"Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper." – George Orwell
A while ago, I was in a café skimming through a Red Top, The Sun or The Mirror, I couldn’t make head or tail of the headlines or the few words purporting to be a story, it was as if it had been written in Newspeak. The first four or five pages were devoted to Lily Allen on holiday. It took some time before I realised that that was the story, no scandal, no drink and drugs hell, just a rich young lady on holiday somewhere warm, that, together with the indecipherable headlines left me feeling as if I lived outside of society. I don’t watch soap operas and I don’t read newspapers, particularly tabloids, I watch football but I don’t care about their private lives. I closed the paper and decided that it wasn’t any of my business.
Growing up I don’t remember that we ever had a regular daily newspaper, The Sun made an appearance, but I’m not sure whether my dad brought that home from a site he was working on at the time or if it was delivered. On Sundays, I do remember that we had The News of the World, The Sunday Mirror and The People, The News of the Screws was a broadsheet in those days and I would be sprawled across the floor reading the football reports and the cartoons, serious newspapers were not part of my upbringing.
For a few years I bought the NME, I devoured it, filled in the crossword and marked the gigs to go to, but it never translated to a regular newspaper habit. In my first job, at a printers, I would buy the The Daily Mirror and read it during the tea and lunch breaks, this was before Robert Maxwell took it over and as it changed I drifted away. When I moved to London. I would buy The Evening Standard, more for an excuse to leave the office and get some fresh air, but again I wasn’t hooked and it faded into the background, I flick though the weekend papers, read the sports’ pages then leave the bulk of the waste of a tree unread. I always have a book on the go, sometimes two or three, but newspapers have never got their claws into me.
Last year on holiday my wife downloaded The Guardian onto her Kindle and I found that with the content list, headlines and easy links that I was reading more of the paper than I would normally, I thought that maybe I had got the newspaper bug and it was the medium that was holding me back, no inky fingers, no folding back to front. However, this year I downloaded it onto my Kindle and I was back to my normal habit of flicking through the paper picking out one or two articles and dismissing the rest, last year’s holiday coincided with Amy Whitehouse’s death and the massacre in Norway. This year the only story in town was the Olympics.
I’m no royalist (to say the least), but last week with the papers being filled with Harry living up to the public schoolboy stereotype and acting like a upper class twat, my avoidance of newspapers feels justified, it wasn’t news anymore than Lily Allen being on holiday was news, being an outsider seems to be the sane place to be.
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’” – George Orwell, 1984