Pier Review http://pierreview.co.uk A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside Sun, 04 Dec 2016 08:45:35 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 110288083 Buy Pier Review as a present in December and get a bunch of free gifts for yourself… http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/12/04/buy-pier-review-as-a-present-in-december-and-get-a-bunch-of-free-gifts-for-yourself/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/12/04/buy-pier-review-as-a-present-in-december-and-get-a-bunch-of-free-gifts-for-yourself/#respond Sun, 04 Dec 2016 08:45:35 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055637 ]]> Christmas by the coast is surprisingly good for the soul. Seasonal decorations fill the gaps left by the off season and the constant presence of a crashing sea reminding you of a pernicious uncaring god makes you hug a little tighter, drink a little quicker, and dance a little longer.

The scandiwegiegns may have invented ‘hygge’ as a concept for the warm coziness and drowsy contentment of being warm inside while the winter smashes around you, but I live on the heroin coast and in the prescription painkiller capital of England – we really made it our own.

And speaking of Dionysian adventure and melancholic longing for summers past – Pier Review makes an excellent Christmas gift. Here’s what some internet strangers are saying about it


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in a nutshell, it’s a total nostalgia-fest for anyone who ever had a seaside holiday – or day trip – to an English or Welsh resort, but it is also so much more… I loved Pier Review too. Definitely recommended.

If Britpop took an ironic view at what it meant to be English, then Pier Review brings the actual love. For sheer warmth and verve (for a curious subject), Pier Review is a great, humour-filled read

 Books like these remind us that there are merits to keeping our heritage alive… and offer laugh out loud moments aplenty. 5 Stars for this one.

Sorry but I found this book extremely puerile and would not have bought it, had I realised the bad language in it.

A book makes for a perfect gift, and a book you have read yourself shows you care and think of them often. To sweeten the deal, and perhaps ease the pain of buying a book you already own: if you send us a receipt or screenshot showing that you bought our little book in the month of December we will send you a whole bunch of free stuff. Stuff like:

pr_dvdextrascoverPier Review ‘DVD extras’ ebook: the bits we reluctantly cut from the book, mainly for because we wrote a book each and mashed them together. Plus some behind the scenes footage and bonus swearing…




unnamedGuttermouth: Novelty Trinkets From The Edge And Beyond ebook: Five years of foul mouth observation and booze-fuelled nihilism by Danny. A collection of a confused man trying to find meaning in a world I abandoned as rational a long time before.

The best of a full half a decade of blog posts, magazine articles, interviews reviews and columns. Guttermouth is a meaty 47,000 word e-book, a resignation letter to reality, and possibly future evidence for the prosecution.

popandcoverPop and Politics ebook –  No embarrassment, no excuses, just mix of pop and politics, written by Jon over the last couple of years. Includes interviews with the Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy, Peter Hook, David Shrigley and MP Tom Watson.



unnamed-1Concrete and Cocktails: a journey to Birmingham’s glitter-stained independent heart ebook: Danny and Jon’s sort of prequel to Pier Review, where they journeyed around just the pubs of their home town. Can you drink in all of Birmingham’s independent hostelries in one day? Yes of course, although it might not be sensible. An unchained psychogeographic adventure.

A set of digital postcards – with pier facts by Caroline Beavon.

An actual postcard, if you send us your address.

Maybe a badge if you’re on the ‘nice’ list.

Maybe some other stuff we find lying around our hard drives.

Offer applies to the month of December only.

Send receipts or screen caps to – jonanddan@pierreview.co.uk or Tweet us a pic @pierreview and we’ll ping you with download links.

You can buy now:

from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

And on iBooks and from independent bookshops.

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Britishness: a disclaimer http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/10/09/britishness-a-disclaimer/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/10/09/britishness-a-disclaimer/#respond Sun, 09 Oct 2016 17:56:58 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055625 ]]> Do you know how the Isle of Man voted in the EU referendum? Do you know how the people of the – unfairly stereotyped as — backward island in the Irish sea felt? You may guess, but do you actually know? No, and neither do they: they weren’t allowed a vote. That’s something we discovered when we visited to talk about the book, and visit their pier a week or so ago.


