Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews: Final phone book, reindeer on the loose, and unrest in the civil service

My new telephone directory has landed on the doormat and, according to the cover, it will be the last one of all time.

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Strongman Geoff Capes

It is now 110 pages long, with just 37 of those actually devoted to residential phone numbers.

Remember when muscleman Geoff Capes used to go on popular television shows, demonstrating his strength by tearing up phone books? I imagine Keira Knightley could do it now.

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Trouble brewing in the civil service, with 39 per cent of staff thinking of leaving their jobs after being told they should go into the office for at least two days a week.

Don't blame them. How are they going to telephone the James O'Brien show if they have to do that?

But before they demand their P45s, the pen-pushers might want to consider what they will do afterwards. I'll let them into a little secret. Most employers in the private sector expect their staff to turn up for work too.

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The A11 in near Barton Mills in Suffolk was closed for two hours after two reindeer escaped from a Santa's grotto experience.

Good luck explaining that to the boss. For a start, since what self-respecting Christmas experience has real reindeer? Couldn't they find an alsatian with stick-on antlers?

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The BBC's governing body warns that the decision to increase the licence fee by 'only' £10.50 will hammer Britain's creative sector.

Now, I'm always sceptical whenever London types use words like 'creative sector'. Or worse than that, 'culcha', invariably delivered in a Jamie Oliver mockney accent.

Now I'm not a habitual BBC-basher, and I can see an argument for retaining the licence fee. But the quid pro quo has to be that this is to fill in gaps left by the private sector, and should not be used to compete with private business.

This means no exorbitant salaries for so-called 'talent'. If Gary Lineker or Graham Norton can get more money on ITV, that's fine, the viewer won't care which button you have to press to watch them. And instead of pouring money into a proliferation of news websites, which the private sector has already got well covered, it should be investing the licence money in local speech radio, something which is sadly missing at the moment.

Time was when BBC local radio was about great champions of the region such as Tony Butler, Ed Doolan, Stephen Rhodes or Eric Smith. Now all you usually get is dreadful music.

I suppose that's 'culcha', innit?