The Grey Cardigan 25.11.05

THE Boy Wonder hurtles into the newsroom like a hyperactive toddler
mainlining on cheap sweets and screeches to a halt in front of Blakey,
the lugubrious deputy news editor.

A torrent of words pours
forth. Imagine Stuart Hall on acid. It turns out that the Boy Wonder
has heard a story on the car radio on his way into work and would like
it in his newspaper. It’s not a bad little tale: Rupert Bear books have
been banned from a library on the grounds of institutionalised racism,
whatever that means.

“Rupert Who?” asks Blakey, looking blearily up from his early morning sausage sandwich.

“Rupert Bear,” nods the Boy Wonder. “You know, Nutwood.”

Now Blakey is an old pro and so responds in time-honoured newsdesk fashion, looks him straight in the eye and says: “Yes, boss.

We’re already onto it.”

Blakey knows he’s lying, I know he’s lying, and everyone in the room
knows he’s lying. Except for the Boy Wonder, who has yet to develop the
“dishonesty antennae” essential for dealing with any newsdesk.

minutes later I see Blakey peering intently at a map, a puzzled snapper
at his shoulder. He looks up and calls across: “Grey, you know your way
around the patch. Where the fuck is this Nutwood?”

It could be a long morning.

DO try to keep up with technological advances, but these things called
“podcasts” leave me a little baffled. Do readers of the Daily Telegraph
really want to listen to their newspaper?

The problem with
reading newspapers on the internet is that you lose context: how
important is this story and where is it on the page? With podcasts yet
another sense is removed from the equation. And anyway, before Mr Brown
heads off to town on the 8.21, will he actually have time to download
said podcast onto the iPod he doesn’t own anyway?

Still, the next
time I see one of those scary-looking hooded youths nodding away
opposite me on the train, I shall console myself with the thought that
he might not be listening to rap music (with a silent “c”) but instead
has Simon Heffer ranting in his ears. Which is probably more likely to
lead him to subsequent violence.

WHILE IT doesn’t quite carry the
same shock factor as it did in the days when we were chasing Harry
Roberts around Epping Forest, the murder of a police officer is still a
major national news story – even more so when the victim is a female
probationer and mother of three.

But not if you bought a copy of
The Mirror in the north-west last Saturday. Instead of splashing on the
killing of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky, that paper instead led with a day-old
story about an association football player leaving his club. Sales are
sales, guys, but whither integrity?

STILL ON the theme of dumbing
down, this week’s candidates include Question Time, featuring Derek
from Big Brother, and The Independent, which took quirkiness a step too
far with an entire page devoted to a review of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me
Out Of Here.

I’m not even going to mention The Sun’s talking pig
and talking dog, other than to remind you on their behalf that if “you
know a talking animal, call 020 7782 4103 and we’ll ring you right

Presumably you get your cat to answer when they call.

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