There’s something about visiting places that are a little out-of-the-way to make you look back at your country with fresh eyes. Counting up another 80,000 people disenfranchised by the government was another scale that fell. We’ve mused a lot about ‘Englishness’ over the last couple of years, and it’s disconcerting that as we’ve been able to understand a little more about what it means to us (and it’s a complex and cloudy beast, a mirror best approached from the side unless you want a shock), lots of other people have thinking too. They are surer, more forceful and as often with the confident and loud; wholly and widely wrong.

When Pier Review acquired the subtitle ‘A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside’ — it came from the publishers who thought it explained a little what type of book it was — we were unsure at first. But now we like it: it’s silly and epic in equal amounts. But in the last year or so the idea of Britishness has been hijacked. Britishness now is a cypher and a shibboleth, a cloak within which people may warm and conceal their abhorrent values. It’s a love for something that is measured by your hate for anything other than itself. British values now seems to mean listing non-British workers, tacit permission to attack people based on appearance or the sound of their accents, and having schools register non-UK born students.

It seems like we shouldn’t have to make it explicit that when we refer to ‘Britishness’ in the title of the book, we aren’t referring any of that disgusting jingoistic shit but to a shared memory of the seaside, be it through direct experience or cultural references open to anyone with a library card or a television. For those that read the book, that’s hopefully an easy thing to take away: you won’t need the ‘Pier Review York Notes’ to know we’re exploring a place through our memories. But in case you haven’t yet picked it up, it might be worth knowing already.


Nostalgia is a tricky thing and our interest was in exploring where nostalgia and facts overlap with geography, to examine if this ideal notion of the seaside ever really existed at all.

Unfortunately the same things that make nostalgia interesting are the things that make it easy for it to be used as a tool by an increasingly fascist government. A government — and a large swathe of the extra-governmental political class — happy to use nostalgia as a way of pointing to something that never existed in the first place, telling a country of news-weary but fact-starved people who the reason we don’t have whatever it is that they want is minority groups or evil foreign power structures. The message is that all we have to do to get ‘it’ back is to submit to the views of a political minority and tacitly repeat the rhetoric of the power structure.

We drove around the country: it’s not full.

The government won’t, councils can’t, and business don’t see enough profit in doing anything to build the housing we need.

Our services are not strained by demand, they’re being purposely underfunded.

We’re not being overrun, infiltrated, or invaded. With every person or idea that joins us, we’re being strengthened .

It’s odd to be particularly proud to be English any more than to be proud of your shoesize. But if you wish to be, it would be flatter us that the country was a beacon for those less fortunate: that our status was an aspiration, and that our luck could be shared.

So if you’re looking to the book as some sort of jolly-hocksticks-tweed-fox-hunting-keep-calm-and-make-some-fucking-jam-rose-tinted wankfest look elsewhere.

Our Britain is one where The Good Life taught us that two opposing ideologies can live blissfully next door to each other, where Porridge taught us that decency, tolerance, and friendship will get you through the toughest of times, and where Alf Garnet is the punchline not the hero.

Britain is diverse and as such we don’t share too many traits, but if you follow history one thing does stick out. Anytime our ruling class get too oppressive or unjust we rise up against them. From Winstanley’s simple thoughts that the land belonged to each one of us, to Tony Benn asking the powerful ‘how do we get rid of you’?, from Peterloo to Cable Street, from the peasants’ revolt to the poll tax riots, you can push us: but only so far. Riots are our binding birthright and bricks are our heirlooms.

Maybe that’s why they seek to divide us.


