On Wednesday Channel 4 News ran a hatchet job on a so-called 'hipster' cafe in London's Shoreditch which is selling imported breakfast cereals at upwards of £2.50 per bowl. Now the business owner has taken to Facebook to hit back at what he claims was a "completely unfair" attack.
The ''Cereal Killer' cafe has been pretty relentlessly mocked since its plans to sell bowls of breakfast cereal were first announced and clearly the Channel 4 News team were among those who thought it ridiculous. However, given they couldn't just run a report calling it absurd, they instead chose to challenge the cafe's owner on the issue of poverty in East London.
Channel 4 News reported:
"The business sells breakfast cereal from £2.50 a bowl, while one in every two children growing up in Tower Hamlets are living in poverty."
However you look at that statement those two things are unrelated, despite Channel 4's attempt to suggest there is a connection. Undoubtedly there is an awful divide between London's richest and poorest but laying the blame at the door of some hipsters who've been selling Cheerios for a week is more than a stretch.
In the video report the cafe owner, Gary Keery, shut down the interview on camera after becoming flustered by the line of questioning about poverty.
He was clearly ill-prepared for the interview, hadn't thought it through and handled it very poorly. But he can be forgiven for not expecting to be singled out for such a line of attack, when a pub around the corner is charging upwards of £6 for a pint for beer and a restaurant up the road has a £19 starter and a £32 main course on its menu, as well as bottles of wine for more than £1,000 on its wine list.
In fact, if the Channel 4 News team are going to start picking fights with any business charging over the odds for goods and services in and around East London they'd never report on anything else.
Keery certainly felt his business had been singled out unfairly. In an open letter to Channel 4 News, published on Facebook, he wrote:
"You obviously don't understand business if you think I don't have to put a mark-up on what I sell. It may be the poorest borough in London but let's not forget Canary Wharf is also in this borough but I am the one to blame eh? I still have to pay over the top rent for my premises and pay the 12 staff I have employed so I either have to make profit or I will be out of business. Maybe if I charged over £3 for a coffee and dodged taxes like some cafés - the reporters would leave me alone."
Keery also took the opportunity to point out that the reporter who visited his business didn't even pay for the cereal he ate while there.
"You didn't even pay me for the cereal which you could so easily afford... so I will send you a bill for the extortionate £3.20."
On the bright side, Keery should probably console himself with all the free publicity his cafe has been getting.
Like a family bringing some tired Christmas decorations down from the loft, the media have this week dusted down a festive favourite with claims that the traditional school nativity play is under threat from political correctness gone mad.
In recent years this story has become a Christmas tradition to rival carols, turkey, hangovers and newspapers complaining about the number of repeats on television.
The Times reports: "Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are being edged out of schools’ Christmas productions, with only a third performing the traditional nativity play this year."
The stats come from a poll by parenting website Netmums, backed up with some anecdotal evidence that may or may not confuse real life with the nativity scene in Love Actually which featured a family of lobsters.
The Daily Mail is certainly troubled. "The most popular Christmas play now staged in schools is an 'updated nativity' featuring characters such as aliens, punk fairies [and] drunk spacemen," claims the paper.
Obviously arguing over which made-up characters should or shouldn’t appear in a school play could seem an exercise in futility yet some papers return to this story every year. For over a decade the Mail has been telling us "schools have stopped putting on nativity plays", adding that it was done "out of a misplaced consideration for parents of different religions" and quoting angry grandparents calling it "political correctness gone crazy".
And that really seems to be the issue. The papers aren't expressing concern about a shortage of nativity plays. They probably realise most traditions from bygone times eventually have to change or disappear. They are really expressing concern about the country becoming a bit too "diverse" and if they can blame this for the diminished interest in nativity plays then they no doubt feel they can stir up a little anger among their readers.
The Mail of course is no stranger to this kind of "they come over here, ruining our Christmas" nonsense. For many years the paper tried to convince us UK councils were banning the word "Christmas", replacing it with "Winterval" - a story the Mail has since had to admit was not true.
I've been unable to keep up with events surrounding the Rochester and Strood by-election this week without imagining them as scenes from The Thick Of It (with apologies to the original writers). This contains language some readers may find offensive:
Nicola Murray: "Malcolm I Tweeted a picture of a house and a white van for Christ's sake, can't we keep a little perspective!"
Malcolm Tucker: "Perspective! As in showing whether things are near or far away? That's a good fucking idea because right now I wish you were fucking far away. Like on Mars! Though you'd probably find a fucking Martian with some tacky fucking space-gnomes out the front of his intergalactic council house and take the piss out of him too!"
