Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On The Breadline

It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of being a skinflint. I don't mind splashing a bit of cash when it's warranted. At the same time, in Austerity Britain it pays to keep an eye on prices. 

I've blogged previously about my love of bread-making - and in particular my use of a particular organic flour produced by Doves Farm. When I first mentioned this, I highlighted how I could buy 1.5kg bags of their wholemeal flour for just 60p, in Sainsbury's.  That was in January 2008.

A little later (March 2008) I noted how the price had all but doubled, to £1.19 for a bag.

It's been a year or so since I made a loaf, and I wanted to return to the fray.  Imagine my horror to discover that Sainsbury's now charge £1.99 for the same 1.5kg.  That's an increase of 350% in less than five years.

I'm not so witless as to think that prices stand still - but inflation has been running at an all time low for the last few years. I'm sure some of the increase is due to increasing demand for wheat, at a time when harvests haven't always been great.  Nevertheless, I suspect someone's making a killing somewhere along the line.

Monday, 10 September 2012


If anybody is reading this, please arrange some assistance for me. I am being imprisoned against my will be a group of evil tripe barons.

This posting is my equivalent of a message in a bottle, so I hope one of my readers picks it up. About six months ago I (reluctantly) agreed to return to the old family firm of William Blunts and Sons, manufacturers and purveyors of fridge magnets since 1876. I had a few ideas about how they could move into the 20th century by embracing the internet, so I wasn't too dispirited by the idea of returning to the Blunt fold. My days as a journalist are well behind me, so eking out a few bob in my dotage by helping to flog acrylic fridge magnets seemed a reasonable proposition.

The move back to the Blunt magnet empire was first mooted a year ago, and I promised to mull it over. Then, out of the blue, I received a call to say that someone had found a haul of old documents which appeared to be the archives of my own family, the Blunts. The stash of material was so large that I asked a friend of mine, Dr Derek Ripley, to have a look at it. He subsequently agreed to write up a sort of official history of the family, and this was published in July of this year.

Through some arrangement I don't fully understand, he asked the Tripe Marketing Board to publish his book. This was apparently their first foray into publishing outside of recipe books. As Dr Ripley is an old friend of mine, I agreed to help him promote his book (particularly since it included the history of the family firm). Slowly but surely the tentacles of the Tripe Marketing Board have embraced me. Two weeks ago I was sent on a Tweeting course and informed that the Board 'expected' me to issue some 20 'tweets' a day to fulfill my 'moral' obligation to my friend. Since then, I feel that I have become a prisoner in my own home, regurgitating tripe via my mobile phone and through these columns (you must have noticed, surely?)

Where I thought I was promoting Dr Ripley's book, I now see that this is merely a device to promote tripe! Like many of the media, I thought this was the other way round - that the TMB had perhaps been invented to promote Dr RIpley's book (The Times certainly thought so). Now, however, I hear that sales of tripe have doubled in some parts of the UK and that on Saturday last, in Wigan, the tripe stall there sold out of produce after a promotional event by the TMB's Men In White.

To make matters worse, they were handing our promotional fridge magnets for tripe, creating yet another layer of confusion for an already bewildered public. Are the fridge magnets to promote tripe, or Dr Ripley's book? Is Dr Ripley's book, which tells the true and detailed history of the fridge magnet, merely a device to sell more fridge magnets (my colleagues at William Blunt and Sons will certainly hope so!).

If you have followed any of this, please send for help for me. The TMB have asked me to publish this video from their YouTube Channel. I feel I have no alternative but to do so. I wish I could say it clarified matters, but it doesn't.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tripe In The News

Those doughty folk at The Tripe Marketing Board managed to wheedle their way in to the City Diary on the Times, yesterday...

Where will they turn up next??

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tripe Fights Back!

Five years ago I reported here that tripe sales had been facing a year on year decline since 1953. The Tripe Marketing Board were marshaling their (admittedly slim) resources and preparing a comeback for the product. 
It has taken time. 

