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Something Rotten In The State Of Hamlet

DATELINE 13.01.2021


Scandals, Scams and Skullduggery Correspondent Ayfor Crime brings you a special and disturbing report.

The Background:

On Tuesday 12th January 2021 at approximately 1600 hours staff working at the news desk of decide to publish a photograph of a Buckland Newton Corporation double decker omnibus decked out in Kings Stag Saga publicity. The photograph is believed to have come from a reader waiting at a bus stop. The posting subsequently invites further submissions along the same lines and goes so far as to launch a competition for the best entry, offering the winner a prestigious and very valuable prize. An ordinary day, a [sadly] not unusual post ...

However, there is now reason to suspect that all is not quite as it seemed in that innocent moment and, since serious money is at stake, the public interest demands a full and proper investigation. We asked our Our Cyber-Crime Correspondent Trawlin t'Darke-Webbe to investigate further...

The photograph at the heart of the scandal: the door is clearly on the wrong side of the bus.

The Problem:

"Am I alone in suspecting skullduggery - or at the very least suspicious behaviour - somewhere deep in the heart of the Threadbone Empire?", I was asked by a downcast and disillusioned reader - one of several who had suspected something was seriously amiss in one of yesterday's postings. A photograph had appeared of a Buckland Newton Corporation omnibus sporting Trudy Spanxwell colours and it had immediately raised suspicions and given rise to serious concerns regarding the integrity of those within the Threadbone Press responsible for the mass advertising campaign of which the highly conspicuous omnibus was an integral part. [The Campaign was designed to promote Volume 5 of the author's Kings Stag Saga [availabile [price £6.99 in all good bookshops].]

Whilst it is true that the Kings Stag Saga is a work of monumental significance, breathtaking scope and highly eroticised dramatic verisimilitude and that Ms Spanxwell is a decent author with a keen eye for detail and an admirable desire to "get it right anatomically speaking", we cannot easily ignore or readily condone any attempt by her or her profit-driven publisher to hoodwink the public and possibly accelerate her climb up the Dorset Richest List by means which may be rather more foul than fair. So it seems only right to make further enquiries.

To be clear from the outset: yesterday's photograph - reportedly sent in by a reader and capturing, "by chance", a moment when a pimped-up Buckland-Newton Spanxwell-themed double decker bus passed a cyclist in a road adjacent to not one but two University of Afpuddle off-campus residences - is without question a fake. This is, I am aware, no trivial accusation to make. It is made reluctantly but in the certain knowledge that sophisticated photo tampering has been applied to an innocent object in pursuit of straightforward commercial gain. Here at we believe that nothing can excuse or justify such an action and add only that, so obvious is the scam - though there is no redemption to be sought in the naivety of it - that we have no option but to speak the uncompromising truth. Id est quod est. It is what it is.

Though the special decals are missing, is this what the fraudsters intended? Forensic experts suspect so..

The Evidence:

QUESTION 1: In what part of Dorset do omnibuses have passenger doors facing the road rather than the pavement? ANSWER: None.

A good defence lawyer might argue that the vehicle was clearly driving temporarily backwards on the wrong side of the road - perhaps to avoid collision with the reckless cyclist who, typical of the species, had assumed that the entire road surface was theirs by right and that everything else [including old ladies, perambulator-pushers, socially-distanced lockdown rebels and invalid mini-tractor drivers] should get out of her way.

No sir! However you unzip the banana, peel the grape or strip the willow, that bus has either been imported from outside the Dorset Region from a place where they drive on the right hand side of the road - in which case why would it be in service in Buckland Newton? - or it has been photographically altered. Surely we can all agree that even the Buckland Newton Corporation Public Transport Department has marginally more regard for passenger safety than to deliberately put into service a bus designed to eject the indigent public-transport-dependent pauper into the path of oncoming traffic*.

