Because, let’s face it, reading the British press gives me little joy otherwise.
Jade Goody, of course, all over the papers. And it is terribly sad that she is dying so young. And I appreciate what she is doing and why. But she is one of those celebrities I do not understand – famous for being famous – of which we seem to have many.
The sports pages are out, as my football team needs a miracle to avoid relegation.
The financial pages are interchangeable with the obituaries, without the warm and fuzzy memories of better times, and the analysis pieces seem hell-bent on feeding the monster that is the ‘crisis of confidence’ that they agree underpins it all. And although Gordon assured us he has saved the world, neither the world nor this particular corner of it seem saved or indeed safe.
And today the usually level-headed Guardian predicted a summer of violent street fights for the capital, with the middle classes taking to the streets to protest the credit crunch and fight with the police in the process.
What this fear is based on is unclear.
Clashes over Gaza between police and protesters in January are cited, but the comparison is hardly credible as neither the issues nor the demographics in question are inter-changeable. Plus the January clashes were an isolated incident.
But the article is adamant the police expect a ‘summer of rage’ in 2009. They even seek to scare us with the prediction of ‘a return to the 1980s’. Whether that also entails a covert threat that the police will go back to Thatcherite styles is yet to be determined.
‘Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police's public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.’
This is assuming that the middle classes do not demonstrate. And that issue-specific demonstrations are easy to ‘hijack’ by determined agitators. Not to mention the assumption that disgruntled and disappointed masses can and do get violent. All tall orders. All, I’m sure, backed by statistics and blind to individuality.
The fact remains, however, that Mr Hartshorn has intelligence suggesting that the mood of demonstrations has changed recently with a noticeable increase in the specific ‘intent’ to create public unrest among protesters in this country. Plus things are not rosy in the rest of Europe. Inevitably, the farmers’ road blockades in Greece are cited as a sign that this is a Europe-wide phenomenon (failing to mention that such blockades happen every few months in Greece because there the system did not need the global financial meltdown to stop working).
Still, demonstrations also took place in France and Iceland and the piece is evidently worried.
Some of the agitators are well-known, apparently, but in times of stability their message falls on deaf ears, says Hartshorn, whereas now many hitherto respectable citizens may be lead astray out of desperation.
Well, if we know who they are, why don’t we send the agitators to their rooms?
You think I’m going mad, but I’m only quoting from the latest Tory youth offender handling recommendation (‘ground them’).
An ASBO and no TV for two weeks. Sophisticated policy-making in action.
No TV for two weeks might not be a bad idea though. It may actually spare said offending youths from losing their faith in the system entirely. That way they would not hear about the thousands of people who contracted HIV and Hep C through transfusions with contaminated blood during the 70s and 80s.
Just the story the ailing NHS needed to lose even more public confidence, as doctors find themselves over-worked, over-managed and under-trusted by harassed patients.
And I can’t even take solace in the sports pages.
So thank God for Danny Boyle and his decision to receive his Oscar skipping like Tigger. Just the feel good factor we needed.
If only Parliament would close its sessions with a hug, a kiss and a group dance. Skipping is optional.