Another thing I forgot

Another thing I forgot

As I embarked on this piece I looked up the words ‘rant’ and diatribe’ to see which of them I should use. Behold – a better one popped up: fulmination. A little of which is sometimes necessary.

I forgot about the inescapable nature of the news back here in London. It’s partly that we’ve resumed old habits, having happily shed them during the weeks of absence. Yes, we could have logged onto Radio 4 via the magic of Wifi and iPlayer from deep in south-east Spain. But the notion of Nick Robinson waging a war of words with an earnest MP of whatever political caste, or John Humphreys trying to ridicule a well-intentioned campaigner or discredit a hapless executive from an already discredited company, all that seemed out of place down there looking out on the sierras. It was a blissful furlough from the fray.

Inescapable is definitely the word. It’s a bit like plastic. Each week as we sort through the recycling for collection, we resolve to try and manage a week of grocery shopping without acquiring any plastic. It’s almost impossible, even with careful strategic planning, avoiding supermarkets (where even potatoes are sometimes arranged in plastic trays) as much as possible. Similarly, the news is arranged to command our attention visually, aurally, as well as virtually, ethereally, messages creeping onto my computer screen, announcements of this or that. Must have been something I signed up to or perhaps looked at only once in innocence and a desire to be informed. I no longer feel informed. I mainly feel bombarded. Sometimes you simply don’t know what to think any more.

Brexit is the INESCAPABLE among inescapables. My husband, Jim, is an eager devourer of news and opinion, his ear permanently pinned to Radio 4 or 5 Live. Even he has felt the shock of our return to the constant newsfeed, and noticed how often it purports to have consequence but does not. We were talking yesterday about the sense that you must listen, that it has to be important, relevant, amount to something. You daren’t miss it just in case there’s something decisive, some crux. So, you feel an urgency to tune in. But it’s a trap since most of what you hear does not enlighten: the rehashing of old facts, fictions or opinions; the refashioning of statistics to suit a particular posture; the reinventing of the past and reimagining the future. I find myself feeling enraged. There’s no doubt that my heart rate rises. So many stories of tragedy and farce about which I can do nothing except, maybe, fulminate. So much disingenuousness. So much unbridled disrespect. That earnest MP, the well-meaning campaigner or the company executive surely had good things to say, though I may have disagreed with them, but they would never be properly heard. The whole story is not the priority.

My rage is as much about being cheated. I didn’t need to listen; I could have avoided the trap. My own fault. I should be able to ignore the unrelenting conscription of the mind to the deceptive narrative of the news, seize back my time. And some peace of mind.

The radio is off.

  • Deborah Isaacs
    Posted at 20:05h, 06 March Reply

    Oh how true. We had a snow bound weekend with friends in Yorkshire – virtually radioless. But then came the drive back to town on Wednesday – seven hours of back to back Radio Four, with only the backs of lorries and snow covered landscape to distract us. (The journey usually takes four hours.) There we were back in radio land, with rolling news and panicky reporters trying to find horror stories of others stuck in the snow. Had we followed your advice and just turned the radio off, we would have arrived home relaxed but tired, not stressed and worried about whether North London would be navigable. Mind you, that state of mind would not have lasted long. A pipe in the loft had burst!

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