I’m always prepared to be surprised and am still looking forward to that jaw-dropping moment when bankers throughout the Western world agree to forgo their annual bonus and donate it to charity. Yes, I do know it will be along wait. We might even get a glimpse of Lord Lucan having a pint with Elvis Presley before that happens. But I was surprised when I came across the following story on the Daily Mail website, Mailonline. Take a look at it here before you read on.
‘So what’s so surprising about that?’ you might well now be asking. Well, if you don’t live in Britain or don’t regularly log onto the Mailonline to get ‘middle England’s’ take on domestic and world events, not a lot. But if you do, you might agree with me that it is quite a bizarre story for the Mail to publish.
Let me make it clearer: it is not in itself an odd story. What is decidedly odd is that the Mail is publishing it.
Why? Well, Mailonline and the paper which spawns it might just as well headline the story: ‘Guess what, we’ve been telling you a whole load of crap for these past 40 years’. (As it was the headline begins with something of a tacit admission: ‘How we are WRONG about everything. . .’
The point is that the Mail’s empire is more or less built on claims such as ‘most of our young teenage girls are whores who drop another one every nine months’; ‘the country is being swamped by immigrants’; ‘Muslims are taking over the country’; ‘Britain is no longer a Christian country’; ‘a quarter of our population are feckless layabout scroungers on jobless benefit’; ‘democracy is in danger: hardly anyone bothers to vote anymore!’.
We now know — courtesy of the Mail — that such claims are all complete cobblers. The proportion of 15-19 girls who have a ‘love child’ is not almost one in five, but just 3 per cent; immigrants don’t now make up a quarter of Britain’s population, but just 16 per cent; Muslims don’t make up one in five of Britain’s population but
just one in 20; Britain is not a heathen nation which has abandoned Christianity, but, in fact, more than half of all Britons identify as Christian; and finally it isn’t almost a quarter of Britons of working age who are out of a job, but just a rather smaller 7 per cent.
I feel I must again make the point which is crucial in considering this story: those Brits who do believe that most of us are feckless, jobless scroungers who are forever becoming pregnant in order to diddle the state out of more benefits and believe that Christians are now in a minority who are taken to court for sending a — Christian — Christmas card, it is largely because the Mail is one of several papers which tells them.
But the Mail is now the same paper which is apparently holding up its hands and loudly proclaiming: ‘We print total bollocks — official!’
My first thought when I saw the story on the Mailonline website yesterday — it doesn’t seem to have appeared in the paper, but then a lot of the shite which appears on Mailonline doesn’t — was that the C team was editing the day it appeared and that the plug would soon be pulled and the story would be well and truly buried.
I made a note of it and decided to write about it in this blog, but when I went to Mailonline earlier today to find it again to get the web address, I couldn’t at first find and thought someone with a bit of more nous than the usual set of YTS teens they employ on the Mailonline had made sure the story was pulled. But then I found it further down the page, pushed down the agenda by such gems as (as of today at 7pm) ‘Neymar collects new love interest on private jet’ and ‘Ministers admit 32 murderers and rapists are on the run . . . as figures reveal 12 sex offenders attack every MONTH after being released from prison’ (which, you must admit is far more like it).
I suppose you could be charitable and look at it like this: the Mail is not above taking an honest look at itself in the mirror. But you would, in my view, be wholly wrong to be so charitable. Any night editor (or whatever they call the bods who do the job on Mailonline) should have been aware of how ridiculous carrying that particular story makes the Mail look and deleted it asap. But no one did, which makes me suspect they are even greater amateurs than we print hacks thought.
There is, of course, another explanation: that someone was aware of the irony of the Mail carrying that story - irony not being one of the Mail’s stronger suites — but decided their readers are too bloody thick to notice how stupid it might make the paper look. Who knows?
. . .
For those who care and who read my recent entry about inadvertently — and rather carelessly — becoming the owner of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR iPhones for nigh-on a week, I have good news. I now own just two. And if that still seems excessive, bear with me. It’s traditional, see.
I’ve long had two smartphones: one on Vodafone which is the number everyone calls me on (or rather on which everyone could call me, but doesn’t — I get about three phone calls a month, and they usually consist of a brief ‘Mum says can you get some milk.’) The other is on Three and the rationale — yes even a down-to-earth super unpretentious blog such as this must occasionally be allowed a ‘rationale’ — was to use it to listen to online to Five Live coverage of Champions League matches as I sped out of London on a Wednesday night towards my halfway stop at the Brewers Arms in South Petherton, Somerset, where I could usually catch most of the second half on Sky TV.
I used it because until very recently Three had a £15 a month deal which gave you unlimited ‘all you can eat’ internet data. And as everyone who listens to radio, Spotify or watches TV on 3G knows, it sure as hell eats the data. So there you go, the man’s not quite as daft as he sometimes seems.
Except that he is.
You see for no very good reason I can think of, a few months ago I bought a Three ‘mifi’ which acts as a mobile router and to which a smartphone can be tethered to get a signal. And then, er, it gets even sillier: in the summer, I bought secondhand, again for no very good reason I can recall, a third generation iPad with wifi and cellular access. And I got a Three tablet chip for it. So I don’t, er, actually need that second smarthphone.
When I recently rationalised my growing collections of mobile phones, some smart, some not — well, to be fair, this household’s collection in that one or two of them weren’t mine — I didn’t actually have to replace the second Three smartphone with a second Three iPhone. But I did, and that is what was the root cause of the confusion which ended up with me owning four iPhones (which, incidentally, were all used).
So overall I had three different means for tuning in online to Five Live as I sped down the M3 and the A303.
Be that as it may, I got rid of two of them on eBay (where I had got them to begin with), one at a slight profit, the second returned to some shyster in Plymouth who listed it as ‘manufacturer refurbished’ when it was nothing of the kind, a ratty piece of shit with two distinct faults which meant it couldn’t be used.
I eventually got a refund (or shall finally get it next Tuesday), but the ratbag had already put it up for auction once he knew it would be coming back into his sweaty hands, but before I had even sent it off. Here is the listing for when I bought it:
Can you spot the difference?
He sold it for £120, but doubtless his latest victim will cut up as rough as I did and demand his or her money back.
But overall the good news is: I no longer own four iPhones, just two.
As a certain Peter McHackey is apt to say: Isn’t life grand!