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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Towards Cape Horn

Yesterday I bought the Daily Mail to check how it had reacted to Theresa May's doings, see my last post Foreboding Forgotten.

A bit like the Pope ordering The Story Of O under plain cover. The DM is (Ahem!) quite right-wing and edited by Paul Dacre who has campaigned 25 years against Britain's membership of the EU. It is Britain's most successful newspaper and targets the elderly middle classes. It dislikes the BBC.

A Guardianista I haven't read the DM for 50 years. Just how deep is the gap these days?

After several pages I became worried. With minor exceptions I had no quarrel with the DM's news coverage of May's catastrophic decision to hold an unnecessary general election. Had I fulminated out of pure prejudice?

Then I reached the regular columnists, often the source of the DM's distinctive, frequently shrill tone. Here's Steven Glover on perceived pro-Labour bias in a BBC debate programme:

Why should the BBC have afforded  Corbyn and the sinister McDonnell (shadow finance minister), not to mention the idiotic Diane Abbott, such latitude?... I believe many BBC employees cannot stomach Theresa May's robust approach to Brexit.

Robust? A DM news headline has her "haunted by a sense of failure".

In the DM's agony column someone asks: When Did Lefties Get So Illiberal? I was mildly cheered by the inference that lefties were once thought liberal, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Reading the DM had seemed like a good journalistic idea which turned out depressing. The DM represents the 51.9% majority who voted Brexit in the referendum; I belong to the minority (48.1%, not a negligible figure) who voted the other way.

The Ship Of Fools that is the British state creaks its way towards Cape Horn where storms are forecast. Ho-hum.


  1. When internet searching sometimes my eye is caught by DM on-line. I try to resist, even though ad-blocking must at least deprive them of some revenue, I don't even want an algorithm to know I've been there. If I can't, I will open the page in a Chrome incognito window, also useful for getting round the Economist's and others' three-articles-a-week then pay up rule, though it means you get every pop-up and gif going. I did once give the on-line Guardian a couple of quid through Paypal to absolve my ad-blocking guilt.

    Sorry to be so scarce, I do stop by but am rather preoccupied otherwheres and have little to say for myself.

  2. Lucy: Lovely to hear from you. Occasionally I imagine I am equipped with a thought-transfer catapult whereby I send you opinions, reflections, admissions, memories - anything that fetches up in my mental garbage-disposal unit - without causing you to feel any need to respond formally. Only subliminally, that's enough.

    Sneaking in through the back-door. I find it amusing that someone else, with whom I've parted brass-rags, appears in my Stats under Traffic Sources from time to time. As I must appear too in a reverse trade. An unspoken and thus inaudible dialogue.

    I didn't realise Chrome offered that facility. I could use it but alas every time I install Chrome (At least 10 times by now) something goes wrong with my OS.

  3. Thoreau complains about receiving news via stagecoach--that the whole village rushes over to find out the news, when really we all go to the news too often. I have taken him to heart.

  4. Marly: It would have taken a ton of heroin to have insulated oneself from our recent general election. Politicians were worried that the electorate would remain indoors (too many recent elections) but the turn-out was huge and votes for Tory and Labour rose significantly.

    I think when we say "there's too much news" we mean telly where it is noisy and intrusive. It's easier to avoid it on the printed page - except that once the Guardian's comic political sketch writer, John Crace, had established that the PM was The MayBot, I couldn't stay away from his column.

    Besides which, as a Remoaner - feeling myself torn away from my European roots (Camus, LvB, WAM, Mann, de Beauvoir, Cervantes, Proust, Helmut Schmidt, Simenon, Colette, Brahms, de Gaulle, etc, etc) - I became like an unwell dog, returning and returning to its vomit. Gloomily drawn to a pessimistic prognosis for my intellectual wellbeing. Brexit will happen but I can't help re-inspecting the imagined hole which it will leave behind:

    O ye millions, I embrace you,
    This kiss for the whole world.

    How I detest the concept of Little England. Trump will eventually implode, but Brexit will endure like a bad case of leprosy.

