Thus am I able to vouch personally for the great improvements to hospital A&E facilities wrought by this splendid Labour government.
Slightly less often, people come up to me in the street and ask: “Tom, at this time of year one can hardly swing a cat without hitting a spurious media list of the ‘highlights of 2007’ – or, for that matter, without attracting the approbation of the RSPCA – but what, to turn the tables a little, would you rate as the media highlights of the year?”
I tend to reply: “Hmm, I see you have the same implausible manners of speech as me. That’s either gratifying for me, horrifying for you or grounds for one of us to sue the other.”
“Hold on, now, Tom,” my interlocutor interlocutes. “You’ve got three or arguably four options there, and you introduced them with ‘either’, which is properly used only for two alternatives. And I’m also unconvinced that ‘interlocutes’ is a real word. You have standards to uphold, you know.”
“Look,” I reply, “I used ‘interlocutes’ in the text surrounding our dialogue rather than actually in the conversation itself. For you to take me up on that is an act of reckless, wanton deconstruction, and if you don’t start behaving yourself I’ll be forced to rewrite your lines to make you look like an idiot.”
“You do realise that I’m just a narrative device, don’t you?”
“Only an idiot would say that. Ha! Now, you mentioned something about the media highlights of the year. As you’d expect, I have strong and demonstrably correct opinions on this, but if I were to tell you what they are, then doubtless you’d just scurry away, set up your own second-rate blog and post butchered versions of them passed off as your own. And then where would I be?”
“Reduced to writing an over-complicated blog post about very little, in which you try and fail to mix showing-off and faux self-deprecation by applying layer after layer of strained irony? By the way, I’m so glad the Spice Girls have reunited. It’s almost as good news as the fact that Robert Mugabe’s survived another glorious year in government.”
“See what I mean about making you look an idiot? Anyway, what I’m going to do, rather than answer your question right here, in this non-metaphorical street that we definitely really are standing in having an actual conversation, is to scurry away, write the idea up, and then post it myself.”
The Official Freemania Top Five Media Highlights Of 2007, In Ascending Order Of Highness And Lightness
I’m very taken with the notion of a novel. As the name suggests, this is one of those famed ‘new media’, and I am a little wary of passing judgement so soon. And yet the novel seems a splendid thing. Novels are much like true stories of events in people’s lives, but the remarkable innovation is that these stories are about people who don’t actually exist and events that didn’t really happen.
It is a disgrace that in 21st-century Britain, your life chances depend on whether you are born into reality or into someone’s imagination. Novels are a bold attempt to push the wholly legitimate concerns of fictional characters up the agenda. I have heard great things about novels in 2007, and fully intend to read one during 2008.
Along with work and a dwindling group of people who can tolerate my company socially, television is what prevents me from blogging more often. This alone should convince you of the merits of this medium. But there’s more!
TV has been proved by social scientists to have two remarkable effects on family life. First, if a household has a number of sets in different rooms, family members can be protected from each other’s presence. This has resulted in a substantial drop in parental stress, child embarrassment and bitter divorces. Secondly, and perhaps paradoxically in light of the first, if a single set is viewed communally by all household members, the shared experience of watching the same programmes creates a very real rapport. Thanks to TV, family members now have more in common than ever before, and can when necessary converse more easily without fear of broaching fraught subjects such as their own lives.
Little wonder, then, that David Cameron has proposed tax breaks for married couples who watch television, and insists that “to fix a broken society we don’t need a big government, we need a widescreen”.
For a combination of deranged overacting, boisterous singing of preposterous lyrics, ridiculous costumes, wafer-thin characterisations, plot lines that are somehow both predictable and incoherent, and sheer audience enthusiasm, you simply can’t beat opera. If you’re on a budget, though, and/or a bit dim, pantomime is an excellent alternative.
Many of the world’s most talented celebrities see a panto role as the crowning glory of their careers, only to be attempted when they’ve successfully retired from their primary vocation. These people become such rapid panto stars that their previous work is quickly eclipsed; this is the only possible explanation for the need for the publicity posters to explain who they actually are.
If you have young children, panto is one of the few things you can do with them that may exhaust them more than it does you.
(Some might argue that panto is more a genre than a medium. Oh no it isn’t.)
Photography is very exciting. Literally for decades, artists wanting to create visual representation were forced to resort to drawing or painting a scene by hand. This was a slow and difficult process, and even those with the greatest expertise would produce pictures that were clearly inexact. In sport, close races often led to violent disputes, as the artists charged with making ‘sketch-finishes’ typically had to ask the runners to go back and cross the finish line again, in order to get the shadow right.
Now, with photography, any talentless fool can create an accurate photo of any scene in just a fraction of a second. Never again need visual art be constrained by the limits of individual interpretation and subjected to the tyranny of ‘creative skill’! And I’m not kidding that you can photograph any scene: bride and male cousins, best man and bridesmaid, groom and pregnant exes, happy couple and ambivalent parents, Amy Winehouse falling out of a taxi… the possibilities are endless.
Remarkably, boffins have developed a technique that allows the taking of photos in black and white rather than colour. Political and religious leaders are already using this method to simplify complex issues.
And this year’s winner is…
Newspapers are quite remarkable. They’re a bit like blogs, only more portable and expensive. And you can wrap fish and chips in them. They contain factual reporting, some of which is accurate, as well as opinion pieces, some of which are coherent. These are mainly written by people called columnists, who are a bit like bloggers (although more self-absorbed and less able to publish their own material); some pieces, though, are known as ‘leaders’, which are written anonymously, presumably as their high levels of platitude and pomposity are a potential source of embarrassment to their writers (doubtless trainees).
There are a variety of newspapers, and you can pick one to suit your IQ, prejudices, arm span and taste in advertisements. Some take pride in covering global issues, whereas others focus mainly on national events. ‘Local’ newspapers operate at the level of a small town or village, and for the truly parochial and incurious reader there is the Daily Mail.
Think I’m a bit demob-happy. Merry Christmas!