Terence Blacker: Same stories, different headlines

There will be at least one survey in the press, revealing that women are better than men

Share
Related Topics

It is a bracing thing, to leave the country before Christmas madness sets in, and return with the new year well and truly under way. The sense of potential and change, which can seem bleary and uncertain on 1 January, must surely be clearer in the eye after three more or less news-free weeks on the other side of the world.

The year, though, quickly loses its newness when you open the newspapers. It is as if the same basic stories are still dominating the headlines, with only the particulars and the names of the participants changed. If one were to return in January 2012, or travel back to two years ago, I suspect that the general pattern of news and issues would be pretty much identical.

The advantage of stepping off the media merry-go-round for a while is that it is easier to identify these archetypal British news stories, served up at regular intervals to enrage, frustrate, concern or titillate the early 21st-century reader.

There will inevitably be the story of an offensive soap opera. Did something happen in The Archers while I was away? Was there a dead baby story? Or was that EastEnders? Wherever it appeared, the storyline has caused such outrage that, at first glance, I assumed that it concerned a real dead baby, not a made-up one.

Whether it is a lapse of taste, or a lesbian scene, or a rape, or a favourite being character being killed off, the soap opera news story will follow the same pattern: outrage across the land, switchboards jammed, middle-class tabloids full of rent-a-gob moralists blaming the Sixties, concerned websites – Mumsnet, Dadsnet, Kidsnet, Petsnet – sounding off to the press. It is all taken terribly seriously and will quickly represent something altogether bigger than a bit of fiction on TV – the end of decency, perhaps, an assault on the family, an insult to decent British viewers.

A politician (usually John Prescott) will be making a fool of himself. Looking around, I get a sense that Vince Cable's halo has lost some of its sheen. Was it the dancing thing, or did he put his foot in it in some way? If it is not Vince, then some other MP can be relied upon to have brought new levels of embarrassment to public life. Lembit Opik played the jester role for a while, but the champion chump of recent times has been Prescott. Has he done it again? Thought so.

There will be at least one survey in the press, revealing that women are better than men, or that men prefer work to home, or that Britons are having more (or less) sex than ever before. This new year, it has apparently been proved beyond doubt that women are marrying men who are richer than they are. It has been statistically proven that an astonishing 98.1 per cent of these surveys are a complete waste of time.

There will, of course, be a football outrage. Someone will have fooled the ref by falling over in the penalty area. Or maybe there has been a horror tackle. Or a nightclub incident. The details are unimportant; what matters is that it will offer an opportunity for widespread sanctimonious pontification about the pampered, spoilt, overpaid footballers of today.

Someone inappropriate will have reappeared on television. There was a time, before the invention of reality TV, when politicians retired to write their memoirs and ageing broadcasters were happy to eke out a living by appearing in advertisements for stair-lifts or insurance companies. Now they are encouraged to make public idiots of themselves for money. Either I am suffering from a jetlag-induced bout of déjà vu, or Angela Rippon is back for the umpteenth time. Any moment now, some old fool will mention her appearance on The Morecambe and Wise Show.

Perhaps it is all a dream, and I am being haunted by ancient headlines, still rattling around in the brain. Please tell me that these stories are not masquerading as news in a new year.



terblacker@aol.com

twitter.com/TerenceBlacker

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Junior Research Analyst - Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Java Developer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Man Booker Prize: Great books and great authors are sometimes missed out by awards committees

Natalie Haynes
Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland speaks at the Commonwealth Games media centre  

Things might not be looking good for Alex Salmond, but Scotland needs its leader to fight until the end

Mary Dejevsky
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game