Raymond Kirkpatrick Looks At British Newspapers
Raymond Kirkpatrick is a colleague of Arthur Bryant’s. The bear-like heavy metal-loving Professor of English is currently working at the British Library and is our occasional guest speaker. His opinions are very much his own.
Every morning on my way to my job at the British Library I have a whip around the national dailies to see what people who work in proper jobs in actual offices (as opposed to existing in a basement under the bloody coffee shop) actually talk about, and it quickly becomes apparent that British newspapers are obsessed with some extremely bloody odd subjects. Here are some examples, all culled from yesterday’s online front pages. It makes talking to Arthur Bryant seem normal after this lot.
‘The Thunderer’ was once the Grand Old Lady of Fleet Street, the gold standard of fine reporting. Since its destruction by Rupert Murdoch it has become a bunch of self-congratulatory arse-wipe obsessed with aspirational celebrity-driven non-news. Today is no exception: Multimillionaire serial entrepreneur health guru Craig Cooper, 52, says; ‘My GP was the physician for the Los Angeles Raiders NFL team. He’s 65 and more ripped than I am.’ So, not actually news, more like being stuck with some boring self-centred git in a pub. The front page also features LSD, sexual assault, a dog on a skateboard and Name That Cathedral. Strewth. Ideal story; Cheryl Cole Give You Mortgage Tips From Her Yacht.
Below the serious stuff we get a bit of pop culture from Bruce Willis and Zippy, some woman moaning about ‘having to find her own blackness’, community theatre, windpower, transgender whinging, banning meat and a recipe for something called ‘Nordic sugared lingonberries’ which looks like reindeer shit. The odd one out there is Bruce, although the article’s actually about his mental fans, who are probably finding their blackness over bowlfuls of lingonberries. The linking theme here is clearly obsessively self-absorbed people. Ideal story; Transgender Puppet Show Loses Subsidy.
Over at the newspaper beloved by inbred farmers and the kind of people who sit out in the rain for days wearing union jacks waiting for Kate Middleton’s gold coach to pass by we’ve got some crackers of stories from Planet Bonkers; a thieving postman, some more thieves inspired by the Pink Panther films, articles on parallel parking, HRT, John Terry’s legs, landowners, vacuum cleaners, retirement plans and why glamorous young multi-millionaire Jennifer Lawrence feels lonely. This latter story makes Telegraph readers think they’re in with a chance, except that most of them are sheep-bothering gargoyles stumping about in the backwoods shooting anything that moves. Ideal story; Cameron Stops EU Plot To Poison Red Squirrels.
I’m a bit disappointed to find that the Mail isn’t as mad as a rabid stoat anymore, although it does have some gems from the School of Who Gives A Flying F**k; Tamara Ecclestone’s waistline, a plane landing sideways, Legionnaires’ Disease, a story linking Rolf Harris, peedos and Ebola, revenge porn victim rape (a verb in there would be bloody useful), being too thin, rape, childbirth, being too fat, rape, some skanky-looking shop called Lidl getting a makeover, loads of birds moaning about their weight and/or their men and an incredibly tasteless HIV infection story presented as some kind of movie star guessing game. Nothing here for blokes or smart women, move on. Ideal story: Vanessa Feltz Explains How She Lost 7 Stone on the Lidl Diet.
Ah, this is more like it. I had no idea the Express was still going. Even chip shops don’t have it. Mostly stories about immigrants, homeless ones comin’ over ‘ere stealing our benefits. I guess there were no new breaks in the Madeleine McCann story yesterday. Further down you get topless strippers, migrants, royals, more migrants and what it feels like to have a heart attack (see above – you clutch your chest and fall over). Bloody hell’s bells. But the one that really did it for me was this; ‘A computer simulates what Princess Charlotte will look like over the next sixty years.’ This constitutes a major scoop for the Express. Ideal story; Migrants Found Sleeping Under Kate Middleton’s Bed.
This one threw me; it’s full of news. Balanced reports, intelligent, thoughtful articles, nicely written opinion pieces – it’s clearly doomed to have no readers. Although it does have one slightly mad story about a crappy blackboard covered in scribble selling for $70 million, but it’s just Americans. Ideal story: Global Warming Summit Reaches International Agreement.
This isn’t an actual newspaper, more like those local freesheets, like the Thanet Gazette, only about London. The big three topics of the day are always fares, house prices and a pensioner getting mugged. There are also bits about a rubbish magician who impaled his hand when a trick went wrong, another sodding Kardashian and a cat that walked into Sainsburys. Clearly a very slow news day. Ideal story: How To Convert A Skip Into Luxury Property.
And that’s it, really. There are few other papers like Metro, which is mainly about One Direction and Miley Cyrus, and Shortlist, a paper by and for people who believe our doomed capitalist society can be saved by new brands of moisturizing aftershave. I’m off to the lav with a copy of Plato’s Republic.