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News & views

Bad drink and bookless households cast a spell

[9 Jan 2012] Trading Standards officers issued warnings over Christmas and new year about counterfeit wine, vodka and other spirits that contained poisonous quantities of ethanol. They said the clue was often a badly printed label, with names of English cities being commonly misspelt. This follows incidents in 2011 when dodgy bottles of Jacob’s Creek were labelled ‘Wine of Austrlia’. The Trading Standards people are clearly in thrall to the hypothesis that the average booze buyer is a better speller than the average fraudster.

That may not be likely, given the findings of a survey in June 2011 of 18,000 young people by the National Literacy Trust, which showed that three in ten children lived in households that did not possess a single book. It also found these children were two-and-a-half times more likely to fall below the expected reading level for their age.

Meanwhile, a convicted thief has been jailed for three months at Ipswich Crown Court for trying to pervert the course of justice after forging notes from her GP and employer explaining why she couldn’t attend court hearings. The court rumbled her because the notes were full of spelling mistakes including ‘bussiness’, ‘majistrate’ and ‘A,E’ (instead of ‘A&E’), as well as being wonkily typed in the all-capital style of ransom demands.

And in a week of high sensitivity about racism – some real and some imaginary – the Labour party leader Ed Miliband has used Twitter to pay tribute to the late Bob Holness, erstwhile presenter of the quiz show ‘Blackbusters’ or, as everyone else used to call it, Blockbusters. It’s since emerged that Mr Miliband doesn’t compose his own tweets – some hapless lackey is paid to do it for him. [MC]

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