I have found that each revisit to Nineteen Eighty-Four highlights a different aspect of modern life. When Thatcher died I was halfway through my latest reread, while I was with Winston Smith and his internal dilemma over the amendments and corrections of past copies of The Times, I was observing in the outside world a strange phenomena. The press were eulogising and praising her legacy, while people such as myself who were old enough to vote throughout her reign had to check our reality dials, as our memories didn’t quite match the media’s.
I don’t remember the Falklands as a triumph, more a cock-up, before Argentina invaded I doubt that many people in the UK knew that the islands existed, never mind where there were located. I don’t remember the street parties when ‘Right to Buy’ once introduced, I do remember the gerrymandering scandal of Westminster Council, I remember the Miner’s strike being portrayed by the right wing press as about money, while Arthur Scargill insisted it was a protest against pit closures. When the strike was broken, guess what happened?
The Murdoch press were at the height of their powers during her tenure, but curiously, although they suggested that Scargill was a Facist leader, and that Michael Foot disrespected the war dead by wearing a smart coat over his smart suit and was treated as a figure of fun because he walked with a stick (following a motorbike accident when he was young), they didn’t notice that while Jimmy Saville wasn’t spending Christmas at Chequers with The Thatchers he wasn’t the lovable charity worker he portrayed.
Not being a Man U fan, even though I live in London, I watched this week’s news with detachment, Alex Ferguson’s achievements are impressive, but seeing the press this week I has to remind myself that he hadn’t died, he had stayed in a well paid job for over 26 years, admittedly in an industry that has a short attention span and in an era where people do not stay in one job for life, for instance I’ve had around eight positions in that time as well as periods of unemployment and self-employment, sorry did I say unemployment? I meant benefit scrounger.
On the football website football365 on their Mediawatch page they had a breakdown of the press coverage:
In total, in the nine daily newspapers published in England, there are 175 pages dedicated to the retirement of Alex Ferguson. That includes five special dedicated ‘pull-outs’ and appearances on every front page.
The full breakdown goes like this: The Daily Mail - 27 pages, The Sun - 26 pages, The Guardian - 26 pages, The Daily Telegraph - 25 pages, The Daily Mirror - 20 pages, The Times - 19 pages, The Independent - 14 pages, The Daily Star - 10 pages and The Daily Express eight pages.
I would be tempted to conclude that the tabloids has the real power in this country, but that would be too depressing to contemplate. They tell us who to vote for, in General Elections as well as in the important polls such Celebrity Dancing on the Tailcoats of My Career. They tell us what to watch, who to fancy, whom to despise.
The tabloids have not made, and indeed do not need to make, ‘corrections’ to past issues; there is not a large edifice in the Docklands where poorly paid minions rewrite history, they simply ignore the past, print their latest diatribe and blame any ‘inaccuracies’ to the previous regime (a system that works for the Government as well).
The few of us who don’t like the Royal charade (or Queen the faux heavy rock/pop band), Abba, Pippa, Kylie, Cheryl, don’t find Freddie Starr amusing, think that society should look after the sick and old with a free health service and find soap operas and reality shows mind numbing are treated with disdain.
Going back to Winston, if The SuperSoaraway had a headline on its front page tomorrow, saying that we’re at war with East Anglia and we’ve always been at war with East Anglia, a quarter of the country would wonder where it was, another quarter would question why The People’s Princess™ wasn’t on the cover and then turn over to check their lottery numbers, I tell you no number ending in seven ain’t won for over fourteen months!