Ed­i­tor’s com­ment

Cotswold Life - - NEWS -

IAM quite fond of the gen­eral pub­lic. It wasn’t al­ways thus. When I was ed­i­tor of the Bris­tol Evening Post I some­times seemed to be at war with half the city (al­though in re­al­ity it was prob­a­bly just the soap-dodg­ing, il­le­gal­squat­ting, veg­etable-chomp­ing, pro­fes­sional Leftie, lurcher-on-a-string ten­dency).

Cotswold Life is, of course, very dif­fer­ent – a much more re­fined, rea­son­able and gen­teel au­di­ence. Yes, we get the oc­ca­sional an­gry let­ter of com­plaint, of­ten about some­thing quite in­con­se­quen­tial, but I find that a prompt and po­lite re­ply quickly takes the sting out of the sit­u­a­tion and usu­ally elic­its a fur­ther mis­sive say­ing “Oh, so sorry to have gone off on one. I was hav­ing a bad day...”

For me, a bad day for a cus­tomer re­sults in noth­ing more than a spit­tle-spat­tered email. For a restau­rant or pub, how­ever, it can be much more se­ri­ous. Which brings us to the modern-day men­ace that is Tripad­vi­sor. If a reader is dis­ap­pointed or an­noyed with some­thing in Cotswold Life, they might tell their fam­ily and friends, but that’s about as far as the col­lat­eral dam­age ex­tends. If an anony­mous diner is dis­ap­pointed or an­noyed with a restau­rant or pub, Tripad­vi­sor al­lows them to tell the world and his un­cle, caus­ing un­told dam­age to a busi­ness that might just be start­ing out or might just be hav­ing one of the afore­men­tioned ‘bad days’. And yes, there might be 100 ‘ex­cel­lent’ re­views, but it’s the ‘ter­ri­ble’ one that draws the eye, as ev­ery na­tional news­pa­per food critic knows.

The is­sue is that of judge­ment and ex­pec­ta­tion. One man’s bistro is an­other man’s burger joint. And what does the anony­mous as­sas­sin know about food any­way? Or the in­cred­i­bly tight mar­gins under which most restau­rants op­er­ate? I’m al­ways amused when a Tripad­vi­sor critic feels the need to es­tab­lish their so-called cre­den­tials be­fore launch­ing an at­tack: “I have eaten in some of the world’s finest Miche­lin-starred restau­rants, but I have to say that the thumbprint I found on my glass of tap wa­ter in Fred’s Road­side Diner on the A404 made a mock­ery of the out­ra­geous £4.99 price for the all-day full English break­fast...”

Of course, that’s if they ever went to the es­tab­lish­ment in ques­tion in the first place. Tripad­vi­sor al­lows any ri­val busi­ness to trash a new ar­rival while prais­ing their own with­out any ev­i­dence as to the hon­esty or ac­cu­racy of the re­views. (A clue: fake pos­i­tive re­views tend to pro­vide way too much de­tail about the dishes on the menu). It has been sug­gested that con­trib­u­tors should have to pro­vide a copy of the bill to val­i­date their views, but this is ap­par­ently too com­pli­cated.

The in­ter­net has brought us many won­der­ful things. Tripad­vi­sor isn’t one of them. Please bear that in mind when you’re next choos­ing where to eat, and have a con­sid­er­able pinch of salt at hand when read­ing ‘re­views’.

AFTER more than 400 years the an­cient sport of shin-kick­ing has come a-crop­per, and this year’s Olimpick Games on Dover’s Hill near Chip­ping Cam­p­den has been can­celled. Or­gan­is­ers cite a drop in the num­ber of at­ten­dees, lack of fi­nance and a short­age of vol­un­teer or­gan­is­ers. All quite un­der­stand­able, but there is also men­tion of “Health and Safety is­sues”. Yes, well I thought I glimpsed some hi-vis jack­ets lurk­ing in the back­ground.

The Fun Po­lice have al­ready launched a fullscale as­sault on our cheese-rolling tra­di­tion which, thanks to the sheer blood­y­mind­ed­ness of the peo­ple of Brock­worth, has sur­vived rel­a­tively un­scathed. If we’re not care­ful those tod­dlers dan­gling per­ilously over a bridge play­ing Pooh Sticks will be next, re­quir­ing li­cences, stoutly-an­chored rope har­nesses and life­jack­ets.

We sin­cerely hope that the shin-kick­ing re­turns next year once or­gan­is­ers have found a way to cir­cum­vent modern-day pres­sures. Robert Dover would have ex­pected noth­ing less.

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