I know I should be cheerful with the time of year that's in it, but I came across two statements today that have plunged me into serious gloom. Move over, Scrooge.
The first was on the car radio, where I heard RTÉ give a free five-minute plug to the Irish Independent. Apparently that organ is going to go 100% tabloidy as from tomorrow so they had the editor on to say how significant it was. Well, said the editor, people had told them they liked the tabloidy thing - apparently some of the Indo is already in tabloid form - so they responded. The public were happy with the tabloidy news because (and he repeated this at least twice) they looked for a paper, whether online or in hard copy, that was “trusted and authoritative”. Oh, and unbiased. The interviewer didn’t slap the table and tell the Indo editor to get the hell outa here, he was such a joker. Nor did the phone lines to RTÉ, as far as I know, flood with calls from people saying in effect what Jeremy Paxman says he asks himself when confronted with a politician: why is this lying bastard lying to me? No - the interviewer played it straight. Accepted every word from the editor’s lips as gospel truth. That, I thought, is the south’s national broadcaster responding to the Indo. And then I thought of Miriam O’Callaghan and switched off the radio before I plunged in gloom so thick, I’d crash the car.
The other uncheerful statement I read online when I got home. It was an article in the News Letter, headed “Ulster’s drivers urged to join in protest”. Apparently the guardians of the Union flag will be out in force at a place near you this evening at 6.00 pm, and they’ve urged “people that are stuck in traffic instead of sitting in your car get out and join in”. WTF? You expect people who can’t get home or to the shops or to wherever they’re going to abandon their cars and join in with the people who think that blocking roads and issuing death threats is being clever? God give me strength. Adding insult to injury, the flegboys say:
“We would encourage all members of the PUL (Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist) community taking part in Friday’s nationwide protest to do so in a peaceful and dignified manner to ensure that we can portray the right image of unionism/loyalism and gain support from the wider PUL community.”
Now there’s a statement that’s calculated to take us all forward to a reasonable, shared future. PUL the other one, guys. The only consolation I can think of is that I’m not a unionist, which means I don’t have so much as a smidgen of responsibility for these head-bangers intent on chaos.