Monday, 11 July 2011
Inside four months I will be as old as my paternal grandfather was when he died. He died suddenly, leaving behind him a successful career, a wife and two children. Having only lived a quarter of a century he had obtained what I in all likelihood never shall. Nevertheless, despite lacking on all three of the salient indicators of maturity, I have recently taken it upon myself to improve in this regard by reading the news on bbc.co.uk/news for a minute or two before I go to bed. Which brings me to the main current of this particular piece: IT SUCKS!
With the exception of things like “Odd Box” or tales of the amazing, such as a man who managed to leap from a burning building whilst juggling a crocodile, a kitten and an electric fan, all the stories seem to point to one conclusion: That all things are becoming irreparably worse. It’s not to dismiss the tragedy of life: the wars, the murders, the unfortunate occurrences and the natural disasters, it’s simply to highlight that all the information we receive seems to be geared to be in one of the above categories. Every government transaction is detrimental for everyone, every technological development in alternative energy seems unaffordable or yet more detrimental to the environment, which (let’s face it) always seems like a lost cause the way it’s represented in the media.
It’s quite possible that as a self-confessed pessimist I’m seeing the worst in a good thing, but I get the feeling that all this talk in the so-called news about the ever-increasing levels of depression found in the British population might not just be due to the weather. Every fact based headline seems to be a negative. Putting ‘Faith Healing: Myth or Miracle’ as a title somehow seems to suggest that Myth is the more likely outcome. Every second word seems to be “cut”, “lost” or “did” - and when I say did, it’s usually in the context of “did teachers really think that letting children play with surgical equipment was a good idea?” - to which the answer was of yes, and then tragedy ensued.
Another idea about current affairs that particularly grinds my gears is the perpetual assumption among the devoted followers that they somehow “know what’s going on in the world” - a fear of ignorance led me to read it myself, but the second thought eventually hits you like a enraged drunk that you are being informed of selected snippets. The first instance I knew of there being a Kurdish independence war in Turkey was when Top Gear went there for their Christmas special. To know what was happening everywhere in the world, you’d have to read every local newspaper or parish gazette ever written, every week. The advantage of course being that local news has stories about good things in it as well, such as “£20,000 raised for new church roof” or “local shop owner’s wife delighted at giving birth to quintuplets”. Somehow in the transition from local to global though, the bad news tends to be predominant. The shock factor seems to be what sells national papers, which leads us to only receive the bad news about life on mass, with an occasional rocket-skiing panda story at the end to make us think ‘Awwwww, it’s not all that bad’.
Occasionally however, one does find a story which is entirely devoid of negativity: ‘Owl leaves imprint on Kendall woman’s window’ is an example today which particularly took my fancy. It describes the phenomenon that when a bird flies in to a window it leaves a very artistic window imprint through the depositing of feather powders. Nevertheless (and this might lead one to ask what would make me happy) the fact that this is national news at all seems rather odd. I remember a similar incident when a blue-tit flew in to my window once and left a similar imprint - Yet the event failed to become national news. The only possible source of value in the story is the mirth it might inspire when one images a fully-fledged predator of the night colliding with Anglian’s handiwork.
Regretfully, I now feel I should begin to argue in the favour of current affairs, but I can’t bring myself to do it. The plain truth of the matter is that if anything newsworthy ever takes place, someone, somewhere will tell you about it. As long as people have the mouths to speak and you have the patience not to spend your life in a cave, YOU WILL BE INFORMED! So it is with a grim satisfaction that I pronounce current affairs 10% on the universal percentage scale, which it only gets because of paper rounds – a valuable source of income for the young, which keeps them from doing drugs out of sheer boredom.... that and hurricane and tornado alertness. But that’s the weather - which is something entirely different... I hope.