Nicola: "But Malcolm I just thought..."
Malcolm: "Well there's a fucking first! How did that feel using muscles you've never used before? If you want to think, join a fucking think tank where you can't do any harm! I do the thinking, you do the nodding and smiling and the not-fucking-tweeting-pictures-of-voters-houses."
Olly Reeder: "White Van Dan's house. That's what they're calling him now."
Malcolm: "Who is calling him White Van Dan?"
Olly: "The Sun. They've signed him up."
Malcolm: “White Van Dan-fucking-tastic! Well done Nicola, you managed to insult a self-writing headline. You could at least make the bastards work for it! So come on Olly, what's their White Van Plan with Dan Dan the White Van Man who's about to flush Nicola's career down the White Van pan?"
Olly: "They're taking Dan and a white van full of flags to Nicola's house with a camera crew to demand an apology."
Malcolm: "Well that's fucking lucky because we've got loads of those. I've got an apology for an MP right here, drowning in an apology for a news story. And I've got an apology for a political party pissing away its chances of winning a general election that should have been the easiest win since fucking Mugabe awarded himself another term, because of the apology for a twat in Number 10 and his apology for a shambling clusterfuck of a government. Which one do they want first? Because frankly they're welcome to the whole fucking lot of you!"
Olly: "Email from Glenn. White Van Dan has written a 'Danifesto' for The Sun."
Malcolm: "A Danifesto? Of course he fucking has! And I bet it's a nasty mess too."
Olly: "Pretty much. Glenn says it's not been well thought through at all."
Malcolm: "It's not been thought through? It's by somebody who put his name to a fucking 'Danifesto'. Of course it's not been thought through. But Dan Dan The Half-Baked Plan doesn't have to think things through. He's getting paid to stand there holding a fucking flag with a Sun logo on it. A fucking metal pole could do that job. But it doesn't make us any less fucked."
Here's the Mail on Sunday throwing proof-reading and open-mindedness out of the window:
Where to begin? Let's start with the howling typo in the headline. Clearly there is nothing "erotic" about this, so it seems they actually mean "exotic".
That's right, in 2014 the Mail on Sunday is describing Conservative candidate Zehra Zaidi as "exotic" as if they are speaking only to the inhabitants of a 1920s gentleman's club, describing the womenfolk encountered on travels through the Empire.
Clearly the Mail is aghast. In their mind, things which show "how much the Tory party has changed" are rarely good.
The final insult is for the turnip people of "sleepy Suffolk" who the Mail seems to be suggesting aren't yet ready for people who speak 'foreign'.
25 July 2014, Daily Telegraph:
"Ed Miliband has said he will turn his back on photo opportunities and other media gimmicks to focus on the issues..."
31 October 2014, Mail Online:
Lots of companies are desperately trying to push out Halloween related stories and press releases. Many of these range from the boringly predictable, such as the dating website that has revealed people sometimes snog at Halloween parties, to the predictably boring, such as the outdoor clothing company that recommends wrapping kids up warm if they're going trick or treating.
As such, we should all doff our scary witch's hat to the people at the ambitiously-named Hatton Adventure World who have managed to set themselves apart from the crowd with a Halloween story that is so ludicrously bad it's almost brilliant.
Meet Devlin the four-horned devil sheep:
According to the Metro:
"Petting zoo staff have called in an exorcist over a four-horned ‘devil’ sheep at their sanctuary... A spokesman for the petting zoo said: 'Since Devlin has arrived we have noticed a lot of weird things happening. Staff have been told to approach him with caution and go in pairs when they feed him... The oddest incident was when a keeper swears he saw water in the goat’s drinking bowls appearing to boil on its own accord."
The story is accompanied by some remarkable photography of Devlin:
In what some newspapers have ambitiously called "a major security breach" a jogger in Leeds nearly bumped into Prime Minister David Cameron today.
"David Cameron attacked in street” cried the Daily Mail, calling it a "shocking security lapse”.
There was reportedly minimal contact and after answering a few questions from the police the jogger was let go while the Prime Minister went about his business without a scratch on him.
That didn’t stop calls for an urgent inquiry. "What if the protester had been carrying a knife?" asked Mark Pritchard MP, ignoring the fact the man wasn't a "protester".
Sky News presenter Kay Burley also wasn't hanging around waiting for all the facts. She jumped straight past 'what if...?' questions about guns and knives and saw fit to read out a tweet wondering what might happen if the man had Ebola.
It's hard to know for sure of course, and I'm no medical expert, but I'm guessing he maybe wouldn't be out jogging. Or are joggers with Ebola the new threat facing the UK?