Fortunately, a bequest from a recently-deceased tripe lover means they have been able to invest heavily in advertising and social media. They now have a website and a YouTube Channel (to which they are inviting subscribers).  They seem to be using Facebook to good effect and recently offered me the post of Chief Twitter Feed. I can't pretend I'm unhappy as the retainer they have offered will pay for a nice little holiday somewhere warm over the winter (and I don't mean Southport!). 

As their slogan puts it: Love Life. Love Tripe. I don't think I could put it better than that myself. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Check Your Facts!

It's a long time since I've had to make reference to Wally Green. As a cub reporter on the Stockport Examiner, Wally was a great influence on me. It was towards the end of March, 1967, and I received a phone call inviting me to a meeting of the Avril Phirst Appreciation Society - supposedly a group set up to commemorate the career of an Oldham actress from the 1930's. 

I was all ready to attend, when Wally suggested I make a few enquiries about the Society. Needless to say, they didn't check out, and I managed to avoid a bit of egg on my face by covering something which was clearly an April Fool's joke. If only the Wally's Wise Words were available to today's journalists. It started here: 

and in less than 24 hours had appeared here 

not to mention here


Now, did anyone even attempt to contact Sir Norman Wrassle, who is quoted so extensively? Wally's Wise Words should be tattooed on the arm of every journalist. Check your facts - especially if they appear on the World Wide Web! 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympic Fever Sweeps The Sitting Room

While I can't pretend I'm not enjoying the Women's Beach Volleyball, I must confess I am finding the saturation coverage of the Olympics a little difficult to bear. 

I can't help feeling that more local sporting attractions are being somewhat overshadowed by the media's constant focus on London 2012. It's time the balance was redressed...


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Family Fortunes

It has come as something of a shock to discover that I am related by direct descent from some of the north west's greatest failures...


Thanks for nothing, Derek J Ripley

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sorry, I Forgot...

It's been a busy time here at Chez Blunt - with much of my free time being devoted to revitalising the fortunes of the old family firm, William Blunt and Sons. 

 I'm told it's not many more weeks before their online shop will be fully up and running again after its over-haul.  At the same time, I was approached a couple of weeks ago by my old sparring partner Thomas Hamburger Jnr who, against all the odds, has dusted off his unfinished online novel and is close to completing it.  He asked me if I minded casting my journalist's eye over a late draft, and I've spent a few evenings doing exactly that.

As if that wasn't enough, my friend Derek Ripley has had to remind me that I promised to plug his new book when it came out.

Forgotten Lancashire and Parts of Cheshire and the Wirral was published on 4 July and sales seem to be doing remarkably well in Lancashire, parts of Cheshire and the Wirral, from what he tells me.

There does seem to be some confusion about the book, however, as his publishers have classified it as 'humour' rather than as 'local history'.  Derek is a bit peeved about that, I don't mind saying.

Anyway, in his plundering of the archives of the old family firm, he's come across some interesting documents and artifacts, including this example of a propaganda fridge magnet that was dropped over north west England by the Luftwaffe in 1943.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Pole Dancing

Who'd have thought it? 

My good friend Derek Ripley has uncovered evidence of the first Pole Dancing Club in Failsworth, near Oldham (one of my former haunts - Oldham, that is, not Failsworth).

It just goes to show you what the power of history is. Derek's new book is out in a week or so. I'll doubtless be asked to plug it, so I might as well direct you to his website now.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

I was delighted to learn that my good friend, Derek J  Ripley, is about to have a book published.

I first met Derek when he was working as a librarian in Stockport and I was a cub reporter on the Stockport Argus and Mail, and we have kept in touch across the decades. 

I've always had a soft spot for history myself, so when I learned that the old Blunt family archive had been discovered after being lost since the late 1970's, it was natural that I should turn to Derek to help catalogue and compile the index. When he suggested he could put together a book from the material, I was happy to let him get on with it. 

