2.182 Dear Yorkshire’s Injury Lawyers

Dear Yorkshire’s Injury Lawyers,

I’m going to start this with a disclaimer, just on the off-chance that you don’t have any sense of humour whatsoever and get angry. This is not a letter about you and your work. This is not a letter about you being another company cashing in on the compensation culture that’s taking over this country at an alarming rate. This is, purely and simply, about your radio adverts that can be heard on commercial radio stations across Yorkshire.

Yorkshire, the place where you are based.

So, I have to ask, what’s with the accents in the adverts?

I’ve lived in Yorkshire all my life. Apart from the couple of weeks of each year when I’ve been down South or up in Scotland somewhere. Now, if you want people who talk funny, you want to be looking at them. Those Southerners with their “muppets” and “you slags” and all that, and the Scottish, well, who know’s what they’re saying? I was once asked about sides in a restaurant, and thought the woman was on about the size of my burger. They definitely talk funny.

But in all my years of living in Yorkshire I have never encountered a Yorkshire person who spoke like a poor caricature of a Yorkshire person. Apart from Patrick Stewart’s brother on a documentary once, but that doesn’t really count because he was on TV and, for all I know, could have been played by an actor. But, for some reason, your radio adverts feature a comedy, cartoon Yorkshire man called Colin. With a comedy Yorkshire voice. Making him sound, to be honest, like any injuries he’s suffered are because he’s basically a simpleton. I’m surprised that you haven’t hunted round in a your sound effects vault and found the sound of a man going downhill in the bath to go in the background or something equally as stereotypical. I think you’ve managed to stop short of having him say “‘ello, I’m Colin. I’m from t’Yorkshire. I’ve ‘urt meself down t’pit…” but I’m willing to bet that in at least one of the advertising proposals there is something like that in there.

When the Americans portray the British in films, they make them terribly la-di-dah stiff upper lip types. And we all laugh that off because they’re American and what do they know, after all they’re too busy filling their faces with sandwiches the size of a child’s head and rolling onto their next meal. Or something suitably stereotypical. They do that because they’re Americans, and we’re English. They don’t understand us, we don’t understand them. That’s grand.

But you’re Yorkshire’s Injury Lawyers. You’re not just Injury Lawyers. You have the word Yorkshire in your name. But for some reason, you have stooped to having some sort of regionally-racist character in an advert that is played in Yorkshire.

So, come on, sort it out.

If you don’t, I’ll be forced to put on me flat cap, gather up me whippet and ride me bike up them cobbled hills to have words…




2.181 Dangerously Addicted to Underdog Sports Movies

It’s twenty to one in the morning. I have to be up in just over five hours. And I’m clearly not in bed. I’m writing this. And I’m not in the slightest bit tired. And about an hour ago I had a Calippo. I don’t know if the two things are related. Maybe I’m just writing this on a Calippo high and, at some point, I’m just going to crash once all the bright orange colourings have passed through my system.

It turns out I’ve just spent the last hour and forty minutes watching a cheesy gymnastics film on Netflix. I didn’t intend to watch it. I just saw it in the list of films that matched some sort of criteria that I’d entered, or because I watched a film about basketball with Emma Roberts (I can’t remember what it was called but it was actually really quite good) a while ago and now Netflix is fairly sure that I like Underdog Sports Movies. I don’t know if that’s an official film genre but it seems to fit.

I don’t even like sport. But for some reason I’m strangely drawn to the bad-team-made-good nonsense that has, I think, covered just about every competitive team sport in America. In my defense I’d like to say that I didn’t mean to watch Stick It. It was mainly an accident. I was just reading the blurb about it and wondered if it was the same cheesy gymnastics film that I’d seen the last hour of on Sky Movies once. And it turns out it was. But, for some reason, that didn’t stop me watching the whole thing from start to finish. Even though I knew what happened. But then, as I watched the beginning I started to think how much I’d liked the end. I could have just skipped ahead, I suppose. But where would the fun have been in that?

And I wouldn’t mind but I only really went on Netflix because I’ve noticed that they seem to have Numb3rs on there now, which I used to love and I was wondering how many seasons were online. And I never got that far, opting instead to watch a film about a rebellious gymnasts sticking it to the man. Mainly with bra straps. It’s no D2: The Mighty Ducks, I have to say. But then, so few things are. And D2 is by far the superior of the three films so shut up.

The more I mention, the less favours I think I’m doing for myself.

I blame the Calippo.


2.180 Nature’s Way

I love nature. Nature is a wonderful thing. There’s nothing better than settling down on the sofa, flicking on the TV and hearing the soft, whispering tones of David Attenborough talking about something while, invariably, two animals are doing the horizontal mambo on your TV screen. There’s almost never a show that Dave presents that doesn’t involve an animal or two (usually two, to be fair) copulating in some way, shape or form. And when he’s not looking at animals shagging, everything else is brilliant. The wildebeest drinking at the crocodile-infested water hole, the gazelle walking past a lion hiding in a bush. That kind of thing.

So, all in all, nature is brilliant.

But it can bugger off when it’s right outside your window at something past four in the morning.  Especially when it’s as warm and muggy as it is – the kind of warm and muggy when you’d ideally like to sleep naked but are consciously aware that you have a cat that nips at things.

I mean, in the greater scheme of things the birdsong was better than the other morning when we were roused from our slumber by Not Sid and his wife having a blazing row in the street at 5am. Because, if I was going to row in the street, that’s totally the time I would do it. You wouldn’t believe, at that early hour, a person’s brain is able to create that many phrases by adding another word to the end of what David Attenborough likes to film animals doing, but you’d be surprised.

