- Saturday 20th February 2016, 7:51pm
- Sunderland, England
- 64 posts
My first submission to the Critique board!
It's my submission to Unspun. I've not heard back from them, so they may like, they may not. I was going for a Last Week Tonight with John Oliver kind of vibe, a longer rant on one subject. I wrote in total about 5,000 words then edited it down to a side of A4, so it ends a bit suddenly and I couldn't include as much information as I wanted. Nevertheless, here it is!
A week into the New Year and we're still cleaning up the mess from Desmond, Eva and Frank. Not the elderly relatives who land at your door on Christmas day, demanding silence for the Queen's Speech then talking all the way through the Doctor Who special- 'I don't care if you thought Hartnell was the best Doctor, Gran; give Capaldi a chance!', but rather the storms that battered most of northern Britain, causing widespread flooding and leaving Leeds city centre resembling something from a bible story- and not Sodom and Gomorrah this time. Now, I know what you're thinking- the Met Office named a storm 'Frank'? Yes, they did. Naming storms is a new practice in the UK, the idea being that it makes following the storm's progress easier, and raises awareness of the danger that each storm poses. But calling a dangerous storm 'Frank' is bit like calling Harrison Ford's character in The Temple of Doom 'Peterborough Jones'. If they really wanted to portray how dangerous a storm is they should call it 'the wet death' or 'yes, Donald Trump really could be the next President'- when it happens, hide under a table and await the all-clear! The problem with giving storms names, especially human ones, is that they are pre-loaded with meaning. Every name means something to somebody- friends, teachers or lovers; they instil emotion as soon as you hear them, regardless of context. For example, if the UK was about to be hit by a storm called 'Mr. Bosanko', I'd immediately duck to avoid the meteorological equivalent of a blackboard rubber flying through the sky, whereas if 'Storm Tina' was on the way, I wouldn't be too bothered- sure, it might kill my pet rabbit but at least I'd get a handjob in the disabled toilets at work.
The devastating effects of the flooding on the north of the country have brought up accusations of a north-south divide when it comes to the allocation of flood defence funds, with Yorkshire MPs arguing that the amount of disruption caused by the flooding wouldn't be tolerated in London. Well, neither would the Chuckle Brothers, but they're still happily finding work in the Rotherham area. Looking at the figures, they seem to have a point- in 2011 plans for a £190m flood defence along the River Aire in Leeds was scrapped because it was deemed 'too expensive', 3 years later £296m was found to improve defences in the Thames Valley. Last week, the River Aire flooded, and large parts of Leeds were turned into a kind of dirty Venice. The problem is that flood defence money isn't necessarily spent where it's most needed, it's allocated on an 'economic benefit' basis- for every £1 spent on flood defence there must be a minimum economic benefit of £8 and obviously the money is spent where the big business and expensive houses are- the south. It's why the Cereal Killer Café in Brick Lane benefits from a half-a-billion-pound flood defence while the Butty Barn in Leeds gets a couple of sandbags and a Vileda super-mop.
Unless the way flood funding is changed, the north won't get any more money until the economy in the north becomes stronger, and it won't become stronger until big businesses are encouraged to venture north of the Watford gap. In an attempt to redress the north-south economic imbalance George Osbourne has been championing the idea of a Northern Powerhouse, a conglomerate of northern cities that would take on the business world, like an economic Megazord from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and make it a more attractive option for business investment. The problem is that there's no such thing as a Northern Powerhouse, unless 'Northern Powerhouse' is Nicola Sturgeon's Tinder profile-name. Businesses are unwilling to setup in the north because all of the money is in the south- residents in the south of England enjoy twenty-four times the investment in infrastructure than their northern neighbours. Although, to be fair to George Osbourne, he has managed to garner international support for his Northern Powerhouse scheme- the Chinese have promised to invest over £2bn in the area. Judging by the constant refusal of the government to improve river defences and lower the possibility of flooding, it looks like the investment involves turning the north into a giant paddy field. There's a lot of money in rice.