Google-tastic

Thanks to a variety of contacts, this site has been doing rather well on Google recently. It's good to notice that if one should get the spelling right, and Google for 'Visit Baht'at Country', the official site comes second and my attack on it comes first, which is sort of heart-warming. And then if you should happen to be searching for 'breaking glass' and don't really want to know about that dreadful old Hazel O'Connor film (I drink my coffee and you drink your tea indeed), you'll get a top ten link to here. Of course, just to ruin the party, D. pointed out that Google is all up the spout at the moment and we should all be using vivisimo. But it rather begs the question of whether I should be attempting to get top google searches in everything. Maybe I should restrain the headline puns for a minute?

NVFAQ

Questions no one has asked so far.

What is 'Ilkley'?
Ilkley is a town of some 14,000 inhabitants, located in Wharfedale, Yorkshire, England. The town is sandwiched between two areas of stunning moorland, part of the North Pennines. It's one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the world. And those of us who have a home here are very privileged.

Who are you?
I live here.

Are you being serious?
Sometimes. But, no, Ilkley doesn't really exist under a fascist jackboot. It just sometimes feels like it. It is, however, definitely a gerontocracy.

Are you aware of the libel laws in the UK?
Oh yes, but I'd always claim the satirical defence. If anyone threatens me with lawyers I will, of course, cave in straight away.

Does anybody read what you write?
Hey, you can't have got here from google. As insular, cynical, blogs go, this one is doing just fine.

Do you hate where you live?
See above. I just like complaining. And if I can't complain, I like to whinge.

If I had an afternoon in Ilkley, what should I do?
If it's not raining, get thee up t'moor.
If it is, get thee down t'Old Bridge, and watch the Wharfe roar.

What's the best pub/restaurant/tea shop/nightclub?
The Yard/Tubby Wadlow's/Betty's/What's a nightclub?

What's your motto?
It's been a long time since I did Latin, but something along the lines of ex Verbeia veni, et a Verbeia redibo.

Can we contact you?

If you really want to. Try e-mailing me here.

Newspeak, Ilkley style

Occasionally a jobbing journalist will let the mask slip, and you'll notice the hidden agenda. They'll forget all about ethics and and just do something for the hell of it. Our local propaganda sheet has a touch of the Skibbereen Eagle about it, and allows its op-ed page to be dominated by an illiterate Tory councillor denouncing the government under the guise of a farming column, but usually it manages to keep hidden its function as the protector of the Ma Brown/'Machine Gun' Gibbons regime. In 1984, of course, the government of Big Brother keeps the public in line thanks to the latter's fear of 'the other', through propagating a state of permanent war. Some of our national papers do the same of course--if you read the Daily Mail religiously, you'd never leave the house (not least for fear the price might drop while you're out). The function of a newspaper is, after all, to reflect and re-inforce our own prejudices. So how does one do that in a place where a significant part of the population thinks that Mussolini was a damn fine chap? And how can that fit into the agenda of our incumbent regime? We've already shown (posts passim) how the regime is intent on fostering the crime wave around Ilkley and passing pointless by-laws to keep the Police occupied. We've also pointed out the obvious barrier like nature of the new traffic lights. Fear of crime is of benefit to any totalitarian ruler. Tight immigration control is useful as well. The third element required is the support of the populace through fear of outsiders, of the 'non-us'. So, every so often, the Gazette will publish an article that re-inforces that fear. Last summer we had an appalling piece of journalism on our regular travellers, which followed close on the heels of a piece raising the (entirely mythical) possibility that a centre for disruptive youth might be sited on the playing fields of Ashlands School. Neither of these stories would have passed the simplest analysis of journalism students, being rants rather than fair and balanced. And now the Gazette is at it again, with a piece that has an underlying resonance of racism, and is based entirely on smear and innuendo. This story purports to be about over-charging by taxi drivers. But let's look at it more closely. First of all, the basic requirement for any story is that you have two sources confirming any piece of information, or allegation. That's what we were taught at cub school. So how many does this article have? One. A Mrs Goodwin of Addingham (which, I believe, is where the writer responsible lives). Oh, and her 'neighbours and friends'. That's it. One person, who claims to have been over-charged on New Year's Eve. Yes, that's New Year's Eve when everybody in the country knows that taxis charge more. Headline news? I think not... But the main thrust of the story isn't about the NYE over-charging, it's about over-charging generally, and how many people make allegations of this nature? Uhhr, well there's Mrs Goodwin again, who says her and her friends have experienced this, but makes no precise accusation, and isn't pressed on it by the hack in question (first question you learn in journalism school, 'can you be a bit more precise about when this happened?'). So that's no allegations on the main story then. It's built on wind and water, but fits nicely into the standard Ickley prejudice about those nasty coloured gentlemen ripping off good white people. It's smear and innuendo, in order to reinforce the needs of the regime. It's as if I wrote a story that went 'The Ilkley Gazette is a racist rag claims Mrs. Blogs of Ilkley. She says her and her friends have noticed on many occasions that the Gazette is really not very nice about people descended from immigrants. She can't remember precisely when, but we're making this front page news.'

well christmas wasn't what it

well christmas wasn't what it was supposed to be, but it was a lovely one anyway. beautiful things, people and times. back to the smelly grey of the city centre, away from the fresh air and the stunning sights... memories...

We love the sound of breaking glass...

