Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Awesome bit of propaganda!

From The Daily Mail:

A single cigarette tossed from an open car window may* have started the inferno that shut the M1, causing travel mayhem and costing the economy millions**. Much of the motorway was still closed yesterday as the Highways Agency came under renewed attack for not repairing the damage more quickly. The full six lanes will not reopen before the end of next week, meaning thousands of families will face Easter travel chaos...

Terry Mirzon, the owner of Apex Metal Recycling whose scrapyard was where the fire began, said: ‘We just don’t know how this could have started – it could have been arson or it could have just been someone throwing a cigarette over the bridge when they were driving by. ‘There’s nothing in our yard that would have been flammable*** enough to cause this as the metal is not kept on site overnight to prevent it being stolen.'****

Police are also investigating two arson attacks near the yard in the early hours of Friday before the blaze started.


* As TFB likes to point out, it's "might' not "may" in that context.

** Perhaps it did, perhaps it didn't, so just knock it off the tens of billions in extra taxes which smokers pay and all the old age pensions they don't claim every year.

*** Well, obviously there was something there that can be broadly described as "Easily ignited and capable of burning rapidly; inflammable".

**** Wot? They remove all the metal from a scrapyard each night? Where do they store it then? In any event, most metals don't burn (except e.g. magnesium, but I doubt they had much of that in their scrapyard).

14 comments:

View from the Solent said...

Perhaps the last sentence in the report might be a teensy-weensy clue.

dearieme said...

"to prevent it being" should read "to prevent its being", "being"'s being a verbal noun.

Mark Wadsworth said...

VFTS, but the arsonists were probably smokers :-)

D, are you sure? Would you really say "I lock the front door to prevent my house's being burgled"?

JuliaM said...

"Police are also investigating two arson attacks near the yard in the early hours of Friday before the blaze started."

Nope, couldn't be that. Not possible. Must have been one of those horrid smokers.

Macheath said...

What Julia said.

And it's not just the content - it's the headline:

Spark that shut the M1: Cigarette thrown from passing car may have set off blaze

listed on the front page so that all those Mail readers who don't actually bother with the boring bits like text are left with the desired impression...

Mark Wadsworth said...

JM and McH: the cunning rozzers are doing a reverse Sherlock Holmes logic, which goes something like this:

"Once you eliminated the most likely cause and not bothered to investigate it, you choose a cause which is most difficult to prove and a culprit who is impossible to convict and that cause, however improbable, must be the truth"

James Higham said...

Wot? They remove all the metal from a scrapyard each night? Where do they store it then?

Was thinking that myself.

dearieme said...

I'd probably say "I lock the front door to avoid being burgled". But I'm serious about verbal nouns: in the days when schools taught stuff, verbal nouns took the possessive. (I dare say it was on a Latin model, and I dare say that it was honoured more often in writing than in speech, but there you are: that's how it was.)

adamcollyer said...

The BBC also had a headline about a cigarette may have caused the blaze early today, but are now quoting the police as saying they are treating it as arson.

Mark Wadsworth said...

D, 'to burgle' is a transitive verb, but I don't think that people (i.e. you) can be burgled, surely houses are burgled and not people? To take an extreme case, imagine a tramp of no fixed abode, can he be burgled? Conversely, can an unoccupied house be burgled? Methinks yes.

AC, so they fluffed the might/may distinction as well?

dearieme said...

A nice point, but when one says "We've been burgled" one means "Our house has been burgled", does one not? Not that I ever have, mind; I suspect our house broadcasts the message "neither rich nor likely to possess up-to-the-minute gizmos". Or maybe we've just been lucky.

Mark Wadsworth said...

D, I doubt whether I could out-pedant you, however, were somebody to say to you "We have been burgled" would you not be tempted to ask "Don't you mean that your house has been burgled?"

Frederick McLean said...

That must have been a bloody big ciggy, it started a major fire where no flammable material was stored. Even the metal is taken away at night and put in a safe that is kept off site in an office somewhere. Unlikely as it is that flammable materials might have been in a scrap yard, will the damage to the M1 be paid for by the scrap yard owner, or is that why the 'not me guv, it was a cigarette' defence is already being aired?

Or is the pedant a ruse, it was actually a Fire Ant?

dearieme said...

"would you not be tempted to ask "Don't you mean that your house has been burgled?"" Not as tempted as I would be to explain that the American "burglarized" is apparently an original usage, and our "burgled" is just snazzy, jazzy British slang. Pedantic or wot?