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The Northants News Blog. Insights, opinion and general ramblings from the journalists you hear reading the news...
Wednesday 26th May
I have discovered the number one rule of holidays: never come back when it's sunny in the UK. Having been in Egypt for a week, I returned to find it almost as hot as when I was away.
One: you feel a bit cheated. Two: nobody really notices whether you've got a tan.
On Monday in the office it was like I'd never been away. On Tuesday - when Britain's mini-heatwave had disappeared - it was 'you look brown, you been away?'
So talking of holidays, I found legendary drivetime presenter Danno Fox going through his new passport application yesterday. He volunteered to show me and Holly his old photo [taken from circa 1964] and after we stopped rolling around the floor with laughter I decided it would be a great idea to share it with you all.
Weirdly, the only thing that appears to have changed with the passage of time is him getting angrier-looking and having shorter hair. He's even wearing the same shirt [well, kind of.]
As a peace offering to Danno, I'm mulling over whether to stick one of my photos on here where I look like an Albanian terrorist.... watch this space.
Tuesday 11th May
Here is my summary of a hung parliament:
I went into the Post Office yesterday to buy some stamps.
The lady behind the counter said she could also sell me some insurance, a padded envelope and a banana - so what would I like.
I said some stamps, paid her my money, and she gave me a banana.
I said can i have my money back because i wanted some stamps, not a banana. She said no because not enough people that day had wanted stamps so they were only giving out bananas.
And if i wanted stamps, i'd have to go and persuade Steve who works in the butchers to come and ask for some as well.
And then a man behind me in the queue called Gordon fell on the sword he was carrying.
If that's politics - then thanks a bunch.
This all stemmed from trying to calm down my other half who was incandescent with rage on the sofa: "this isn't what i voted for" she yelled ... "why is this Clegg man - whose party got fewer seats than everyone thought they would - now deciding what happens to this country. It's bo****** ".
She wasn't the only one who was a bit upset ... just look at Adam Boulton and Alistair Campbell going head to head
It does make you wonder though why many of us stayed up all night on Thursday/Friday when we end up with a party which a minority of people voted for deciding what happens to the future of the country.
And here was me thinking Kingmaker was just a band from Hull in the 90s.....
Friday 07th May
From the cover of a dark Weston Favell night, I braved the general election count for Northampton North and Northampton South at the Lings Forum. Personally, I think they missed a trick not having a midnight screening at the cinema there of In The Loop...
So not having any celluloid distraction it was off to the sports hall to survey the counting of ballet papers, the fraying of fingernails and to take in the delightful odour of stale sweat.
With the various lines marked on the floor for basketball and five-a-side, the candidates and their gofers seemed to glide around like robots on a Nissan car factory floor.
Brian Binley had already made an impression .. berating some security minions who told him he had to wear his pass or he wouldn't be allowed in. Not since the Icelandic volcano has there been such an eruption of hot air. Almost a "do you know who I am?!" Time would tell whether the electorate did.
With the counting only getting underway at 0130 and the local BBC people having been on air for two days already, they were looking for ways to amuse themselves and had decided to try and insert film titles into their reports. A Quantum of Solace was shoehorned in somewhere ... but reports that Sally Keeble was called a Pretty Woman have yet to be confirmed.
As the hours dragged by, we turned to comparing the candidates with canines, as one of those in the running actually flogs pet insurance. Tony Clarke was the bulldog of Northampton South ... I'll let you guess who was the mastiff and the poodle...
Fuelled by the sweets and biscuits provided by the borough council's media team we ploughed on ... being told that a declaration would be in the next ten minutes ... which is what we were told ten minutes before that. To be honest, there was more drama in the bar, when someone dropped a plastic lid in the hot water urn.
Eventually though we were ushered down into the "bullpen" of the count itself where officials rushed around looking nervous before a man in chains appeared [that'll be the Mayor] to read the results.
Cue Conservative applause and long Labour faces.
And so, eventually, out into the dark of the night with a new morning hanging on the air and the country's political future left hanging in the balance.
PS: My own personal results over the last 29hours: 90 minutes sleep, 9 cups of coffee [black, 2 sugars if you're making,] half a family bag of Haribo and 3 chocolate chip cookies.
Monday 26th April
I promised myself, for various reasons, not to write anything about the Election until it was over but Saturday's events in Corby changed all that.
What a bizarre turn of events. I was driving into work and heard that spin-guru Alistair Campbell had been Twittering there'd be a special guest at Gordon Brown's major speech in Corby AND that it would make the David Cameron/Gary Barlow love-in appear small beer. Which, in itself, is no mean feat.
