Friday, March 19, 2010


HORRIFIED teachers are having to hand back worthless newspapers to pupils after confiscating them - because printing unsubstantiated hypocritical bullshit is still legal.

Worried school heads last night joined the families of teenage victims John Smith and John Lewis in backing calls to ban The Sun, real name The Scum Sucker.

The demands came as the known UK death toll rose to five.

Meanwhile the Government was blasted as it emerged a ban had been delayed for SIX MONTHS.


If you have a tabloid problem or need advice call the Frank helpline on 0800 77 66 00

John Smith - father of 19-year-old chef John who died on Monday with pal John, 18 - said it was "shameful" that ministers had not yet acted.

Grieving John, 54, said he wholeheartedly backed the call to ban The Sun.

He said: "I'm convinced that because it's legal, my son thought it was safe.

"If they'd banned it maybe these two deaths wouldn't have happened."

Head teachers joined the call for a ban after a conference heard the paper was a "growing menace" among schoolchildren.

Mick Brooks, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Our members are raising awareness of The Sun's dangers, but the Government must recognise there is a real issue with this paper spreading utter nonsense."

Mike Stewart, head of Westlands School in Torquay, Devon, said it was "totally unacceptable" that the paper can be bought over the counter.

And he warned that teachers would have to HAND BACK any stashes confiscated from pupils - because the tawdry rag is still legal.


Official guidance issued to teachers warns them that holding on to pupils' property could breach their human rights.

Mr Stewart said: "Both teachers and police are powerless to do anything about it.

"Items can be confiscated, but because this paper is still legal it would have to be given back at the end of the day and that's disturbing.

"This tabloid is highly dangerous and must be banned."

Shattered dad John added: "We've heard of children as young as nine reading this crap. Because it's legal, it's readily accessible.

"I could read it on the internet and get it delivered tomorrow.

"A friend's son said he didn't know anyone who HADN'T read it, so it's a huge problem.

"I understand a report that recommends banning it is just sat somewhere.

"It's shameful that young people are still dying. Politicians need to do something. We don't want anyone else to suffer like we are suffering."

John's mum Jane said: "Apparently kids are even reading these papers in the playground.

"John's not the first person to die from this paper, yet nothing is being done. How can that be right?"

John's mum Jacqui backed the Smith family's call, saying: "Let's stop this happening again."

Home Secretary Alan Johnson was blasted as it emerged that a decision on a ban had been delayed SIX MONTHS.

Tabloid trash ... just one molecule makes The Sun - illustrated above - different to DDR (a dirty dish rag). DDR's formula is rag+filth. The Sun's is rag+filth+inflammatory and inaccurate bullshit. Its chemical name is 4-theluvofgodmakeitstop (4-FS).

An official review was launched last October, then postponed when the scientist in charge quit in protest at the sacking of chief media adviser Prof David Nutt.

The committee has still not reported, meaning any ban is still months away.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling accused the Government of "dithering".

He said: "There's no excuse for not acting sooner. We should be able to ban these papers temporarily until there is a proper assessment."

Top cop Tim Hollis, media spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said banning The Sun would send out "a clear message" about its dangers - and give police the power to take action against agents.

The Government says it cannot ban the paper until the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Facts reports on its dangers.

John and welder pal John died hours after reading The Sun on a night clubbing with friends in Scunthorpe, Lincs.

Police investigating their deaths said four people - two men aged 26, one aged 20 and a 17-year-old youth - were still being questioned last night.

LORD Mandelson added insult to injury yesterday by admitting he had never heard of the paper.

