Britain Loves EntertainmentTuneless whistling

If it was performed on The Culture Show, they would give it a posh name like - free-form vocal expressionism, or something. But we know it simply as whistling.

But it’s that particular type of tuneless whistle that your dad does when he’s varnishing or fixing something. It’s the same whistle that delivery men (yes, it does seem to be a male thing) do as they yomp up your driveway with a package.

It’s the birdsong of the contented British worker; the sound of somebody who’s cheerful and they don’t mind you knowing about it. The very best whistlers can warble for 20 to 30 minutes without ever drifting into any discernible melody - it’s something that only comes with practice.

Clever people say that whistling dates back to before humans could talk and the likes of Roger Whittaker, The Clangers and Whistling Jack Smith have helped bring whistling into the mainstream - even Peppa Pig has got in on the act. But for tuneless whistlers it’s not about fame or fortune. It’s about whistling – tunelessly.

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By Tom Law

Britain Loves to HelpGiving stuff away for free
You’ll see a handwritten note with three magical words: ‘Please help yourself’. It’ll usually be attached to a box placed outside a home.
Inside, unless somebody has already helped themselves, you will find some freshly picked apples or pears or raspberries. Or some toys that have been outgrown. Or the note may be attached to an office chair which has just been replaced or an unwanted bean bag.
But whatever it is - it’s free. They’re giving it away. It’s something - for nothing; a mind boggling concept.
This kind of thing is part of a bigger movement, known as freecycling, which has grown in Britain over the past five years or so. There are now more than 500 groups devoted to finding homes for unwanted goods.
But it seems nicer when it’s done by an individual. Even if you don’t need what they’re offering, you still get the glow of knowing the effort somebody has taken to give something away.
We love giving stuff away for free as well. So here, have a free pay as you go SIM card on us.
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By Tom Law

Britain Loves to HelpGiving stuff away for free

You’ll see a handwritten note with three magical words: ‘Please help yourself’. It’ll usually be attached to a box placed outside a home.

Inside, unless somebody has already helped themselves, you will find some freshly picked apples or pears or raspberries. Or some toys that have been outgrown. Or the note may be attached to an office chair which has just been replaced or an unwanted bean bag.

But whatever it is - it’s free. They’re giving it away. It’s something - for nothing; a mind boggling concept.

This kind of thing is part of a bigger movement, known as freecycling, which has grown in Britain over the past five years or so. There are now more than 500 groups devoted to finding homes for unwanted goods.

But it seems nicer when it’s done by an individual. Even if you don’t need what they’re offering, you still get the glow of knowing the effort somebody has taken to give something away.

We love giving stuff away for free as well. So here, have a free pay as you go SIM card on us.

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By Tom Law

Britain Loves a LaughOld wives’ tales
When you are seeking guidance, rules for life or even basic medical advice who are you going to turn to? Experts? Qualified professionals? Proven scientific evidence? I am sorry but that is simply not the British way. We are a nation of tribes and clans and for the best direction we rely on the folksy wisdom of old wives’ tales.For centuries, basic snippets of information have been passed from generation to generation helping to inform us about problems as diverse as pavement cracks, warts and wind direction/facial expressions. The origins of these superstitious nuggets are often unclear but their vital instructions have been invaluable in terrifying children and misinforming the general populous.‘Phooey’, I hear you cry. ‘You’ll never get me ensconced in such voodoo and unreliable mumbo jumbo’. But who doesn’t knock on wood for luck or know that apples keep doctors away or understand that holding a duck upside down on Whitsun will prevent you developing a monobrow? We all have little traits and beliefs we adhere to. And it has been scientifically proven that swallowed chewing gum both sticks to the ribs and takes at least seven years to digest. But not by any scientists you’d want to leave your test results with.And some of these crazy sayings may even be vaguely true. Warm milk does make you sleepy, carrots can prevent diseases that lead to vision loss and sucking your thumb does make your teeth go wonky. So while most old wives’ tales are just entertaining hokum or provide another reason to laugh at elderly relatives, they occasionally have a kernel of truth within them. Perhaps they don’t provide rules to live by, but most are fairly harmless, common sense ideals, with just enough dash of crazy to make them loved by the Brits.
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By Dale Shaw

Britain Loves a LaughOld wives’ tales

When you are seeking guidance, rules for life or even basic medical advice who are you going to turn to? Experts? Qualified professionals? Proven scientific evidence? I am sorry but that is simply not the British way. We are a nation of tribes and clans and for the best direction we rely on the folksy wisdom of old wives’ tales.