Meanwhile, the Telegraph speculated that the attack was "possibly in response to Mr Cameron's involvement in the launch of a new high-speed rail link".
If anything, that short-lived theory showed a disappointing level of creativity on the part of the Telegraph. Surely with a blank canvas upon which to speculate they could have come up with something a bit more interesting than a theory about trains.
Earlier this month the Daily Mail was putting the boot in to the BBC over the Corporation providing iPhone training to staff.
At the time the Mail carried comment from right wing pressure group the Tax Payers Alliance - often a good indicator that a story is built on shakey ground and probably worth ignoring - who suggested 'any fool should be able to use to an iPhone' (or words to that effect).
Wind the clock forward two weeks and all of a sudden the Mail seems to think a bit of smartphone training is a great idea.
As one BBC insider commented: "It's a funny old world."
When the Mail's story originally broke, the BBC explained:
"We are [training] journalists to film, edit and transmit news stories on mobile phones. This not only keeps costs down for the licence fee payer but also increases our ability to work in remote places where there are no other means of broadcasting."
Of course, the move to get BBC staff using Apple gadgets hasn't always been a smooth ride.
Parents across Britain (at least three) have been angered (or at least mildy amused) by a T-shirt which appears to show Elsa from Disney movie Frozen swearing (if you sort of squint a bit and ignore some of the fingers she's holding up and the fact she's clearly meant to be conjuring up some snowflakes with a wave of her hand). Needless to say the Daily Mail and The Express are outraged. Both papers claim the T-shirt is 'teaching children to swear':
However, the scandal seems to be news to H&M who stock the T-shirt. A spokesperson for the clothes shop said:
"This is the first we have heard about this T-shirt upsetting anyone."
As for the swearing:
"Clearly the character is holding her hand in that way in order to create a sparkly snowflake."
That would make a bit more sense, certainly to anybody who has seen the film.
Hold the front page, the Queen has apparently sent a tweet, giving the media the opportunity to dissolve into a mess of hyperbole.
The Express declared the Queen "a very modern monarch", telling us she had "created history by sending her first tweet".
Created history? She sent a tweet. And even then there seems to be some suggestion the Queen was only pretending to tweet from an iPad while a flunky, hiding in the wings, sent a pre-approved tweet from an iPhone.
Not to be left out, the Daily Mail told us in a reverent tone "she touched a tablet computer" and sent a "tweet with perfect punctuation", while Sky News added that she did these things "in front of an audience".
However, the Telegraph takes the prize for pointing out "her first ever tweet" was "the first from a reigning UK monarch".
You mean King George VI never tweeted? Or Queen Victoria or any of the Henrys? Whyever not.
The Daily Star has fallen in love with some 'black-eyed ghost children' from Cannock Chase in the Midlands. Last week the paper ran three front page stories about them:
Clearly the Star was happy with the sales generated and the ease with which these tall tales could be written. So much so that the paper has followed up with a further two ghost stories. Though just to be on the safe side they have also woven in some popular TV shows for good measure.
First came news that the X Factor house is haunted...
And then, as luck would have it, news broke on Thursday that Strictly Come Dancing is also being haunted by the black-eyed ghost children with a thing for Saturday night television shows...
Nobody was more surprised by this latest news than Strictly contestant Caroline Flack who the Star had written into their story. The Daily Star says "Caroline Flack was menaced by the evil spirit during a practice session and even took a photo".
To which Flack responded on Twitter: "I have no idea what this story is."
Perhaps Flack was just so scared she has repressed her memories of the terrifying ordeal.
Clarification of the week: The Torquay Herald Express thought it was onto a big local news story when they heard former James Bond Roger Moore had enjoyed a scotch egg on their patch...
But it seems one of their key details was wrong and it was Moore himself who put them right...
Cue an apology...
...and an amazing headline on the clarification...
A question posted to its Facebook group by BBC Radio Devon has sparked much mirth online. A listener to the station's gardening show The Potting Shed wanted to identify a plant that was growing in her garden. Cue a picture of innocent, smiling Devon resident Patricia Hewitson with a massive cannabis plant:
According to a report on the Huffington Post, the police have now removed the plant.
A review of a Pizza Express restaurant, written as a college assignment by a teenage student and published by the Peterborough Telegraph, has become an unlikely internet hit.
Highlights of the review, written by Holly Aston included:
"For the starter we ordered garlic bread with mozzarella and we were delighted when it arrived. It was one round piece of bread covered in cheese."
"My first reaction when they put [the pizza] down on the table was 'wow' as it looked perfectly cooked and quite big in size."