The Business Secretary, below, later backtracked, saying: "Now it's been associated very tragically with the deaths of these two young people, we will look at it speedily and take any action needed."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sunday Market Forces

As I was up early Sunday, I thought I'd roll down to Brick Lane, mooch about in the morning and perhaps collar a replacement bike, since mine fell victim to what appeared a minor fault but turned out to be terminal, as though a loved on had been carried off by a cold. Walking through Old Street I was struck, as often happens, by the fresh sheen of gentrification on the otherwise grimy and unprepossessing office blocks and warehouses. The rich are on the march around here, moving back into the city, recolonising what had been abandoned to the poor, and so pushing what community has endured off its moorings, out into the sub-suburbs. Community takes a long time to build up and a frighteningly short time to extinguish. For vast swathes of the city, both opulent and impecunious, community doesn't take much hold, people endure on for years without developing much attachment to their manor, or their neighbours, and are so used to this unrootedness that they think little of what community they do manage to partake in.

So the rich move in to areas that were once poor, and of course by stereotype we know that the rich engage in community far less, having more to occupy themselves that doesn't require neighbourly interaction. So the areas lose what local character has stayed on, beyond that conferred by the architecture or long-standing establishments.

And so to Brick Lane, the Sunday market along Sclater Street, a historical treasure trove where for hundreds of years immigrants were first sent to test themselves against the cold heart of London, before admission to the greater part of England. And there I find, against all the odds, a thriving stronghold of character, a tiny but strong pocket of undiminished east London, bulging with quite unselfconscious owsyerfather cockney accents, genuine, solid gold. And although they can't be unaware of the closing tide of the trendies - gentrification's outriders, who have more or less claimed Brick Lane for coffee and vintage clothes stalls - and although within a few hours the area will have turned from a flea market to a bohemian enclave, for the time being east London remembers itself as the hard-done-by cousin of the trendy north and west.

I'm in Sclater Street, where the stolen bikes are propped by malevolent looking 20-year-olds; a man with one leg sits on the kerb with his hand outstretched; stalls profer such meagre wares that they could not, even on a market day of fantastic good fortune, possibly provide enough income to pay rent on a nearby warehouse conversion; where all of a sudden a brief snatch of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues blares out from a CD stall, clear bass booming in the spring sun, the lyrics casting their own take on the ragamuffin environs; up the road is the real flea market, people sat on rugs on the pavement selling whatever they've mustered up, third world scenes still undisplaced by the new concrete bridges carrying the new railway that has suddenly cut through the area, regeneration carried by train, how much longer can this free space endure, so unfashionable and neglected and unprofitable.

Up in Hackney later, in Dalston, I sit at my mate's flat and look out the window on the sunny afternoon, drinking tea and enjoying the hope of spring. We chat and swap stories, a social visit. In the wide, tree-lined street young men jump out of a car, confront other young men on a motorbike, knives are drawn, big knives, the kind that would stab right through you, some of the youth chase others up the road, a motorbike helmet is left on the ground, a pair hurridly attempt to start the bike, others return shouting: 'are you mad? are you mad?', capture the bike, the car drives off, no-one is stabbed, no-one lies in their own blood, and all is quiet again on the sunny spring afternoon. What of gentrification? How many trendy blocks and tube stations can you build, or failing pubs can you convert to middle-class emporiums?

The swiftness of the incident, and the swift vanishing of it entirely, are profoundly unnerving, the street looks as pleasant as you could hope for, and the menace only remains in the mind. The next-door neighbour, well-to-do though down-to-earth, is shocked - 'what the fuck,' she says to me, 'what the fuck was that about?' - she's shocked, but both her and I know that this goes on, there's no surprises, but to know is another thing than to see.

The police arrive, too late for the party, drive up the road which now bears not a trace of its tumult. They have nothing to offer and nothing to do. They ask me questions, but I have nothing to tell them.

When I leave I see the car at the end of the road, I see four boys sitting inside, they have their butcher's knives with them no doubt, at the ready, ready to disturb the pastoral late afternoon once again; as the sun sets in glory over the city, they have them at the ready, at the flick of a switch they can bring them to bear.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plastic People In Peril

"the best little club in the UK"

When are we going to take to the streets demanding cheap drugs and decent clubs?

We need to stand up for what we believe in