WILLIAM HARTSTON REVIEWS THE WEEK'S PRESS
Every paper last week carried the same stories of death on the Nile. The tabloids abandoned their usual hyperbole to convey the real horror of what happened and the resulting grief. "I saw tourist's throat cut as he begged for mercy" was one headline in the Mail, while the Express had "I hid under the bloody bodies". A headline in the Sun read: "All my family shot dead by the most evil men in the world". But the evil was generally left as a horror story. The politics behind the slaughter were too complicated even to attempt.

Not that many of the broadsheets did much better. "The barbarians have visited the temples," the Telegraph wrote in a leader. "It is a crime of surpassing dreadfulness and senselessness". After a few such sentences of ritual denunciation, however, there was little more to the analysis than a conclusion that the killers hate Mubarak and the West, and admire Saddam Hussein. A leading article produced the trite recommendation that we really shouldn't allow foreign terrorists to live, and plot, in this country.

The Guardian had a more perceptive analysis. In a piece headed "Egypt rejoiced too soon in terror war", it quoted the numbers of killings of terrorists, police and civilians in recent years. The figure peaked at 343 in 1995, went down to 184 in 1996 and was apparently well down this year. The security forces relaxed too early.

Only the estimable Robert Fisk in the Independent on Wednesday really tried to explain what might have been going through the minds of the young men from Gema'a Ismaliyah, as they danced while they slaughtered. His piece, and a leading article the same day, give an account of the "vicious and depressing cycle" of political and religious repression and frustration in the Arab world that led to this disaster. The way forward, they say, is to follow the lead of "the most farsighted of Arab statesmen", King Hussein of Jordan and King Hassan of Morocco, "who have partly opened their political systems to admit some elements of opposition". The Times also praises the same two kings, "attempting, through democracy, to isolate the extremists by giving legitimate opposition a political voice," but reaches a more idealistic conclusion: "When [terrorism] vents its anger so terribly on the innocent, governments must look beyond their security forces to deeper causes of malaise." But the Independent feels that things have sunk too far. "President Mubarak has little choice but to respond to the violence of terrorists with the violence of the state."

Moving from horror to delight, this was the week of the Queen's golden wedding anniversary, which was just what we needed to restore some good cheer. There is an old story of two Jewish women, and one says to the other, "I've got something really exciting to tell you. I'm having an affair." And the other one's eyes widen and she says: "That's wonderful! Who's doing the catering?" Well, at the Queen's affair, it was Anton Mosimann, but you had to read the Times to know. That paper also gave the full menu, the seating plan at the top tables, and a complete list of who was sitting at each of the other 30 or so tables. But they didn't tell us what John Major said to Kate Bush on table 14. Sadly, none of the papers told us that.

The Express also told us the menu, but led on Prince Philip's praise for his wife with "Thank you my true love" emblazoned on its front page and a leader emphasising that "the royal marriage has been a splendid success". A fawning article by Philip Norman contains the grammatical error of the week. When he wrote: "For we picture the Queen's reign only in terms of recent 'anni horribiles' - the lurid sagas of Diana and Fergie, the selfishness of and miscalculations of Charles, the gracelessness of Edward ... ", it should, of course, have been "annorum horribilorum" - you need the genitive case after "of".

The Mirror also highlighted Prince Philip's speech, but with the ghastly headline, "my missus terrificus".The broadsheets generally latched on to Prince Philip's description of the Queen as "tolerant". The Telegraph saw his speech as a "poignant and remarkable personal reflection", while the Times said that "for a man of 76, he still has an enormous capacity to banter with complete strangers" - a curious comment, since there must be many barmy old men who have a thoroughly irritating habit of bantering with complete strangers. The Telegraph's front-page cartoonist Matt also made an uncharacteristic error on the subject of the royal wedding. His picture showed one royal corgi saying to another: "Do you realise the Queen has been married for 350 dog years?" Nice idea, but surely he's got it the wrong way round. It's only seven-and-a-bit dog years.

For the Guardian, what made the biggest impression was: "Duke speaks up for his children". Overall, however, it was "Tony and Liz show set to run and run". The Independent saw the same thing as "New Labour sells a New Monarchy". The only carping note was struck by Mary Riddell, "Britain's most incisive columnist", in the Mirror. Sinking her incisors into Prince Philip, she accused him of taking up marriage guidance counselling. "Short of Gary Glitter lecturing on childcare policy or Kate Moss giving a masterclass on flabby thighs, I cannot think of a more unlikely instant expert."

Which brings us to the other main story of the week - for some of the papers at least: the arrest (or just questioning, depending who you read) of Gary Glitter. Apparently, he had taken a computer in for repair at PC World, and they had called the police when they found child pornography on it - a story billed as "Exclusive" in both the Sun and the Mirror on Wednesday. Only the Times, however, gave its readers the details of the law relating to the finding of illegal material on a computer by technicians. Apparently, you have to encrypt it, or hide it behind a password, if you don't want them to tell the police about it.

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