Yesterday's men? Don't worry, they'll soon be back in the news

Share
Related Topics
WE'RE NOT going to have another piece about Paul Gascoigne today, I hope?

No. Paul Gascoigne is yesterday's news. Yesterday's news is here today and gone tomorrow.

And gone for ever?

Certainly not. Yesterday's news always comes back when you have forgotten all about it. Sometimes it comes back as "Where Are They Now?" Sometimes it comes back as material for quizzes. Sometimes it only comes back as an obituary. But it always comes back. Have you ever noticed the way Myra Hindley returns endlessly to the headlines? Or Edwina Currie?

Yes. But there never seems to be any good reason for their hitting the news again.

There isn't. It is simply a case of yesterday's news coming back again, even if nothing has happened to cause it. Yesterday's news, whether it is news about Lord Lucan or the Great Train Robbery, always comes back like Halley's Comet.

It's certainly true that news fades. The other day I saw a heading in, I think, "The Spectator", saying "Michael Howard reviews Gitta Sereny's book on Mary Bell", and I thought to myself: Heavens above! How quickly we forget names that were once in the news!

Quite. Last year Michael Howard was reviled by all, and now he is forgotten. Except by The Spectator, of course. The last issue of The Spectator I saw, there was a full page article by Michael Howard's wife. Expect pieces by the Howard children any day now.

No, not Michael Howard - I was really thinking of Mary Bell. A week or two ago she was national enemy No 1, for making money out of a murder. Now she is forgotten again. Can things change so quickly?

They can in tabloid time. Tabloid time is different from real time. It moves much faster. It is governed by boredom. When people get bored, time moves on.

When the readers get bored, you mean?

No. When the editor gets bored. But with Mary Bell, it was sightly different. She was being execrated for taking money for talking about a crime. A couple of days later all the tabloids were falling over each other in an effort to pour money on two nurses who had committed murders. Even the tabloids could see there was an element of hypocrisy here, so they back-pedalled on Mary Bell.

Murderers? But the nurses said they were innocent.

Sure. So did O J Simpson. So did Louise Woodward. So does everyone charged with murder. But don't forget that the nurses were found guilty in a court of law.

Yes - a Saudi court of law!

You think they would have fared any better here? In the country which gave justice to the Birmingham Six? Which behaved so well over Stephen Lawrence?

Yes, but...

Where Michael Howard spent half his time releasing and pardoning people who had been in prison most of their lives?

I thought you said that Michael Howard was out of the news? That's twice we've mentioned him!

Ah, but Michael Howard is only in the news because of Ann Widdecombe! Ann Widdecombe became famous when she dished Michael Howard's chances of becoming Tory leader. She was in the news again this week when she was promoted to the Tory front bench, prompting papers to ask, "How Will Anne and Michael Get On at the Same Table?". Another shining example of papers asking questions to which they have no answer. It's also a shining example of newspapers treating politics as soap opera, as if Widdecombe was only famous for disliking Howard. Most journalists can only understand or explain politics when it is presented as a soap.

Explain.

A lot of newsprint is expended on the supposed rivalry between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, between Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard, between Thatcher and everyone, between Ted Heath and everyone else, on Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, on Robin Cook and the F O

Yes. And?

And nobody except the journalists gives a toss. It really bores the public rigid. It is the one great example of editors getting it wrong. Because THEY are mesmerised by politics as soap opera, they think the public will be as well. Do YOU think anyone remotely cares how Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard behave towards each other? In the real world?

You're asking me? A reader? A question?

You're right. I shouldn't have. Sorry.

Not at all.

React Now

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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn