Thursday, January 8, 2015

A brief lighthearted interlude

The news from France continues to be sombre. The alleged assassins remain at large despite a huge police operation and another police officer (a woman this time) has been murdered in Paris when responding to a call though it is not clear whether there is any connection with the Charlie Hebdo attack.

There have been huge demonstrations in France and some in other countries, with participants identifying themselves as "je suis Charlie". More are planned, including one in London on Friday. As a symbolic support for freedom of speech, I can see the point; as anything else it is pointless. Large demonstrations may influence governments, they are hardly likely to influence a bunch of murderous terrorists.

A number of newspapers in Europe and around the world have published various "offending" Charlie Hebdo cartoons, this morning, with the German ones leading the way. Sadly, I have to report that the British media has bottled out again as it did over the Danish cartoons. (I don't need to link to the various postings I made at the time but can do if readers want me to.) Not a single newspaper put a single one of the cartoons on its front page. But they made outraged noises. It is no use, ladies and gentlemen of the media to say that you support Charlie Hebdo if you refuse to do so in reality.

And I spent a depressing evening listening to Alexander Podrabinek, a dissident now as he was in the Soviet Union coming up with little by way of solution in Russia. The subsequent discussions and conversations did not lift my mood. (I shall be writing about Russia soon.)

So, as people in the Soviet Union knew, we need some light entertainment. No, not films this time but a quotation from a first-rate detective story by Emma Lathen. For a project that is unconnected with this blog I have been reading Lathen's novels in order and have now reached Double, Double, Oil and Trouble, which takes place in the summer of 1976 and largely in Britain where the North Sea oil is about to be developed (hence the Scottish reference in the title) and the country is being destroyed by an unusual heat wave. There is a kidnapping and two murders but I can reveal no more. However, this amused me no end as a reaction to the second murder, that of the estranged wife of the first victim.

The tabloids have a field day coming up with colourful and entirely wrong-headed stories about her, him and everything else. When it comes to TV the situation is different (we are talking about American broadcasting but, mutatis mutandis, it could have been said about the BBC).
Television commentators had neither the time nor the desire to be fanciful. For them, it was yet another sordid example of the unscrupulous materialism they regularly espied in elected officials, business executives, blue-collar workers, suburbanites, and everyone leading a life unsanctified by a major network. 
And that is the end of the lighthearted interlude. Normal service will resume shortly.


  1. I have cause to remember 1976 with some fondness. I got married in January and our son was born in November.

    The Derbyshire hills burned brown in the sun but the following winter was really bitter.
    It reminded me of my geography teacher saying. " You could say we don't have much of a climate in this country but we do get an awful lot of weather"

    More pleasant to think about than present events!
    The EEC referendum was the year before and I recall my father ( a triple dyed-in-the-wool Tory) saying.
    " I don't like this Europe business. There's something about it that doesn't smell right". He paused and added " but that man Wedgewood Benn's against it, so there must be some good in it"..

    1. A good many people argued that way and that was why Benn (or Wedgwood Benn as he was still) was the one to be dragged out each time by the BBC and others. People in my circle put it more bluntly: what choice do we have, rule by Brussels or rule by Moscow?

  2. ".....everyone leading a life unsanctified by a major network"

    Thanks. Very funny. Needed that.


  3. Helen. Sorry to end the light-hearted interlude with a return to the sombre. Please read this very incisive link for an explanation in part as to why we are where we are:

  4. Thank you, Dr Helen, for mentioning Emma Lathen, a novelist new to me. A copy of "Double, Double, Oil and Trouble" arrived yesterday and proved delightful.

    Allan Gay.