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Dad rock: The ballad of Holiday Dad http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/06/10/dad-rock-the-ballad-of-holiday-dad/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/06/10/dad-rock-the-ballad-of-holiday-dad/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 09:05:38 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055610 ]]> Facebook image Holiday Dad

Holiday Dad is normal Dad, but with the faders all set differently. Freed from the routine of work he can indulge his passions: reading the paper, finding the cheapest bar, moving his bowels. Or maybe your dad really loved putting up windbreaks as well as breaking wind. Despite the cultural hangover of being the main breadwinner, dads seem to understand that the holiday isn’t really for them, it’s just an opportunity to dad in a different place. And maybe, if he’s very lucky, he’ll get to play darts against Bobby George in an exhibition match on a wet Wednesday afternoon in the Pontins bar.

Pier Review is a book about memory as much as it is about piers, maybe more so. Our dads are of course featured.

The whole way down the motorway my memory is jogged by certain vistas and road angles, including the moment the motorway splits and winds around a sheer drop to the right. I remember it because without fail this would be the point where my mother would freak out because she’s scared of heights, and my dad would plaintively explain that short of taking a 20-mile diversion this was the only way they could go. Looking back I’m sure there was the hint of a smile on my dad’s face.

The thing is, when you separate yourself from your normal rhythms and routines for long enough, your brain retracts and waits for more information, waiting to find the routine again. Even on holiday you quickly fall into a different routine: your dad will get up way before you to go for a walk and ‘get the papers’ and then berate you for sleeping in and ‘missing the best part of the day’. Little does he know that sleeping is for you, the teenager, the best part of the day for exactly the same reason his early-morning jaunt to the shop is for him: you don’t have to interact with your family in any way.

But we do. Our dads have even read the book, this is what they said:

“a good read , funny… did you have to have the car professionally fumigated after the three of you spending two weeks in it?”
Jon’s Dad

“I read your book – Is that rash alright now?”
Danny’s Dad (literally the only response I got from him)

So here’s some revenge, here are our favourite Holiday Dad snaps, showing our dads in classic Holiday Dad action.


Dan’s Holiday Dad. “Beachwear? It’s just what you usually wear, but on the beach for #HolidayDad.”


Jon’s Holiday Dad knows the importance of keeping your head covered. And your liver under pressure.

Tweet us yours or your tales with #HolidayDad and we might find a free gift or two for our faves.
Pier Review would make a fantastic present for Father’s Day (19 June), by the way.

Some reviews to help you make your mind up…

“Women just wouldn’t do it like this. Instead of ‘Three Men in a Boat’, this is three men in an old Clio and a bit of a shaggy pier story cum drinking odyssey with a designated driver.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in a nutshell, it’s a total nostalgia-fest for anyone who ever had a seaside holiday – or day trip – to an English or Welsh resort, but it is also so much more.”

Keri Davies, writer of The Archers called it “a lovely book, laddish but lyrical“.

But despite our four-and-a-half out of five star average on Amazon, you can’t please everyone:

“Sorry but I found this book extremely puerile and would not have bought it, had I realised the bad language in it. I am a great Pier enthusiast, but was disappointed as there’s not a single picture of these wonderful piers!”. No photos, some bad language (although not as much as there was before the publishers got hold of it): perfect for dads.

SummerDaleCover 2


Buy now in the shops, from Amazon in hardback, in paperback and on Kindle. Also on iBooks and from good independent bookshops.

Order now, and if you read quickly and don’t break the spine it will still be a good Father’s Day present in a week.



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Victoria peerless http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/04/20/__trashed-2/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/04/20/__trashed-2/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 15:25:18 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055599 ]]> IMG_1539.jpg

Our trip was not just around the country, it was through our cultural heroes and experiences too. Victoria Wood came up a lot – and not just because half-way round visiting all those piers we found out that her brother Chris had beaten us to it. We hated him for it.

Victoria Wood’s humour is deeply ingrained into our world. Jon has a Platonic ideal of one of her sketches in his head, which involves simply pushing a trolley round a supermarket and saying the brand names out loud – only the ones she’d pick as perfectly comic and culturally representative. It’s not funny when he does it, but it didn’t stop him doing it every time we went to buy anything.

