Monday, 24 August 2009


The Observer = dying. The Independent = dying. thelondonpaper = dead (almost). News International announced last week that the end is nigh for the popular London freesheet, which has a circulation of over 500,000. Unfortunately it was making a loss and was no longer sustainable. The positives from this are a) less litter on the tube, and b) Murdoch failed in his bid to emulate Metro in the evenings - so maybe he isn’t as superhuman as we once thought. He’s still a top newspaper entrepreneur, no doubt about it, but the London free market never brought the dividends he expected. It’s always been a bizarre situation with the Evening Standard and London Lite competing against each other - despite being owned by the same company until an unlikely Russian got in on the act last year.

But despite the fall of any newspaper normally being no cause for celebration, I’m actually quite pleased with this news. The market situation of having two competing freesheets was never a good idea, and it would have worked much better had they merged. But Murdoch would never stoop as low as to join forces with Associated Newspapers, so it was always going to be survival of the fittest. Goodness only knows what will happen to London Lite, although I’ve always preferred it anyway as it’s the only one with a daily Southend United news section! But for advertisers, they will probably be pleased one paper has fallen, as they can still reach those same commuters - an elusive ABC1 group - by promoting themselves in just the London Lite. Most people read both newspapers if they read either, so it’s important to not get too pessimistic about the fall of thelondonpaper... keep smiling :)

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Many congratulations to Dan Antopolski, the comic who won the ‘Dave Award for the Funniest Joke of the Fringe’ in Edinburgh, after winning 18% of the vote. Here we go: “Hedgehogs? Why can’t they just share the hedge?” Funny? Well I’m sure I could do better, but then again I’m unfortunately infamous amongst some of my friends for awful puns. Monty Python once wrote a sketch about a joke being so funny that it killed anyone who saw it - and whilst this was a very good sketch, I’m not sure mine will ever reach those heights. In fact, I sincerely hope not. However one of my favourites over the years was when I was at a Lapland UK attraction with my younger cousins and a girl dressed up as an elf accidentally bumped into a small child. I noted: ‘Hey, that’s surely an ‘elf and safety risk’.

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I’ve got a good reason for why you should have paid more attention in French lessons at school. A British tourist in her early 30s spent the whole night in an Alsace town hall recently after she mistook the ‘Hotel de Ville’ sign to literally mean it was a real ‘hotel’. Whoops. She got locked inside after going to the toilet and could not get out until the morning when someone noticed a sign she had put on the door, saying: “Je suis fermer ici. Est ce possible la porte en ouvrir?” The local mayor said they would place English and German translations of the ‘Hotel de Ville’ sign on the front door. Probably a good idea, but I can’t imagine that many people would make the same mistake...

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I can honestly say that I don’t really like cricket. I just cannot stand watching it - although I’m obviously very pleased that we’ve won the Ashes because Englishmen have shown they can win a sport we invented. So that’s great, but the less said about it the better. Onto more important and interesting things I’ve already got to 10 games this season since July - two Newcastle and eight Southend matches - and have really enjoyed myself so far. But despite my attendance at Newcastle’s superb win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, it’s Southend I want to focus on now.

According to my (reliable) sources, the Shrimpers hold the Football League record for the fewest draws in a season. I know, how exciting. It was three - a record set earlier in this decade. Well we’ve already failed to get anywhere near it this season after drawing our opening four games in a row. The Blues just can’t seem to win in the league, but at least they are hard to beat. Four draws has only been matched by Blackpool in the three divisions as yet, so it must be something to do with the sea breeze... but hopefully Steve Tilson will have a better excuse than that after we get trounced by Hull City tomorrow night.

NEXT WEEK - Reading Festival 2009: My Review