 I wish him every success with his publication - there are more details here.

Monday, 21 May 2012

20th Century Spatchcock

It seems as though the public are responding in droves to the recent appeal for lost Alfred Spatchcock films. For such an under-rated director, it's touching to know that his former audiences remember and cherish his contribution to British cinema. 

In the last two weeks, there have been over a hundred films submitted to the archivist trying desperately to catalogue newly-discovered Spatchcock films. I understand that none other than Derek Ripley has been asked to explore the potential of collating these into printed form, which is an exciting prospect. 

Recently re-discovered films include: 

Gunfight at the O. K. Sauce Factory (1957) 
Everything You Wanted To Know About Socks (But Were Afraid To Ask) (1972) 
The Woollen Horse (1950) and 
The St. Valentine's Day Manicure (1967) 

I am sure, though, that these hundred new films are only the tip of a very large iceberg. Spatchcock was nothing if not prolific in his output, and what his films lacked in quality they more than made up for in quantity. So, if you are aware of any lost films, I can only appeal to you to contact the website that is collating them. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

An Appeal From The Heart

It's not often that Bill Blunt lends his imprimatur to other projects - particularly when there is no money involved. However one such project has caught my eye, and I am pleased to promote it to my readers. 

More years ago than I care to think, I saw my first Alfred Spatchcock film, and it made such an impression on me that I soon considered myself to be something of a fan of his.  I'm not sure whether it was the sheer scale of his output - he is reckoned to have produced as many as 20,000 films from his tiny studio in Hollinwood, Oldham - or the fact that, like me, he is a northerner through and through.
Whatever the reason, there's no doubting that his was a rare talent.  I will always remember the first time I saw Murder on the Transpennine Express (1974) - although the critics panned it, I could see it was a classic in the making.

Alfred Spatchcock Lost Films

Sadly, many of his films have disappeared, and now the hunt is on to try to relocate them.  Can I ask that readers check their lofts and garages to see whether they might not have a missing reel or two?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A Slight Sense of Trepidation

I'm not sure what I thought when I first saw the advert for Ryanairhotels.com land in my in-box this morning. 

I only know that a shudder went through me, as I recalled my last attempt at booking a flight through Mr O'Leary's website. There are so many boxes to check and uncheck that I wasn't sure at one point whether I hadn't booked a flight but instead bought myself a whole new (unwanted) set of luggage.

So what will the Ryanair Hotels experience be like? If they adopt anything like the business model of the airline, I imagine when you check in you'll be charged extra if you've brought any luggage.   And we'll be asked if we want to pay more for towels, soap and lighting in our rooms.  Breakfast will no doubt be served in some hideous yellow and blue dining room, selected from a menu where each item is individually (over)priced and generally not very appealing.

I think I'll stick to Holiday Inn.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Sit Back & Enjoy The Tripe

It's almost five years to the day since I first extolled the virtues of tripe, and wished success to the people at the Tripe Marketing Board in their campaign to persuade the public to eat more of the stuff. 

It's an uphill battle in a fast-food age, I suppose, but that doesn't mean we should turn our back on tripe.  Perhaps as a result of my posting, or perhaps because they simply recognise an afficionado of tripe when they see one,  I am delighted to report that I have now been approached by the TMB (what took them so long?) to act as an advisor and to help them judge the 2012 Annual Tripe Awards

I will of course keep my readers posted.  There's a lot of tripe about - it just seems a shame no one wants to eat it.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

It's Grim Oop North

When, at licence payer expense the BBC decides to move its news operation to Salford, that's their business.     

I've been following this story with interest, as you might imagine.

Now I see that the BBC isn't content with transplanting its news production in the north - it wants Salford to move out.  I, for one, think that's a bit rich.