And because our maps of the world exist in an ideaspace, these heroes can come to the fore at any time: accessed through the most simple or tangential of connections. A name, a word, or both. And those connections can save you, they mean a lot.

Dan picks up the story in this extract…

I sleep on the way to Whitby and by the time we arrive the sky  is grey, the same colour as my skin. Woozy from the detox and  the nap, I watch Midge navigating purely on instinct and Jon’s suggestion. We hadn’t booked a B&B thinking that this late in the season there would obviously be plenty. I get out of the car. Jon clearly doesn’t want to speak to the owners on his own.

“I don’t know mate, words difficult me for a bit,” I stumble.

“It’s okay just hang back, I’ll do the talking,” he says, unsure.

We walk to the nearest house with a sign and ring the bell. A man answers wearing a thick fishing jumper that he probably only wears for the tourists.

“Hi, we’d like a room for the night,” says Jon, noticeably cheerier than when he was talking to me.

“Just you two is it?” he says suspiciously.

“Nope, our friend in the car as well,” says Jon gesturing to Midge.

“Separate rooms?”

“No we’d like to share,” says Jon, probably thinking about the dwindling pot of money.

“I’m afraid we’ve got no rooms for you.”

The ‘you’ is pointed. At the time I was incensed at the sly homophobia but looking back it may not have been the possibility that we were just gay. It could have been how gay we were: an unshaven mod bear taking his grey detoxing chicken in a Hawaiian shirt to a room with a pierced leather midget to do who knows what. It never occurred to us that we’d have any trouble finding a room so walking down the street looking at the ‘no vacancy’ signs starts to panic us a little.


My shyness and paranoia are kicking in a lot, as have various ticks. Annoying recurring thoughts about my inadequacies are all I can muster. I’m lonely and try to think about good things:cats, dogs, babies. That’s the only thing I can do to control it, and if the thoughts get really bad then I have to sort of shout it to myself like a mantra ‘cats and dogs and babies, cats and dogs and babies’; they’re good things, good things happen when you’re with them, they’re warm, things are simple.

Midge decides there’s better parking round the corner and I will a silent Danny to stand near me as I ring the doorbell of a potential place to stay. There’s no answer, but we can hear the rumbling of a cider tramp sitting on a stoop across the way.

There’s cackling and there’s talk of werewolves. And there’s no answer.

One of us must look pregnant with our saviour as a procession  of innkeepers turn us away. Their reasons are increasingly bizarre and their speech has the patterns of someone making up excuses on the spot.

“Try Mountbatten house across the way,” referring to a place we’ve already tried and been moved on from. I check the web for nearby campsites, but there are none: which is reasonable when you think how cold it must be this far north at this time of year. We round the corner and I look for Midge and my red Renault, but it’s not where I think it should be. Has he decided to bugger off, take our car and money? We don’t really know him that well and he’s had a week of not fun. Has he snapped? My heart and mind are turning over. Dan is non-communicative. The painkillers are killing most of his vital signs. I was thinking we might have to sleep in the car, but now even that’s not here.


The next place that answers the door, are apparently having issues with their boiler, but I guess that was a lie. We try the next street and the next, until, rapidly running out of options, we come to Kimberly House. Even in our tired and worried state both me and Jon take time to do our best Victoria Wood impression. ‘My friend Kim-ber-ley’ – we pronounce the exaggerated northern vowels – ‘my friend Kim-ber-ley yer know with the big dang-ley earrings.’ Cheered by this we ring the bell. No one answers for a while and we’re about to leave when a woman in a red top and apron answers the door.

“Hello” she says in a broad northern accent. Me and Jon grinat the coincidence. Jon asks about a room and she lets us in. She tells us that she only has a double with a kids bed but we take it,explaining that we don’t mind ‘Morecambe and Wiseing it’ and delightfully, she seems to know what we mean.


