What’s your New Year Resolution?
For me it is none of the following: Giving up smoking (these days I only smoke through my ears); easing up on the drinking (my alcohol consumption would embarrass the most abstemious
newt gnat); going on a diet (don’t make me laugh) or getting fit (in my opinion, people obsessed with physical fitness are deeply suspicious).
No – what I am giving up is watching or listening to the news. I shall continue to read the news, provided it’s local, such that the North Norfolk News can get away with printing headlines like this
BIRDS NEST IN NORTH NORFOLK POSTBOX
The reason? Everything else is just too distressing. As Professor J. W. of Australia commented on the post in which that headline was featured,
News should be local first and distant second. Twain once said [in Tom Sawyer Abroad]: “one of the worst things about civilization is, that anybody that gits a letter with trouble in it comes and tells you all about it and makes you feel bad, and the newspapers fetches you the troubles of everybody all over the world, and keeps you downhearted and dismal most all the time, and it’s such a heavy load for a person.”
But wait, there’s more.
I am a journalist by training, as is Mrs Crox, so we’ve become addicted to news, and to the principle that the first rule of journalism is to read the papers – or, these days, to check out news websites, twitter and so on. We’re news junkies. For me to give up news is akin to someone giving up smoking. But I have come to the conclusion that to make a nightly appointment to watch some exquisitely coiffed news anchor telling you that people have died in a variety of nasty but predictable ways is not so much socially responsible as slightly sick.
Being of a scientific mind, I noticed that a couple of stories in the past year made me more than usually depressed, and that a temporary cessation of news left me much cheered. After that cessation I noticed that the news hadn’t really changed. The stories were the same, just the names were different. I can now come up with a fairly reliable news running order that might go something like this.
- Lead Story. EITHER minor medical mishap involving Royal Person, OR well-loved entertainer from the 1970s arrested on suspicion of being a paedophile OR Israel bombs Gaza [note - the long series of strikes against Israel from Gaza in preceding weeks not reported];
- crazed teen wearing Judas Priest T-shirt guns down kindergarten children in Halitosis, Nebraska. Calls to ban automatic weapons decried by National Rifle Association as a conspiracy by atheist abortionists. Wife of Congressman accuses people wearing T-shirts advertising middle-aged Brummie rock band as in league with Satan;
- Lots and lots of people massacred in riot/ongoing civil disturbance in distant country in the Middle East or Africa;
- Children from Council Estate (or ‘projects’, for readers in the Colonies) die in suspicious blaze OR are kidnapped. Mother-of-eight Chardonnay (21, but looks 50) makes impassioned plea for information [Later it is revealed that she set the whole thing up in hopes of exclusive deal with Daily Trough];
- “We’re all in this together” says politician, as fuel duty and rail fares once again rise beyond inflation and nameless drones in Wall Street/Switzerland threaten to remove a ‘+’ from Britain’s coveted AAAAAAA+++++++ rating;
- Hundreds of people in a factory that has been making sprocket grommets since 1851 are to be made redundant as management outsources production to Guangzhou;
- Huge row as policeman/journalist/judge denies taking bribes/hacking phones/calling a junior government minister a n00b/douchebag/nutjob/bandersnatch/pleb;
- Huge row as synod/parliament/ashram/jirga rules out any possibility of marriage between people who are homosexuals/hedge-fund managers/hedgehogs;
- Huge row as passage into UK law of European Union Vacuum-Cleaner Directive splits Tories and gives leaders of UKIP a chance to say ‘We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches To Keep Suck-ups British;
- Summit of EU finance ministers once again fails to address Eurozone crisis;
- Rioting on streets of Belfast/Derry as Local Council votes to restrict sale of red/white/blue/orange lollipops;
- Election in distant country believed to be rigged as kleptocrat President gets in for the sixth time;
- Body of soldier killed in Afghanistan/Iraq/Kosovo/Ruritania/August Bank-Holiday Island/Mordor brought home to RAF Royal Wolseley-Bedlington;
- Sport: England lost;
- Science: Boffins put an expresso machine in orbit around Uranus [Laughs];
- Weather – horrible. The most horrible since records began;
- And Finally: Middle-Aged, Middle-Class Woman already in Publishing Industry makes e-publishing history by selling thirty-eight million copies of her overlong, overstuffed, badly written, S-&-M slash novel entitled [number between 0 and 100]shades of [colour randomly chosen from paint chart] almost exclusively to scrummies [translation - school-run mummies] like herself;