Gashead's Blog Wonders


Hurrah For The Blackshirts

An interesting article in The Daily Mail today

"Cristian Montano, 22, allegedly met woman in nightclub in Romford, Essex"

"Cristian Montano, an Oldham Athletic midfielder, allegedly took the woman to a flat in Romford, Essex and attacked her while she was passed out."

I attempted to correct the obvious error :

Romford has been part of the London Borough Of Havering for nearly 50 years. This factual error seems to come up in your newspaper on a weekly basis but it won't change the geography,


Not unsurprisingly I got this response :

Dear Mr Burns


Thank you for your email.


It is always good to receive feedback from readers about our content.  The contents of your email have been noted and I have passed your thoughts to the reporter. He has come back to say that you are correct that, administratively, Romford is part of the London Borough of Havering. However, the town was traditionally in Essex for centuries, and colloquially it is often referred to as being part of the county. He don’t consider it a factual error to say that Romford is in Essex.


I appreciate you taking the time to get in touch.


Yours sincerely


Editorial Mailonline


The Daily Mail, Jessie J and Essex

From Little Noise Sessions 16/11/2010

The Daily Mail 20th May 2011

The Essex-born singer's patter on stage often tickles the funnybones of her fans


The Daily Mail 18th May 2011

So no doubt the Essex girl will be hoping she can repeat her success when she jetted out to start her U.S. promotional tour today.


The Daily Mail 15th May 2011

British pop sensation Jessie J has brought her unique brand of Essex-bred talent to the first day of this year's Radio 1 Big Weekend.


The Daily Mail 27th April 2011

Meanwhile it remains to be seen if she will perform with the UK's own rising superstar, Jessie J after the Essex-born singer put out a plea for Rihanna to perform Do It Like A Dude with her.


The Daily Mail 27th April 2011 again and twice in the same article

Jessie J continued to bring her unique brand of Essex-bred talent to northern American and Canada, landing in Toronto on the latest leg of her tour.

In what's become par for the course for the Essex-born singer, she strutted her stuff in a one-legged Lycra catsuit for the performance.


The Daily Mail 14th April 2011

But now Essex girl Jessie J is determined to make it Stateside, and continued her mission with an appearance on The Today Show.


I could go on but it would waste the rest of my day, The Daily Mail certainly don't waste their time with checking facts. They don't check facts like the one that she is from Redbridge and Redbridge is in London, not Essex.

Why is the alleged county of her birth relevant? Which county was Susan Boyle born in? Which county was Leona Lewis born in? Which county was Alexandra Burke born in? Don't know? Probably because the press don't trot it out in every single article about them.

Why would this fictional birthplace be so relevant in the case of Jessie J? Because it is Essex? Because all woman from Essex are de facto sluts ever since the jokes started and Cilla Black played it up to the max on Blind Date?

Who is this journalist who never checks facts, never checks the comments on their articles in case somebody has pointed out an inaccuracy? Well it is Daily Mail Reporter, that's not much help, they don't even know their name never mind the birthplace of Jessie J. Oh hold on, it's also Marcus Barnes and Sarah Bull and Sandra Parsons and Adrian Thrills. Unless there is an over-zealous sub-editor, all of these reporters have individually decided that the county of Jessie J's birth is relevant to an article about her...and they do not check their facts or get them from reading their colleagues' articles in The Daily Mail.

Jessie J is not from Essex, goodnight.

Uh oh, Liz Jones is at it now!

But there’s one important thing we do have in common — apart from both having been born in Essex — and that is a good, strong head of black hair.


The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Many people don't believe in coincidence, they say there is a probability behind events coinciding that we fail to consider. After today's "coincidence" I am less inclined to believe they can be explained statistically.

So, you may be asking, what am I banging on about now!? Well, last autumn I got some tickets to go and see the Little Noise Sessions curated by Jo Whiley in aid of Mencap. Being a member of the Paolo Nutini fan club and a subscriber to the Little Noise Sessions Backstage Area I got double priority booking for the event. First up on stage was a tallish, lively young thing called Jessie J. Sadly her talent had previously bypassed my cultural radar, but I was sufficiently impressed by her first song to get my camera out. I filmed her other two songs along with much of the rest of the show. Even an apparently over refreshed Paolo Nutini performed a blinder that evening. As is my way, I uploaded the videos to my YouTube account the following day for the world to appreciate or ignore (remember this, despite the apparent preamble, it is highly relevant later on).

