Generally speaking, I support the printed word and one of the thrills of my working life was to be given a set of national newspapers daily. I still buy two newspapers most days, occasionally a third but I admit to pet hates too and suddenly The Evening Standard began to be delivered through my letterbox. This is a publication I would only use under my shoes. Friends told me they were not so honoured and I now have a notice on the door which says “Please do not deliver The Evening Standard here.”
I would write to the editor if I thought he’d get my letter but he has repaired to the country.
His name is George Osborne and he featured on the cover of the Saturday Times colour magazine this week, because he was formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer, he is rich, recently divorced, has a new girlfriend, has lost weight and has “never been happier”. If you care.
There are people you can’t like. You don’t know them but you can’t like them. Your dislike isn’t reasonable because you don’t know them but there is a kind of animal recoil. Hooray for animals. Unable to speak, they have enviable instincts and perceptions.
George Osborne is not a pretty man but then neither was Les Dawson and I adored him. GO has an unfortunate speaking voice and a patronising manner. Perhaps this should be addressed in preference to which sneakers he wears. Voices matter, the manner of presentation is important. I bet I am not alone in being turned off merely by the sound of what he says, never mind what it means. I am sure he is comfortable in the boardroom but I do wonder about the social skills of a man who has been married for 20 years and sired two children, on record as saying he has never been happier. Thanks chum, that’s somebody else’s life you just dismissed. Of course it is possible that he is just another one of those people who went along with the conventions and then found them wanting – or that the interviewer who had some slight previous acquaintance of him misquoted him. But he’s an editor and presumably has at least one phone to use if he had had the slightest pause over this representation.
However, if the article initially comes over as midlife crisis, a bit further down the text he advises the PM to tell unfortunate truths, to say publicly that we can’t continue with the lockdown, economically we are on our knees. We are going to have to face the presence of the virus, even as we try to manage it, and that means living with death. This is important because death is out of fashion and surrounded as we are with those who break the current law and then pretend it doesn’t matter, it is restfully clear. Marks for this.
If there is one quality politically wanting in the last weeks, no matter how unpleasant, it is clarity.
And the mysterious delivery of the paper is revealed too. The Evening Standard is a freebie. It depends on people stopping you in the street to hand it out. And of course they can’t – social distancing forbids such an approach. It is piled high at railway stations for commuter collection: but the stations are closed and the commuters aren’t travelling. Heaven knows how they selected where to deliver the journal but it was dumped on us. And like every other freebie it winds up blowing down the street, or lodged in letterboxes where it advertises absence. There is a financial implication to have whole editions left in your lap but wouldn’t it have been greener and thus a better story all round to pulp the lot ? Wasn’t there a process by which you could make this all smell a bit more like roses and a bit less like getting somebody else to dispose of it ? Oh well. You were a Teenage Werewolf ? I was George Osborne’s dustbin.