For centuries, basic snippets of information have been passed from generation to generation helping to inform us about problems as diverse as pavement cracks, warts and wind direction/facial expressions. The origins of these superstitious nuggets are often unclear but their vital instructions have been invaluable in terrifying children and misinforming the general populous.

‘Phooey’, I hear you cry. ‘You’ll never get me ensconced in such voodoo and unreliable mumbo jumbo’. But who doesn’t knock on wood for luck or know that apples keep doctors away or understand that holding a duck upside down on Whitsun will prevent you developing a monobrow? We all have little traits and beliefs we adhere to. And it has been scientifically proven that swallowed chewing gum both sticks to the ribs and takes at least seven years to digest. But not by any scientists you’d want to leave your test results with.

And some of these crazy sayings may even be vaguely true. Warm milk does make you sleepy, carrots can prevent diseases that lead to vision loss and sucking your thumb does make your teeth go wonky. So while most old wives’ tales are just entertaining hokum or provide another reason to laugh at elderly relatives, they occasionally have a kernel of truth within them. Perhaps they don’t provide rules to live by, but most are fairly harmless, common sense ideals, with just enough dash of crazy to make them loved by the Brits.

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By Dale Shaw

Britain Loves Food and DrinkRandom snacks

The culinary journey of the British youth can, depending on locale and the proclivities of parents, take several different roads. Yet whether you’re a farmer’s kid raised on locally caught meat and veg, an inner-city boy with a knowledge of Styrofoam packaging or even one of the silver spoon brigade weaned on Lobster Bisque, there will be one constant – the random snack.

We Brits can never forget the first time we attempted to tackle something like a pork scratching. The feeling of joy you get when beating this monster without breaking all of your teeth is up there alongside the first overhead kick you score. As we grow older we might become partial to Padrón peppers and the odd dish of chicken’s feet, but nothing can hold a candle to these great British snacks.

Pickled Eggs

They might resemble dinosaurs’ eyes floating in yak urine, but stick one of these bad boys in a packet of ready salted crisps and douse with Worcestershire sauce and you’re onto a winner.

Pork Scratchings

Legislation might have tamed the mighty scratching, but if you can get them at a farm, still warm and covered in gristle, fat and a bit of random hair then you have sampled life at its finest.

Cockles and Whelks

Next time you’re in a seaside resort ignore the candyfloss and burger vans and seek out a cone of freshly landed bivalves soaked in malt vinegar.

Pork Pie

As British as the Lancaster Bomber. Slice in half, marvel at the layer of gelatinous fat and coat liberally in hot English mustard.

Pickled Onion

According to my granddad, a good pickled onion should ‘suck your knickers up your bum.’ I don’t wear knickers, and he was a fan of the baggy Y-front, but I think I know where he’s coming from.

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By Owen Blackhurst

Britain Loves EntertainmentPantomime villains

Pantomimes have been popular since the very beginning of time – or more specifically since the Middle Ages, when clean-living teens would re-enact what it’s like to fall in love with beautiful princes and princesses for the benefit of children with short attention spans. “But what’s in it for the adults?” you probably just shouted, and it’s a good question. The answer is the villain, first made popular by shifty overweight men with moustaches, now generally less moustached and a bit more like Simon Cowell – the archetypal modern day scoundrel.