In the days that followed I read much on the web about "Essex girl" Jessie J. Having lived in Essex for the last 30 years I was interested to find out where in the county she came from. There was stuff about her being born in Redbridge, stuff about her going to school in Redbridge, but nothing about her actually living in neighbouring Essex for any significant period in her life. So I set up a Google email alert on "Jessie J Essex" to establish if there was any basis for this assertion. The alert emails came in regularly, every day one or several websites had published an article linking the girl to the county but never to a specific town or village in Essex. I tried the same search on Twitter, more of the same, much more!

As the evidence mounted, I decided to take up the stance, not purely out of sheer bloody-mindedness but also because all the evidence pointed to the fact, that Jessie J is from London. I started to post comments to newspaper articles pointing out the apparent inaccuracy. I would reply to tweets saying similar, often to the bemusement of the poor tweeter wondering how the hell I saw their humble tweet when I wasn't even following them. Try it, it can be fun, even if it comes across as anal in the extreme and beats asking who on Twitter wants coffee as others do when they get bored. I apologise to all those I have traumatised and I am a great admirer of Jessie J who is one of few young British musicians capable of writing, performing and having hits. My excuse is a hatred of sloppy journalism, not checking facts, merely lifting facts from other sources irrespective of their accuracy. Redbridge was, as I knew all along, once in Essex but has been a London borough since 1965. A bloke down the pub once told me Essex extended as far as Reading many years ago (quite probably true) but people don't refer to The Office based in Slough as an Essex comedy. Jessie J may have been born in an Essex hospital of course, but if she was there are no sources I have found....sorry, I'm rambling and won't even mention Cliff Richard being born in India.

In an idle moment last night I launched another barrage of pedantic corrections to Twitter and one particular tweeter indulged me in a very charming dialogue. I decided I would send what I thought was him but now realise is her a link to my YouTube videos. As security is tight on my company IT systems we can't post from YouTube to Twitter as Twitter is firewalled. Easy I thought, tell her to search on "Jessie J Little Noise Sessions" in YouTube and you will find my videos straight away. I gave it a test run, loads of videos appeared, mine were at the top....hang on, no they are from Jessiejonline but they look just like mine?

Exhibit 1 : This is Jessiejonline's version of Price Tag

Watch this video on YouTube.

and this is mine

Watch this video on YouTube.

I don't remember somebody sitting on my lap with a camera pressing the button to start at the exact same time and pressing the button to stop at the exact same time. I tend to notice these things and my girlfriend, whose laugh you can hear, would tell me if I was oblivious to such an oddity. The only difference I can see is that mine is recorded at 720P whereas Jessiejonline's version is only at 360P, a quarter the resolution, maybe a tiny camera held by a tiny person who I just didn't notice on my lap. I must be getting absent-minded in my decline into seniority. But wait, there's more...

Exhibit 2 : This is Jessiejonline's version of Stand Up

Watch this video on YouTube.

and this is mine

Watch this video on YouTube.

So once again it seems I didn't notice the little person sat on my lap pressing the little camera button at the exact same time to start and again to stop. I really must see a doctor!

But it seems I am not the only one feeling confused. If you check out Jessiejonline's (whoops, that's their Twitter account!) website they are so confused they accidentally linked to my videos by mistake! Now there's a thing, fortunately mine are higher quality so they probably look better. Thanks for the cred..i...t..... o well, they were confused and thought they were linking to their own videos taken by the little person with the little camera sat on my lap who I didn't even notice no doubt.

I'm sure there must be a scientific explanation for this coincidence, maybe some external factor caused us to press the button at the exact same moment on 4 separate occasions. If anybody has an explanation could they let me know in the comments below please?


Welcome To Romford, Not Essex

A new "Essex" programme appeared on the horizon the other day, Welcome To Romford Unfortunately Channel 4 describe it as :

Relationships, friendships, minicabs, love and loneliness in Essex, as First Cut spends a busy night with a Romford taxi firm

All well and good apart from the fact that Romford is not in Essex.

The actual programme description presents a film that sounds very innovative, but by headlining it with the Essex word the comments are already anticipating another field day for the anti-Essex bigots. I fear many will avoid an interesting film because they expect it to be like that and the usual Twitter bigots will be lined up to take cheap shots.

