The 23rd Annual Local Journalism Awards

A criminal mastermind is at work – there’s no way they can pin it on him!





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More Amazon

One thing I’ve noticed with enlightening Amazon reviews is that when you get a good one, it pays to delve into that contributor’s reviewing history. I did so with my favourite of yesterday, the person at the top of the list, and came up with the following:

Bought as a present (4 stars) Book about Freemasonry

I have not completed it yet (4 stars) Another book about Freemasonry. Are you sure you’re serious about this Freemason business? They don’t take just anyone.

Have not read it yet (1 star) A book on Mormonism. Those ones you don’t read are always so disappointing. But can you be a Freemason and a Mormon? Don’t rush into anything, my friend.

Next on my ‘to read list’ (4 stars) Don’t worry – we can wait.

So far so good ( 5 stars) Laptop battery. Well, they all start out good, sir…

Have not used it yet but it will be fine (4 stars) An artist’s palette. Very trusting. I’m about to sell my old car – get in touch.

It saves time if you review them first, then read them. That’s my method, anyway.

Have not used them yet but sure they will be fine (4 stars) Artist’s paintbrushes. What with the freemasonry, Mormonism and painting you’re not going to have much free time…

Have only glanced at it at the moment (4 stars) Must have been a pretty impressive glance.

This was a present, I did not read it myself (4 stars) Just think what you might have given it if you had read it!

Only just getting into it (3 stars) Okaaaay…

Haven’t got round to reading it yet (3 stars). You know, there really isn’t a rush to submit a review.

And penultimately, my favourite, rather enigmatic, ‘review’: No, not until you have replied to my query about missing book (3 stars). Presumably if they find his missing book the review of this one will go up a bit.

It’s only fair to give my star reviewer the last, rather exasperated word, since I suspect his contributions have raised the hackles of one or two impatient and unimaginative readers:

I don’t know what to write here. It seems to be most comprehensively written and covers all aspects of growing Christmas Trees. If you can’t accept what I’ve written above, tough. (4 stars)




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Disgusted of Amazon

I had something else lined up for today’s blog posting, but I’ve been quietly amassing more helpful Amazon reviews and one I came across today prompted me to take the controversial step of making a last minute change. It’s my favourite of the latest bunch:

“I have not purchased the item yet but it looks pretty average from what I can see – 3 stars”

Sorry haven’t read it yet (1 star). I was going to add a witty yet highly sarcastic comment (most unlike me…) but then I read What an absolutely inspiring and thorough book review, I take my hat off to you sir! and I knew I’d been beaten to the punch by the better man.

I am unable to give this five stars as I have not yet finished. However, from what I have read… (4 Stars).

I’m pretty good at the opening chapters of stories, so from now on I’m going to recommend that readers put in their reviews at the end of Chapter 3. (And sign a legally binding clause which means they can’t change it once they get to the end end and throw the book at the wall in disgust.)

Prompt delivery, but I have not Reagan it yet. 5 stars (Predictive txt strikes again, or  a Freudian slip? (It’s about Britain’s 1812 war with America.)

Not read yet but what I have discerned, just by leafing through, looks excellent. I am looking forward to reading this book. (5 stars). A book about psychic powers. (Not really.)



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Bromley House

Modern shops flank the cream, pillared original doorway to Bromley House. All of the red brick building above the door and shops is part of the library.

I love libraries! Mine not being a bookish family, my first experience of regularly reading junior novels at home rather than school came about because of libraries. We are used to them as free facilities provided by the local authorities, but the earliest ones were subscription libraries – I think I first heard of them when reading about Jane Austen, who I believe belonged to at least one and mentions them in her writing.

Most have gone now, but one right in the centre of Nottingham where I live has survived, despite a perennial struggle financially, to this day. It goes all the way back to Jane Austen’s day – and when you’re inside you really do feel as if you have traveled back to that time.

My financial struggles are as perennial as those of Bromley House so I’ve never been a member, but when I was walking past it a week ago I saw a sign advertising a guided tour and decided to finally get to see what it was like on the inside. I wasn’t disappointed. From the outside, the place is very unprepossessing. The doorway is swamped by modern shops and easily missed – I suspect most Nottinghamians aren’t even aware of its existence even though they will have passed it thousands of times. Not only is it much bigger on the inside that you would imagine, but it has a wonderful garden at the rear, a completely unexpected green oasis in the heart of the busy city.

The building itself is on about three floors, topped by an attic which once housed one of the country’s first photographic studios. Books are crammed on straining shelves just about everywhere in the maze of rooms, corridors – even the kitchen area! They don’t like to get rid of them at Bromley House and some date back to the seventeenth century. They do have a pre-Dewy-Decimal classification system for most of their books, which means that searching for a particular volume must be something akin to a magical mystery tour – no bad thing in a place like that.


It’s a great place for writers to get away from it all – I just wish I could afford to join (mystery benefactors and crowd-funding geniuses take note).

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I have to announce to my legions of followers that I have an impending court date thanks to an outrageous infringement of my civil liberties. In this age of Big Brother and draconian punishments, I had been debating about the legal strategy I might resort to. Luckily, the local paper has come to my rescue in a timely fashion by featuring an article about a similarly oppressed individual:

Take that, Your Honour!

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The End of Toast as We Know It?

First the terrorist attacks, then the possibility of war with North Korea destabilising the whole world, now this chilling warning from the BBC News website:

They normally illustrate such articles with helpful pictures, but presumably it’s felt that they would be too disturbing. In the interests of crusading journalism, I’m prepared to supply them myself:




Possible subsequent zombie invasion

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What is it with Public Toilets?

(That’s Rest Rooms, America – though personally, I go elsewhere to rest.)

Oh for the old days of MEN/WOMEN or LADIES/GENTLEMEN, and locks displaying ENGAGED/VACANT.

That’s all much to easy and obvious for the modern world. The way to tell whether the toilet at my local Costa is occupied is by way of a hole the size of the Higgs-Boson particle, deeply set so that the colour is hard to see without a magnifying glass and high-intensity light. And the colour is either red or white – not green, mind but white. Quite what those not familiar with the system are supposed to make of a white sign when first coming across it, I’m not sure. Many a time I’ve seen people bending forward to try to ascertain whether the toilet is engaged or not, only for the door to open and for them to look like some sort of keyhole peeping tom.

But you’ve got to find the toilets first. Motorways service stations have taken to using abstract symbols that look like they were designed by Jackson Pollock, with a barely perceptible difference between the pictures for the two sexes. I believe the worst ones are Milton services on the A34 and Strensham on the M5. At the latter of which on one occasion, I was on my way in to the toilets (having studied the pictures for a few minutes to decide which one I dare enter) when I was passed by an elderly woman scurrying out rather rapidly. I’m not quite sure what she saw in there,  but she looked dazed and shaken and was mumbling ‘Oh, dear…’



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