I'm not a media celebrity. Get Hutton out of here!

'The only people who lap the whole thing up are the media and Westminster. It's their own private soap opera'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

"I've been thinking about this whole Hutton business," said the man with the dog.

"I've been thinking about this whole Hutton business," said the man with the dog.

The dog said nothing.

We said nothing.

We had managed to survive for a whole week in the pub without anyone saying anything about Hutton, and it seemed a shame to break silence now.

"They keep saying that everyone is talking about it," said the man with the dog, "and certainly everyone on TV and radio is talking about it, but I haven't heard a single real live person talk about it."

"And now you go and spoil everything," said the lady with the green hairdo. Green, to match her winter tipple: whisky-mac.

"No, I don't," said the man with the dog. "I'm not TALKING about the Hutton affair. What I'm talking about is people NOT talking about it! From the way the BBC cancelled half their programmes to make way for Hutton conversations, you'd think it was the most important thing since the Suez crisis, but it's not."

"How important would you say it was, then?", said the green lady. "On a scale of one to 10, how important is it?"

"On a scale of one to 10, I would say the Suez crisis was eight, the miners' strike six, and Princess Diana's death one."

"And the Hutton thing?"

"Nothing. Zero. Nil."

"How can the Hutton thing be nothing? It's been front page news for weeks and months!"

"Because the Hutton thing doesn't affect me," said the man with the dog. "I'm sorry, but it's irrelevant to me and it's irrelevant to you. It was all over a small story by an unimportant journalist broadcast at six o'clock one morning which nobody heard, and which turned out to be wrong, and so bloody what? Nobody would even have known about it if Alistair Campbell hadn't gone bananas over it."

"He's right, you know," said the resident Welshman. "The reason that the Hutton thing has been blown up so big is that it's a sensational plot twist in the Downing Street/Fleet Street soap opera. The media and the government are engaged in an extraordinary melodrama in which things like Prime Minister's Questions and Alistair Campbell's resignation and Dr David Kelly's suicide and Geoff Hoon's fate and the Tory leadership struggle are vital plot twists - but only to them! The only people who lap it up are the media and Westminster! It's their private soap opera. Unfortunately, they insist on sharing it with us. It's like being made to listen to the Archers if you have no interest in the programme. Not many people are forced to listen to the Archers. But we ALL have to listen to the Westminster/media show! And thus it acquires a spurious importance."

There was a pause. Welsh passion is slightly daunting.

"For instance," said the Welshman, taking advantage of no interruptions, "whenever there is a plot twist it seems absolutely, breathtakingly important at the time, until the next one comes along and eclipses it. A few weeks back it was Iain Duncan Smith's fate. Now, who cares what happened to him? Who knows what he is doing now? This time last week, it was Geoff Hoon's fate. Will he go, won't he go? But Geoff Hoon was written out of the plot, at least till needed. Because, much to everyone's surprise, Greg Dyke has gone instead."

"Not to my surprise," said the man with the dog. "I couldn't care less either way."

"When I said 'everyone's surprise' I didn't mean your surprise," said the Welshman. "I meant to the surprise of everyone in the soap opera. Shock and horror at the BBC, who had lost a good boss, and where masses of extras turned out for a very effective crowd scene. Shock and horror in the government, where the idea of resigning over anything like responsibility is a lost and rather indecent concept. But outside the Beeb and Westminster, nobody cared."

"So, if nobody is talking about Hutton, what are these really really important things people are really talking about? The things that really matter?" said the green lady challengingly to the man with the dog.

Before he could answer, the pub door opened. One of the people who came in was saying to the other: "Well, apparently this place in the Australian jungle where all the celebrities are is actually a couple of hundred yards from civilisation, and it's not remote at all, so there's really no danger..."

"God save us," said the Welshman, and we all said, "Amen".

Comments