A happy 2013 one and all.
or should that be 'Editor'?). I've been searching for something to rant and rave at since the Guardian changed the settings for its reader feedback, and the IE browser I use became redundant for many of the Comment is Free features - such as actually reading the comments. It's been a bit of a struggle, and I realise now how much I actually rely on what's BTL for my news enjoyment. The comments for Mail online articles are still visible, and I 'enjoy' reading the insane spluttering views of some of the readers, while also relishing the anger excited in me by the repulsive tripe of Peter Hitchens or Richard Littlejohn.
As a part of my sado-masochistic experiment, I've been indulging in one of the paper's obsessions: the decline of the country due to the dissolute nihilism of our alcohol-fuelled youth. Interestingly, a policeman from Shrewsbury decided to tweet his experiences 'on the beat' in the town as the New Year festivities really got underway. I declare an interest, and so could not resist looking through the piece. Now, take just these couple of sentences from it:
"Across the country, it was the night revellers brought shame to the nation at the end of its most glorious 12 months for decades. After Diamond Jubilee patriotism and Olympic triumph did the country proud, hordes of alcohol-fuelled party-goers turned the clock back to show the world a familiar, sickening portrait of modern Britain...."
Clearly, the writer (quite possibly at the behest of the proprietor) is inviting us to join him in feeling a bitter-sweet sadness at the way in which the young pissheads of Broken Britain have let us all down with their loutish behaviour. The image created by these drunken hooligans and slags* is 'familiar' and 'sickening'; and the tweeting Superintendent wistfully asks us to consider the moral dimension of this hellish bacchanal, his inane ejaculations milked for every sensationalist headline possible by the breathless journo. No matter that the pictures used are not from Shrewsbury, but are taken in Newcastle, Liverpool, Cardiff... and no matter that one of the pictures is captioned 'the Shropshire town centre', which is wilfully moronic in that a) Shropshire is a county for fuck's sake, and b) the picture is of a quiet street in Bridgnorth with a van parked on it. Of course, the Mail doesn't care for such details, sticking admirably to the old adage of never letting the facts get in the way, etc., etc.
Ultimately, this is what Paul Dacre's organ is all about: young girls salaciously pictured - camera lenses pushed like snouts up hems - with skimpy party dresses riding up their legs in grotesque parodies of the celebrity shots which plaster almost every corner of the site, accompanied by the most hypocritical moral outrage. Compare and contrast the bit above with a piece of fluff about Tamara Ecclestone elsewhere:
"Dressed in her usual blingtastic style, the daughter of Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone looked in need of a few pints of water as she headed home to rest her aching feet and no doubt sore head. Tamara is one person who must have been glad to see the back of 2012. The socialite's relationship with businessman Omar Khyami imploded after the discovery of a leaked sex tape."
Blingtastic? It is, let's face it, a bizarro world with which we are presented, and the realities of this world are indeed stranger than fiction. Armies of paps are stationed around Caribbean islands with ultra long lens cameras, capturing (millions of) images of sometimes famous, always rich, women in bikinis while hacks sit at computers typing screeds of meaningless drivel to accompany them; indignation about gay people, and education, and immigration, and benefit recipients; and drugs and knives; catty sniping (no doubt from male hacks, shamefully repeated by the paper's readership) about women's wrinkles or body fat, or other imperfections. Shut it down now.
And now, sports news. A surprisingly routine win for us over the Potters, but once again trumped by Van Persie and his Rag army. I thought Tony Pulis would squeeze a bit more out of his boys, but he didn't. Kun is such a marvel, and could have had a hat trick, so will be sorely missed v Arsenal, if not so much against the Hornets, while Yaya is already in the Veldt with Kolo. After Chelsea were surprisingly stung by Sweep and Harry's Hoops, their threat is diminished somewhat, but there are still a testing few weeks ahead if we are going to keep United in our sights. Let's hope Ed and Carlos (and dare I mention Mario?) can step up to the mark.
* Ironic usage