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This England: The Newsreel! November 30th 2018

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On This Day: “The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”

Yorkshireman, Captain James Cook begins his third and last trip to the Pacific, 1776

 

Friends less phoney

Family and friends who look at their mobile phone during meals together, rather than engaging in the conversation, press buttons in more ways than one. But at long last, one restaurant has taken the initiative, becoming the first in Britain to introduce a ban on mobiles in their restaurants.

In an attempt to improve the experience of meal times, Frankie & Benny’s has introduced no-phone zones in all 250 of its UK restaurants and are offering free children’s meals as an incentive to take part. Surprisingly, it’s the children who are leading the charge rather than the parents; research by the company showed that 72% of children wished that their parents spent less time engrossed in mobile devices at mealtimes. The power of communication, eh?

 

Pot luck

Forget the Holy Grail: a £4 pot used as a toothbrush holder has been confirmed as a 4000-year-old treasure – and as you might expect, has got its lucky owner smiling.

Karl Martin, who works at an auction house in Derby, found the small pot at a local car boot sale but after five years decided to ask an antiques expert to examine it who revealed it was indeed an ancient treasure from Afghanistan.

Talk about something rarer than hen’s teeth! Though we reckon, what with the humidity of the bathroom and the likelihood of a few toothpaste marks, it’s lucky this little pot didn’t suffer any signs of decay.

 

Dog tired

Having trouble catching 40 winks? Well this is the news that you actually sleep better if you have a dog… though only if you’re a woman, mind.

According to a new survey, men and cats make disruptive bed-fellows while dogs are associated with more cosy, reassuring feelings. With regard to cats, Christy Hoffman, the lead author, told the CTVNews website: ‘Cats tend to be more active at night than dogs or humans… I hear a lot of stories of people talking about their cats pawing at them at 3 o’clock in the morning, when the cat might be ready to go for the day – but the human and dog are not usually ready to go at 3 o’clock’.

Perhaps an insight not quite robust enough to hail in a new era of dogs on the bed, cats and men on the sofa. Still, it gives the morning ‘hair of the dog’ a whole new meaning, doesn’t it…

 

Trees that needle

Getting the Christmas Tree home and instated is the source of many a magical Christmas memory – though in truth, it can be a bit of a palaver.

So just imagine suppling a tree on the scale of Trafalgar Square or Covent Garden. As Christmas tree supplier, Mike De Butts told Time Out earlier this week, ‘… when the tree gets too big, it starts to be a different proportion. The Trafalgar Square tree got slated a couple of years ago because people thought it looked like a cucumber’.  

As well as being funny shapes, larger trees are also more likely to need sprucing up: ‘we usually add in some extra branches to fill in the gaps. In some cases, suppliers will basically stick two separate trees together’.

Best to go for a fake? Not according to Mike: ‘The thing about artificial trees is the amount of plastic that goes into making them. They might be better if you use them for 100 years – but will you?’. Hmmm… perhaps best not to finish with the firs quite yet.

 

No need for sour grapes?

A group of friends, who came up with the admirable idea of putting labels next to foods in supermarkets that are most needed by food banks, has more than tripled donations in Exeter. Callum Pardoe, 16, was one of 13 teenagers, involved on the project formed as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS), a government scheme for young people designed to impart skills for work and life’. Callum pointed out that ‘the main problem is that you only see the food bank donation bin when you leave the store and people can’t be bothered to go back in and buy items to donate’.

Not everyone was 100% impressed however. As reported in The Times, Mark Richardson, manager of the Exeter food bank, said that he had tried to set up a labelling scheme for years but had been rejected. ‘Then this group of NCS teenagers went in and got it done immediately and with great enthusiasm. It’s great – a bit galling – but great’, he admitted, no doubt a little painfully.

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