They’re basically characters to shout at disapprovingly, whilst secretly admiring them for being so magnificently rotten - the exact opposite of your typical British gent, who tends to hate being anything less than blisteringly polite at all times. In order of brilliance, at last count the nation’s favourite panto villains included the aforementioned Cowell, Mario Balotelli, Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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By Josh Burt

Britain Loves EntertainmentRooting for the underdog
There are winners in life. And I’m sure they are lovely. Well done. We all appreciate your commitment and achievements. Now please step aside, because you are monumentally boring. We Brits don’t appreciate victory. What we hanker for is a good story. Winners don’t supply us with good stories; underdogs do.We like the runts, the nuts, the chronically talentless. We don’t admire cunning, dedication and work rate. Oh no, what we look for in a hero is blind, unwarranted enthusiasm in the face of overwhelming odds. People who don’t recognise the words ‘for God’s sake stop doing that, you are going to get yourself killed’. Those are the greats that we admire.There was a man. Let’s call him Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards (pictured above). This man had a dream. The dream of being an Olympic ski-jumper despite the fact he had never seen snow nor ever fully grasped what skiing actually was. He sweated, he tried and he failed. Magnificently. And we cheered him every step of the way, as there’s no fun in backing some lycra-clad man-mountain who can actually ski-jump with a modicum of success. We want to root for a man who will only be victorious if a particularly malicious nanovirus wipes out the rest of the competition.The British love a noble failure or a feisty fellow willing to face up to life’s bullies, brush himself off and go down in flames, spectacularly. Whether it’s an embarrassingly awful talent show contestant, screaming abuse at Simon Cowell or the latest futile attempts of our football teams, we love to back the runner with the longest odds and support them without question as they don’t even get out of the starting gate.
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By Dale Shaw

Britain Loves EntertainmentRooting for the underdog

There are winners in life. And I’m sure they are lovely. Well done. We all appreciate your commitment and achievements. Now please step aside, because you are monumentally boring. We Brits don’t appreciate victory. What we hanker for is a good story. Winners don’t supply us with good stories; underdogs do.

We like the runts, the nuts, the chronically talentless. We don’t admire cunning, dedication and work rate. Oh no, what we look for in a hero is blind, unwarranted enthusiasm in the face of overwhelming odds. People who don’t recognise the words ‘for God’s sake stop doing that, you are going to get yourself killed’. Those are the greats that we admire.

There was a man. Let’s call him Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards (pictured above). This man had a dream. The dream of being an Olympic ski-jumper despite the fact he had never seen snow nor ever fully grasped what skiing actually was. He sweated, he tried and he failed. Magnificently. And we cheered him every step of the way, as there’s no fun in backing some lycra-clad man-mountain who can actually ski-jump with a modicum of success. We want to root for a man who will only be victorious if a particularly malicious nanovirus wipes out the rest of the competition.

The British love a noble failure or a feisty fellow willing to face up to life’s bullies, brush himself off and go down in flames, spectacularly. Whether it’s an embarrassingly awful talent show contestant, screaming abuse at Simon Cowell or the latest futile attempts of our football teams, we love to back the runner with the longest odds and support them without question as they don’t even get out of the starting gate.

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By Dale Shaw

Britain Loves a LaughWearing your pyjamas in public
Whether you’re Kerry Katona or Joe Bloggs, in Britain we like to take life easy. Being in a supermarket is stressful enough at the best of times, so why not make it a cosier experience by wearing brushed cotton pyjamas with rabbits on them while you browse the baked beans?
Mooching around in your PJs in public has become a real trend in Britain, possibly because we’d all rather be in our lovely warm beds than navigating the frozen food aisle at Tesco. And why not? Who says it’s not appropriate to wear a bathrobe and curlers when you’re visiting the bank manager? Or rock up to that job interview in a slanket? That’s the true spirit of Britain for you – we laugh in the face of conventionality and boot it in the bottom with our massive outsized Homer Simpson slippers.
We’ve all seen a mum on the school run who has decided to give her kid a lift wearing her pyjama bottoms, or Bev from number 12 buying a scratchcard with her rollers in. It’s a look that says, “I don’t give two hoots what you think” and quite right too. From Lily Allen to Adele, who recently walked unnoticed through Trafalgar Square wearing a pair of floral jammies, we can’t get enough of airing our dirty linen. Even Britain’s unofficial People’s Princess Chezza Cole has said she’s at her happiest in her pyjamas and slippers, having a cup of tea.
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By Lucy Sweet

Britain Loves a LaughWearing your pyjamas in public

Whether you’re Kerry Katona or Joe Bloggs, in Britain we like to take life easy. Being in a supermarket is stressful enough at the best of times, so why not make it a cosier experience by wearing brushed cotton pyjamas with rabbits on them while you browse the baked beans?

