Terence Blacker: My charter for a news blackout


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It was the sight of a middle-aged woman adopting the now-traditional peek-a-boo pose, having just been awarded the annual Rear of the Year Awards, that caused a wave of despair at the futility of contemporary life to wash over me.

Can it really be 12 months since the newsreader Fiona Bruce was enjoying a similarly undignified photo-opportunity having been voted the year's arse laureate? Surely Carol Vorderman, the 2011 champion, has won the award before: it seems so perfect for her. When will other erogenous zones – breasts, lunchboxes – start being rated by a jury and then given space in the national press?

There are moments when a few weeks in a monastery become irresistibly tempting. Every day trivia may help us all deal with the heavier stuff, but now and then it seems as if a tsunami of silliness is about to engulf us.

Right now I can think of five themes on which I would welcome a month-long moratorium, which would ban any mention of them on TV, in salon bars, in newspapers, during bellowed mobile phone conversations, or on internet message-boards.

The Twitter revolution Many people derive intense and mostly innocent pleasure from this form of brief, instant communication. Like the chatter of Colobus monkeys in the jungle canopy, it keeps people in touch with one another in a way which requires little brain work or effort. It can be fun, sometimes useful, and might possibly influence events in the real world now and then. None of which quite explains why it has become such an obsessive topic of debate. No news story – insurrection in the Middle East, a natural disaster in the south Pacific, a mini-crimewave in Bootle – is deemed to be complete without some kind of Twitter element to it. Tweet-addiction has been spreading throughout the media. It is time to go cold turkey.

Footballers' sex lives It is an incontrovertible fact that football players have sex. Some of them may well have fruitier and more varied intimate lives than members of other professions. Just for a few weeks, shall we leave them at it? Take our collective ear away from the bedroom door and tip-toe away? If someone's husband has done what he ought not to have done, it is not necessarily that fascinating. As in football itself, there should perhaps be a close season.

The Miliband/Clegg problem David Cameron's honeymoon period has lasted far too long. Rather as the Blair charm offensive deflected criticism for the first two years he was in power, a weird political mood is causing all the political flak to be directed away from Downing Street and towards Nick Clegg or Ed Miliband.

Clegg is not a political disaster – being the junior partner in a coalition was never going to be easy – and, given how scattered and demoralised his party was a few months ago, Miliband is not doing badly either. It is time to stop the niggling complaints about them.

The privacy debate If only a super-injunction could be taken out on super-injunctions. There may be great and important social issues at stake, but somehow they have been lost in the swirling mists of gossip and innuendo about who had dinner with whom, and which moderately well-known actor has been unfaithful. This nonsense is cluttering up our brains, and the 'aren't-we-daring?' newspaper stories mentioning errant celebrities without revealing why they should be of interest are an embarrassment.

Pippa Middleton's behind Six weeks after the royal wedding, the press is still drooling over the unexceptional appendage of a rather ordinary woman. What has happened to us? When did the nation turn into a dirty old man, ogling at a woman in her twenties? It is time to leave this blameless woman alone, and leave bottom-centric promotion to this year's laureate, Carol Vorderman.


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