I do enjoy reading our local newspaper. Not only does it feature either the Mayor, the Town Crier or representatives of the various local military units on almost every page, the headlines are reassuringly bonkers.
It's how every local newspaper should be, really. Plus, and this is quite an important point, the hilarious "no news is what we're all about" publishing ethos demonstrates how little serious crime we have on a regular basis around here. So it's funny AND reassuring.
Last week almost the entire front page was covered with the scandalous revelation that the man who has bought the derelict Town Hall building has previous convictions for failing to comply with planning regulations when renovating a different derelict building. The last two or three years have seen many and varied front page stories about how is is a disgrace - an absolute DISGRACE!- that the Town Hall remains empty and derelict. Now there's a whole new angle to be outraged about. Our gorgeous pigeon-shit-encrusted Town Hall is in the hands of someone who might renovate it without getting the final sign-off from the planning officer to undertake internal modifications to the building. I'll keep you posted.
Ahhh, the Town Crier is on Page 2. All is well with the world. Something else I love about this newspaper is the way that the publisher - our local stationer - fills all the spare space on Page 2 with advertisements for their own shop. They sell everything you could possibly need in the stationery line. Wedding invitations? Calendars? School pencil cases? Maps? Greetings cards? Books about the local area? Labels of all types? Poster paint? Glue? Glitter? Dictionaries? Paperclips? They've got it all.
The shop itself is a delight, rambling back into nooks and crannies, all of them crammed with treasures you never knew you needed. It's staffed by a selection of elderly ladies who know exactly where everything is. Sometimes they have to get ladders to reach the high shelves, delicately avoiding setting off avalanches of rolls of brown paper and boxes of treasury tags.
Top Page 2 headline this week:
Fantastic. On Page 4 we have the almost-as-good Air Rifle Pointed, which hints at all sorts of ill-natured duelling potential. When you read the story, however, it was a couple of blokes in a van with an air rifle, off out rabbiting probably. They were "subsequently allowed on their way" after being given some "suitable advice" by the police.
Two stories side by side on Page 8 in an unfortunate juxtaposition. One relates how our nearest cinema, a small independent one in Frome with a bar and everything, has been damaged by fire* and will be closed for a while. The story beside it tells us that a new cocktail bar has opened in town. The accompanying picture shows a frosty-glass delicious looking cocktail, with the strapline "Try out a cocktail this weekend."
Why not? You can't go to the cinema, after all.
Page 11 has the menacing Children Visit Biodigester. It doesn't say how many arrived, or - more importantly - how many left. I think that's the sort of thing we ought to be told. Next to that story is Chilli And Tomato Tastings. I don't know about you, but my appetite vanished at the word "Biodigester."
The sports pages are great as well. Every single week, regardless of the weather, the time of the year or the prevailing economic climate, our local teams lose. This week's football headline is Not A Good Home Day For Town. It's interesting to see how many different ways the newspaper people can say "They're A Bit Shit, Unfortunately." The Rugby headline is Better Performance But Still Defeated.
It reminds me of my old school reports.
Are all local newspapers like this, or are we just lucky, I wonder?
*Probably caused by the manager making everyone a nice bit of cheese on toast to eat during the film.