Mooching around in your PJs in public has become a real trend in Britain, possibly because we’d all rather be in our lovely warm beds than navigating the frozen food aisle at Tesco. And why not? Who says it’s not appropriate to wear a bathrobe and curlers when you’re visiting the bank manager? Or rock up to that job interview in a slanket? That’s the true spirit of Britain for you – we laugh in the face of conventionality and boot it in the bottom with our massive outsized Homer Simpson slippers.

We’ve all seen a mum on the school run who has decided to give her kid a lift wearing her pyjama bottoms, or Bev from number 12 buying a scratchcard with her rollers in. It’s a look that says, “I don’t give two hoots what you think” and quite right too. From Lily Allen to Adele, who recently walked unnoticed through Trafalgar Square wearing a pair of floral jammies, we can’t get enough of airing our dirty linen. Even Britain’s unofficial People’s Princess Chezza Cole has said she’s at her happiest in her pyjamas and slippers, having a cup of tea.

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By Lucy Sweet

Britain Loves a LaughPractical jokes

What is the greatest date in the calendar of any worthy Brit? Christmas? Easter? The Queen’s many birthdays? Don’t be such a crazy, naïve fool. It’s April 1st!  A day laden with pranks, japes and a myriad of painful scolding sensations for unsuspecting friends and co-workers. Because we love a cracking practical joke.

The happy smiling face of a victim completely caked in paint, grimy water or some form of dung – there is nothing better to raise the spirits of the populous than a hilarious prank pulled off successfully. It could be as simple as a fake spider hurled in the face of an elderly relative or as complex as the BBC’s recent coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee. As long as someone is pained or humiliated, we’re delighted.

It keeps us all in touch with our inner child and pricks the bubble of pomposity that is so frequently levelled at our psyches. Remember how happy we all were when Edward Heath was sprayed with red paint in the 1970s, ending the three-day week and years of recession? Or when John Prescott was egged and retaliated with caveman prowess? It just shows you the power that a mighty practical joke can provoke.

But not only do we excel at plotting and performing japes-a-plenty, we are also the finest nation on Earth at taking a joke. No matter how violently itchy, damp or retching we are, there will be a smile on our faces and tears in our eyes. Insects encased in potentially hazardous plastic, high-voltage battery powered hand buzzers, indecent indelible daubings on the sleeping face of a groom on his wedding day, a flaming bag of dog leavings on the doorstep of a favourite teacher; we Brits have invented and executed them all with aplomb.

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By Dale Shaw

Guilty PleasuresBad boys

For a long time Russell Brand was the baddest boy in the land. Then along came Harry Styles from 1Direction, who managed to set the standard for naughtiness in spite of his tender years. A British bad boy has a twinkle in his eye, a suggestive smile and the inability to say “let’s call it a night”.

Britons are party people, and no matter how alluring clean living looks, we’ll always be drawn to people who manage to stay in the pub long after last orders have been called. Our bad boys aren’t criminals - they’re lads who look best in leather jackets. They’re lovers, not fighters, and every romantic conquest makes them look a little bit more desirable.

Some people believe that the appeal of a bad boy lies in getting the chance to change him, but the people of Britain want their misbehaving men to stay just the way they are. It’s reassuring to know that our bars are filled with bad boys, whispering wicked words into our ears. Long may it continue!

