Tag Archives: Charlie Brooker

On homesickness

Who that has not suffered it understands the pain of exile?

– George Orwell, Burmese Days

To be quite honest, having travelled back on average once a year for the slightly more than four years so far spent outside the UK, to call it ‘exile’ is to overstate the case slightly. In these days of free internet calls and the journey not taking three weeks by boat, it is a bit daft to consider oneself banished far from all the good things of home.

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Can’t be trusted in the sweet aisle, clearly…

That said, a relative bought a print of the Albert Dock and Three Graces in Liverpool for my wall in Japan and there are some mornings it is difficult to look at, the ache from not being able to walk into the frame is too much. Missing the city as if it were an old friend is a strange feeling – the flesh and blood should have a bigger call on the emotions than bricks and mortar – but as I have been exploring this festive season, there is just something special about the Pool of Life.

Missing it too much, however, can feel like a betrayal of the other city I call home. Life in Tokyo is great, if not without its minor annoyances, just as would be the case with anywhere. The trick that homesickness plays is to mask all the deficiencies of home, while throwing a shadow over all the benefits of away. Then you are in danger of becoming one of those awful bores, lacking any sense of perspective, that have been plaguing expat life since at least the Thirties:

He had forgotten that most people can be at ease in a foreign country only when they are disparaging the inhabitants.

– Burmese Days (of course!)

The flip side of that is that, since returning, I find myself looking at my fellow shoppers, diners and train passengers wondering which of them ‘looks a bit UKIP’. A recommendation from brazzo70 in the comments on this post to check out Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe 2014 underlined all the ways in which the home country is leaving me behind (who in the hell commissioned Tumble? Danny Dyer in Eastenders? Nigel Farange appearing on anything? WHY WASN’T I CONSULTED ABOUT ANY OF THIS?)

 In an attempt to stave off the next bout of pining, measures have been implemented to bridge the gap. A Christmas present to myself was an annual subscription to Private Eye, so from later in the month you can expect to hear howls of outrage from my direction about a week after the original story first breaks. I also managed to register to vote as an overseas voter: this is open to all who left within the last 15 years and were registered before they left. Watch out, David Cameron!

All I need to do now is arrange for regular shipments of Maltesers…

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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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