But an Elvis impersonator? I mean, really?
I'm not sure what it was supposed to be about, perhaps a satirical take on parties aligning themselves with stars?
Maybe it was just a bit of fun. After all, not everything - not even in politics - has to have a hidden meaning. Lots of it has no meaning whatsoever.
But it strikes me as odd that they would use an icon who ended up being a bloated junk-food addict to follow a rally about the benefits of the NHS.
I also had an email this weekend from our local LibDems [more of which in a moment] and talking of the yellow ones, I've had a thought about the TV election debates and why Nick Clegg's done so well out of them. Which is simple. Most voters had never seen him before.
It's like going to a buy a new car and thinking about either the Golf or the Focus. When you get to the garage the salesman goes how about the special offer behind the curtain ? .... ta-da, it's a Megane ...... mmm, i'd not thought of that. Now what do i do?
And so back to the LibDem email alerting us to a spate of thefts across Northampton. It seems some of their election boards have been lifted from gardens across the town.
For many first-time supporters it is, sez the email, an "unpleasant introduction to frontline politics." Indeed.
So police are now looking for an Elvis impersonator carrying a yellow placard. And maybe a traffic cone. And a kebab.
Wednesday 21st April
There are times in the newsroom, albeit not often, when a press release gives us a good chuckle.
We get so many of the things but this week's winner comes from Northampton Borough Council [good to see our taxpayers money is being well spent.] And it all seemed quite dull at first, until it was twisted out of all proportion by us twisted news types.
The missive about the town's out-of-date byelaws was consigned to the scrap heap, until I spotted that you would fall foul of the current laws if you were "driving or leading a bull over 10 months old through a public space unless properly secured."
Our work experience stalwart Freddie asked, quite rightly in my opinion, what would happen if your bull was only 9 months old? Where's the law for that then.... Does that mean there can be hordes of young bulls roaming Derngate?
Then we come to the Outlawed Eight - the things our good councillors want to ban under the updated laws.
1 skateboarding in certain public places where it causes danger [skate park anyone?]
2 fairground obstructions that cause an obstruction to traffic.
3 dangerous games near highways
4 playing games on highways to the annoyance of local residents [I presume they don't mean hop scotch on the A45]
6 urinating in public
7 inteference with road warning equipment
8 intererence with live saving equipment
I look forward to seeing a skateboarding young bull, flogging tickets to the Derngate before relieving itself infront of the Guildhall, with a traffic cone on its head trying to steal an ambulance. Then see how many fixed penalty notices it gets....
Tuesday 20th April
Hello again! Well it's been interesting few days what with the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption. It's caused no end of problems for families and businesses around Northampton, so much so I felt compelled (read as, "Richard asked me to") to write about it. You can read just a few of the stories that we've been following here, if you're interested. But from a journalist's perspective, there's nothing more problematic about this volcano than trying to pronounce the name of it!
Needless to say, I did some digging...
A quick web search later, and I've found out that you pronounce Eyjafjallajökull as Eh-ya-fyat-la-yuh-cuttle. Any wiser? No, neither am I. I'm sure I couldn't even attempt to do the beautiful Icelandic language much justice anyway so it's probably better if I don't try.
But it got me thinking...if you're stuck at an airport in a foreign country right now, how are you coping with the language barrier? Got an interesting language-based story to tell? Perhaps you could tweet us @heartnorthants?
I scraped a C in GCSE French a good few years ago and I've pretty much forgot it all now, I can order beer and ice cream in Spanish, and that's about the extent of my foreign language experience. So for now I think I'll stick to speaking English - it seems to be getting me through my fortnight at Heart at least.
Wednesday 14th April
Guess who's back? That's right, Editor Richard took the brave decision to let me join the news team again for another fortnight, so you'll be hearing about all my exploits as resident work experience boy once again!
Day one didn't get off to the best of starts, my alarm didn't go off and in a mad rush I left the house and set the alarm...only for it to go off five minutes later because my sister was still asleep. I don't think she's too happy anymore.
Anyway, it's now day two and I'm happy to say that not only did I manage to wake up and not rush to get ready, I'm starting to get back into the swing of things. This afternoon I'm off to visit some Northampton mums who are making their own fitness DVD. Not quite sure why I was assigned to that story, maybe Richard noticed I've gained a few extra pounds since I was last here? Still, at least the walk to see them will do me some good eh?
Well it's great to be back, I'll be hot on the heels of all the latest Northampton news so if you've got a story you'd like me to cover, perhaps you're shooting a Curry eating DVD (I wish!) or something like that, then do get in touch. You can email the Heart news team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you're a fan of Twitter, send us a tweet to @heartnorthants.