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By Lucy Peden

Britain Loves EntertainmentSummer fair

It’s not just the Jubilee that brings small towns out to put tables on the green and sell cross-stitch masterpieces. A town fair is a uniquely British affair, where all the best grannies, granddads and grandchildren come out to play.

What are the key ingredients to a summer fair?

Games

Coconut Shy, Beat the Goalie (as pictured above by Lamar Francois) and Splat the Rat are the mainstays of a brilliant summer fair. The Coconut Shy is a double-edged sword of a game where if you win you end up with a coconut that stays in your kitchen for months before being thrown out. Beat the Goalie generally sees an 8 year old try and fail to score a penalty against a morbidly obese man. Splat the Rat is a game of reactions that usually leaves you depressed at the slowness of your own hand to eye coordination.

Animals

Great summer fairs often provide a petting zoo for children to get up close and personal with goats. You might even be able to ride around on a donkey that is old enough to recall once carrying your dad around the same fete years ago. Exotic fairs will even have tropical animals such as alpacas, which are frightening to children due to their ability for violent toxic spitting.

Vegetable Contests

No summer fair is complete without the judging of who owns the longest carrot in the village. A local radio DJ will normally have the honour, (though presumably not the expertise) to decide on the best fruit and veg presented. With an unfathomably large cabbage taking home the medal once again.

Summer fetes and fairs are the definitive pinnacle of British summer, especially the ones that get rained off.

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By Tom Greaney

Britain Loves ShoppingRed trousers

Until recently there were two types of people who wore red trousers: posh people and clowns. But, after years of persistence, this unlikely pairing has succeeded in bringing their brightly coloured kecks to fashion mainstream. Bravo to you sirs!

Cherry toned slacks are now flying off the rails up and down the land and roaming our high streets. Traditionally the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ set accessorised their red pants with wellies or well woven tweed. Now, every hipster owns a pair and they’re not afraid to wear them.

Available in every shade imaginable, red trousers have become modern man about town’s everyday slacks.

This brings one problem. If you wanted to spot a posh person out of their natural habitat (grouse shoots, polo matches) you had to lurk around your local Waitrose on the look out for some scarlet clad legs marching past. Once spotted, you could observe the lauded gentry in their grocery-based domain and take field notes. Or, you know, flirt suggestively over some oddly shaped veg.

Now everyone’s wearing them how are you supposed to bag yourself a toff? You can’t start trifling with everyone in crimson strides in the hopes they’ve got an estate, double-barrelled name and a trust fund.

Even more worrying, clowns can now walk among us and there’s no way of knowing which maroon-legged gents might be spending their free time bundling in and out of a Mini Cooper for laughs. Sinister.

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By Rebecca Lomax

Britain Loves EntertainmentHair extensions 

The ladies of Britain are hairy - on their heads at least. If you fancy ditching your pixie crop for waist length locks or channelling Jessica Rabbit instead of Marilyn Monroe, with hair extensions you can reinvent yourself on a regular basis.

British girls might be inspired by stateside stars like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Beyoncé, who regularly showcase weaves and hairpieces in their videos, but they’re more likely to show the look off in Londis than on MTV. Whether they’re hitting the dance floor or walking across the office carpet, hair extensions play a big part in the lives of thousands of British women.

Liverpool

Loose curls and glossy locks are popular because classic glamour is an enduring trend. The girls going to top bars like Azure and Circo are in an unofficial contest to see who has the thickest, shiniest, most sophisticated do – and competition is fierce.

London

The urban look is everything, and ladies sport pink, blue or green clip-in extensions everywhere from Dalston to Dulwich.

Newcastle

Geordie lasses love dip dye hairpieces, and for southern girls, curls are where it’s at. Thanks to the priestess of style, Kate Middleton, being a brunette looks more fun than ever, and hair extensions let everyone try the look out for themselves without having to fork out for a £600 blow dry. In 2012, fake hair is the real deal.

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By Lucy Peden

Britain Loves EntertainmentCycling

Close your eyes and imagine any road in Britain. Statistics say that you will almost definitely have just imagined people cycling. Right? Yeah you did. We love cycling in this country. Absolutely love it. Perhaps not as much as the Dutch love it, and not quite to the same extent that the people of Vietnam love their mopeds, but we’re not far behind.

