There's a tendency here in the UK to think that nothing exciting ever happens outside of London or a handful of other metropolitan areas. Worse still, rural areas, particularly those west of Reading and south of Bristol, are considered to be nothing more than sleepy back waters. However, one of the marvels of the internet is that such prejudices can be laid bare as the blatant lies that they are by simply looking at the websites of various local newspapers. Now, I'll grant you that many local newspapers are crap and their websites even worse - the Crapchester Chronicle
, for instance, is especially poor when it comes to reporting anything resembling local news - but there are several large regional newspapers which have excellent web sites, chock full of up-to-the-minute local news stories. News stories which prove that life in the West Country is every bit as exciting and eventful as it is in, say, West London. My current favourite of these regional newspaper web sites is that of the Western Gazette
- the local newspaper for Yeovil and Somerset - which, right now, is leading with the headline 'Man arrested on suspicion of arson and bailed after South Street house fire in Crewkerne'.
Now, you probably think that's the most exciting thing ever to have happened in the small town of Crewkerne, (other than having a Southern Railway locomotive named after it in the mid-forties). But you'd be wrong. For an earlier headline tells us 'Pregnant woman was "10 out of 10" drunk when she lashed out at police officers having been found with a large knife up her sleeve in Crewkerne' . Reading the story didn't yield any further information about this fascinating drunkenness scale which Avon and Somerset Constabulary apparently use to assess violent offenders, but it did tell me that on the day of her arrest, the woman hadn't just been drunk but also under the influence of cocaine and Meow. Not the sort of stuff you'd ordinarily associate with towns like Crewkerne. To be fair, the offender in question didn't actually come from Crewkerne (she just went there to commit criminal offences, it seems) but was actually a resident of Yeovil, which, as the main urban centre for the region covered by the Western Gazette
is clearly a hotbed of crime and depravity.
Indeed, other headlines seem to confirm Yeovil's status as the Sodom and Gomorrah of the west. 'Brawls in the middle of Sherborne Road, Yeovil, with casualties taken to hospital and others arrested by police, according to eye-witness reports', screams one, conjuring up nightmare visions of mass brawls on residential streets, resulting in cars being overturned and set ablaze and houses wrecked. 'Young woman taken to Yeovil District Hospital after falling from bridge in Yeovil' another tells us - thankfully her injuries weren't believed to be life-threatening, although police still didn't know if she'd jumped or been pushed. 'Firefighters tackle blaze at Mere Post Office' implies that arson attacks are rampant throughout the region. To be fair, it isn't all arson and violence in the west, as other stories attest: 'Ceramics take centre stage at Wincanton' and 'Yeovil man triumphs in Somerset Fushia Society Show' reassure us that the area also has a rich cultural life. Nevertheless, thanks to the Western Gazette's
calm and unsensational reporting, I think that we've finally nailed the lie peddled by the London-centric mainstream media that nothing ever happens outside of the metropolis.
Labels: Media Madness, Musings From the Mind of Doc Sleaze