Wednesday 24th March
Bonjourno, my name is David (or Dave if you like... I'm not fussy, I've been called an array of different things... I don't find names to be all that important y'know!)
I'm a third year Journalism student at The University of Northampton, getting very near the end of my Uni journey, petrifying -I'll tell you that for free! I'm here on the Heart Newsdesk doing a week of work experience. A precursor to what I hope to spend the next few decades of my life doing, maybe!
Been shown around the studio/office/building here, and I've found there to be a pretty relaxed atmosphere. Not lackadaisical, not by any stretch of the imagination, relaxed as in friendly!
Must admit, I arrived here this morning - suited and booted - feeling rather over-dressed! And to think, I opted for a purple tie over a black one, worrying I'd look too much like I was going to a funeral... Perhaps tomorrow I'll go for dressing gown and slippers, effectively counteracting my current attire, maintaining my neutrality! Or not...
As I write this I've been here just under four hours, and already I've been taught a lot I never knew about this station - I had rather jaded preconceptions about its demographic pour example! Apparently your 'core artists' are Take That, the Buble and George Michael. Not Slayer then!
I've been given an extremely informative, and quite amusing 'News Style Guide' which I'm currently sifting through (who says men can't multi-task) There are some surprising inclusions in the 'banned words and phrases' section, and some even more surprising omissions - which I won't go into!!
Overall, insecurities regarding attire aside, I'm really excited to be here, and hopefully I'll have a few more chuckles along the way! Here's to a great, and productive week! Over 'n' out!
Thursday 18th March
Hello and how do you do!
My name is Holly and I'm the new Broadcast Journalist here at HEART.
So far, my first couple of weeks as a fully fledged journalist in Northamptonshire have been fairly normal...working on the usual daily grind of stories such as a Corby teenager who put his brothers hamster in the microwave, a sighting of a 20 foot long Burmese python slithering around Northampton and a Brackley kitchen porter who was arrested after allegedly poisoning school kids soup....so yeah...pretty normal!
I've been given a tour of the wonders of the county by my all knowing news editor, Richard Purvis, who personally I feel may need to reconsider his profession and take up a job as a Northampton tour guide!
I was shown landmarks such as Saints Ground, The Carlsberg Factory and Silverstone, but what was most fascinating was the huge, yet redundant, lift tower! Something which at present I'm finding very useful as a compass to help me find my way around the town.
So I can't wait to see what the next few weeks and months working in Northampton brings (other than horrendous queues on the M1!)
I hope to see you soon, although its more likely I'll be sitting beside you in the hoards of traffic between Junction 18 and 15, as thats where I seem to be spending most of my time these days!
Wednesday 17th March
I saw the future the other day. And it wasn't pretty.
Nope, Heart hasn't gone into the business of soothsaying or tarot reading .. merely the day-to-day journalist's drudge of waiting, this time at Kettering youth court.
[in my years of doing this job i've think i've totted up a longer time waiting in courts then most burglars receive as a sentence]
I was there for the case of a Corby teenager who put his brother's hamster in the microwave. In the end, I'd wasted my time [again] as the case was adjourned. Again. Nice to see the wheels of justice grinding slowly. Again.
Waiting outside the courtroom beforehand was an education. Which, it's possible, was lacking in many of those who were due in the courtroom.
Hoodies were drawn in tight around faces and some of those baby-faces had thousand-yard stares. Children in stature, but no longer by nature.
One young girl faced the magistrates, dressed as if she was going on a night out way beyond her tender years.
I know that there are thousands of brilliant young people in Northamptonshire. I also know that the youth offending teams and probation service in the county do some excellent work in turning lives around.
But - with an election around the corner - I wonder what the future holds for those baby faces there that day ... and whether they will ever lose the steely look in their eyes.
Tuesday 2nd Feb
A new-look website and a new-look blog. If you've never had the pleasure before - welcome. This is where we get to express our thoughts [ramble on] about the news and the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on.
Lots happening at Heart Towers today ... we're launching our fundraising appeal for the new charity Have A Heart, which is aiming to help poorly children across the county. You can find out more about that here
We've also just played the new Haiti charity single. You know, the cover of REM's Everybody Hurts. Personally, I like it more than the original. But then, that's not hard.
And I am liking the milder weather. Most definitely. As we have a padlock on the gates to the car park at Heart Towers, I have to open up first thing at 0500. When it's icy, the lock freezes. I have cupped it with my hands, sprayed it with DW40, put a match and a lighter underneath it. And I've even climbed over the gates, boiled a kettle and poured that over it.
So welcome to the warmer weather. And welcome to the News Blog.