The vulgarity of the British

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Andrea » 10 Feb 2014, 18:58

I just returned from a short trip to Birmingham, and, God help me, my destination was Blackpool. Let's just say I never got there.

The Virgin train I was supposed to get was 18 minutes late, but by the time we arrived at Preston, this had turned into an hour and a half late. This was due to power failure at Stafford, which I completely understand. Most people on my carriage - Standard, non-quiet zone - behaved well. There was just one family, well a single mother and three extremely badly behaved, loud children from Birmingham, but I could easily enough drown them out with my iPod (Gregorian chants, by the way). That was nothing compared to what I would experience on the Preston-Blackpool connection.

It was quite full - strange, as it was 1:20pm and most people should have been at work (I work from home, so can go wherever, whenever) but what struck me is that although about half of the people on the train were pensioners, half were underclass. Now a liberal had a go at me for using that word before, but it's the best word for this kind of person. I sat down beside a thirty-something man, who was on Facebook on his brand new Samsung phone. The train started moving. And then hell began.

There was a slapper with bolts through her nose, lip and chin sitting across from a total thug who kept snorting and sneezing. Now, the sound of someone snorting is as earth-shatteringly irritating to me as the sound of nails scratching against chalk board is for some people. I can't stand it. Slapper kept using profanities and the thug kept snorting. every. other. minute.

Then new phone guy next to me gets a call. 'Yea. Yea, social services said I've had three strikes because I broke my probation again, so I have to pay £2,500 or they gonna put me in prison for three years. I lucked out, eh? But I gotta get that money or they're gonna put me away.' He was talking at full volume, and by this time, had put his dirty trainers (sneakers) onto the seat opposite us. (How this criminal could afford to have a brand new phone and I can't, I just don't know...)

So there I was, sitting beside this criminal on my left and Snort-Master and his woman to my right. Snorter began snorting louder and longer and it was driving me absolutely nuts. I am renowned in my family for my patience and kindness, but, I have to say, I was almost at the point where someone gets into a murderous rage. The expletives, the snorting, the pride in criminality, the blatant horribly vulgarity was at such a high level that despite my gregorian chant on full volume, I could stomach no more. So, I exited at Poulton (a nice station and town) and everyone left on the Blackpool train were scum or pensioners. I managed to get a bus, which took over 1 hour 1/2 to get to my destination. That someone like me who is courteous and quiet has to leave a train because other passengers were so intolerable says a lot about our modern culture.

I saw a good deal of rough-looking people in Birmingham, but they were not even close to what I always see on the Preston-Blackpool line. Things are so bad that when I go to London, I try to avoid even setting foot on that connection and someone generally picks me up from Preston - simply to avoid the sheer hell of the vulgarians that frequently head to Blackpool!
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Gavin » 10 Feb 2014, 19:46

You have to write more of these! Tragi-comic! Blackpool is surely the epicentre of vulgarity of the UK - hideousness everywhere one looks. I feel for you, but then I encounter much the same myself almost whenever I have to be among the general public (which is, at the moment, daily). Even on a very short walk one hears vicious F-words, sees "sleeves", pig-ugly piercings, or other examples of low "culture". For example, I am currently in charming pub in Birmingham, but in order to get here I had to march though a kind of multi-culti hell akin to the Blade Runner society but with many F words (I think that was 15-rated).

Some thug got on the train yesterday and just put his big boots up on the seats while having a long public conversation on his phone. There are so many examples I couldn't log them all. Whatever needs doing, the "Conservatives" won't be man enough to do it.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Andrea » 10 Feb 2014, 20:12

I'm afraid I have to agree - the Tories (though they don't deserve to be called that - they're totally different from what the original Tories were!) seem incapable of being hard-line about anything now.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Gavin » 10 Feb 2014, 20:19

Yes, even though they are hamstrung by Clegg and the liberals, I don't have confidence they would even like to do what needs to be done (especially with Mr Cameron at the helm).
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Gavin » 10 Feb 2014, 21:00

'Tis a rare occasion indeed that I photograph a man's bottom, but this is what the train conductors carry in Birmingham: a mace spray. With good reason, too.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Nathan » 10 Feb 2014, 23:46

Are you serious?! I admit that I can't think of what else that could be, but I just cannot believe in a million years that train conductors are allowed to carry mace spray in this country (or at least allowed to use it).