Inevitably there were some who just sneered at Aston's writing and the decision to review such a well-known chain of restaurants, but the reviewer's joyful, wide-eyed enthusiasm - undimmed by issues with the not unimportant ingredients of the cheese and tomato sauce on her pizza and the amount of garlic on her garlic bread - also won a great many fans and reached more than 100,000 people online, including the likes of Caitlin Moran and restaurant critic Jay Rayner.
For those who haven't seen it - possibly the greatest restaurant review ever: http://t.co/K3VNu8ro3P— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) September 19, 2014
As a lifelong fan of pizza express there's nothing about this review I do not love. http://t.co/V3TBCR42jR— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) September 19, 2014
Aston's review certainly brightened up Friday for a lot of people, including the team at the Peterborough Telegraph. The Media Blog was told the traffic seen on Aston's review "has blown everything else out of the water".
Although Aston appears to be enjoying her time in the limelight and has been offered some work experience by the Daily Mirror, the greatest beneficiary in all of this, is undoubtedly Pizza Express who, despite the amount of cheese and tomato sauce on their pizzas being called into question, along with the amount of garlic on their garlic bread, received a huge amount of free publicity, for which they were clearly grateful:
Could a cloud photographed over Sardinia that looks like a rough approximation of the UK without Scotland on top be an omen as to how the Scottish referendum will turn out? Or what about a piece of fried chicken?
Of course not, but these "omens" have proved irresistible photo stories for UK tabloids in the run up to the referendum. The Daily Mail seems to have been particularly enjoying them.
The Sun even put the cloud picture on the front page of its Scottish edition:
Both stories were provided by South West News Service (SWNS), though Terry O'Neil, the Isle of Wight man who reportedly found the piece of post-independence fried chicken, had tried to get some media interest himself (including tweeting his photo to the Mail last week) before SWNS stepped in to publicise his KFC discovery.
The Telegraph is walking something of a fine line, trying to balance two causes it feels strongly about: supporting the 'No' campaign in the Scottish referendum and doing the BBC down at every opportunity.
The problem is, these two causes are hardly complementary, not least because the 'Yes' campaign is also intent on criticising the BBC for alleged bias in its campaign coverage. But The Telegraph was powerless to resist the suggestion the BBC had handpicked an episode of Dad's Army in an attempt to undermine the 'Yes' campaign. The paper quotes an unnamed 'Yes' campaigner:
“A total of 80 episodes of Dad’s Army were made by the corporation – and which one does it choose to show on the Saturday ahead of the vote?... The one in which Frazer tells Mainwaring that he can run the platoon better than him, is put in charge and then makes a total mess of things. Thank you very much, Auntie Beeb."
Fans of Dad's Army may point out Captain Mainwaring was hardly portrayed as a great leader either, prone as he was to blundering from calamity to calamity in every episode. They might also point out it was supposed to be a comedy, not a documentary.
The article then quotes one of the few surviving cast members of Dad's Army, adding his two-penneth in support of a 'No' vote:
"Frank Williams, who plays the Rev Timothy Farthing in the series, doesn’t believe that the BBC timed the episode to make a point, but he says that he is not himself in favour of Scottish independence."
For which Williams was thanked with a plug for his one-man-show.
Given the advancing years of the Daily Express's readership you might think the paper would be in favour of some sensible measures to help readers reduce their energy bills - especially with winter on the way. Yet the EU's attempt to highlight the issue of expensive-to-run appliances such as inefficient vacuum cleaners, kettles and hairdryers has been met with pitchfork-waving fury.
It is worth clarifying: the EU is not taking away anybody's vacuum cleaner, kettle or hairdryer.
There will be no knock in the night from armed teams of secret EU police demanding at gunpoint to see your vacuum cleaner. Nor will the EU stop anybody buying a new one. People will still be able to buy new vacuum cleaners, from the same shops, made by the same brands. The only noticeable difference will be that it is cheaper to run and maybe a bit quieter after the EU did put in place a curb on the future importation of high-powered vacuum cleaners.
As for Thursday's suggestion that kettles now "FACE EU BAN" - described by the Express as an "assault on our way of life" - it should be pointed out that headline is misleading in as much as kettles are not going to be banned by the EU.
The purpose of awards ceremonies is very rarely to recognise the deserving. Normally they are laid on to create publicity and revenue for the organisers. And it seems nobody knows this better than GQ magazine. In recent years the magazine made headlines when it announced George Osborne as politician of the year (no really) and he in turn repaid the favour by delivering a speech so cringeworthy it created a whole host of headlines for the awards.
But even by their own standards GQ may have taken things a step too far this year...