside, come rain or rain (it’s Preston, so ‘shine’ is rare), to buy any or all of the following: a newspaper, chocolate bars, biscuits, ice cream, beer, pie (with mushy peas and gravy, from Greenhalghs).

So as you can see, beloved reader and prospective giver-of-money, Ceri and Peter are well-equipped for this self-destructive event.

The money they raise will go to Sport Relief, helping those in need both home and abroad.

If you’re not bothered about the charitable side, Ceri and Peter will not be happy with you for not donating – and they’re going to be journalists, they’re going to be in the ‘fourth estate’. They will have power. You want to be on their good side.

So to be on their good side, please DONATE! The more the better, but donate whatever you can afford. If you do donate, Ceri and Peter will run six miles, and one day you can claim a free hug from them.

Buses – reasons to love them

9 12 2009

Why on earth would anyone love buses, you may ask. Very few people in the world love buses. In my previous post I said I hate buses. Now I’m saying I love buses. This love, though, is more like a guilty pleasure; I love to hate buses.

My reasons are simple, comprising a bit of Schadenfreude, and being nosy.

Disclaimer: Do not mistake this for saying I like buses themselves, I don’t. I’d much rather drive somewhere than suffer the great humanitarian injustice of having to sit in a mobile waiting room.

Buses are an excuse to grumble

See previous post.

Buses mean you can avoid tedious roads

Yes, sometimes driving can be a bit tedious. If you’re ever in Preston, drive from the roundabout at the north of the city (the roundabout which gives you the choice of choosing the M55, M6 or A6) and into the city. It’s a 30mph road. Fair enough, there are lots of houses, but it’s incredibly dull and tedious. It’s straight, so there’s not even a corner to entertain you. There’s a few traffic lights to break it up, but that’s it.

So, bus drivers can suffer the misery of a dull road while you suffer the misery of a wailing toddler whose neglectful, jewelry and sportswear-ridden mother LOLs at a text from her 28th boyfriend of the week (I’m not laughing out loud, you soulless bint).

Buses present a wide spectrum of society

Yes, buses allow you to see a whole variety of people. Sometimes they’re normal people, but sometimes they’re quite interesting. Sometimes you can find so much about them (yes, I know, you shouldn’t listen to other people’s conversations, but, when your attention can be taken away from the dandruff-filled mullet of the bloke in front, it’s a good idea). I shall provide some examples.

Bus journey example one

On this journey I learnt about two men. One was probably in his 40s, the other in his 70s. I shall give them fictional names to ease the storytelling. Man in his 40s shall hereby be referred to as Jeremiah. Man in his 70s shall hereby be referred to as Eugene.


It turns out that Jeremiah had been a naughty man. He had been to see his girlfriend, and he’d had a bit to drink, and they’d had a bit of an argument. But you won’t believe this… naughty Jeremiah decided to drive home. But don’t worry, the British legal system thrust its gargantuan foot right into his once-proud balls.

While driving home, Jeremiah was caught by the police. Jeremiah claimed that it was just a random check. Funny that, isn’t it, that the police “randomly” pulled over a bloke who was drink-driving when he “was driving fine, like. Not dangerous or owt.” Yes, Jeremiah, what a coincidence. What a shame that the police are successfully taking drink-drivers off the road.


Jeremiah told his story to Eugene. Now, Eugene was a cheeky old fellow. He had a girlfriend down South. And I found out he had a Rover 75. He was really proud of his Rover 75. He said it was really good on the motorway. He said that he bought it cheap from some local garage. He seemed proud of his Rover 75, and also the fact he had a girlfriend at the age of…well, probably 75.

Bus journey example two

There were two characters worth mentioning on this journey. We shall call them Augustus and Percy.


Augustus got on the bus first. He was wearing a big, bright yellow fluorescent coat. Now, to be fair, he wasn’t completely there in his head. As he counted out his money for the bus driver, he kept repeating: “Corporation Street”.

He sat down in front of me. Then, out of his pocket, he brandished his handkerchief. It wasn’t a very nice handkerchief. It was a bit dark in places. I think Augustus had recently had a nose bleed.

Augustus then proceeded to blow and pick his nose until he deemed that the bloody stains had decreased in size enough to warrant him returning the handkerchief to his right pocket. For the rest of the bus journey, Augustus’s head frequently darted from left to right, but not by much – I’d guess no more than a 15 degree angle.


Next, Percy got on the bus. I remember when I was a child, I used to read about Percy the Park Keeper. This was not Percy the Park Keeper, though. This was Percy the Drug User (I assumed he was on drugs).

When the bus driver opened the door, Percy leapt onto the bus. He was happy to be here.

From his pocket, he wielded his bus pass in his right hand, which he then thrust towards the partition separating the bus driver from the bus passengers. Oh yes, Percy was enthusiastic about bus travel. Even more enthusiastic than Augustus and myself… put together!

