Friday, 7 June 2013

Only 'lazy council tenants' get pests

Andrew Parkes, the editor of News Shopper, the paper which drops through letter boxes around Bromley every Thursday, may be a very charming man, brimming with generosity of spirit and forgiveness. But if he is, he certainly keeps it well hidden from view. For his weekly editorials portray a cantankerous, brooding, chippie chap, determinedly convinced the world is plotting against him.

This week, like most others, Mr Parkes has decided to round on council tenants as he is convinced pest infestations only occur in council and rental properties as the inhabitants live in idle squalor.

He writes:

'Is it just me or is it the case whenever there's a "horror" story about an infestation of nasties or fungus breeding from damp it just about always involves people in council or housing association properties.

What can't these people scrub down a wall or put down a few traps like the rest of us?

'Of course anyone seriously wishing to rid themselves of a mouse infestation knows poison is the only real answer, but why doesn't this information filter through to people in rental property?

'It seems to me this feeling that everything is someone else' problem has infected them worse than damp or mice ever could.'

There is probably barely a Victorian property throughout the land which doesn't suffer from damp and few stately homes without an issue with mice. But hey ho, what does that matter? It's much more fun having a pop at those feral, feckless council tenants, with fridges in their gardens and paint peeling from the walls.

Of course, it's not the first time - nor will it be the last - Andrew Parkes uses stereotype and anecdote to casually stir resentment towards 'lazy tenants' or seeks controversy.

In April he pondered whether some people should be neutered 'for the general good of society'. One was a mother who helped her two killer sons, the other was a mother who spent £1,200 on a baby buggy.

And it's clear he enjoys the notoriety and to an extent it's fun to read his frothing prose. Elsewhere in this week's comment he rails against the 'ever-more nannying state' which tried to prevent the annual cheese rolling event in Gloucestershire. 'The race has been run since the early 19th Century,' he wails, 'and die-hard runners refused to give in to this politically-correct nonsense'. At which point he presumably wants us to roundly cheer.

In fact, the more I read his comment pieces, the more he reminds me of professional pub politician Nigel Farage. It would be no surprise if Mr Parkes was soon to be using his editorials to cheer lead for UKIP; they seem a perfect fit.

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