Monthly Archives: January 2011

Walk like an Egyptian

Events in Egypt are by turns shocking – as stories of live bullets and gas used against protestors emerge – yet encouraging, if this quote is anything to go by:

[The US has] been lulled by a pro-stability narrative that has been spun out by Mr Mubarak and other Arab autocrats. Unfortunately for Cairo and Washington, the street is saying the game is up

– former CIA director Emile Nakhleh, writing in the Financial Times,

quoted by Naked Capitalism

The message is clear: lose the streets and lose the geo-political game.  No wonder the British police are now using tougher methods against peaceful protesters.

And no, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to post this video pass by:


Filed under Minipax

No Smoke Without Headlines

This is a guest post for ten minutes hate by writer, Nick Bryan

The Jo Yeates case rumbles on; you may have heard that a neighbour of the victim has now been arrested and charged, and the borderline libel has begun. One thoughtfully phrased S*n headline described him as ‘THE QUIET DUTCHMAN’, which brought two points to my mind:

  1. Clearly the author of said copy is already working on a trashy novel about the Yeates case
  2. They must be pretty annoyed that this new suspect can’t fly

Anyway, this is nothing new, not even within this case. Some ‘creepy”’ teacher was questioned a couple of weeks ago, and the ‘PORTRAIT OF A KILLER’ articles were everywhere before he’d even reached the damn police station. The fact he wasn’t charged is probably the only reason he has any chance of a normal life now.

Of course, news outlets telling us what to think isn’t anything new. Some make more effort to conceal their biases than others, and even that layer of restraint melts away when faced with the arousing prospect of an election. Who could forget The S*n’s Election Day 2010 front page, which resembled a news headline in the same way a toilet resembles the Venus de Milo?

It’s somehow okay in politics, it seems, because we don’t want the poor newspapers to be left out whilst everyone else has an opinion, and no-one’s died or anything. And of course, there’s always cheating footballers, who are basically the bitches of the tabloid press. If that won’t persuade them to keep it in their pants, god knows what will. But what happens when they start applying this lens of simplistic finger-pointing to murders and suchlike? Well, this shit mostly.

There are meant to be contempt of court laws stopping massive character assassinations, as it could prejudice a jury. Imagine they head into the courtroom, only to realise the man sitting in the dock is on the front of their newspaper, under a massive headline saying ‘HE DID IT’. Not sure what’s happened to those laws. Maybe someone should go find them.

Lastly, I feel bad writing about news media beating current affairs into a narrative without linking to some of Charlie Brooker’s excellent work on the subject in NewsWipe. So here he is, in a poignant clip about school shootings. A cheery note to end on, yes?

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Filed under Minitrue


Perhaps because this new year was unbelievably good, it’s taken me a little longer than usual to get back into the usual routine, and, as with the last time I took a summer holiday in January – the trip which provided the impetus for the move to Japan – this time it has me plotting a more audacious escape yet: to work less and write more.  As one of my students observed last year, you are a writer, you need the idle life.

So my thoughts naturally float up from packed commuter trains and fly towards empty beaches, pausing midway through a full schedule to recall the luxury of a book a day, are given over to musings on falling asleep with just a sheet as cover, instead of a pile of blankets wrapped around a hot water bottle.  Time to make the holiday a permanent part of life, to realise that travel alone can occasionally look like running away, but if you can find an accomplice it becomes a plan of escape.



Filed under The Golden Country