Tuesday, 12 July 2011


I am obsessed with this phone hacking scandal. Obsessed. So obsessed that as I write this blog I am concerned that I might be missing out on valuable new information. I just went to get a sandwich and missed much of Andy Hayman's evidence at the select committee. By all accounts it was very entertaining and I am livid. Sure, they'll replay the best bits later on but I wanted to see it live... LIVE! Give me LIVE NEWS!

For as long as I can remember I have had a massive boner for news, particularly politics. That's right - as long as I can remember. When I was five I wrote a letter to Reagan and Gorbachev asking them to give up their nuclear weapons. My mum insists that this was my idea. They never got back to me but I like to think that my letter might have been a contributing factor in the slowing down of the arms race and the eventual fall of the iron curtain.

At school, when I was 10, we were asked to stand up in class and give a short speech saying why we should be prime minister. All the other kids offered things like free sweets for everyone and 'no more school'. It was a harmless little exercise aimed, I suspect, at introducing the children to the idea of democracy and public speaking. I declared that I would 'continue this government's path of privatisation'. Being in the Labour stronghold of Newcastle I obviously lost. God damn commies! My interest in politics really took off when I was off school for 7 weeks with whooping cough during the 1992 general election campaign. Looking back I genuinely think that I may have faked my whooping cough or at least it's severity so that I could watch the election coverage. Other kids bunked off school to sniff glue and steal Twixes. I bunked off to watch John Major take questions on weird phone in shows.

Here's the thing though. My infatuation with politics is on an almost entirely superficial level. I have very few political convictions, if any. I just enjoy the theatre of it. I like seeing smart people argue. My own opinions usually work like this - my first response to any political topic is to take the reactionary, usually left wing point of view. For example - anti-war, pro-immigration, anti-Murdoch. Then a couple of days later I start to think that lots of smart people think otherwise so in the interest of balance I look at things from their point of view and try to read things that support it. Before long I am utterly confused and don't know where I stand on anything.

When Thatcher left office we had a discussion about it at school. I realise it sounds like I went to a type of x-men academy for young politicos. This was actually the only other instance in which I remember us talking about politics. All the little Geordie boys and girls said things they'd most likely heard from their parents. They said that Thatcher was a horrible woman who had ruined this country and that they were glad to see her go. What with it being Newcastle and all this was the dominant opinion. Upon reflection, the chances are that a lot of their parents (and perhaps my own) lost jobs because of her policies. I, however, sensed an injustice. Who was going to stand up for Maggie? I stood up and said my piece. I distinctly remember feeling quite emotional and getting very close to tears.

'I think that she has done some bad things but she's also done a lot of good for this country and we should be thanking her for that'.

Two teachers looked at each other with raised eyebrows. I now know that they were thinking 'Tory parents eh?'. My parents weren't Tory. I was just a strange, strange child. I didn't even know what the good or the bad things were that she had done. I guessed that there must have been some good things and that I ought to defend her.

Now it's time for me to turn the telly back on and see where we are with this hacking shit. There are far more important things going on in the world but it has all the ingredients of my ideal news story. Pantomime villains, corruption and the pursuit of justice. Somebody has already said this week that it's like The Wire and the parallels are indeed, delicious. Sorry this blog hasn't been that funny. My brain is full of NEWS.

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