In fact, I Googled "mace spray on trains" and came up with this forum thread: a sad theme, but it seems they aren't allowed to use any kind of spray, probably because of the danger it could pose to themselves and other passengers in a confined space:

http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread. ... 226&page=2

Reading Andrea's report of travelling by train in Lancashire made me curious: you travel around the country perhaps more than any of us, Gavin, so where do you think is the worst place in the country for vulgarity / anti-social behaviour?

I've not really been to the Midlands much, but from what I can tell I would say it was the north-west of England (no offence meant to anybody in particular!). Blackpool hasn't earned its bad reputation for nothing, and every time I watch the Jeremy Kyle show I hear guests with really thick Lancashire accents so often, considering how small a percentage of the country actually speaks that way (though they do film Jeremy Kyle in Manchester, I admit).

A few years ago, when the behaviour of British stag parties in eastern Europe were the big scandal of the day in the newspapers, of all the British cities one Latvian politician could have singled out, and probably with little or no knowledge of the reputation that city has in this country, he referred to "savages from Liverpool".

I haven't had nearly as many Dalrympean train experiences as you, apart from having to put up with a load of rowdy football fans a couple of times on the train out of Leeds after matches, but one personal "Get Me out of Here!" experience that has stuck in my mind was at Preston railway station (and isn't it a horrible ugly interior compared to the nicely redeveloped stations in Leeds and Manchester, and an ugly town as well?!) in about 2008, when I saw about the most underclass-looking couple you could ever imagine having an argument: the man was on the platform, the woman part-way up the stairs, so they were shouting insults at each other, F-this, F-that... The woman ended up throwing water at him from a bottle (luckily missing other people standing nearby) and the man then chased after her - I don't know what happened next.

It seems to me too that whenever you hear stories of pure pointless thuggery in the news it more often than not tends to be some run-down post-industrial town somewhere in that part of the world. Most of us probably remember this murder, and this one. Just looking at the local news for Lancashire today on the BBC website, what's the main news story?

Man jailed for Leyland paramedic baseball bat attack.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Paul » 12 Feb 2014, 02:34

But surely Nathan you realise that 'guests' on the Jeremy Kyle Show are chosen for their coarseness and baseness and will be actively encouraged to act out their underclass behaviour? These will be the type of people who admittedly have no other accent or method of speech than the broadest and poorest vocabulary and so will be unable, as well as unwilling, to at least attempt to improve their speech for TV. They will probably also be too unintelligent (or at least uneducated) to realise this.

I always wonder whether they (the TV company) maybe first 'prime' some of the 'guests' before their appearance on stage. You know - a moderate complimentary supply of cheap(ish) cider...? I wouldn't be surprised if liquor represented part-payment by the studio to the said guests. A crate or two of high-strength cider, payable immediately, further monies paid into the bank directly, just like from the DSS.

Hmm, I wonder how they explain that one to the Benefits Agency? Maybe best just receive full payment in cider after all - they can enjoy it on the way home, in the back of the BBC (or is it ITV?) minibus. Maybe not, but it's an amusing thought. Darkly amusing of course.

Anyway Nathan, what are you doing watching the Jeremy Kyle Show? Admittedly, I have seen a small fraction of it here and there and know what it's all about. But - that's all. Is it like a morbid fascination?

There are a lot of underclass in the North West but after all, there are a lot of people in total. In fact it's full to bursting point really - and that's without all the immigrants! It was fully populated 100 years ago or longer as you will know. Lancashire went from a quite sparsely populated and none too arable, semi-agricultural county to a huge hive of activity, all within a short period of time. But anyway, what's to compare with the North West? London? The Midlands? All kinds of worrisome places of course.