After the bus driver accepted that Percy was allowed to travel with me, Augustus and a handful of others, Percy set about getting to his seat. He then energetically lunged towards his nearest vertical bar (those upright poles that are there for people to cling onto when walking through the bus).

From there he swung, like a gold medal-winning gymnastic orangutan, to the next upright bar, and then to the next, and then to the one after that.

But, there was only one pole left before he reached the one behind my seat (facing forwards, I was on the left side of the bus). Percy extended his left arm, grabbed the pole in front of me to the right, and swung around. Out of caution and fear, I ducked out of the potential collision course. I awaited the arrival of an impact, but I’d done enough to avoid Lancashire’s own whirling dervish.

In an unexpected change of tactics, Percy remained clung on to the pole he had grasped in his left hand, and swung around and dropped into a seat, behind and left of my own.

After that, Percy listened to some music. Very loudly. But I wasn’t too annoyed – I was unhurt, that was all that mattered while Percy was on board.


So there we have it, the reasons that make travelling on a bus less horrific. If you have any other reasons why you think I should like buses, please leave a comment.

Buses – reasons to hate them

6 12 2009

Buses are awful things. They’re dreadful. Be honest, you agree with me. But, at the same time, I love to hate them.

Now, I know I can’t make such a controversial, bold, never-heard-before statement like that without supporting my argument, so in this post I’m going to tell you why I hate buses.

Buses are slowBuses are so slow that, when picking your nose, your fingernail will grow in the time it takes the bus to accelerate

They take a very long time to get up to speed. In fact, I’d wager a bet that if I started to pick my nose when we left the bus stop, by the time we reach the speed limit my fingernail would have grown so much that I would, in fact, be hacking away at the lower segment of my brain. That’s how slow buses are.

Buses are often late

My most recent experience with getting a bus involved waiting for 15 minutes after the thing was supposed to arrive. I was not pleased. The traffic was light and free-flowing, but the bus was still late. I can only suspect that the driver was late in setting off. I believe he was doing one of the following:

  1. Finishing a cup of tea or coffee. Why didn’t he make and drink it earlier?
  2. Talking to a colleague. He will see them tomorrow, or some other time. I am paying for both their salaries, I expect my driver to be there when I expect.
  3. Oversleeping. He should buy an alarm clock.
  4. Checking traffic and weather conditions, listening to local radio traffic bulletins. Very responsible, I admire his thoughtfulness.
  5. On the toilet. Fair enough – there’s a limit to how much control you can have over bodily functions.

Buses are smelly

They can be a mixture of any or all of the following (in order of most commmon):

  • Stale smell (general stale smell or damp stale smell)
  • Exhaust fume smell
  • Burning smell (brakes and/or clutch)
  • Sweat smell
  • Flatulence smell

I’ve found that the smell of damp is the most frequent offender. A bit of regular fresh air and Fabreeze would do the trick.

Buses are cramped

I have long legs relative to my height (I’m a smidgen over six feet). But even so, I’d like to be able to sit down without having to spread my legs at a right-angle. As such, I can’t wear shorts for fear of being arrested for indecent exposure.

Rather than having to take up the space of two seats with my legs akimbo, I’d just like to be able to sit down, with my legs in any formation which I desire. Surely, that’s an international human right.

Buses are rarely well-driven

The driver of the bus I was in most recently was okay, but not brilliant. Granted, he knew the dimensions of his vehicle, so fit through some fairly tight spaces, and his judgment wasn’t too bad either (although, up for argument). But, he wasn’t smooth.

Smoothness is not something I associate bus drivers with. Approaching lights which had just turned red, did he gently get onto the brakes in good time, bringing the bus to a smoothly and gentle stop? No, he just kept on going at the same speed, then braked when it was absolutely necessary.

I did not appreciate this driving style. I paid £5.90 for my Dayrider, I wanted to see signs of good observation and planning, not laziness.


To conclude, buses are dreadful. How can anyone like buses? How can there be any positives whatsoever in travelling on a bus? Read ‘Buses – reasons to love them‘ to find out.

What makes a good pub?

20 11 2009

So, what makes a good pub? In this video below I ask Kay Drummond, the joint landlady of the Bitter Suite pub in Preston, what makes a good pub, and also about the future of Preston’s pubs.

So, in drink terms, for a pub to be like a fine ale, rather than a warm, watery lager, it should:

  • Offer real drink – good variety of beer, especially from smaller breweries
  • Have a good, relaxed yet lively atmosphere – music on all the time, with live music on most nights
  • Be good for all ages – not old, not clinically modern: cosy without being fusty
  • Attract regulars – old or young, regulars are regulars, and if the pub’s good enough, they’ll be loyal
  • Have homemade food – nowhere can beat the happiness caused by eating a homemade pie, with homemade chips, with a dollop of mushy peas, all covered in gravy

So, here’s what Kay has to say:

This video was taken, uploaded and embedded as part of my university work.