Bicycles are great, and British cyclists fall into two camps. You’ve got the people who choose to hone a whippet-like frame, cover themselves top to toe in Lycra, and take their commute to work far too seriously. Some of them wear special shoes, some probably wear protective goggles. And then, in the meatier section of the venn diagram – if indeed this is a venn diagram – are the people in between. Otherwise known as “everyone else”.

The people who might have a pootle on a Boris Bike, or those who spent their childhood cycling slowly around town, occasionally doing clumsy wheelies to impress passing groups of girls. People who understand the quiet satisfaction of a weekend bike ride without turning it into a race. Yeah man, bikes are brilliant.

If you’re heading out on a weekend cycle, use our coverage checker to be sure you’ll be safe with signal on your phone wherever you’re riding to. We aim to have the best signal in the UK, so chances are you’ll be fine! 

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By Josh Burt

Britain Loves a LaughFunny T-shirts

Ironic T-shirts have been a mainstay of British fashion for a good while now. Years ago wearing a T-shirt with the face of Mr. Blobby on would have made you look simple, now you are considered normal. And really, who doesn’t want to be considered normal?

Funny T-shirts are beloved by Britain especially those T-shirts with a British saying on.

Do you own any T-shirts that say:

  • Strange Women Lying In Ponds Distributing Swords Is No Basis For A System Of Government
  • You Say Potado… And I Say It Right
  • I Have A Cunning Plan
  • 100% British Beef
  • Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?
  • Don’t Mention The War
  • Does This T-Shirt Make Me Look British?
  • Keep Calm And Stop Buying These T-Shirts 
  • Bob’s Your Uncle
  • Charlie Bit Me
  • Pull My Finger
  • British Do It Better
  • What Time Does The Ten O’Clock Meeting Start?
  • Not Only Am I Cute, I’m British Too
  • How’s My Dancing? Call 0800 123456
  • Stay On Your Feet

Wearing a humorous slogan across our chests is something that every nation should do. It’s like wearing a joke. We love it. Though, are people laughing with us or at us? Hmmm…

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By Tom Greaney

Britain Loves a LaughNewspaper headline puns

I can clearly remember the first brilliant pun I saw. I was nine and on holiday in Torquay. The name of the paper escapes me, but seeing the words ‘FRY ME KANGAROO BROWN, SPORT’ above an article about the increasing popularity of Kangaroo meat has stayed with me forever.

Although not solely confined to the tabloid press, The Guardian’s recent effort – ‘Higgs boson fever fills Cern with 24-hour particle people’ – proves that the broadsheets cannot hold a candle to the red tops and local newspapers when it comes to having pun. Here are some crackers.

From Russia With Gloves – The Sun

In 1994, Chelsea’s Russian goalkeeper Dimitri Kharin saved a penalty in Chelsea’s first European away game in years and was immortalized with this beauty.

Citroën on The Dock of The Bay – Cornish Local Press / Plymouth Evening Herald

There seems to be some debate over who used this first, so rather than anger the Cornish Liberation Front let’s just bask in its glory. We’d imagine the Mayor of Torpoint, whose car was stolen by joyriders and dumped in the Hamoaze Estuary, struggled to see the funny side of it.

Book Lack In Ongar – Private Eye

No list of puns would be complete without this stone cold classic relating to a library crisis in Essex.

Super Cally Goes Ballistic, QPR Atrocious – The Liverpool Echo

Although The Sun famously paid homage to this with ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious’ when John Barnes’ team were humiliated in the Scottish Cup by Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000, it was first wheeled out in the 1970s when Liverpool’s Ian Callaghan put QPR to the sword.

Hawk Kestrel Manoeuvres In The Park - The Sun

Only The Sun could turn a fight between a Kestrel and a Barn Owl into a pun that channels a 1970s British New Wave group. Genius.

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By Owen Blackhurst