On this page I’ll try to give an overview of my posts and put them into categories.
(These might change from time to time and overlap. For instance I write verse and also ride a bike – so how do I classify a poem about cycling?)
List of my interests and infatuations:
1 Cycling – Bikes, Trikes and Recumbent tandems
2 Poetry – my own and other people’s
Here is the first stanza of one of my poems
(Why do so many poets write about being poets?)
You can’t put “poet” on your passport,
The customs men will look at you askance.
Put “failed stock-market jobber”
Or “retired highway robber”
And they’ll wave you through without a second glance.
3 Rants – things that annoy me. A chance to let off steam
Have you noticed how newspapers report road traffic accidents?
An old lady walking down the street with her shopping is mown down by a car driven too fast by a drunken driver who loses control, mounts the pavement and injures the pedestrian. Inevitably this will appear in the press as “Pensioner collides with car.”
If the paper expands on “Pensioner collides with car”, the rest of the paragraph will read something like this: “Last Saturday Mrs Jemima Puddleduck (89) was in collision with a car driven by Mr Peter Rabbit (19). Mrs Puddleduck sustained a hip fracture and was taken to the Cottage Hospital. Mr Rabbit was unhurt.”
The impression left on the reader is that Mrs P., seemingly intent on committing suicide, hurled herself at the car and poor old Peter Rabbit was lucky to escape unharmed.
I appreciate that a paper can’t include all the details of a road traffic accident. The police might want to prosecute Mr Rabbit for dangerous driving, speeding or being above the drink-drive limit and a really detailed account of the event might prejudice the magistrate or influence a jury.
But I find it intensely irritating that nearly all reports start with the apparent assumption that the victim of a crash is to blame. We see “Toddler collides with bus” or “Schoolgirl collides with truck.” Why is it never “Bus runs over toddler” or “Truck knocks down schoolgirl.”?
As for cyclists, according to press reports they are constantly colliding with trees, pedestrians, buses, wagons, taxis, perambulators, lamp posts, and just about every moving or stationary item on your average high street.
We hear reports of police “crackdowns” on cyclists who ride on the pavement or jump red lights. I wouldn’t defend the lunatic fringe of cyclists who ride dangerously on the pavement and injure or frighten pedestrians. But I would like to see an even-handed approach in the so-called “crackdowns”. When did you last read of police cracking down on drivers who park on the pavement or don’t allow cyclists sufficient clearance?
Another thing that annoys me is the newspaper reporters’ preoccupation with the age of anyone appearing in their pages. Age is relevant if, say, an eightyyearold man enters the London marathon and beats runners half his age, or if a fiveyearold girl is the youngest person to climb Ben Nevis. But reporters and editors seem compelled to add your age whether you are being featured for winning a poetry competition or taking part in a charity bike ride.
If you are female there is also the compulsion to add how many children you have whether or not this is relevant. Sometimes, of course it is. If a local councillor is campaigning for better childcare facilities it is reasonable to tell your readers that she herself has five kids and so can speak from personal experience.
In general the “number of offspring” applies only to women. It is rare that a man in the news is described as “father of four” unless there is some reason to include this information e.g. this chap, following the tragic death of his wife, is bringing up four children under ten, single-handed while at the same time holding down a demanding job.
So a heartfelt plea for less bias in the way press reports of crashes are written. It’s not (only) what you say; it’s the way that you say it.
5 Short stories – if/when I get round to writing them
6 Plays – or parts of plays, short sketches
7 Miscellaneous – anything else that comes to mind
Use this form if you would like to comment on anything I have written.
This is an example of a page. Unlike posts, which are displayed on your blog’s front page in the order they’re published, pages are better suited for more timeless content that you want to be easily accessible, like your About or Contact information. Click the Edit link to make changes to this page or add another page.