Press Clippings From Hell No.4


Let’s have one last blast of misery, stupidity and hypocrisy from the press clippings file. These were culled from the national press during the writing of my collection ‘Red Gloves’, and no doubt influenced the extreme bleakness of the ‘Home’ volume (it has two volumes, Tales from Home and Tales from Abroad, which is generally more upbeat).

Nobody does stupid as well as the Tories. A massive expenses scandal engulfed MPs from both sides of Parliament, as Tory MP Douglas Hogg revealed he spent £2,000 of taxpayers’ money getting his moat cleaned. Another was caught having a duck-house built from public cash, and complained that the ducks had never really enjoyed using it anyway.

Best of all was Tory MP Anthony Steen, who shoved the inspection of five hundred trees and rabbit-proofing his shrubbery on expenses. and had this to say to British taxpayers about being caught out; ‘I think I have behaved impeccably. You know what it’s about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it’s a merchant’s house from the 19th century. It was this government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act and it is this government that insisted on the things which caught me on the wrong foot.’

As decades of financial abuse come to an end, British MPs screamed like stuck pigs. Weirdly, some were defended in the national press by kowtowing members of the public who clearly relished the prospect of returning to a feudal system. The exposure of MPs’ expenses threw up some wonderfully odd claims; Conservative leader David Cameron claimed almost seven hundred pounds on ‘burning oil’ (presumably for his Aga cooker). Others claimed for biscuits, jellied eels, a wig, orchids and a hedge trimmer for a helipad.

Google street-mapping arrived in the UK. Across the country, a million cries went up: ‘Why did they have to film our street while the scaffolding was up at number 57?’

A German couple abandoned their three children in an Italian pizzeria because they had run out of money on holiday. They thought the authorities would probably figure out where they lived and send them home. Luckily, money is just something poor people have to worry about. On the same day, a Thai jewellery designer displayed a $4.2 million dog tiara at a canine fashion show. This is a theme beloved of The Sunday Times, which constantly carries reports on the world’s most expensive handbag or gold-leaf filled burger while their World News section only manages to scrape up a few paragraphs on global warming or war crimes.

Susan Boyle, a middle-aged woman with a pleasant singing voice and a face that could send a dog under a table, became one of the most-viewed internet sensations of all time, but failed to win a television talent contest. Her overnight ‘career’, from rise to fall, ended with a breakdown and her admittance to The Priory clinic – a sped-up microlife that eclipsed even Jade Goody’s.

Amidst global financial hardship, Turkey’s £1 billion Mardan Palace opened its doors with the biggest Beluga and Bollinger party in history. Sharon Stone, attending with other fading stars like Richard Gere, Mariah Carey and, with grim inevitability, Paris Hilton, said it was a ‘moment of potential profundity. We have come together to make the world a better place.’ That’s the beauty of celebrities; they’ll say or do absolutely anything to justify themselves. The Russians found a way to punish their most rebellious oligarch hotel owner for spending his cash overseas; they closed down his revenue source, a vast Moscow market full of smuggled Chinese goods. For more good Russian thug stories, check out Al-Jazeera’s documentary strand.

The line between PR and reality vanished with a tiresome staged tiff between Sacha Baron-Cohen and Eminem at the MTV Awards (Cohen was dropped into Eminem’s face dressed as a half-nude gay angel and the rapper called him a faggot before storming out) Both were selling new products, and later confirmed that the ‘accident’ was a publicity stunt. ‘This is very exciting television,’ said the show’s presenter.

‘The greatest concerts of all time’ never happened. AEG, the promoters of the O2 concerts which were to feature Michael Jackson performing a record-breaking forty-plus appearances, were slowed down a little by his sudden death. Happily they came up with a great way to save on refunds. Punters were offered replacement memorial souvenir tickets somehow ‘inspired and designed’ by the dead singer. Meanwhile, Jackson’s death sparked a massive internet campaign of hoax celebrity death reports that included Jeff Goldblum falling off a cliff and George Clooney crashing a plane.