 Meanwhile, I'll be monitoring the news output to check for the 'subtle differences' predicted by Adam Bullimore...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Coffee Time

It's a little over four years since I sang the praises of Sainsburys Basics Ground Coffee.   I'm still a regular purchaser (decanted,of course, into a smart Illy tin so my visitors won't know).

At the time, 227gm could be bought for 79p and was something of a bargain against the likes of Lavazza at £1.99 a packet.  Less than half the price.

In the intervening years, Lavazza has increased in price to around £2.99 for 250gm (about 12p per gram).

Compare that to Sainsburys Basics, now selling at £1.69 - or 7.4p per gram.

And suddenly, the basics isn't quite the bargain it once was.

Keep your eyes open folks.   Vanilla ice cream's the next one for the inflation pump.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

David Cameron Speaks

Courtesy of my son Jasper, I am pleased to be able to present the debut of a poster which the Government will shortly be issuing... 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

I am pleased to announce that my son Jasper has kindly agreed to join me in re-vitalising the fridge magnet empire of Wm Blunt & Sons.

When I deigned to return to the old firm, I was hardly prepared for what faced me.  The shop was looking tired, the stock old and faded.  The once-proud history of fridge magnet manufacture that bore the name Blunt had sunk into a dusty backwater.

Well, not for nothing did I spend all those hours last year watching Mary Portas as she re-invigorated old companies and shops.  

And I've called on Jasper to bring Wm Blunt and Sons firmly into the twentieth century - at last people all over the world can examine our wares on the internet.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of this achievement, or of Jasper, who is also turning his design skills to preparing a whole new line in fridge magnet excellence.

Meanwhile, I continue to delve into the family archives, and am constantly amazed by the famous Blunts I am encountering, who can only be an inspiration as I seek to once again put Wm Blunt & Sons on the map.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Equally Blunt

A moment of idle Googling brought me to this fine site.  

I am always happy to promote a fellow Blunt - we are not, to my knowledge, related, but I do admire this gentleman's doodles.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ice Cold In Birkenhead

It seems appropriate to use my blog to announce to the world that I am hanging up my quill and returning to work in the family business.

There will be those, I am sure, who think this is a cowardly act.  It was over fifty years ago, after all, when I turned my back on the old family firm of William Blunt & Sons to embark on a career in newsprint.  It seems like only yesterday.

Since then, there isn't a newspaper in Stockport that I've not written for - and I've been proud of my contribution to local British journalism. There comes a time, however, when even the most seasoned hack must call it a day.  Reluctantly, that day has come.  My life's canvas has been the tabloid: the smell of printer's ink has followed me from bar to bar in Fleet Street and beyond.  Now, my canvas has shrunk to just 7cm x 4.5cm, as I contemplate a dotage devoted to fridge magnets.  

It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of surrender. As I begin the next chapter of my life, I do so proudly, picking up the mantle of my ancestor, William Gladstone Blunt, who had the foresight to found a firm that is still going strong a century and a half later.

I will not, however, entirely desert this blog, or its loyal readers.  I plan to update you on my new life, and I doubt I will be able to resist the urge to comment on world affairs - particularly where they affect Stockport.

So, it's 'au revoir' rather than 'goodbye'.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I'm Big, I'm Bold... I'm Back!

I am sure that there are one or two of my loyal readers who are wondering why Bill Blunt hasn't published in a while.

Whatever the reason, I am pleased to inform you that his trenchant prose, absent from the blogosphere for months now, is set to return - and with a vengeance!

I may be in my dotage, and there may be younger journalists who are less fearless than me.  Or more fearsome - depending on how you want to view it.  But I, for one, will not be silenced: particularly now that the injunction has expired.

I am now free, once more, to cast my light on the murky mis-doings of business, the dingy depredations of politicians and the spurious shenanigans of sport.

Legally, I am not allowed to mention the court action that led to the suspension of Bill Blunt's Blog.  So I won't.  Suffice it to say that I am back, and my quill is sharper than ever!