I pointed out to Channel 4 the error of their ways :

On the Channel 4 website this show is trailed as "Relationships, friendships, minicabs, love and loneliness in Essex, as First Cut spends a busy night with a Romford taxi firm". Romford is not in Essex and hasn't been within the lifetime of the majority of your viewers. Any references to the county in this manner would appear to be pandering to the ill-informed stereotype encouraged by Miss Cilla Black on Blind Date.

But I don't think the responder got what I was saying, certainly not with regard to the basic geographical error :

Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding WELCOME TO ROMFORD.

We are sorry to hear that you feel this the trailers for this programme are misrepresentative of Essex. Please be assured your complaint has been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.

A great number of people who live in Romford, both young and old, proudly declare they are from Romford, Essex. It is a beautiful county with unspoiled coastline, charming villages and friendly people living away from London's urban sprawl and untroubled by anything but a sliver of motorway. Every week on Blind Date there was a Clur from Liverpool and somebody very boisterous and unsubtle from Essex, or at least it seemed that way to me. The "from Essex" intro always got a big cheer, never qualified by where in Essex they actually came from. Cilla would stand there grinning like an idiot knowing the viewing figures demanded this Essex stereotype to further the myth that people from Essex are somehow different, lacking in self-respect and by geographical definition immoral.

The "Essex" tag gets viewers in as it is considered fair game for unleashing bigotry that would be classed along the same lines as racism or misogyny were it about other subjects. "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings" is another show on Channel 4 which provokes comments on Twitter similar to the kind of rhetoric used in Germany during the last century directed towards the same community. It is a great shame TV continues to propagate myths about life in Essex, easy targets = good viewing figures but not good television.


The Maldon Mud Race 2002

Maldon on better days

I wrote this in 2002 :

"As all but two fingers have now recovered their full range of sensations a note on the above.

Don't do it.

The course is Maldon Promenade Park down into the river, through it and up the other side, along that side and back down into the water and back into the park. 150 competitors.

A good-natured Bank Holiday crowd awaited the start as the competitors moved into position at the top of the river bank. Ice covered some of the mud giving a deceptively firm footing. The starter said rice pudding and off we went down over the mud into the 3 foot deep river. I attempted to swim across but the number of people splashing around me and the sheer cold made this impossible. Waded on through for a keenly anticipated romp up the other side. That was where it got nasty.

It was impossible to move through the mud without going thigh high into the stuff, especially where other competitors had already been. My only option was to crawl across the mud on all fours attempting to pull my body up the 20 or so metres. All around people were suffering bitterly cold fingers and I was fearful of losing my wedding ring. In different circumstances I would have been very interested in the different colours and layers of mud but not that day. Near the top of the bank I had to stop from sheer exhaustion struggling to catch my breath. The official route was 40 metres along the top of the bank through more mud but like most others I opted to crawl 10 metres further up the bank so I could walk along the grassy bit at the top. Such relief to make it I was almost looking forward to going back down through the mud to cross the river again. It was marginally easier and I managed to walk more than I crawled. Second time around the river was relief and the climbing up the last bank was relatively painless. One git asked me to pull him out of the mud only for him to walk in front of me at the finishing pen.

As we walked past the crowd to the showers people looked shocked at how exhausted the competitors were. The commentator was making predictable comments about somebody on the other side still doing seal impressions but they appeared to be in great distress and had to be helped out by stewards in wetsuits. I assume the commentator has never exercised anything other than his tongue and tedious wit. As I removed some of the mud in the cold showers the guy next to me bent over and threw up at the side. None of the post-race exhilaration of a marathon was evident.

Rather than hunt out the official showers I headed straight for the car and spent ten minutes trying to remove my shoes which were tied to my feet to stop me losing them. I was not shivering, I was jerking continuously. I finally got shoes off, me in the car and headed for home only to be stuck in a traffic jam of spectators all the while jerking backwards and forwards with cold unable to properly feel the steering wheel.

As I got out of the car a neighbour tried to talk to me but I was shaking too much to talk intelligibly and was turning blue. I had a long warm shower, got out and immediately started shivering again. For three days afterwards I had a terribly painful nose, stinging eyes and sneezing fits. Even now two of my fingertips are partially numb.

There was no good memory to take with me, this is a very unpleasant way to spend Boxing Day"

Despite all of that I have entered again for 27th December 2009!