But really, given the many problems facing Britain, should we be picking at each other over regional origin or even a person's accent? Should Britons not be sticking together? Is what you say actually not just regional (and thence, inexorably) class snobbery?

Of course given the underclass, one cannot be too snobbish I would agree. Neither should we be sticking together with them. They aren't going to go away any time soon though. Who knows now what the answer is?

The insurmountable problem is that the region is very densely populated, since that Industrial Revolution 200 years ago but now the reason for that population has all but disappeared. There is honestly very little work. It's difficult to explain how much actual industry and activity has disappeared from the North West in just the last 30 or so years. That's not meant to be political but it is a plain fact. Add to that the general dumbing-down of education and general culture. What is one to expect? At least if people were working you wouldn't see them loitering about the towns and transport systems, bored and sensation-seeking.

I would never get on a bus these days. I cannot remember when I last did so. Twenty years? Probably more. I don't do trains either, the only exception being an occasional train and tram to Old Trafford (no, not that one) so that I may have a small drink. One is permitted a least a small drink or two at a day's cricket. As for females travelling alone on buses and trains - really? Goodness me. I can imagine how that could be a problem.

Blackpool - has long been dubbed the Las Vegas (poor man's of course) of the North, or some such moniker. It's always been somewhat seedy, vulgar and garish. Every Briton knows about Blackpool. Given the increased vulgarity of this age, it wasn't rocket science to see how the place would go. I don't think I've been to Blackpool for about 15 years. I last took the kids one Saturday and we went on the amusement park and up and down the sea-front a little. That huge Big Dipper had recently been built (or at least I hadn't seen it before) and the mere sight of it mildly frightened me! It might well be that I never visit Blackpool again, which would be no great loss. I went many times as a child though. Maybe one or two school outings (though I suspect not) but definitely kids' outings on a coach arranged by social clubs and works' parties and various benevolent community groups. Back then, Blackpool was always cheap (meaning slightly tacky) but cheerful. I've been to Blackpool in the late 1960s or early 70s and twice the temperature hovered at or above 100 degrees F. For some reason it regularly used to get blisteringly hot there. Global warming anyone? I bet it's always raining there now!

Liverpool - great pity. The city that once was prime mover in the wealth of an empire found itself on the wrong coastline. It went from prime location to desolation in a short time indeed. It has always been a rough place of course. It was a dock town. Originally, (ahem), Liverpool experienced a high volume of immigration.......

There are some quite affluent and middle-class areas in Merseyside, you might be surprised.

Preston - another dismal shame. Once dominated by the General Electric Company and other mass engineering, now it has all gone. The very thought of the place is one of minimal prospects and grey skies. I haven't been to Preston for 20 years either and the last time was in fact to a GEC plant that was auctioning off all the plant and machinery at basement prices, prior to closing down. I did wonder then - what will happen next? The place looked dreary then.

You cannot possibly and accurately say that the only instances of pointless thuggery in the news relate to the North West. I'm not excusing the crime here but everyone knows that violent crime, including murder, is all over the UK. You wouldn't walk around London at night - in any area from what I hear and no doubt in plenty of areas in the daytime too. Likewise with many towns and cities, up and down the land.

Finally - what's a 'thick' Lancashire accent? Don't you mean a broad Lancs accent? Surely though there's nothing wrong with accents as long as broad ones aren't used to read the news, or spoken by the Queen. Etc, etc. I accept some are less pleasing to the ear than others but I don't agree to make judgement calls on the speakers themselves on their accent alone (the context of it may well be judged differently but not massively so) or their regional origins. Some accents are I think quite pleasing when used either informally or come naturally but none too strongly. Certain strains of an Irish accent, particularly spoken by a female are quite pleasing. Welsh is a musical accent, as is Cornish. I even find some aspects of a Yorkshire accent a little musical (although of course I wouldn't dream of telling them so).