Prince Charles gave the planet just 96 months left to survive, and David Attenborough revised that figure downwards. Last week a team of Antarctic scientists admitted that the global heating crisis is now unstoppable as ‘we have probably passed the tipping point’. Their findings barely made the news anywhere. The latest G7 summit pretty much failed to agree on anything at all.

But if the world ends that’s okay too, because it turns out there’s an afterlife. Following her death, the August 3rd issue of The Sun ran a front page headline announcing that Jade Goody (press clippings passim), once so used to speaking through the medium of television, was now speaking through a television medium – from beyond the grave. For many of us this was the moment the Western press died.

16 comments on “Press Clippings From Hell No.4”

  1. Stu-I-Am says:

    Next to the contention by some anti-vaxxers that COVID-19 vaccines contain a minute tracking chip, there’s the story of the US Ohio nurse (no less…) who claimed that the vaccines make people magnetic, but ― to use a gymnastics term ― she failed to stick the landing. Testifying before a state health committee about what she said were potential coronavirus vaccine dangers,she tried to use her own body as proof.

    The anti-vaxxer said she heard during lunch that vaccines cause magnetism in humans, so she decided to prove her point on herself by attempting to show how a bobby pin and a key would stick to her exposed skin. Spoiler alert: It didn’t go well.

    Not so surprising then, that a humpback whale swallowed a lobster diver off of Provincetown, Massachusetts in the US and spat him out. Humans! Bah!

  2. Paul C says:

    Talking to a retired registrar recently I asked him the worst baby name he was ever asked to register. Satan is the surprising answer. He refused to register it and told the doting parents to go away and think again. Poor kid…..

  3. Brooke says:

    @Stu-I-Am: I think the “nurse” is described as a “nurse practitioner student.” For non-US folksm, the NP degree is said to be a “diploma mill.”

    In that vein, the state of Florida passed legislation requiring surveys of students and faculty (about 400K people) about their beliefs in efforts to root out “indoctrination.” What a hoot!

  4. Helen+Martin says:

    Is the nurse practitioner not an advanced diploma that puts you just below a doctor and authorises a number of actions otherwise only opened to MDs?
    Back to Britain. I read this morning that as many as 10,000 pigeons have failed to “home” after being released in Peterborough. It is thought that emanations from the sun have disturbed earthly magnetic patterns and the pigeons instincts are disturbed. If you should find a distracted pigeon give it some water and seed and allow it to rest. It should recover as the magnetic lines restore themselves. Where is Andy Capp when you need him and how can you tell when a pigeon is distracted?

  5. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Brooke & @Helen+Martin The anti-vaxxer (who, it turns out, was not a ‘magnetic’ personality…) is a registered nurse who, she said, was studying to be an nurse practitioner (advanced practice nurse or advanced nurse practitioner in the UK) which provides for a good deal of autonomy and has prescribing authority.

    But, the real ‘head-scratcher’ (which I overlooked), was that she was simply following the theory advanced by a medical doctor (osteopathic physician) who claimed there were ‘people’ who ‘…long suspected there was some sort of interface ‘yet to be defined’ between what’s being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers.’ For the uninitiated, ‘5G’ is the latest mobile broadband technology standard. So, if you’ve been vaccinated and find yourself strangely attracted to an O2 UK tower …

  6. Brooke says:

    @Helen, In some states NPs can prescribe, order some diagnostics under a patient treatment plan supervised by licensed MD. NPs cannot practice independently; they are registered nurses with additional education. Physician assistants (PAs) are educated as physicians, can prescribe, order diagnostics,perform some in-office procedures also under MDs license.

  7. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Helen+Martin I was sad to read of another unmarked grave site of mainly Indigenous children in Saskatchewan. As you know, for decades the oral histories of the First Nations suggested that thousands of children at church-run boarding schools had disappeared, but this was usually met with skepticism. Now we see it was true. But it is not Canada alone which should hang its head, you need only look to your neighbor to the south and in fact, far too many other nations with a similar tragic legacy.