She has a welcoming smile and an accent that places her somewhere in Lancashire. I feel safe. I feel sitcom safe. I’m happy to pay, now after all the problems, a price nearing a hundred quid for a ‘family room’ (one double and a single) which is the cheapest way we can sleep three. It goes on my credit card. I go out to the car – which was exactly where we’d left it – to fetch Midge and bags. Danny negotiates the stairs and heavy fire doors with something that isn’t quite ease.


After any time camping the novelty of being indoors is hard to shake. I lie on the bed and feel my spine unclick.

“Why do I get the kid’s bed?” says Midge redundantly.

“Who would you like to share with? Either me or Jon?” I ask. “Jon snores, and I get handsy.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” says Midge, unpacking his sleeping bag.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Making my bed,” says Midge as he unfolds the bag on top of the bed.

“You can use the sheets,” I tell him. “It’s all part of the price.” He looks confused.

“Just didn’t like to, we’re only here one night.”

A toilet flushes and Jon comes out of the bathroom.

“Midge, do you want the next shower? I’m too comfortable to move at the moment,” and, I add in my head, “I know what Jon was probably doing in there for the last ten minutes”.

“Cheers, Dan,” he says, grabbing his towel and wash kit.

There’s a knock on the door, me and Jon freeze. We weren’t doing anything we shouldn’t, but I think we’re just kids at heart really waiting for the grown-ups to tell us to stop it. It’s the woman who runs the B&B, a lady whose name we learn is Rachel.


We all check her out as she bends over. Terrible but true. I’m really looking forward to the bed, even if I have to share with Dan. It’s more sitcom material, although nothing really noteworthy happens, as I’ll tell you later.

We try to engage Rachel in conversation, trying to find out how she came to be running a guest house on the other side of the country from where she’s from. Danny does best, as he pretty much always does in conversation. I stare through the net curtains, across the dullness and the gathering night.


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Countrywide http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/03/25/countrywide/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/03/25/countrywide/#respond Fri, 25 Mar 2016 13:28:04 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055588 ]]> Did you know that after seven on a Thursday every local BBC radio station transmits a show that has the best of all of the BBC local radio stations. Radio eats itself. But don’t think about the homogenisation of British culture, think about the piers. This week Cleethorpes was voted pier of the year, and Hastings pier was re-opened by local boy Suggs from Madness. The Mark Forrest show had Suggs on Hastings pier, lots of Cleethorpes locals not being at all interested in their pier — and then me talking about piers in general.

The whole show is on iPlayer for a month, but you can listen to me here:


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Local boys made, er OK http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/22/local-boys-made-er-ok/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/22/local-boys-made-er-ok/#respond Mon, 22 Feb 2016 09:00:50 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055581 ]]> We were on our local BBC station BBC WM’s breakfast show last week with Adrian Goldberg. You can listen here.

In more Birmingham, we’re appearing at Ignite Brum — a night of talks at the Glee Club this Wednesday, tickets are free.

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Wish you were here http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/14/wish-you-were-here/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/14/wish-you-were-here/#respond Sun, 14 Feb 2016 11:41:46 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055573 ]]> launch

We survived the nerves to launch the book, as you can see from the picture. We really had a lovely time and hope everyone who came enjoyed it — and those that took a book away with them, we hope you enjoy that too.

Thanks especially to Libby and Caroline, who amongst other things put together a fabulous quiz about piers — that we almost came first in, almost.

So what next? Well, we’ve a good few bits of publicity to do: including an appearance at Ignite Birmingham in a week or so and we’ll hopefully see a few reviews in the media. We’ve already had a few on Amazon, and you wouldn’t believe just how much that helps: so if you want to add one that would be smashing.

If you’re interested in how the book became a book, from the first idea to publication, then we’ve written quite a mammoth article about that over on Medium which you may like.

