Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 6 December 2013

And in other news...

...nah, only joking!

What, you wanted to know about the biggest storm surge since 1953 and the thousands evacuated from their homes? Or the Al-Qaida bombing in the Yemen that killed 52 people including foreign medical personnel? Or even the latest on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement?

Tough! You'll have to wait while the BBC wheel out dozens of carefully-prepared tributes - he's been ailing a  long time - and chat to studio guests who spoke to Nelson Mandela for thirty seconds in 1996. I fully expect Charlie Dimmock to pop up any minute now to discuss his taste in herbaceous borders.

And then you'll have to sit patiently while every major politician on Earth seizes the chance of some reflected glory with some well-chosen words of tribute - naturally Tony Blair has come rushing out of the woodwork to bestow his wisdom upon us - and a host of BBC reporters add their own experiences of reporting on the struggle against Apartheid.

I don't mean to belittle the achievements of the man who managed the seemingly impossible - though there seems to be a certain amount of glossing over some elements of his past ideology and an interestingly laconic treatment of Winnie - and, as Donne said, 'Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind', but why this hagiography to the exclusion of all other news?

He is, after all, no less of a significant historical figure than he was last week or will be a century hence. His death simply provides a convenient hook to which the media can attach everything accumulated to his account in one giant package, at least until the the broadcast tributes themselves become the story.

Which is, presumably, the whole idea.

Update; if you haven't already done so, I urge you to visit Velvet Glove, Iron Fist for a beautifully-curated collection of self-serving tweets on the subject.


  1. "I fully expect Charlie Dimmock to pop up any minute now to discuss his taste in herbaceous borders."

    Didn't her show ('Garden Force', was it?) go over & do his garden?

  2. They did indeed, Julia, in 1999, rather to the bafflement of the man himself, who returned from a trip to find his garden full of complete strangers and a couple of unexpected water features.



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