  8. Helen+Martin says:

    We have always known there were graves. Students were sometimes used as grave diggers apparently. There would be actual legitimate reasons since children do die – accidents, a disease that was untreatable at the time, but there was never a reason not to mark those graves. Unless the staff thought an increasing number would “look bad”. One reason for children being buried at the schools and hospitals was that the government “Indian Affairs” would not pay the cost of returning bodies (so we took children away from their homes and then said it was too expensive to return them if they died. The families didn’t have money to pay for it either) The amount of per diem that was allowed for food was not enough to feed children properly so they were in a weakened state and open to any infection that came along. There are stories of staff refusing to take children to hospital so they died of things that might have been successfully treated. There is no question but that the government believed that within a generation there would only be a few individuals left of the Nations and then there would be no more “problem”. Instead, those Nations comprising very strong people, we now are almost back to the pre-contact numbers. That’s a stretch but the numbers are certainly increasing rapidly so that government has no option but to talk with them. Change is coming; it’s just that it is so slow. There is a joke going round: Mr. Trudeau goes to a northern reserve and asks the chief what problems are there that they would like dealt with. The chief replies that there are 3 and the first is that they have a medical clinic but no doctor. Mr. Trudeau whips out his phone, chats for a minute, then puts it away. “Solved,” he says, the doctor will be here next week. The chief nods and says, “Number two is that the mining company is polluting our water supply.” Trudeau whips out the phone, yells into it for a minute or two then puts it away. “What is your third problem?” he asks. The chief replies, “We have absolutely no cell phone connection here.”

  9. Jo W says:

    That is a great joke. It can so easily be translated to any country’s politicians!

  10. Peter+Dixon says:

    Paul C – couldn’t the parents have claimed the boy was called Stan and that the A was silent?

  11. Brooke says:

    @ Stu-I-am. No joke…The 5G conspiracy has triggered vandalism of towers across certain states (guess which region) and at least one shooting incident.

  12. Colin says:

    The one thing rarely discussed about the expenses scandal is who was behind it? What was the motive ? I read somewhere that various people in the banking industry knew about the expenses. They apparently had the documents stolen and the drip fed to the press for maximum effect. All parties were guilty a Labour MP made a claim for a £5 poppy donation. The bankers knew after the banking scandal a clampdown was coming. The moral of it all? Get your revenge in first.

  13. Jan says:

    If being freshly (or not so freshly) vaccinated and finding yourself strongly attracted to attend or otherwise attracted towards a 5G tower keep your eyes peeled for distracted pigeons who are likely similarly confused

  14. Stu-I-Am says:

    For those who shake their heads in disbelief at someone willing to pay £50.5m (USD 69m) for a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) collection of pixels or a purely digital collage, you may be unaware of the next stage in modern art: nothing. An unknown buyer paid £13,267(USD18,350) for an invisible sculpture by Italian artist Salvatore Garau called, ‘Il Sono’ (‘I am’). The artist described the sculpture as a “density of thoughts,” observing that in quantum physics even empty space is “full of energy.” Garau graciously provided a certificate of authentication to the purchaser.

  15. Paul C says:

    The perfect musical accompaniment for looking at Stu’s invisible statue would be 4′33″ composed by John Cage :

    a three-movement composition for any instrument or combination of instruments. The score instructs performers not to play their instruments during the entire duration of the piece. It is just four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence.

    Ludicrous but still better than looking at any sculpture by Tracey Emin or any music by Barry Manilow

  16. Helen+Martin says:

    Paul, I’ve had some pleasant time listening to Barry Manilow although it doesn’t stir deep emotions, I’ll admit. I’ll contemplate Deep Thought to the accompaniment of John Cage until the number 42 is generated.

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