If you’d rather something quicker, there’s a run through of the oddest things we saw on our trip, on Buzzfeed, where you’ll also find a quiz about checking your pier experience — how many have you visited?

We’ve also written a piece for Area, and Danny has been interviewed, and both Dan and Jon have written other little bits.

And if you’re reading the book now — why not try our ‘soundtrack LP’ which is over on spotify, all the music we were listing to on the way round the coast and all that which is mentioned in the book.

And, it is in the shops. We’ve seen evidence.


Thanks again to all those who’ve helped, all those that have expressed belief in this adventure and resulting book. That includes Harry Vale, Margaret and Richard Moorhouse, Pete Ashton (who also refused to come along to take photos), Ben Whitehouse, Laura McDermott, Brian Simpson, Nat and Julia Higginbottom, Louise Carrier and Mark Hill who backed the original crowdfunding bid, getting us on the road.

Our gratitude too to everyone who read early drafts and offered advice, puns, or spotted huge embarrassing mistakes, Julia Gilbert, Gavin Wray, Jon Hickman and Mat Atkins especially.

We didn’t notice missing an entire pier out on the south coast and doubling back. We didn’t notice doing it, nor after writing about it, nor even editing: in fact if it wasn’t for our agent Joanna Swainson we’d still be thinking “blimey all these roads around Herne Bay look the same.” For that, and every other bit of valuable advice and help, and for believing that this was worth it, Joanna, thank you.


And of course we would like to thank  Midge (and you can read his secret diary of the trip here), without  whom if we did it at all we’d have probably done it at a higher speed. You’re a lovely man.



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Pier Review’s online knobbly knees competition http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/10/pier-reviews-online-knobbly-knees-competition/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/02/10/pier-reviews-online-knobbly-knees-competition/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:57:11 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055552 ]]> COMPO HAS NOW CLOSED

Hi-de-Hi campers,

“It’s your genial camp host here, and when I say camp*…”

You know at the start of Goodfellas when Henry Hill says “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” – well it’s like that with us and running the entertainment at a holiday camp in the ‘50s.

And the next best thing is to run a knobbly knees competition on the internet. And it’s simple:

The top three, as judged by us, will win a copy of Pier Review. We’ll share all the entries here.

By the way, have you noticed the third prize winner here isn’t even showing his knees? You have do, get rolling those trousers.

Pier Review Knobby Knees Compo

*Danny even won the ‘Prince of the Camp’ competition at Southport Pontins in 1988.

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Get ready to launch http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/01/20/get-ready-to-launch/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/01/20/get-ready-to-launch/#respond Wed, 20 Jan 2016 19:56:05 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055539 ]]> FacebookEvent
Join us to celebrate the launch of a book that has been five years, fifty plus piers and two thousand miles in making.

We’ll have a short reading or two, a chance to prove that you are Pier Masters in our quiz, maybe Punch and Judy, all the fun of the seaside that can be shoehorned into a pub in the second city.

And there will be drink. Craft beer drink, if that’s the sort of thing that you like.

Maybe you can take home a souvenir copy of our book…

From 7pm Friday 12 February at The Woodman, The Woodman, New Canal Street, Birmingham, B5 5LG – Just by Curzon St station.

RSVP on our Facebook event if you so wish, here.

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Face in the hole http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/01/15/face-in-the-hole/ http://pierreview.co.uk/2016/01/15/face-in-the-hole/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2016 09:36:19 +0000 http://pierreview.co.uk/?p=72055533 ]]> PR_facehole2

You stick your head through and get a photo taken, if there’s one thing that’s everywhere at the seaside it the sea. But also these. But they don’t have a proper name. A few questions on the internet and a bit of googling and we got a few options: Aunt Sally board, face in the hole board, character board, peep through board, cut-outs (which can’t work), and even the French word ‘tintamarresque’.

The French have a word for it, and we don’t: it’s an insult to our national character.

So, what should we do? Settle on one, pinch the French?

If Pier Review can do one thing, it should do this service to the English language.

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