Today, I came to the startling realisation that I am living in the most clichéd of small-town settlements. Seriously. We were in the news this week, wholeheartedly and unashamedly playing up to the hillbilly stereotype that the world at large tends to grant to us. You may indeed have heard of us.
The name may conjure up images of a foul smell pervading the air, or evolutionally challenged locals swigging White Lightning while lounging on the seagull shit stained statue of the illustrious Robert Blake. Indeed you may also think of the sprawling commercial battering ram that constitutes our behemoth of a tertiary education system, Bridgwater College. Where else, I ask you, could you study History of Art in the morning, Race Car Mechanics in the Afternoon and finish with an evening class in Advanced Nuclear Thermodynamic Safety? The course selection alone is indicative of the schizophrenic nature of the town I call home. After all, the above images of a smelly town full of Neanderthals is but one side, the glossy underbelly of this rural town (even if the gloss is the remnants of the abandoned cellophane factory).
Bridgwater College was ground-breaking. Seriously. If you want a good time in November, we are the Place To Be. The jewel in our crown is the quite frankly amazing spectacle of Bridgwater Carnival, one of the biggest illuminated carnivals in the world. A feat of engineering, nowhere else has the balls to dedicate itself to such a ephemeral and expensive pursuit. For a small town to produce something so awe inspiring and some would argue tacky, is a marvellous thing. More about which in November when Carnival season rolls around.
But back to this week. Why were we in the news? Well, we had an unidentified object in the river which managed to bring Bridgwater to a standstill. There was a dizzying free falling spiral of news coverage about this incident. There were pictures of tens of people packed onto the main bridge staring gormlessly into the murky tepid waters of the Parrett. Some people committed to the course, with one lady dedicating two hours to the cause of staring at an Unidentified Floating Object. Some claimed it to be a body – ‘look you can see the hand flapping!’ – and the popular theory of it being some kind of genetic experiment gone wrong, a cross between a turtle and a pig. The local newspaper of course had a field day with this and busted out their rapidly gathering dust copy of Photoshop to give us….well….look here – http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/8953181.UPDATED__Mystery_object_may_have_been_identified/
That my friends is a PigTurtle. Or a Purtle. Or indeed a Tig. Whatever portmanteau you choose, it’s a pretty silly idea of an animal. Anyway the confusion was all cleared up today by the startling revelation it was in fact a dead pig stuck on a tree bough. Any one who lives within sneezing distance of the town could have told you that it was probably a dead animal. This year alone we have had at least one sheep and one cow exploding on the banks. We are after all, a rural community.
Oh well. Worldwide notoriety was fun while it lasted! We managed to trend on Twitter (this seems to be a fairly valid barometer of popularity these days) and look at some of the headlines we inspired:
Yes I am aware we are the newest internet laughing stock. But even keyboard cat had to start somewhere.