I successfully gave up reading newspapers for many months, but my resolve and habit have dragged me back with increasing frequency. I am back in the swamp of opinion, fashion spreads and international news that I know I should take more notice of, but my parochial mind flips by too hastily. I no longer have any paper of choice, if I do buy one out of tiredness at the railway station, it’ll depend on the lure of the banner. More often, it is the anti-allure, “oh this one is heavy with Robin Thicke, Lily Allen and winter coats, I will not require that. Hmmm, just how many pages of this are recipes for pies and ornate puddings that I will neither make or taste?”
I used to subscribe to the Daily Telegraph, to the horror of my leftist companions. The thinking was that I would learn more from reading the views of my presumed opposites than nodding to the bluster of those I am meant to travel with. I have no such issues now, I can find plenty to disagree with in most newspapers and grumpily harrumph at what I see as a lack of alternative or lefty viewpoints. Writers seem to skip from the “right” and “left” newspapers on a daily basis, a shrinking pool of names typing for whoever pays in a diminishing market. Nigel Farage now has a column for The Independent, a pretend outsider who offers opinions already widely represented in the mainstream, another of that “silent majority” that keeps barking.
Today I went for The Guardian, a newspaper acting as wrapping paper for the shopping catalogues within. I checked The Guardian Essential catalogue but have already decided that I must spend an impoverished life without a window steamer or ugly oak 6 in 1 music centre, I will continue my simple peasant existence devoid of these luxuries. Then I checked the Lifestyle solutions catalogue, but came to the decision that the teeth whitener pen, dehumidifying egg and advance spider stayaway spray were not on my list of goods that might offer solution for my lifestyle’s shortcomings. I am not even sure I have a lifestyle, I just live and do things, maybe I’ll get a lifestyle next year, it could go with those jazz records I got hold of last January. I don’t want the spiders to stay away anyway, I like a good cobweb and a spider centre stage, maybe that IS part of my lifestyle. Then there is the John Lewis catalogue. All the knitwear and cottonwear looks lovely, but I have a body that involuntarily revolts, twists and flinches when placed in quality clothing. Then finest spun goods that would hang from Clooney as if he were god made flesh, will soon be distorted by clumsy being into something that was left out in the back bins of a hospice charity shop. The consumer within me was roused by the Folio Society catalogue (of course), but I looked away before the saliva fell onto that image of Darwin’s Origin of Species with those 25 pages of colour plates.
And now I am in to the newspaper. I start on the sections that can be brusquely removed.
Sport – not required
Money – it will only cause worry or confusion
Travel – nothing on frayed British seaside towns, a brief look at converted Railway ale wagon near Launceston and then into the recycling pile.
Cook – I have no swiss chard or lemon thyme, nor the facilities to cook in the Premier Inns that usually make my home.
Family – I stop there briefly, attempting to avoid the Love It! Style agony articles for the middle classes, similar tragedies but told with better diction.
I do read Clive Stafford Smith’s Family Values. I admire his work. The first half page fully read, though most of the page is dominated by a big photograph. Then I read about someone’s transgender uncle in a piece too short to enlighten.
Now it’s down to the big lumps of print.
The Guardian Guide
I read Josie Long’s cartoon, I would be a traitor not to. Her horse sketching has improved since I have known her, but I worry her Shergar is too Shetland. I hope her cartoon David Icke hug becomes real when we are all down at the Laugharne festival as he will be there too. I fear a new friendship and that in the next series of Utter Shambles I will be replaced by Icke. Now I go straight to the comedy section of the Guide to see if I will be angered by their choices and scowl as I mumble, “Hmmm, if only I’d been better on that one ghastly episode of Mock the Week, I could be playing bigger rooms and doing commercials for loan sharks”. I like all of them and miserably accept that I am glad Toby Hadoke, Jane Bussman and Nick Helm all get paragraphs of praise. Then it’s straight to the Club section to see if I which towns I am going to have banging club nights so I can revel in bass laced techno stars. Oh no, hang on, I am me, I turn to the Radio 4 listings.
Ah, I have run out of time and space and gone beyond my word count. Suffice to say –
Terry Eagleton grandly praised Morrissey’s Autobiography, Will Self reminded me why I must dust off my Guy Debord, Weekend magazine’s what it is like to be gay around the world was predominantly depressingly informative, then there were a lot stylists and pomegranate wranglers, as for the news, full page 3 on X Factor, David Cameron yet again photographed in another country making the face if one of Evelyn Waugh’s more ludicrous and half-witted characters, George Osborne photographed with a miner, looking like Camberwick Green’s shameful secret, you get the general idea. Approaching Waterloo, my reading is done, little learnt, but time wasted conveniently (like this blog post I imagine) , hmmm, no do I actually need a dehumidifying egg?
My Importance of Being Interested Tour is nearly over, final London gig is HERE also off to Kings Lynn, Evesham, Cirencester, Leicester, Dartmouth, Tunbridge Wells details of those HERE
DVDs of Happiness Through Science HERE