If you've never seen the wonderful Angry People in Local Newspapers blog, do go and have a look. It describes a type of local newspaper story - someone is angry about something, and is standing pointing at something or with their arms folded looking at something - which occasionally trickles through to the national press. Generally when it does go national it's because it ticks a couple of boxes - jobsworths and health & safety, for example, or political correctness to complete the set.
The story of pensioner Brian Wakley, refused entry to a bus because he was carrying a tin of paint, is just such a thing. Here's an angry person in a local newspaper - his local paper, the Bournemouth Echo. Look at the photo! He's got a pot of paint and everything, and he looks really angry.
This story has been picked up by our friends at the BBC and the Daily Mail, among others, who have, well, they've changed a couple of paragraphs or something, and it's suddenly a big deal. Except... I couldn't help thinking I'd seen something like this before. Is it really a surprise you can't carry a tin of paint on a bus? I'm pretty sure I already knew this. Ah yes:
There we go. Same story. Pensioner... paint... stranded... walk home... picture of him looking angry with a pot of paint... but that was the Liverpool Echo from 2008. Seems it didn't 'go national' that time - maybe there was some real news about something important going on at the time - but I do recall the story, and I wasn't living in Liverpool... maybe it made it onto the radio or something. Or maybe I'm thinking of another story back in 2008 - when a 'health and safety row erupted', according to the Northern Echo, when a man wasn't allowed on a bus because... yes, you've guessed it.
Maybe these are all isolated incidents and most of the time you're allowed to take the bus with tins of paint or anything else you like, and it's just a handful of evil bus drivers who, for some kind of health and safety-related nastiness, decide not to let paint-wielding passengers on. Or maybe this kind of story happens all the time. This letter in the local paper in Leicester might suggest that bus companies everywhere are a bit averse to carrying paint around all over the place, and it's not an isolated incident.
So you have to ask: is it really news? Two minutes of searching on the internet finds examples from Dorset, Newcastle, Leicester and Liverpool of people not being allowed paint tins on buses. Maybe this is just one of those stories that keeps on happening, because it's not a rare event at all, and maybe there are pretty understandable reasons for not letting you on the bus with a tin of paint. Ah, but that would deprive us all of another angry person in a local newspaper, and another example of health and safety supposedly gone mad, wouldn't it?