the state of our roads

Following on from a groundbreaking article (car ban or carbon?) written on the traffic congestion plague affecting Oxford, investigative journalist Jan Futchinelle’s latest piece focuses on the roads themselves. With kind permission, what follows is the full and recently published article, which many point to as responsible for triggering the recent wave of local popular support, lying beyond the city’s college halls. We are talking here, about the #roadsituation.

THE STATE OF OUR ROADS
Controversy broke out yesterday, after a leaked budgetary document sourced from the luxuriously furnished office of the city council’s head spokesperson Heather Headwoman (42), confirmed less than 20% of road tax revenue is spent on maintaining the county’s road system.
Asked to comment, resident city analyst Marc Bolam (70) told me, “I’m no expert but neither am I surprised by this finding. Nearly everyone in Oxford knows that unless you wish for a broken axle, some roads are effectively no-go areas as a result of potholes. This includes several main arterial routes leading into the city centre.”
Invited to join him if I bought him a sandwich, we both stood standing at a majorly busy inter-section. We watched as cars, motorcycles and bicycle riders bobbing and weaving around potholes as large in diameter and circumference as a family-sized frying pan and as deep as your average common or garden jam jar.
Recognised by passerby Atricia Partmann (52), long time resident of Pigeon Toe Lane for more than fifty years and counting, I asked for her own two penneth on the subject and got back three and six.
“How long before an accident occurs due to a driver swerving to avoid a pothole, or being theatrically thrown off course by driving into one? But nobody cares!” She continued, her eyes watering up. “There’s global developmental delay rife and abundant within the council chambers, while the college knobs mostly travel around Oxford using the university-owned underground tunnel network. You’ll not get any change out of those ƒ∇⊆Κ∃ℜš!”
Elsewhere, I found emotions running high on the subject. Despite displaying my credentials, one elderly gentleman I approached for interview angrily beat me off with an antique walking stick. Although he hadn’t fought in the war, if he had, it wouldn’t have been this he’d have been fighting for, he told me.
A burly youth who helped me off the pavement, shared his experience of remedying potholes himself, in his own street.
“A week later, I woke up to the sound of workmen outside my house, digging out all the repairs I’d done.” He told me. “When challenged, they said it was all about liability and only the council could commission repairs!”
The council is failing in its statutory responsibility to maintain the road network. In place of repairs, expensive leather upholstered office chairs are bought to seat over-salaried senior managers. For the upcoming local elections, I encourage each of my readers to simply write across their ballot paper: “FIX THE BLOODY ROADS”.
Jan Futchinelle
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#roadsituation

 

car ban or carbon?

My dearly devoted Readers, how often I am asked: “What news of Oxford, friend! Tell us, won’t you just?” Alright, alright, okay, I press pause on my own humble ramblings and offer-up an answer to this very query. Here, I present a shooting star amongst Oxford’s Glitterati, a journalist I strongly identify with, delivering the qualities of both intrigue and insight. I discovered his writing in a local publication found folded underneath the leg of a wobbly wooden table in Dank Cafe, the basement eatery at the university’s esteemed museum of antiquity. Enjoy! That’s all that’s really left to say. Read-on Reader, and enjoy!

CAR BAN OR CARBON?

As anyone familiar with the sprawling shanty town of Oxford, in southerly central England knows, we are the world leaders in traffic congestion. Los Angeles? Give-us-all-a-break! Shanghai? A mere tootle around Toyland. The dodgems of Rome and Paris? The famous Delhi welli? No, not if you combined the entire list, would you get within spittoon distance of the plight Oxfordian’s experience, each and every single day of their lives.
Recent social media attention, surprisingly, is accurate and true! The ‘road situation’, as it is referred to, means visitors have practically ceased to arrive here. According to the last count-up of statistics compiled by the Classified Central Government Information Service, reports indicate numbers lower than figures recorded in the early part of the 20th century. Ironically, this coincides with the period in history dating back to just before the mass production of civilian vehicles entered full swing.
I caught up with one former expert on the subject, on his regular walk through each of the ancient university parks. Reduced to a single mantra, he robotically quotes meticulously calligraphed black ink writing from the sandwich board he now wears: “The full circle has cometh!”
It is measurable to actually see how far we have come, when members of the public are witnessed openly agreeing with “Professor Bonkers”, as he is affectionately referred to. This, despite his close resemblance to an aged version of a caveman, from a low-budget 1960’s British film I have in mind. I witnessed many of them for myself, people commonly spotted with phone cameras held aloft, cheek-to-cheek, a ‘thumbs-up’ gesture, smiling and laughing with the hirsute, smelly and trouserless old man.
A motion tabled by the council in recent days looks to enforce a ban, proposing an as yet ill-defined and tactlessly named ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ for all motorised vehicles, with introduction set for next year. Although details remain sketchy at present, it is believed the ban will extend to include bicycles within the next three years. On Thursday evening, The Oppositional Party will seek an amendment to encompass the prohibition of all bikes with child trailers “…within the next 28 days.” Sources close to senior officials say this is likely to meet with approval, with the Lord Mayor expected to rubber stamp the decree, within the next 72 hours.
When asked what will happen to anyone in breach of the ban, the same senior official is reported to have replied: “I suggest you do not doubt us! Vee have our vays.” At which point, with a click of his heels, the representative retreated behind the oak doors of the Jacobethan town hall, locking them noisily with a large key seen dangling from a chain attached to the belt of his pinstripes.
Public opinion appears divided between apathy and fanatical hysteria, with little hope emerging for any kind of middle ground. Hospitals have issued a joint statement, urging residents to ‘keep taking the medicine.’
On the international stage, the Estonian president has cancelled her planned trip, quoted as saying “The prospect of closer trade relations with Oxford, has today been irreparably damaged.”
In reply, the head woman for the town council Heather Headwoman insisted, “We don’t really care, to be honest.”
Other cities around the world are watching the current course of unfolding events, with differing degrees of interest. A spokesgirl for the world read a statement to the gathered media pack earlier this morning, in which she mentioned the new shopping mall as good enough reason to walk into Oxford.
She might be right, I’m not sure, but what I am sure about is that we will certainly all see if she is right, soon enough!

