Someone has to do it

A big shout out to the person who compiles the DM Reporter Twitter feed. Every day they wade through the gross pit of slime which makes up the comments section under nearly all the posts on the Mail Online website, and pull out the choicest examples. Above are just a few of the comments made by the good people of Britain (or at least those who read the Mail) about the anti-Brexit march which took place in London yesterday.

It is quite clear that the whole Brexit process is shaping up to be the most rancorous, divisive and awful event which has befallen the UK since the second world war. How on earth the nation heals itself afterwards is anyone’s guess.

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Type on the street: Cooper Black Italic

Typographic nominative determinism, captured through my windscreen yesterday afternoon. The coach company’s website gives us another blast of the great Cooper Black, this time in the Roman, backed up with a little Brush Script.  Oooh Mr Designer, you are truly spoiling us.

Cricket lovely cricket

Pic: BreakingNews.ie

Circumstances meant that, unfortunately, the day that Test cricket came to Ireland I was on a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead. Otherwise, I would certainly have made an effort to get a ticket. Although it’s a minor sport over here, those who play it are really dedicated to the game.

In an article in the Irish Times, Niall O’Brien describes how the players of his generation ‘fell in love with Test cricket while watching it on the BBC in those long summers of our childhoods.’ How great it was that during the match his brother Kevin should become the first Irishman to score a Test century.

In fact, the first day was washed out and not a ball was bowled. Typical cricket, you might say. So the match actually started on the Saturday, and it was a time for much emotion. In a lovely piece in the Observer published on the Sunday, Andy Bull wrote:

Soon after 10am, the Irish players gathered together on the outfield while the chair of selectors, Andrew White, set down a scruffy cardboard box full of handsome new caps. He handed them out one by one, the first to captain William Porterfield, then the rest in alphabetical order, Andy Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Tyrone Kane, Tim Murtagh, Kevin and Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson and Gary Wilson. The first Irish Test XI. At least a couple of them started to cry from pride.

Being away means that I wasn’t even able to see the highlights, which were broadcast each night on RTE. It looks as though Ireland acquitted themselves well, having a chance when they reduced Pakistan to 14 for three in their second innings. Class prevailed, however, and the visitors eventually won by five wickets.

But how wonderful it was that the ‘greatest game’ has a new Test-playing nation, and that real cricket – the kind where a whole narrative builds over several days – now has a chance to thrive on a new field. If only it was shown live on TV, when there would be a chance of more young Niall O’Briens falling in love with the game. But I fear the cash register prevails and therefore we have little chance of broadening its appeal.

Windrush: preserving the past

The plight of the children of the Windrush generation – Commonwealth immigrants who have lived and worked in the UK for decades has dominated the political agenda for several weeks. Yesterday, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd bowed to the inevitable and resigned from her post.

Some of the families of these Windrush migrants have been threatened with deportation, denied access to NHS treatment, benefits and pensions and stripped of their jobs. The UK government has now apologised and offered compensation. The reason why these individuals have not been able to prove that they have lived in the UK for so long is largely because records have been lost. And it appears that one of the primary sources, the old ‘landing card’ system which was in use at the time, have now been destroyed.

These cards had been kept in the basement of an office block in Croydon but in about 2009 they were shredded. According to this Guardian report, an employee suggested digitising the records but was told that there were no resources. ‘He remembered protesting: “Even if half the people are dead, they are historical records.” His manager responded that the cards were “redundant”.’

One of the most useful resources in my research into the lives of all the men who took part on the Dams Raid (now published as The Complete Dambusters, plug, plug) have been genealogical records. Firms like Ancestry have done us all a great service in digitising resources such as US landing cards, and I simply don’t believe that they would not have offered to take the UK landing cards off the Home Office’s hands. And according to this BBC article, the National Archives already holds the passenger list from the Empire Windrush itself so it too should have been consulted.

Swashing down Hill Street

Near the top of my personal list of typefaces never to be used is Bookman. (Also present: Souvenir, University Roman, Eurostile.) So it was with some pain that most weeks throughout  the 1980s I sat through the opening credits in order to watch one of the best TV cop shows of all time. I refer, of course, to Hill Street Blues, whose creator Steven Bochco has recently died.

Great TV it might have been (as indeed was its successor, NYPD Blue) but I only just forgave the producers the use of (ugh) Bookman Bold Italic, with extra swashes, for the title sequences. Most episodes started with the day’s briefing, given by the desk sergeant, which always ended: ‘Let’s be careful out there.’ A good motto for life.

Blaming the Brits

As a Brit living in Ireland I’m used to being blamed for everything that ever went wrong over here. These include Oliver Cromwell, the Famine and pints of Guinness being poured in one go without a respectful pause.

This attitude is now being extended to the forthcoming Irish referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, the clause which grants ‘the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

The result of this clause has been that women who, for whatever reason, decide that they need an abortion are forced either to travel to the UK or another country or – and this is becoming even more prevalent – order suitable ‘abortion pills’ off the internet, and administer them to themselves. It is, as the phrase goes over here, an Irish solution to an Irish problem.

The government has at last decided to act, and is proposing a very sensible change to the constitution which will remove the above clause and substitute one which allows the Irish Oireachtas (parliament) to bring in a new bill. This, the government has stated, will allow unlimited abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Another sensible decision, since this allows there not to be a special clause covering pregnancy as a result of rape or incest.

However, this sensible change is being opposed tooth and nail by the ‘pro-life’ lobby, and the above posters are now being installed around Dublin. The implication in them is that the new proposal is being foisted on an unsuspecting nation by the Brits and their Godless ways, trying to ‘bring abortion to Ireland’.  I hope this narrow nationalism will be soundly defeated on 25 May and I’m pleased to say that my 22-year-old daughter and her friends, who are currently studying abroad, have already booked flights home in order to vote.
Together for Yes
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How the Guardian tabloid masthead has evolved

Two weeks into the Guardian’s redesign as a tabloid, it’s interesting to see how the masthead has evolved. Here are the mastheads from the first five days:

Safe to say, there is a lot going on in all of them.

But it seems that now it has been decided to change things a bit – mainly by introducing a faint blue tint into the background. And on both Monday and Tuesday, the number of other items in the box was reduced considerably. Here is yesterday’s masthead (6 February):

The words The Guardian have been lifted slightly to leave space between them and the four fine rules which separate the masthead from the splash headline below. The typography is restricted to two shades of blue and black.

However, today (7 February) – bang! All the clutter is back, and the colour palette for the typography has been wildly expanded.

It’s a design which is obviously evolving.

I’m still not sold on the type used in the masthead itself. It was described on the first day as being specially drawn for the purpose. To me, it looks too much like that ghastly 70s kitsch typeface, ITC Tiffany Heavy:

I know the individual letterforms aren’t much the same, but it is the overall effect which immediately reminded me. Each to their own, I suppose.