* Could be a new government scheme? [Ed]

QUESTION 2: Has the photographic image of real omnibus [post a Horn of Plenty-themed make-over] been innocently and accidentally reversed? ANSWER: Again no Sir! For if that were the case, as the photograph below clearly proves, the Kings Stag-themed decals would themselves be reversed! Ergo the studio-based make-over was applied after the accidental reversal and is NOT real! There is no actual Trudy Spanxwell bus. Gotcha!

The bus as it would have appeared had the photograph been innocently and accidentally reverse. Clearly a non starter.

A Catalogue of Errors and Failings:

We believe that the following sequence of events is the most likely explanation for what is without question a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. [Reconstruction courtesy Threadbone Forensic Reconstructions Ltd]

Monday 10th January 2021 - Threadbone Press Publicity Department

08.12 An instruction comes from somewhere close to the top of the Threadbone Corporation [perhaps even from Mrs Amanda J Threadbone herself?] urging staff to come up with an advertising idea to promote Trudy Spanxwell's latest offering.

08.32 In a hastily assembled brainstorming conference someone suggests decorating a bus

09.06 A call goes out to Buckland Newton Corporation's Public Transport Department to ask if a bus is available for customising

09.00 The caller reports that Buckland Newton Corporation's Public Transport Department is closed due to CONTRIK-69 protocols and that everybody is not working from home

09.37 Coffee is served and several members of the team go outside for a nicotine-based socially-distanced cigarette

09.48 Someone suggests sourcing a bus from somewhere else

10.06 What seemed like a good idea appears, on further reflection, not to be so. Everywhere is closed. Everyone in the public transport business is not working from home

10.15 A call to the Art Department establishes that an apprentice photo-manipulator has defied the lock-down and is at her desk practicing breathing whilst wearing a CONTRIK-69 secure mask. She is on the point of passing out

10.17 The trainee is tasked to source a photograph of a bus and to apply state-of the art techniques to re-badge it with Spankswell signature images

10.25 Inexperienced in her role and almost certainly oxygen-deprived, the trainee sources a photograph of a European bus, the unusual geometry of which she fails to recognise

11.48 The fake is completed and is signed-off by a Senior Staff member who does not spot the "schoolgirl error"

11.50 A street background is sourced from the Buckland Newton Public Library's "All Our Yesterdays" digital transport archive

12.04 The manipulated omnibus image is pasted onto the background and the project is signed off by Head of Service - Ms Heddov Zervis

12.38 The entire fake is completed and is signed-off by a Senior Staff member who once again does not spot the "schoolgirl error"

12.50 A copy of the image is sent to a "planted" member of the public [or "patsy"] - possibly a self-isolating Threadbone Press employee not working from home

13.02 The self-isolating Threadbone Press employee not working from home, assumes the identity of an ordinary member of the public and submits the photograph to well-respected news-source claiming to have snapped it whilst waiting for a non-existent bus at a non-existent stop.

13.03 The photograph arrives at the office via the ultra-rapid news-gathering digi-portal. Automatic recognition software assesses it and marks it as "interesting", but does not detect the "schoolgirl error". The system passes the photograph to the busy news-desk editorial team.

Tuesday 11th January - News-desk

08.28 Eager for news on a slow day, staff decide "in all innocence" that they will publish the picture - probably in the afternoon edition of the post

08.33 Someone - possibly the Competitions Editor - decides to use the posting as the basis of a competition and to attach a valuable prize to it

08.45 Permission arrives from "the highest level" to proceed with the competition. The appropriate safety codes are applied and all is set

09.08 A copy of Horn of Plenty is sourced and kept in a safe place [possibly a drawer] pending its award

16.00 The picture is duly posted and the competition announced

16.02 A shit-storm erupts as the mistake is discovered and the fake exposed. Questions are asked: how deep does the conspiracy go? Who knew? What safeguards were breached? What protocols were ignored? [If we're honest, every single one relating to CONTRIK-69].


The most likely sequence in the cock-upgate narrative.

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