Another Saturday night in Ilkley, another load of smashed glass along Leeds Road. With no Police presence and no CCTV, there's nothing to stop drunken townies letting their feelings show at the expense of the poor shop-owners of the area. The easiest thing for everyone is to blame the Trav. Rather more helpful would be to consider why the Council refuse to provide any protection to the citizens of the town. Our poor Ilkley boatman can be thrown into the Wharfe by visiting scum and there's a plaintive cry towards the Police, but nothing actually DONE. Meanwhile the Council introduce more by-laws that will never be enforced, or will only distract the forces we have from protecting our populace. As I've suggested before, it's fairly obvious the members of the Council have a hidden agenda here. And it's not just the usual hidden agenda of the comfortable middle classes of blaming everyone else. Perhaps they're in league with local glaziers. What could be done? Well, the local precept brings in about 40K per year. Rather than spending it on inadequate xmas lights, perhaps the cash should go towards paying for security operatives to work in the town centre on weekends and bank holidays? It would certainly be popular. Otherwise, perhaps we should look at in-comers paying a deposit before they enter the town. If they behave themselves or leave peaceably, they get the money back. Otherwise it goes towards paying for new glazing, vomit-cleaning and general security. There are barriers at the station, there will soon be traffic light gates from both directions into town. Passport controls wouldn't be hard to set up. Let's protect our town, and be a shining beacon for Mr Blunkett while we're at it--automatic entry to Ilkley if your retina matches the computerised record. Otherwise, it'll be strictly by strip-search and payment of a hefty deposit.

Selling out, or selling off?

In between searching for the Paris Hilton tape (uhhr, it's not for me, you understand, it's for my, uhhr, friend, who actually knows who she is) and doing some work, I was pondering Bradford Council's plans for their asset stripping exercise. For those bits of my reader who don't know, Bradford have decided to sell various of their buildings off to private companies and then lease them back. Well, they sort of have, cos now they're saying they might not be totally selling them off, just letting various companies help out with management of the land and property. It's a bit, well, murky. Which is odd, really, because much the same (and worse) can be said of the three companies that have made it through to the beauty parade at the end of the process. And, as you can tell, Bradford has done spectacularly well in its selection: First up there's Carillion (formerly known as Tarmac). Best known for its involvement in the Fazakerly/Altcourse prison debacle, where they managed to renegotiate the terms of their financing agreement in order to make a 100% return on their investment within three years of a supposedly 25 year contract, while passing hardly any of those savings on to the taxpayer (who had, of course, taken all the risk during the building stage). Quite how such actions would benefit the rather financially-challenged citizens of Bradford is anyone's guess, but any sell-off agreement would, of course, mean they'd no longer have any right to complain. Maybe it's to do with their recent moves into military contracting? Then we have the more delightful Land Securities Trillium. LST were most recently in the news over their involvement in the sale of job centres at a fraction of their real value. For reasons that no-one has explained, LST got the job without any proper tender process, earning itself a likley £600m over the next 15 years as a result. If the BBc deal LST recently did is anything to go by, it's not just the buildings that transfer over but all the staff (hence the recent 'who cares who does the cleaning?' comment from Bradford); it's an excellent opportunity to shed staff and reduce quality provision. And, infally, there's Mapeley Accord. Not unconnected to the company that recently took over 700 or so buiildings from the Inland Revenue, only for it then to be discovered that Mapeley isn't a registered UK company and all profits from the operation of the deal were, uhhr, not being taxed in the UK. And, of course, one of the problems with under-investment in the public sector is that companies insist on dodging tax to such an extent. It could be an interesting situation... Just make sure you check out the figures guys!

By-law, schmy-law

And so here we go again. There's going to be a by-law introduced to ban skating on the streets of Ilkley. We, of course, hate young people who cause so many accidents and so much trouble and generally smell and litter up the town. Now, admittedly, our skate park is very nice. It's not like Addingham's, which is, let's face it, just a tad flat (hey, no, that's a whole post on its own, the tale of the councillors who thought it was a good idea to build a skateboard park for the town's youth, but neglected to put any, that's right any ramps, pipes or rails in). But there are no lights. And it's very dark at this time of year. And it's right down on the river. How long is that going to take for most kids living in South Ilkley to get to of a school evening? So they stick to the car park. Not doing any harm. Just, y'know, skating. But that's wrong, so they're going to be criminalised. It's been fascinating to watch the number of times young people get criticised for their actions in Ilkley. I'm not suggesting the place is biased towards the elderly, but... no, actually, I am trying to suggest that. So we have criminal kids (which will please the middle class Middleton boys who think they're hanging in the hood). And the police will, presumably, be coming after them. Only, we already have by-laws. Notably one that's sign-posted on every lamp-post. No dogshit. And have you ever seen a member of the constabulary making an arrest over that one? Nope, neither have I. Frankly, given the state of crime in Ilkley, that four major businesses in town have been broken into over the last four weeks (for anyone whose keeping count that's Boots (again), William Brown, the Grove Dentists and Olicana Stationers), you'd think the Police would have something better to do. Certainly the council doesn't think suh events are important. It spends its time, after all, abetting our local criminals by making it easier for them to ram-raid shops. Why else are they so intent on refusing permission to law-abiding shop-owners when they request the right to put shutters on their shops? Perhaps that's the reason for the new by-law. Keep the Police busy while the Council's friends in low places go about their shady business. Whose going to be the next leader of the council? Tony Soprano? Come to think of it, Mike 'funky' Gibbons is filling out a bit, isn't he?