  5. Well, I voted for the freedom of a world-engaged (rather than Eurocentric) UK, RR. But I have never even bought the Daily Mail, which is a nasty, vicious rag, so I would not wish you to tar me with that brush. I do read the Daily Telegraph about 3 times a week (I enjoy the weekend supplements and the Sunday columnists, but even the "Torygraph" has no time for the sainted Theresa. If you enjoy good writing and structured thought I suggest reading Janet Daley in the Sunday edition.

    Trouble is, in any party, where do we have a statesman who could be prime minister?

    I shall now retire to my self-imposed semi exile.

  6. Avus: Well, let's hope the world finds us lovable. I'm not so sure it does, nor am I sure who on our isolated little island (The Faeroes with traffic jams) is going to change things. Are you sure you like the idea of Liam Fox being your Prophet On Earth?

    No? But he's what you voted for given the referendum question lacked any qualification. You created, in fact, a blank cheque. To your proclamation - Yes I want to leave the EU - you were in effect allowing someone you didn't know from Adam to add "even if it risks bankrupting us, putting millions out of work, turns us into international pariahs, makes our nearest neighbours hate us, types us as having virtually no cultural aspirations and causes our trains to run late."

    I added the last bit for the sake of irony.

    As to a leader why look no further than Jeremy? Steadfast in the face of unendurable persecution, calm, good-humoured and a good communicator. Prefers to jaw rather than war and appears reluctant to initiate nuclear desolation. Possibly you don't like his beard. Say the word and you can have Boris and/or Michael Gove.

  7. Please don't mention the 'G' name in front of this ex teacher!

  8. Blonde Two: Must I part brass rags with you too? I am a Guardianista through and through.

    1. Oh not the Guardian me too. No, I meant that other 'G' you know the one. No chin, knew nothing about education and just waltzed back into the cabinet.

  9. During my studies to become a translator, we had an extra session on UK tabloids and broadsheet. It was very entertaining, esp. the bit about how much power they all wield.

    Could this be less so now with more reading online?

    I was raised in a household where the rustling of newspaper pages was part of breakfast. German cities have several good local papers, plus there are some decent weekly ones, very broad broadsheets.
    My father regularly changed the subscription if something outraged him, but would not allow a tabloid to disgrace our letter box.
    I remember him once desperate for some soccer results while we were on holiday in an Italian ski resort, so he bought his one and only tabloid (Bild) only to spend the rest of the day in a foul mood.
    It was a warning.

  10. Sabine: The Mail, Sun, Express (all tabloids), Times (tabloid in format but serious in intent), Telegraph (broadsheet, serious if naive, mainly for those whose lips move when they read) were all anti-Corbyn, the first three ferociously so. Only the Guardian and Mirror were for Labour and both were half-hearted about Corbyn, even if they warmed up a bit towards the end of the campaign. It has been suggested that the tabloids' reign of terror in British politics is now at an end, but it must be remembered that the Tories' vote also rose as well as Labour's so this judgment may be considered premature.

    Journalistic curiosity alone caused me to buy the Mail which I wouldn't normally have given house-room. I have to admit there is a frisson to be gained from reading someone who is utterly and mendaciously opposed to everything I hope for, though it's an experience I'm inclined to reduce to once a decade. I was - in a way - looking forward to tasting the Mail's second most extreme columnist, Richard Littlejohn, but he devoted his bile to trashing Theresa.

    I sympathise with your father but if seriousness was his game then there was, and is, a further step up for German readers: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. When I last glanced at it, it still disdained the use of pictures. Mind you, I doubt it does soccer scores.

  11. Thanks for your info, but Switzerland is not an option for a serious Franconian trade unionist. He'll laugh.

  12. Blonde Two: Eyes gleaming, looking forward to unfinished business with the schools. Never say Gone For Good until you've staked him through the heart to the tarmac junction of the M5 and M6. And allowed a thousand juggernauts to pass over his apple cheeks.

  13. All: Ironically, given the above comments, the Guardian will change next year from its present Berliner format (somewhere between broadsheet and tabloid) to straight tabloid format. It will also be printed by MSG, the company that owns The Daily Mirror. Great cost savings are envisaged.