But, in the event that a 'thick' Lancashire accent means that everyone from Lancs is unintelligent - well, really? I'm not offended of course, I'm quite amused. There's quite a list to choose from: first computer; splitting the atom, railways ....... hell, the birthplace of an industrial revolution that changed the entire world.

Mind you - try telling all this to the underclass.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Elliott » 12 Feb 2014, 02:57

A very knowledgeable and interesting post, Paul.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Nathan » 12 Feb 2014, 11:30

Interesting post, Paul - I did wonder what you would have to say, considering you generally seem to notice the decline in public behaviour to a greater extent than I do. Of course you are right that deindustrialisation has taken a large toll, which would explain why underclass problems there might be worse than, say, East Anglia. I suppose one difference between me and you is that I have only seen these places in their current state, after lack of job prospects and welfare dependency have had enough time to do their damage.

I must admit to a morbid fascination with the Jeremy Kyle show and some of the other underclass exposés. I don't watch it when it's stories such as young adults wanting to confront their parents for not having been there for them as children though, because then I think that's something too sensitive for the prying eyes and TV cameras, and that the programme makers are being exploitative. There must be plenty of other people who watch these sorts of programmes for those reasons, for better or for worse: I don't know if you watched "Benefits Street", but one of the adverts in one episode was for Waitrose - as if anybody who lives like the people in that programme would ever think of shopping there!

I agree that "broad" accent would have been a much less loaded term than "thick"! I actually quite like a lot of the older Lancashire accents. I couldn't put a name to anyone in particular off the top of my head, but those that you'd get in some of the earlier episodes of Coronation Street that are out there on YouTube. They sound a lot more gentle and welcoming than most ones today. Another thing I like about Lancashire accents - and I don't know if this is dying out or not - is the way two consecutive vowels are pronounced as separate syllables, i.e. "four" comes out like "fow-er". You used to get that in Yorkshire as well, but not any more.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Paul » 13 Feb 2014, 01:09

Thanks Nathan

I wouldn't have said I have noticed a decline more than anyone else. Of course I am older than you and so there is that factor. I will have seen more and over a longer time and so yes, fair enough. Imagine how weary I am with it all. I got to thinking the other day - 'it's 30 years this Spring since the infamous Miners' Strike of 1984. Groan. Imagine all the angst we're going to hear about it, all from the wrong perspective or at least by the wrong people'.

Things were far from perfect of course when I was young. They were soon set to get worse as the de-industrialisation of Britain began in earnest around the end of the 1970s. This is really when the benefit culture (as a culture) began. By the mid 1980s it was in full swing. This was all on Margaret Thatcher's watch of course but I don't want to get into all that here. We've had a thread on Thatcher last year and I still think she said and did many good things. Still, Miners' Strike and closing all the mines....

I can see the fascination in watching the shows you mention. It's not to say I have never and never would again, but on the whole they both depress and anger me after a short while.

I haven't seen any of the Benefits Street series but have of course heard much about the programmes and read a little about them, here and in other blog and news articles. I suppose I should watch them. But then I ask - why? It's not something I don't already know and do I need the stress? And they would get me ranting to friends and it's inevitable a liberal would overhear and join the discussion and then......... more futile stress. Not possessing a TV is a minor impediment too - though not to my temper and sanity.

I will attempt to watch them soon. You Tube I presume will have them? I've noticed that Clinton has this evening made a post about the series and invited comments, especially from we Brits.

Goodness, I've been self-employed for 29 years this autumn coming and have worked a million hours it seems, at all times of day and night. I've suffered crime innumerable and seem to have spent a lifetime paying bills. Be assured that Benefits Street will no doubt enrage me.

I am prepared however to (eventually) see another side to some of the stories. It's not quite as simple as some would have us believe. But there are scum and these will be the people annoying others on trains and buses and depicted on Benefits Street. Really, all these types should be shuffled off to some kind of workhouse. That's what I would like to have implemented.

