I could write a list of things I don’t want to hear about
for the foreseeable future, from the trivial to concerns in which I am powerless, things that upset and unsettle me, starting with the state of the nation and the state of the world. The news goes on and on about the same things, peppered with deaths and beatings and the overwhelming cost of everything. Steadier heads than mine have begun to rear like frightened horses.
As is often the case, as the foreground begin to grim by degrees, feature articles and books focus on ever more exploitative stories from the past. As if the present crop of troubles wasn’t enough. Is there some idea that if we tell you a real shocker about then, you’ll feel better about life now ? Or is it just that conventional mainstream news, wherever you find it, only keeps an audience by upping its shock/horror quotient to stay level with social media, the buzz flies of bad news ? and if they can’t find a corpse, they’ll conjure one.
There is a new book about how humans use oil, which goes back far further into history than you think. But it is death and destruction at every level – and Britain is only one of the rip off artists. The review alone was enough to chill me, like reading a couple of years ago about the destruction of various kinds of whales. That’s not going to get me through a Sunday morning.
A commissioned poll ie one with the results sought, and over a wide enough number and spectrum to mean something, recently suggested (you have to say suggested because of “lies, damn lies, and statistics”) that descending numbers of people watch news broadcasts in a way that was common even 20 years ago. But that is only some of the story. The way news is presented is widely less interesting than it has ever been. The repetitious content doesn’t help, the same phrases, words, intonations even. You can switch through 27 stations and the tonalities will be exactly the same
whether you ‘re building up a shine on the car or the Third World War. What happened to producers – men and women who told you “don’t wave your hands”/”sorry -not that tie” in your ear, along with the countdown , who had some expectation that you would sound like you gave a damn (see The Newsreader on BBC2 – none of the fuss that has attended upon Roger Allam’s latest outing) ?
Do we any longer recognise that there is a buck to stop ?
I am disgusted with the BBC that, after all these weary years, court cases, payments, etc., nobody can simply say “that interview won’t be seen any more” and banish the name of Martin Bashir.
So what has restored my balance this week ? The help of a neighbour in my still unresolved battle with the energy company (see annalog/ghostbusters). Being remembered by an assistant in a shop – think how many people she sees ? Meeting Mona (not her name) a pretty woman ten years younger than me, who crossed from being chirpy acquaintance to something warmer because I banged some part of the ancient undercarriage and was feeling distinctly fragile. And John, John and Bridget.
He wrote to me at annalog asking me less for advice ( advice sounds so pious),
more for comments and thoughts. I wrote back. He asked “But how do we pay you ?” And I had the great pleasure of telling him that this is what I am good for, that I was taught “you can’t take out if you don’t put in” and he wrote again to thank me, and say they were off on holiday.
I don’t care how small it sounds, it’s human. I loved it. So that when my young neighbours the other side spoke so loudly that I couldn’t think for the afternoon – we got past it, cleared the air and they went out. Whereupon I sat and watched one of several programmes on Paul Simon making Graceland full of African musicians and music and tributes to talent which is still I want to hear after all these years.