credit:
Journalist, Jan Futchinelle
#roadsituation

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Short Fiction: Breaking News, Episode 3

Following on from the well-received and successful posting concerning local Oxford news, and after much cajoling from well-meaning readers, supporters, friends, family and financial backers, this next instalment turns the eye-glass lens toward current European news.
With fluency is 17 languages, including Swiss, Swedish and Swahili (usiniamini?), I have picked out and translated truthful media reports from a variety of viewpoints on the latest political storm to hit European leaders. As with my previous instalment, all now left for me to do, is to insist and encourage you to enjoy! reading this latest humble offering and get on with telling you the story. So… without further ado, in an un-matrimonial sense, I do.

DON’T LOOK, NOW
In a move that has stunned the civilised world, French Président Jean-Michel Macron (39), looks set to introduce a nationwide ban on men looking at their female colleagues in the workplace. In the wake of recent sexual harassment cases springing up across the western half of the globe only, many view this as a knee-jerk reaction. Some are saying the president’s wife Marie-Claire Macron, 28 years senior in age and now struggling to maintain her looks, may have used her widely acknowledged and significant ‘motherly’ role, to influence her husband’s decision. When I telephoned the Élysées Palace yesterday seeking verification of recent statements made in the media, Queen Marie-Claire, as she is known to close associates, informed me ‘Petit Poo-Poo’ remained unavailable for comment.
The German Chancellor, Angola Merkal, in a press statement issued to the press in the early hours of today, is quoted as saying “About bloody time!” While the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs has already tabled an amendment to any future EU-wide edict, proposing only looks proven as ‘lustful’, would actually lead to disciplinary punishment. The Italians, needless to say, are up in arms over the whole situation, with no one in a calm enough state to issue any intelligible response or be heard over the cacophony that marks a usual day in the Parliament Italiano. Further afield in Estonia, President Kersti Getlaid quoting from a much longer speech thought to be in support of France’s increasingly isolated top frog, remarked “We know few are interested, but we say let the people of the free world know the citizens of Estonia are riding up the behinds of our French counterparts.”
Editor’s Note: Although we feel the point made is valid and accurate, editorial pride demands we point out Ms Getlaid only began with her once-weekly English language lessons at the beginning of the year.
Even further afield, with his usual candour, the Australiana PM issued a statement through a senior official, which simply read, “HAH!” Asked to expand on this, the official returned minutes later with, “The Australianian Government believes Mister Macron is a prize prick and has no further comments to add at this time.”
The Former North American Territories are remaining tight-lipped, with Whitehouse officials seen pretending to ‘zip up’ their mouths when asked about the feudal feuds, brewing in the motherlands.
One thing for sure, the question people keep returning to and asking is how long before the ruling spills out of the office, out from the factory floor and TV studios, onto the streets, into bars, strip clubs and homes? When asked for his thoughts, a shady local businessman based in Paris on the west bank of the Seine, replied “Quoi? ‘Ow could I know? I cannot see it into the future! Imbécile.”
And there you have it, an excellent point to finish on. As a member of a group of predatory venture capitalists, my recent investments include a small start-up company working on a contact lens with an apparent fixed stare, meanwhile allowing the wearer to study an entire scene unnoticed. On a personal note, my stock in sunglasses has risen twentyfold.
“The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

Next week, “Why?” At last, an answer to that age-old nut of a question.

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