There’s a lot of people love the Dawn Chorus. In fact, when I was younger and had a subscription to BBC Wildlife magazine I think I once got the dawn chorus on a free record. It might have been a cassette but I’m almost sure it was a record. I have a vague memory of reading the playlist and containing my excitement when I saw that track 3 featured a pipit. But at least with a record you can turn the bloody thing off. With a  selection of birds seeming thinking that 4am is a fine time to start having a bit of a chinwag you’re forced to endure it. Or get up and close the window, which will cause a heat build-up and all your stuff will melt.

But then the dawn chorus goes quiet for a bit. And you fall back to sleep, having dreams about strangling small birds with your bare hands just to make them shut up.

And then they wake you up. Again. And if they didn’t then Carole, lying in bed, exclaiming that she’d like to kill that bird. That will wake you.

And, if you’re really lucky, it’s 15 minutes before your alarm is due to go off.

Bloody nature.

2.179 Woman’s Aaargh!

I listened, as I do with alarming regularity it seems, to Woman’s Hour today. I could try to defend myself and say that I had the radio on in the background and that it just happened to be on, but that’s not really what happened. I turned the radio on, while I was preparing tonight’s tea in the slow cooker. And it was Woman’s Hour. And rather than reach for the laptop and find something else to listen to through the magic of BBC iPlayer, I stuck it out. I should have turned it off because, as I’ve known for a long time, I’m really not a fan of Jenni Murray.

The main story was about childcare, or rather when the support network fails. In other words, when your nanny is feeling a bit off-colour are you – the parent – really expected to take time off from work to look after your child? To me, it sounded like Jenni Murray was saying it with an air of disgust. I could imagine her fading down her microphone and spitting after she’d said it as if trying to clear those vile words from her mouth. Imagine that, taking a day off work to have to look after your own child because your nanny was ill. Sorry, because the support structure had broken down. I’m not even sure “support structure” is the right term. They used a fancy-arsed phrase to describe it,  I immediately thought “Ooo, I must remember that”, and now I’ve forgotten it. Anyway, you get the gist. Nanny ill, how can I possibly take a day off work to look after my child?

The story itself was fine. It made some sensible points and talked about how many companies are actually paying for emergency care so that valuable corporate assets (people, I think that means) are not missing from the working day. The fact that most of the people they talked to as examples were high-flying city executives with stressful lives and live in nannies shouldn’t matter. And, in a way, it didn’t. It was just the way that the thought of having to take a day off work to look after your own child seemed to be treated in the same way you’d treat someone who’d come round to your house and crapped in the middle of your rug.

But after that they talked to an author – Louise Miller – about a book she’s written. It’s a book called “A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes” who was the only British woman to enlist and fight in the first World War. She fought with the Serbians. Fell in love. Got married. Fought In World War Two at the age of 65. Was captured by the Germans. Made friends with the Gestapo. All sorts of stuff. Louise Miller has written a book about her life. If you listened to today’s Woman’s Hour you no longer need to buy that book. “So, tell us about her early life,” said Jenni Murray. “So, tell us about the Serbian army she fought in.” “So, tell us about how she fell in love.” “So, tell us about what she did in World War Two and how she was captured by the Germans.” Basically, everything in the book.

But, in the introduction to the piece, she described the cover of the book which shows a picture of a soldier which, until you look closely, you don’t realise is a woman. “She’s holding a cigarette,” said Jenni Murray as she described the picture. And later, when discussing Flora she, again, said “In the picture on the cover she’s holding a cigarette.”

As though the fact that, in this picture, Flora Sandes was pictured smoking in some way took away from the fact that SHE WAS THE ONLY BRITISH WOMAN TO ENLIST IN WORLD WAR ONE.



2.178 Who Are You? Who-oo, oo-oo.

Last night, with working late, I got a different train home. As I was waiting outside the train station for Carole to give me a lift home I was approached by a woman who knew me. “Is it Jake?” she said.

I answered in the affirmative because, you know, it was me.

But I didn’t have a clue who she was. At all. In fact, even now, I’m still not 100% sure I knew who she was. While she was asking me what I’m doing at the moment, where I’m working, how long I’ve been there and all that jazz and I was freely giving up information like Santa handing out presents, I was having an internal conversation trying to place who the hell she was and how the hell she knew me.

Looking back, I should probably have answered her. I should probably have followed up a few of her questions with things like, “What about you?” in a way that could, possibly, reveal some clues so that I could work out her identity. But when you’re asking things like where you work now and how long you’ve been there it doesn’t really shed much light on the identity of the person you’re quizzing. And she already knew me. She’d already said “Is it Jake?” I didn’t have that advantage. I was just fighting against every impulse which was trying to make my face portray a look which could be translated as “Who The Dickens Are You?”

If it was who I thought it was, finding out where she worked now wouldn’t help me because when we worked together or, if it was who I thought it was, when she basically stole my job and I ended up working in a different office because her face fit better I left that company before her. So by finding out where she worked now the best I could hope to do is go home and Google the crap out of that company to try to find if she was ever mentioned as an employee which, unless it had a meet the staff page with cheesy photos, probably wouldn’t yield any results.

And it’s rude, apparently, to just stop someone in mid-flow and say, “No, sorry. Who the hell are you?” Instead it’s much more polite to offer up all of your own personal information to someone who – even if you knew them – pretty much ticks most of the boxes on a survey marked “is this a stranger” and to hold your face in some kind of awkward, yet friendly, smile until they’ve driven off and you can relax again.

And start racking your brains for who it might have been.

Or what they might have been called.

Just anything, really.

Viv, that was it.

I think.