That's quite interesting that the advert's seem to be targetting a higher class of people than those depicted. Yes of course, the target audience is the middle-class as well as, no doubt, any person currently employed. It's a wind-up really is it not and salacious but then again, why should these things not be shown?

Accents - I think they are quaint, if that's quite the word. Also, are they not evidence of our own brand of diversity, British style? So why do we need more diversity? Even though it may be a minor point it's a useful tool for bashing liberals with.

I'm not sure what you mean by an 'older' Lancs accent. Being an 'outsider' (to Lancs) you may well have detected differences that I have not. I can see how that might happen. What about the late Fred Dibnah? He would represent an older generation and there was nobody more old-fashioned than Fred. The chap who usually accompanies him on his travels on the TV shows is even broader-spoken than Fred. I think he's called Alf, a right old-fashioned popular Lancashire name, though of course also the 'greatest' of English kings. He is definitely old-school Lancs, Bolton in fact.

I would think that the accent seemed more gentle in times past because the times and the people were more gentle. There is (or was) a lot of warmth in working-class communities, even among people who had hard lives and tough occupations.

Is it a cliche or an old-wives tale that people in the North are more friendly than those in the South? Traditionally anyway. I will strive not to be biased but I do think it is (generally) true. People in the South are more apt to be haughty and aloof in my experience. Not everyone of course. Country-dwellers tend to be more friendly too.

That's another aspect to the earlier point of unemployment, nothing to do and attitude. It seems the harder life is, the more respectful people become with each other - though obviously not towards the feckless and those not sharing life's burdens, hence antipathy towards benefit claimants. But adversity always seems to eventually breed a better attitude. You see this the world over and throughout time. TD has remarked in articles of the self-esteem, pride and good manner of the most desperately poor people in various African countries. He compares them favourably with the so-called poor in our own land.

Conversely then, ease of living seems to easily breed decadence. We all know the story of Rome and we now seem, in Britain and the West to be having our own decadent version of that fall.

A lot of older Lancashire words, a case of dialect more than accent, have disappeared and are still disappearing. No doubt this is language 'evolution' or so I will be told, but it's also to my mind another small piece of evidence of the abandonment of tradition, culture, heritage and history. It's the young now who don't fully understand old dialect. This wouldn't be too bad if they understood lots of other stuff but alas....!

It's quite amusing (and for some reason heartening to me) to hear immigrant people (more likely their British-born offspring) speak in a local accent. At least it's some evidence of assimilation. I have known (or met) quite a few Asians with quite broad Lancs accents. I once knew an Indian chap who actually had one of the broadest accents I have known. Rather splendidly he was also a coal-miner! Undoubtedly he picked up his accent in the coal mines, amongst his working colleagues. Sadly he passed away in the 1990s. He was extremely friendly and a hard-working man.

I've just spent a minute saying 'four'. I see what you mean. I think I'm about half and half on that one. The dominant factors of a Lancashire accent are the dropping of the letter 'h' where it begins a word and the merging and abbreviation of the word 'the'. Hence - 'I went to the library' would become 'I went to t'library'. This is still dominant in the accent.

Have you ever read a copy of 'The Lancashire Witches', a novel, by the Victorian author Willian Harrison Ainsworth? Even I found it a little difficult to read because of the dialogue. Not only is it Lancashire dialect but in the early Stuart period format. The story is of course set in the years leading up to and including 1612.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lancas ... 28novel%29

Gosh that's seriously off-topic and doubtless bored everyone to tears. Sorry.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Connor » 14 Feb 2014, 07:12

Paul: Interesting to hear what you had to say about the Lancashire accent, and the Northwest of England in general. Most of what you mentioned was new to me.

Actually, one of my political heroes here in America has the Lancashire accent. Peter Brimelow, the founder of VDare, is originally from the Northwest of England. He became a naturalized American citizen years ago, and consequently took up an interest in issues like immigration and citizenship. If you're not familiar, VDare is probably the best American-based website dedicated to immigration restriction. They do, however, occasionally run articles that discuss immigration in Britain, and a few other countries.

