Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bad News

I suppose I expect no better from a Murdoch paper than to have celebrity tabloid rubbish about some actor (and isn't it a bit weird that this actor has spent several years entertaining people by playing an extremely wicked character but now that he may have done something wicked in real life his wicked character is to be axed?)  all over the front page:

Naively, I had hoped for better from The Telegraph:

even after the utter beat-up the other day about Cambridge caving in to demands to multiculturalise its English course (the university did nothing more than discuss the idea - when and if they make such a decision it truly will be a story, but for now it looked awfully like the editor of The Telegraph saw the opportunity to have a very pretty girl on the front page [mind you, I did wonder why the girl in question had had such very professional photographs of herself prepared, but maybe that is what everyone, except me, does these days?]):

and even after they chose to dominate their front page with the photograph of some woman who is the wife of a film star, or who is a celebrity human rights lawyer with film star husband attached, or both - but whose Halloween outfit is nothing at all to do with current affairs (and don't get me started on Halloween itself and the way it has sprung up as a thing in countries that never before celebrated tricking and treating and cut out pumpkins et cetera - all, I suspect, in order to merchandise stuff uniformly around the world, [but, as I said, don't get me started]):
The tabloid first name headline only makes it worse. Do they really believe their readers all know this face so well that they don't need to be provided with proper identification?

Eurgh. So cross. But luckily, I have found a safe newspaper haven. It is the Irish Times:

That is the kind of front page I want - the main story is something important, an event that I have vaguely heard about but am thoroughly confused on the details of; I can read the front page piece and discover who this Manafort person is and what he is charged with and why, rather than simply having celebrity shoved at me (how I loathe the cult of celebrity). That is what you get a newspaper for - not to look at pictures of celebrities. Or have I got things all wrong?

Of course, some might say that I should read the Financial Times instead, as it lives in roughly the same stable as the Irish Times, but the Financial Times is essentially Pravda for the European Union and the Irish Times publishes short stories and has many, many amusing and lovely bits of writing, which is something I don't think anyone could accuse the Financial Times of any more, (there was a time when the weekend edition had some really charming columnists, but those days are gone - and if you tell me Tyler Brulé is funny I will say, 'Well, up to a point, but the point is not very distant from a starting point of unfunniness and any amusement he may very occasionally create is mild, [feeble even?] and very, very far from enough reason to buy an entire paper').

Let me give you a glimpse of the gentle whimsy that one can fairly reliably expect from the Irish Times. To do so I will quote from today's Irishman's Diary column, whose author on this occasion is Pól ÓMuirí (did I mention the additional pleasure to be found in wondering how many Irish Times  writers' names might be said out loud?) and whose subject is the arc of creeping sophistication as witnessed in Ireland via coffee drinking habits, (tea - or as Pól would have it, "tae" - is not sophisticated):

"... You do not drink tae. You drink coffee. You are sophisticated, modern, European, outward looking. You take a chance on the word that you think you can pronounce: "I'll have a large cup-o'chino."

You do not realise it but you have made a big hames-o-chino of the pronunciation. You do not get the right emphasis on the middle syllable It is all right. The barista serving you the cup-o-chino is from Drogheda and no more knows the correct pronunciation than you. You learn Coffee Italian. You drink coffee. You are sophisticated, modern, European, outward looking. You start having latte and mocha and espresso - but you keep pronouncing it as 'expresso' like 'express' because that is the bus you get home! No one notices your bad Coffee Italian.

However, now comes another hurdle. You have to learn Breakfast French to go with your Coffee Italian. You drink coffee. You are sophisticated, modern, European, outward looking and you must therefore eat croissants. You ask for cruxunts and crocunts and kussants. (Damn all those years you spent learning Irish. What a waste. There is no Irish word for croissant!)

No matter. You drink coffee. You are sophisticated, modern, European, outward looking. You keep getting cruxunts, crocunts and kussants with your expresso from that little barista-run shop at the corner. You learn fluent Breakfast French and even ask for pain au raisin now and again.

Still, you have to point at the pain au raisin because the barista is from Belfast and thinks you have a speech impediment.

They introduce bagels. You are a bit wary about bagels. Bagels do not sound French and, therefore, many not be sophisticated enough for you. But wait? They eat bagels in New York? New York is very glamorous and hip and trendy. You too will eat bagels ....

Then you notice one day that they are serving something called the Breakfast Bagel in that nice barista-run shop at the corner. You are a bit suspicious of this. A breakfast bagel? What the hell is that, man? It is a bagel - bagels are cool - filled with bacon, sausage and egg.

You are Irish; you like bacon, sausage and egg. However, you also drink coffee and you are sophisticated, modern, European, outward looking.

Can you really have the breakfast bagel filled with lovely bacon, sausage and egg and still be on trend? No one is looking. You buy the breakfast bagel with your semi-skimmed, lightly frothed, latte-mocha and eat it at your desk.

In truth, you say to yourself, a breakfast bagel is fusion cuisine; it is the bringing together of two traditions and making a new, fabulously tasty, one.

You are Irish. You like bacon, egg and sausage. You forgo the cruxonts and the pain au raisin for a while. You start eating the breakfast bagel until, one morning, there is a queue out the door of that little barista-run place you frequent. You are forced into the local shop where you never go. (They do not have nice coffee.)

They do, however, have breakfast rolls, huge monstrously lovely white rolls filled with half a pig and enough eggs to keep you going till Easter.

You get it with tea - they do not have nice coffee - go back to your desk, eat like you were at a feast with Fionn Mac Cumhaill himself [the other thing about the Irish Times is the excitement of references you cannot even begin to understand, the sense of standing outside a culture, pressing your nose to the window and trying to make out what the hell is going on inside] and wake up in a cave, saying: 'Ah f@@k it! I am not sophisticated after all. I am Irish.'"

By the way, did you notice how nicely punctuated and edited that extract is? I think the Irish Times might even employ literate sub-editors, a miracle these days - and another very good reason to support the paper. I do not believe they would ever, ever be guilty of this, which is from the perhaps aptly named Pratt Tribune:

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