Anyway, here's a short video clip that features Brimelow discussing immigration issues. He expounds his thought-provoking theory that open-borders immigration is in fact a type of "Neo-Socialism." If you listen here, he just might sound familiar to you (although I'm not quite qualified to say if he sounds "broad" or "thick"):



And yes...it is ironic that our country needs an immigrant like Peter Brimelow to take a patriotic stance on immigration. We're certainly lucky to have him though!
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2014, 07:21

And yes...it is ironic that our country needs an immigrant like Peter Brimelow to take a patriotic stance on immigration.

There's one hilarious video where he acknowledges that and says: "The way I see it, I'm just doing the dirty work that Americans won't do themselves."
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Gavin » 14 Feb 2014, 08:42

As a resident of a Lancashire town for two years I think I'm qualified to say that's quite a mild accent.

I happen to dislike most strong accents, whereas (as Paul said) mild ones can be pleasant to hear. I think I can say that, since enough people these days seem to see fit to criticise RP! When someone has a very strong accent they can be difficult to understand for anyone but their fellow speakers. I suppose it also doesn't help that where I live I barely overhear a sentence without the word "f**k" (or "fook") in it, spoken by spitting, underclass, thugs.

Will add more to this later.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Paul » 15 Feb 2014, 00:19

Thanks Connor and others.

So as not to wander off topic too much in this thread I shall create another on the forum under 'Other Topics'.

Mr Brimelow's name rings a bell though I can't say I am familar with him. His name has probably passed by me at some point on this wide web. Trust a Lancastrian to advise you on how to do things. :-)

Just to say - Mr Brimelow speaks with a fairly mild version of a traditional Lancashire accent, though the flat vowels are there throughout. There is however, more than a hint of 'Scouse' in his accent - that is, the accent very specific to Liverpool and her immediate surrounds. He just has a touch of it in his inflexion and it may be that he originally hails from an area just on the border of 'Scouseland'. Alternatively, more dominant 'Scouse', along with a broader Lancashire accent may have been softened by long years of emigration. I didn't detect any hint of an American accent in his speech.

If you wish to hear what pure 'Scouse' really sounds like then a very good example is of course any dialogue by members of The Beatles. Paul McCartney retains the accent to this day.

What about the relatively modern variation known as 'Scouse Backslang'? Trust me, it's impenetrable. More elsewhere.
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Re: The vulgarity of the British

Postby Gavin » 15 Feb 2014, 10:19

Paul, I felt you may have been a bit too sympathetic to the underclass here:

Paul wrote:There is honestly very little work. It's difficult to explain how much actual industry and activity has disappeared from the North West in just the last 30 or so years. That's not meant to be political but it is a plain fact. Add to that the general dumbing-down of education and general culture. What is one to expect? At least if people were working you wouldn't see them loitering about the towns and transport systems, bored and sensation-seeking.


What I mean is we must never forget how industrious people can be if their survival depends on it. Of course, their survival does not depend on it, and that's the problem we have now. These people could sit and think what value they might be to their society. Start washing cars (as one man I know does in my little Lancashire town). Open a sandwich shop (as one woman did with her husband - it's doing well). Anything - anything that might be useful! I remember I used to dig and weed people's gardens for a small wage. I put an advert in the local newsagent and got a few jobs from it. I also advertised a computer repair service when times were hard and got some work though that, too. Word began to spread, customers spoke to other customers, I got some more work.

I was going to say as an example "Shine shoes", but of course nearly no-one wears shoes you could shine today, trainers (sneakers) being almost universal. My point still remains. We must never indulge people who cannot be bothered to do anything.

Even Silicon Valley was not always (I presume) in silicon valley. People should not "wait for work" even as industries change. They should, they must, make work. Sometimes it is hard, very hard, and that is what unemployment support is there for, but it should not be there forever.
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